Day: 13 July 2021

Covid Rules at University of Oxford to Remain Unchanged After July 19th

The number of settings in which life will continue as it is now after ‘Freedom Day’ keeps growing. Most recently, students at the University of Oxford have been told that rules on mask-wearing and social distancing will remain unchanged after July 19th due to high infection rates in the county.

The number of positive Covid tests in Oxford has been on the up in recent weeks, but deaths remain low, with zero deaths having been recorded in seven of the last 10 weeks and no more than three deaths recorded in the other three weeks.

Graph from Oxfordshire County Council.

University leaders haven’t let this stop them imposing tough lockdown restrictions. In an email sent to staff and students on Tuesday (and kindly forwarded to us at Lockdown Sceptics by a reader), Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, the Principal of Somerville College, said measures would remain “until further notice”.

Please note that, whilst the Government has confirmed plans to lift Covid restrictions on Monday, July 19th, the University’s policies on social distancing, face coverings and working from home will not change due to the high rates of Covid in Oxford. We will therefore continue with our Covid restrictions in College until further notice and, for the moment, we will not be allowing visitors.

On its website, the University warns that “Covid remains a real threat to many people in our community and… the pandemic is not yet over”. Students are instructed to continue following these measures:

  • Continue social distancing – assume two metres within University buildings unless told otherwise.
  • Keep washing your hands.
  • Keep wearing a face covering (unless you’re exempt).
  • Get tested – twice a week, with Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs); and take a PCR test if you have symptoms or have received a positive LFD test result or have been advised that you are a close contact of someone who has a PCR-confirmed case of Covid.
  • Continue to follow the self-isolation guidance.

If we can’t banish these restrictions from one of the country’s – the world’s – most learned institutions, what chance have we got of scrapping them from pubs and restaurants?

Four Million Vulnerable People Told to Avoid the Unvaccinated

Just after Health Secretary Sajid Javid said Britain should take a step “closer to normal life”, almost four million clinically vulnerable people have been told by the Government to continue taking “additional precautions” to protect themselves against Covid, including avoiding those who have not been vaccinated. The i has the story.

Updated Government guidance issued on Monday for the 3.8 million people identified as clinically extremely vulnerable stops short of telling them to shield again, but warns them to take extra measures “when Covid disease levels in the general community are high”.

It says: “As someone who is at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill if you were to catch Covid, you may wish to think particularly carefully about additional precautions you might wish to continue to take.”

The guidance suggests people “limit the close contact they have with those they do not usually meet with” and “consider whether you and those you are meeting have been vaccinated”.

Those classed as clinically extremely vulnerable include people with some cancers, illnesses and severe respiratory conditions, who are deemed to be more at risk from Covid infection due to compromised immune systems.

Many are also not able to receive a Covid vaccine due to their health conditions. 

Health Secretary Sajid Javid told Parliament it was the “right time” to get the nation “closer to normal life” as he announced a relaxation of Covid rules for the non-vulnerable, but said a “new phase of continued caution” is needed as case numbers “sadly will get worse before they get better”.

Mr Javid said: “There are many people that are immunosuppressed or severely clinically vulnerable, and it is important that every stage of dealing with this pandemic that we are thinking of them and having them front of mind. 

“That is what I believe we have done. Of course, where the people in that category are able to take the vaccine, they should be able to do so.”

Critics have accused the Government of abandoning those most in need with the announcement, while charities said the situation for vulnerable people is “very concerning”. …

Rachel Winter Jones, who is clinically extremely vulnerable, said the changes made “no sense” for those who have children under the age of 18, for whom vaccines are currently unavailable. “What, so I can’t meet with my children?,” she told i. …

Previous rules on shielding were lifted in March, with the clinically extremely vulnerable told that “close contact with friends and family will be a personal choice” and that “it is important that you continue to be cautious when meeting others”.

Worth reading in full.

What Pandemic? New Figures Reveal Age-Adjusted Mortality in the First Six Months of 2021 is Below the 10-year Average

New figures from the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFA) Mortality Monitor released today show that cumulative mortality in the first six months of 2021 in England and Wales is running 0.4% below the 10-year average, once adjusted for the size and age of the population (see above). This means, despite the surge in winter Covid deaths in January and February that spooked the country into accepting ongoing restrictions, 2021 is officially now a low mortality year. The low mortality since March has entirely cancelled out the initial spike.

