- “U.K. orders 35 million more Pfizer vaccine doses” – The Government say it is preparing for Covid boosters to protect the most vulnerable this year, reports BBC News.
- “Hidden immunity: Why booster jabs may not be needed after all” – Studies suggest that people may not require a third vaccination despite falling antibody levels among the elderly, reports the Telegraph.
- “The Leaked CDC SARS-CoV-2 Delta Strain Presentation; Key Takeaways” – Information leaked to the Washington Post has revealed that much of the truth about the Delta Covid variant has been hidden or otherwise misrepresented to the public by the CDC, writes Robert W. Malone in Trial Site.
- “Anti-vaccine protesters occupy ITV News and Channel 4 headquarters” – Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow was chased by ‘conspiracy theorists’ during an incident at the ITN building in central London, reports the Guardian.
- “Two Great Virologists’ Frightening Warnings Ignored by Government and Big Media” – “When two great minds come to similar conclusions about the current global push to vaccinate everyone with the Covid experimental vaccines, we should pay close attention,” writes Joel S. Hirschhorn in Trial Site.
- “Scientific Credibility and the File-Drawer Problem” – “If scientists are concerned about a decrease in public confidence in their work, they should look not at ‘Twitter trolls’ but at the way scientists themselves have presented their findings and the magnitude and significance of their work,” writes Peter G. Klein in Mises Institute.
- “38 Million Records Were Exposed Online – Including Contact-Tracing Info” – Misconfigured Power Apps from Microsoft have led to more than a thousand web apps being accessible to anyone who found them, reports Wired.
- “FDA Fully Approves Pfizer’s Coronavirus Vaccine” – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has fully approved Pfizer’s Covid vaccine, reports Breitbart.
- “Australia’s ‘zero-Covid’ tyranny – and a PR disaster” – “Attempting to hide information or tamper [with] the facts in a partisan manner heightens distrust and paranoia, so public bodies must take note that their ability to be open, informational, and honest is a large source of their legitimacy and authority,” writes Luke Perry in his latest column in Bournbrook Magazine.
- “Five lowlights from Australia’s Covid fight” – “Not for nothing did Clive James joke: ‘The problem with Australians is not that so many of them are descended from convicts, but that so many of them are descended from prison officers,'” writes Steerpike in the Spectator.
- “How Vietnam went from pandemic hero to Covid shambles” – Few economies have pivoted from an inspiring success story to a cautionary tale faster than Vietnam, writes William Pesek in Nikkei Asia.
- “Covid Vaccines: A Shot in the Dark?” – “New data from Israel shows that within six months, Covid vaccine protection against severe disease in people over 65 has decreased from 95% to 55%. Will boosters save the day,” asks Swiss Policy Research.
- “Number 10 is distorting the economy” – “I don’t see a Government that is reining in the wasteful spending that the Leave campaign rightly laid at the door of the E.U. On the contrary, it has merely reinvented the most wasteful form of E.U. spending,” writes Ross Clark in the Spectator.
- “The Real Cost Of Green Steel” – “At a cost of $200,000,000,000,000 per degree of cooling, that’s gotta be far and away the world’s most expensive air conditioner,” writes Willis Eschenbach on ‘green steel’ in Watts Up With That.
- “Extinction Rebellion take advantage of court ruling to bring central London streets to standstill” – X.R. insists that the Ziegler Judgment enshrines its legal right to block roads as it calls for halt to fossil fuel investment, reports the Telegraph.
- “How long before cancel culture claims Saracens’ fezzes and the haka?” – Exeter Chiefs’ Native American branding has come under further scrutiny and it is only a matter of time before it is consigned to history, writes Charles Richardson in the Telegraph.
- “John Cleese slams cancel culture’s impact on comedy, says he’ll explore ‘absurdity’ of PC-mad world in new show” – British comedy legend John Cleese has again hit out against ‘cancel culture’ and political correctness being taken to “absurd” lengths by a “woke generation” that is “trying to rewrite the rules” on what can and cannot be said, reports Russia Today.
