- “U.K. decision on Covid jabs for children expected imminently” – The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation held a long discussion on the issue followed by a vote earlier this week, reports the Guardian.
- “Children not showing symptoms of Covid should stay at school, says Oxford professor” – On the latest Planet Normal podcast, Professor Carl Heneghan tells listeners why it may be time to stop mass testing schoolchildren.
- “Bring back self-isolation for children if cases rise in schools, says teaching union” – NASUWT urges ministers to not be complacent and to reintroduce regular onsite testing, reports the Telegraph.
- “Covid cases fell in four-fifths of areas in England” – Public Health England’s weekly report said 117 out of 149 councils saw their ‘cases’ drop in the week to August 29th compared to the previous seven-day spell, reports MailOnline.
- “In England, the Covid epidemic has de facto ended. Here’s what that means” – The exponential growth we saw in the 2020 waves, with more and more hospitalisations each week for an extended period, is no longer possible, writes Andrew Lilico in the Telegraph.
- “Treasury civil servants to work from home forever in blow to Rishi Sunak” – Job adverts for roles at HM Treasury reveal that staff will be allowed to work from home in a hybrid pattern on a permanent basis, reports City AM.
- “Get a grip: why are we still afraid of handshakes?” – Covid paranoia has seen us jettison life’s simple pleasures, with the traditional greeting going the same way as tea at the hairdresser’s, writes Hannah Betts in the Telegraph.
- “The Mail’s shameful witch-hunt of ‘selfish’ vaccine refusers” – “The Mail has shamefully led the charge along this road with vicious personal attacks on those who deviate from the vaccine narrative,” writes Mary McGreechin in TCW Defending Freedom.
- “More than 32,000 Scottish school pupils absent this week” – The figures for this week included those who had the virus and those self-isolating due to a close contact, reports BBC News.
- “ACLU slammed for claiming mandatory Covid vaccination ‘furthers civil liberties’ and saying right to bodily autonomy not ‘absolute’” – The American Civil Liberties Union has been publicly condemned after arguing that mandatory Covid vaccination actually advances civil liberties instead of compromising them, reports Russia Today.
- “Israel is now the world’s Covid hotspot despite leading jab charge” – The country recorded 1,892 cases per million people on Wednesday – nearly 0.2% of the entire population in a single day, reports MailOnline.
- “PCR testing is a ‘criminal offence’ under Canadian law, expert lawyer says” – A constitutional rights lawyer says that PCR tests being used to identify individuals with Covid are illegal to require and/or administer per Canadian law, reports Life Site.
- “Mainland Portugal lifts 14-day quarantine rule for unvaccinated Britons” – Fully jabbed travellers will still have to show a negative test result on arrival and the rules will remain unchanged for the unvaccinated, reports the Telegraph.
- “‘Enough’: Australian newspaper The Age comes out against extended lockdown in fiery editorial” – Australia’s The Age newspaper has published an extensive editorial article harshly criticising the state Government’s handling of Covid and recent lockdown extensions, reports Russia Today.
- “Boris promised not to raise taxes. So why betray his manifesto now?” – The PM is hoping that higher spending will result in better services. That’s a very big gamble, writes Fraser Nelson in the Telegraph.
- “Top A-level exam pupils could be given new A** grade” – A new grade of A** could be introduced at A level, reports the Times.
- “So now it is child exploitation? Nevermind!” – “According to Spencer Elden’s lawyers, the image used on Nirvana’s album cover has resulted in ‘his widespread sexual exploitation and image trafficking’. As a result, he is seeking $2.5million in damages,” writes Frederick Edward in Bounrbrook Magazine.
- “Why I gave up on Extinction Rebellion” – Performative anti-capitalism won’t change anything, writes Poppy Coburn in UnHerd.
- “We commend Ofcom for backing free speech in Piers Morgan’s landmark case” – “This was a landmark case – and Ofcom reached the only proper and sane conclusion,” writes the Sun.
