Day: 24 October 2021

News Round-Up

Boris Admits the Vaccine “Doesn’t Protect You Against Catching the Disease, and It Doesn’t Protect You Against Passing it On”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has admitted that the Covid vaccines do not prevent infection or transmission. Speaking to reporters on a visit to a Covid vaccination centre in London on Friday, the Prime Minister said that double vaccination provides “a lot of protection against serious illness and death” but does not protect against “catching the disease” or “passing it on”. Has he been reading the Daily Sceptic?

His message was to underline the importance of boosters:

So the message is that the boosters are fantastic. The levels of protection are really very high, but it’s also very, very important that you get one because the double vaccination provides a lot of protection against serious illness and death but it doesn’t protect you against catching the disease, and it doesn’t protect you against passing it on. So now is the time to get your booster.

But if being double-vaccinated doesn’t prevent you being infected or transmitting the virus after just a few months, why will a booster be much better? Why is it so important to prevent transmission and infection through boosters anyway, when protection against serious illness and death is holding up well and that’s all that really matters?

Another question for the Prime Minster: What now is the point of vaccine passports and mandates? Why sack hundreds of thousands of care home workers and health care staff who decline vaccination, most of whom have served faithfully throughout the pandemic, if vaccination makes no difference to how infectious you are and so does not protect others?

Now that the Prime Minister himself has let the cat out of the bag on the vaccines not preventing spread, will the media start reporting on this data properly? And will the Government now join the dots and abandon vaccine coercion? We can but hope.

Record Number of Booster Vaccine Doses Given on Saturday

Perhaps the Government’s recent push to increase the number of people coming forward for booster Covid vaccines has paid off, with NHS figures showing that a record number of third doses were given on Saturday. Sky News has the story.

A total of 5.1 million third jabs have been given, with around half of people aged 50 and over – and those who are currently eligible – being given a dose.

Saturday was the biggest booster day on record, with 325,140 vaccines given. …

Earlier this week, people eligible for a booster were advised they could go online and book through the National Booking Service, even if they had not received an invitation by letter or test.

In the 24 hours following this announcement, more than 230,000 people booked their jab.

The roll-out began on September 16th – two days after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended a third vaccine six months after people had received their second dose.

Overall, nearly 85 million vaccines have been administered in England.

Currently, around 10 million people in England are eligible for the booster jab, including health and care workers, those with underlying health conditions, and people aged 50 and over.

Worth reading in full.

Is Plan B Imminent?

The Observer splashed this morning on the news that the Government is secretly planning to roll out ‘Plan B’, in spite of repeatedly claiming that it has no intention of doing so.

New evidence has emerged that the government is paving the way to implement ‘Plan B’ measures in England to combat the spread of COVID-19, amid warnings from health chiefs that a “vortex of pressures” is encircling the NHS.

In the clearest sign to date that Whitehall is actively considering additional measures, the Observer has learnt that the U.K. Health Security Agency (UKHSA) contacted local authorities on Friday to canvass their level of support for the “immediate rollout of the winter plan – plan B”.

The disclosure comes as senior doctors warn that operations are already being cancelled due to NHS staffing shortages and scientists warn of “a triple whammy” of respiratory illnesses this winter, with Covid, flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which causes cold-like symptoms but can be serious for children and older adults.

You can read the whole story here.

How much should we read into the fact that the UKHSA – the successor to Public Health England – has consulted with local authorities about implementing ‘Plan B’? Is the agency just preparing for every possible scenario, just in case, or is it doing the Government’s bidding ahead of new Covid restrictions being imposed?

The former, according to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who was asked about the story on Andrew Marr this morning. MailOnline has more.

Rishi Sunak insisted there was no need to move to ‘Plan B’ to cut Covid cases today – after health chiefs discussed whether there needed to be an “immediate rollout” of tougher measures to combat a surge in cases.

The Chancellor insisted that the data shows that bringing back working from home and introducing mandatory Covid passports was not yet required.

His comments to the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme came after it was reported that the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) contacted local authorities on Friday to canvass their level of support for the “immediate rollout of the winter plan – plan B”.

An ‘official – sensitive’ document seen by the Observer sought opinions from the leaders and chief executives of councils across England to be fed to the Cabinet Office before then [sic] end of the day.

But Mr Sunak today said: “The data does not suggest we should be immediately moving to Plan B.”

However a leading Government scientist said “some kind of Plan B” was needed immediately.

Professor Adam Finn, who is on the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said COVID-19 hospital admissions and deaths are rising, and warned against complacency in what he said is a “worsening” situation.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party is ratcheting up pressure on the Government to reintroduce restrictions, seemingly indifferent to the fact that the burden of such measures fall disproportionately on the least well off. MailOnline has more.

