Day: 18 December 2021

News Round-Up

SAGE Modeller Says They Don’t Model Good Outcomes Because “It Doesn’t Add Any Further Information”

As SAGE minutes released with the Government’s approval make the case for new restrictions and even the cancellation of Christmas, Spectator Editor Fraser Nelson probed SAGE modeller Graham Medley on Twitter on why SAGE’s models were so often pessimistic and wrong.

The exchange, reproduced in full below, is illuminating because Graham says they do not include more benign scenarios because “it doesn’t add any further information” and “decision-makers are generally on [sic] only interested in situations where decisions have to be made”.

“Decision-makers don’t have to decide if nothing happens,” he argues. This is wrong, of course: not imposing restrictions because the threat doesn’t warrant it is itself a decision, a very important one.

Fraser asks: “So you exclusively model bad outcomes that require restrictions and omit just-as-likely outcomes that would not require restrictions?”

Graham replies that “we generally model what we are asked to model”.

Fraser asks: “Okay, so you were asked to model bad Omicron outcomes and make no comment as to the probability?”

Graham’s reply: “We model the scenarios that are useful to decisions.”

Ladies and gentleman: The Science.

Vaccine Safety Update

This is the 21st of the round-ups of Covid vaccine safety reports and news compiled by a group of medical doctors who are monitoring developments but prefer to remain anonymous in the current climate (find the 20th one here). By no means is this part of an effort to generate alarm about the vaccines or dissuade anyone from getting inoculated. It should be read in conjunction with the Daily Sceptic‘s other posts on vaccines, which include both encouraging and not so encouraging developments. At the Daily Sceptic we report all the news about the vaccines whether positive or negative and give no one advice about whether they should or should not take them. Unlike with lockdowns, we are neither pro-vaccine nor anti-vaccine; we see our job as reporting the facts, not advocating for or against a particular policy. The vaccine technology is novel and the vaccines have not yet fully completed their trials, which is why they’re in use under temporary and not full market authorisation. This has been done on account of the emergency situation and the trial data was largely encouraging on both efficacy and safety. For a summary of that data, see this preamble to the Government’s page on the Yellow Card reporting system. (Dr Tess Lawrie in June wrote an open letter to Dr June Raine, head of the MHRA, arguing that: “The MHRA now has more than enough evidence on the Yellow Card system to declare the COVID-19 vaccines unsafe for use in humans,” a claim that has been ‘fact checked’ here.) Boris Johnson said in October that being double vaccinated “doesn’t protect you against catching the disease, and it doesn’t protect you against passing it on”. We publish information and opinion to inform public debate and help readers reach their own conclusions about what is best for them, based on the available data.

Summary of Adverse Events in the U.K.

According to an updated report, the MHRA Yellow Card reporting system has recorded a total of 1,314,659 events based on 399,731 reports. The total number of fatalities reported is 1,822.

  • Pfizer (24.6 million first doses, 20.9 million second doses) now has one Yellow Card in 177 people vaccinated. Deaths: 1 in 38,801 people vaccinated (634).
  • AstraZeneca (24.9 million first doses, 24.1 million second doses) has one Yellow Card in 104 people vaccinated. Deaths: 1 in 21,880 people vaccinated (1,138).
  • Moderna (1.5 million first doses, 1.3 million second doses) has one Yellow Card in 73 people vaccinated. Deaths: 1 in 83,333 people vaccinated (18).

Overall, one in every 128 people vaccinated (0.78%) have experienced a Yellow Card adverse event. The MHRA has previously estimated that the Yellow Card reporting rate may be approximately 10% of actual figures. Note that sometimes in Yellow Card reporting, the numbers of adverse events (including fatalities) will be lower than the previous week. The Yellow Card system is a passive reporting system, so in theory this should not happen as all reports should be cumulative. However, the MHRA say they analyse the data prior to publication, with deaths and pregnancy conditions being notably investigated. They do not state criteria by which reports would be removed and to date have not clarified why this data varies. It is therefore unclear how many reported adverse events have been removed from the reports since reporting began in February 2021.

