Day: 7 January 2022

Sajid Javid Confronted Over Mandatory Vaccination by Unvaccinated NHS Consultant: “The Science Isn’t Strong Enough”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has been directly challenged by an unvaccinated hospital consultant over the Government’s policy of compulsory Covid jabs for NHS staff. Sky News has more.

During a visit to King’s College Hospital in south London, Mr. Javid asked staff members on the intensive care unit about their thoughts on new rules requiring vaccination for NHS workers.

And Steve James, a consultant anaesthetist who has been treating coronavirus patients since the start of the pandemic, told the Health Secretary about his displeasure.

“I’m not happy about that,” he said. “I had Covid at some point, I’ve got antibodies, and I’ve been working on Covid ICU since the beginning.

“I have not had a vaccination, I do not want to have a vaccination. The vaccines are reducing transmission only for about eight weeks for Delta, with Omicron it’s probably less.

“And for that, I would be dismissed if I don’t have a vaccine? The science isn’t strong enough.”

Mr. James also revealed another of his colleagues held the same position.

Mr. Javid replied: “I respect that, but there’s also many different views. I understand it, and obviously we have to weigh all that up for both health and social care, and there will always be a debate about it.”

The consultant suggested the Health Secretary could use the “changing picture” of the Covid pandemic during the Omicron wave to “reconsider” the rule.

Alternatively, Mr. James suggested, the government could “nuance” the rules to allow those who have antibodies – but acquired from infection and not vaccination – to not be required to have a jab.

He told the Health Secretary that it “didn’t make sense” to dismiss doctors who already had Covid antibodies, but who did not want to be vaccinated.

“The protection that I’ve got from transmission is probably the equivalent to someone who is vaccinated,” Mr James said.

But Mr. Javid told him “at some point that will wane as well”. He added that the government takes the “very best advice” from vaccine experts.

“I respect your views and more than that I respect everything you’re doing here and the lives you’re saving,” the Health Secretary told Mr. James.

I respect everything you’re doing – but I’m going to sack you for not getting vaccinated, even though you’ve got antibodies and the vaccines don’t prevent infection or transmission.

Worth reading in full – and watch the video here.

Covid ICU Occupancy is Less Than a Quarter of its Peak Last January and Declined Further in the Past Two Days. Time to Declare the Pandemic Over

Despite the record numbers of reported infections in the U.K. and hospital admissions rising in the past few weeks (though up to half are incidental admissions being treated for something else), Covid ICU occupancy has barely budged since the summer, and even declined in the past two days. In London, total Covid hospital patients also declined in the past two days. This time last year, with a third of the infection rate (according to the ONS) Covid ICU occupancy nationally was three and a half times higher, at around 3,000 patients, rising to a peak of 4,000 two weeks later.

Whether due to greater population immunity, a milder strain, or better treatments, this is obviously very welcome. It is also confirmation that the pandemic is well and truly over – we are basically now expending vast resources tracking the spread of a cold – and it is time for the Government to acknowledge this fact, lift all restrictions, end all emergency powers, and bring the state of emergency to an end.

Do Your Genes Determine How Sick You Get From COVID-19?

We’re publishing today a piece by John Collis, a recently retired nurse practitioner, in which he uses the work of Professor Daniel M. Davis to explore the role of genes in the immune system and asks whether genetic diversity between individuals and groups might explain why some people are worse affected by Covid than others. Here’s the introduction:

Why are different people affected differently by a SARS-CoV-2 infection? Through this article, based on The Compatibility Gene by Professor Daniel M. Davis, I hope to be able to provide some insight. While this is a very complex subject, with the understanding of the different components and their interactions having developed over the past 60 years or so, I will set it out as clearly as I can. To simplify matters I do not discuss here the role of cytokines or other chemical signalling between cells.

The immune system is built around the body’s ability to distinguish between components that belong there (self) and those that don’t (non-self). Pathogens such as bacteria, protozoa and parasites have very different DNA and are relatively easy to identify as non-self. Viruses are different: how does the immune system distinguish between a healthy ‘self’ cell and an infected ‘self’ cell?