- “The policing of ‘non-crimes’ shows the dark side of rainbow cars” – “The ‘non-crime hate incident’ was cooked up entirely by the College of Policing and has no basis in law. When put alongside the already extensive speech crimes we have on statute, it has led to cops going after alleged wrongthink with alarming zeal,” writes Tom Slater in the Spectator.
- “Meet Sleepy Joe and Kamala” – Millions of U.S. television viewers have seen Sleepy Joe experience yet another embarrassing senior moment, writes Richard Littlejohn in the Mail.
- “Keira Bell: My Story” – As a teen, she transitioned to male but came to regret it. Keira Bell writes how it felt to enter history in the trans debate in Persuasion.
- “In Australia they are now putting up quarantine signs on people’s homes” – 9 News reports that South Australians who are forced to self-isolate upon returning to their homes from abroad must put Covid quarantine signs on their doors to “to add another layer of protection”.
Day: 23 August 2021
Robert Dingwall, a Professor at Nottingham Trent University and a leading sociologist, has written an excellent piece for Social Science Space criticising the imposition of mask mandates, given the paucity of evidence that masks interrupt transmission and the lack of any robust evaluation of the harms masks cause.
First, Professor Dingwall looks at the two main sources of evidence purporting to show that masks are effective.
One is studies at various scales of the impact of mask mandates on reported infection rates. These may compare cities, states, provinces or entire nations using time series data to look for inflections of rates that may be attributable to the mandates. A great deal of mathematical ingenuity has been expended in trying to control for the numerous confounders from biases in reporting, differences in diagnosis, leads and lags in public behaviour in response to the mandates, seasonal fluctuations, mobility – the list is almost endless. By the time these manipulations are complete, though, it is very difficult to conclude that there is any clear and obvious effect. Infection rates do not seem to vary much between comparable communities regardless of the NPIs that have been introduced. I have yet to see a study that identifies a clear and unequivocal benefit from a mask mandate in the form of an obvious inflection point attributable to the intervention. For all the reasons cited, this would be hard to find so perhaps we should not treat its absence as conclusive proof of a lack of benefit so much as something that is consistent with the RCT evidence that any benefit is likely to be minimal.
The other main source of evidence is laboratory studies of the properties of masks using techniques from physics and engineering. Some studies treat masks as a straightforward air filtration experiment. These are well-controlled and reproducible, but bear little resemblance to real-world conditions. The more sophisticated studies use mannikins to create a jet of air carrying inert particles into a controlled space, mimicking human exhalation. Masks can then be used to interrupt the air flow. The resulting measurements are the basis for computational models that provide more general descriptions of the spread of particles, which may be used to create video simulations. These studies are often elegant but suffer familiar problems in generalising to real-world environments. Within reason, the experimenter can manipulate the average velocity of the jet, the size of particles and the permeability of the mask in ways that aim to mimic breathing at different rates, coughing or sneezing. To get reliable measurements, including video or photographic evidence of the dispersion of the particles, the simulated exhalations must enter still air. Air, however, is never still in the real world. In any space there are thermal currents that are moving air around and dispersing exhalations in ways that are not captured, and probably cannot be captured, by the experimenter in a physically meaningful way. The efficacy of masks is also sensitive to the choice of particle size. If the experimenter favours droplets, larger particles, masks capture these quite well – but they also fall quickly to the ground and are unlikely to be inhaled by anyone at a normal social distance. If the experimenter favours aerosols, smaller particles, these are likely to pass through or around cloth masks, whose pore size is typically significantly larger than the aerosol particles. In which case the masks may filter a small proportion of the particles but probably let most through or around the edges. Where higher quality masks have been mandated, the community evidence runs into the same problems as before.
Medical experts are concerned that flu vaccines may be less effective this winter as resources have been focused on Covid over the past year and there has been a significant drop in the number of global shipments of influenza surveillance samples. MailOnline has the story.
Every year a new influenza vaccine is developed to protect against several strains of the virus that have been circulating around the world.
But over the past year, surveillance of flu strains dropped to a fraction of normal levels as medical resources were turned over to monitoring Covid.