Plans for a Post-Christmas ‘Circuit Breaker’ Lockdown Are in the Works

Recent reports have shown that Government officials and advisers are preparing to implement a two-week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown, which would be introduced shortly after Christmas. Under the proposed guidelines, the ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown will ban indoor mixing, forcing hospitality venues to seat customers in outdoor spaces only. The Independent has more.

Officials are drawing up plans for a two-week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown after Christmas, reports have suggested, including a ban on indoor mixing.

The Times reported that draft regulations were being prepared which would ban meeting others indoors except for work purposes, and that pubs and restaurants would be limited to outdoor service only.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times reported that Boris Johnson was presented with a number of options on Friday under a so-called ‘Plan C’, ranging from “mild guidance to nudge people, right through to lockdown”.

The newspaper quoted allies of the Prime Minister who claimed Johnson still wanted to go down the guidance route, but that he also had to be realistic about the threat of Omicron.

Leaked minutes from the SAGE, seen by the BBC, reportedly said scientists had told ministers that tougher measures need to be brought in “very soon”.

The BBC reported that the advisers had recommended moving to restrictions seen in step one and two of the easing of lockdown restrictions in the spring. These included a ban on indoor mixing and indoor hospitality. They also reportedly warned against delaying further interventions until 2022.

The U.K. reported more than 90,000 new Covid cases in another record daily total on Friday.

A Government Spokesperson said: “The Government will continue to look closely at all the emerging data and we’ll keep our measures under review as we learn more about this variant.”

Worth reading in full.

Republic of Ireland Set to Impose an 8pm Curfew on Hospitality Venues

From Monday, all hospitality venues, theatres, and cinemas will have to abide by an 8pm curfew brought in by the Irish Government. The Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, has said that the curfew is needed to halt the spread of the Omicron variant, with the Licensed Vinters Association labelling the incoming mandate as “closure in camouflage”. MailOnline has more.

Padraig Cribben, Chief Executive of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) said pubs would be forced to close their doors for the duration of the restrictions.

He added: “I guess the Government thinks we should feel grateful for the 8pm closing given Nphet’s demand for a 5pm curfew.

“The reality is this decision will decimate the trade that was already on its knees.

“Christmas was the one chance we had to recoup some of the losses amassed earlier in the year but we’re now in a situation where staff will lose their jobs and pubs will shut one week before Christmas as they see little point in opening under these conditions.

“While Government may see 8pm as a compromise the reality is that many pubs don’t open until 5pm so three hours trading is unworkable for them.

“Even for pubs that open earlier the majority of their trade takes place at night time.”

He added: “Given the relentless public health message over the past number of weeks to avoid socialising the public had already cancelled bookings in record numbers.

“There was no need to further restrict trading hours as our customers are safer in regulated pubs that adhere to guidelines instead of house parties and shebeens.

“Our members are left wondering what the plan is for hospitality.

“These restrictions are meant to be lifted at the end of January but there is literally no guarantee this will happen.”

Chief Executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, Adrian Cummins said it was a “devastating blow” to the hospitality industry.

He added: “The majority of hospitality businesses rely on income from the Christmas period to see them through the quieter first two months of the year.

“The loss of income over Christmas is about more than just the festive season, it is about surviving the winter months.

“It is imperative that financial supports are put in place immediately to offset the impact this will have for businesses and their employees and enable them to survive.

“As a sector and as a country we need better engagement on what the plan for living with this disease will be going forward.

“The current last minute reactionary approach is not working, we stand as always, ready able and willing to engage with Government on a plan for the survival and reopening of hospitality.”

Worth reading in full.

Can You Have Too Many Vaccinations?

There follows a guest post by Daily Sceptic reader ‘Amanuensis’, as he’s known in the comments section. The author is an ex-academic and senior Government researcher/scientist with experience in the field. In this post, he asks whether there’s such a thing as too many vaccinations. Issues covered include: what constitutes the ‘right level’ of immune response; the effect of vaccinating someone multiple times in a short period; and why those who’ve received two doses of the Covid vaccines aren’t protected against infection.

