- “Time for the Great Covid Reset” – “I believe we need a dramatic change of stance when it comes to Britain’s approach to the pandemic – one that could best be summarised thus: stop fighting Covid, start living with it,” writes Professor Brendan Wren in the Mail.
- “Learning to live with Covid has to be more than a slogan” – The continued obsession with infection figures encourages paranoia when vaccines have severely weakened the link between cases and deaths, reads the Telegraph editorial.
- “Record number of NHS England patients waiting for routine hospital treatment” – The Health secretary warns that the 5.45 million-long waiting list will rise sharply even further, as a result of the lockdown backlog, reports the Guardian.
- “Ambulances record busiest month ever with more than 1 million calls” – Health chiefs say NHS services are dealing with “pent-up demand” after the lockdowns, with growing numbers reaching crisis point after waiting too long to get help, reports the Telegraph.
- “We’ve been fooled – two jabs won’t buy you holiday freedom after all” – Data is proving that the vaccines don’t block transmission, a development that could prompt tighter travel restrictions once more, writes Annabel Fenwick Elliott in the Telegraph.
- “Covid-Zero: Was It Worth It?” – “After 18 months do we still trust the apparently unquestionable, but inconsistent ‘medical advice’? Will we follow these people for another year,” asks James Newburrie in Quillette.
- “AstraZeneca Covid vaccine’s clots aggressive but very rare, find scientists” – The rare blood clots that can be caused by the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine are more aggressive and deadly than other thrombosis conditions, leading scientists say, as reported in the Times.
- “Blood clots from AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine ‘strike one in 50,000’” – The clots have stopped completely since under-40s were advised not to have AstraZeneca’s jab in May because first doses have stopped being dished out, reports MailOnline.
- “Every woman of child-bearing age should read this warning on the Covid vaccines” – “Pfizer themselves say on their website that available data on their Covid vaccine administered to pregnant women ‘are insufficient to inform vaccine-associated risks in pregnancy’,” writes Neville Hodgkinson in TCW Defending Freedom. “That, at least, is TRUE.”
- “‘Slugs and mould’ in quarantine hotels” – Dirty rooms, bad food and unsafe conditions can be found in some of the U.K.’s “prison-like” quarantine hotels, reports BBC News.
- “Quarantine hotel rules face legal challenge” – London-based firm PGMBM says it is an “unlawful deprivation of liberty” for fully vaccinated, negative-testing Red List travellers to spend 11 nights in quarantine hotels, reports BBC News.
- “Covid may have begun with Chinese scientist collecting bat samples, says WHO investigator” – The head of investigation says the possibility that a lab employee could have picked up the virus while working in the field is a “likely hypothesis”, reports the Telegraph.
- “CNN Demands School Kids Wear N95 Masks in School” – Children need weekly testing and continuous wearing of medical grade N95 biological face masks to prevent the spread of Covid in schools, says CNN’s Medical Advisor Dr Leana Wen, as reported in Watts Up With That?
- “Seychelles: What is causing the post-vax rise in cases?” – It may be one of the most-vaccinated countries on earth, but the Seychelles has seen an explosion in cases, writes Sonia Elijah in News Africa.
- “The cruelty of Australia’s endless lockdown” – “Australians are left with one question on their lips: when will this end? The bleak answer, at least according to the Government’s pandemic exit strategy, is not anytime soon,” writes Shahar Hameiri in UnHerd.
- “New Zealand borders to stay shut for rest of year as it pursues zero-Covid strategy” – Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the country will cautiously reopen to the rest of the world in 2022, reports the Telegraph.
- “We dodged hotel quarantine by the skin of our teeth, but it was worth the stress to see our son” – Sceptics regular Guy de la Bédoyère and his wife took advantage of a limited window in travel restrictions to Mexico for a long-awaited family reunion and tells the tale in the Telegraph.
- “Unbelievable exam results aren’t the only prizes in this fantasy world” – From the economy to the return to normality, the whole country is stuck in a wonderland of handouts, writes Douglas Murray in the Telegraph.
- “University of Leeds offers students £10,000 to defer place on oversubscribed courses” – Grade inflation and the unpredictability of results have left many universities with more students meeting the terms of their offers than expected, reports the Times.
- “Prepare for an avalanche of carbon taxes to meet the costs of net zero” – Banning electric cars and gas boilers won’t be nearly enough for ministers to achieve their climate goals, writes Jeremy Warner in the Telegraph.
- “Why do the poor always pick up the bill to be green?” – “Our poorest people are suddenly going to have to fork out a third of the national average wage, in one go, when their gas or oil boilers are working perfectly well,” writes Rod Liddle in the Sun.
