Day: 23 January 2022

The Day Lockdown Was Invented

Today, January 23rd, is the day, in 2020, when the world changed as China first implemented in Wuhan the novel public health policy that has come to define the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously regarded as impossible, ineffective and far too harmful to be ethically acceptable, humanity now faces the prospect of lockdowns as a constant threat in the face of future outbreaks of contagious disease.

Initially in 2020 seen as something distinctively Chinese in its authoritarian harshness, within days the World Health Organisation had cast aside its own pandemic rulebook and held the Chinese response up as a model to the world. When Italy and then other countries followed suit in the ensuing weeks it was with the full backing and support of the WHO. Very soon, it became those few countries, like Sweden and the U.K., who refused to implement this novel and unscientific intervention who were regarded as irresponsible outliers. Almost all would fall in line.

Somehow, in the coming months and years, the damage done to humanity through acceptance of this vastly disproportionate and ineffective response to contagious disease needs to be undone and lockdown as a public health intervention consigned to history.

Glorious Leader Nic Sturge-on Refuses to Rule Out Mask Wearing For Years and Attacks England as ‘Outlier’

Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said mask rules could remain in place for years as they are “not the biggest handicap” people are having to endure. MailOnline has more.

Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland’s mask rules could remain in place for years to come if they help the fight against Covid today – as she blasted Boris Johnson‘s decision to axe most restrictions from this week.

The First Minister said that face coverings were “not the biggest handicap” that people were having to endure as the country attempts to recover from Covid.

A range of measures introduced on Boxing Day to deal with the Omicron variant will be scrapped from tomorrow, but laws making masks mandatory in shops and other settings with [sic] remain.

In contrast, the Prime Minister has unveiled a bonfire of almost all restrictions in England by March, including guidance on masks.

Asked on the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme today if she can see people wearing masks for “months or years to come”, in Scotland, Ms Sturgeon said:

“I hope not. I don’t want any of these measures to be in place for any longer than is necessary. But masks … are something we can do. None of us enjoy wearing them but they are perhaps not the biggest handicap to endure in order to try to stem transmission. So while they can make a difference to controlling the virus then I think it is something we should do. Again I would suggest that it is England that is the outlier here, not Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, or many countries across the world.”

Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery, Murdo Fraser said:

“Nicola Sturgeon still can’t bring herself to admit the restrictions she imposed over Christmas were unnecessary. The SNP are quick to impose Covid rules but far too slow in getting vital funding to businesses. It’s shameful that so many small companies are still waiting to receive a single penny. It’s baffling that Nicola Sturgeon plans to continue with the vaccine passport scheme even though she can’t point to any hard evidence showing it’s effective.” …

From tomorrow, bars and restaurants in Scotland will no longer only be able to serve customers seated at tables, while social distancing will also be removed. 

Nightclubs will also be allowed to reopen as she sweeps away restrictions in place since before Christmas, while plans to extend the Covid passport scheme have been scrapped.

Attendance limits on indoor events will also be lifted – bringing them into line with outdoor events in a move that came into effect yesterday. 

However baseline coronavirus measures in place before the Omicron wave will remain, including masks are still legally required indoors and on public transport.

In contrast in England, Mr Johnson last week announced plans to scrap all Covid restrictions by the spring.

Plan B will also be ditched as the Omicron wave continued to recede.

The under-fire PM ended working from home with immediate effect, with the remaining Omicron-fighting measures – Covid passports and compulsory face masks – to be dropped from Thursday in an attempt to win back the support of Tory MPs and voters following the Partygate row.

He also laid out his intentions to remove all remaining Covid laws by March 24th, including basic measures like mandatory self-isolation for positive cases and the requirement to give your address to NHS Test and Trace if you have Covid.

Scotland’s approach is similar to Wales’s, where even ‘Alert Level Zero’ retains the mask mandate, vaccine passports and self-isolation laws. Will they ever let it be over?

Worth reading in full.

Zero Covid Zealot Jacinda Arden Cancels Wedding, Imposes Mini-Lockdown and Insists on a 24-Day Isolation Period After New Zealand Recorded 84 New Covid Cases on Saturday

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has cancelled her wedding as her Government imposes new restrictions to slow the community spread of the Omicron variant. Reuters has more

New Zealand will impose mask rules and limit gathering from midnight on Sunday after a cluster of nine COVID-19 Omicron cases showed community spread from the North to South islands after a wedding.

A family returned to Nelson in the South Island by plane after attending a wedding and other events in Auckland in the North Island. The family and a flight attendant tested positive.

New Zealand will move to a red setting under its COVID-19 protection framework, with more mask wearing. Indoor hospitality settings such as bars and restaurants and events like weddings will be capped at 100 people. The limit is lowered to 25 people if venues are not using vaccine passes, Arden said.

“My wedding will not be going ahead,” she told reporters, adding she was sorry for anyone caught up in a similar scenario. Ardern had not disclosed her wedding date, but it was rumoured to be imminent.

Asked by reporters how she felt about the cancellation of her wedding to longtime partner and fishing-show host Clarke Gayford, Ardern replied: “Such is life.”

She added, “I am no different to, dare I say it, thousands of other New Zealanders who have had much more devastating impacts felt by the pandemic, the most gutting of which is the inability to be with a loved one sometimes when they are gravely ill. That will far, far outstrip any sadness I experience.”

New Zealand’s borders have been shut to foreigners since March 2020. The government pushed back plans for a phased reopening from mid-January to the end of February out of concern about a potential Omicron outbreak as in neighbouring Australia.

People able to travel to New Zealand under narrow exceptions must apply to stay at state-managed quarantine facilities. The government last week stopped issuing any new slots amid a surge in the number of people arriving with Omicron.

