Jonathan Barr

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The PCR False Positive Pseudo-Epidemic

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance give a Coronavirus Data Briefing in 10 Downing Street on September 21st. Picture by Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street.

Today, we’re proud to be bringing you a new blockbuster piece by Dr Mike Yeadon in which he debunks the notion that we’re in the midst of a ‘second wave’ – he believes most parts of England reached herd immunity by June of this year – and systematically takes apart the PCR testing data that seems to show daily cases number tens of thousand a day. This is, as he and Dr Clare Craig have said before, a false positive pseudo-epidemic. But Dr Yeadon has never set out his case so clearly, and with such a wealth of evidence, as he has done in this new article. He’s particularly illuminating on the shortcomings of the super-labs set up to process hundreds of thousands of PCR tests every day, drawing on his own 29-year career conducting and supervising laboratory work in UK.

Here’s an extract in which he summarises his argument:

In brief: the pandemic was over by June and herd immunity was the main force which turned the pandemic and pressed it into retreat. In the autumn, the claimed “cases” are an artefact of a deranged testing system, which I explain in detail below. While there is some COVID-19 along the lines of the “secondary ripple” concept explained above, it has occurred primarily in regions, cities and districts that were less hard hit in the spring. Real COVID-19 is self-limiting and may already have peaked in some Northern towns. It will not return in force, and the example again is London. Even here, certain boroughs, e.g. Camden and Sutton, have had minimal positive test results. I’ve explained a number of times how this happened – the prominent role of prior immunity is often ignored or misunderstood. The extent of this was so large that, coupled with the uneven spread of infection, it needed only a low percentage of the population to be infected before herd immunity was reached.

That’s it. All the rest is a PCR false positive pseudo-epidemic. The cure, of course, as it has been in the past when PCR has replaced the pandemic itself as the menace in the land, is to stop PCR mass testing.

Dr Yeadon’s articles have been some of the most read things we’ve published on Lockdown Sceptics and this one will be no exception.

Put the kettle on, make yourself a cup of tea and settle down to read this essential piece. Easily the best 20 minutes you’ll spend today.

The Second Wave Peaked Before Lockdown 2.0

We have previously shared the findings of Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College, London. He is the founder of the ZOE app which over a million people use to report their symptoms every week and which has become a prime source of rapid, near real-time data about COVID-19. He received an OBE for this work, earlier this year. Writing in the Spectator, he explains what the ZOE data shows:

COVID-19 rates for the UK are now falling in nearly all major regions. The Government and the Opposition, who believe in lockdown, will say that the fall in the number of confirmed cases, deaths and hospitalisations proves lockdown 2.0 was a success, regardless of the extra health costs associated with lockdowns.

Looking at our data, I concluded last month that we had passed the peak of new COVID-19 cases before we went into the second English lockdown. Our data has since been backed up by the ONS survey and GP surveillance records that track new consultations. Hospital admissions, which lag new cases, also peaked shortly after the lockdown of November 5th.

This suggests the impact of the tiered system was being felt before the lockdown started. Chris Whitty has said that it takes two to three weeks for the effects of lockdown to appear. Were lockdown essential then we would have expected hospital admissions to peak far later, possibly around now. The below is what the ZOE data suggests:

Areas that were under relatively strict tiered restrictions in October are all seeing a continued drop in the number of new COVID-19 cases after peaking around the second half of October.

He goes on to provide some good news for the NHS.

The higher rates are still among 20 to 39 year-olds, who are probably the most exposed to the virus because they are more likely to be carrying on with their lives; and the lowest is among people over 60… The numbers are still relatively low among those in the older age group who are most likely to become seriously ill or die from the disease.

It is hard to disagree with his conclusion:

Any further restrictions should be based on encouraging voluntary behavioural changes. Persuasion is a far more effective long-term strategy than coercion… The public must be able to see exactly what is happening and be trusted to take the right actions for themselves.

Tim Spector’s analysis is worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Tim Spector gave an interview to Freddie Sayers for UnHerd‘s LockdownTV last week. A must watch.

Switzerland: No Lockdown, No Armageddon

We reported last Thursday that Switzerland is one of five places that seem to indicate that lockdowns are not necessary. Today, with thanks to the reader who flagged it in the comments, a report from Focus Online that bears this out:

Switzerland was, not long ago, considered one of biggest COVID-19 hotspots in Europe. Now, though, the curve is pointing sharply downwards, despite no major new measures being adopted. Even the experts are stumped.

Switzerland opted for a middle course in its COVID-19 policy, between Sweden’s laissez-faire model and a hard lockdown strategy. Up until the middle of November, it looked as though the policy would fail miserably.

But, since then, the curve has shown a clear downwards trend, dropping from 10,000 new infections per day at the beginning of the month to 4,500. And that is without any containment measures being implemented. The Swiss Federal Council has not tightened measures since October 29th.

The report continues:

Why did the numbers fall so rapidly, despite the open restaurants and shops and the loose contact restrictions? The experts don’t quite know. At the moment, “from a scientific point of view it is still too early to judge”, Swiss epidemiologist Marcel Salathé tells FOCUS Online. Antje Heise, an intensive care doctor and President of the Swiss Institute for Intensive Care added: “We can only speculate on what led to the turnaround in infection numbers.”

Whether it was the Swiss middle-course COVID-19 policy that led to the reduction in numbers is therefore unknown. The strategy was criticised by many. There were grave doubts as to whether the measures were sufficient to save the health system from collapse.

Worth reading in full (if you speak German). It goes on to note that the numbers are still very high and that the country has only recently seen its highest daily death toll, and says that caution is still required.

