Day: 13 June 2021

Calling All Readers in the Reopened States in America – We Want to Hear From You

At Lockdown Sceptics we want to hear from our readers in the United States of America, and particularly those living in reopened states like Texas, Florida, Mississippi, South Dakota and so on. As the U.K. Government is set to announce yet another month of socially destructive, economically ruinous restrictions – and suggestions of restrictions continuing for another year or even permanently have been voiced by Government ministers and advisers – we want to tell the stories they don’t want people to hear, of Western regions where life is back to normal and people don’t live under Government-induced fear and endless restrictions on basic freedoms.

Tell us about what life is like for you now, when restrictions were lifted, and what people’s attitude around you is to the virus. Do you have a video of a large crowd you were in recently that we could put up – maybe a sports stadium or a concert?

Email us here. If you have footage to share that’s too large for an email maybe tweet it so we can link to it. I imagine many people in these states have stopped keeping up-to-date with the latest Covid nonsense, but if you are still reading Lockdown Sceptics and have a story to tell of living free please get in touch. We’ll publish as many as we can.

U.K. Airport Passenger Numbers Drop 75% In 2020

The number of passengers travelling through U.K. airports fell by 223 million in 2020 because of travel restrictions, a decline of 75% from 2019. The Guardian has the story.

About 74 million people passed through U.K. airports in 2020, less than a quarter of the 297 million recorded in 2019, according to PA Media’s analysis of annual Civil Aviation Authority data.

The Airport Operators Association (AOA) said the figures demonstrated the devastating impact of the virus on aviation.

Cardiff airport suffered the largest drop in passenger numbers at 86.7%, followed by Glasgow Prestwick at 85.8% and Exeter at 85.5%.

The figure for Southampton fell by 83.4%, London City by 82.3% and Leeds Bradford by 81.2%.

Heathrow, the U.K.’s largest airport, recorded a 72.7% decline from 80.9 million passengers in 2019 to 22.1 million last year. The figures include all passengers who travelled through British airports excluding the Channel Islands or Isle of Man.

Demand for air travel collapsed in March 2020 when the U.K. went into its first national lockdown, mirroring lockdowns elsewhere and forcing airlines around the world to ground their planes.

Travel began to recover by late summer and into the autumn, but passenger numbers plummeted again in November after many restrictions were reimposed in the U.K. as it faced a second wave of the virus.

Karen Dee, the AOA’s Chief Executive, said: “These figures lay bare the devastating impact Covid has had on U.K. airports. With passengers down nearly 90% between April and December 2020, airports’ economic output was decimated and significant numbers of jobs were lost.”

She said the Government’s “overly cautious” approach to reopening travel meant this summer would be “as bad, if not worse, than 2020”. U.K. airports will lose at least another £2.6 billion in revenues this summer, following a similar loss between April and September 2020, the AOA estimates.

Dee said: “This leaves U.K. airports trailing behind international competitors in the E.U. and U.S., who not only received significantly more financial support from their governments but are also now able to restart travel over the summer.”

Worth reading in full.

One Rule For Them… G7 Leaders Fiddle While the Global Economy Burns

Joe Biden, Boris Johnson and other world leaders have been accused of breaking strict social distancing rules at the G7 summit in Cornwall over the weekend. Indeed, not just breaking them, but of making no effort to pretend they’re complying with them. The MailOnline has more.

At a beach barbecue on Saturday guests were served sirloin steak and lobster while being entertained by a sea shanty group and a Red Arrows flypast. …

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab insisted “there was social distancing” at the event when asked about it on Sky News on Sunday morning.

“Maybe someone tripped up, maybe it’s a mistake but it’s out there and people will be reasonably saying, ‘You’re not allowing me to gather with my friends and family at a wedding or a funeral, but look at what you guys are doing,”’ interviewer Trevor Phillips said.

Raab responded that there have always been different regulations for social gatherings and government business.

Downing Street has also defended the barbecue, insisting it complied with coronavirus rules.

