Day: 9 May 2021

Keeping Social Distancing Beyond June Would Be “Morally Wrong”, Says Steve Baker

Conservative backbencher Steve Baker has written in the Sun that it would be morally wrong for anti-Covid measures such as social distancing to stay in place past June 21st. Mr Baker also says that Britain should give start giving vaccines to poorer countries since most vulnerable people in Britain are already fully vaccinated.

As all Conservatives know, we won’t be able to level up, contain our debts, grow our way to recovery or support our public services if we continue to ask people and businesses to operate under restrictions.

In early April 2020, Her Majesty invited us to look forward to “better days” when “we will meet again”. So it’s great news the Government is set to declare that we can and should once again hug our nearest and dearest from next week. Now we must look ahead to June 21st as the date by which freedom truly means freedom.

Mr Baker should ask here why the Government has been able to tell us not to cuddle our “nearest and dearest” at any point over the past year anyway.

The data is so good, and the doomsayers so wrong, that it cannot possibly be rational or morally right for us to have to socially distance from each other in any context or setting in the U.K. beyond June 21st. Being social is key to being well so by June 21st at the latest, Britain must meet again, must be reunited in every sense, and we must start healing the broken bonds of the last year with social contact and normal human interaction. 

The Queen, in her enduring wisdom, also said that we must “join with all nations across the globe in a common endeavour, using the great advances of science and our instinctive compassion to heal”. There can be no doubt that once we have vaccinated those vulnerable to Covid in the U.K., the right thing is for Britain proudly to lead the world in delivering surplus vaccines to developing countries.  

Brexit gives us the freedom to determine our own future, but it also gives us a chance to lead in the world as we always have done, to ensure that admirable British values are exported across the globe.

Just as we should not lock ourselves down needlessly at home once we have vaccinated the vulnerable, nor should we be hoarding vaccines when they can be doing so much more good overseas in fighting a virus that is most harmful to older people and those with underlying health conditions. There can be no greater service to the world’s citizens in 2021 than protecting those vulnerable to Covid, wherever they may be.  

As we start this new chapter in our history – outside the EU and having vaccinated the vulnerable against Covid – it’s time to unleash this country’s true potential by making the most of the benefits of the brilliant NHS vaccination rollout, to lift these appalling restrictions safely and proportionately in line with the harm Covid is capable of causing, and by finally – as the Prime Minister said in February – reclaiming our lives once and for all.

Worth reading in full.

COVID-19: Just the Facts

We’re publishing an original piece today by Dr Will Jones, one of Lockdown Sceptics’ editors and regular contributors, which tries to answer 12 key questions about COVID-19 as factually as possible, referencing the best, most up-to-date evidence. We’ve decided to stick it just below ‘About’ in the main menu on the right-hand side.

The questions he considers are:

  • How deadly is COVID-19?
  • How is COVID-19 Spread?
  • What about asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission?
  • Do lockdowns work?
  • Does social distancing work?
  • Are lockdowns harmful?
  • Are the vaccines effective?
  • Are the vaccines safe?
  • Do masks work?
  • Are masks safe?
  • Are effective treatments available?
  • What should governments have done?

To give you a taster, here’s Will’s answer to question number three: What about asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission?

Asymptomatic infection is typically characterised by a much lower viral load and consequently much lower infectiousness. The study in JAMA on household secondary attack rate (SAR) cited above found that asymptomatic infections had a SAR of just 0.7% versus a SAR of 18% for symptomatic infection. The proportion of infections that are asymptomatic increases among those with immunity from previous infection or vaccination, showing that it is a characteristic of immunity.

People become infectious around two days prior to onset of symptoms as viral load peaks. This pre-symptomatic transmission is estimated to account for around 6.4% of spread, according to a study of actual transmission events from Singapore. Modelled estimates of the contribution of pre-symptomatic spread appear to go too high.

This means that people without symptoms, whether asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, are not major drivers of the epidemic.

The whole thing is very much worth reading in full.

Britons Catching Covid after Being Vaccinated Get Milder Symptoms

According to the data gathered by the ZOE Covid Study app based at King’s College London, Britons catching coronavirus post-vaccination get a milder form of the disease. Sarah Knapton, the Telegraph‘s Science Editor, has more.

The team at King’s said as the number of people being vaccinated increased, those reporting an infection after the jab was rising, but the symptoms had changed.

Prof Tim Spector, lead scientist on the ZOE Covid Study app, and professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s, said: “Whereas in the past about half of people had classic symptoms in the first week, less than a third do now, if they’ve had a vaccination.

“And so you’re gonna get less symptoms, they’ll be less severe, they won’t be classic, so do keep an open mind and do get a test when we ask you to, that way we’ll keep a close eye on it, and make sure that even if mild, you’re not going to pass it on to other people.

“The importance of our survey is getting even greater because the disease is shifting. The fact that we haven’t relied on those three symptoms like official government ones allows us much more breadth to find out what’s really going on, and whether not only the new various [sic] might be causing different symptoms.”

A third of UK adults are now fully vaccinated against Covid-19, latest figures have shown. A total of 17,669,379 people have received both jabs, the equivalent of 33.5 per cent of all people aged 18 and over.

Meanwhile, 35,371,669 people in the UK have now received a first dose of vaccine, the equivalent of 67.2 per cent of the adult population.

King’s estimates the current risk of a Covid-19 infection for the unvaccinated is one in 46,855, falling to 1 in 97,616 after the first dose, and 1 in 167,341 after the second dose.

Time to reopen Boris?

Worth reading in full.

Two Covid Deaths Reported in Last 24 Hours

While the number of Covid cases increased slightly this week, the number of reported deaths fell by 86%. MailOnline has the story.

