The Hallett Inquiry never seems to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. When Sir Patrick Vallance accused Sir Chris Whitty of being a “delayer” with respect to lockdowns, the opportunity missed was to not ask Sir Patrick what possible benefit would have accrued from locking down earlier and harder.
We’ve now also had Sir Chris Whitty saying that an earlier start to lockdown should have been considered. Another missed opportunity; “Why Sir Chris? What do you believe that would have achieved?”
This brings us back to the purpose of the lockdowns. Both Vallance and Whitty were of the view that the purpose of lockdown was to ‘flatten the curve’, in Boris Johnson’s memorable phrase “to flatten the sombrero”. In this clip from mid-March 2020 Vallance explains the purpose was to reduce person-to-person contacts, a policy that 10 days later morphed into the first lockdown.
Perhaps even odder was why Vallance said in his evidence to the inquiry on Monday that we should have locked down around March 13th or 14th 2020, when in this clip, recorded on March 13th 2020, he seems to be promoting herd immunity and GBD-type protection of the vulnerable!
And why did we want to flatten the sombrero? Of course, as we all know, it was to save the NHS. Well, the NHS was saved. In fact, hospital bed occupancy was lower during the lockdown than it’s ever been, averaging less than 65% over April, May and June of 2020.
The clips linked to by Guy de la Bédoyère (here) in his article in the Daily Sceptic on November 21st 2023 and added to by the editorial team’s ‘Stop Press’ addition (here) reinforce the crucial point that the lockdown was intended to stop the NHS being swamped rather than to prevent infection, which Whitty et al. believed, rightly, to be pretty well inevitable whatever policies were followed. Whitty conceded, at that time, the point made by Professor Simon Wood (see Figure 2) in May 2020, that infections peaked in advance of lockdown, as illustrated in Figure 2, which I’ve lifted from a damning article by Fraser Nelson in the Spectator.
If lockdowns didn’t reduce the eventual number of overall infections, what was their point? Why now, with the benefit of hindsight are Vallance and Whitty suggesting that an earlier lockdown would have been a good idea?
Just how ineffective lockdown was as a tool for ‘case’ suppression can be seen by looking at Australia. In the space of 2.5 weeks from December 22nd 2021 to January 9th 2022 ‘cases’ went from 172 per million to 3,213 per million, an increase of 1,800%. What’s more, this was while over 80% of the population were already vaccinated. It was also at the height of summer and while most Australians were still petrified and observing many of their draconian lockdown restrictions.
The same was true in New Zealand. From February 10th 2022 ‘cases’ went from 56 per million to 3,957 per million by March 8th. An increase of 7,066% in less than a month.
As with Australia, over 80% of the population were vaccinated, it was high summer and many people were still following Covid restrictions.
So, why, against all the evidence are Vallance and Whitty maintaining the fiction that Government action can control an airborne virus? And why is the Hallett Inquiry going along with this? I think there are two reasons. Firstly, it’s simply an attempt to maintain the narrative. Hallett has pre-judged that what was done was done for the best of reasons and that while people might argue about whether it should have happened a week or so earlier, the use of lockdown was absolutely the right thing to do.
The second reason is that I believe we haven’t seen the last of lockdowns. It wouldn’t come as much of a surprise to see the policy being wheeled out in a modified form to enforce various Net Zero policies, in which case we can’t have Hallett trashing it now, can we?
It’s remarkable that the both the efficacy of lockdowns and of vaccines is not being challenged by Hallett. Truly, a missed opportunity of epic proportions.