Day: 22 July 2021

Vaccination of 12 Year-Old Australians Likely to Be Given Go-Ahead Within Days

The vaccination of children as young as 12 is likely to be approved by Australian health authorities on Friday despite ongoing debates worldwide on the safety of extending national vaccine roll-outs to children. The approach being considered in England is currently more cautious, with only clinically vulnerable children and those living with vulnerable adults likely to be offered the vaccine – though it is expected that the offer could be extended to all children by the end of the year. The Mail Australia has the story.

Currently, only [Australians] aged 16 or over were recommended to get the jab.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration, which oversees Australia’s medicines and vaccinations, will announce the approval on Friday, the [Australian] Telegraph reported.

For children with underlying health conditions which can make coronavirus more serious, approval to get the vaccine is set to be fast-tracked with it offered to those eligible within days, senior sources say.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the the new vaccination program would aim to “protect children” and was an “important and welcome additional step”.

“Significantly we planned for this outcome and acquired the vaccines in the event of eligibility,” he said. 

The official approval through the ATAGI should take around four weeks, amid a spate of outbreaks within schools in Victoria.

Several New South Wales schools have also been affected during Sydney’s recent outbreak, including South Coogee Public School in the city’s east where at least four children tested positive.

The outbreak forced 555 primary school students into two weeks of isolation after they were deemed close contacts.

Children as young as 12 have already been receiving vaccines in America for several months. …

The huge change to Australia’s vaccine roll-out comes after Scott Morrison apologised for the program not meeting its targets but insists some of the issues were out of his control.

Worth reading in full.

The Red Screen of Death

Some of our readers may have noticed a couple of days ago that our post entitled “The BBC versus Trump” (not, for the sake of clarity, the full article of the same name by Freddie Attenborough) elicited an excited reaction from their web browser: the “red screen of death”. Google had decided that our website was doing something nefarious, and even though they couldn’t quite manage to be specific about what it was – and even though they sent me an email alert (thanks!) – neverthless when I loaded their helpful webpage and dug in to to the details they only told me that the reason was “N/A”. They suggested we were possibly running a phishing scam, or maybe running malware… they couldn’t be precise, but they made certain that our readers knew about it. Nice of them.

But besides making it very difficult for our readers to view our website (or at least, that particular page), the repercussions included the inability to forward our email newsletter to others, the inability to post links on other sites – a reader couldn’t post a link to the site under an article in the Times, for instance – and even (comically, at least to me) anti-virus alerts from McAfee. All very troubling to a webmaster, I’m sure. But I knew from the moment I got the email alert from Google that it was almost certainly bunk.

How Big a Problem is Scientific Fraud?

Earlier this month the BMJ published a blog post by its former editor Richard Smith entitled: “Time to assume that health research is fraudulent until proven otherwise?” The conclusion was essentially yes. Today we’re publishing an original piece by Mike Hearn looking at fraud and other problems besetting scientific research. Mike was a regular contributor to Lockdown Sceptics and the author of the site’s most read article in its 16-month history. Here is an extract from his latest piece:

It’s been known for years that a lot of claims made by scientists can’t be replicated. In some fields, the majority of all claims appear to not replicate due to a large mix of issues like overly lax thresholds for claiming statistical significance, poor study design and other somewhat subtle errors. But how much research is deliberate falsehood?

The sad truth is the size of the fraud problem is entirely unknown because the institutions of science have absolutely no mechanisms to detect bad behaviour whatsoever. Academia is dominated by (and largely originated) the same ideology calling for the total defunding of the police, so no surprise that they just assume everyone has absolute integrity all the time: research claims are constantly accepted at face value even when obviously nonsensical or fake. Deceptive research sails through peer review, gets published, cited and then incorporated into decision making. There are no rules and it’d be pointless to make any because there’s nobody to enforce them: universities are notorious for solidly defending fraudulent professors.

So let’s turn over the rock and see what crawls out. We’ll start with China and then turn our attention back to more western types of deception.

Mike goes on to describe a phenomenon I wasn’t aware of, namely, the prevalence of fraudulent medical papers by Chinese doctors.

In 2018, the U.S. National Science Foundation announced that: “For the first time, China has overtaken the United States in terms of the total number of science publications.” Should the USA worry about this? Perhaps not. After some bloggers exposed an industrial research-faking operation that had generated at least 600 papers about experiments that never happened, a Chinese doctor reached out to beg for mercy: “Hello teacher, yesterday you disclosed that there were some doctors having fraudulent pictures in their papers. This has raised attention. As one of these doctors, I kindly ask you to please leave us alone as soon as possible… Without papers, you don’t get promotion; without a promotion, you can hardly feed your family… You expose us but there are thousands of other people doing the same. As long as the system remains the same and the rules of the game remain the same, similar acts of faking data are for sure to go on. This time you exposed us, probably costing us our job. For the sake of Chinese doctors as a whole, especially for us young doctors, please be considerate. We really have no choice, please!”

Note the belief that “thousands of other people” are doing the same, and that these doctors need more than one paper to keep being promoted, so the 600 found so far is surely the tip of an iceberg given China’s size. There are about 3.8 million doctors in China implying that there are quite possibly tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of these things in circulation.

