Day: 18 September 2021

Woke Power Grab in the C of E Reflects Corporate Obsession With ‘Diversity’

This week the Church of England unveiled proposals for a shake-up of its national governance structure in what critics have called “a coup by Archbishops to take control of everything”.

I won’t bore you with the details (you can read the full report here, headed-up by the anti-Brexit Bishop Nick Baines) but what stood out to me was the barely concealed aim of replacing the organic accountability of democracy with a sterile rule by a woke technocracy. One purpose of this is, inevitably, to increase ‘diversity’, but it’s not hard to see that the real agenda is to impose a woke uniformity of political ideology on a church already infamous for being led by a clerisy out of touch with ordinary churchgoers and the country as a whole.

At the heart of the takeover is the all-powerful Nominations Committee, which is tasked with establishing “a community of diverse, appropriately skilled and appropriately knowledgeable people from which panels would be convened to oversee appointments and ensure eligibility for election”. Anglican blogger Archbishop Cranmer puts his finger on the problem here.

Note “appropriately skilled”, “relevant knowledge”, “suitable to stand”, “talent pipeline”, and “appropriate.. behaviours”. It will fall to the Nominations Committee to ‘sift’ all applicants to all Church of England boards, committees and governing bodies. It will be for them to discern and define what is ‘appropriate’ and ‘relevant’, who is ‘suitable’ and has ‘talent’, and whether or not they manifest appropriate ‘behaviours’.

Has it not occurred to the Review Group that this Nominations Committee will have the power to create a church in its own image, and that the Chair of the Nominations Committee will have more executive power than the Archbishop of Canterbury? Or perhaps that’s the idea. It isn’t clear, however, which committee will ‘sift’ nominations to the Nominations Committee, but you can be sure that the process will be the antithesis of transparency and accountability.

He sees parallels with the notorious Cameroonian ‘A-list’ for Tory candidates:

Clause 200 is designed to be the safety valve, the check or balance on the abuse of power, but it is a bit of verbal chicanery. In what sense is pre-election ‘rigorous sifting’ not a negation of of [sic] democracy? If candidates may not emerge organically and appeal to their electorates directly, but instead may be weeded out by the Anglican Conclave compliance committee to ensure theological conformity and gender/ethnicity diversity, then democracy is indeed removed. The proposal apes the process adopted by the Conservative Party under David Cameron and his ‘A-list‘ for candidates, which caused such outrage among Party members with its social engineering of removal of democracy that it was eventually abolished – but not really: it is still very much in place to ensure the ‘right’ candidates are nominated to the ‘right’ seats, and are seen to be. But the Conservative Party’s Candidates Committee doesn’t operate with transparency and accountability. If it did, it would be subject to democracy, and that would hinder the political objective.

The Church of England’s ‘sifting’ people for the ‘talent pipeline’ is also a mechanism for seeming: to ensure the ‘right’ women and ethnic minorities are appointed to the ‘right’  boards, committees and governing bodies of the Church of England, in order that they might in turn select the ‘right’ candidates from the list ‘sifted’ by the Nominations Committee, who, you can be sure, will sift some more than others.

The report is clear that it regards democracy as an inadequate mechanism for ensuring sufficiently diverse governance.

In the Church of England, a significant number of appointments to governance bodies are made through the electoral process. In our view, this does not deliver what the Church needs from its governing bodies. …

The Church bodies which either elect or nominate people onto the Church of England’s governance bodies are themselves not very diverse bodies, meaning that the people they elect or nominate onto governance bodies tend not to supply the diversity which is one of the requirements of the Charity Commission’s Seven Principles of Governance.

Covid Vaccines for Children Would Not Be Approved before Full Investigation in Normal Times, Says Government Advisor

These – undoubtedly – aren’t normal times. If they were, the Covid vaccine would not have been approved for healthy children until it had been fully investigated, says Professor Adam Finn. He adds that parents are justified in waiting until more is understood about the risks of vaccinating children before getting their teenagers ‘jabbed’. The Times has the story.

