Day: 11 October 2021

And Finally…

In this week’s episode of London Calling, James and I discuss Rotten Tomatoes’ decision to disable the ‘Audience Score’ button for the new Fauci documentary, the New York Times‘s embarrassing correction about the number of children who’ve been hospitalised in the US with COVID-19 (revising it downwards from 900,000 to 63,000), the introduction of vaccine passports in Wales after a botched vote in the Welsh Assembly, the new Bond film (which neither of us has seen) and my disastrous interview with Lynn Barber in 2006.

You can listen to the podcast here and subscribe to it on iTunes here.

Stop Press: Rotten Tomatoes has now abandoned its efforts to suppress people’s dislike of the Fauci documentary. Its ‘Audience Score’ currently stands at 3% (‘Tomatometer’ = 91%).

Ministers Tell Parents Their Children Must Get Jabbed or They Could Lose Out on Face-To-Face Learning

In case “vaccination webinars” run by local councils and health officials aren’t enough to persuade parents to give their consent for the ‘jabbing’ of their children, the Health Secretary and Education Secretary have written a letter to parents, which will be circulated by schools, warning that children who don’t get vaccinated are likely to lose out on some face-to-face learning. The Telegraph has the story.

Nadhim Zahawi… and Sajid Javid… have written a joint letter to parents, urging them to get their children vaccinated.

The letter explains that keeping children in school is a priority for the Government, but they need parents’ help to ensure pupils “are able to stay in face-to-face learning”.

Mothers and fathers should encourage their children to “come forward for the Covid vaccine”, the letter said, adding that this is “one of the best things young people can do” to protect themselves and those around them.

Their intervention comes as vaccine take-up among 12 to 15 year-olds appears to have stalled in England, with just over one in ten (11.6%) of the age group vaccinated. …

“We know that students have missed a lot of time in school and college since the pandemic started, and that there is no substitute for face-to-face learning,” it said.

“Keeping students in the classroom in the coming months is therefore a Government priority, both for their immediate and longer-term wellbeing.”

The ministers said that while children are at very low risk of serious illness from Covid, it remains important that they are vaccinated to “reduce the spread” of the virus.

“Young people who get ill will need to miss school or college, and may spread it to others,” they added.

“That is why we are encouraging you all to support your children to get vaccinated and to continue to test regularly. This will help to detect cases early, reduce spread, and keep students in education.”

Worth reading in full.

Wales Rolls Out Vaccine Passports After Botched Vote

The Welsh Government has introduced a Covid status certification scheme for nightclubs and large indoor and outdoor events in spite of only securing approval for it in the Senedd by one vote after a Conservative MS was unable to connect via Zoom. Had the vote been tied, the scheme would not have been introduced. Unfortunately, the report on BBC News about the Welsh Covid Pass neglects to mention this fact and – even more bizarrely – fails to point out that being double jabbed only marginally reduces your chances of becoming infected or infecting others. On the contrary, it quotes people saying how relieved they are that they’ll now be ‘safe’ from infection at football stadiums and the like.

Lidi Staffurth is one of thousands of people who have been shielding during the pandemic due to a condition which makes them extremely vulnerable to COVID-19.

She said Covid passes would help reassure people who might feel uncertain about attending large events, adding she felt she had her “freedom back”.

Ms Staffurth labelled it a “brilliant idea”, not least because there are three young people in her family.

“If they’re in large groups then we’ll know they’re around people who are double vaccinated, or at least free from Covid,” she said.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea and for a society at large it means people are looking after each other.

“I think some young people just don’t care – they’ve had it with Covid, and I think we’ve all had it with Covid – but they live in their own little bubble and they don’t really see beyond that bubble a lot.

“And that’s fair enough, but it means with a Covid pass they’re made to consider that.”

The rugby game between Wales and New Zealand at the Principality Stadium on October 30th will be one of the first sporting events where attendees are required to produce a Covid Pass before being admitted.

Germany Scraps Free Covid LFTs, Pushing Unvaccinated into Getting Jabbed

Germans who have not been vaccinated against Covid (or have not recently recovered from the virus) must now pay for tests in order to attend public gatherings, with free lateral flow tests having been scrapped by the Government. Added financial pressure is expected to nudge those who have decided not to get vaccinated into abandoning their positions. The Guardian has the story.

Public gatherings across Germany have since August 23rd been allowed to go ahead if they follow the so-called “3G” rule (short for geimpft, genesen oder getestet), meaning participants have to show proof of either vaccination, a recent recovery from the virus, or an up-to-date test result.

A large-scale infrastructure offering free Government-subsidised rapid antigen tests that sprung up across Germany over the spring and summer made testing part of people’s everyday routine while vaccinations were still hard to come by.

But as of October 11th the Government says it can no longer justify paying for free tests out of the public purse since all residents over the age of 12 can now get the jab if they want to.

The hope is that the cost and inconvenience of paying for coronavirus tests will help to boost Germany’s stagnating vaccination rate, a problem politicians did little to address while the country was locked in election campaign mode.

Similar plans are being drawn up in England which could push the unvaccinated to get jabbed if a similar vaccine passport scheme is introduced later this year.