- “Lie of credit — American Express tells its workers capitalism is racist” – American Express has invited the great-grandson of the Nation of Islam’s Founder to tell its employees that capitalism is evil, reports the New York Post.
- “Can the cancel mob please leave our classic musicals alone?” – A new production of Carousel changes the ending to rob wife-beater Billy of redemption. But this kind of meddling is asking for trouble, writes Ben Lawrence in the Telegraph.
- “Toby Young says Sir Philip Pullman has been targeted by a ‘blood crazed mob’” – “It is typical of cancellations that if someone comes to the defence of a person who is being targetted by these pitchfork-wielding Witchfinder Generals, they swivel and immediately point the pitchforks at you to deter anyone else from coming to the defence of the poor witch they’re about to burn,” says Toby in an appearance on talkRADIO.
Day: 12 August 2021
Canberra, the capital of Australia, is being plunged into lockdown for a whole week following the reporting of a single positive Covid test. Retail and hospitality venues will be closed, again, and residents will not be able to leave their homes for ‘non-essential’ reasons past 5pm. The Independent has the story.
Canberra joins Sydney, Melbourne and several cities in New South Wales state that are locked down due to the Delta variant.
Canberra residents can only leave home for essential reasons from 5pm on Thursday, general retail stores will be closed and hospitality venues will only to able to sell takeout, an Australian Capital Territory Government statement said.
Schools will be open to students who cannot stay at home.
The infection is the first locally-acquired case in the city of 460,000 since July 10th last year.
A Canberra resident, a man aged in his 20s, had been infectious in Canberra since Sunday and tested positive on Thursday, Australian Capital Territory Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman said.
The source of the infection was unknown, she said. Covid was detected in wastewater late Wednesday, she said.
The lockdown starts on the final day of a two-week sitting of the Federal Parliament.
Worth reading in full.
The legal requirement for fully vaccinated Britons to self-isolate for 10 days after coming into contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid will be replaced with advice to take tests from Monday. If a test comes back positive, isolation rules must still be followed. Unsurprisingly, there will not yet be any changes to the rules for those who haven’t been ‘jabbed’. The Guardian has more.
Ministers have confirmed that the legal requirement to isolate will be replaced with non-binding advice to take a test for the double-jabbed, as well as those 18 and under. And those who do come into contact with the infected will not be told to isolate while waiting for their results. For people who do test positive, isolation will continue.
The Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, said on Wednesday night that the Government was able to go ahead with the decision to exempt the fully vaccinated from isolation rules on August 16th, as planned, because “getting two doses of a vaccine has tipped the odds in our favour and allowed us to safely reclaim our lost freedoms”.
Although Boris Johnson was under pressure from business to bring forward the August 16th date, because of disruption caused by the ‘pingdemic’, he said last month that timetable was “nailed on” and there was no likelihood of it being moved.
But when the details were announced on Wednesday night, they were less restrictive than they might have been. The fully vaccinated and under-18s will only be advised to get a PCR test if they are a close contact of a positive case, not required to, and they will not be expected to isolate while they await the results of the test. …
According to the official data, there have been more than 9 million calls to people since the pandemic began from the English Test and Trace service telling them that they must isolate. Until now, this has been a legal requirement.
There have also been more than 5 million alerts sent by the Covid app in England telling people they should isolate for the same reason, although these ‘pings’ have not been legally binding for the recipients.
Worth reading in full.
Are vaccine passports dead? That may be premature, but they have certainly seemed on life-support this week, with even Gates-funded Telegraph Global Health correspondent Paul Nuki writing them off as useless in a recent piece.
Nuki quotes UCL’s Professor Francois Balloux, who argues the vaccines’ protection against transmission is so poor they can no longer be deemed to protect others: “It is not so much anymore a ‘duty to others’ to get vaccinated but a protection for oneself. There won’t be any ‘herd immunity wall’ to hide behind.”
Nuki suggests that mass testing will be used instead, noting that “already U.K. festivals and other mass events are switching their entry requirements to require a negative test of everyone – even where visitors have been double vaccinated”.
Professor Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and Chair of the JCVI, disagrees, arguing that with the Delta variant and the failure of vaccines to prevent transmission, mass testing now serves no useful purpose and testing should be returned to its clinical setting for diagnosing treatable disease.
We don’t have anything that will stop transmission, so I think we are in a situation where herd immunity is not a possibility and I suspect the virus will throw up a new variant that is even better at infecting vaccinated individuals. …
I think as we look at the adult population going forward, if we continue to chase community testing and are worried about those results, we’re going to end up in a situation where we’re constantly boosting to try and deal with something which is not manageable.
