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Government Planning “Phased” Exit Strategy

Bob Moran’s cartoon in the Telegraph on January 15th

The Telegraph reports that ministers are working on a “three-stage” plan to end lockdown in Britain, with officials preferring a phased approach where restrictions are eased at least a month apart so the impact can be monitored.

Schools will not open until March at the earliest, Boris Johnson has said, as the Government works on a “three-stage plan” to release Britain from lockdown.

The Telegraph understands that officials are working on proposals which could see most shops closed until April, and pubs and restaurants shut until May. 

On Wednesday, Mr Johnson announced that schools will not reopen before March 8th, and even that would depend on the success of the vaccine rollout and the rate of COVID-19 deaths and cases. 

Promising to publish a “roadmap” on February 22nd, he said that would allow Britain to “begin steadily to reclaim our lives”.

No rush, eh.

The Mail reports today that the slow pace may be because the Government wants to lift restrictions nationally rather than returning to local tiers to avoid spread from hotspots (and annoying Andy Burnham). This will mean no areas can reopen until the worst hit area in the country is free of infection.

The saddest part is they still think they can “control” the virus.

An NHS Nurse Writes…

Patients wait on hospital trolleys in a corridor in December 2017 due to the wards being completely full

A Lockdown Sceptics reader and registered nurse who has been working in NHS hospitals throughout the crisis has written the following article for us about his experience.

Matt Hancock said that there are 37,475 patients in hospitals in the UK with coronavirus – yet no context was offered. So there are approximately 120,000 NHS beds in England, which would make Hancock’s figure around 30% of NHS England bed capacity (and that’s not taking into account bed capacity of Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland). That also doesn’t take into account extra potential capacity from private hospitals nor the Nightingale hospitals. A headline grabbing statistic like “37,000 Covid admissions” might sound alarming, but without context it is meaningless.

It is also important to stress that this figure of 37,475 are patients admitted for any health reason, with a positive PCR test on admission or within the last 14 days – it is definitely not 37,000 patients who are unwell with Covid respiratory symptoms.

Patients are tested on admission to determine whether to be put in “green” or “red” areas. I have seen first-hand patients admitted to hospital for completely unrelated conditions, nil Covid symptoms, but have a positive PCR test on admission. These go down as “Covid admissions” but they are actually admitted for conditions completely unrelated to the respiratory system, such as heart failure or kidney disease.

I am sure by now we all have known somebody who has had a positive Covid test result but no symptoms. This is true also for hospitalised patients being admitted for other reasons – massively inflating the “Covid admission” numbers.

I have also had first-hand experience of patients who have been admitted into hospital for an unrelated reason, and caught Covid whilst there (nosocomial infection)  – and then they also go down in the NHS statistics as Covid admissions.

Hancock’s figures without context are not only unhelpful, they are misleading the public.

Surprisingly, NHS bed occupancy rates are at relatively low levels for this time of year. So are the staff on the wards lying? No they are not. I know first-hand how busy it feels, but I see four main reasons to explain why it feels so busy:

(1) Staff self-isolating – this is causing huge numbers of staff to be off work. I feel the impact of this first-hand in my ward. On a regular basis we have staff awaiting a test, as they or someone in their household has a symptom, however mild. I am sure most my colleagues are genuinely concerned not to be infected and pass it on to their vulnerable patients, so are acting ultra cautiously. But there is also room to milk the system, as it is fully paid time off work, and not counted as “sick leave”. Nurses are absolutely hard working people – but we are only human too, not saints. As soon as the decision is made to get a test, then we cannot return to work until PCR tested and the result comes back negative. Reduced staffing is causing the NHS significant strain.

(2) Thousands of NHS beds have been removed. This is not due to budget cuts this time (which in fact have reduced NHS beds significantly year on year) but due to social distancing requirements. I have experienced this first-hand: the hospitals I work in have removed beds for social distancing regulations, which has meant the departments fill up much quicker, and can cause backlog in the system.

(3) Regulations such as donning and doffing PPE (which is actually very time consuming when done properly) – and segregating patients in “green zones” or “red zones” – causes logistical problems, making workloads much busier and much more stressful.