The part of the immune system that is responsible for this are T-cells. T-cell production is controlled by the Thymus gland located in the chest, between the lungs. Significantly, this gland is large in children, starts to shrink post puberty and is very small in older adults. Could this explain why children are less susceptible to the effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection? Could the changes in the thymus gland explain the effects being seen in teenagers and young adults? Are some of these adverse events immune system mediated?  

Worth reading in full.

Mark Drakeford Vows to Keep Draconian Restrictions in Place as U.K.’s Daily Covid Cases Fall For Second Day in a Row

Mark Drakeford dismissed the evidence showing the worst of the Omicron wave has passed and vowed to keep tough restrictions in place in Wales for the foreseeable future. He attacked Boris Johnson for being too weak to introduce the Covid measures his scientific advisors have recommended and said England was an “outlier” among the four nations of the United Kingdom – the only one not to take action to protect its citizens. MailOnline has more.

Mark Drakeford launched an astonishing tirade at Boris Johnson over Covid restrictions today as he vowed to ignore clear evidence that the worst of the Omicron wave has passed in order to keep tough restrictions in place in Wales.

The First Minister branded England an international “outlier” in resisting tighter curbs and accused the PM of overseeing a ‘politically paralysed’ administration that had tied his hands.

It came as he used a press conference to insist that Wales’s tough Covid restrictions on bars and mass events must stay in place due to an Omicron “storm” breaking over the nation.

As the rest of the U.K. eases restrictions he warned of “a difficult month ahead”, despite admitting that the variant may not be as severe as previous waves.

But then, in a rant at Mr Johnson, he added: “In England, we have a Government that is politically paralysed, with a Prime Minister who is unable to secure an agreement through his Cabinet to take the actions that his advisers have been telling him ought to have been taken.

“And even if he could get his Cabinet to address them, he can’t get his MPs to agree them.

“The outlier here is not Wales. Wales is taking action, as is Scotland, as is Northern Ireland, and as are countries right across Europe, and right across the globe.

“The one country that stands out as not taking action to protect its population is England.”

But his outburst came as a senior disease expert said a surge in the number of severe Omicron cases and deaths is unlikely to be seen in the current wave.

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, Chairman of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication, University of Cambridge, said: “The big severing is between really severe outcomes and that there’s still no sign of a serious increase in intensive care, and ventilation, and in deaths.

“We would have expected to see that by now in London and elsewhere – so that is the really reassuring thing.

“I think we can guarantee that over this wave, as we endure the next few weeks, what we’re not going to see is a big surge in very severe outcomes.”

Worth reading in full.

Forcing Children to Wear Masks is Dystopian, Says Gruffalo Author Julia Donaldson

Forcing pupils to wear facemasks in the classroom is dystopian and critics should not be smeared as Covid-deniers, children’s author Julia Donaldson has said. The Times has the story.

The creator of The Gruffalo said that she feared the use of face coverings in schools was becoming normalised and that children’s education should not be “sacrificed” to protect the NHS.

Donaldson, 73, has written around 200 books, many of which have been adapted for television and stage. The Gruffalo has sold more than 13 million copies and been translated into more than 100 languages.

The former secondary school English teacher and former children’s laureate said: “Even if the current proposals are only for three weeks, this could be repeated and become something considered normal whenever there is infection, whereas in fact it should not be considered normal, it is alien – even dystopian.

“Children are children for such a short time, I don’t think they should be sacrificed like this.”

“They’re seen as a gesture that isn’t costing the government any money and as something that is not doing any harm. Because of the climate of fear, people have readily accepted something I regard as unacceptable, and that I fear may now be seen as a normal part of life.”

She told the Times that it was vital for teachers to be able to read pupils’ facial expressions during lessons and that many people were too scared to speak out against face masks in case of a social media backlash.

“There is too much polarity. It’s unfortunate that the start of Covid coincided with the US election,” she said. “People were equating any arguments against lockdown or masks with being a Republican or Trumpian.”