It needs to be moving to clinically driven testing in which people are willing to get tested and treated and managed, rather than lots of community testing. If someone is unwell they should be tested, but for their contacts, if they’re not unwell then it makes sense for them to be in school and being educated.
Other senior scientists have also spoken out, calling for the end of coronavirus screening and mass testing, but so far ministers have kept quiet, as have their senior advisers, the Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance. Our leaders are, as usual, being slow to recognise the need to lift Covid measures, even as those around them urge them to accept the time has come.
Until we reach such a point, then, it is worth being aware of the fine print in the NHS Covid Pass a.k.a. vaccine passport. Besides logging one’s vaccination status, the system also accepts a positive PCR test as proof of natural immunity (shh, don’t tell them about false positives), including for international travel.
For domestic use a recent negative test, including an LFT, will do.
Crucially, there is also, as with face masks, a broad exemption clause which is self-declared and requires no formal authorisation. The Government guidance page simply states:
If you have a medical reason which means you cannot be vaccinated or tested, you may be asked to self-declare this medical exemption.
The NHS Covid Pass page elaborates further for service providers:
If your customer confirms that they have a self declared exemption, but is unable to show any evidence, you should allow them access to your venue or event. You must not ask for proof of their medical exemption and it is not essential they show any form of exemption card at any point.
This means that for those worried about the medical risks of vaccination or testing, domestic vaccine passports need be no barrier to participation. For travel purposes admittedly it’s not quite so simple, but a single positive PCR test will do you for six months (quite why natural immunity is presumed to fade after six months but vaccines are supposed to last longer is a mystery, but presumably it has something to do with ‘The Science’).
As of Monday, double-vaccinated and under-18 contacts of ‘cases’ will no longer be required to self-isolate, and the Government announcement states that medical exemptions will apply “to those who can evidence that they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons”. This appears to be different to the self-declared exemption for the NHS Covid Pass, so we will have to see what the final version of the rules states when the page is updated.
These various exemptions might make the whole charade a little more manageable in the interim, but obviously the big hope is that sooner rather than later mass testing and vaccine passports will be binned. It’s good to hear some of the Government’s own scientists making the case for that this week.
Fewer than one in five people working in U.K. cities had returned to the office by the end of July, new figures show. The Government is said to be disappointed by this news, but it hasn’t exactly led by example on the matter, with, for example, the Department of Health and Social Care having scrapped its timetable requiring civil servants to be in offices for up to eight days a month from September. The Guardian has the story.
A report from the Centre for Cities thinktank said worker footfall in 30 big cities stood at an average of just 18% of pre-pandemic levels in the immediate aftermath of most Covid laws being scrapped in England.
The biggest migration of workers back to the office has occurred in Brighton, with 49% of people having returned to their desks, a rise of 6% on the previous week. This was followed by Gloucester (39%), Southend (38%) and York (37%).
Cities where only a fraction of workers have gone back to the office include Glasgow, with an 8% figure – the city has had Covid restrictions in force for longer, given Scotland’s slower easing than England – followed by London and Oxford (15%) and Sheffield and Milton Keynes (16%).
Daytime worker footfall fell by 1% in the final week of July compared with the previous seven days, and on average was running at barely half the pre-Covid levels.
Paul Swinney, Director of policy at Centre for Cities, said it showed there remained significant reluctance among some workers to head back to the office in the “largest and most economically important cities”.
He said that the “sandwich economy” that catered to city-centre office workers was facing “an uncertain future” as the end of the furlough scheme in September came closer. …
The Centre for Cities’ report also found a mixed picture for the recovery of nightlife across the country.
Blackpool had a 50% increase in night-time footfall as clubbers in the north of England and the Midlands demonstrated the greatest desire to take advantage of the lifting of lockdown rules.
The strongest recoveries in overall footfall after Blackpool were in Sunderland (37%) and Leicester, Middlesbrough and Wakefield (all 32%). Bars, restaurants and clubs in the big metropolitan centres in the north and Midlands – Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle – also saw hefty increases in activity.
By contrast, night-time footfall in London, Luton and Slough, remained unchanged since clubs reopened and social distancing rules were removed.
Overall, the thinktank found an average 16% increase in footfall in 63 towns and cities across the U.K. in the period after July 19th. Only Blackpool and Bournemouth had seen footfall return to pre-pandemic levels, and the Centre for Cities said each was getting a temporary boost from people in the U.K. having holidays at home.
