Day: 23 September 2021

The Government’s Gamesmanship and Outright Cheating on Covid and Vaccines Diminishes Us All

There follows a guest post by Dr. Mark Shaw, a retired dentist and regular contributor to the Daily Sceptic, who says the Government’s handling of the pandemic has lost all sight of what honesty and fair play mean.

In my last post I mentioned how important sport is to me. From a young age it was becoming easier to see, through sport, what was right and wrong, fair or unfair. The rules of the game instilled moral lessons that would help me decide who I could trust – win or lose. Playing fair in competition brings to mind the words of Shakespeare: “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

But there are many ways rules can be bent and players, whether professional or amateur, exploit this. I’ve been guilty of it myself. 

In the game of squash there are many instances where one might not be sure that a particular shot is strictly within the rules – and, if unsure, it seems reasonable to allow the game to play on. If present, a referee can decide on it. Sometimes players know that their shot or position is not within the rules but might see that the opponent or referee missed it. I might question an opponent after such an incident and I remember the ones that called this ‘gamesmanship’. But if a competitor does this repeatedly he or she gets a reputation, loses integrity and becomes known for cheating.

These particular aspects of sporting rules can reflect life. Gamesmanship isn’t sport and it is not fair. The moment we suspect foul play we should own up immediately. The gamesmanship element is then removed and that can give all involved mutual respect, the feeling of a greater good, and that it’s only a game. But I’ve learnt that this doesn’t always happen so have to ask what, when given the chance, did someone omit to say or do more than what he or she did actually say or do.

Looking at the way Covid has been handled by the Government I ask whether they have played fair or whether they have used gamesmanship to achieve their goals and whether the actual rules themselves were clean.

What have the Government and those in the media not said or done? Have they allowed full debate on focused protection and provided full unbiased, uncoercive, transparent information on issues such as masks, lockdowns, testing, the vaccination of healthy individuals and the efficacy and safety of these vaccines? Were any lockdown sceptic or vaccine sceptic journalists allowed to ask questions at any of the daily Government press briefings.

We’re Hiring!

Michael Curzon is giving up his day job on the Daily Sceptic, having been poached by a national newspaper. He’ll continue to contribute and help out from time to time, but he won’t be able to do what he does at the moment, which means I’ll need to replace him.

Michael’s job involves the following:

  • Posting four or five ‘worth reading in full’ pieces every day
  • Preparing original articles for publication (e.g. making sure they comply with house style and getting them set up on WordPress)
  • Doing the News Round-Up (all the contributors send in suggestions and we’ve got a gizmo that converts URLs into what you see in the News Round-Up, although each item needs a bit of tidying up)
  • Sending the Daily Update to our ~15,000 email subscribers
  • Promoting the Daily Update on our social media channels

We can pay £250/week, but it’s a seven-day-a-week job and the last bits – doing the News Round-Up, sending out the Daily Update and promoting it on our social media channels – usually happen between 11pm and 1am, so it would probably suit a young childless person in the foothills of his/her career. Michael reckons it takes him about two-and-a-half hours a day. Some familiarity with WordPress is essential, as are some sub-editing skills, e.g. the ability to spot when things aren’t in the house style and change them so they are.

Michael has very kindly given us some notice so we’ve got a couple of weeks to find a replacement. If you’re interested, please send your CV and a covering email to me at lockdownsceptics@gmail.com, putting “Job Application” in the subject header.

We are immensely grateful for all the work that Michael has done and delighted he’s agreed to become a contributing editor. He’ll be a hard act to follow, but if you’re any good you’ll probably be poached by a national newspaper too. The Daily Sceptic has racked up over 20 million page views and averages 1.5 million/month so your name will be in front of a lot of eyeballs.

Covid Unlikely to Mutate into a Deadly Variant, Says Lead Scientist Behind AstraZeneca Vaccine

There “aren’t many places for the virus to go”, according to the lead scientist behind the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine who says Covid is unlikely to mutate into a much deadlier variant. The Telegraph has the story.

Dame Sarah Gilbert said that viruses tended to become less virulent over time as they spread through a population which was becoming more immune.

Although Dame Sarah said some genetic drift was to be expected, she said Covid would eventually become like other seasonal coronaviruses which cause the common cold and respiratory infections.

Speaking on a Royal Society of Medicine webinar about variants on Wednesday, Dame Sarah said: “The virus can’t completely mutate because its spike protein has to interact with the ACE2 receptor on the surface of the human cell, in order to get inside that cell.

“If it changes its spike protein so much that it can’t interact with that receptor, then it’s not going to be able to get inside the cell. So there aren’t very many places for the virus to go to have something that will evade immunity but still be a really infectious virus.”

She added: “We normally see that viruses become less virulent as they circulate more easily and there is no reason to think we will have a more virulent version of SARS-CoV-2.

“We tend to see slow genetic drift of the virus and there will be gradual immunity developing in the population as there is to all the other seasonal coronaviruses. There are four of them and they’ve been circulating for decades and we’re not even aware of them.

“So we already live with four different human coronaviruses that we don’t really ever think about very much and eventually SARS-CoV-2 will become one of those. The question of how long it’s going to take to get there and what measures we’re going to have to take to manage it in the meantime.” …

Professor Sharon Peacock, the Executive Director of the Covid U.K. Genomics Consortium, which monitors variants for the Government, also told the webinar: “It’s watch and wait, but delta is top of the list and other variants are not particularly concerning at the moment.

