The Official Estimate of the Collateral Damage
Friday saw the publication of the Government’s assessment of direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19 on excess mortality and morbidity. The Daily Mail has the details:
More than 100,000 people are likely to die from non-coronavirus causes because of the pandemic, according to an official Government estimate.
By the end of next month the chaos in hospitals and care homes will have led to 46,000 avoidable deaths, Department of Health research has suggested.
Cancellations to routine operations may cause 18,000 excess deaths in the long-term, on top of hundreds more from cancer.
Officials calculated that over the next few years another 40,000 people may die due to the economic impact of lockdown, including rising unemployment and mental health issues.
The Government paper says the overall death toll of the pandemic will be 222,000, with 54% dying from the virus.
Overall, scientists suggest there will be 105,000 additional deaths because of the enormous disruption to non-Covid NHS care, as well as the economic downturn.
The document, dated December 17th and published yesterday by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), was drawn up by civil servants at the Department of Health, the Office for National Statistics and the Home Office.
It laid bare the unintended consequences of lockdown in detail, but stressed that the overall death toll would be far higher without the draconian restrictions.
So far more than 103,000 people in the UK have died after testing positive for COVID-19.
Without lockdown, another 97,000 would have died from this winter alone, the report said.
The document also suggested the number of virus deaths could reach 122,000 by the end of next month…
The research supports a series of warnings from health charities that non-Covid patients are becoming “collateral damage” of the pandemic.
It said that plummeting non-Covid hospital admissions led to 4,000 excess deaths early in the pandemic, when many people avoided A&E even when they were suffering a heart attack or stroke.
Continuing disruption to emergency care could lead to a further 10,000 deaths in the second wave, the document said.
The cancellation of operations and outpatient appointments could cause 18,200 deaths.
And the impact on GP services could result in at least 1,400 deaths over five years from missed cancer diagnoses, according to an early estimate which only examined figures up to August.
Excess deaths from non-Covid among adults receiving social care could hit 32,000 by the end of March due to reduced support and a rush to discharge vulnerable patients from hospital.
The report illustrated how even with a successful vaccination programme deaths are likely to remain well above pre-pandemic levels for years.
Of the 222,000 toll, 61,000 deaths were estimated to take place after this March.
The report said that the health impact of the ensuing recession is likely to be much worse than previously feared because “the bounce-back and recovery are likely to be at a slower pace than previously predicted”.
When assessing the Government’s claim that the Covid death toll would be roughly twice as high absent the three lockdowns, it’s worth remembering that Sweden’s deaths per million in 2020 were bang on the EU average in spite of not imposing any lockdowns last year. That suggests the lockdowns imposed in every other EU member state did nothing to reduce Covid mortality.
The report itself goes into more detail.
Under our central scenario there is a loss of approximately 1.3 million QALYs as a consequence of this pandemic induced recession. These health losses are largely accrued in the medium to long-term, with the morbidity affects largely falling in the medium term and the resultant mortality impacts falling in the longer-term. Under the upside scenario, there is an estimated 0.23 million QALY loss in the medium and long-run and under the downside scenario, there is an estimated 2.7 million QALY loss in the medium and long-run from COVID-19
Overall, our analysis suggests that the recession resulting from COVID-19 and restrictions on activities to contain it could have large effects on lives through unemployment, mental health impacts, loss of income and increased financial uncertainty. These impacts are likely to have medium and long-term consequences on population health in terms of increased morbidity and mortality
This analysis also presents an increase in the impact of the recession on medium and long-term health compared to our previous update. This is because more recent economic forecasts suggest the bounce-back and recovery are likely to be at a slower pace than previously predicted, and therefore the health impacts from the economic downturn accumulate over a longer period of time than previously considered.
Worth reading in full.
Stop Press: Psychologist Dr Oliver Robinson is hosting a webinar on Saturday February 13th, 4 – 6pm, examining the the (in)effectiveness of lockdowns in bringing down infection rates and the impact they have on mental health. Tickets are £10 each—£5 if you’re eligible for the concessionary rate – and can be purchased here.