(4) A huge amount of bed capacity has been lost due to a lack of NHS funded nursing home beds. Previously, the NHS funded beds in nursing homes to take “medically fit” elderly who were awaiting care packages to begin from social services – these beds were referred to as “hub beds” in my Trust. However, at the moment this option seems to be unavailable (for understandable reasons, as nursing homes were not “Covid safe” environments during the spring). This results in “bed blocking” in the hospital, and causes a backlog further down, ultimately filling A&E.

I’m not saying that hospitals are not busy – they are incredibly busy, particularly ICUs in London and the South East. What I am saying is the amount of patients coming in to the hospitals is not unprecedented. It is the policy decisions that are making this period feel unprecedented, and not the actual crude work load.

This is so important to understand as the severe restrictions on our lives are justified in order to “protect the NHS”. I therefore feel obligated to speak out, as how I am experiencing my work within the NHS is not quite how the media is portraying it.

The image above is from December 2017. It is a photograph of patients on hospital trolleys due to the wards being completely full – the NHS was in crisis. Yet we didn’t realise how good we had it – back then we had no staff self-isolating, more hospital beds, no routine time-consuming PPE requirements, and better discharge flow of patients out of hospitals. It is decisions by NHS policymakers that are making this winter feel so much worse.

A Senior Scientist Writes…

Professor Susan Michie, who sits on both SAGE and Independent SAGE and is a member of the Communist Party

A Lockdown Sceptics reader who is a senior scientist has done a fact check on the claims of two psychologists who sit on SAGE.

In a January 9th BBC report – “Lockdown needs to be stricter, scientists warn” – Professor Robert West (of the SPI-B subgroup of SAGE) said the current rules were “still allowing a lot of activity which is spreading the virus”. Professor Susan Michie (also of SAGE, and also Independent SAGE, and a Community Party member) said the spread of the new more infectious variant meant the restrictions were “too lax”.


Daily positive cases in England

This time round we have seen a relaxing of the restrictions compared with March. Many business are open this time that were closed last time, roads are busy, yes schools are closed, but in some areas more than 50% are attending. Yet still the virus has receded.

 What hasn’t changed since March? Those in care homes and hospitals are not being protected.

 Care Homes:

  • Since September 1st there have been 5,496 (35%) care home outbreaks
  • In the three weeks to January 17th there were 1,948 outbreaks
  • Nearly a third of all Covid deaths have been among care home residents

Hospital-Acquired Infections (HAIs) rates:

  • There have been 11,376 HAIs in January (January 1st to 24th), 14.1% of all admissions
  • Mortality in HAIs likely very high – likely approaching 50%

Who has lockdown protected? From the ONS:

There were 7,961 deaths involving COVID-19 in the working-age population (age 20 to 64 years) of England and Wales registered between March 9th and December 28th 2020. When looking at broad groups of occupations, men who worked in elementary occupations (699 deaths) or caring, leisure and other service occupations (258 deaths) had the highest rates of death involving COVID-19, with 66.3 and 64.1 deaths per 100,000 males, respectively.

I’d call this focused protection for the well-off and not for those that require protecting.

Council of Europe Decrees Vaccines Must Not be Mandatory and the Non-Vaccinated Must Not be Discriminated Against

The European Court of Human Rights, part of the Council of Europe

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe – the international body of which the European Court of Human Rights is a part (not to be confused with the EU, and of which Britain remains a member) – has passed a resolution that vaccines must not be mandatory and no one should suffer discrimination on account of not having been vaccinated. It reads:

7.3 with respect to ensuring high vaccine uptake:

7.3.1 ensure that citizens are informed that the vaccination is NOT mandatory and that no one is politically, socially, or otherwise pressured to get themselves vaccinated, if they do not wish to do so themselves;

7.3.2 ensure that no one is discriminated against for not having been vaccinated, due to possible health risks or not wanting to be vaccinated;

While most of the resolution is a depressing regurgitation of Covid orthodoxy (“non-pharmaceutical interventions have helped slow down the spread of the virus”, “following the festive season, with its traditional indoor gatherings, infection rates will likely be very high in most member States”, “the vaccines will no doubt not be sufficient to bring down infection rates significantly this winter… A semblance of ‘normal life’ will thus not be able to resume until mid to late 2021 at the earliest” “the Assembly urges member States to take early effective measures to counter misinformation, disinformation and hesitancy regarding COVID-19 vaccines”) this clear statement of the longstanding principle that medical treatment should be voluntary is welcome.