- “Geoff Norcott on The Mash Report, Right-wing comedy and the farce of moral certainty” – Back on our screens, the satirical comedy show is one of the few shows to take on the woke orthodoxy, argues the conservative comedian in the Telegraph.
- “Professor of Evidence Based Medicine criticises media scaremongering over Covid data following the Bank Holiday” – “Their headlines drive the clickbait of what’s happening. It’s unhelpful and having impacts on society and how they behave,” says Professor Carl Heneghan on talkRADIO.
Day: 2 September 2021
Sunetra Gupta, Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology at the University of Oxford and a founding member of the Great Barrington Declaration, says there is no case for a full roll-out of Covid vaccine ‘booster’ doses. Writing in the Telegraph, she suggests that while it is “reasonable” to offer the extremely vulnerable a booster jab, “it can be to no-one else’s individual gain to submit to a third jab, having already reduced the risk of severe disease (which was very small in the first place for most) by receiving two inoculations.”
For there to be the collective benefit of herd immunity, the booster would have to provide life-long protection against infection – unless we are willing to accept repeated mass vaccination into the foreseeable future. Aside from being a colossal diversion of limited resources, that would open the door to a permanent state of lockdown as we lurch from one booster campaign to the next.
All of these speculations and ethical entanglements can be avoided by acknowledging that the vaccines have already brought focused protection to those who needed it in the U.K. and that now the best course of action is to rely on natural immunity to maintain and consolidate a normal state of living with this virus. These booster shots should be going into the arms of the many vulnerable people around the world who have yet to receive a single dose. It is shameful that we have not done this instead of pushing vaccines onto those who were in no need of them in the vain hope of preventing the spread of the virus in more affluent countries.
It is also deplorable that it is being argued that we should vaccinate the rest of the world in order to prevent them from remaining a breeding ground for new variants. It is unlikely that a mutant will arise which evades immunity against severe disease conferred either by vaccination or natural infection. It may be better able to cause reinfections which will then allow it to displace the prevailing variant, just as the delta variant has taken over in many places.
However, these ‘take-overs’ do not imply that the incoming variants are hugely more transmissible. It is crucial that we learn to accept that new variants may outcompete established variants but that these will not increase the burden of disease in a population where the vulnerable have been vaccinated or experienced natural infection prior to becoming vulnerable.
In the unlikely event of the evolution of a variant which resists immunity to severe disease, we will have to develop new vaccines tailored to such variants rather than relying upon boosting pre-existing immunity. It is reassuring that the technology is there to do this on a short timescale, as the success of the current vaccines has shown.
Worth reading in full.
Nicola Sturgeon faces criticism from opposition parties and business leaders on her plans to force ‘large venues’ to check vaccine passports. The Scottish Liberal Democrat leader says his party is “fundamentally opposed” to vaccine passports and the Chair of the Night Time Industries Association Scotland says the plans are “completely incoherent”. But will this be enough? Guardian has more.
John Swinney, Deputy First Minister, had previously described passports as “the wrong way to go”, while the Scottish Greens – who last week entered a power-sharing agreement with the Scottish Government – described them as “discriminatory”.
Douglas Ross, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, told the Holyrood chamber at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday that the proposal represented “shambolic, last-minute, kneejerk decision-making” and suggested that tensions were already emerging between the SNP and the Scottish Greens.
Sturgeon replied that she believed businesses were showing “understanding and pragmatism… in recognition of the severity of the situation we face”.
But Neil Doncaster, Chief Executive of the Scottish Professional Football League, earlier issued a warning that the plans would have “significant unintended consequences” for clubs, with the proposals for events of more than 10,000 people affecting Scotland games and some Scottish Premiership matches.
He told BBC Sport Scotland: “It’s not clear what IT infrastructure will be in place, what timescales clubs will be asked to work to, or what can be done for those without smartphones.
“And it’s not clear if it’s going to cut across terms and conditions of seasons tickets already bought by people across the land.”