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said the Government should introduce its ‘Plan B’ to tackle the rising rates of coronavirus now.

Speaking on Marr, Ms Reeves was asked what Labour’s position was on reintroducing restrictions such as the wearing of face coverings and working from home.

She said: “Labour as a responsible opposition have always said that we would follow the science, and we’ve seen today that SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) are saying that some aspects of Plan B, like wearing masks on public transports and in shops, and also working from home more flexibly should be introduced.

“I think the first thing is the Government have got to do more to make Plan A work.

“If the scientists are saying work from home and masks, we should do that. So get A working better because the vaccination programme has been stalling, introduce those parts of Plan B.

“But there are also things not in A or B that need to be done, like paying statutory sick pay from day one and also better ventilation in public spaces.”

Asked directly whether Plan B should be introduced now, she said: “Yes, but let’s not let the Government off the hook with Plan A either.”

You can read both stories here.

The pressure on the Government to introduce ‘Plan B’ – and then, no doubt, another lockdown – is coming from the same sources it did this time last year: the NHS, SAGE, the DHSS, the Labour Party, the trades unions and, of course, the mainstream media. The Government is resisting the pressure for three reasons: (a) Matt Hancock and Michael Gove are no longer in the ‘Quad’ lobbying Boris and Rishi to lock down; (b) Boris is reluctant to squander the political capital he’s built up by supposedly avoiding the need for further restrictions by successfully overseeing a mass vaccination programme; and (c) the public mood has shifted a little, becoming marginally less pro-lockdown, as evidenced by recent polling.

But I’m not at all confident the Government won’t implement ‘Plan B’ – or worse – if infections, hospitalisations and deaths tick up again. Even though there’s zero evidence that mask mandates, vaccine passports and working from home do anything to suppress the virus, if daily infections climb above 100,000 the Government will calculate that it needs to be seen to be doing something, even if it will make no difference and cause enormous collateral damage. Consequently, we should all pray that infections start to tail off this week, as we know they will before long, just as they have in every previous wave regardless of whether the state introduces further restrictions or not.

Sajid Javid Wants to Introduce Legislation to Force All NHS Staff to Get Vaccinated against Covid “As Soon as Possible”

There’s more today on the Government’s thoughts on forcing all NHS staff to be ‘fully vaccinated’ against Covid, with the Health Secretary believed to be keen to introduce legislation that would make vaccination a condition of employment “as soon as possible”. The Sunday Times has the story.

[Sajid Javid] believes the move would protect vulnerable patients from catching the virus in hospital, but health groups have warned that it could force trusts to fire staff or remove them from frontline duties. In England, 106,351 NHS staff have still not been vaccinated, about 7% of the total.

Javid is also preparing to roll out booster jabs to the under-50s after Christmas, although they have yet to be approved by experts on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

The Health Secretary, who has set up a “war room” and is chairing daily meetings on the Covid crisis, has drawn up new measures to ease pressure on the NHS and curb surging Covid cases, which last week surpassed 50,000 in a day for the first time in three months. …

A source close to Javid claimed he has not ruled out another national lockdown. However, it is understood that [Boris] Johnson does not want any new Covid restrictions until after COP26, the climate change summit that begins in Glasgow next weekend. “No one wants to spook the horses,” said a source. …

Javid has refused to pause a requirement for care home staff to be fully vaccinated by November 11th, despite claims that it could lead to up to 100,000 of them quitting.

Worth reading in full.

We Should Ask the Modellers to Prove their Models Can Accurately Predict the Future Before Following their Advice Again

We’re publishing a guest post today by Dr. David Livermore, Professor of Medical Microbiology at the University of East Anglia, arguing that the SAGE modellers should be asked to prove their bona fides before we follow their advice again. He has come up with a simple test: build a model that can accurately predict the course of the 1889-94 ‘Russian Flu’ pandemic based on data available in 1891. If they can’t – if there are simply too many variables – then we shouldn’t base policy decisions on their predictions of how the current Covid epidemic is likely to play out in England. Here is an extract in which he lays out his rationale for setting this challenge:

Since Freedom Day in July, we’ve had predictions from Prof Ferguson alone that “cases would hit 100,000 per day” and then that the pandemic would be “over by October”. More recently we’ve had a boast that while suppression policies had their “downsides” they had proved “very effective” at reducing mortality over the last two years. Then, this week, when the pandemic was supposed to be over, Prof F has warned that Plan B, with masks, vaccine passports and WFH will soon be needed. All this strikes me as ad hoc guesswork based on short term trends, not modelling at all.