Worth reading in full.
The Delta variant has caused infections to surge in multiple countries, and is even driving up hospitalisations in some U.S. states, notably Florida. (Although that state has a vaccination rate only 10 percentage points lower than the U.K., vaccinations are not as concentrated among the elderly as they are here.)
What should we make of the surge of infections, and indeed hospitalisations, caused by the Delta variant? In a recent blog post, the economist Tyler Cowen argues that things aren’t quite as simple as many people – or at least many lockdown proponents – are assuming.
Cowen notes, “Even the growth of hospitalisations, much less the growth in cases, is a misleading signal for how well we are doing.” Why is that? As Cowen argues, “it is better to get a given amount of Covid over with more quickly rather than less quickly … subject to the constraint that you do not overwhelm your hospital system.”
All else being equal, the faster Covid spreads among people who do not yet have immunity (either from vaccination or natural infection), the shorter the time for which the healthcare system is under stress, and the faster immunity builds up in the population as a whole. Assuming, that is, your hospitals aren’t overwhelmed.
Interestingly, Cowen’s argument is not dissimilar to the Great Barrington Declaration. That document notes: “As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all – including the vulnerable – falls.” And we should therefore allow “those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection”.
I say “interestingly” because Cowen previously criticised the Declaration, claiming that it “strikes exactly the wrong tone and stresses exactly the wrong points”. However, he would presumably say the situation is different now (we have vaccines), and letting the virus spread among people who are voluntarily unvaccinated is not the same as letting it spread among people who haven’t yet been offered a vaccine.
I still maintain that focused protection trumps lockdown regardless of whether a vaccine is available, given the limited efficacy and substantial harms of lockdown. But it’s good to see Cowen acknowledge the case for building up immunity more quickly.
His observations raise the question of whether Western countries should have encouraged young people to gain immunity through natural infection in the spring/summer of 2020 (or at the very least not discouraged them through protracted lockdowns). If we’d taken a more relaxed approach then, we might have been in a better position entering the winter of 2020.
Lockdown sceptics will find several things to disagree with in Cowen’s blog post, but it’s still worth reading in full.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in America has published a new study claiming to show that, among the previously infected, the unvaccinated are at more than double the risk of re-infection than the vaccinated.
It forms part of their evidence for why people who have had COVID-19 before should get vaccinated and not rely on natural immunity.
It has a number of problems, however.
The study looks retrospectively at data from the U.S. state of Kentucky. The researchers identify all those in the state who were re-infected during May and June 2021 (defined in terms of positive tests a certain number of days apart) and compare their vaccination rates to a control group. They find 246 re-infections in that period, and calculate that those who were not vaccinated were 2.34 times more likely to be re-infected than those who were vaccinated.
The study has a number of limitations, however, some of which the authors acknowledge.
Firstly, the study period of May and June 2021 is notable for being a period of very low prevalence in the state, meaning it is not a good time to study acquired immunity, which is best studied during a new surge when it is most put to the test. The authors themselves acknowledge that because the study covers just one period in one state, the “findings cannot be used to infer causation”.
The authors also acknowledge that test-seeking behaviour may skew the findings to exaggerate vaccine effectiveness, as vaccinated people are probably less likely to get tested.
Another weakness is that the study doesn’t include symptom data so we don’t know whether the “reinfections” were actual disease or just asymptomatic and mild infections of the kind that are characteristic of the immune system working.
A related problem is that there is no discussion of how big the problem of re-infection is from an absolute standpoint. With only 246 re-infections (of unknown severity) in a population of 4.5 million over a two month period, it’s not clear that even if vaccination did halve your probability of re-infection it would be a difference worth getting vaccinated (which carries its own risks) to achieve.
- “Lockdowns to control Covid no longer justified, SAGE adviser says” – Professor Andrew Hayward, of University College London, says population-wide measures shouldn’t be used “as we move into a situation where we’re coming to live with this virus forever”, reports MailOnline.
- “U.K. orders extra Covid vaccines for autumn 2022 booster campaign” – Pfizer has been asked to supply 35 million more Covid vaccine doses, with the final go-ahead for this year’s programme still awaited, reports the Guardian.
- “The problems posed by booster shots” – “While the desire of individual countries to protect their own citizens is understandable, it does pose a problem,” writes James Forsyth in the Spectator.
- “Why Don’t They Believe Us?” – Konstantin Kisin helps us to understand where vaccine hesitancy comes from in Tablet.
- “Workers are being experimented on with mandatory jabs, say U.S. medics” – “The ethical commitment to protect others does not require workers to surrender their bodily integrity and self-determination and accept ‘the’ intervention dictated by a governmental or quasi-governmental authority,” writes TCW Defending Liberty.