The Rush to Publish COVID-19 Research Saw Errors Triple

New research published today in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA)  has thrown some light on the compromises made in the publication processes of medical journals, a consequence of the rush for new research on COVID-19. 9 News has more:  

The research examined five medical journals considered to be the most critical to informing global health policy and clinical practices: the Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the British Medical Journal and the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The analysis compared 134 research papers published between January 1st and May 31st this year to 54 published during the same period in 2019.

The research found that:

  • One in five COVID-19 studies published by the journals during the first five months of the pandemic had corrections issued after publication. This compares to 7.4% of published during the same period last year
  • Three studies had to be retracted altogether, including a highly publicised hydroxychloroquine trial published in the Lancet. This led to a temporary cessation of the WHO trial into hydroxychloroquine. No such retractions were made in 2019.
  • Just 5% of the coronavirus trials were randomised controlled trials – considered the “gold standard” of medical research – compared to 35% of the 2019 trials.  
  • The timeframe given to review, approve and publish trials was drastically reduced. In the case of JAMA, the only journal to release data for this, the average timeframe from first submission to publication fell from 139 days to just 23.
  • Close to half of the COVID-19 studies did not explicitly state that consent was obtained from trial participants. A number of articles also stated that they were granted exemptions from the requirement for ethical review due to the nature of the pandemic.

The study’s lead author, Professor Michael Reade of the University of Queensland, said:

In the new information age, it’s a great thing that people can disseminate information really quickly. You can put a paper up online, you can read these things really quickly, but the other side of that is that by the time it gets into a journal, if journals are going to add anything to this process, it needs to be that they give the stamp of approval that it’s true.

Quite. And it is surely during such times as the last few months that the reliability of papers published in prestigious medical journals matters most. The 9 News article is worth reading in full.

The MJA article has a number of suggestions for facilitating the rapid dissemination of information, without compromising its quality, ethical standards or oversight, including:

A two-track review process for pandemic and non-pandemic research, rapid preliminary assessment of research methodology by skilled in-house reviewers before deciding whether to send for peer review, sharing of peer-reviews between reviewers and journals, and mentored peer reviewing by research trainees.

The MJA article is also worth reading in full.

Dear Commissioner…

Police academy: Cressida Dick at the Met’s specialist training centre in Gravesend, Kent, last month; Andrew Testa, the Sunday Times

A member of the Free Speech Union, Dominic Martin, has written to Cressida Dick the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, to complain about the heavy-handed policing of Saturday’s anti-lockdown protest in central London. Hard to disagree with anything he says.

I am writing to express my disgust at how your police force handled the anti-lockdown protest in central London, and indeed how it has handled several previous demonstrations. They have been suppressed in an overly zealous and excessively forceful manner which brings shame upon the force and is chillingly reminiscent of scenes we have scene in recent months in Belarus and Hong Kong. The right to challenge authority by peaceful protest is a centuries-old British liberty and, moreover, a liberty enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was signed by Britain in 1948 (Article 20(1): “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association“). It is a cornerstone of liberal democracy, and can only be rightfully suspended in the most extreme of circumstances, such as war, invasion, or social breakdown. A virus with a 99%+ survival rate – and of the 1% or less who sadly die the overwhelming majority are of a very advanced age with existing health conditions – is no justification for enacting such draconian measures and stripping citizens of their basic rights. It is a highly worrying development. As we saw with the anti-terror laws rushed through in the aftermath of the September 11th and July 7th attacks, powers once gained are rarely surrendered, and are often used in a manner which far exceeds their original remit and purpose.

As bad as the over-reaction is, it is made far worse by the complete inaction shown this summer in regards to other protests, such as when far larger crowds were allowed to gather under the banner of Black Lives Matter (BLM) at the height of the first lockdown. Not only were these demonstrations given sanction to go ahead, they were lightly policed and indeed several police officers were seen running away when provoked, with protestors given free rein to vandalise public statuary. Furthermore, several police officers were filmed “taking the knee”, which, given that BLM is at heart a political lobby group, was a clear violation of police neutrality. A later FOI response by your force (ref. 01.FOI.20.014886) states clearly that “Officers were briefed to use enforcement powers as a last resort”, and the protests were also enthusiastically endorsed by Mayor Sadiq Khan. The contrast with Saturday’s anti-lockdown protest could not be more stark; it was met with a huge police presence and ordered to disperse immediately, with protestors then being arrested seemingly at random and in large numbers. The organisers of such demonstrations in the past have also been issued with exorbitant fines (again, not issued against BLM organisers).

Having a police force that is seen to be fair and impartial is of fundamental importance if public trust and support for law enforcement is to be maintained. I suspect that the real reason for the selective policing this year is that your organisation is still reeling from the impact of the MacPherson Report, and prioritises being seen as “not racist” above enforcing the law in a fair and equitable manner. I for one have lost all faith in the Metropolitan Police as an unbiased and apolitical force, and I suspect that I am far from alone. The damage caused has been enormous and the repercussions will be felt for many years to come.

Stop Press: Sky New Australia has a great report on the protests. They call them “riots”.

Stop Press: It is also worth reading Matthew Scott’s piece in the Telegraph – “Lockdown is being policed in an entirely disproportionate way” and Dr Jade Norris’s article in the Spectator about why she has resigned as a Special Constable – “Why I can no longer police the coronavirus restrictions“.

A Festive Protest Suggestion

Would TSG goons thrown these three to the ground, kneel on their heads and then pepper spray them?

After reading the accounts of Saturday’s protests on the news and in yesterday’s update, a reader has got in touch with a suggestion for an alternative form of protest:

How about organising large gatherings to sing Christmas carols as a form of protest – and a nice way to spread some Christmas cheer.