Mike is a former Google software engineer and has an excellent blog that you can find here. His piece is very much worth reading in full.

NHS Says 66% of 18-30s Are Vaccinated as of July 18th – But PHE Says its 59%. Don’t They Know?

The NHS has announced that around two thirds of people aged 18-29 in England have now had one vaccine dose. The Telegraph reports.

A third of young adults in England have still not had a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, new figures show.

Around 66.4% of people aged between 18 to 29 had received a first dose as of July 18th, according to estimates from NHS England.

This means 33.6% are likely to be unvaccinated – the equivalent of around 2.9 million adults under 30.

The data shows that vaccine uptake continues to be lower among men than women, with only 65% of men aged 25 to 29 having had a first dose, compared with 71.9% of women in the same age group.

Yet the update from Public Health England, out today, with data up to July 18th, reports the same figure as 59%. It also shows the trend flattening, suggesting it’s unlikely to hit 66% very soon.

What’s going on? This is a difference of around 600,000 people. Don’t they know how many they have vaccinated? How can they disagree by over half a million people?

Stop Press: A reader has got in touch with an explanation.

The PHE figure would appear to be sound see here.

Scroll to the bottom. You’ll see that the 18-24 age group is 59.07% and for 25-29 age group it’s 59%.

The problem is that when the NHS report 66.4% vaccinated this is a deception. For the general population statistic, they arrive at this number by taking total vaccinations and dividing by the population in mid 2019. Of course, many who have had vaccinations have (either due to, or for other reasons) sadly died. (I notice that they’ve just updated this to the mid 2020 population, but it’s still not accurate.)

Meanwhile, the PHE statistic is based on vaccinations given to those in an age group with an NHS number. It’s a reasonable guess that those without an NHS number are less likely to go for an NHS vaccine.

Last time I wrote, I predicted that the error was at least 1.5% and growing.

The statistic you quote suggests the error to be more than 6%.

Applied to the country as a whole, this would mean that only 81.7% of the population has been vaccinated.

The statistic the NHS use is simply not a percentage. It is a deceptive misuse of statistics which is mathematically wrong.

The statistic is so badly wrong, that it is possible that in the future it will be possible to have more than 100% of the population vaccinated.

I believe for this reason that once they start vaccinating children they may switch the statistic.

At the moment, if you are to use the total vaccinations given then you must divide this by the total population in 2021.

Total vaccinations = 46,433,845
Total UK population = 68,265,710

So the total with one dose vaccinated is: 46,433,845/68,265,710 = 68%

This is not as impressive a figure, but it sits in the 60%-80% target we were all told about for herd immunity, and given the additional natural immunity, it’s fair to say that the whole lockdown/rules and nonsense can now come to an end.

We all know, though, that they won’t.

Brits Told To “Keep Life Moving” by Wearing Face Masks in New Government Scare Campaign

It’s as if ‘Freedom Day’ never happened. A new Government ad campaign tells Brits to carry on wearing face masks and to use the NHS Covid app so as to “keep life moving”. One poster warns that “Covid is still with us” and that you can still pass on the virus “even if you’ve been vaccinated”: “[So] let’s wear face coverings in crowded places to protect others.” The Evening Standard has the story.

An official information campaign, which will hit airwaves, newspapers and other media from Thursday, will see the Government replace its “hands, face, space, fresh air” slogan with its new catchphrase: “Keep life moving.”

A video fronted by TV doctor Dr Amir Khan will also recommend people continue to follow social distancing guidance, as the film shows a young man stepping off a pavement to allow an older neighbour to pass.

The advice comes despite Monday being trumpeted as England’s ‘Freedom Day’, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson removing almost all legal restrictions, including social distancing guidelines.

Pressure has also been placed on young people to get a vaccine, as Health Secretary Sajid Javid reiterates the Prime Minister’s plan to make full vaccination a “condition of entry to nightclubs” by the autumn.

The campaign will warn, however, that being doubled jabbed does not entirely protect you from being infected with coronavirus, or from being told to self-isolate.

The campaign instructs people to stick with the behaviour that has become “second nature” over the past year of lockdowns. This advice appears to have been pulled directly out of Susan Michie’s rule book. In June, the top Government adviser and long-time member of the Communist Party of Britain said measures adopted during the pandemic should become part of our “normal” routine behaviour, just as wearing car seat belts has become commonplace. The Evening Standard continues:

The recommendations include using quick-result lateral flow tests twice a week and booking a PCR test if there is any sign of even mild coronavirus symptoms.

People will be encouraged to keep washing their hands regularly, to check in to pubs, bars and restaurants using the Covid app, and to wear face masks in crowded places where “distancing is not possible”, such as public transport or small shops.

It will also place renewed emphasis on the importance of ventilation in fighting infection during social gatherings, while vaccine take-up will also be pushed.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: “Mask-wearers, in my experience, need no encouragement,” says Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens. “So what’s the aim?”

