Day: 20 November 2021

News Round-Up

Hong Kong Approves China’s Covid Vaccine for Three to 17 Year-Olds

The territory of Hong Kong has approved the use of China’s Sinovac Biotech Covid vaccine for three to 17 years-olds, with the Secretary for Food and Health, who believes that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks posed to this group, announcing that “adolescents aged 12 to 17 years-old will be accorded priority”. The Guardian has the story.

Hong Kong has approved lowering the age limit for the Covid vaccine from China’s Sinovac Biotech to three, down from 18 years of age.

Hong Kong’s Secretary for Food and Health, Sophia Chan, said in a statement published on Saturday: “Adolescents aged 12 to 17 will be accorded priority to receive the vaccine, with a view to extending to children of a younger age group at a later stage.”

She considered the benefits of approving the extension of the age eligibility to cover those aged three to 17 years-old outweighed the risks, the statement said.

A Hong Kong Government advisory panel on Covid vaccines had earlier recommended that the Minister approved the new age limit, it said.

The extension of the age eligibility comes after Hong Kong’s vaccination campaign, which started in February, has lagged behind many other developed economies. About 67% of the population have received two shots of either Sinovac or Germany’s BioNTech vaccine.

Hong Kong’s Government said in separate statement on Friday that it had purchased 1 million extra doses of BioNTech vaccine for third dose Covid vaccinations.

Worth reading in full.

Sweden Has Had *Negative* Excess Mortality Since the Start of 2020

We all remember what happened last year when Sweden’s unflappable state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell announced there wouldn’t be a lockdown. His “trust-based” approach was roundly denounced – not only in the media, but also by some ‘experts’.

As Johan Anderberg notes, Sweden’s pandemic strategy was variously described as “deadly folly” (Guardian), “a disaster” (Time magazine) and “the world’s cautionary tale” (New York Times).

Since the end of the first wave, however, Sweden has been gradually creeping down the list of countries by official Covid death rate. As of 16th October, it was ranked 52nd – well below the European average.

Yet this actually understates how well Sweden has done. As I and others have consistently argued, number of Covid deaths per million is not the best measure of the pandemic’s impact on mortality. Far better is age-adjusted excess mortality.

Thanks to an ONS report published on Thursday, we now have age-adjusted excess mortality numbers for most of the countries in Europe, covering the entire period from January 2020 to June 2021.

As an aside, the report clearly states: “The best way of comparing the mortality impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic internationally is by looking at all-cause mortality compared with the five-year average.”

So what do the new numbers show? Sweden has had negative excess mortality. In other words, the level of mortality between January 2020 and June 2021 was lower than the five-year average. If this isn’t a vindication of Anders Tegnell’s approach, I don’t know what is.

The table below (taken from the ONS report) shows age-adjusted excess mortality from 3rd January 2020 to 18th June 2021. As you can see, Sweden is 8th from bottom, with a value of –2.3%.

Interestingly, the bottom six are all small, geographically peripheral countries (three islands, plus Denmark, Norway and Finland). This suggests that geography and border controls were key, and that lockdowns – in the absence of effective border controls – didn’t make much difference.

The top seven are all in Eastern Europe, which again suggests that some geographic factor is at work. What may account for high excess mortality in these countries is the fact that all of them missed the first wave, and hence had even bigger epidemics in the winter. Official Covid death rates are shown below:

If true, this would constitute strong evidence against the House of Commons’ report, which concluded that Britain should have tried to suppress the first wave. As I’ve noted before, this approach always carried the risk of creating an even bigger epidemic in the winter.  

In any event, Anders Tegnell can give himself a well-deserved pat on the back. His country kept civil liberties largely intact, and ended up with one of Europe’s lowest death tolls. Well done, professor.

Was COP26 Peak Snake Oil?

We’re publishing a guest post by journalist Chris Morrison asking whether COP26 was the high water mark of climate change alarmism.

One of the defining photo opportunities of the recent COP26 climate conference was the image of Tuvalu foreign minister Simon Kofe drawing attention to rising sea levels by addressing the assembly in two feet of water. Inexplicably missing from any commentary on the PR stunt was the welcome news that the Tuvaluan chain of islands actually grew in size from 1971 to 2014. Back in the real world, a 2018 paper by scientists from the University of Auckland found: “Results highlight a net increase in land area in Tuvalu of 73.5ha (2.9%), despite sea-level rise, and land area increase in eight of nine atolls.”

Coral reefs and sand banks in the middle of the Pacific Ocean are not the most stable geological formations but numerous natural forces determine their size, apart from small rises or falls in sea levels. Using these islands and others such as the Maldives and the Marshall Islands, which are also increasing in size, is yet another example of faulty science being pressed into political service to advance the cause of net zero.

Was COP26 a success or failure? The always disappointed George Monbiot of the Guardian sounded the usual unhinged Marxist-Leninist call to arms in a piece entitled: “After the failure of COP26, there’s only one last hope for our survival.” “Our survival depends on raising the scale of civil disobedience until we build the greatest mass movement in history, mobilising the 25% who can flip the system,” he wrote.

BBC presenter and activist Chris Packham was also underwhelmed by COP26: “Angry, scared and betrayed. We have been failed and scorned by the stupid, the greedy and the evil. Life is now in mortal danger. But it’s not over, it’s just down to us to do what needs to be done and we need to go to it now.”

SAGE Adviser Demands People Get Booster Jabs to Avoid Anti-Lockdown Protests

Professor John Edwards, a SAGE adviser, has openly stated that Britain will not share the same fate as much of Continental Europe which has experienced a rapid rise in Covid cases. However, Edwards has connected the necessity for booster vaccines with the emergence of anti-lockdown protests across various European countries, such as the Netherlands, urging members of the public to get triple-jabbed to avoid similar protests breaking out in the U.K. MailOnline has the story.

