- “Scientists pushed for tougher Covid rules even before U.K.’s first Omicron case” – NERVTAG experts warned ministers that the variant first identified in South Africa could trigger a new wave of severe infections, reports the Telegraph.
- “Christmas parties: Conservative staff event going ahead, says Chairman” – But Government ministers are accused of giving mixed messages on events over the festive period, reports.
- “More than half of Omicron cases in England are in the double jabbed” – Findings revealed by health officials amid sharp rise in detection of new variant across the U.K., reports the Guardian.
- “The NHS Covid beds that were never used” – Managers wasted billions on buying capacity in private hospitals, writes Amy Jones in UnHerd.
- “Wisbech councillor’s comic book shop closes over masks rule” – The owner says he and his staff do not want to impose the Government’s will on customers when it comes to wearing a mask, reports BBC News.
- “Germany’s lurch into Covid authoritarianism” – The new Government is set to impose compulsory vaccination and a lockdown for the unvaccinated, writes Sabine Beppler-Spahl in Spiked.
- “Will we end up having booster jabs forever? Here’s everything you need to know” – With Covid variants set to keep striking, routine Covid vaccination may become a regular feature of our lives, write Anne Gulland and Sarah Newey in the Telegraph.
- “GPs in England get green light to provide less care and join Covid jab drive” – Government says doctors can do less monitoring of people with diabetes and heart problems, reports the Guardian.
- “Anthony Fauci’s dangerous narcissism” – Science can’t be above questioning, writes Kat Rosenfield in UnHerd.
- “Google delays its January return-to-office plan due to Omicron” – “Google has delayed it’s January return-to-office plans as the Omicron variant spreads across the world and nine cases are detected in the U.S.,” reports the Mail.
- “Ireland closes nightclubs and tightens Covid rules” – “Irish nightclubs are to shut again and the hospitality sector faces tighter rules over Christmas as the Government tries to curb the spread of Covid,” reports BBC News.
- “Ireland’s outrageous masking of eight year-olds” – “I cannot quite articulate my outrage at this measure. Forcing young children to wear masks for prolonged periods is one of the worst measures imposed by governments,” writes Laura Perrins in TCW.
- “NHS will be plagued by Covid ‘for at least five years’” – “Covid will be a threat to the NHS for at least the next five years and testing and vaccines may be needed for a decade or longer, the Government’s scientific advisers have said,” reports the Times.
- “Biden reveals plan to ‘vaccinate the world’” – “President Joe Biden has vowed to not force the nation into yet another lockdown as the new Covid strain spreads. Apart from encouraging vaccination at home, Biden said the U.S. ‘must vaccinate the world’,” reports RT.
- “WHO’s top scientist says Omicron could displace Delta” – “Scientists in the European Union and Australia are forecasting that Omicron may account for more infections than Delta within a few months,” reports Reuters.
- “Calm down about Omicron – U.K.’s immunity is different to South Africa’s, says expert” – Study shows people become ‘imprinted’ with a specific immune profile after encountering Covid, reports the Telegraph.
- “The PC ‘war on Christmas’ is no right-wing myth” – From the E.U. to the Cabinet Office, our elites really are uneasy about the C-word, writes Patrick West in Spiked.
- “Royal College of Midwives apologises after calling mothers ‘postnatal people’” – The terminology was used in their recently-issued safer sleeping guidance, reports the Independent.
- “Get the vaccine or we’ll keep ‘singing’” – A new song trying to entice you to get vaccinated has hit the internet.
Day: 3 December 2021
On Monday, the Italian Government will introduce a ‘super green pass’ system, where those wishing to enter a wide variety of public places must provide proof that they have been vaccinated (or have recently recovered from Covid), replacing the ‘green pass’ policy which permits the unvaccinated into these spaces if they produce a negative Covid test. The incoming law is believed to be the reason for why a middle aged Italian man wished to acquire a Covid vaccination certificate but not receive the injection, placing a fake silicone mould on his arm as a disguise. However, a nurse noticed the trick, and reported the man to the police. BBC News has more.
An Italian man who wanted a Covid vaccination certificate without getting the jab turned up for his vaccine with a fake arm, officials say.
The man, in his 50s, arrived for his shot with a silicone mould covering his real arm, hoping it would go unnoticed.
But a nurse was not fooled and the man has now been reported to the police.
The nurse told local media that when she had rolled up his sleeve, she found the skin “rubbery and cold” and the pigment “too light”.
After being discovered, the man tried to persuade the nurse to turn a blind eye, la Repubblica reported. But instead she reported him to the police for fraud.