The IFA used to report the cumulative age-adjusted mortality figures compared to the 10-year average each week, but controversially changed their baseline in their weekly reports in May from the 10-year average to 2019 (the lowest mortality year on record) just as 2021 was about to go below average. This means we have had to wait for the quarterly report today for the next update in order to be able to announce this milestone.

England and Wales (BMJ)

The past 10 years are the least deadly years in history (see above), so for 2021 to be below the 10-year average (so far) means it too is one of the least deadly years in history. Even the pandemic year of 2020 was one of the least deadly years, having lower age-adjusted mortality than every year before 2009. Not all of the additional deaths are from COVID-19, of course – many are due to lockdowns and other aspects of the Government’s response and the attendant panic.

The new figures raise the obvious question: how can the Government justify continuing with any kind of restrictions or emergency measures for a moment longer when overall mortality is so low? Where is the ’emergency’ that justifies extraordinary measures?

Some will say it is only the restrictions that have prevented things being much worse. But where is the evidence of that? The U.K. has had more Covid deaths per head of population than countries such as Sweden which had fewer restrictions, while U.S. states which had few or no restrictions over the winter fared no worse (and often better) than those which had the strictest measures. Numerous studies have shown no relationship between restrictions and COVID-19 death tolls.

The latest figures, placing 2021 squarely among the least deadly years in history, should leave no one in any doubt that the emergency is well and truly over.

How Would You Prepare Your Former Self for the Age of Covid?

We are publishing an excellent comment today by reader Jimi Cazot that he wrote in response to a Telegraph article on the introduction of Covid vaccine passports. Jimi asks: “If you could go back 10 years and speak to your former self, what would you tell that unsuspecting fool?” His answer below is bound to resonate with many readers.

In the future, many of your national assets will be owned by China. Most of the goods you buy will be made there too, which you will not purchase from your fellow countrymen but a sole supplier owned by an American.

The most successful politicians will not be elder statesmen committed to public service but young upstarts who view the job as a stepping stone towards tremendous personal wealth in later life.

Your Government will pass bills to quash peaceful protest and enable the recruitment of child spies. This won’t be limited to the intelligence services but bodies like the environmental and food standards agencies too. When you ask “why”, nobody will be able to tell you.

Your Government will set up ‘nudge units’ staffed by unknown behavioural scientists. They will tell you what to eat, drink and how you should behave. There will be patronising health and safety signs everywhere you look.

“The media will grow dependent on Government advertising revenue and cease reporting opinions and events that contradict official narratives.

The internet will be dominated by a small number of big-tech companies who will delete all information that they disagree with.

In the name of safeguarding students from harm, schools and universities will cease debate and enquiry. People with contrary views will be barred from campuses. Even student newspapers will be censored by ‘sensitivity readers’.

At work, you will be made to undergo psychological re-education. The people lecturing you will have no knowledge of psychology but nonetheless try to change you at a subconscious level.

People will be sacked from their jobs for saying there are two biological sexes or for telling an ill-judged joke. They will not be forgiven if they apologise.

Every major institution and employer will sign up to this censorious culture and soon you will censor yourself when speaking to friends and colleagues without even knowing that you’ve done so.

When a virus emerges that only kills 0.3% of those who catch it – the majority of which older than the average span of a life – you will be bombarded, 24-hours a day, by terrifying public messaging.

The police will stop you from meeting a friend for a coffee in the park. They will rummage through your shopping bags to make sure you’ve only bought things that they deem essential. They will film you as you walk in the countryside and put the footage on the internet so to shame you.

Neighbour will be told to spy on neighbour, and when you have friends round for dinner the police will knock on your door and give you a fine.

You will be told to stay two metres away from other people at all times. You will be made to wear a facemask even though there’s no evidence that they do anything at all. When this becomes apparent, scientists will say you must wear them so as not to frighten other people. Your freedom will end where another’s fear begins.

Families will be kept from dying loved ones. Widows will be denied the comfort of human touch. Daughters will be arrested for collecting their mothers from care homes.

Vast numbers of children will be sent home from school and denied a proper education just because one classmate lost their sense of smell.

Weddings will be cancelled. Nightclubs will be closed. Churches will be shut. Singing and dancing will be prohibited. Lovers will be kept apart.

Vaccines will be created using messenger ribonucleic acid technology. When the inventor of that technology warns against its use by those at little risk from the virus, records of him will be expunged and someone more ‘helpful’ will be credited with his work.