Unfortunately, some people have other ideas. Matthew Lynn in the Telegraph wrote a shocking article, arguing that “no jab, no job policy should be the law“.

There are lots of jobs where you can’t work from home, and plenty of factories and offices that will remain closed if people don’t get vaccinated. Of course, no one should be forced to take the vaccine if they don’t want to. But they have to accept it may limit their employment options. Businesses already face plenty of uncertainty without the additional anxiety of a blizzard of legal claims.

The solution is simple. Parliament should legislate for no jab, no job this week – and that way everyone will know where they stand and can start planning for the future…

Of course, no one should be forced to take the shot if they don’t want to. There is an argument for mandatory vaccination, but it is a huge infringement of civil liberties, and we have probably seen enough of those in the past year to last a lifetime. People should be free to choose. But that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be any consequences of their decision.

There are plenty of countries where you are only allowed in with a vaccination certificate, and it is up to you whether you want to travel there or not. In the same way, anyone who prefers not to be vaccinated may have to accept it limits their employment opportunities. If they don’t like that, tough…

Parliament should pass a one-line bill this week making it clear that it is legal to discriminate on the grounds of whether a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, and that no claims on the grounds of unfair dismissal will be accepted. That will settle the matter once and for all, and stop the employment lawyers and unions in their tracks.

Meanwhile, Germany’s vaccine committee has said that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should only be given to under-65s, stating there is “insufficient data to judge how effective the vaccination is above 65 years”. This is a blow for the vaccine which is much cheaper and easier to store than others like Pfizer’s and Moderna’s, and which Britain is relying on heavily for its reopening strategy, meaning we need it to work among the most vulnerable. The European Medicines Agency’s decision is due later today.

Stop Press: The Novavax vaccine has been found to be 89% effective and to work well against the Kent Covid variant in trials. It will now go to be considered for approval by the MHRA. Britain has 60 million doses on order, which will be produced at Stockton on Tees, and if approved it will take Britain’s vaccine doses total to 217 million. The Novavax vaccine is closer to a traditional type of vaccine than the mRNA Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, containing purified pieces of the spike protein that are administered with an adjuvant, a molecule that enhances the immune response.

Stop Press 2: New research in Israel suggests the Pfizer vaccine with both doses administered is “99.96% effective”.

“You Might As Well Use Your Passport for Target Practice”

Professor Sharon Peacock thinks the possibility of new Covid variants means restrictions need to continue indefinitely

There follows a guest post by Lockdown Sceptics regular Guy de la Bédoyère

Since the spirit of the age is “following the science”, it’s good to have an idea where the science is leading us. Radio 4’s World at One January 28th interviewed Professor Sharon Peacock of the University of Cambridge, executive director of the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium.

This is a transcript of the latter part of the interview. Nothing Professor Peacock said about COVID-19 should occasion any surprise since the potential risks to life from this virus and its mutated forms she outlined have always existed with respect to any virus and will always exist, though she made all this sound like a new discovery. Like everyone else I have lived with the risk of viruses since I was born but am lucky enough to live in a time when vaccines were at least one way of reducing that risk and allowing us to lead normal lives.

Not any more apparently. Now the science would have it that vaccines apparently no longer have that power. I shall be there to receive my vaccine when the invitation arrives, but according to Professor Peacock it isn’t going to be quite the game-changer the Prime Minister said it would be.

What appears to have changed is that this version of the science would like us to close the borders on what seems to be a totally open-ended basis and predicated on the notion that a vaccine-resistant, highly transmissible COVID-19 variant that causes far more severe illness might be mutating into existence right this minute. So indeed it might, but whether that means we should spend our lives gibbering with terror and hiding in our houses is another matter altogether.

