One reason that go-slow BoJo is taking his sweet time over lifting lockdown is to allow himself enough time (frankly, more than enough) to see the impact of each change before making the next.
A Covid surge was, naturally, predicted by Government scientific advisers when schools went back in March. Has that happened? Not even a ripple. In fact, since mass testing in schools began in early March the positive rate has hit a floor of 0.4% (presumably a lot to do with the false positive rate). Are any of these advisers embarrassed by their failed predictions that threatened the education of our children? If so, we’ve not heard.
To be fair, in February, SPI-M member Mark Woolhouse (one of the more heretical ones) told MPs he wasn’t expecting a surge as schools returned, since schools don’t drive the epidemic. “One of the stated reasons for keeping schools closed was to avoid some surge in cases when they open – that’s never happened across western Europe,” he said. Which begs the question: why were schools closed to “avoid some surge in cases when they open” if this has never happened? And why now are children subject to wearing masks all day and constant testing and having to self-isolate whenever they (or a classmate) gets a false positive? Is it all “just in case”?
Perhaps more significant, though, is that this no-show of a surge occurred despite the UK being dominated by the British Covid variant, as the graph below shows, which the Government says is more deadly and more contagious.
New ONS data published on Friday (see graph below) shows that new daily infections in the winter peaked around December 26th – 10 days before the lockdown on January 5th that we were told needed to be “tough enough” to contain the new mutant variant.
So, the new variant that was supposed to be 50% more transmissible than its predecessor goes into decline just as it becomes dominant, 10 days before lockdown and immediately after Christmas. This is the opposite of a Christmas surge – it’s a post-Christmas plummet!
No schools surge, no Christmas surge, and the British variant in decline well over a week before lockdown. None of these facts is “right”, none of them fits the mainstream narrative, whereby dangerous new variants are the reason we must stay locked down even as we are vaccinated.
A similar story is repeated in Denmark. Back at the start of February, epidemiologists with their models of doom were sounding the alarm about the coming flood from the British variant, reputedly so contagious that lockdowns could barely contain it. Here’s the alarmist report in Science magazine published on Feb 3rd.
On its face, the curve of COVID-19 infections in Denmark looks reassuring enough. A nationwide lockdown has led numbers to plummet from more than 3,000 daily cases in mid-December 2020 to just a few hundred now. But don’t be fooled. “Sure, the numbers look nice,” says Camilla Holten Møller of the Statens Serum Institute, who heads a group of experts modeling the epidemic. “But if we look at our models, this is the calm before the storm.”
That’s because the graph really reflects two epidemics: one, shrinking fast, that’s caused by older variants of SARS-CoV-2, and a smaller, slowly growing outbreak of B.1.1.7, the variant first recognised in England and now driving a big third wave of the pandemic there. If B.1.1.7 keeps spreading at the same pace in Denmark, it will become the dominant variant later this month and cause the overall number of cases to rise again, despite the lockdown, Holten Møller says. “It is a complete game changer.”
The same is likely happening in many countries without being noticed. But a massive virus-sequencing effort has allowed Denmark, a country of 5.8 million, to track the rise of the new COVID-19 variant more closely than any other country. “All eyes are on Denmark right now,” says Kristian Andersen, an infectious diseases researcher at Scripps Research who is advising the Danish Government. “When it comes to B.1.1.7, is there a way in which… we can prevent the kind of calamity that we have seen in the U.K. and Ireland, for example?” he asks.
The Danish Government had already tightened restrictions in December and January, closing schools, hospitality and leisure, reducing the cap on gatherings from 10 to five and doubling the distancing requirement from one to two metres. Yet the British variant was still, a month later, estimated to be growing exponentially, with R at 1.07.
So what happened after the epidemiologists’ predictions on February 3rd? The British variant did indeed continue to grow in dominance, as the graph above shows. But what about positive cases? Precipitous decline.
Nothing – completely flat from the start of February. Furthermore, far from the “super-contagious” British variant driving a surge as it arrived, its emergence at the start of January coincided with the plummeting of infections.
None of this is right. None of it fits the narrative about a super-contagious, super-deadly British variant. None of it was predicted by the modellers or anticipated by the Government ministers who listen to them.
Perhaps somebody should tell them.