Day: 12 January 2022

Pre-School Tyranny

There follows a guest post by a Daily Sceptic reader, who wishes to remain anonymous, about the borderline child abuse they have witnessed being inflicted on children at their child’s nursery owing to the over-zealous application of Covid rules and guidelines. If readers have other stories of the mistreatment of children under Covid rules and guidelines email us here.

Parents with children in nursery care have suffered tremendously with the pandemic. Here is our experience of nurseries in Norfolk. In the first lockdown we were expected to look after our two year old whilst undertaking two full time jobs at home. This was obviously very hard and meant working evenings and weekends to catchup on day jobs. Initially our nursery tried to charge full price for not doing anything. They backed down when they realised they could furlough staff. A discount was given.

In the January 2021 lockdown, with no notice, they reduced the school day by several hours and removed all meals. We had less than 12 hours notice and no reduction in fees. We know from staff at the nursery that they were furloughing staff so that they profited from providing less care.

Needless to say we moved nursery to a better one that provided a better service.

In general we have been happy with the new nursery, however, the Covid idiocy is getting worse.

Even in the summer, parents have to wear masks when they drop their children off outside. I am pretty much the only parent not to do this as it’s clearly stupid and not good for my son to see me masked.

Last week, with less than a day’s notice, we were asked to do a lateral flow test on children (all under-fives). It was worded as a request, but at drop off, it was insisted upon, and if you didn’t have evidence toddlers and babies were swabbed at the door.

Why Does Natural Immunity Not Exist For the QCovid Risk Calculator?

There follows a guest post by a Daily Sceptic reader, who wishes to remain anonymous, who has some questions about the changing risk estimates being produced by the QCovid risk calculator and why important factors like previous infection are not taken into account.

The QCovid risk calculator was developed by University of Oxford, commissioned in 2020 by the Chief Medical Officer for England on behalf of the U.K. Government, and describes itself as a “clinical decision tool intended to support conversations between clinically trained professionals and patients about COVID-19 risk”. There is a clinician tool and a patient tool; the clinician tool differs only in some of the questions but delivers the same estimates.

I am a 49 year-old female with no pre-existing health conditions of note and am not obese. My daughter is a 19 year-old female with no pre-existing health conditions of note and is not obese. We ran the QCovid risk calculator in summer 2020 when considering the risk posed to ourselves and therefore the potential benefit of a vaccine.  My risk of dying was one in 62,000 or 0.0016% and my risk of hospitalisation was one in 4,000 or 0.025%. My daughter’s risk of dying was one in 500,000 or 0.0002%. This data must have related to the variants around at the time although the risk calculator never made that clear.  

I checked the risk calculator again multiple times over the past 18 months and it had not changed (or possibly was not updated).  

I checked again on January 11th 2022 and the calculator has changed. The questions are the same, but the data generated is different. 

  1. You can now select whether or not you are vaccinated – however it doesn’t ask which vaccine you might have had, or indeed when it was delivered. We now know this makes a difference. It also doesn’t make any reference to the number of doses. This also makes a difference.
  2. The risk assessment doesn’t delineate between variants and we know Omicron is significantly less harmful than Delta or Alpha.  Are they suggesting the risk posed to my health is equivalent?

I have a BSc in medical biochemistry and a Masters in law; I am analytical and data driven – I spend my days reviewing data, searching for patterns and loopholes. I am not a mathematician, but something about the data the calculator is now offering doesn’t feel right. The estimates provided by QCovid for both people (mother and daughter) are below, vaccinated and unvaccinated:

Boris Acknowledges Public “Rage” as He Apologises For Attending No. 10 Party, Saying He Believed it Was a Work Event

Boris Johnson has apologised for attending a “bring your own booze” gathering in the garden of No. 10 during the U.K.’s first lockdown in May 2020. Speaking in the Commons just before Prime Minister’s Questions amidst calls for him to resign, the PM acknowledged public “rage” over the incident but said he believed it was a work event, with the Downing Street garden being an extension of the office. Here is the Prime Minister’s apology in full, courtesy of the Telegraph.

Mr Speaker, I want to apologise. 

I know that millions of people across this country have made extraordinary sacrifices over the last 18 months. 

I know the anguish that they have been through, unable to mourn their relatives, unable to live their lives as they want or to do the things they love. 

And I know the rage they feel with me or with the Government I lead when they think that in Downing Street itself, the rules are not being properly followed by the people who make the rules. 

And though I cannot anticipate the conclusions of the current inquiry, I have learned enough to know that there were things we simply did not get right. 

And I must take responsibility. 

Number 10 is a big department with the garden as an extension of the office, which has been in constant use because of the role of fresh air in stopping the virus. 

And when I went into that garden, just after six on May 20th, 2020, to thank groups and staff before going back into my office 25 minutes later, to continue working, I believed implicitly that this was a work event.

But Mr Speaker, with hindsight, I should have sent everyone back inside. 

I should have found some other way to thank them. 

And I should have recognised that even if it could be said technically to fall within the guidance, there would be millions and millions of people who simply would not see it that way. 