The Catastrophic Impact of School Closures
On January 29th, the Education Endowment Foundation published a paper on the effect of school closures and subsequent support strategies on attainment and socio-emotional wellbeing on school pupils in Key Stage 1. The paper focusses on the the impact on the attainment gap in reading and maths and is based on assessments taken by nearly 6,000 Year 2 pupils in 168 different schools in the autumn term. The paper takes a standardised sample of assessments carried out in 2017 as its counterfactual; as its estimate of what progress might have made had pupils been in school as usual.
The findings are concerning, though not surprising:
This study confirms that, following the disruption to schooling in the 2020 spring and summer terms, Year 2 pupils had significantly lower achievement in both reading and maths in autumn 2020 when compared to performance seen in Year 2 in the autumn term of 2017. This represents a COVID-19 gap of around two months’ progress for both reading and maths.
The adverse effect is most pronounced among disadvantaged students. In both reading and in maths, the researchers found that the difference in standardised test scores between pupils on free school meals and pupils not on free school meals represented a gap of seven months of learning. It could not assess how far the gap had grown as a result of lockdown, as the 2017 data did not make this comparison, but by way of context, it says that the 2019 disadvantage gap was approximately six months. It concludes: “It seems that the disadvantage gap is wider than earlier estimates, and will likely be further exacerbated by school closures in early 2021”.
Worth reading in full.
Schools in England and Northern Ireland are set to remain closed until at least March 8th, and in Scotland and Wales until at least the middle of February. It will be difficult, when schools finally do re-open, to repair the damage done. The Prime Minister has penned an open letter to parents, in which he says:
When all this is over we’re going to be putting hundreds of millions of pounds into nationwide catch-up programmes so that nobody gets left behind.
Stop Press: A new piece of research carried out in Norway has found “minimal child-to-child and child-to-adult transmission in primary schools”. In other words, reopening primary schools now would not increase Covid infections.
Stop Press 2: Lockdown TV on Unherd has a special report on the closure of schools, getting perspectives from Katharine Birbalsingh, Headmistress of the Michaela Community School in northwest London, Miriam Cates MP and Alex Gutentag, a public school teacher from Oakland in California.
Stop Press 3: Boris Johnson will have to significantly increase the education budget when the crisis is over, says Isabel Hardman in the Spectator. She interviewed Robert Halfon, the Conservative chair of the Education Select Committee, and the Labour Peer Lord Adonis for the Week in Westminster, and both agree that education needs to be a post-pandemic priority for the Government.
Stop Press 4: Lockdown Sceptics may just have found a point of agreement with Professor Devi Sridhar. Who would have thunk it?
University Clamps Down on Rogue Scrabble Players
An anonymous reader of Lockdown Sceptics writes:
Anyone quaking in their boots with the current round of Covid terror sweeping the nation will be reassured to know that university officialdom is on top of the crisis. My neighbour’s son is at a university in the north of England. The other day he spurned the piffling misdemeanour of attending an all-night rave with several hundred other party people and went for the blatantly lethal and inconsiderate option of playing Scrabble with one other person from his hall and two from the adjacent building. Fortunately, the ever-vigilant university surveillance hit squad operatives who patrol the compound all night pounced on this incipient super-spreader hotspot and broke up the illegal mass-gathering of four Covidiot-insurgents. That they’ve all already had Covid of course counts for nothing as obviously they might have been re-infected.
The young maniac is now under ‘investigation’ but one of his tutors has advised him to write a letter claiming his mental health is under duress and that he needed to see other people. It’s reassuring to know that young people today are being made fully aware of their responsibilities, and in this case presenting this reckless fool with either being labelled as a vicious, semi-criminal member of the under-class of Covid subversives, or afflicted with mental illness. Either will serve as a warning to others and teach him a lesson he’ll be paying for for the rest of his life, the best way to treat a seditious young person. It’s also useful to know that the universities are finding productive ways to spend their extortionate fees to keep us all safe instead of wasting it on teaching or offering any other services.
Stop Press: For more on the experience of students during the lockdown, listen to the Planet Normal Podcast with the Telegraph’s Allison Pearson and Liam Halligan. In the latest episode they speak to a third-year geophysics student at the University of Durham.
My Mask Battle With the NHS
A reader has written in to share his experiences of getting treatment for his toe over the last few months, an experience dominated by masks.
Last September 29th, I went into a hospital up in the North East to have my big toe joint replaced with a silastic one.
