Day: 11 September 2021

News Round-Up

Covid ‘Cases’ Fall by More than 20% In a Week

Talk has been hotting up over the past week on the introduction of vaccine passports and the vaccination of children, but the figures show that the virus continues to wane, with reported ‘cases’ having fallen by 21% over the past week and the number of deaths after 28 days of a positive test only seeing a slight increase of 30. MailOnline has more.

Department of Health bosses posted 29,547 new cases today, down 21% on the 37,578 recorded last Saturday.

But the number of people dying within 28 days of a positive test is continuing to increase, with 156 people falling victim to the virus. The figure was up 30% on the 120 recorded last week.

Fatalities tend to reflect changes in infection levels at least a week after due to the time it takes for people to become seriously ill.

Britain’s vaccine drive is continuing to roll forward with 89,832 second doses dished out today. It takes the total amount of adults fully protected against the virus to just under 43.9 million (80.8%).

Some 25,019 first doses were also dished out, taking the total number of people to receive at least one jab up to 48.4 million (89%).

The figures come amid reports the AstraZeneca jab could be largely withdrawn from U.K.’s vaccine programme as millions of Britons who were given two doses are likely to be offered a Pfizer booster shot.

The booster programme is expected to rely mainly on the Pfizer vaccine under a ‘mix and match’ strategy to top-up immunity.

Worth reading in full.

President Biden Tells Republican Governors Threatening Legal Action Over Vaccine Mandates: “Have at It”

Covid vaccine mandates will not be imposed on millions of U.S. federal workers and contractors without a fight from a growing list of Republican Party Governors who are threatening lawsuits. But President Joe Biden doesn’t seem to mind the prospect of legal challenges, telling his critics: “Have at it.” The Independent has the story.

The administration is gearing up for another major clash between federal and state rule. But while many details about the rules remain unknown, Biden appears to be on firm legal ground to issue the directive in the name of protecting employee safety, according to several experts interviewed by the Associated Press

“My bet is that with respect to that statutory authority, they’re on pretty strong footing given the evidence strongly suggesting… the degree of risk that (unvaccinated individuals) pose, not only to themselves but also unto others,” said University of Connecticut Law Professor Sachin Pandya.

Republicans swiftly denounced the mandate that could impact 100 million Americans as government overreach and vowed to sue, and private employers who resist the requirements may do so as well. Texas Govenor Greg Abbott called it an “assault on private businesses” while Govenor Henry McMaster promised to “fight them to the gates of hell to protect the liberty and livelihood of every South Carolinian”. The Republican National Committee has also said it will sue the administration “to protect Americans and their liberties”. …

The White House is gearing up for legal challenges and believes that even if some of the mandates are tossed out, millions of Americans will get a shot because of the new requirements…

Biden is putting enforcement in the hands of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is drafting a rule “over the coming weeks”, Jeffrey Zients, the White House Covid Response Coordinator, said Friday. He warned that “if a workplace refuses to follow the standard, the OSHA fines could be quite significant“.

Courts have upheld vaccination requirements as a condition of employment, both before the pandemic – in challenges brought by health care workers – and since the Covid outbreak, said Lindsay Wiley, Director of the Health Law and Policy Program at American University Washington College of Law.

Where Biden’s vaccine requirements could be more open to attack is over questions of whether the administration followed the proper process to implement them, she said.

“The argument that mandatory vaccination impermissibly infringes on bodily autonomy or medical decision making, those arguments have not been successful and I don’t expect that to change,” Wiley said. “I think the challenges that are harder to predict the outcome of are going to be the ones that are really sort of the boring challenges about whether they followed the right process.”

Worth reading in full.

Ministers Considering Bringing Back Mask Mandates

Reports suggest that ministers are concerned by the supposed lack of people wearing face masks, despite telling Brits it is now a matter of personal choice, and are considering reintroducing mandates for indoor public spaces if “things are getting increasingly difficult in the NHS” this winter. The Mail has the story.

Ministers are now concerned by falling compliance in supermarkets, trains and buses amid rising infection levels. Yesterday there were another 37,622 Covid cases and 147 deaths.

There are also 8,098 patients in hospital with the virus – a six-month high and a rise of 6% in a week.

Although Government sources insist a mask mandate is not imminent, the fact it is being considered will concern Tory backbenchers.

They are already angry at being asked to renew the emergency Covid powers that allow ministers to impose restrictions.

A source said: “We are looking to strengthen guidance on masks if it gets to the point where things are getting increasingly difficult in the NHS.

“We expect and recommend that members of the public continue to wear face coverings in crowded and enclosed spaces where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet – for example, on public transport.”

Next week the Prime Minister will publish a winter Covid plan, expected to include plans for coronavirus vaccine booster shots and the biggest flu jab roll-out in history to ease pressure on the NHS. 

But at the same time he will urge MPs to extend the 2020 Coronavirus Act which gives ministers the powers to bring back restrictions if cases rise to unsustainable levels. 

Steve Baker, Deputy Chairman of the Covid Recovery Group of anti-lockdown Tory MPs, said he would vote against any extension to “egregious” Covid powers. …

“Once again the Government isn’t willing to give up powers once they have been gained.” …

Mr. Johnson has told ministers another lockdown is out of the question and has ordered the Government to do everything possible to avoid future restrictions.

Worth reading in full.

A Doctor Writes: Predictions of Doom Have Not Been Borne Out

We’re publishing an update this morning from the Daily Sceptic’s in-house doctor in which he analyses the latest NHS hospital data. Conclusion: no need to panic.

I have been a bit quiet lately, partly due to being on holiday and partly due to waiting a while to examine what trends are emerging from the hospital admissions data over the later summer.

On looking at the latest figures and associated media commentary I have been reminded of an old Russian aphorism from the Soviet era: “The future is certain, but the past keeps changing.”

For example, on February 3rd, 2020, Boris Johnson, warned of the danger that “new diseases such as coronavirus will trigger a panic”, leading to measures that “go beyond what is medically rational, to the point of doing real and unnecessary economic damage”.

I didn’t catch any reference to that (very reasonable) remark this week when the Prime Minister imposed further taxation on the working-age population and the companies that employ them. Before returning to the airbrushing of recent history, I will consider the hospital level data over the last month to discern trends and discuss what reasonable inferences we can draw from the numbers. I confess that some of the information doesn’t quite make sense to me – I will elaborate on this point later.

The first and most glaringly obvious fact is that the catastrophic tsunami of hospitalisations confidently predicted by all the experts who have assumed the governance of the U.K. has failed to arrive. How annoying that must be for Richard Horton, Editor in Chief of the Lancet, who described the relaxing of restrictions in July as “driven by libertarian ideology” rather than the data. Or Trish Greenhalgh, Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences at Oxford University, who said that “the Government policy seems designed to increase cases” and predicted there will be hundreds of ‘superspreader’ events in the coming weeks. The Lancet published a letter signed by 122 self-identifying experts which suggested that the Government was conducting a “dangerous and unethical experiment” in removing societal restrictions on July 19th.