Closures and restrictions, if enforced, cause untold damage to real lives and real livelihoods. So, it is time to call the modellers out and to set a test, before they have the chance to inflict more harm. Medics, nurses, physios, medical lab scientists, and clinical scientists all must demonstrate competency to be licensed. There is no such regulation for modellers. Yet their advice, adopted by the Government, affects millions whereas a bad doctor can only harm one patient at a time.

So, in the absence of regulation, let me set a challenge.

This is an excellent piece from one of the country’s leading experts on infectious diseases. Very much worth reading in full.

As David says, if any modellers want to take up his challenge I’d be happy to publish the results in the Daily Sceptic.

Get the Booster Vaccine or Lose the Freedom to Enjoy Christmas, Warns NHS Chief

Less than a week after Laura Dodsworth wrote a piece on the ‘nudges‘ involved in the Government’s threats of more restrictions, the NHS’s most senior doctor has warned Britons that our freedom to enjoy Christmas could be stripped from us if enough people don’t get a ‘booster’ Covid vaccine.

“The freedom we now all enjoy,” Professor Stephen Powis writes in the Sunday Telegraph, “is a direct result of the country’s willingness and desire to come forward for a Covid jab when it has been offered.” That very ‘freedom’ will be gone again if take-up doesn’t stay high.

Although the country once again finds itself at a crunch point, the NHS vaccination programme remains the strongest weapon in the armoury. Because we rolled out jabs so quickly, we are likely to see protection from the virus waning sooner than other countries. That means that without a booster, many people will find themselves more vulnerable to Covid, going into winter. So it’s vital that everyone gets their top-up jab as soon as they are eligible.

People will be contacted to book their jab six months after their second dose. And if for some reason you don’t receive an invite, you will be able to book directly through the national booking service after you become eligible.

We have to seize the moment, get our booster jab and protect ourselves as we go into what will no doubt be a tough winter, particularly as we are likely to see seasonal flu pose a risk to our health. And to maximise the impact of the vaccination programme we must all continue to act responsibly.

The more of us that come forward for our booster jab, and the more we keep our resolve in helping to limit the spread of infection, then the greater chance we all have of staying well.

So, when your time comes, take up the offer, book your booster and protect the freedom and Christmas that we have all earned and deserve to enjoy.

Worth reading in full.

The Unholy Trinity of Social Control: Covid, Climate Change and Critical Race Theory

Is it any wonder reports of mental illness have sky-rocketed in recent years when we are all constantly berated over what an awful state the world is in and how disaster is imminent unless our whole way of life is radically changed for the worse?

People living in 2021 are now burdened with at least three major issues, all of which have arisen or reached a new intensity in the last 18 months. First there is obviously Covid, with lockdown restrictions – unheard of before February 2020 – fast becoming normalised as a form of disease management. Second is climate change, the recent IPCC doomsday report and the approach of COP26 triggering the release of all kinds of new schemes and threats of punitive taxes and bans. Third, there is Critical Race Theory and the wider woke agenda of demonising and delegitimising ‘whiteness’, men, heterosexuality, women, and anything else deemed to be oppressive to minorities and insufficiently inclusive, egalitarian and diverse.

On the face of it these three things have little or nothing in common. Disease management, global temperature changes, race and minority relations – the issues are distinct. Yet their supposed urgency makes them and their approved solutions core tenets of the reigning governing philosophy of our day. Covid is such a serious disease it must be suppressed via restrictions whenever it surges; climate change is such a threat to human life it must be combated by drastic reductions in carbon dioxide emissions as quickly as possible; the oppression of minorities is so serious and pervasive that drastic action must be taken to increase diversity and remove oppressive cultural expressions in short order.

The three are also united in that all of them demand a high degree of social control. Normal life and liberty spreads disease, emits carbon dioxide and oppresses minorities. It is therefore unacceptable and must be curbed and brought under a heavy degree of governmental and social regulation. People must be compelled not to gather, to stay at home, to wear face coverings, to take tests and medicines, not to burn gas, oil, coal or petrol, not to eat meat, not to offend favoured minorities, to promote diversity. The people in charge are always attracted to an agenda that justifies them throwing around the power they have, and this unholy trinity of righteous causes has that in buckets.

The three are also based on ‘science’, or at least academia. They involve supposedly impartial, objective experts pronouncing on what the world’s biggest problems are and formulating the solutions that will save us. This is a very appealing formula for elites, who gain perceived legitimacy by allying themselves with expertise.

Another thing the three have in common, though the scientists, academics and politicians themselves will never admit it, is that they are all based on an underlying mistake, and the pursuit of their supposedly necessary solutions will frequently cause more harm than good.

To cap it off, they are also all totally impossible to achieve, giving rise to the ultimate soul-destroying ideology: urgent, impossible, and ultimately pointless.