People who suffered terribly, people who are forbidden from meeting loved ones at all, inside or outside, and to them and to this House I offer my heartfelt apologies. 

And all I ask is that Sue Gray be allowed to complete her inquiry into that day and several others so that the full facts can be established.

It may be that it could technically count as a work event – although the barrister Adam King doesn’t think so – and there was also a (convenient) exemption for Crown buildings that may apply. So it may well be that the gathering didn’t technically break the rules and Sue Gray will exonerate him on this.

However, it’s not just about the letter of the law. How it looks matters – even if technically within the rules, everyone knows a party when they see one. And they also know that they weren’t allowed to go to one or hold one at the time.

While seemingly a minor misdemeanour in the grand scheme of things, along with the other lockdown gatherings in Downing Street it is undoubtedly damaging to the Prime Minister. People are angry because they observed the rules themselves, sometimes at great personal cost.

It’s worth noting that Boris may be more likely to survive this because he got the big Omicron call right and resisted (or was compelled by sceptical Cabinet colleagues to resist) the calls to impose additional Covid restrictions last month.

One potential plus is that, assuming it doesn’t finish him off, it means Boris will be even less able to impose similar restrictions again. A successor may not have such difficulty, however – and some of his possible successors (e.g. Michael Gove) would have fewer qualms about doing so.

Stop Press: Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross has called for Boris to resign, saying his position “is no longer tenable”. Ross is the most senior member of the PM’s own party publicly to call for him to go, though an unnamed senior MP told Sky News‘s Sam Coates earlier in the day that Boris’s apology would be “too little, too late” and MP Sir Roger Gale has called Boris “politically a dead man walking”. Will Wragg, the Vice-Chairman of the influential 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers has also called on him to “do the right thing” and quit. Boris is certainly in the most trouble he’s yet faced.

Treat Covid Like the Common Cold, Says the Wellcome Trust – As Leading Israeli Immunologist Blasts Lockdown Consensus: “It’s Time to Admit Failure”

The Wellcome Trust – Britain’s biggest independent funder of medical research, set up by the man whose pharmaceutical firm became GlaxoSmithKline – has called for coronavirus to be “treated like the common cold”. The Telegraph has the story.

Nick Moakes, the charity’s Chief Investment Officer, said restrictions were no longer economically justified and it was time to “live with” coronavirus. 

“I don’t think it can mean going back into regular lockdowns because it is just not economically viable. We don’t do that for the flu, we don’t do that for the common cold,” he said.

“The best case end game is where it is treated like the common cold, like flu. And on an annual basis, those that are vulnerable get a jab against it – and the rest of us have built up a degree of immunity that protects us sufficiently. And we do live with it.”

His comments are at odds with those of the WHO Senior Emergency Officer Dr. Catherine Smallwood, who said on Tuesday that we are “nowhere near” treating Covid as an endemic virus.

However, they are in line with those of Professor David Heymann of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), who has suggested in a Chatham House online briefing that the U.K. is seeing the virus become endemic. According to the Telegraph:

Fact-Checking the BBC’s ‘Fact Check’ of The Doctor Who Challenged the Health Secretary on Vaccine Mandate

The BBC has published another of its questionable ‘reality checks‘, this one by the aptly-titled “disinformation reporter” Rachel Schraer. Her target is doctor Steve James, who directly challenged Health Secretary Sajid Javid on the science behind the impending vaccination mandate when Mr. Javid visited the hospital where he works last week. Schraer, whose medical and scientific credentials are unclear, has taken it upon herself to assess Dr. James’s claims in a piece entitled “Fact-checking the doctor who challenged the Health Secretary“, saying the claims are “not exactly what the evidence shows”. However, the evidence she picks for this ‘fact check’ is very selective, and she overlooks several studies that do indeed back up what the brave doctor was saying.

Dr. James told Mr. Javid: “The vaccines are reducing transmission only for about eight weeks with Delta. For Omicron, it’s probably less.”

‘Disinformation reporter’ Schraer responds:

While vaccines remain very good at protecting against becoming severely ill with Covid, the protection they give against catching it and passing it on does wane more quickly.

Dr. James was referring to a study that found a vaccinated person with Covid was just 2% less likely than an unvaccinated person to pass it on, 12 weeks after a second Oxford-AstraZeneca jab – he acknowledges his reference to “eight weeks” was an error.

But the same study found the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which NHS staff are likely to have had, endured better. Vaccinated people had a 25% lower risk of infecting others than unvaccinated people after 12 weeks.

Well, 25% is not very much, and this is not the only study which looks at this, with others finding even smaller effect. A study in the Lancet found no difference in household secondary attack rate depending on whether the index case was vaccinated, and correspondingly no difference in viral load. A study by the U.S. CDC also found no difference in infectiousness and concluded: “Clinicians and public health practitioners should consider vaccinated persons who become infected with SARS-CoV-2 to be no less infectious than unvaccinated persons.” UKHSA and others have also found viral load no lower in the vaccinated. These studies are all pre-Omicron, which is likely to be even more able to evade vaccines.

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