The problem with the brave protests that have taken place so far is that the media spins it as a few conspiracy theorist nuts protesting against vaccinations, 5G and so on. Much of the population consequently has little sympathy for the victims of heavy-handed policing. I read the comments section on the article in the Sun about Saturday’s protest and although there were plenty of people on our side there were also lots of comments to the effect that the protesters deserved all they were getting. There was even one comment that suggested they be denied a vaccine, which seems an odd punishment.

The police would surely be more reluctant to start brutalising a large crowd of peaceful carol singers. Even our media would struggle to present that as a proportionate response. Perhaps the general public who saw these protests would be more likely to come over to our cause.

Not a bad idea.

“Back Me or Face Lockdown 3”

Morten Morland’s cartoon in yesterday’s Sunday Times

The MailOnline has the latest on the Prime Minister’s battle to squash the rebellion last night:

“The country will face another national lockdown if MPs reject new local limits,” Boris Johnson warned tonight. The Prime Minister was battling to quell a Tory revolt as he unveiled a series of concessions in a bid to persuade backbenchers to back a tougher tier system. But ahead of a critical vote Tuesday, the rebels tonight demanded “hard evidence” to convince them that the crackdown will save more lives than it costs.

Tomorrow Downing Street will publish an analysis of the health, economic and social impacts of COVID-19 and the measures taken to suppress it. The move is an attempt to limit the scale of a rebellion which has been growing since last week. The document will include forecasts from the Bank of England and the Office for Budget Responsibility. Mr Johnson yesterday dangled the prospect that some areas facing the harshest curbs in Tier 3 could see them eased as part of a review before Christmas.

Mr Johnson insisted “no Prime Minister wants to impose restrictions which cause such harm to society, the economy and people’s mental health”. He warned that the “tougher tiers” are needed “if we are to keep the virus under control and avoid either overwhelming the NHS or another national lockdown which is far more damaging and restrictive than these tiers”.

Parliament is due to vote on Lockdown 3.0 on Tuesday. There is no time like the present to join Peter Hitchens’ campaign for a mass write-in to MPs. Numbers count.

A Message from a Donor

We received a generous donation yesterday, and thought it worth sharing the message that came with it:

My part of the Civil Service all received a £100 bonus for adjusting well to working from home. This is possibly one of the most tone-deaf actions I have ever seen, given the state of the nation’s finances and the prospects of those working in the private sector – not to mention a complete waste of taxpayers’ money as there was not a single group of people who had easier during the lockdown. I donate it to a worthier cause.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Three today: “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy, “Kingdom of Madness” by Magnum and “Inject the Venom” by AC/DC.

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Sharing Stories

Some of you have asked how to link to particular stories on Lockdown Sceptics so you can share it. To do that, click on the headline of a particular story and a link symbol will appear on the right-hand side of the headline. Click on the link and the URL of your page will switch to the URL of that particular story. You can then copy that URL and either email it to your friends or post it on social media. Please do share the stories.

Social Media Accounts

You can follow Lockdown Sceptics on our social media accounts which are updated throughout the day. To follow us on Facebook, click here; to follow us on Twitter, click here; to follow us on Instagram, click here; to follow us on Parler, click here; and to follow us on MeWe, click here.

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, we were intending to highlight the plight of Professor Dorian Abbot, a tenured faculty member in the Department of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago, who has recently come under attack from students and postdocs in his Department for a series of videos he posted to YouTube expressing his reservations about the way Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts have been discussed and implemented on campus.

In these videos, since taken down, Prof. Abbot raised several misgivings about DEI efforts and expressed concern that a climate of fear is “making it extremely difficult for people with dissenting viewpoints to voice their opinions”. The slides for each of Prof. Abbot’s videos can be found here, and his own account of events and his opinions can be found here. Nowhere in these materials does Prof. Abbot offer any opinion that a reasonable observer would consider to be hateful or otherwise offensive.

Shortly after uploading the videos, Abbot’s concerns were confirmed when 58 students and postdocs of the Department of Geophysical Sciences, and 71 other graduate students and postdocs from other University of Chicago departments, posted a letter containing the claim that Prof. Abbot’s opinions “threaten the safety and belonging of all underrepresented groups within the [Geophysical Sciences] department” and “represent an aggressive act” towards research and teaching communities.

The letter also issued 11 demands, many of which would serve to ostracize and shame Prof. Abbot, while stripping him of departmental titles, courses, and privileges. The signatories further demand that the Department of Geophysical Sciences formally and publicly denounce Prof. Abbot’s views, and change hiring and promotion procedures so as to prioritise DEI.

That’s what we were intending to highlight. Indeed, we were going to ask you to sign a Free Speech Union petition launched a few days ago urging the President of Chicago, Robert J. Zimmer, to issue a statement reiterating his support for the Chicago Principles and affirming that Prof. Abbot will not be reprimanded, will not be subject to any departmentally imposed punishments and humiliations, and will not be stripped of any departmental titles, courses, or privileges, or have his tenure put in jeopardy.

But there is no need because the petition has achieved its objective. Yesterday, just three days after the petition’s launch, President Zimmer issued a statement saying he had no intention of watering down the Chicago Principles and affirming the right of Chicago’s academic staff to express their views on controversial topics, however unorthodox, without fear of being penalised by their employer in any way:

From time to time, faculty members at the University share opinions and scholarship that provoke spirited debate and disagreement, and in some cases offend members of the University community.