About 10 days ago I caught Covid.

I was a bit surprised because I’ve already had it – I caught it back in December 2019. (Before anyone yells ‘that’s before Covid came!’, I caught it at a hotel frequented by Air China pilots and cabin-crew and I also note that there was a strange peak in ambulance call-outs for cardiac/respiratory arrest back in Nov/Dec ‘19, as discussed here.) This time I caught it because I had to pop into the office, which is mainly frequented by the double jabbed. And as we all know, the double-jabbed are suffering from negative vaccine efficiency and are thus more likely to catch Covid than anyone else (somewhere between –50%, –100% or even –150%). The only people who don’t seem to know this are politicians…

Anyway, I was rather cross about catching Covid, because it does lead to some inconveniences, including: being locked away in my home-office for several days with only occasional supplies of broth and warm milk from my wife (thanks!), and only being allowed out for daily exercise (I took two days off because I felt ever so slightly rough). Well, one day I decided to drive to Barnard Castle to check my eyesight, but that’s a different story.

Being locked away gives you time to think, so between buying Christmas presents for my children (Covid is bad for your wealth) and trying to keep those callers from BT/Microsoft on the phone for as long as possible, I drifted off to thinking about childhood illnesses and all the vaccinations we take in our youth. (Wasting cold callers’ time is a great game, and every minute that you spend stops them making one phone call to someone vulnerable, who might end up being scammed.)

When I was about 13, I recall standing in a line as one-by-one we were attacked by a nurse with a strange clicking device, the Heaf test, the purpose of which was to drive several needles covered in tuberculin purified protein derivative into your upper arm to test for prior exposure to TB. Those that had a negative reaction would go on to have inoculation with BCG, while those that had a positive reaction would be pulled to one side and mocked by their classmates as being contaminated with the mysterious TB. Beyond the psychological damage from the mocking, it is important to note that those with a positive reaction wouldn’t be given their BCG inoculation because it would have no clinical benefit and would introduce a real risk of rather unpleasant side effects.

The question is, why was this caution necessary? Throughout our lives we get exposed and re-exposed to pathogens all the time and the purpose of vaccination is to give our immune system the signals of an infection without the risks of the disease; it certainly wouldn’t be advantageous if the immune system gave a risk of unpleasant side effects every time it was re-exposed to a pathogen for which it had already built up protective immunity.

It is important to note that the immune system doesn’t simply stop infection on re-exposure to any pathogen, but offers sufficient protection to halt and then clear any infection before the pathogen has a chance to reproduce to the point where it can cause disease – this is generally indistinguishable from ‘stops infection’, but it is an important nuance. For example, there is evidence that continuous exposure to pathogens to which we already have immunity substantially reduces our risks of some diseases (e.g., shingles).

U.S. Military Begins Discharging 30,000 Servicemen for Refusing the Jab

In August, the U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a series of vaccine mandates covering all branches of the military, with thousands of personnel now facing the sack following the expiration of numerous inoculation deadlines. In total, the U.S. military has begun discharging the 30,000 active and unvaccinated servicemen within its ranks, with the Air Force having fired 27 unjabbed pilots since Monday. The Mail has the story.

On Thursday, the Marine Corps said that 95% of its active-duty force of 182,500 Marines had received at least one Covid vaccine shot, the lowest percentage among the military services, moving up one point from 94% last month. 

It is unclear why the first 103 Marines are being discharged now, as according to the Corps numbers, there are roughly 9,000 more remaining who have not been vaccinated still holding their rank. 

However, the Marine Corps said it has approved 1,007 medical and administrative exemptions and is still processing 2,863 of the 3,144 requests made for a religious exemption as of Friday.

While the percentage of vaccinated active duty personnel in each service is at 95% or higher, the number of unvaccinated personnel is close to 30,000.

Navy officials have begun terminating the 5,731 active-duty sailors, or two percent of its active branch, who remain unvaccinated two weeks after the established deadline, leaders of the military branch confirmed on Thursday. 