There has also been a lack of flu infections because of lockdowns worldwide, which has also reduced surveillance.
The effectiveness of flu vaccines varies from one season to the next but it is estimated at between 30 and 60%.
It comes amid fears of a bad bout of influenza this year due to a lack of natural immunity caused by lockdowns.
Last September – five months before experts decide which strain to protect against – global genetic sequencing of flu had dropped by 94%, according to jab makers.
And global shipments of influenza surveillance samples have dropped by 62% compared to before the pandemic.
Dr. Beverly Taylor, Head of Influenza and Scientific Affairs at Seqirus, which provides Britain with seasonal flu jabs, said: “We could have reduced the opportunity to identify viruses as they emerge.
“We certainly have reduced the opportunity to look at which viruses would give the best overall protection and the best coverage of all the circulating viruses.”
There are concerns the NHS could be overwhelmed this winter by a triple-whammy of surging flu and Covid admissions, and backlog patients needing treatment.
Experts also fear immunity to flu has waned over the year-and-a-half since the pandemic began because so few people have caught the virus.
Worth reading in full.
Following numerous reports of Government-approved travel testing companies failing to hand over thousands of results a week, despite holidaymakers parting with hefty sums for their services, more than 50 companies are due to be removed from the approved providers list on the Gov.uk site. Sky News has the story.
The move comes following a review of pricing and service standards from those offering day two and day eight tests for people arriving in the U.K. from overseas.
The review was announced earlier this month due to concerns that many of the companies – which are on a Government list of Covid testing services – lacked full accreditation and were charging too much.
Some 57 companies will be removed from the list as they no longer exist or they do not provide the relevant testing services.
82 companies – around 18% of those listed as offering day two and day eight tests – were found to be displaying lower prices on Gov.uk than they do on their own websites.
Those companies will be given a final warning this week and face removal from the list if they advertise misleading prices again.
There will also be regular spot checks to make sure prices are accurate, providers are legitimate, and that the company name has not simply been changed to get back on the list. …
In future, companies will be removed from the Government’s list if they do not correct problems within three days of their first warning. …
Analysis of the list by the Liberal Democrats at that time showed just 11% of the providers offered tests for under £50 but 24% of the providers were charging more than £200.
One GP clinic was listed as offering the tests for £575 on Gov.uk, although its own website said prices started at £399.
Worth reading in full.
Did the costs of lockdown outweigh the benefits? Numerous analyses have concluded ‘yes’. However, these were all carried out by academics or independent researchers. To my knowledge, no Western government has published a cost-benefit analysis of lockdown (presumably due to what it might show).
In an unpublished paper, the economic consultant L. Jan Reid has attempted a cost-benefit analysis of lockdown in the United States. He in fact reports two separate analyses: first, what he calls a “traditional analysis”; and second, what he calls his “preferred analysis”.
Reid’s traditional analysis makes the unrealistic assumption that every life lost is valued equally at $7.8 million (which is the average value from a list of published estimates). It yielded a benefit/cost ratio slightly greater than one, suggesting the lockdowns were worth it. On the other hand, three out of four sensitivity analyses yielded benefit/cost ratios of less than one.
By contrast, Reid’s preferred analysis makes the much more realistic assumption that the value of lives lost decreases with age, such that each 20 year old represents a loss of $11 million, whereas each 70 year old represents a loss of $1.5 million.
To estimate the total benefits of lockdown, he multiplies the estimated number of lives saved in each age-group by the ‘economic value of life’ for that age-group, and then sums the values across all age-groups.
When calculating the costs of lockdown, Reid includes the hit to GDP, money spent on federal stimulus programs, lives lost from the restrictions themselves, and several other items. Overall, his preferred analysis yields a benefit/cost ratio far below one, indicating that the lockdowns weren’t worth it.
While I suspect Reid overestimates lives lost from the restrictions themselves, the benefit/cost ratio is still below one even excluding this particular item. What’s more, he uses a very liberal estimate of the number of lives saved by lockdowns – approximately two million. The true figure, I would guess, is substantially less than this.