Professor Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, says that in normal times, the vaccine would not have been recommended for widespread use in children until the long-term consequences of rare side effects had been fully investigated.

Parents are justified in waiting until the risks are clearer before getting their teenagers vaccinated and the NHS needs to spell out the uncertainty over long-term effects better, he argues on this page.

He fears that if some children eventually suffer lifelong health risks without being told of known concerns, trust in other vaccination programmes and wider Government health advice will be undermined. …

Given the huge uncertainty over the extent of the risks, Finn, professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol, is concerned that parents and children have not fully understood the concerns that gave the JCVI pause and led to months of agonising over whether children should be offered the jab.

Finn insists that doctors need to be transparent about the “extremely uncommon” risks. He says that expert disagreement over possible side effects “cannot be an argument to downplay important information or to present the evidence as clearly pointing only in one direction when it doesn’t”.

An NHS leaflet to be given to children says only that “most people [suffering heart inflammation] recovered and felt better following rest and simple treatments”.

Writing with Guido Pieles, the consultant cardiologist who advised the JCVI, Finn explains that U.S. cardiologists are seeing signs of scarring in the hearts of otherwise healthy teenagers who suffer rare post-vaccine inflammation.

While they say that it is “perfectly possible that these changes will resolve completely over time”, they warn that such scarring is known to carry a risk of “life-threatening arrhythmias or sudden cardiac arrest”.

As coronavirus vaccines are so new, it is not yet known if the same serious long-term dangers will result. However Finn and Pieles said that “in normal times a rare, new and poorly understood process of this kind would be painstakingly studied over a longer period before any decisions were made”.

Given the pandemic, they acknowledge that many believe “we currently don’t have the luxury of time for more evidence”, making it much harder to issue authoritative advice.

Finn and Pieles suggest that parents consider waiting six months or so until the longer-term consequences of heart changes start to become clear, saying: “This is not a decision that needs to be rushed, and choosing to wait for more evidence is perfectly legitimate.”

Worth reading in full.

‘Traffic Light’ System Is Gone, but PCR Tests Will Remain for Now

Brits – vaccinated or otherwise – returning from their holidays abroad will still be forced to fork out for expensive PCR tests at least until the end of October, the Department for Transport has announced, despite the scrapping of the ‘traffic light’ travel system. The Telegraph has the story.

The Department for Transport warned that expensive PCR tests will still be required for fully jabbed travellers returning from holiday until the end of next month, and may not be removed before the back end of the half-term week, which starts on October 25th.

Even if the Government scraps them in time, fully vaccinated travellers will still face lateral flow or rapid antigen tests, which the Telegraph found on Friday being sold by Government-approved private providers for as much as £150.

Airline and airport chiefs said the “unnecessary” continued testing of jabbed holidaymakers and business travellers made travel less affordable and put the U.K. at a disadvantage to Europe.

It came as the Government removed the traffic light system by merging its Green and Amber Lists of countries, which means unvaccinated travellers will have to quarantine on return from any foreign country. Eight ‘winter sun’ countries including Egypt, Kenya and Turkey will come off the red list.

Johan Lundgren, the Chief Executive of easyJet, said: “Since July 1st, there has been no testing at all for vaccinated travellers within the rest of Europe, and this is why the U.K. will continue to fall further behind the rest of Europe if this remains.”

John Holland-Kaye, the Chief Executive of Heathrow Airport, said: “The decision to require fully vaccinated passengers to take more costly private lateral flow tests is an unnecessary barrier to travel, which keeps the U.K. out of step with the rest of the EU.” …

The Department for Transport told industry chiefs it could scrap PCR tests for the fully jabbed by October 23, but officially it said it aimed “to have it in place for when people return from half-term breaks”.

A Telegraph analysis of lateral flow/antigen tests on the Gov.uk website found the most expensive to be £150, offered by The Private GP Clinic in Sevenoaks, Kent, which compared with the cheapest at £14.99 offered by O Covid Clear.

Worth reading in full.