Professor Peacock apparently cannot see an end in sight for COVID-19 and even if there was to be an end, I was left in no doubt that her fears will simply be transferred to something else.

I don’t know what your holiday plans were this year, next year, or at any time probably for most of the rest of your life, but if the government follows this advice you might as well use your passport for target practice.

Sarah Montague: The vaccine programme is going well in the UK, and it suggests there might be light at the end of the tunnel. But I wonder whether that light is brighter if you shut the borders?

Sharon Peacock: Well, through sequencing what we’ve shown is a very clear signal of importations both in Wave 1 and in Wave 2. And so COG-UK, which is the consortium that I lead, undertook sequencing of viruses from people in the first wave, and then they compared those sequences to see where they may have actually come from. And we know that from that study there were at least 1,300 importations into the country around the half-term during spring. Now, that’s an underestimate because we only sequenced around 10 percent of all the viruses or possible cases and that when we looked at that it was from Spain, Italy, and France predominantly. So we know that importation is really important and during the second wave we saw the importation of another tranche of variants, not of particular concern but new lineages coming into the country in the second wave again largely through holidaymakers and so I think it’s a natural conclusion that border control is absolutely central to control of disease. I think you don’t really need the genomics to prove that but the genomics has been categorical in showing that importation is really vital in terms of COVID-19 spreading in our population

SM: So, you’d like to see borders closed? The logic is that borders should close?

SP: The logic is there but that is not my decision, that of course is a decision for the Government.

SM: What is it that keeps you awake at night, at this stage of the pandemic?

SP: It has to be the emergence of a variant that is fully resistant to circulating vaccines that is also highly transmissible. That would be extremely problematic. I think that if it also had the characteristic that it also caused more severe disease then that would also worry me very much, but we are not there at the moment. That’s certainly what we’re on the look out for every day.

SM: And given your experience with other viruses, how likely is that?

SP: I think it’s really unpredictable. I’m very loath to draw on past experiences because I think there’s been so many surprises in relation to this particular virus. Instead I think I’d much rather look at the practical side of making sure that we have got all the tools in place to watch for emerging variants that could be of concern and bringing to a close the clusters of cases of people who have a virus that could be more resistant than others.

SM: So much is unknown and so much can’t be predicted but what is your assessment of when we are going to be largely out of this?

SP: As a scientist and a geneticist I would say that we have a very long-term job on our hands. I don’t think that I’m going to put a figure on that. All I know is that we have work ahead of us to continue to monitor mutations.

SM: For years ahead?

SP: Years, yes. I think it’s very unlikely that this virus is just going to disappear off the planet.

So, er, just like all the other viruses we have learned to live with in the past without shutting everything down which haven’t disappeared off the planet either? I don’t know how she sleeps at night.

What this interview illustrated very effectively is the monumentally difficult decisions the government is facing. Either it carries on ‘following the science’ in a perpetual hunt for total risk-free safety, ridden with fear of the theoretical Vaccine-Resistant Killer Super-Virus that Professor Peacock, who I am sure is an outstanding scientist in her field, is petrified of night and day; or it weighs up risk against quality of life and returns to normality on the basis the Killer Virus might never happen. Who’s to say what’s the right path to take?

It was, perhaps, one of those cases in which advice is good or bad only as the event decides.

Jane Austen, Persuasion, chapter 23

But I suppose the real question is: if we cut ourselves off from a life worth living to protect us from the theoretical Killer Super-Virus which then indeed duly turns up, whether by then anyone left will care one way or the other?

Sceptics Under Fire

A Lockdown Sceptics reader copied us into his letter to the Evening Standard complaining about its unbalanced reporting of the criticism of Sir Desmond Swayne MP. We reproduce it here.