As articulated in the Chicago Principles, the University of Chicago is deeply committed to the values of academic freedom and the free expression of ideas, and these values have been consistent throughout our history. We believe universities have an important role as places where novel and even controversial ideas can be proposed, tested and debated. For this reason, the University does not limit the comments of faculty members, mandate apologies, or impose other disciplinary consequences for such comments, unless there has been a violation of University policy or the law. Faculty are free to agree or disagree with any policy or approach of the University, its departments, schools or divisions without being subject to discipline, reprimand or other form of punishment.

This is exactly what the FSU was asking for and it is now confident that Prof Abbot is no longer in any danger from the outrage mob that targeted him for cancellation. Thanks to the actions of its President, the University of Chicago has confirmed its status as a beacon of academic free speech that universities around the world can look to for leadership on this critical issue.

But this is no time for complacency. Help the FSU secure more victories like this by joining today.

The enemies of free speech hunt in packs; its defenders must band together too.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face masks in shops here.

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

If you’re a shop owner and you want to let your customers know you will not be insisting on face masks or asking them what their reasons for exemption are, you can download a friendly sign to stick in your window here.

And here’s an excellent piece about the ineffectiveness of masks by a Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya

The Great Barrington Declaration, a petition started by Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya calling for a strategy of “Focused Protection” (protect the elderly and the vulnerable and let everyone else get on with life), was launched last month and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it ever since. If you Googled it a week after launch, the top hits were three smear pieces from the Guardian, including: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now tops the search results – and Toby’s Spectator piece about the attempt to suppress it is among the top hits – although discussion of it has been censored by Reddit. The reason the zealots hate it, of course, is that it gives the lie to their claim that “the science” only supports their strategy. These three scientists are every bit as eminent – more eminent – than the pro-lockdown fanatics so expect no let up in the attacks. (Wikipedia has also done a smear job.)

You can find it here. Please sign it. Now over 700,000 signatures.

Update: The authors of the GDB have expanded the FAQs to deal with some of the arguments and smears that have been made against their proposal. Worth reading in full.

Update 2: Many of the signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration are involved with new UK anti-lockdown campaign Recovery. Find out more and join here.

Update 3: You can watch Sunetra Gupta set out the case for “Focused Protection” here and Jay Bhattacharya make it here.

Update 4: The three GBD authors plus Prof Carl Heneghan of CEBM have launched a new website collateralglobal.org, “a global repository for research into the collateral effects of the COVID-19 lockdown measures”. Follow Collateral Global on Twitter here.

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

There are now so many JRs being brought against the Government and its ministers, we thought we’d include them all in one place down here.

First, there’s the Simon Dolan case. You can see all the latest updates and contribute to that cause here.

Then there’s the Robin Tilbrook case. You can read about that and contribute here.

Then there’s John’s Campaign which is focused specifically on care homes. Find out more about that here.

There’s the GoodLawProject’s Judicial Review of the Government’s award of lucrative PPE contracts to various private companies. You can find out more about that here and contribute to the crowdfunder here.

The Night Time Industries Association has instructed lawyers to JR any further restrictions on restaurants, pubs and bars.

And last but not least there’s the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. You can read about that and make a donation here.

Samaritans

If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.

Quotation Corner

It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.

Mark Twain

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.

Charles Mackay

They who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin

To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions…

Ideology – that is what gives the evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you never should trust experts. If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require to have their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.

Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury

Nothing would be more fatal than for the Government of States to get into the hands of experts. Expert knowledge is limited knowledge and the unlimited ignorance of the plain man, who knows where it hurts, is a safer guide than any rigorous direction of a specialist.

Sir Winston Churchill

If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science.

Richard Feynman

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

C.S. Lewis

The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants.

Albert Camus

We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.

Carl Sagan

Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

George Orwell

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

Marcus Aurelius

Necessity is the plea for every restriction of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

William Pitt the Younger

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments.)

And Finally…

Blower’s Cartoon in today’s Telegraph

Latest News

Protest Chaos in London

Police clashed with protesters in Central London yesterday, leading to chaotic scenes and over 150 arrests. More from the MailOnline:

Central London descended into anarchy as riot police arrested 155 angry anti-lockdown demonstrators as thousands took to the streets and booed officers while chanting “shame on you”.

Dozens of violent anti-lockdown activists clashed with police while thousands more gathered in the capital amid growing discontent with the Government’s new tier system to be introduced on December 2nd. 

Officers detained protesters led by Piers Corbyn who chanted “freedom” and carried placards reading “stop controlling us” and “no more lockdowns” at Marble Arch for flouting coronavirus restrictions. 

Tweets posted by Jeremy Corbyn’s brother indicate that grassroots group Save Our Rights UK marched from King’s Cross station through Angel to Hyde Park and along a road parallel to Oxford Street. 

Traffic was temporarily blocked on Regent Street as officers attempted to handcuff people on the ground in the middle of the road, while police apprehended demonstrators weaving through the capital.  

Videos show police cracking down on protesters, including a lone man who howled in apparent agony and burst into tears as he fell to the ground during an arrest outside King’s Cross St Pancras. 

The Metropolitan Police said officers had made more than 60 arrests by 3pm. 

Those arrests were for offences including breaching coronavirus regulations, assaulting a police officer and possession of drugs.

Officers made a number of early interventions to prevent people from gathering and to urge people to go home. Coaches transporting protestors into the capital were intercepted and those who did not turn back and go home were either arrested or issued with fixed penalty notices. Chief Superintendent Stuart Bell, policing commander for this event, said: “This was a challenging day for Met, City of London and British Transport Police officers and I would like to thank them for the professionalism they have shown throughout the day.