I’ve never worn a mask anywhere and do not possess one. And when I bowled into the ward early in the morning, without a mask, nobody said a word to me. The nurse who was assessing me agreed when I said that mask wearing was a lot of nonsense, but said she would be sacked if she were to say that openly. She burst into tears when I sympathised with her and she said the strain was getting to her. Many of the staff on the (largely empty) ward agreed that masks were pointless, but they dare not dissent. The surgeon turned up wearing a serious-looking surgical mask and his couple of side-kicks were also wearing masks, but cheaper-looking versions. By this time I was in a hospital gown lying on a bed. None of them said a word about my being bare-faced – so to speak. The porter was the only person who handed me a mask and insisted I wear it otherwise he refused to push me down to the operating theatre. I offered to walk but he was having none of it. I held the thing up to my face and he seemed satisfied.
I’ve been back a few times to various hospitals since the operation to see nurses and others and have been shouted at about not wearing a mask and subjected to considerable rudeness and hostility from the staff and other patients who have ganged up on me. On a couple of occasions I’ve covered my mouth with a silk polka dot scarf which seems to satisfy all concerned.
I have tried to obtain a consultation with the surgeon since he did the operation because I am not satisfied that he’s got it right. I was promised a “telephone consultation” with the great man, which turned out to be with his young female registrar who was less than sympathetic and, as she could not see my foot, was of limited help. I told her I wanted the surgeon who did the operation to have a look at it, because the orthotic specialist I’d seen a week earlier (without mask) advised that the surgeon should see the joint because he was concerned the toe did not seem to be “on straight”.
The registrar said the surgeon was not offering “face to face consultations due to the Covid pandemic”. I said I couldn’t understand why not, seeing as he could be masked up and in full anti-virus outfit if he was concerned about catching it. I asked if he was still doing private operations and whether if I paid he would see me. She replied that she knew nothing about his private practice, with the clear implication that she did not want to know either. She made it apparent, by her manner, that she thought I was being a nuisance, but agreed to ask the surgeon if he would arrange a face-to-face consultation.
Yesterday I got a copy of a letter from the registrar to my GP, saying the surgeon “has agreed on this occasion to review [me] in person…”
The letter ended: “On previous visits [he] has declined to wear a face covering but is not medically exempt from doing so. We would kindly ask [him] that he complies with hospital policy and wears a suitable face covering when attending his appointment, otherwise he may not be seen.”
It is not an exaggeration to say that the whole mask-wearing thing causes me “extreme distress”, which in law is enough to exempt me. But the NHS is not concerned about that. They really mean it when they say we have to “protect the NHS”.
YouGov’s Numbers Don’t Add Up
Our next post comes from a Lockdown Sceptics reader who has scrutinised a recent YouGov study about the numbers of people who know someone who died from COVID-19, and found that it doesn’t really make sense.
YouGov have published a study of how many people know someone who has died of COVID-19. They have asked people in 16 different countries.
At first glance the results look coherent – countries with higher death rates are at the top, ones with notoriously low death rates at the bottom. So 19% of Spaniards claim to know someone who has died of COVID-19 while only 2% of Chinese and Singaporeans do.
However, 2% of Chinese is 28,000,000 people. And China claims that only 4,600 people have died of COVID-19. That would mean that every Chinese individual who died of COVID-19 was acquainted with over 6,000 people. Is that a reasonable number?
Based on those poll numbers, how many acquaintances did COVID-19 victims in other countries have?
Well, here is the answer:
What to make of the results? There seems to be a big disparity between countries.
Are the Chinese the most sociable people on earth? Does a typical Australian or Indonesian have five times more acquaintances that your typical European? Are Mexicans the most personally affected by COVID-19 in the world ?
Or perhaps some countries are hiding deaths? China is always under suspicion of lying about its data. But what about Singapore or Australia? Are those governments hiding deaths too?
The most plausible explanation is something that many Lockdown Sceptics probably already suspect: that YouGov polls, many of which rely on panels of people to fill them out regularly, aren’t very reliable.
You might be tempted to go further.
If you click on the “See Full Results” link you will see some fascinating stats. YouGov will have you believe that 23% of Mexicans claim to have lost a family member.
But it seems YouGov doesn’t put much faith in the Mexican data so it has left it out altogether from the summary they publish and which is circulating in Twitter.