Record 618,903 People in England and Wales ‘Pinged’ Last Week

Almost 620,000 people in England and Wales were told to self-isolate by the NHS Covid app in just one week, up from roughly 520,000 the week before. This is a grim record that highlights the extent of the damage being caused by the so-called “pingdemic“, and will likely be beaten again. Sky News has the story.

The alerts were sent to users of the app in the week to July 14th, telling them they had been in close contact with someone who had tested positive for coronavirus and to self-isolate.

Of those, 607,486 alerts were sent to people in England – up 16.8% on the 520,194 recorded for England in the previous week.

A further approximately 428,000 people were contacted by NHS Test and Trace contact tracers in England and told to self-isolate in the week to July 14th, the latest figures show – about 90% of the 475,465 people identified as close contacts of Covid cases.

This came after 259,265 people tested positive for Covid in England at least one in the same period, up 33% on the previous week.

It is the first set of figures since the majority of restrictions were lifted in England last Monday. …

And on Tuesday, Downing Street said it was “crucial” that people isolate when they are pinged by the NHS Covid app.

Speaking to Kay Burley on Thursday, Kwasi Kwarteng said the Government was “very concerned” about the numbers of people being pinged by the NHS app.

Mr Kwarteng said ministers were “monitoring” the situation and would be setting out a list of exempt critical workers “very soon”, with the expectation that it will be published on Thursday.

The consequences of what has been dubbed the recent “pingdemic” has been reports of empty shelves in some supermarkets, businesses left without staff and delays in supplies reaching consumers.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: The latest ONS data on the percentage of the adult population with antibodies against Covid suggests self-isolating is unnecessary. More than nine in 10 U.K. adults would test positive for antibodies, the figures show.

Police Response Times “Under Strain” Because of Staff Shortages Caused by “Pingdemic”

The “pingdemic” isn’t just damaging business and social life, but also the ability of the police to deal with crime. The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) says that response times are “under strain” due to staff shortages caused by self-isolation rules. 7.3% of police officers and staff are currently absent from work, yet the Government appears to be in no hurry to come up with a solution. Sky News has the story.

The NPCC said that in some forces, functions such as control room operations are being hit by high numbers of absent staff, impacting their ability to respond quickly to calls.

Earlier, one Police and Crime Commissioner warned the public that call response times will rise due to the large amount [number] of people being asked to self-isolate after coming into contact with a positive coronavirus case.

Steve Turner of Cleveland Police said the force has had to cancel rest days and annual leave for some officers, as well as bringing in others from different shifts, to fill gaps caused by staff having to quarantine after being close to someone with Covid.

It comes as a leading epidemiologist, who runs the ZOE Covid symptom study, claimed the NHS Covid app is no longer useful.

Professor Tim Spector told Sky News: “I think employers should tell their staff if they feel unwell, they have cold-like symptoms, then they stay away but I don’t think the app saying that someone might have passed them by in a supermarket is actually that useful anymore in the current state of the pandemic.”

He added: “It doesn’t seem to be appropriate at the moment… it seems to be overkill.” …

The Government has dismissed calls to change the sensitivity of the app, but has announced exemptions for a “small number” of fully vaccinated critical workers who are identified as close contacts of coronavirus cases.

Mr Turner called on the Government to test healthy emergency workers daily so they will not automatically be taken off frontline duties.

He told the BBC: “We have got to provide a service. We suddenly find ourselves cancelling rest days and cancelling leave and bringing officers in from other shifts to cover where we have got the gaps.

“However, our call times will go up, we will miss some calls we would normally pick up because we have less resilience in the call centre and all of these things will have a knock-on effect for the Cleveland public.” …

An NPCC spokesman said: “Nationally, the police officer and staff absence rate is 7.3%. However, in some forces some functions, such as control rooms, are experiencing higher levels of absence.

“Absence rates in control rooms affect a police force’s ability to respond promptly to calls from the public, in particular emergency calls.

“Police forces affected are guiding the public on how to contact the police while they are under strain. We are engaging with Government about how to best resolve this issue.”

Worth reading in full.

News Round-Up

Why is the Government Claiming “One in Three” Test and Trace Contacts Become Infected When its Own Data Shows That to Be False?

In a desperate effort to encourage people to self-isolate when pinged by the NHS Covid app or contacted by Test and Trace – even cancelling their wedding day if necessary – the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said yesterday that: “One in three people contacted either by Test and Trace or the app go on to develop coronavirus.”

There’s just one problem with this latest nugget of fear-based nudgery: it’s not true.

Test and Trace get in touch with people’s contacts and ask them to self-isolate. The proportion of those contacts who become infected is known as the secondary attack rate (SAR). Public Health England publishes the data on this SAR from Test and Trace data in its Technical Briefings, so we know what it is. The most recent estimate for the SAR of the Delta variant (in June) is that 10.3% of an infected person’s household contacts become infected (the SAR for non-household contacts is considerably lower).

How, then, can it be true that one in three – 33% – of people contacted by Test and Trace or the app go on to develop coronavirus? That’s claiming the SAR of SARS-CoV-2 is around 33%, but the Government’s own published data says it’s more like 10%.

Can the Government back up its claims, and explain why it is stating that the SAR of Covid is more than three times the figure published in its own data?