On Friday, we made it very clear how we would police this event, warning those looking to attend that they risked facing enforcement action if they attended a gathering in London. Today’s enforcement action is a direct result of those individuals deliberately breaking the law and at times, targeting our officers with aggression and causing disruption to the road network.”

The report is worth reading in full and, for a video account, try this by Charles Lampwick.

One of those arrested was, of course, Piers Corbyn. According to his Twitter account he was arrested at around 5pm, after giving a speech at Piccadilly Circus.

Also arrested was a Lockdown Sceptics reader. He sent us this report:

The plan was to meet at King’s Cross station at 12 noon. However, due to the huge police presence the location changed twice. Eventually people met at Speaker’s Corner at around 1 pm.

There were police vans everywhere; especially the Territorial Support Group (TSG). I have never seen so many police in London in my entire life. It was insane!

The march had a fantastic atmosphere. I’d say there were around 5,000 people on the main march. The problem was that the police were trying their best to break everyone up. It became a ridiculous game of cat and mouse. As soon as the march changed direction, another group of helmeted TSG goons would turn up and block off the road. We managed to make it down Oxford Street, Regent Street and several smaller back streets.

After about an hour of marching, I was standing at the back of the protest, casually chatting away to a new friend I’d made. Suddenly, out of nowhere a police officer grabbed my arm.

“What is your reason for being here?” he asked me.

“Just going for a walk. It’s my daily exercise.” I replied.

“Are you protesting? We have reason to believe you are protesting?” he said.

Next thing I know, he put my arms behind my back and cuffed me. The cuffs were so tight I asked him to loosen them as they were cutting off the blood supply to my fingers, on one of my hands. I was then searched on the spot and taken in a police van to a courtyard area, about five minutes’ drive away. This was a makeshift “prisoner” processing centre just off King Charles Street. There was a huge queue of us, all waiting to be processed. Apparently, they had run out of room in all the custody suites.

After an hour of waiting, I was taken to a tent where I was searched again, more thoroughly. I was then taken to a more senior police officer who asked me to confirm my name, date of birth and address, on camera. I was told I would be released and sent a £100 fine in the post. If I pay this within 28 days, I am told it will be reduced, or alternatively I can challenge it in court.

Overall, I found the police presence completely over the top. They seemed to be randomly picking off any individuals who had become separated from the main march; much like hungry lions preying on injured gazelles – easy, unwitting targets. Their approach was heavy-handed, unreasonable and not in keeping with common-sense, proportionate policing.

I no longer have any respect for the British police. They have made themselves enemies of the very people they are meant to be protecting. We officially live in a totalitarian, police state. People innocently exercising their democratic right to protest are being treated with contempt and violence.

Another reader sent us this:

I was listening to 5 Live where they said “hundreds” attended with 160 arrested. The Mail had thousands which was more accurate. I went to Kings Cross station to discover that the protest had been re-routed to Marble Arch. I met a few other “freedom fighters” on the tube. It was a pleasant experience sitting in a carriage with other unmuzzled passengers, a sadly rare occurrence.

After the obligatory arrest of Piers Corbyn, the crowd moved along Oxford Street, then to Piccadilly and back into Hyde Park. The police/TSG were constantly in close attendance. A “second wave” eventually returned along Oxford Street. I left at Oxford Circus shortly after the sad sight of the arrest of Louise from Save Our Rights. They seemed to be targeting organisers.

The TSG were out in force, as expected. I was fearful of arrest but I was lifted by the communal spirit and the fact that they could not apprehend us all. Just outside Hyde Park, where the police were trying to split up the protestors, some people moved some roadwork barriers into the road to block traffic which effectively prevented the TSG vans from getting to the scene. Some kids on bikes joined in somewhat enthusiastically, but there was also a lot of anger about the whole ridiculous situation, the biased policing, and this tyranny of a supposedly libertarian government.

It is one thing spending hours reading Lockdown Sceptics, etc. and watching some excellent videos on YouTube, but there is nothing quite like getting out there with like-minded people. It was just a shame that with the shops closed, not that many were there to witness it. Several bus/car drivers, however, despite being held up, offered their support to loud cheers of applause.

And from a third:

Saturday morning 11am: Get forwarded a video of a long line of police vans at Kings Cross including several of the Territorial Support Group, with the ironic voiceover asking: “What is going on to cause this amount of police response?!” Messages about last-minute changes in location come through social media and the protest moves to Marble Arch.

Saturday afternoon 1.15 pm. Arrive at Marble Arch to see a crowd of several thousand people walking, in good spirits, down Oxford Street and decide to walk with them. Passengers on buses that cannot move for the sheer volume of protesters wave, bystanders look on. Lots of filming on phones, tv cameras and handy cams. At the junction of Regent Street an arrest is made. People are chanting “Choose Your Side!” “Freedom!” and “We do not Consent!” As we move towards Piccadilly Circus the police show up in very large numbers. It doesn’t feel like a peaceful protest anymore.

1.45 pm. The protest is split up. I am in a smaller group that is blocked off by the police in Great Marlborough Street. There is not enough of a crowd to punch through the police line so many turn back up to Oxford Street where the message is passed along to go back to Marble Arch. More arrests are made as the police just keep coming. They work in packs of about 20-30, helmeted, masked and as disciplined as a standing army. It is quite intimidating. They separate out people who are by themselves, surround them and pin them to the pavement, then arrest them and take them away.

2.30 pm. There is no way through to Piccadilly Circus so we go back to Oxford Street and walk back to Marble Arch. There is a very visible police presence and at least 25 police vans.

3.05 pm. In the park some members of Freedom Festival go and talk to the police who are waiting at the Marble Arch park entrance then suddenly they are walking back to the much smaller group at Speakers’ Corner followed by a group of at least 50 police, mostly TSG. Is it looking like it is going to kick off? Protesters climb the railings to go onto the street or scatter in the park.