Dear Evening Standard,

I refer to an article about the recent comments made by MP Desmond Swayne on your website. The entire piece is written in a highly biased way, and attempts unfairly to conflate Mr Swayne’s anti-lockdown stance with anti-vax and Covid-denialist views. This is apparent in the headline, in which Swayne’s name is used alongside the term “anti-vaccine”, despite the fact that within the article itself Mr Swayne clearly declares his support for the vaccination programme. The lead paragraph goes on to state that Mr Swayne has been “accused of spreading ‘dangerous misinformation’” and that he “urged anti-vaccination campaigners to continue fighting against restrictions and told them NHS capacity figures were being ‘manipulated’.” Whilst taken as a whole the article does provide both viewpoints, the prominence given to the misrepresentations of Swayne’s views and the tendentious vocabulary used in the headline and early sections of the piece are a clear attempt to damn him by association. I note that a similar negative framing has occurred on other articles on your site (e.g. here).

The first article goes on to mention comments made by Swayne in November 2020, when he stated that Covid figures were “bouncing round at the typical level of deaths for the time of year”. What is the relevance of mentioning something that he said three months ago before the winter spike? The second article also quotes his November remarks at length. The first piece goes on to state that “Sir Desmond has denied that he is opposed to vaccinating people to protect them against the virus. But he has previously labelled lockdowns a ‘complete failure’.” The ‘but’ here is crucial, implying that there is a link between anti-vaxxers and anti-lockdowners. Why are you attempting to draw a link between the two viewpoints, as if they have anything in common?

The article goes on to quote, uncritically, two people who oppose his views (or rather, their misconstrual of his views). I note that no supporters of Mr Swayne are mentioned or quoted. The Labour MP Angela Rayner (CC’d) is quoted as saying that Swayne has “endorsed conspiracy theories” (false) and that he has stated that Covid statistics have been manipulated “for which there is no evidence” (debatable – the fact that anyone dying within 28 days of a positive test counts as a Covid death means that inevitably the death figure ends up being somewhat inflated – whether that counts as “manipulation” is a matter of debate). She goes on to imply that he doesn’t support the vaccination programme – an out and out lie. Imran Ahmed of the CCDH (CC’d) is also quoted, saying that Swayne has “lended [sic] legitimacy to crank Anti-Vaxxers and peddlers of falsehoods” (false) and that “turning science into a political football is a Trumpian act of grotesque irresponsibility” (Swayne did no such thing – he is merely holding the Government to account, something the media should be doing). As an aside, I fail to see the relevance of seeking views from a man who runs an anti-hate speech organisation when we are discussing matters of Covid policy.

A narrative has been created by various governments which aims to conflate those who oppose lockdown measures (for a variety of reasons) with the minority of Covid-denialists, conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers and the like, a narrative which has been eagerly propagandised by a largely compliant media. The overwhelming number of people who oppose lockdowns are not conspiracy theorists, but merely concerned citizens opposed to the wanton destruction of our economies, our children’s’ education, mass unemployment, business failures, the stripping away of our basic rights on an indefinite basis, the deliberate stoking of fear and hysteria, and the McCarthy-esque witch-hunting of those holding dissenting views. Your deliberate misrepresentation of Mr Swayne’s comments is a clear attempt to damn by association anyone who opposes lockdown, and is unfit for a news organ that seeks to report the news in a fair and impartial manner.    


D Martin

Stop Press: Disappointingly, Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg has backed Neil O’Brien in his anti-sceptic witch-hunt. The Byline Times reports, in typically even-handed style.

Speaking yesterday on his regular podcast with the blog ConservativeHome, Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg expressed admiration for O’Brien.

“People should be held to account for what they say, and I think Neil has done a fantastic job and has influenced the debate by putting the facts forward,” he said, adding that, “in an era of fake news, it is important that people challenge news and put the alternative points of view, or correct facts.”

Rees-Mogg also said that the Harborough, Oadby and Wigston MP has been making his arguments forcefully on WhatsApp groups populated by Conservative MPs. “Neil has also been putting very helpful pieces of information on Conservative WhatsApp groups, so that Conservative MPs see the arguments as well,” he said.

O’Brien has gained prominence on Twitter in recent weeks, after directing fire at a number of prominent lockdown sceptics, most notably commentator Toby Young and talkRADIO host Julia Hartley-Brewer. He has been particularly assiduous in pointing out the false wisdom of lockdown sceptics early in the Coronavirus pandemic – for example when Young predicted that there would be no second wave of the virus.