“It has been pretty quiet since delta emerged and it would be nice to think there won’t be any new variants of concern. If I was pushed to predict, I think there will be new variants emerging over time and I think there is still quite a lot of road to travel down with this virus.”

Worth reading in full.

Record Numbers of Children Seeking Access to Mental Health Services

A new analysis by the Royal College of Psychiatrists has underlined the damaging impact of long months of school closures and general lockdowns on children’s mental health, showing that record numbers of young people are seeking – and are having to wait for – access to mental health services. The Guardian has the story.

In just three months, nearly 200,000 young people have been referred to mental health services – almost double pre-pandemic levels, according to the report by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Experts say the figures show the true scale of the impact of the last 18 months on children and young people across the country.

“These alarming figures reflect what I and many other frontline psychiatrists are seeing in our clinics on a daily basis,” said Dr. Elaine Lockhart, the college’s Child and Adolescent Faculty Chair. “The pandemic has had a devastating effect on the nation’s mental health, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that children and young people are suffering terribly.”

The college analysed NHS Digital data on mental health referrals for children and young people aged 18 and under. It found that between April and June this year, 190,271 children aged 18 and under were referred to children and young people’s mental health services – almost twice the number (97,342) referred during the same period in 2019.

Urgent referrals had also risen steeply. From April to June in 2019, 5,219 children and young people were referred for urgent care. This rose to 8,552 in 2021, the college said.

At the end of June, 340,694 people were in contact with children and young people’s mental health services, up from 225,480 in June 2019. …

Eating disorder treatment services were seeing more patients than ever, the college said, but it also warned of an “unprecedented” number of children still waiting for care.

Worth reading in full.

Family Butchers Facing Prosecution For Taking Children Out of School to Avoid Closure During Busy Christmas Season

A couple who run a butchers shop in Lancashire are being prosecuted by their local authority for taking their 10 year-old daughter out of school in the run-up to Christmas last year. They were concerned that if they left her and their other daughter, aged 14, in school there was a risk they would be sent home to self-isolate and they, in turn, would be ‘pinged’, forcing them to close their shop during their busiest time of year. Ryan and Faye Moffat have explained what this would have meant:

A business closure at that time of year (the run up to Xmas) would have been financially devastating for our business and family. In addition to the loss of sales profit (which helps to sustain our business during the quieter times of year), we were carrying an exceptionally large volume of perishable stock which was at risk of write-off. Also, failure to fulfil Xmas orders could have had a long-term impact on business goodwill, potentially resulting in a complete business failure.

Failure to pay our mortgage could have resulted in the loss of both our business premises and living accommodation.

The school of their 14 year-old daughter had no objection to her being taken out and home schooled for the last 13 days of term, but their 10 year-old daughter’s school refused permission. Quite extraordinary, given that the school had no compunction about sending children home from March to September. Why was it okay for children to be home schooled for half the year – completely pointlessly, I might add – but not for 13 days to save a family business? Had the Moffats told the school their daughter had Covid symptoms, the school would have instructed them to keep her at home. But they told the truth.

Very sensibly, the Moffats decided to take their 10 year-old out of school anyway – and now they’re being prosecuted by the local education authority. It beggars belief that ratepayers’ money is being spent on this vexatious case.

When the Moffats contacted me, they were planning to represent themselves in court because they couldn’t afford a lawyer. I put them in touch with an experienced criminal solicitor and urged them to start a fundraiser to pay the legal fees, estimated to be £3,000. I’m happy to say they’ve now done this. Please do make a donation so Ryan and Faye are able to fight their corner. You can find the fundraiser here.

Scottish Government Faces Legal Action Over Vaccine Passports

Nicola Sturgeon’s plans to introduce vaccine passports at nightclubs and ‘large’ events on October 1st face disruption from the industry body that represents the country’s nightclubs. The group is seeking to launch a legal challenge against the Scottish Government over what it calls a “deeply flawed and incoherent” policy. The Guardian has the story.

The Night Time Industries Association Scotland (NTIA)… has now instructed lawyers to seek a judicial review of the proposals.

The group said the scheme has been drafted without meaningful industry consultation and that the definition of “nightclub” set out by Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, is likely to impact thousands of other bars and pubs.

The Scottish Government has faced repeated criticism over the plans from opposition parties concerned with infringement of civil liberties as well as sports and industry leaders who have described them as unworkable and a threat to livelihoods.

Despite some Scottish ministers previously expressing reservations about vaccine passports, including Patrick Harvie, the Co-Leader of the Scottish Greens who last week entered a power-sharing agreement with the Holyrood Government, Sturgeon insists they are “proportionate” as a tool to curb rising Covid infections before the autumn.

On Tuesday, Sturgeon set out the definition of a nightclub drawn up for use with the scheme, this being a venue open between midnight and 5am, serving alcohol, having a designated area for dancing and providing live or recorded music for this purpose.

She said a “pragmatic approach” would be encouraged, “so that businesses can make sensible judgments.”

But the head of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, Liz Cameron, immediately responded that it would extend to many more hotels, pubs and other venues than expected with “thousands” of businesses now caught up in the rules, “with little time left to understand, plan and implement them before the deadline”.

Mike Grieve, chair of NTIA Scotland, said: “Having disregarded input from NTIA Scotland in discussions since the vaccine passport policy was announced, and having forced a rush vote through Scottish parliament, the Scottish Government have now confirmed that this deeply flawed and incoherent policy will come into effect from October 1st, focusing the negative attention on one small subsection of society, and all the economic damage on the sector already most affected by the pandemic.”

Worth reading in full.