Although Sturgeon said on Wednesday that she hoped not to extend the measure to other venues, the Managing Director of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, Colin Wilkinson, described it as a “threat hanging over the whole of the hospitality industry”.
Worth reading in full.
The British Government was (and is) so sold on the idea that lockdowns work that it forced schools to close for more time than any other country in Europe but one over the past 18 months. Children here missed more than double the amount of school than their peers in 14 countries on the Continent. The Telegraph has the story.
Between January 2020 and July 2021, British children have been out of the classroom for nearly half (44%) of days, according to a House of Commons Library analysis of data from the University of Oxford Covid Government Response Tracker.
Italy is the only European country where pupils have had more time out of school during the same time frame, with children missing 48% of days.
Youngsters in the U.K. missed more than double the amount of school than their peers in 14 other countries including Hungary, France, Spain, Lithuania and Austria.
Elsewhere pupils in Sweden and Finland have not missed any school at all, while children in Belgium missed just 4% of days. …
After the U.K., children in Germany missed the most school days (41%), followed by Romania (35%) and Poland (34%), the analysis found.
Headteachers attacked the Department for Education’s leadership during the pandemic, saying ministers have “had a tendency to double down on flawed policy decisions before having to perform U-turns”.
Worth reading in full.
Stop Press: A new study has found that when schools were closed in Scotland, teachers were 50% less likely than the general working population to be admitted to hospital, and when they were open, the risk in both groups was roughly the same. GB News has the story.
In my latest Spectator column, I say how pleased I was to see the pictures of Michael Gove enjoying himself on a night out in Aberdeen. It will make it that much harder for him to resume his advocacy of vaccine passports.
Scotland, after all, is experiencing a record number of coronavirus cases following the reopening of schools a few weeks ago, yet the minister was perfectly happy to visit several hospitality venues in Aberdeen without having to certify his Covid status. The implication of Gove’s night of revelry is that, like many of us, he’s decided to say good riddance to the restrictions that have been crippling the economy and wreaking havoc with people’s mental health and learned to live with the virus. The pictures of him posing for selfies, arm in arm with total strangers, his face and shirt pouring with sweat, were particularly refreshing.
Admittedly, the influential cabinet minister may not have intended to send a message that it’s time to get back to normal. This was a night out in Aberdeen, after all, not a Downing Street press conference. But the fact that he let his hair down in this way will make it harder for him to resume his position as the government’s finger-wagger-in-chief when it comes to restrictions on our freedoms.
It’s widely predicted that cases in England will start to surge as a result of our schools reopening – and will accelerate even more when university students go back — and no doubt the usual chorus of scientific advisers, public health panjandrums and NHS bosses will be clamouring for another lockdown. Before this, they could have counted on Gove as their closest cabinet ally. Now they may have to look elsewhere. For the minister to call for vaccine passports and other containment measures in England when he didn’t modify his behaviour in response to a case surge in Scotland will leave him vulnerable to the charge he cares more about protecting lives in England than in Scotland.
Worth reading in full.
There follows a guest post by Lawyers For Liberty, a group of non-partisan lawyers committed to defending freedom and human rights.
Are you a parent? Is your 12-15 year old going back to school today? Are you worried about your child being given a Covid vaccine without your permission? Have you communicated with the school, but feel like you are being ignored?
Maybe you are concerned that ‘Gillick Competence‘ will be used to get your 12-15 year-old to make this complex decision alone?
Or that your child will be coerced or peer-pressured into making a decision without access to the full facts?
Lawyers for Liberty in association with the Jonathan Lea Network and Powerless 2 Powerful Parenting have created an anonymous “request a letter” to go from Lawyers for Liberty to your child’s school to let them know of the legal consequences of relying upon a child’s consent for a Covid vaccine, especially if a parent has specifically not consented.
We, as Lawyers For Liberty U.K., will send an anonymous letter or email to schools on behalf of parents who are concerned about schools relying on their child to make a decision about whether or not to get jabbed.
The latest findings of the world’s biggest study into ‘Long Covid’ in children and young people (CYP) – the CLoCk study from University College London – have been published as a pre-print.