A Doctor Writes: The NHS Is Concealing Important Information from the Public

We’re republishing a post from our in-house doctor, formerly a senior medic in the NHS, on the unreliability of official figures on ‘Covid inpatients’ . This was first published in July and only now has the mainstream media finally cottoned on to the fact that the NHS’s Covid inpatient figures are unreliable. Since we published this, there have been at least three updates to the ‘primary diagnosis schedule’, all showing a consistent overstatement of 25%.

On Thursdays, the NHS release the weekly summary data in relation to Covid patients. Normally this is a more granular version of the daily summaries – it has some hospital level detail and figures on non-Covid workload for comparison. Usually interesting but not especially informative.

Yesterday was an exception. Placed down at the bottom of the page, almost like a footnote, was a “Primary Diagnosis” Supplement. Graph One shows the information contained in that spreadsheet. I find it astonishing. In essence, it shows that since June 18th, the NHS has known its daily figures in relation to ‘Covid inpatients’ were unreliable at best and deliberately untrue at worst.

The Yellow bars are what the NHS has been informing the nation were Covid inpatients. The Blue bars are the numbers of inpatients actually suffering from Covid symptoms – the difference between the two are patients in hospital who tested positive for Covid but were being treated for something different – where Covid was effectively an incidental finding but not clinically relevant.

For example, on July 27th, the total number of beds occupied by Covid patients was reported as 5,021. However, until today, we were not permitted to know that only 3,855 of those were actually admitted with Covid as the primary diagnosis. There has been a fairly consistent overestimate of the true number by about 25% running back to mid June – figures before that date are ‘not available’.

Why does this matter?

Well in one way it doesn’t matter very much. Whether the burden of Covid inpatients is 5% of the available beds or 3.5%, isn’t massively significant – it’s still a relatively small proportion. NHS managers are already arguing that even patients with Covid being treated for another condition still need isolation procedures and present an extra burden on the system. They may argue that the NHS is still under strain from staff absences, stress levels and the waiting list backlog – so it doesn’t really matter if the published figures are somewhat inaccurate.

But it matters hugely.

U.S. FDA Recommends Against Booster Vaccines for Under-65s

The advisory committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says booster jabs should be given to the over-65s and the clinically vulnerable but has voted 16-2 against recommending additional doses for everyone else aged 16 and over. MailOnline has the story.

Members said said [sic] there was not enough evidence that a third dose was safe and effective for use in people under age 65.

The FDA is not bound to follow the advisory group’s recommendations but the agency rarely goes against the guidance of VRBPAC.

The next step before the FDA can issue authorisation is a recommendation for approved by the advisory committee for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Pfizer had previously submitted data that the company claimed show its vaccine’s efficacy falls by about six percent every two months following the second and final dose.

But many scientists, including senior officials at the FDA, disagree and argue that the vaccines are still highly effective at preventing severe illness and death.

Last month, boosters were approved for immunocompromised Americans who had received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine after data showed they were less likely to develop high antibody levels after two doses.

At least 2.04 million people in the U.S. have received booster doses as of Friday, according to data from the CDC.

The White House also announced last month booster shots would become available for all Americans starting on September 20th due to data suggesting waning efficacy of the initial shots. …

Dr. Phil Krause, Deputy Director of the FDA’s Office of Vaccines Research and Review, said that Pfizer’s data [suggesting that people who received booster doses had high levels of protection] had yet to be independently reviewed by experts.

“One of the issues in this is that much of the data that’s been presented and being discussed today is not peer-reviewed and has not been reviewed by FDA,” he said.

FDA and CDC officials have previously expressed to [sic] their doubts to the White House about the need for extra doses.

Worth reading in full.

New PHE Data Shows Vaccine Effectiveness Against Delta Down to Just 7.6% in the Over-50s, 24% in the Under-50s, as the Vaccinated Continue to Experience Higher Infection Rate

The latest Technical Briefing on the Variants of Concern, number 23, has been published by Public Health England (PHE), so we can update our (unadjusted) estimates of vaccine effectiveness against the Delta variant using the data it includes from sequenced Delta samples from positive PCR test results in England.