Meanwhile, the Army announced it is prepared to axe 3,800 unvaccinated soldiers beginning in January and after the Air Force has already discharged 27 service members who refused the vaccine order. 

The Navy has the highest vaccination rate of all military branches with 336,000 sailors, or 99%, vaccinated from Covid. 

“If a sailor gets their shot, we will honour that and make every effort to retain them,” Rear Admiral James Waters, the Navy’s Director of Military Personnel Plans and Policy said. 

“On the other hand, those who continue to refuse the vaccine will be required to leave the Navy.”

Navy officials had previously announced that unvaccinated officers and enlisted sailors eligible to retire or leave the service before June 1st 2022, will be allowed to do so with an honourable discharge.  

Those who an ineligible for retirement or leave by that date will still receive an honourable discharge but “will be processed for separation on the basis of misconduct for refusing the lawful order to be vaccinated,” Waters explained. 

However, those with more than six years of service “will be processed with the least favourable characterization of service, being general, under honourable conditions, barring other misconduct,” he said.  

Army officials said on Thursday that more than 3,800 soldiers, nearly 2% of the military branch’s active duty force, had flatly refused to get at least one dose of the mandatory Covid vaccine as of this week’s deadline and could be fired as early as next month. 

Worth reading in full.

Omicron Surge is Mostly Due to Ramping Up Testing and May Already Be Peaking, Data Shows

Reported infections in the U.K. have suddenly spiked in the last three days, up from 59,610 on Tuesday to 78,610 on Wednesday, 88,376 on Thursday and 93,045 on Friday.

U.K.

Looking at the data regionally, the spike is currently much more pronounced in London, the South East, the East of England, the East Midlands and the North West than it is in the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, the South West and the West Midlands.

London

It’s not clear at this point if it is going to continue to rise, though the last three days’ counts don’t appear to indicate continued sharp growth.

It is also so far largely an artefact of massively increased testing, as the graph above with data for the U.K. up to December 16th shows.

The Ongoing Indoctrination of Teachers

We’re publishing an original article today by a trainee teacher. Needless to say, the political bias of his course is off the charts, particularly when it comes to the unholy trinity of Covid, woke gobbledegook and climate change. Here’s an extract in which he talks about the one-sided approach to teaching children about the pandemic.

I’ll start with Covid, because I find myself agreeing with the university when they say that trainee teachers would find it valuable to have a session dedicated to learning how to handle scenarios at school where students are worried about potential future lockdowns, have developed mental health conditions because of lockdowns, are obstinately (read: nobly) refusing to wear a mask, or subscribe to various covid-related ‘conspiracy’ theories. I do however completely disagree with the conclusions those educating trainee teachers draw, and the advice that is given.

For example, how could it possibly be good advice to try to allay a child’s concerns by saying that “lockdowns were a necessary imposition, and, although you’ve suffered, it’s been for a good cause and for the benefit of society”. Not only is this almost certainly not true, and not something I could ever tell a child, but why do people think that telling a child, who’s brain has not finished developing, who has suffered immensely, and who’s perception of the world is still largely egocentric, that their suffering was not only justified, but also that it is less important that some intangible, abstract, potential benefit that they cannot clearly grasp?

This type of thinking truly baffles me, but not as much as the insistence that lockdowns have been right and virtuous, even when we’ve had specific sessions on the harms that recurring lockdowns inflicted on young people and the damage it did to their mental health. The understanding of these costs is there, and it is being taught, which I suppose can only mean that the perceived benefits must be hugely overinflated in the minds of these educators of future educators.

Or perhaps there simply isn’t much thought being put into the matter: at this point in time, online learning, mask-wearing, regular testing, and pro-vaccine virtue signalling have all been so normalised that no one seems to question any of it. This week alone there were plenty of messages on the group chats of people uploading pictures of their negative LFTs, congratulations to people for their self-isolating, and unironic reminders for everyone to “get boosted now”. To say I feel unwelcome on these group chats is an understatement.

Worth reading in full.