Surveying 11 to 17 year-olds who tested positive for COVID-19 in England between September and March, the researchers found that the condition is not common in children and young people. This is in line with other studies into Long Covid.
As with earlier studies, symptoms were prevalent in those who tested negative as well as those who tested positive, complicating the picture of the condition which the authors acknowledge lacks clear definition.
Further confusion was sown by the fact that reported symptoms increased rather than decreased after three months, leaving the authors puzzling over the explanation.
Three months after the SARS-CoV-2 test, the presence of physical symptoms was higher than at the time of testing. This finding emphasises the importance of having a comparison group to objectively interpret the findings and derive prevalence estimates. Although 64.6% of test-positives reported no symptoms at time of testing (compared to 91.7% of test-negatives), they did not continue to remain asymptomatic, with only 33.5% of test-positives (and 46.7% of test-negatives) reporting no symptoms at three months. This finding warrants further exploration and could be due to self-selection into the study because they were experiencing on-going symptoms, recall bias, external factors relating to the pandemic such as returning to school and exposure to other sources of infection, and the actual trajectory of the illness, although this wouldn’t explain the high prevalence among test-negative CYP.
In terms of physical symptoms – tiredness, headaches, shortness of breath, loss of smell, and so on – the researchers found there was a somewhat elevated prevalence of these among the test-positive compared to the test-negative, though both had increased over the three month period.
Three months after the SARS-CoV-2 test, the presence of physical symptoms was higher than at baseline in both groups; 66.5% of test-positives and 53.4% of test-negatives had any symptoms whilst 30.3% of test-positives and 16.2% of test-negatives had 3+ symptoms. The symptom profile did not vary by age: for both 11-15 year-olds and 16-17 year-olds the most common symptoms among test-positives were tiredness, headache and shortness of breath and, among test-negatives, tiredness, headache and the unspecified category of “other”. Again, the prevalence of tiredness and headache was consistently higher in the test positives, 39.0% and 23.2% versus 24.4% and 14.2% in negatives, respectively. Prevalence was higher for 16-17 year-olds; for example, 46.4% of test-positives reported being tired compared to 29.6% of test-negatives.
The 14% difference reported here between the 30% of test-positives and the 16% of test-negatives who had three or more symptoms at three months is likely to be the study’s most accurate estimate of the prevalence of Long Covid in the sample population.
However, as the BBC’s Nick Triggle notes, the low response rate and selection bias towards the unwell in the survey may mean the true prevalence of Long Covid is more like 2%.
- “Vaccine passports will make hesitant people ‘even more reluctant to get jabbed’” – New data comes as Number 10 vows to press on with its plan to make vaccination a condition of entry for nightclubs, reports the Guardian.
- “Passengers face huge queues during fourth day of chaos at Heathrow” – The Home Office has continued with its unapologetic stance, with a spokesman saying travellers will “need to accept” increased wait times due to high summer demand and the need to check Covid documents, reports MailOnline.
- “Britons with severely weak immune systems to be offered third Covid jab” – Health officials say the shots are not boosters but part of the vaccination schedule for half a million patients, reports the Guardian.
- “WHO designates ‘Mu’ a new variant of interest” – The U.N. agency says there are signs the variant, first detected in Colombia in January, is more resistant to vaccines, reports the Telegraph.
- “Covid’s most toxic scar could be a generational war across Europe” – With the young increasingly angry at having sacrificed their future, lockdown restrictions have left a deeply divided continent on the edge of a new age of conflict, writes Bruno Waterfield in the Times.
- “Boris wanted to be the next Churchill. He looks more like the heir to Merkel” – “Britain is crying out for sensible, conservative and free-market reforms. Reread some of your old columns, dust out [off] your biography of Churchill, and above all stop trying to imitate Angela Merkel,” Allister Heath tells Boris Johnson in the Telegraph.