Local police are now investigating the incident in Biella, north-west Italy, and local officials have criticised the man’s actions.
“The case borders on the ridiculous, if it were not for the fact we are talking about a gesture of enormous gravity,” the head of the Piedmont regional Government, Albert Cirio, said in a statement on Facebook.
He said the ploy was “unacceptable faced with the sacrifice that our entire community has paid during the pandemic, in terms of human lives, the social and economic cost”.
La Repubblica suggests the incident may not have been a one-off, pointing to a message on social media that may have been written by the man.
The Twitter post quoted by the paper featured a silicone male chest half-body suit, complete with fake arms and neck, that was on sale on Amazon for €488 (£416).
“If I go with this, will they notice? Maybe beneath the silicone I’ll even put on some extra clothes to avoid the needle reaching my real arm,” the Twitter user reportedly wrote.
The incident comes ahead of a tightening of the rules in Italy for those who have not been vaccinated.
Since August, Italians have needed a Covid ‘green pass’ showing proof of vaccination, a negative test or recovery from the virus to access train stations, cinemas, restaurants, gyms and swimming pools.
But from Monday, these activities will be restricted to those with a ‘super green pass’, which is only available to those who have been vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid.
Worth reading in full.
The Scottish Government requires all schools to leave windows open in an attempt to stop the transmission of Covid. This has led to teachers and pupils sitting in freezing classrooms and needing to wear winter coats to stay warm, with opposition MSPs demanding that the Government install indoor ventilation as an alternative. The Times has the story.
Children are being forced to wear overcoats and blankets in bitterly cold classrooms because of a Government edict to keep windows open to limit the transmission of Covid.
One teacher said that temperatures plummeted to 11C, potentially putting children at risk of asthma attacks and other conditions linked to the cold.
The Scottish Government advises schools to strike a balance between ventilating classrooms to clear the air of the Covid while keeping room temperature above 17C.
Nuzhat Uthmani, a Teacher at Lorne Street Primary School in Glasgow and a member of the Educational Institute of Scotland teaching union, said: “I had my jacket on after lunchtime for the whole afternoon, along with my 30 pupils. We were so cold.”
Kerry Fraser, an English Teacher at Perth High School, said her pupils had complained of the cold. She added: “I checked the CO2 monitor and it was 11.2 degrees. I had to close all the windows and watch the monitor go red. I’ve been wearing a blanket in class.”
Opposition MSPs said the situation was unacceptable and urged ministers to install indoor ventilation in schools.
Michael Marra, the Scottish Labour Education Spokesman, said: “The SNP and the Greens rejected our proposals for air filters for every classroom.
“Eighteen months into this pandemic, and ‘open a window’ is the best the SNP have to keep schools safe. It is insulting and unsustainable.”
Oliver Mundell, Scottish Conservative education spokesman, said: “We are only at the start of winter, and temperatures will drop. The SNP need to provide more support, so teachers and pupils are not left bearing the brunt of the freezing months ahead.”
Willie Rennie, the Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesman, said schools need more than CO2 monitors to keep Covid at bay and called for a rollout of air purifiers.
He said: “The new Omicron variant is posing more threats to us, the government has a duty to step up, evolve its position and make sure we are doing the right things for our schools.”
Worth reading in full.
Anne Longfield, the Chair of the Commission for Young Lives, has said that “very vulnerable children have continued to slip from view”, with the pandemic restrictions leading to vulnerable and abused children being isolated from support networks. Drawing on the case of six year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, who was abused and murdered by his step-mother, Longfield mentioned that the young boy was not present in school during the months before his death due to ongoing lockdown restrictions. The Guardian has the story.
The neglect and murder of six year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes was possible because vulnerable children “slipped from view” during the pandemic, the former Children’s Commissioner for England has said.
Anne Longfield told the BBC she was “just heartbroken and totally sickened” by the case, in which Arthur was subjected to a what prosecutors called a “campaign of appalling cruelty” and murdered two months after social workers found no evidence of safeguarding concerns.
A court heard that Arthur was violently shaken and suffered an “unsurvivable brain injury” when his head was banged against a wall by his stepmother, Emma Tustin. After his death in June 2020, he was found to have 130 injuries.
Tustin was found guilty of murder and 29 year-old Thomas Hughes was found guilty of manslaughter on Thursday. They were due to be sentenced at Coventry crown court on Friday.
Longfield, now Chair of the Commission on Young Lives, said the case suggested a failure to put in place lessons from past failures such as the death of Victoria Climbie. “Very vulnerable children have continued to slip from view, and for anyone who looks at the serious case reviews, or hears about them that come after a child’s death, you will see the same things coming up,” she said.