Donaldson, who has been left with a long-term Covid symptom called parosmia, which makes smells seem overpowering and food taste disgusting, said: “I’m very pro-vaccination. I’ve been triple-jabbed. I’ve had Covid. I’m not a denier.

“You don’t have to be right-wing [to oppose masks in schools]. I know a lot of people who are passionately anti-lockdown because they’re very sympathetic to the plight of lonely and vulnerable people or those with mental illness.”

The article notes that “a study used to justify the introduction of masks in English schools implied they had at best a marginal effect” and quotes the pro-lockdown scientist Dr Simon Clarke saying: “As the report points out, face coverings can become contaminated quickly, so repeated putting them on and taking them off, and touching them, could present an opportunity for viral transmission. Expecting children to wear them properly all day and to keep them clean is somewhat optimistic. An unwashed face covering worn daily will quickly become akin to wearing a dirty handkerchief across your face.”

When even the Times and lockdown fanatics are speaking out against an intervention, you know there’s something in the air.

Worth reading in full.

Infections Falling in England, Data Shows – The Same Time as Last Year Despite No Lockdown

The latest data from the ONS infection survey confirms that coronavirus prevalence has been falling in London since the end of last month. This is occurring at the same time as last year, despite no lockdown being imposed this time and the emergence of the Omicron variant.

The data also shows that in the last week of 2021, an estimated 6% of the population of England or one in 15 people would test positive for COVID-19. This compares to a peak prevalence last winter of around 2%, so around three times higher.

The breakdown by age shows high prevalence in all age groups and particularly those under 50. Most age groups appeared to be peaking at the end of December, though in the over-50s infections were rising albeit from a lower level.

Schools in Chaos, say Teaching Unions

More than a third of schools have at least one in 10 teachers absent due to Covid reasons, as some students refuse to wear masks in class or take tests, according to teaching unions. MailOnline has more.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers, said schools so far are largely managing staff absences well, but that education chiefs have warned of trickier times ahead.

A survey by the union found one in three school leaders are experiencing staff absence levels of over 10% as a result of soaring Omicron cases.

A majority (95%) have at least some pupils off for Covid-related reasons at the start of term – and 29% said they had more than 10% of their students absent.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has admitted that staff absences are likely to rise in schools in the weeks ahead, amid warnings that heads should prepare for as many as one in four absences.

Mr Whiteman told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme: “Our members are doing everything they possibly can to keep the show on the road and to make sure face-to-face education continues.

“Our survey of 2,000 school leaders this week tells us more than a third have 10% or more of their staff away for Covid reasons at the moment, but they’re managing that reasonably well, with only 7% of those having to collapse classes into larger classes, and just 4% sending children home.

“That’s on absence rates of about 10%, and the government is warning everybody to expect absence rates of about 25%, so it’s going to be incredibly difficult.

“But yet again what we can see is school leaders and their teams stepping up and rising to the challenge.”

Worth reading in full.

Meanwhile, “huge numbers” of pupils at six secondary schools in the North West are refusing to do LFTs and wear masks according to the NASUWT teaching union. It says one Lancashire school has only 67 children out of 1,300 willing to follow guidance.

Don’t Look Up – And You May Not See the Ubiquitous Green Hysteria

We’re publishing a guest post by freelance journalist Chris Morrison about the Neflix hit Don’t Look Up, an allegory about climate change denial starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence. DiCaprio plays an astronomer whose PhD student – Lawrence – discovers a giant comet that’s on a collision course with earth. It’s due to hit in six months’ time and they try and warn an unsuspecting planet. But needless to say, the threat is laughed off by politicians and media moguls alike. The film’s twin targets are Covid denial and climate change denial and its somewhat implausible premise is that the world’s elites have become insufficiently hysterical about both.