3.10pm. Some of the TSG start moving towards onlookers and we are pushed gradually back and encouraged to disperse. A lady next to me talks to one of the TSG who takes off his mask. He has a northern accent. These police appear to have been mobilised from across the country. The groups disperse. Time to go home and watch the rest of the protest that has been streaming on social media.

Boris Fights to Quell Rebellion

The Prime Minister has written a piece for today’s Mail on Sunday pleading with his rebel backbenchers not to rebel on Tuesday when the new restrictions are put to a vote.

We can’t blow it now. We can’t just throw it all away – not when freedom is in sight. We have worked too hard, lost too many, sacrificed too much, just to see our efforts incinerated in another volcanic eruption of the virus.

Once again, the British people have come together to bring Covid under control. Once again, our collective efforts have paid off – and as I write the R rate is once again below one.

Across the country, the disease is no longer doubling in prevalence. It is halving. We did it before, in the spring, and now we have done it again.

But this time it is different. This time we know in our hearts that we are winning, and that we will inevitably win, because the armies of science are coming to our aid with all the morale-boosting, bugle-blasting excitement of Wellington’s Prussian allies coming through the woods on the afternoon of Waterloo.

In months, or even weeks, we will have a viable vaccine against coronavirus – giving elderly and vulnerable people the durable protection they need. And we are not just backing one vaccine, but seven.

We have secured 40 million doses of the highly promising Pfizer-Biontech treatment, with millions possibly available by the end of this year. We have obtained 100 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine that is now going for approval by the regulators at MHRA. And as of yesterday, the Government has bought a total of 7 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, which has proved 95% effective in clinical trials.

Pretty feeble stuff, not helped by the tortuous metaphors. Indeed, Boris’s verbal gymnastics at a moment of such gravity feel sophomoric and inappropriate – and the same side of his personality was on display at a meeting with seven ministers last week when the decision to replace the national lockdown with a tiered system was made. According to the Sunday Times:

Boris Johnson could not quite decide if his attempts to channel Winston Churchill in the fight against the coronavirus had reached the equivalent of the Battle of Britain, when national survival was secured, or El Alamein, when the slow advance to victory began.

It was 8.15pm on Wednesday when the prime minister began summing up the conclusions of a closely guarded meeting of eight ministers that decided tier levels across England and the fate of millions. Several times the prime minister conjured up his hero’s spirit: “Is this the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end?” he mused. After what one witness described as “several mixed metaphors”, Johnson settled on: “I think we’re at the beginning of the end of the second half.”

Yesterday, the Prime Minister responded to a letter from the 70-strong Covid Recovery Group, addressing some of their concerns. Among the concessions he offered were:

  • To take into account “local views” when reviewing the restrictions every fortnight, with a heavy hint that some areas would be moved to a lower tier on December 19th.
  • A full cost-benefit analysis of the restrictions in different areas to be published before Tuesday’s vote.
  • A “sunset clause” whereby the new restrictions will come to an end on February 3rd and won’t be renewed without a Parliamentary vote.

Steve Baker, the Vice-Chair of the CRG, welcomed this as “constructive”, but according to the Observer it’s unlikely to persuade many of the rebel MPs to change their minds because they were so incensed by Michael Gove’s piece in the Times yesterday telling them to “take responsibility for difficult decisions”.

Boris Johnson was facing a growing Tory mutiny over new COVID-19 restrictions last night as furious Conservative MPs accused the government of exaggerating capacity problems in the NHS in an attempt to win their support.

Ahead of a crucial Commons vote on the new three-tier system on Tuesday, an extraordinary row erupted over claims by Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove that the NHS, including the newly constructed Nightingale hospitals, could be “physically overwhelmed”.

Writing yesterday in the Times, Gove revealed that the earlier decision to impose a second national lockdown had been taken after ministers had been presented with a grim picture of rising COVID-19 cases and Nightingale hospitals at capacity.

“Every bed, every ward occupied,” Gove wrote. Attempting to force rebel Conservatives into line, he told elected members that they had “to take responsibility for difficult decisions” in the national interest.

In a desperate attempt to win potential rebels round, the prime minister wrote to all MPs spelling out that regulations putting areas in tiers would end on February 3rd and be reviewed every fortnight until then. He also promised the analysis demanded by many MPs of the health, economic and social impact of COVID-19 and the measures taken to tackle them.

But as Tory MPs objected to Gove’s tone, the argument was stoked further as other Conservatives revealed to the Observer that health minister Nadine Dorries had told a group of them last week that the Nightingale hospitals were in fact largely unfilled because people regarded them as “dark and dingy”, and that it was proving difficult to find the staff to run them. A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care denied she had used those words and said: “Each NHS Nightingale has been developing a clinical model that can be scaled up as and when additional capacity is required in the region. This model ensures that the right skill mix of staff will be available from NHS trusts in the region, NHS professionals and direct recruitment if required.”

A spokesperson for the NHS confirmed that just two of seven Nightingales – Manchester and Exeter – had begun to admit patients.

One senior Tory said: “Ministers like Gove cannot at one and the same time be saying we are on the brink of being overwhelmed unless we adopt far tougher measures, while admitting they are not using any but a tiny number of the emergency capacity beds we have, and that, anyway, they don’t have the staff. If it is as bad as he says, what have they been doing since March?”

Tobias Ellwood, one of the Tory MPs threatening to vote against the government on Tuesday, said Gove had been “completely disingenuous because every one of our Nightingales is underused – they are largely dormant”. On Twitter, he added: “Let’s not place areas in higher tiers, due to local bed pressure when other beds lie empty.”