- “Revealed, the vaccine safety alert that drugs watchdog is ignoring” – “With vaccine-associated deaths passing 1,600 in Britain, the MHRA should suspend the vaccination programme, like it did after 47 deaths caused by the Pandemrix swine flu jab,” writes Sally Beck in TCW Defending Freedom.
- “If we are serious about ‘living with Covid’, we must prepare for the worst” – This autumn, we must rebuild the Nightingale hospitals – and set up a Medical Reserve along the lines of the Territorial Army, writes Richard Tice in the Telegraph.
- “MPs may soon be asked to extend Covid emergency powers for another six months” – “Safeguards in the new Covid restrictions were much weaker. The Government had evaded the precautions of the CCA that would have limited the power of the Prime Minister and other members of the cabinet,” writes Jamie Walden in Bounrbrook Magazine.
- “Increasing Evidence that Lockdowns and Social Distancing are Harming Kids” – “It is very possible that in the decades to come the cost of treating obesity-related health issues, both in human health and monetary terms, will far outweigh the supposed benefits derived from the Covid mitigation methods that led to the weight gain in the first place,” writes Zachary Yost in AIER.
- “Zero-Covid, a once wildly popular ideology, quietly faces extinction” – “The zero-Covid ideology is now so rare and so unpopular that you have to travel to remote parts of Oceania or within the confines of an elite American liberal arts university in order to find it,” writes Jordan Schachtel in a recent Substack update.
- “Vaccine Shakeup at FDA as Key Leadership Resigns, Leaving A Potential Void Impacting U.S. Vaccination Program” – The senior Agency executives responsible for reviewing the recent Pfizer Covid vaccine submission are on their way out, reports Trial Site.
- “Canada’s slide towards corona authoritarianism” – Justin Trudeau used to say vaccine passports were divisive and damaging. Now he’s embraced them, writes Andrew Sansone in Spiked.
- “‘Treat the virus like a criminal’: Police Commissioner defends Covid enforcement” – NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller says the decision to escalate enforcement of Covid restrictions was not directly based on health advice but has suggested community transmissions of the Delta variant would be 10 times the current level if not for police intervention, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
- “Concern grows for global coffee supply amid Vietnam lockdown” – Traders are struggling to get beans to ports for export after Covid curbs were imposed on Ho Chi Minh City, reports the Guardian.
- “Businesses in Lithuania can start operation with national Covid certificates” – Businesses in Lithuania will be able to bar unvaccinated people from next week. Those that choose not to will have to enforce all other restrictions, reports Delfi.
- “Labour has gone suspiciously quiet on the issue of illegal immigration” – Not for the first time, Starmer is ignoring the opportunity to make common cause with the majority of voters for fear of upsetting his party, writes Tom Harris in the Telegraph.
- “Ofcom’s vindication of me is a resounding victory for freedom” – “Make no mistake, this is a watershed moment in the battle for free speech,” writes Piers Morgan in MailOnline.
- “A new free speech body is standing up to the woke bullies” – “While people scream for the tearing down of statues to people like Churchill, they show no interest in standing up to China, which is ruthlessly destroying the culture, language, and sense of identity of the Uighur Muslims,” writes Ruth Dudley Edwards while discussing the Free Speech Union and History Reclaimed.
- “Goldsmiths considers removing ‘troubling’ Lord Nelson and Sir Francis Drake statues” – The university has opened up a consultation on whether to remove monuments of maritime heroes over alleged slave trade links, reports the Telegraph.
- “Trans activism has mummy issues” – “Nowhere is the battle over the nature (or, perhaps, the possibility) of a feminist legacy more evident than in contemporary arguments around trans identity,” writes Mary Harrington in UnHerd.
- “Why does the NHS need diversity managers?” – Our health service is already one of the most ethnically diverse institutions in Britain, writes Fraser Myers in Spiked.
- “Ofcom has cleared Good Morning Britain over Piers Morgan’s comments about Meghan Markle” – Toby says on talkRADIO: “The idea that anyone who criticises Meghan must be racist and that any criticism of her is racist is just ridiculous.”