We can safely conclude that this particular YouGov poll should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Trudeau Administration to Face Legal Challenge on Travellers’ Quarantine
Much like other Governments around the world, the Trudeau administration announced last week that travellers coming into Canada will be subject to mandatory quarantines. The National Post has the story.
Travellers coming into Canada will be forced into mandatory hotel quarantines, part of a suite of measures designed to keep Canadians at home as the Government grows increasingly concerned about the risk of new Covid variants that appear to be more transmissible.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the quarantines and several other restrictions on Friday outside Rideau Cottage.
Trudeau said travelers will pay for their hotel stay of up to 72 hours while waiting for a negative Covid test. He estimated the cost at approximately $2,000 as they will have to pay for lodging, food, Covid tests and security ensuring they remain inside.
Anyone testing positive for the virus will have to finish their quarantine in a designated quarantine facility, where the Government will cover the costs.
Travellers testing negative will be able to finish their 14-day quarantine at home, but Trudeau said the Government would step up surveillance of those quarantines. Private security firms have been hired to knock on doors of returning travellers to ensure they’re staying at home, and the Government will be making regular phone calls as well.
Starting Sunday and extending to the end of April, Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Air Transat will cancel trips to sun destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean. All international passenger flights arriving in Canada must land at only four airports, in Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, and Montreal, as part of this stepped up screening.
Trudeau thanked the airlines for taking the steps to help limit the spread of the virus.
“We all agree that now is just not the time to be flying,” he said. “By putting in place these tough measures now, we can look forward to a better time when we can all plan those vacations.”
Though the announcement was made on Friday, the impact of the new law was already kicking in on Thursday evening, as an Edmonton pastor found out when his wife touched down in Calgary. The Western Standard has the details.
An Edmonton pastor may have found out the hard way Thursday night about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s new travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic…
The new rules weren’t even announced yet Thursday night, but it appears officials at YYC Calgary International were ready.
“(My wife Nikki) arrived in Calgary tonight and when she got there she was greeted by a Police Officer and an AHS official,” wrote Pastor Chris Mathis on his Facebook page.
“They rejected her results and told her she needed to go immediately to an isolation facility. She was told if she resisted she would be arrested. She called me, and I immediately asked to talk with the officer. I talked with both a police officer and the AHS official, they reiterated what she had said to me. I asked for the address of where she would be, they said they could not give me the location address as it was confidential.”
“I asked for their names, again they would not give me any information or their names. I pushed, I questioned, I tried to fight but they said they would arrest her if she resisted. They would not give me any information on where they were taking my wife.”
“She was not allowed to get her vehicle from the airport, she was immediately put in a white van surrounded by police escorts and taken to an unknown facility that is under full surveillance and has security at every entrance and exit. You can imagine I am barely keeping myself together wondering what in the world has happened in our country in what seems to be overnight.”
Unlike other Governments, this administration is facing an immediate legal challenge (not directly related to the incident described above) from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. The letter (pdf) providing notice to the Transport Minister the Honourable Omar Alghabra states:
Your Government has increasingly shown a disturbing and even aggressive opposition to the constitutional rights and freedoms of Canadians.
It has come to our attention that the Federal Government is now arresting Canadians at the border and transporting them to secret federal locations even when they possess a negative PCR test. The citizens you are holding have not been convicted of an offence, have not had access to a lawyer, and have not appeared before a judge. Your officers are even refusing to inform family members of where their loved ones are being held. This policy aligns with practices of repressive regimes and undemocratic regimes, and is completely unacceptable.
Your arrest and detention of Canadians in this regard is unlawful and unconstitutional and we hereby demand their immediate release, such that they may continue with any necessary isolation protocols in their personal residences.
This is not China or Cuba, or Chile under Pinochet, or Spain under Franco, or theocratic Iran. We are not prepared to permit you and your Government to turn Canada into a repressive replica of countries that have no respect for human rights and civil liberties…
The Order further mandates that, regardless of a negative Covid test result, any person entering Canada must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival…
Quarantining all citizens re-entering Canada, in addition to mandating negative test results, impairs liberty in a manner that is arbitrary, disproportionate, and overbroad, and therefore violates the principles of fundamental justice…
The mandatory quarantining of all Canadians, merely because they exercised their Charter right to leave or enter Canada, is not rationally connected to any legitimate public health objective. It is not rational to impose a 14 day quarantine upon asymptomatic individuals who are able to provide negative test results confirming their lack of infection.
