Day: 16 September 2021

Another Study Claims to Show Masks Work Against Covid – But Does No Such Thing

A new study has appeared claiming that cloth masks work to reduce the spread of COVID-19 – provided they’re made of three layers of cotton. The Mail reports on its findings.

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science used synthetic cough droplets to model how well different mask types stand up to coronavirus particles.

They found that surgical and N95 masks are still the most effective at stopping coronavirus spread.

Cloth masks may be a suitable alternative if these masks only if they have at least three layers and are made of cotton, the team found.

These findings may be particularly useful for lower-income countries like India, where surgical masks are not easily accessible to the general population.

In fact, though, the study has not shown anything about the effectiveness of cloth masks to prevent infection. It is not a study of real-world transmission at all but a laboratory test of how masks stop synthetic droplets. These droplets are around 500 micrometres in diameter, so not aerosols, which are typically considered to be much smaller (certainly less than 100 micrometres and possibly less than five). It therefore hasn’t even considered how well the masks impede aerosol transmission, which is one of the main modes of transmission.

A recent study, the Bangladesh mask study, did look at the real-world effectiveness of cloth masks. It found a slight reduction from 0.76% antibody prevalence in control villages (no masks) to 0.74% prevalence in cloth mask villages, though this was not statistically significant. There were numerous problems with this study, not least than it was confounded by additional interventions (an awareness campaign) and did not properly measure initial antibody and prior infection levels. However, even with these limitations it still indicates very little discernible difference.

The Danish mask study, Danmask-19, found no statistically significant effect on infection from wearing surgical masks either. This is in line with pre-Covid evidence on the lack of effectiveness of masks in protecting from respiratory infection and transmission.

When will the mask zealots admit that their pet intervention is a dud?

More than Half of People ‘With’ Long Covid Might Not Have… Long Covid, According to New Research

New research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests that more than half of those who are suffering ‘from’ long Covid might not actually have it and could simply be suffering from normal bouts of ill health. The Telegraph has the story.

The ONS surveyed nearly 27,000 people, who tested positive for Covid, in the U.K. Coronavirus Infection Survey and used three different methods to estimate the prevalence of long Covid.

In one analysis, they found that 5% reported at least one symptom 12 to 16 weeks after their infection.

However, the study also found that 3.4% of people who had not been diagnosed with Covid also reported the same long Covid symptoms.

Kevin McConway, Emeritus Professor of Applied Statistics at the Open University, said: “That’s not all that much less than the 5.0% for the infected people, which does show that having one or more of these symptoms isn’t uncommon regardless of Covid.”

Long Covid symptoms are fever, headache, muscle ache, weakness/tiredness, nausea/vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste and loss of smell.

However, the ONS said that such conditions were experienced regularly within the general population.

A second analysis found that just 3% of people reported continuous symptoms for at least 12 weeks after an infection, compared to 0.5% of the control population.

However, in a third analysis, when the group was asked to self-identify as suffering from long Covid, 11.7% said that they believed they had the condition, with 7.5% saying the condition limited their day-to-day activities.

When confined to only people who had suffered symptomatic Covid, the number saying they suffered from the condition rose to 17.7%.

Previous studies have suggested up to a fifth of people catching Covid will suffer from long-term after-effects.

The ONS said that depending on which measure was used, the data showed between three and 11.7% of Covid cases still had symptoms 12 weeks after an infection.

Worth reading in full.

Footage of the Protests in Paris Last Saturday

A filmmaker based in France has sent us some highly professional footage she recorded at last Saturday’s anti-Health Pass protest in Paris, featuring lots of vox pops with the protestors. The reaction of the French riot police to the peaceful protestors is extremely aggressive, reminiscent of the Met’s Territorial Support Group. Hats off to these brave men and women standing up for their civil liberties.

Video from odysee.

After Vaccine Passports Were ‘Scrapped’, Government Refuses To Rule Out Passes for Pubs

The Health Secretary says vaccine passport checks could be imposed on pubs if “something happens that means that we have to take further measures” but continues to dodge the question of what exactly “something” means. The Times has the story.

The Government will refuse to set a specific threshold when action is to be taken but ministers are understood to be considering publishing a list of indicators.

Javid said that such measures were being monitored “on a daily basis”, with the NHS and the Joint Biosecurity Centre involved. He told the BBC that “there won’t be any single trigger”. He added: “There are a number of measures we are going to keep under close watch with our friends in the NHS. That of course includes hospitalisations, it includes the pressure on A&E, on the ambulance services, staffing levels.”

Javid refused to rule out compulsory certification for everyday life, alarming many Tory backbenchers who have branded the Government’s plan “a slippery slope towards more restrictions”.

Ministers believe that as a last resort vaccine passports are preferable to lockdown measures and could be a way to keep open hospitality businesses.

Javid told the radio station LBC that he didn’t think the country would need vaccine passports to go to the pub. He added a caveat, however: “Unless… something happens that means that we have to take further measures.”

He said that contingency plans “may well include vaccine passports as a reserve measure”. He cited a new variant that was more infectious or vaccine resistant, saying “in that situation, we have to be ready to take further action”. …

On Tuesday Johnson said that he had “never been in favour of vaccine passports for pubs” but that they might have been a “game changer” last year.

“It’s just not sensible to rule out completely this kind of option now when we must face the fact that it might still make the difference between keeping business open at full capacity or not,” he told a Downing Street press conference.