Reid concludes that the “cost of the lockdowns was up to 10 times greater than the benefits”. You may not agree with all his assumptions, but the paper is worth reading in full.
- “Hydrogen: U.K. government sees future in low-carbon fuel – but what’s the reality?” – The Government claims hydrogen could meet one-third of the country’s energy demand by 2050. But is that true, asks Tom Baxter in the Conversation.
- “The Sweden experiment: how no lockdowns led to better mental health, a healthier economy and happier schoolchildren” – While Sweden’s decision to stay open throughout the pandemic generated international debate, the controversy passed most people in Sweden by, writes the Telegraph.
- “Woke civil servants sneer at ‘uneducated voters and rise of fascism’” – At least 300 employees have joined the UKGovcamp event forum to discuss issues relating to central and local government – and it was a wokefest, according to the Mail on Sunday.
- “Larry Elder Promises to Repeal Vaccine and Mask Mandates if he Becomes California Governor” – Long time conservative talk radio host and current California gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder has vowed to repeal vaccine mandates if he ends up replacing current Governor Gavin Newsom.
- “Rescue dogs shot dead by NSW council due to COVID-19 restrictions” – Several impounded dogs have been shot by a rural council to prevent people coming to visit them and spreading the virus, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
- “The Government is selling us a pup on heat pumps” – The Business Secretary’s admission that heat pumps are still worse than conventional boilers is a damning indictment of net zero targets, writes Ross Clark in the Telegraph.
- “Ten reasons why the jab must never be mandatory” – Abir Ballan in the Conservative Woman argues that the jab must never be mandatory.
- “Police pin hopes on ‘rainbow cars’ to drive out hate crime” – Forces across the U.K. have painted their cars with rainbow colours to encourage people to report racist, homophobic and transphobic posts on social media, reports the Telegraph. Shouldn’t they be policing our streets, not our tweets?
- “Biden’s woke presidency is a self-indulgent luxury the West can no longer afford” – The US President should have spent more time worrying about Afghanistan, and less competing to be the world’s wokest leader, writes Calvin Robinson in the Telegraph.
- “We must fight the normalisation of masks” – The zero Covid campaign’s bid to make masks political is no substitute for a proper understanding of their costs, says Colin Axon in the Telegraph.
- “Cambridge museum to explain ‘whiteness’ of its sculptures under anti-racism campaign” – “You might understand this coming from a student, but the idea that this has been approved by the Faculty is as terrifying as it is comical,” a Cambridge don tells the Telegraph.
- “How Jacinda Ardern’s ‘fortress New Zealand’ strategy risks crumbling” – The Prime Minister’s zero-Covid strategy is falling apart, argue critics, with controls and lockdown restrictions battering the country.
- “Trump booed at rally after telling supporters to ‘take the vaccine’” – Donald Trump was booed by supporters on Saturday at a rally in Cullman, Alabama after encouraging them to get vaccinated against COVID-19, reports the Daily Mail.
- “The latest lessons in Covid management from Israel” – Will no one rid us of our Covid-dementors? Gladys Berejiklian says restrictions could remain in place after 80% of the population of New South Wales have been double jabbed. Prof Ramesh Thakur, writing in the Spectator Australia, is unimpressed.
- “Mask-wearers and New Zealand languish in a Covid prison, but the rest of us are finally free” – Rod Liddle says in the Sunday Times that the British public won’t accept another lockdown.
- “Reinfection protection vs vaccine protection” – Gabriel Crouse in the Daily Friend scrutinises the claim by several prominent pro-vaxxers that being double jabbed offers better protection against infection than natural immunity and concludes it’s baloney.
- “Lockdowns can’t go on, admits Australian PM” – As lockdown protests escalate in New South Wales, Australia’s PM says they cannot continue, reports the Times.
- “The direction the school was heading in… if one person gets upset by an idea then debate was cancelled” – Sacked Eton teacher Will Knowland is interviewed by Andrew Doyle on GB News after being cleared of professional misconduct.