A SAGE adviser has moved to reassure Britons the UK will not see a spike in Covid cases like Austria and Germany, but warned Europe’s soaring infection rate lockdown riots should act as a ‘warning’ as he urged people to get their booster jabs.  

Professor John Edmunds said today that opposition to stringent restrictions on the continent have demonstrated the importance of booster jabs, warning, “it is pretty clear immunity does wane”. 

“What you see now in central Europe with these rapid increase in cases, you see the importance of vaccination,” Edmunds told Sky News

But Edmunds said the U.K. was unlikely to be hit by the Christmas chaos because the country “is in a slightly different position.”  

This comes amid a fresh wave of Covid infections on the continent that has sent nations back into draconian restrictions and could see excess deaths start to rise again.

Italy is considering a lockdown of the unvaccinated, it emerged yesterday, which would make it the second country to impose the controversial intervention after Austria.

And Germany’s incoming Government has said that it wants unvaccinated people to be barred from going to work and travelling on public transport amid what Angela Merkel calls “dramatic” infection levels. The Netherlands has also introduced a 7pm curfew for pubs and restaurants amid rising cases there.

Austria has made vaccinations mandatory and yesterday announced it would return to lockdown on Monday, with Germany poised to follow suit after health officials warned they cannot rule out a full shutdown. 

The reintroduction of restrictions across Europe have sparked a fierce backlash and fevered protests broke out in cities including Rotterdam overnight, where riot police fired warning shots, injuring protestors marching against the Covid measures.

Today, tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Vienna with the far-right opposition Freedom Party among those who have called for the protest and vowed to combat the new restrictions.

Demonstrations against virus measures are also expected in other European countries including Switzerland, Croatia and Italy. 

Worth reading in full.

Secret NHS Plan to Give Covid Vaccines to Children as Young as Five

Kids as young as five are set to be offered Covid jabs within months under secret NHS plans in spite of Covid posing close to zero risk to children. The Sun has more.

Leaked proposals show health bosses are preparing to vaccinate children aged between five and 11 next spring.

Officials fear Covid will continue to rage until 2024 – making it necessary to immunise younger Brits.

The U.S. has already begun vaccinating kids as young as five, with Israel set to follow suit within days.

Health bosses have been sworn to secrecy about the spring campaign, with officials concerned the move could spark a backlash from some parents.

Before the rollout can go ahead, U.K. regulators must still green light it for use in under-12s.

And experts on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation must also approve use in those aged five to 11.

Under the latest “planning scenario”, NHS chiefs predict a regular Covid booster programme will also be needed to protect vulnerable Brits. It forecasts that outbreaks of the virus will continue to 2023/24.

A senior source revealed: “Top secret plans reveal what is at stake if we are to achieve a meaningful victory over Covid. Asking parents for permission to jab kids as young as five is in the schedule.

“It is controversial, but will help us reach our goal.

“Nothing is in the public domain yet, and the plans could change, but jabbing young children is backed by many scientists.” Although youngsters are at much lower risk of falling ill from Covid, they can still spread the virus to vulnerable adults.”

Worth reading in full.

Netherlands Delay Treatment for Cancer and Heart Patients to Free up Space for Covid Patients

Preparing for another Covid wave, the Netherlands has begun to delay treatment and vital operations for cancer and heart patients to ensure that there is more space in intensive care units for incoming Covid patients. Reuters has the story.

Dutch healthcare officials said on Friday they have begun delaying operations for some cancer and heart patients to free up space in intensive care units during a record wave of Covid infections.

“These are cancer patients that should actually be operated on within six weeks of diagnosis, and that won’t be met in all cases. It’s also heart patients,” said a spokesperson for LCPS, the national organisation that allocates hospital resources.

“It’s horrible, of course, for the patients.”

The National Institute for Health (RIVM) reported a record of more than 23,000 new cases in the previous 24 hours on Thursday, compared with the previous daily high of around 13,000 reached in December 2020.

With 85% of the adult population vaccinated, both hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) admission rates have so far remained lower than they were at the height of the initial wave in April 2020, although there is a delay between the date of infection and the date of admission to hospital.

With fewer than 200 beds remaining in Dutch ICU as of Thursday, hospitals are scrambling to add more capacity.

Worth reading in full.

Dutch Police Open Fire on Anti-Lockdown Protestors

Seven people have been injured after Dutch police fired on anti-lockdown protestors on Friday night, amid rising anger at new Covid restrictions. MailOnline has more.

Police confirmed the injuries in Rotterdam on Friday and said they had fired both “warning shots” and directly at protesters – but did not say if live ammunition or rubber bullets were fired.

Local media reported that at least 20 people were arrested.

Police also fired water cannons to disperse demonstrators who lit fires and set off fireworks in one of Rotterdam’s main shopping streets, one week after the new COVID-19 measures came into force.

The violent scenes came amid a rising anger at coronavirus measures across Europe, with Austria making vaccines mandatory and introducing a full lockdown from Monday, and German ministers not ruling out following its neighbour’s lockdown lead.

Restrictions have also been placed on the unvaccinated in Germany – where they have been banned from Restaurants – as well as in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Video from social media appeared to show a person being shot in Rotterdam, but there was no immediate word on what happened.

Police said in a tweet that it was “still unclear how and by whom” the person was apparently shot.

Local media reported seven people were injured and at least 20 were arrested, with one eyewitness – a press photographer – telling De Telegraaf they saw shell casings “everywhere on the floor”.

Police spokesperson Patricia Wessels confirmed that police fired shots, though it was not immediately clear what type of rounds were fired.

“We fired warning shots and there were also direct shots fired because the situation was life-threatening,” she said.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Michael P. Senger has posted a tweet showing Dutch police shooting at protestors.