- “The picture is shifting on vaccines and transmission, re-shaping how we ‘learn to live’ with Covid” – Without a vaccine that completely blocks infection and transmission, the prospect of herd immunity goes out the window, writes Paul Nuki in the Telegraph.
- “Delta Variant Far Less Deadly than Previous Variants” – The Delta variant, which is responsible for most ‘cases’ now occuring, is far less deadly than previous versions of SARS-CoV-2, reports TrialSite.
- “The five key Covid truths that could have saved us from self-destruction” – These five key Covid truths could save many lives, and perhaps even avoid any further fall into lockdown lunacy, writes Neville Hodgkinson in TCW Defending Freedom.
- “Revealed: England’s pandemic crisis of child abuse, neglect and poverty” – Foster places are in short supply and council budgets are buckling as social service referrals increased by up to 40% in some areas during the past year of lockdowns, reports the Guardian.
- “Gorillaz return to the stage to play free gig for NHS workers at O2 Arena” – Concert-goers were required to show a negative Covid test to attend the gig which was the O2’s first full capacity live event since March 2020, reports Sky News.
- “CDC adjusts Florida’s Covid numbers after accusations of overcounting” – The CDC has revised Covid figures from the state of Florida after the Sunshine State’s Department of Health accused the federal agency of overcounting cases over the weekend, reports MailOnline.
- “Will FDA mRNA Vaccine Approval Ignore the “Elephant (not) in the Room”: Ultra-Low Absolute Risk Reductions?” – “The FDA’s failure to report the vaccines’ absolute risk reductions violates the FDA’s own guidelines for communicating evidence-based risks and benefits to the public,” writes Dr Ron Brown in TrialSite.
- “Andrew Sullivan says U.S. is wrong to pursue ‘illusory’ Covid victory” – “We cannot live isolated like this. We’ve never done this before. You can’t wrap yourself up in cotton wool for the rest of your life and you mustn’t let children not live,” says Andrew Sullivan, as reported in MailOnline.
- “‘This Will Blow Up Narratives’” – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis offers his predictions on how the Delta Covid variant will spread across states.
- “Macron’s authoritarianism will almost certainly backfire” – The French have a long history of vaccine hesitancy. But instead of reassuring the public, the Government has reached for the iron fist, writes Fraser Myers in the Telegraph.
- “Macron defied: Small French town leads charge refusing to implement ‘grotesque’ scheme” – A small French town is fighting back against Emmanuel Macron’s “grotesque” vaccine passport scheme, reports the Express.
- “Bournbrook podcast censored” – The latest episode of the Bournbrook Podcast The Week in Review, which touches on the vaccination of children against Covid, has been censored by YouTube, writes Michael Curzon.
- “The next financial crisis is coming” – The markets are almost certainly deep into the late stages of a bubble. At some point, something will spook them, writes Philip Pilkington in Newsweek.
- “Tears and technical chaos: Andrew Neil weighs up his future at GB News” – Insiders say veteran broadcaster Andrew Neil has been frozen out of decision-making by an Australian boss who may want GB News to become a ‘British Fox News’, reports the Telegraph.
- “Anti-vaxxer German nurse ‘injected up to 8,600 with saline solution’” – Thousands of people who received their first jab at a vaccination centre in Friesland, Germany, have been told to get another shot of the Covid vaccine after it was realised that their first were fakes, reports MailOnline.
- “Indicators of the Great Awokening” – “The Great Awokening constitutes the most rapid change in elite culture in recent history (possibly ever),” writes Noah Carl in his latest substack article.
- “Trump Jr blasts White House for using TikTok influencer to push vaccines” – Donald Trump Jr claims waterboarding would be better than watching a TikTok influencer’s video portraying White House Press Secretary Jenn Psaki’s intern in a bid to boost Covid vaccinations, reports the Sun.
- “Will Brits pay through the nose for green boilers?” – “Given our incredible progress, a big bang approach to climate change is unnecessary and, if he’s not careful, it could end up costing Boris his job,” writes Dan Wootton in MailOnline.
- “Keeping a diesel is greener than buying a new electric car” – We should hold on to old cars until we have a better way of generating green energy than burning trees, writes Ross Clark in the Telegraph.
- “Herd Immunity ‘Not a Possibility’ With Delta Variant” – “Politicians and scientists are taking a long time to recognise that we are not in a Covid crisis and that there are more important things to be worrying about,” says Will in an appearance on talkRADIO.