“If you think a year ago, where we were last September, can you imagine if we’d had then . . . if we’d had Covid certification?

“We would have been able, with that tool, to keep open businesses that had been forced to close and were going through an absolutely wretched time. They would’ve been a game changer, a lifesaver, last year. So I think they’re an important part of our repertoire.”

Worth reading in full.

The Ethical Bankruptcy of Vaccinating 12-15 Year-Olds

We’re publishing an original piece today by a senior pharmaceutical company executive setting out the ethical case against vaccinating healthy 12-15 year-olds against SARS-CoV-2. He points out that the risk of myocarditis alone is greater than any potential benefit of being vaccinated for this cohort. There are 3,200,000 12-15 year-olds in the U.K. and if you give a single dose of the vaccine to every one, according to the JCVI, you’re likely to prevent seven children ending up in the paediatric ICU. That’s not seven per million; that’s seven in total. But, according to the same source, the risk of a 12-15 year-old who’s received one dose developing myocarditis is 3-17 per million, so if every child in this cohort receives one dose between 9-54 will develop vaccine-induced myocarditis. Since we don’t know the long-term impact of myocarditis on a person’s health, this data suggests the risk of vaccinating 12-15 year-olds outweighs the risk – and that’s to ignore all the other potential side effects of the Covid vaccines.

Here are two key paragraphs, although the whole piece is excellent:

When it comes to the vaccine-induced safety risks, such as myocarditis, we do not have enough data to adequately assess what they mean for this vulnerable group and, as a result, we do not know how to satisfactorily manage them. This was the point the JCVI was making when raising concerns about the long-term risks. I must also emphasise again; children are not small adults and for 12-15 year-olds with hormones racing and puberty in full swing we cannot necessarily transfer any knowledge or assessment of risks from the adult population to this group. It may be that the risks are short-term, manageable, and acceptable and so the balance of benefit/risk is okay… but the fact is we simply do not know, and finding out by immunising 100,000s of children in uncontrolled circumstances is no way to discover the truth. One cannot ignore these risks just because “they are very rare”, especially when the significant benefits may also be “very rare”.

This is a clear case of where the precautionary principle should be applied and where we should assume the worse outcomes and manage the situation accordingly. Here, we’d assume there will be long-term issues associated with vaccine-induced myocarditis, put in place a routine monitoring plan for those who have already suffered this adverse event to ensure they remain healthy and detect any issues as soon as we can, and not vaccinate anyone else in this group until we understand what, if any, long-term issues there may be. It is ironic to me that the precautionary principle has been wielded by the Government and their advisors to justify a whole host of unproven interventions during the COVID-19 pandemic (think masks, think lockdown), but it appears that when it gets in the way of a desired policy implementation it is something that can just be forgotten. As Groucho Marx once said: “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.”

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Professor David Paton has come at the same issue from a different angle and reached the same conclusion. He’s examined the argument that vaccinating healthy 12-15 year-olds will reduce the disruption to children’s education in the Spectator and concluded that it’s nonsense. He originally set out this critique in a Twitter thread and that prompted Julia Hartley-Brewer to have him on her show to flesh out the argument. You can see a clip here.

Headteachers Told To Call Police if People Protest Against Vaccination of Healthy Teenagers Outside School Gates

Parents who are considering demonstrating against the vaccination of their healthy teenage children outside their local school’s gates may have to think twice, with headteachers having been told to call the police if ‘anti-vaxxers’ plan protests near their sites. The Telegraph has the story.

The U.K. Health Security Agency has now issued guidance to headteachers who believe protests could be held outside their school over participation in the vaccination programme, advising them to contact police to help manage the situation.

The agency said it was aware some schools had received campaign letters and emails with “misinformation” about the vaccine programme, after ministers confirmed the roll-out.

Three million 12 to 15 year-olds across the U.K. will be eligible, and the programme is expected to be delivered primarily within schools.

In new guidance, the agency said it knew of schools seeking advice on how to handle protests, and suggested they get in touch with the School Aged Immunisation Service (SAIS) team at the “first opportunity” to understand “what security planning they have in place”.

“In the event of a protest or disruptive activity outside a school, or if schools know a protest is planned, they should alert the SAIS provider, local authority and police contacts to discuss the best way to manage the situation,” the guidance added.

Heads and teachers have also been advised “not to engage directly” with misinformation campaigns about the vaccine, but should “acknowledge receipt of concerns” and “refer to the latest scientific guidance on the issue” if necessary.

It comes as NHS England said its objective was to vaccinate children as “quickly as is safe and practical, with the majority of school visits completed and vaccinations administered before October half term”.

Any child who hasn’t received their dose within those five weeks should have the date of their vaccination confirmed, a letter sent on Wednesday to providers stated.

The programme should be ready to start administering jabs “no later” than Wednesday September 22nd, it added.

It is understood that the Department of Health and Social care is also drawing resources which will be issued to local authorities and schools imminently on how to handle potential protests.

Dr. Nikki Kanani, GP and Deputy Director of the Covid vaccination programme, said: “It is completely unacceptable for anyone involved in administering the Covid vaccine to be subjected to verbal abuse or violence, and we will be working with local partners to ensure that children, teachers and vaccinators are safe while carrying out these life-saving vaccinations.”

NHS England is expected to advise SAIS teams to follow that guidance, which is likely to reflect similar instructions issued earlier in the year on how to deal with violence, threats and abuse at vaccination sites.

Worth reading in full.