Rees-Mogg’s comments seem to imply that he – and by extension the Government  – believe that commentators such as Young and Hartley-Brewer have been disseminating half-truths about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stop Press 2: M.L.R. Smith and Niall McCrae in CIEO argue that the “growing prohibition on criticising the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic reveals a state as intent on controlling our minds as our bodies”.

Stop Press 3: A lockdown debate took place at the Cambridge Union yesterday. The motion was: “This House believes lockdown was a mistake.” Speaking in favour were Sir Graham Brady MP, Richard Tice and Toby Young, while speaking against were Layla Moran MP, Laura Spinner and Phil Whitaker. The ayes won by 362 votes to 309, a convincing victory. We will post a video of the debate here on Saturday when it goes up on YouTube.


Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Two today: “Don’t Believe A Word” by Thin Lizzy and “Fiddling the Figures” by DevonMiles.

Love in the Time of Covid

Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys in The Americans

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums as well as post comments below the line, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Sharing Stories

Some of you have asked how to link to particular stories on Lockdown Sceptics so you can share it. To do that, click on the headline of a particular story and a link symbol will appear on the right-hand side of the headline. Click on the link and the URL of your page will switch to the URL of that particular story. You can then copy that URL and either email it to your friends or post it on social media. Please do share the stories.

Social Media Accounts

You can follow Lockdown Sceptics on our social media accounts which are updated throughout the day. To follow us on Facebook, click here; to follow us on Twitter, click here; to follow us on Instagram, click here; to follow us on Parler, click here; and to follow us on MeWe, click here.

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, it’s the list of 44 schools that are to be renamed by the San Francisco Unified School District because they are named after supposedly “controversial” public figures, including former Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, current Senator Dianne Feinstein and Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of Treasure Island. What was RLS’s sin? Stereotyping pirates?

Comprehensive HIGH schools
1 Balboa High School
2 Abraham Lincoln High School
3 Mission High School
4 George Washington High School

Alternative HIGH schools
5 Lowell High School

Middle schools
6 James Denman Middle School
7 Everett Middle School
8 Herbert Hoover Middle School
9 James Lick Middle School
10 Presidio Middle School
11 Roosevelt Middle School

K-8 schools
12 Lawton Alternative K-8
13 Claire Lilienthal: Madison Campus (Grades K-2) 3950 Sacramento Street
13 Claire Lilienthal: Winfield Scott Campus (Grades 3-8) 3630 Divisadero Street
14 Paul Revere K-8

K-5 Elementary schools
15 Alamo Elementary
16 Alvarado Elementary
17 Bryant Elementary
18 Clarendon Elementary Second Community
18 JBBP (Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program) at Clarendon
19 El Dorado Elementary
20 Dianne Feinstein Elementary
21 Garfield Elementary
22 Grattan Elementary
23 Jefferson Elementary
24 Francis Scott Key Elementary
25 Frank McCoppin Elementary
26 McKinley Elementary
27 Marshall Elementary
28 Monroe Elementary
29 John Muir Elementary
30 Jose Ortega Elementary
31 Sanchez Elementary
32 Junipero Serra Elementary
33 Sheridan Elementary
34 Sherman Elementary
35 Commodore Sloat Elementary
36 Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary
37 Sutro Elementary
38 Ulloa Elementary
39 Daniel Webster Elementary

EES (Early Education Schools)
40 Jefferson Early Education School
41 Junipero Serra Early Education School
42 Noriega EES
43 Presidio EES
44 Stockton EES

At times like these one often reaches for George Orwell.

Do you realise that the past, starting from yesterday, has been actually abolished? If it survives anywhere, it’s in a few solid objects with no words attached to them, like that lump of glass there. Already we know almost literally nothing about the Revolution and the years before the Revolution. Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right. I know, of course, that the past is falsified, but it would never be possible for me to prove it, even when I did the falsification myself. After the thing is done, no evidence ever remains. The only evidence is inside my own mind, and I don’t know with any certainty that any other human being shares my memories.