“Time and time again, missed opportunities, lack of coordination, lack of data sharing, the things that professionals need to have at hand to be able to protect these children, still aren’t in place. But whilst there is learning from the serious case reviews, it’s not enough to change what happens to protect these children.”
She said Arthur was particularly vulnerable because of the Covid lockdown in place in the months leading up to his death. Noting that a high caseload and inexperienced staff could also be factors, she said: “What of course was also the case here was that it was a pandemic.
“So a lot of the services went on to the screens for children, and this child in particular, Arthur, wasn’t in school. And it’s much easier for families who want to evade view to do that when they haven’t got someone in the room. So there’s a big lesson there, instantly about if there is a crisis, there are children who are going to slip from view and we have to make sure they have the protection which does need face to face contact.”
She said the best way to keep children like Arthur safe was to intervene early when warning signs were visible to social workers. But she said that cuts to funding made that harder to do. “Long-term help is what needed, and again that’s something that’s been there less and less over recent years, and that means that more children are falling into crisis,” she said.
Worth reading in full.
Phil Magness is an economic historian and Senior Research Fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research. He’s also a classical liberal and a lockdown sceptic. During the pandemic, he’s written articles about masks, lockdowns, pandemic modelling and the Great Barrington Declaration. I interviewed him via email.
On 28th January, you gave a talk at Hillsdale College titled ‘The Failures of Pandemic Central Planning’. You’ve since written a full-length paper with the same title. Could you briefly summarise your argument?
I argue that the political response to the Covid pandemic is best understood as an exercise in failed central planning. In a sense, it closely parallels the mindset behind mid-20th century economic planning. It’s the mindset that says complex human interactions may be tweaked, corrected, and managed by expert scientists with sophisticated models of the same society-wide systems. If a problem emerges, simply follow the model’s directions and pull the correct policy levers and all will be fixed – or so they claim.
With Covid, most of the world’s governments adopted an aggressive policy response built upon then-untested modelling that advised when and where to impose the ‘non-pharmaceutical interventions’ (NPIs) we’ve all come to know – things like social distancing requirements, school closures, event cancellations, and lockdowns. If an outbreak crosses a threshold, then lock everything down and the outbreak can be managed.
The problem, as we’ve seen time and time again, is that the models guiding the NPI approach were wrong – often catastrophically so. I focus on the Imperial College-London (ICL) model of Neil Ferguson, which had an outsized influence on the adoption of lockdowns and other NPIs. I show that, as of its one year anniversary, ICL’s main model overstated mortality projections in 189 out of 189 countries. It also severely exaggerated the effectiveness of NPIs, and even failed to account for the acute vulnerability of nursing home and old age care facilities.
Combined together, Imperial gave us a roadmap for centralized NPI planning that turned out to be fundamentally unsuited for the Covid pandemic. And yet once we were locked into that policy trajectory, politics intervened and made it nearly impossible to change course, despite mounting evidence that the NPIs were failing to deliver as promised.
You work for the American Institute for Economic Research, which hosted the conference that led to the Great Barrington Declaration – a public statement advocating focused protection. Could you tell us what happened at that conference?
In early October 2020, AIER hosted a small academic conference for the purpose of calling scientific attention to the costs of lockdowns. Up until that point, the media and political figures such as Anthony Fauci had been working to create a false impression of strong scientific consensus behind the lockdown measures – even as they were failing to perform as promised (recall “two weeks to flatten the curve”). This new consensus was an outright falsehood. As recently as 2019, the WHO, leading epidemiology research institutions such as Johns-Hopkins University, and even Fauci himself had gone on record stating that lockdowns would not work in a respiratory pandemic, and should be ruled out as a policy response.
The conference would call attention to the largely ignored harms of lockdowns, while proposing alternative approaches that were in keeping with the pre-2020 public health science. We hosted three eminently qualified scientists from top research institutions, who presented the case against lockdowns in a filmed discussion panel. This was followed by interviews with journalists who specialize in pandemic coverage. On the last day of the conference, the three scientists then drafted a general statement of principles that (1) summarized the case against lockdowns and (2) called for an alternative “focused protection” strategy. They dubbed this the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD), and released it publicly the next morning.
Much to everyone’s surprise, the Declaration went viral. The scientists’ statement had tapped into growing scholarly dissent from the lockdown approach, which had thus far dominated the Covid-19 response, and quickly amassed tens of thousands of signatures from other scientists and medical practitioners.