You will be told that the vaccine isn’t compulsory, yet those who refuse might be sacked from their jobs. They will be made to queue for longer at airports. They will be put under house arrest if they come into contact with someone who has the virus, whilst those who have had it will not. They will be stopped from going to bars and stadiums. There will be two classes of people: the clean and the unclean.

Your unassailable and decadent leaders will ignore the rules they set for others again and again, blissfully untroubled by the cries of hypocrisy.

Global leaders, bureaucrats, scientists, royalty and the super-rich will meet in private to discuss how we all must live. They’ll say there are too many people and not enough resources, but nobody will ask who we should get rid of and how. Blinded by hubris, they’ll believe that they alone can bring about a utopian future. The language they speak will be impenetrable to most, it made up of meaningless phrases like ‘stakeholder capitalism’, ‘collectivisation’, ‘sustainable development’ and ‘Build Back Better’. Every now and then, however, they’ll make things very clear: “You will own nothing. You will rent everything. You will be happy.”

Few will question what this means, how it will be brought about or what mandate they have for doing so. Those who do, or any of the above, will be insulted, ridiculed and so pushed to the margins of society that they are effectively silenced.

Most will stand on their front doorstep at 8pm every Thursday, clapping their hands and bashing saucepans.

Now, what do you think your former self would say?

Emmanuel Macron Mandates Covid Vaccination for All French Health Workers and Introduces Vaccine Passports

Emmanuel Macron has announced that all French health workers face mandatory Covid vaccination and that vaccine passports will be required in restaurants, shopping malls and hospitals, and on trains and planes, effectively cutting off unvaccinated French people from their daily lives. Cancelling all large events which were set to take place in the coming month, the President also warned that ALL French citizens could face mandatory vaccination later this year.

To get a vaccine passport, you have to be fully vaccinated, have a fresh negative test or have recently recovered from the virus. In his address, Macron said that France will start charging for some Covid tests, which up to now have been free, giving many citizens little choice but to get vaccinated. Sky News has more.

In a televised address, France’s President said all health care workers, nursing home workers and anyone who cares for the elderly or unwell at home must have coronavirus vaccines by September 15th.

Those who fail to do so could face sanctions or fines.

The President also announced anyone who wants to go to a restaurant, shopping centre or several other public places will need a Covid pass, which can only be given to people who have been fully vaccinated, have a fresh negative test or have recently recovered from the virus.

The additional restrictions come as the country continues to battle a resurgence of cases driven mainly by the Delta variant.

Some 40% of France’s population is fully vaccinated but there are pockets of vaccine scepticism.

“The country is facing a strong resumption of the epidemic touching all our territory,” Mr Macron said. …

He said the French Government would declare a medical state of emergency again starting on Tuesday, which allows him more scope to impose virus restrictions. …

In France, vaccines are widely available for anyone 12 and over, but take-up slowed in recent weeks because of vaccine hesitancy, a sense that the virus is no longer a threat, and because some people decided to put off their jabs until after summer holidays.

We are not that far behind this state of affairs in England, where care home workers face mandatory vaccination and large indoor venues have been urged to require vaccine passports.

The Sky News report is worth reading in full.

Since the 8th of March, There Have Been 9,484 *Fewer* Deaths Than Normal

Today the ONS announced that there were 8,808 deaths in England and Wales in the week ending 2nd July 2021. This is 118 more than the previous week, but still 5.2% below the five-year average. Here’s the chart from the ONS:

Deaths in England and Wales have now been below the five-year average for 14 of the past 17 weeks. Over that time, there were 9,484 fewer deaths than you’d expect based on the average of the last five years. And recall that, due to population ageing, the five-year average understates the expected number of deaths. Hence the true level of “negative excess mortality” is even greater.

The number of deaths registered in the week ending July 2nd was below the five-year average in seven out of nine English regions. (Only the North East and North West saw positive excess deaths.) Compared to the five-year average, weekly deaths were 10.7% lower in the East of England, and a remarkable 12.1% lower in the South East.

The fact that “negative excess mortality” has now persisted for three consecutive months supports the hypothesis that deaths were “brought forward” by the pandemic.

It’s been widely noted that the link between cases and deaths has weakened substantially in recent weeks, thanks to the build up of population immunity. Although the number of daily infections has surpassed 20,000, the number of daily deaths remains in the low double digits. However, the situation is actually even more positive: measured by excess deaths, the pandemic hasn’t taken any lives since early March.

News Round-Up