Less than 30 guests were at the event, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said.

“The event last night was done in an entirely Covid-secure way within the existing rules,” the spokesman said.

You can read that piece here.

Among those questioning the world leaders’ double standards is Robert Peston, the ITV presenter, who posted a picture of attendees of Saturday night’s barbecue on Twitter.

Another person who’s been shocked – shocked, I tell you – by the behaviour at the G7 is James Delingpole. He’s written a piece for Breitbart headlined: “No Masks, No Distancing – The Disgraceful Covid Hypocrisy of the G7 Elite.

At least one good thing has emerged from the G7 summit: we now know that President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, President Bieber of Canada and the various other world leaders who’ve been sunning themselves in Cornwall are ocean-going, copper-bottomed hypocrites.

Note how their personal rules on mask-wearing, “social distancing” [an egregious oxymoron], quarantining and so on differ quite markedly from the ones they’ve been imposing on us ordinary folk these last 18 months.

Worth reading in full.

The Huge Economic Cost of Delaying “Freedom Day” by Four Weeks

It is almost guaranteed that the Government will extend lockdown by at least four weeks. What is not yet clear is how much this will cost. Economically speaking, the outlook is dire. According to hospitality industry estimates, hundreds of thousands of jobs will be put at risk and the economy could lose £4 billion. The Sunday Times has more.

The Prime Minister has been accused of killing the summer of fun, with thousands of events set to be cancelled, including the potential for a second successive summer without big music festivals.

More than 5,000 music gigs by artists including Olly Murs, Beverley Knight and McFly are also expected to be cancelled at a cost of £500 million.

According to industry estimates, a four-week delay to the end of restrictions will cost pubs, bars, hotels and restaurants £3 billion in lost sales and £4 billion to the economy overall. A further 200,000 jobs in the sector, which still has 600,000 people on furlough, could also be lost, according to Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of lobby group U.K. Hospitality.

Under the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, all social distancing restrictions were due to end on June 21st. At present, theatrical performances and sporting events have their attendances capped at 50% capacity while pubs, bars and restaurants are allowed to provide table service only, with social distancing and the “rule of six” indoors. All nightclubs are closed.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, 73, the theatre impresario, said that another delay to the roadmap delay would be “devastating” and pleaded with ministers to increase the permitted attendance from 50% to 75% as a compromise.

Melvin Benn, the promoter of Wireless, Download, Reading and Leeds festivals, said it would be “a complete and utter disaster for the country” if the easing of restrictions was pushed back to July 19th because test events showed capacity crowds could attend safely…

The final decision on whether to cancel freedom day is expected to be made at a meeting tonight, or first thing tomorrow, ahead of the announcement by the prime minister later the same day.

Worth reading in full.

Government Does Not Believe in Lab Leak Theory, Says Dominic Raab

Following discussions on the origins of Covid among the G7 leaders in Cornwall on Saturday, Dominic Raab has said that on the “balance of probabilities” the U.K. Government does not believe in the lab leak theory. It is “much more likely”, he added, that the virus “jumped” from animals to humans. The MailOnline has the story.

Asked if he had been involved in G7 discussions about the lab leak theory, [the Foreign Secretary] told Sky News: “I haven’t personally but of course it has created part of the backdrop and officials have been comparing notes on this.

“If you are asking me whether we think on the balance of probabilities, if you like, that it originated in a lab, our best information for now is that it didn’t.

“But we don’t have all of the answers, that is why internationally we wanted the review to be able to go into to get all of the answers, to have all the cooperation, so we have the full picture rather than these possible, potential, plausible options.

“But on balance we do not believe that it came from a laboratory. We think it is much more likely to have jumped if you like from animals to humans.”

A recent report by the Wall Street Journal, citing a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report, claimed three researchers from the Wuhan lab sought hospital care in November 2019.  

The report, which provided fresh details on the number of researchers affected, the timing of their illnesses, and their hospital visits, sparked renewed calls for a probe into whether the virus came from a lab. 