About 94% of New Zealand’s population over the age of 12 is fully vaccinated and about 56% of those eligible have had booster shots.

According to MailOnline, New Zealand will make household contacts of Covid cases isolate for 24 days.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has brought in the strict measures as the country battles to stay Covid Zero despite the threat of the highly contagious mutant strain.

But critics say the lengthy quarantine period is ‘unworkable’ and will lead people to avoid getting tested.

Anyone infected with Covid is now required to isolate for 14 days, up from 10 days under the new interim rules.

Household contacts must then stay in quarantine for a further 10 days, stretching the time alone out to three and a half weeks.

Jacinda Arden is behaving like a character in a Don’t Look Up-style satire about the absurd lengths Zero Covid fanatics will go to avoid abandoning their crackpot agenda. Ninety-four per cent of the over-12s vaccinated and the toothy tyrant still won’t give them their freedom back.

Worth reading in full.

Ofcom Warns ITV Over Dr. Hilary Jones’s Inaccurate Claims About Percentage of Hospital Patients Unvaccinated

ITV has been issued with a warning by Ofcom following a Covid segment with Dr. Hilary Jones on the morning show Lorraine. The Glasgow Times has more.

The broadcaster has been told to take “greater care” after Dr. Hilary shared inaccurate vaccine statistics in December.

The programme attracted 3,833 complaints from viewers over a discussion about the number of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients in hospital.

The segment, on December 6th 2021, saw host Lorraine Kelly and resident medical expert Dr. Hilary encouraged viewers to accept the offer of a coronavirus vaccination. …

ITV viewers lodged complaints after ITV’s resident medical expert, Dr. Hilary, shared inaccurate information.

He said: “Those people who haven’t been vaccinated, we’d really love you to think again and be vaccinated because 90% of people in hospital are unvaccinated right now with Covid.”

On Monday, media watchdog Ofcom ruled it would not be launching a formal investigation, but has issued ITV with guidance.

In a statement, Ofcom said: “This programme incorrectly referenced the proportion of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients in hospital.

“We have told ITV that greater care should be taken by trusted medical experts when presenting facts and figures on public health issues.

“However, given official statistics and research have consistently shown that vaccination against COVID-19 offers greater protection against serious health consequences, we do not consider that the error was sufficient to materially mislead viewers on this main point of discussion.”

I suppose we should applaud Ofcom for warning a broadcaster over pro-vaxx inaccuracies rather than anti-vaxx inaccuracies, but claiming the error wasn’t bad enough “to materially mislead viewers” is pretty extraordinary. Claiming that 90% of all people in hospital are unvaccinated is pretty misleading. Moreover, the article also includes the following paragraph:

A clarification was broadcast on the show two days later, explaining the statistic related to patients in intensive care units rather than the proportion of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients in hospital.

In fact, it’s also not true that 90% of Covid patients in ICUs are unvaccinated, as we’ve pointed out many times before on this website. So even the “clarification” was misleading.

Some Countries’ Post-vaccination Waves Were Just as Deadly as Their Pre-vaccination Waves

We know that vaccine effectiveness against infection was wildly overestimated. The evidence is now clear: the vaccines don’t stop transmission. But what about effectiveness against serious disease and death? There’s a certain amount of evidence that that too has been overestimated.

Several datasets have revealed a ‘healthy vaccinee’ effect, whereby vaccinated people are less likely to die of non-Covid causes. Since the vaccines don’t protect against things other than Covid, this suggests that those who opt into vaccination are inherently healthier and/or more risk-averse than those who don’t.

The ‘healthy vaccinee’ effect may partly derive from a quirk of methodology. As HART researchers have noted, it’s common practice to exclude data from the first 14 days after vaccination. If the most frail people tend to die in that 14 day period, their exclusion would reduce the average frailty in the vaccinated population.

I should add that this is pure speculation on my part. Nonetheless, the ‘healthy vaccinee’ effect clearly demands further scrutiny.

Another piece of evidence suggesting that vaccine effectiveness against death has been overestimated is that some countries have seen as much excess mortality in their post-vaccination waves as they saw in their pre-vaccination waves. I previously presented charts showing this for Israel. Here I’ll present similar charts for several other countries.

First, Austria saw a large uptick in excess mortality, beginning in mid October. At this time, 62% of the population was double vaccinated, including a much higher percentage of the elderly.

NHS Vaccine Mandate “To Be Delayed”

The NHS vaccine mandate is likely to be “kicked down the road”, a Whitehall source has told the Telegraph, amid demands by Conservative MPs for it to be scrapped entirely. The Telegraph has the story.

Compulsory Covid vaccines for NHS workers would be delayed for six months, under eleventh-hour plans being considered by Boris Johnson to help quell a seismic revolt among Tory MPs.

On Saturday night, just two weeks before the NHS is due to begin sacking staff who have not had a jab, a Whitehall source said that the requirement is likely to be “kicked down the road”, amid demands by Conservative backbenchers for it to be dropped entirely. …

All frontline NHS staff are required to have had two jabs by April 1st, but more than 80,000 – 6% of the workforce – remain unvaccinated.

The plan being considered at senior levels of Government is to overhaul the requirement so that staff would, in theory, be required to have their booster too. The deadline would also be delayed by six months, ostensibly to give workers time to get their third jab. Such a delay is likely to reassure some MPs opposed to the move that it will ultimately not transpire.

It was starting to feel inevitable, but it’s good to see signals appearing. Now we just need to see it permanently scrapped, and the care home mandate removed as well.

Worth reading in full.

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