Coronavirus daily deaths tumbled by 86% from 14 to just two in a week while cases rose slightly by 6% in the same period as official figures show a third of U.K. adults are now fully vaccinated against Covid.   

The latest Department for Health figures show that the number of daily virus cases rose from 1,671 to 1,770 on last Sunday while the number of Covid deaths plummeted in further evidence of the efficacy of vaccines. 

Official figures also show that more than 17.6 million people have now received both jabs, with England and Northern Ireland both estimated to have given two doses to 33.6% of their adult population – slightly ahead of Wales (33.4%) and Scotland (33.1%)…

Meanwhile, 35,371,669 people in the U.K. have now received a first dose of vaccine – the equivalent of 67.2% of the adult population.  Wales has given a first dose to 76.2% of its adult population, ahead of Northern Ireland (66.9%), England (66.8%) and Scotland (65.4%).   

The Prime Minister should go much further tomorrow than simply announcing that hugging will be “allowed” from May 17th.

Worth reading in full.

Government to “Allow” Us to Cuddle Friends and Family From May 17th

As if we ever needed the Government’s permission, Michael Gove says that Brits will be allowed to hug friends and family from May 17th – that is, “all being well”! MailOnline has the story.

The Cabinet Office minister said “intimate contact” between people in different households is set to return when the latest stage of the roadmap is reached in a week’s time. 

Boris Johnson is set to confirm the relaxation at a Downing Street press conference tomorrow, after the vaccine rollout and plunging infections led to huge pressure from Tory MPs to speed up his plans…

It is also expected that funerals will be permitted to take place for up to 30 people from May 17th – a month earlier than anticipated.

But rules for weddings and “other life or commemorative events” will update as expected, with only 30 guests able to attend indoor receptions until June 21st.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Gove said that the Government wanted to restore “contact between friends and family”.

He said: “All being well, the Prime Minister will confirm tomorrow that there will be a relaxation, we’ve already indicated a proportionate relaxation on international travel, very limited at this stage because we have to be safe.

“In the same way, as we move into stage three of our road map it will be the case that we will see people capable of meeting indoors.

“And without prejudice to a broader review of social distancing, it is also the case that friendly contact, intimate contact, between friends and family is something we want to see restored.”

Asked if that meant hugs will be allowed again from around May 17th, he said: “Yes.”

Gove also said that “we’ll be seeing more about [whether mask-wearing rules will continue in secondary schools beyond May 17th] shortly”, despite Education Secretary Gavin Williamson signalling last week that the decision had already been made.

Mr Gove said he was “genuinely worried” about Indian coronavirus variants and whether they might take hold in the U.K.. But he said currently there was not an issue that would derail the roadmap.

He said the Government is reviewing whether pupils should continue to wear masks in schools from May 17th – something Gavin Williamson previously said will be dropped.

Ministers have faced calls from union leaders for face coverings to remain in secondary schools and colleges for longer. 

When asked whether mask-wearing in schools will end, Mr Gove said: “What we want to do throughout is balance public health by making sure we can return to normal as quickly as possible.”

“I won’t pre-empt that judgment, we’ll be seeing more about it shortly.”

It seems as though the Government could still bend to pressure from the teaching unions yet.

The MailOnline report is worth reading in full.

Stop Press: It is becoming increasingly difficult to tell the difference between reality and spoof: BBC News has produced a report on “how to hug safely” that could well have been published on Babylon Bee.

Stop Press 2: Silkie Carlo, the Director of Big Brother Watch, has pointed out that hugging was never not “allowed”.

Nearly Nine Out of 10 Young Adults Want to Be Vaccinated Against Covid, According to New Survey – so What’s the Point of Vaccine Passports?

Government insiders believe that domestic vaccine passports “may focus minds” and “nudge” young people into accepting Covid vaccines. But a new survey of 17,000 Brits suggests that nearly nine out of 10 young adults want to be vaccinated anyway. Vaccine acceptance rates barely differ across different age brackets, according to the survey. The Mail on Sunday has the story.

The vast majority of younger adults who have not yet been vaccinated against Covid say they are likely to take up the offer of a jab, according to a major new survey.

A poll of almost 17,000 Britons by ORB International, working with Imperial College and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, found younger people’s attitudes to vaccination barely differ from those of the middle-aged.

Among those aged 45 to 54 who have not yet been invited for their first jab, 85% said they would definitely or probably have the vaccine. For those aged 25 to 44, it was 84% and for those in the 18-to-24 age bracket it was 85%.

Given the enthusiasm for the Covid vaccines among younger populations, what is the point of introducing domestic vaccine passports, as the Government is currently considering? If anything, these could lead to fewer people (including young people) getting vaccinated, according to SAGE member Professor Stephen Reicher. Earlier this month, Professor Reicher (quoted in the MailOnline) said the Government was “setting itself up for failure” if it introduced such a scheme.

There is a very traditional, well-known psychological process called reactance: that if you take away people’s autonomy, if you force them to do something, they will reassert their autonomy, even if that means not doing things that they would otherwise want to do.

Making something compulsory, or at least doing something which leaves the perception of compulsion, can actually undermine activities which otherwise people would do and might even want to do.

Another Economist/YouGov poll of Americans suggests that almost 80% of people who oppose the Covid vaccine will never change their minds. “Never” presumably includes “even if vaccine passports were introduced” – again highlighting the pointlessness of imposing such a scheme, if the aim is to persuade the hesitant to be vaccinated.

More than two-thirds of British adults have now received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine and a large proportion of those who are most vulnerable to the virus have been fully vaccinated.

The Mail on Sunday report is worth reading in full.

News Round Up