Stop Press: On the subject of travel restrictions, it is worth reading Lord Blunkett’s rather libertarian letter to the editor of the Telegraph
The announcement by Priti Patel relating to quarantine rules and subsequent media interviews with Michael Gove raise several issues.
First, it is clear that the detail and practical arrangements had not been thought through. No plans appear to exist to save the aviation industry or to retain the capacity of our airports for freight and passengers in the future.
Secondly, making it “illegal”, in Ms Patel’s words, for British citizens to leave the country without permission is unprecedented. While measures such as withdrawing British passports have been taken in the past for very specific counter-terrorism or policing reasons, we have never in peacetime forbidden our own people to travel.
Strict requirements on their return may well be justified but historically only autocratic and totalitarian regimes have banned their own citizens from leaving the country.
Lord Blunkett (Lab), London SW1
Stop Press 2: Health Passports continue to gather momentum, though it doesn’t seem likely they’ll help much when it comes to escaping Gulag Britain. Travel Weekly reports that British Airways is to trial a new travel health app called VeriFlY on flights between London and the USA from February 4th. With both countries having closed their border to residents of the other, it is hard to imagine that there will be many people available to give the app a try.
Neil O’Brien Refuses to Debate Prof Carl Heneghan
Speaking on talkRADIO on Friday, Carl Heneghan, the Oxford Professor of Evidence-Based Medicine, said he would be happy to debate Neil O’Brien MP.
An opportunity, surely, for Neil O’Brien to convince people of his case? A challenge to be seized. Alas, Neil O’Brien didn’t see it that way:
- “Social distancing may have to remain in place all year” – Ministers have been warned that unless a vaccine proves to be 85% effective, Brits may have to keep social distancing for the rest of the year, according to the Telegraph
- “Virus ‘definitely’ began in China, say US scientists… and the outbreak started in October 2019” – The Mail on Sunday reports on the latest revelations from investigations into the origins of COVID-19
- “Nadhim Zahawi: I couldn’t save my uncle from Covid, but I can save the country” – In an interview in the Telegraph, vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi explains why he is so determined to vaccinate the country
- “Lift lockdown once most vulnerable are vaccinated, urges Senior Tory” – Mark Harper, Chair of the Covid Recovery Group, has called for lockdown to be lifted once everyone aged 50 and over has been offered the vaccine
- “Vaccines – A national effort in the national interest: Letter from the Editor” – The editor of the Yorkshire Post describes the blowback the paper experienced from people in power after it published its report that vaccine supplies to the region were to be reduced in order to allow other areas to catch up
- “Unmoored from all but a few friends, I fear lockdown has atrophied my social muscles” – Writing in the Guardian, Emma Brockes worries about the lockdown’s long-term impact on social health
- “The uncomfortable truth about death” – The pandemic has forced us to confront uncomfortable trust about our own mortality says Dr John Lee in UnHerd
- “Covid, Tango and The Lagom Way” – Watch BAFTA-nominated filmmaker Claudia Nye interview Sweden’s Chief Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell in a new short film
- “The EU’s vaccine nightmare” – In the latest episode of the Spiked podcast, Brendan O’Neill, Ella Whelan and Fraser Myers look in to the row over vaccines
- “A cancelled hysterectomy” – The latest episode of the CoronaStories in which Christine speaks to a guest about the pain of having a much needed operation cancelled, with no new date yet arranged. Previous episodes are worth a listen as well
- “Media Manipulation; More on Lockdown Scepticism, Cathedral and Church Closures” – The latest episode of the Irreverend podcast includes discussion of the Covid media messaging and the case for opening churches
- “Andrew Cuomo’s COVID-19 performance may have been less stellar than it seemed” – Beneath a headline that might be considered an understatement, CNN reports that COVID-19 deaths among New York nursing home residents may have been undercounted
- “Bill Gates shocked by ‘evil’ conspiracy theories: ‘I hope it goes away’” – The Washington Times reports the magnate’s horror at finding himself, along with Dr Anthony Fauci, at the centre of COVID-19 conspiracy theories
- “The catastrophic impact of Covid forced societal lockdowns” – A deep-dive into the whys, wherefores and follies of lockdowns on the AIER blog, concluding that it is way past time to get back to normal
- “How has your life been affected by lockdowns?” – The campaign group Time For Recovery campaign is asking for people to share their story
Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers
Four today: “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” by The Animals, “All Things Must Pass” by George Harrison, “What About the Children” by Yolanda Adams and “Germ Free Adolescents” by X-Ray Spex
Love in the Time of Covid
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 Lockdown Sceptics here.