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director General of the World Health Organisation, says that all hypotheses on the origins of Covid remain “open“.

The MailOnline report is worth reading in full.

A Doctor Writes: “Why the Panic?”

There follows a guest post from our in-house medical expert, formerly a senior NHS doctor.

At the end of March, I thought I’d written my last article for Lockdown Sceptics. All the data was pointing in the same direction – hospitalisations falling, vaccinations increasing. I firmly believed that we would be back to normal by the summer and there was no further need for me to comment on graphs of hospital admission data.

But I’m back. Not because hospitals are once again packed with Covid patients, but precisely because they aren’t. Last week I wrote a piece showing that hospital admission rates and intensive care occupancy continue to fall – yet we are exposed to a daily diet of catastrophising about rising community ‘cases’ and deadly new variants to justify continuing societal restrictions. 

So, let’s have a look at the news of hospitalisations increasing. Graph One shows the admissions from the community broken down by English regions from April through to June 8th. Indeed, there is a scary looking increase in admissions. The biggest increase proportionally seems to be in the North West and the Midlands.

But let’s put this into context by looking at Graph Two. Not quite so scary. The Prime Minister is correct in saying that hospitalisations have risen in the last few weeks. He must have forgotten to mention how that relates to the overall context – in that the rise is negligible in practical terms.

And the case mix continues to reflect a different segment of the population being badly affected enough to be admitted to hospital. Graph Three shows a continuing increase in the proportion of younger people and a continuing drop in the older, more vulnerable age group admitted to hospital. The difference is substantial, consistent and obvious. We know that younger people are less likely to be seriously ill, less likely to need prolonged admission and far less likely to die. So why the panic? Continuing to measure ‘Covid cases’ in the community makes about as much sense as testing for the common cold – also frequently caused by a coronavirus, by the way.

News Round-Up

Claims the Indian Variant is “Hyper-Transmissible” are Nonsense – And Here’s the Graph that Proves It

Yesterday I wrote about the latest Public Health England (PHE) report claiming that the Delta (Indian) variant is much more infectious than the Alpha (British) variant. I noted that the main measure of transmissibility – the secondary attack rate (i.e., the proportion of contacts that an infected person infects) – has varied over time.

It occurred to me that it would be useful to plot these attack rate values to show them graphically. So I went through the 15 technical briefings released by PHE so far and extracted the secondary attack data for the three variants (Wuhan, Alpha, Delta) and plotted them in the graph above.

There are a few points worth making from this about the infectiousness of the Covid variants.

First, between 85% and 92% of the contacts of all those infected with any of the COVID-19 variants do not get infected. This is an indication of the high level of immunity (i.e., low level of susceptibility) in the population and the low absolute infectiousness of the virus.

Second, new variants appear to start off with – or quickly acquire – a high attack rate compared to established variants, a rate which then declines. The decline for the Alpha variant occurred prior to any significant vaccine coverage meaning it cannot all be attributed to the vaccines. Conversely, despite the high vaccine coverage in April and May the Delta attack rate spiked. Nonetheless, it has already sharply declined. (The reason for the sudden drop in the Alpha attack rate from 10% to 8% at the end of April is unclear.)

Third, the Alpha variant was once more transmissible than the Delta variant at its recent peak, but is now much less transmissible.

While more data from more variants would help to confirm the patterns here, the data so far suggest that new variants will often be more infectious than established variants to begin with, but this will not last. Further, the degree of infectiousness appears to arise more from factors such as the epidemic phase or the season than inherent properties of the variant, save insofar as the new variant is slightly better at evading our immune defences for a time. And I mean slightly. Only 3% more contacts of those infected with the Delta variant are being infected compared to the Alpha variant, a difference that is dropping week on week.

The upshot is we should stop being frightened by claims that the latest new variant is “50% more infectious”, which are a distraction, and focus on levels of serious disease and how best to cope with them.