As before, we subtract the figures in the latest briefing from those in briefing 17 to give the figures for the period June 22nd to September 12th. This gives us a picture for the whole Delta surge, which allows for the fact that most of the early reported infections were in the unvaccinated and most of the later reported infections were in the vaccinated (see below). PHE has recently also published the most recent month’s data for all reported infections (not just sequenced Delta ones), which shows lower vaccine efficacy in the most recent four weeks (a new report released on Friday shows this has dropped even further in the most recent week). However, given the apparently delayed infections in the vaccinated, when estimating vaccine efficacy against Delta it seems most accurate to look at the figures for the whole surge, not just the last month.

We use figures for proportions of the population vaccinated by age derived from the PHE Covid surveillance reports.

Starting with the over-50s, for the period June 22nd to September 12th, PHE reports 68,445 Delta infections in the double vaccinated and 7,575 in the unvaccinated. PHE figures show that in this period the proportion of the over-50s double vaccinated increased from 87% to 89%, giving a mean of 88%, and the proportion unvaccinated was stable at 9%. Calculating the vaccine effectiveness against Delta infection in the over-50s (1-(68,445/88%)/(7,575/9%)) gives a figure of just 7.6%. This is down from 15% two weeks ago and 24% two weeks before that. This continues to be very different to the estimate in the recent Oxford University study using ONS survey data, a study which I criticised for numerous inconsistent and implausible findings.

With regard to deaths with Covid (within 28 days of a positive test), PHE reports 1,515 in the double vaccinated and 552 in the unvaccinated in the over-50s in this period. This works out (1-(1,515/88%)/(552/9%)) at a vaccine effectiveness against death of 72%, down slightly from 74% using data from the previous briefing. This is a 72% reduction in mortality including any reduced risk of infection, not in addition to it. It continues to be an encouraging figure, albeit lower than earlier studies have suggested, and dropping week on week.

For the under-50s, for the period June 22nd to September 12th, PHE reports 81,718 Delta infections in the double vaccinated and 195,957 in the unvaccinated. PHE figures show that in this period the proportion of under-50s double vaccinated increased from 18% to 42%, giving a mean of 30%, and the proportion unvaccinated decreased from 61% to 50%, giving a mean of 55%. Calculating the vaccine effectiveness against Delta infection in the under-50s (1-(81,718/30%)/(195,957/55%)) gives a figure of 24%. This is down from 27% two weeks ago and 37% two weeks before that. Though higher than in the over-50s, it is still very low and much lower than earlier studies (including the trial) indicated.

For deaths, PHE reports 48 in the double vaccinated and 126 in the unvaccinated in the under-50s in this period. This works out (1-(48/30%)/(126/55%)) at a vaccine effectiveness against death of 30%. This is up from 20% two weeks ago and 12% two weeks before that, but is still very low and much lower than in the over-50s. This may be because higher risk people are prioritised for vaccination, or are more likely to consent to it, in the younger age groups, and the rising efficacy may reflect the increase in lower risk people being vaccinated.

These figures are much lower than those commonly quoted and used in modelling, and if they are closer to the truth then they mean the official, self-congratulatory estimates of “100,000 deaths” and “24.4 million infections” prevented by the vaccines are huge overestimates.

By plotting the differences between the reported total Delta cases in the last five briefings we can also get a picture of how they are changing over time in the different age and vaccine-status cohorts. The red and yellow lines in the chart below show that new reported Delta infections in the unvaccinated have continued gently to increase, as have reported infections in the vaccinated over-50s (dark green line). On the other hand, new reported Delta infections in the vaccinated under-50s dropped in the last two weeks, driving an overall drop in reported Delta infections in the vaccinated. This may mark the peak of the Delta surge in the vaccinated, and possibly overall, though the gentle rise in reported infections in the unvaccinated since the start of August adds a smidgen of doubt into that inference.