Worth reading in full.

Gove’s argument was also attacked by Jonathan Sumption on Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday. The MailOnline has more:

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Lord Sumption said: “The problem is that there is a lack of rational thinking everywhere. 

There is, in this country, a particular problem which undermines Michael Gove’s article, which is the problem about the information that the Government puts out.

“Some of the statistics used to justify the lockdown have been extremely selective and tendentious. The most serious case recently, which was used to justify the current lockdown, resulted in criticism from the UK’s Statistics Authority.”

He added: “The fact is that the public has become increasingly unwilling to comply for reasons that to me are sound.

“Of course this is not enforceable. None of these things are enforceable, none of them are, without a strong measure of public willingness to comply.’

He added that “the fact that the Government cannot send policemen into every one to police it doesn’t seem to me to justify locking down ever large numbers of people’ who are ‘going to suffer no serious ill effects and certainly are not going to die”.

Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, we are encouraging Lockdown Sceptics readers to join in Peter Hitchens’s mass write-in to MPs. Read his appeal in the Mail on Sunday. The Conservative Woman has also given his campaign their full support.

Stop Press: Tory restlessness does not stop at the bank benches. The following is a message posted to a Facebook group for members of the Conservative Party in Kent, which is going into Tier 3 restrictions, despite several areas in the country being below the national average.

Around here in Tier 3, everyone I know is booking up dinners at pubs in Sussex or going to go up to London. This is a bit like the Delhi cobra cull during the British Raj when the authorities offered a bounty for every dead cobra. Initially it seemed to work, so they stopped paying. But it turned out that locals had been breeding cobras to get the cash and, when payments stopped, they let the snakes free. Misjudged incentives and restrictions lead to perverse or unintended outcomes. This stupid tier system means that rather than going to the pub down the road in an area with little Covid, lots of people will travel around instead. It won’t stop Covid but it will destroy business and livelihoods. Boris just has to go. Time up, cowboy.

Is the NHS Really on the Brink?

In the wake of Michael Gove’s claims that the NHS is on the brink of being overwhelmed, we asked the former NHS doctor who’s a regular contributor to Lockdown Sceptics to take a look at the latest data and ring round his friends to see if it was true. His answer won’t surprise you.

This morning Michael Gove asserted in the Times that all NHS hospitals including the super-surge Nightingale capacity could be overwhelmed by Covid patients if lockdown restrictions did not remain in force. Toby has kindly asked me to have a look at the latest hospital figures and comment on whether the available data supports this assertion with particular reference to London.

In May I was asked to write an opinion on what the coming months might bring. At the time I thought the primary issue was not medical, but socio-political. That remains my view today.

In answering the latest question, I will firstly look at the evidence that we are permitted to see by the NHS. I have reservations as to its veracity, but that’s all we have to go on. Then I will say what I think it means and finally draw some conclusions.

First, the data.

I prefer to look at ICU cases as a marker of Covid because the headline figures from the testing programmes are polluted by an unknown number of false positives and conflate asymptomatic and symptomatic cases. The ward-based inpatient data is too easily manipulated and doesn’t take account of the high turnover and relatively short stays for most patients. In addition, the burden of care for non-ICU patients is easier to manage in the event of a surge. Headline inpatient COVID figures are skewed by persistently high nosocomial (hospital acquired) infection, which Stevens, Vallance and Whitty expertly forget to mention in their dramatic public briefings.

Over the whole of England ICU cases have been relatively stable over the last two weeks – even falling off in the North West (Graph 1). With specific reference to London, there were 259 ICU patients counted as COVID positive on November 24th out of a current bedstock of approximately 1200 (21%).

The rate of admission is nothing like as steep as the spring and the picture across the capital is variable. In North East London, hospitals such as Barts and Barking have been under steady pressure for some weeks. In the last fortnight, South East London has seen an increase in numbers, consistent with outbreaks in Kent – localised to the Medway area. The West of London is quiet in Covid terms with very low numbers of ICU cases in South West and central London hospitals in particular.

Graph 2 shows the difference in the curves from April – May compared to Oct-Nov for the four worst affected central London teaching hospitals. Readers will notice some data drop out on the spring curves – because staff were too busy to report figures. A casual glance at this graph shows the disparity between the spring wave in blue and the autumn in brown– and these are the busiest hospitals in the capital in terms of Covid cases.

If we look at the ONS death statistics on Graph 3, there is nothing remarkable about this autumn compared to any of the last five years in terms of recorded deaths in London up to week 46 (November 13th). It is important to recognise that there is a lag between patients being ill with Covid and dying from it, and there is also a reporting lag – but the spring peak is clearly visible and coincides with peak hospital occupancy.

So, what’s all the fuss about?

The major difference between the spring and the autumn is that NHS hospitals are currently attempting to run a full load of routine work alongside usual winter pressures. Doctors often have to make decisions around prioritisation on the basis of medical need – if that means scaling back routine work to treat sicker patients, then we just have to live with it and catch up later. If Covid cases were to continue to rise and stress the system, scaling back routine work would be the logical thing to do. On the basis of the available evidence, there are no imminent signs of the situation getting out of hand in the way it did in the spring. In any event the capital has plenty of spare capacity in several large hospitals which are not currently particularly busy for this time of year.

