What fresh nonsense is this, coming out of the mouth of Chris Whitty in his second day of evidence at the Covid Inquiry?
Listeners-in today were treated to yet another plateful of steaming tripe from the Chief Medical Officer.
First, he claimed that by the end of October 2020 ministers “did not have much choice” but to impose a second lockdown because infection rates had risen too high. Asked by inquiry counsel Hugo Keith KC, in his characteristically leading way, whether the second lockdown could have been avoided if the tier system of staggered restrictions had been imposed earlier, Whitty said: “I think most people would say that’s the case.” Had tiered restrictions had more time to work “there remains the possibility that the second lockdown might not have been necessary or might not have been as long”, he added.
This is palpable nonsense, of course. The beginnings of the tier system appeared in June 2020 when the first ‘local lockdown’ of Leicester was imposed, with similar measures subsequently extended to other areas, especially in the North. How many months of lockdown does Dr. Whitty think are needed for them to work? It was pointed out at the time that none of these measures succeeded in bringing down infections, with reported new infections doubling in northern areas following the imposition of local measures.
Whitty then used his appearance today to denounce the concept of herd immunity – the sole basis on which an epidemic can end – as a “ridiculous and dangerous” idea, leading listeners to wonder whether Sir Chris has any working understanding of epidemiology at all.
Most egregiously of all, though, the Chief Medical Officer claimed it would have been “inconceivable” to make herd immunity through natural infection a policy goal because “it would have led to extraordinarily high loss of life”.
You’d think I would have become inured to this kind of moronity by now, it being the constant fare of the inquiry and the whole ill-informed mainstream discourse on Covid. But it never ceases to astound me that our top medics and scientists can make such baseless claims despite so much depending on them getting this stuff right.
Extraordinarily high loss of life? Do we really need to to wheel out, once again, in late 2023, the examples of places which did not lock down and experienced outcomes no worse than elsewhere. Sweden, most obviously, whose trajectory was the same as other countries. Florida (after April 2020). South Dakota. Belarus. Tanzania. Clearly, we do.
Where is Sweden’s extraordinarily high loss of life? Or Florida’s? Or South Dakota’s? Claims like Whitty’s still feel like they’re stuck in March 2020, when Neil Ferguson was going round scaring everyone with his silly models that massively over-predicted the impact of the virus everywhere, including Sweden.
But from the inquiry counsel came no probing at all of Whitty’s baseless claim. And so once again a lockdown-supporting myth with no evidence is reinforced, to be echoed we presume in the predetermined conclusions of this biased inquiry.