Worth reading in full.

60% Of American Parents Haven’t Committed to Their Children Getting Vaccinated against Covid, Survey Suggests

Only 37% of parents in the U.S. with children aged five-11 plan on getting them vaccinated against Covid, according to a new CBS News/YouGov survey, while 35% say they are opposed to their children being ‘jabbed’ and 26% are unsure. MailOnline has the story.

Just 10% of unvaccinated moms and dads will insist upon the vaccine for their children.

The survey, completed Friday, showed 26% of parents are undecided about the jab, meaning more than 60% of adults haven’t committed to having their child vaccinated against a virus that’s killed more than 700,000 Americans.

Parents of children aged five through 11 participated in the survey; Pfizer last week asked the FDA to expand emergency use of its Covid vaccine to children in that age bracket.

The vaccine-reluctant said possible side-effects, distrust of the Government and scientists, and lack of thorough testing were their main concerns.

Interestingly, many parents who’ve themselves had the vaccine say they don’t want their young children to receive it. …  

Government advisors insist vaccines are thoroughly-tested and safe, although they have been linked to serious and potentially deadly heart-inflammation in very rare cases, particularly among young men. 

The survey’s results are consistent with a similar poll completed by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which showed 34% of American parents plan to vaccinate their schoolchildren as soon as a vaccine for the five-11 age group is authorised.

Worth reading in full.

YouTube Video of the Great Lockdown Debate

The Modern Review has uploaded a video of the Great Lockdown Debate on YouTube that you can watch here (or click on the video below).

Readers will recall that the motion was ‘The lockdowns of the past year caused more harm than good’, with Dr. Carl Heneghan, Luke Johnson and me speaking for the motion, and Oliver Kamm, Andrew Lilico and Dr. Sonia Adesara speaking against. Not only did our side win by an enormous margin, but we also succeeded in changing more people’s minds than the other side. If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, watch from 1hr 24m 20s, which is when things got really lively.

Immunity to Covid Is Still Present 12 Months After Infection

Back in October of 2020, the John Snow Memorandum was published as a letter in the Lancet. Originally co-signed by 31 scientists, hundreds of others have since added their names.

Although it does not explicitly name the Great Barrington Declaration, the Memorandum is widely understood as a response to that document. It refers to “a so-called herd immunity approach”, which proponents claim “would lead to the development of infection-acquired population immunity in the low-risk population”.

However, the Memorandum states: “This is a dangerous fallacy unsupported by scientific evidence.” And it goes on to claim “there is no evidence for lasting protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2 following natural infection”.

According to the organisers’ website, more than 6,900 scientists, researchers and healthcare professionals have signed the Memorandum to date (including names from Oxford and Harvard). So almost 7,000 people with supposed expertise deemed it plausible that natural immunity would not provide any lasting protection against reinfection.

Incidentally, the language used in the Memorandum may be partly responsible for the Great Barrington Declaration being mischaracterised as a ‘herd immunity strategy’. As the authors have been at pains to point out, this is like describing a pilot’s plan to land a plane as a ‘gravity strategy’. (Their approach is more properly described as ‘focused protection’.)

It’s now one year on from the John Snow Memorandum. Is there any evidence for “lasting protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2 following natural infection”? Yes, in fact, there is.

A recent systematic review (which has not yet been peer-reviewed) found that natural immunity confers a high degree of protection against reinfection. The researchers analysed 10 studies, and calculated a weight-average risk reduction of 90%.

But is this protection lasting? According to a new study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, immunity persists for at least 12 months in the vast majority of convalescents (those who’ve previously been infected).

Chinese researchers carried out a “systematic antigen-specific immune evaluation” on 74 individuals, 12 months after their original infection. They found that “humoral immunity is present within ~95% of convalescents and T-cell memory against at least one viral antigen is measurable among ~90% of subjects at 12m post-infection”.

Note: ‘humoral immunity’ refers to the type of immune response mediated by antibodies, whereas ‘cellular immunity’ refers to the type mediated by T-cells (as well as phagocytes and cytokines).

Although the researchers also had data from 28 healthy controls (individuals who’d never been infected), their sample was not large enough to estimate the protective effect of natural immunity on reinfection. Though it’s worth noting that not a single participant reported reinfection.

A study published last year analysed data on ten healthy males over a period of three decades, to see how often reinfections with seasonal coronaviruses occurred. They found that the median reinfection occurred after 30 months, suggesting that protective immunity lasts for years, not decades.

If SARS-CoV-2 is anything like the four other coronaviruses, we can expect immunity against reinfection to wane on a similar timescale. However, this seems more than sufficient to achieve focused protection, in the sense of shielding the vulnerable through the initial epidemic, and allowing time for treatments and vaccines to be developed.  

Lockdown proponents might respond that lockdown need only have lasted as long as it took to develop the vaccines. But this argument completely ignores the costs side of the ledger. Focused protection could have worked, if only we’d bothered to try it.

Stop Press: The Brownstone Institute has compiled a list of 29 studies showing that natural immunity to SARS-CoV-2 is “robust, long-lasting, and broadly effective”.