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.
We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, we draw your attention to Disney’s new animated movie Raya and the Last Dragon which has been criticised for the lack of South Asians among its cast of voice actors. NewsBusters has more.
One would think that looks and race would not matter for voice actors — after all, the viewers never see the actors in animated movies. But just as comedians aren’t allowed to be funny, even voice actors can’t act unless they perfectly resemble their characters.
On Tuesday, January 26th, Disney dropped the second trailer for Raya and the Last Dragon and the movie is once again generating a lot of controversy. While some fans are excited to see a movie portraying South East Asian culture, others criticise Disney’s inattention to which region of Asia its actors are from.
Based on South East Asian traditions, Disney says the fantastical story is set “in the fantasy world of Kumandra” which is endangered by monsters. Although 500 years ago dragons had protected the humans, only one remains alive and it is up to young Raya to “track down the last dragon in order to finally stop the [monsters] for good”.
Besides the film’s starring Vietnamese actress, Kelly Marie Tran (known for her role as Rose in Star Wars), nearly all of the cast are East Asian (Chinese and Korean). Although Raya and the Last Dragon was written by South East Asian-American screenwriters, Adel Lim (Malaysian) and Qui Nguyen (Vietnamese) and its lead actress is of South East Asian descent, Disney’s Representation effort just wasn’t enough for some people.
“I am actually very conflicted about the new Raya and the Last Dragon casting. I love all those cast members,” said one Twitter user. “But basically everyone except KMT is East Asian. Imagine how big it would be if they actually casted Southeast Asian actors. SE Asian actors are sorely lacking in Hollywood.”
Another user, Laura Siriku, commented, “Listen, I’m all for Asians playing other Asian ethnicities, but the roles of South East Asians have been little to none,” she said. “With #RayaAndTheLastDragon celebrating South East Asia, I feel like it’d be a huge moment to have SEA being able to play their own heritage.”
Several others have possibly more legitimately complained that the world of Kumandra and Raya’s story are based on a collection of South East Asian cultures. Unlike nearly every other Disney Princess, Raya is not based on the unique culture of a single country but rather a region with vast cultural diversity…
The movie will premiere on Disney Plus on March 5th. Luckily for Disney, the movie has simultaneously generated plenty of excitement from fans who not only want to appreciate other cultures on the screen, but shockingly just want to enjoy a great movie.
Worth reading in full.
Stop Press: Responding to Kehinde Andrews’ new book, The New Age of Empire, the British-Nigerian writer Ralph Leonard has penned an elegant defence of the West and the Enlightenment.
Stop Press 2: Writing for the Spectator, Jake Wallis Simons, Deputy Editor of the Jewish Chronicle, says that that Black Lives Matter should be looking to Martin Luther King for inspiration, rather than Malcolm X.
Stop Press 3: John McWhorter, a contributing writer at the Atlantic, has reminded schools and colleges that campuses are not, in fact, bastions of social injustice. They must resist he says “destructive anti-racist demands”.
“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: Everyone must wear a mask now, even the Long Man of Wilmington. Sky News reports that the 72 metre tall chalk figure had a mask added to his face by some local pranksters. Luckily for the historic, South Downs landmark, this was deemed an act of vandalism, and the mask was swiftly removed. As for the rest of us…
The Great Barrington Declaration
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 collateralglobal.org, “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.
Scottish Church leaders from a range of Christian denominations have launched legal action, supported by the Christian Legal Centre against the Scottish Government’s attempt to close churches in Scotland for the first time since the the Stuart kings in the 17th century. The church leaders emphasised it is a disproportionate step, and one which has serious implications for freedom of religion.” Further information available here.
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, which was pivotal to the roll out of mass PCR testing, was submitted to the journal Eurosurveillance 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.
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