George Orwell, “1984”

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to obtain a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card – because wearing a mask causes them “severe distress”, for instance. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and the Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. And if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face masks in shops here.

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption. Another reader has created an Android app which displays “I am exempt from wearing a face mask” on your phone. Only 99p.

If you’re a shop owner and you want to let your customers know you will not be insisting on face masks or asking them what their reasons for exemption are, you can download a friendly sign to stick in your window here.

And here’s an excellent piece about the ineffectiveness of masks by a Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry. See also the Swiss Doctor’s thorough review of the scientific evidence here and Prof Carl Heneghan and Dr Tom Jefferson’s Spectator article about the Danish mask study here.

Stop Press: A senior scientist has told Lockdown Sceptics he was involved recently in a discussion about vaccines where the view was expressed that once you’ve been vaccinated it may be better not to wear a mask. The rationale being that circulating vaccine-induced antibody fades over time and that repeated exposure to the virus keeps immunity topped up. (The same, logically, applies to anyone who has had a natural infection.) He added:

Needless to say, adopting this view – which would support the early abandonment of masks as vaccine is rolled out – requires acceptance of the assertion (which many of us doubt) that masks have any protective merit in the first place. It might, however, be a better argument against the wretched things than asserting they are useless – a line that has failed to gain traction.  

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya

The Great Barrington Declaration, a petition started by Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya calling for a strategy of “Focused Protection” (protect the elderly and the vulnerable and let everyone else get on with life), was launched in October and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it ever since. If you googled it a week after launch, the top hits were three smear pieces from the Guardian, including: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now tops the search results – and Toby’s Spectator piece about the attempt to suppress it is among the top hits – although discussion of it has been censored by Reddit. The reason the zealots hate it, of course, is that it gives the lie to their claim that “the science” only supports their strategy. These three scientists are every bit as eminent – more eminent – than the pro-lockdown fanatics so expect no let up in the attacks. (Wikipedia has also done a smear job.)

You can find it here. Please sign it. Now over three quarters of a million signatures.

Update: The authors of the GBD have expanded the FAQs to deal with some of the arguments and smears that have been made against their proposal. Worth reading in full.

Update 2: Many of the signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration are involved with new UK anti-lockdown campaign Recovery. Find out more and join here.

Update 3: You can watch Sunetra Gupta set out the case for “Focused Protection” here and Jay Bhattacharya make it here.

Update 4: The three GBD authors plus Prof Carl Heneghan of CEBM have launched a new website, “a global repository for research into the collateral effects of the COVID-19 lockdown measures”. Follow Collateral Global on Twitter here. Sign up to the newsletter here.

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

There are now so many legal cases being brought against the Government and its ministers we thought we’d include them all in one place down here.

The Simon Dolan case has now reached the end of the road. The current lead case is the Robin Tilbrook case which challenges whether the Lockdown Regulations are constitutional. You can read about that and contribute here.

Then there’s John’s Campaign which is focused specifically on care homes. Find out more about that here.

There’s the GoodLawProject and Runnymede Trust’s Judicial Review of the Government’s award of lucrative PPE contracts to various private companies. You can find out more about that here and contribute to the crowdfunder here. Latest news is the Government is trying to make the action unaffordable by claiming there is no public interest and spending a million pounds on the thing, which those bringing the review are at risk of having to pay.

There’s the class action lawsuit being brought by Dr Reiner Fuellmich and his team in various countries against “the manufacturers and sellers of the defective product, PCR tests”. Dr Fuellmich explains the lawsuit in this video. Dr Fuellmich has also served cease and desist papers on Professor Christian Drosten, co-author of the Corman-Drosten paper which underpins the SARS-CoV-2 PCR test protocol. That paper was submitted on January 21st and accepted following peer review on January 22nd. The paper has been critically reviewed here by Pieter Borger and colleagues, who have also submitted a retraction request.

And last but not least there was the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. A High Court judge refused permission for the FSU’s judicial review on December 9th and the FSU has decided not to appeal the decision because Ofcom has conceded most of the points it was making. Check here for details.


If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.

Shameless Begging Bit

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