Spoiler Alert – it is highly unlikely that a comet spotted hundreds of millions of miles away can be almost immediately calculated to be on a collision path with Earth. Plotting the orbit requires many observations while the effect of outgassing as the comet nears the sun will cause significant route deviations. But let’s not allow the facts to get in the way of Hollywood’s latest climate agitprop blockbuster. Don’t Look Up needs the planet killing certainty of a comet hitting Earth to whip up further green hysteria since, as is generally accepted by all correct thinking folks, we are all going to die in a planet killing climate fireball.

The film is an allegory for “climate change denial”. This is the insult thrown at those who seek to debate the “settled” science that holds the Earth’s global temperature will soar from around 15C to 21C in the near future if we continue to use fossil fuels. It is the work of heretics to note that no peer reviewed science paper exists to credibly prove the hypothesis beyond doubt. The temperature predictions are based on little more than the guesses from always wrong climate models.

Some scientists, no doubt operating from a particularly nasty part of Satan’s lair, actually believe the role of carbon dioxide has been greatly exaggerated and most climate change, as it always has been, is due to natural causes.

Emotion and hysteria are rapidly replacing scientific inquiry. As the co-founder of Greenpeace Paul Watson once famously remarked: “It doesn’t matter what is true, it only matters what people believe is true.”

Fight Twitter Censorship – Sign the Free Speech Union’s Petition

Last Sunday Twitter permanently banned Politics For All, the popular news aggregator, along with its sister accounts News For All and Football For All. These accounts were set up by 19 year-old Spectator journalist Nick Moar and together they had over three-quarters of a million followers. At a stroke, Twitter destroyed all Nick’s hard work – and it did it without a word of warning. If he was in breach of any Twitter rules, this was the first he’d heard about it. He had received no ‘first strikes’, no notice of any kind. He wasn’t being sent to Twitter jail. He was being given the equivalent of a lethal injection.

Nick asked Twitter why it had done this and three days later he received an email saying it was due to “multiple or severe violations” of its platform manipulation rules. These rules, published in September 2020, prohibit using Twitter “in a manner intended to artificially amplify or suppress information” as well as “behaviour that manipulates or disrupts people’s experience”.

Nick was mystified by this and the email didn’t say which particular platform manipulation rule he’d violated. The only one he could think of was the following:

engaging (retweets, likes, mentions, Twitter poll votes) repeatedly with the same tweets or accounts from multiple accounts that you operate.

Vaccine Effectiveness Plummets to as Low as Minus-151% as Omicron Cancels Out Boost From Third Doses

Omicron bites hard in the UKHSA Vaccine Surveillance report this week, as unadjusted vaccine effectiveness against infection (calculated from the raw data) plummets across all age groups in the month ending January 2nd 2022. The revival in some age groups from the third doses has now been almost completely cancelled out, as all age groups above 18 years go negative again. Those in their 40s hit a new low of minus-151% (negative vaccine effectiveness means the vaccinated are more likely to be infected than the unvaccinated; a vaccine effectiveness of minus-100% means the vaccinated are twice as likely to be infected as the unvaccinated). There is a sharp drop for under-18s for the first time as well, with unadjusted vaccine effectiveness more than halving in a fortnight, collapsing from 79% to 38% (there was no report last week due to the Christmas holiday).

To underline the pointlessness of vaccine passports and mandates for preventing spread, I have plotted in the chart below the proportions of infections in the unvaccinated and vaccinated for the month ending January 2nd (in this chart ‘vaccinated’ includes all who have received at least one dose; in the other charts in this post ‘vaccinated’ means at least 14 days after a second dose). It shows that 72% or nearly three quarters of infections in that four-week period were in the vaccinated (65% in the double or triple vaccinated) and only 22% in the unvaccinated. That is certainly not an epidemic of the unvaccinated; almost the opposite, in fact.

Omicron has also had an impact on unadjusted vaccine effectiveness against hospitalisation, with sharp declines occurring particularly in the younger age groups with lower booster coverage. The decline in 18-29 year-olds is particularly steep, dropping to just 50%, meaning double vaccination is only halving the risk of hospitalisation (though keep in mind this is unadjusted vaccine effectiveness based on raw data, not taking into account any potential confounders in either direction).