The burden of patients with respiratory illness is not unusual for this time of year but protocols intended to limit the spread of COVID are creating added pressure. These have had the effect of removing large numbers of staff into self-isolation because they’ve been in contact with someone who’s tested positive using a PCR test. There’s no shortage of beds and equipment – but a shortage of people to staff them. During the spring, NHS Digital reported that 7.2% of NHS staff in London were off sick due to COVID related reasons – leaked information last month suggested that up to 30% of staff were absent in some Northern hospitals. These people are not necessarily ill themselves – just told to stay at home by NHS Test and Trace. Many of them will have been told to isolate as a result of false positive PCR test results.

In answer to a Parliamentary Question last week on the operational false positive rate of PCR testing, the best the Department of Health could produce was a short paper presented to SAGE on June 3rd – highlighting the fact that the NHS did not know what the false positive rate was. Estimates from previous work put it at between 0.8 and 4.0%. If we assume a median average of 2.3%, this implies the vast majority of NHS staff ordered to self-isolate have been in contact with false positives, given the relatively low prevalence of Covid. On June 3rd, SAGE was advised to urgently conduct external quality assessments to ascertain what the operational false positive rates were. I have searched the available minutes from SAGE since then and can find no further reference to this point – perhaps it is too embarrassing to be mentioned in public. False positives may be mitigated to a degree by the recent introduction of lateral flow tests, which I understand have a lower false positive rate. It is telling that Health Department officials have repeatedly denied there is a problem with false positives and the PCR tests – it has taken FOI requests and a Parliamentary Question to force an admission that SAGE has known about it for months.

SAGE minutes from Meeting 63 (Oct 25th) and Meeting 66 (Nov 5th) reveal an acknowledgement that nosocomial infections are also a significant problem. I note the committee avoided quantifying the issue – now running at about 20% from derived analysis of data in the public arena. Once again, the NHS has issued repeated denials that a significant percentage of Covid patients have been self-generated by failure of in-hospital infection control – only to be caught out when the evidence becomes overwhelmingly obvious.

From my reading of the available figures, there is no imminent cause for alarm in London – it is fear of a repetition of the spring which is driving senior NHS managers to agitate for further “non pharmaceutical interventions” (the euphemistic term for lockdown). I don’t understand why Michael Gove believes the NHS is at risk of being totally overwhelmed. If he has hard information to support that assertion, he should put it in the public domain for discussion. Failure to provide evidence justifying such breathless hysteria suggests he is shroud waving to influence his own backbench colleagues rather than making informed comment. Perhaps Gove is actually worried that the Government will lose the vote on Tuesday.

Within London, plans are in place for an expansion of ICU capacity, elective work can easily be scaled back and moving to a more reliable testing regime should reduce unnecessary staff absence. More tier-based restrictions appear to me to be a political choice, not a medical one. This sets a worrying precedent where medical bureaucrats advise the government to restrict civil liberties in order to conceal the consequences of their own poor preparation. My assessment is that we are currently in a lockdown of convenience, not of necessity.

Finally, I will test readers patience with another graphic – this time of an economic nature. Please note that the ‘y’ axis reads ‘billions of pounds’. That bill needs to be paid by private sector taxpayers, working in an economy which our current Government insists on vandalising with the active collusion of medical civil servants. There is moral hazard here, in that the officials advocating lockdown enjoy protected state-funded employment and pension rights. Would they be so keen on the idea if they had to suffer a 30% salary reduction until the middle of 2021?

Covid Tiers “Will Cost the Economy £900 Million a Day”

Analysis by the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) has estimated that the tiering system will cut GDP in the month of December by 13% compared to December last year, amounting to a cost of more than £20 billion. The Telegraph has more:

The CEBR worked out its forecast based on 31% of England’s economy being in Tier 3; 68% in Tier 2 and just 1% in Tier 1.

The forecaster estimated that the daily loss in GDP for Tier 3 is 20%, less than the lost output of 25% of GDP in April when schools and shops were closed. The loss in Tier 2 was estimated to be 10%.

Doug McWilliams, the CEBR’s Deputy Chairman. said: “It remains to be seen whether those costs, which of course can’t take account of the longer term damage done to so many pubs, restaurants, sports and entertainments venues, is justified by the reduced incidence of the disease. My suspicion is that the shutdowns imposed by Whitehall will end up doing more economic damage than can be justified on medical grounds.”

Julian Jessop of the Institute of Economic Affairs provided some grounds for cautious optimism:

“The tiered system is less of a drag than the England-wide lockdown. The package of restrictions currently in place – for example, non-essential shops are not allowed to open – is tighter than those in any of Tiers 1-3, so even moving from nationwide lockdown to Tier 3 is a marginal improvement – and will boost growth… The limited evidence so far suggests that the economic costs of lockdown 2 itself are less than feared, and certainly a lot less than lockdown 1.”

Worth reading in full.

Liam Halligan, writing for the Telegraph, is astonished that the Government still hasn’t commissioned its own analysis of the economic impact of the Covid restrictions it’s introduced.

While the rapid introduction of a two-week curfew was justifiable in March, lockdown extension during subsequent weeks and months should have been accompanied by exactly this sort of cost-benefit analysis.

Instead, Boris Johnson surrounded himself with a very narrow group of advisers – almost all medics, all with the same pro-lockdown views. No room was made for highly respected anti-lockdown epidemiologists (there are many), economists or others with a broader perspective.

The lack of such official cost-benefit analysis ahead of a policy that has already caused the deepest depression in three centuries, sent our national debt into orbit and destroyed thousands of businesses and millions of livelihoods, with much more to come, is simply astonishing.

Some highly respected independent economists have produced such studies – including former Monetary Policy Committee member David Miles and Professor Robert Rowthorn at Cambridge.

Their analysis suggests lockdowns can’t be justified. 

Worth reading in full.

SAGE Advice for Covid-safe Christmas

Santas have their temperature taken as they attend a socially distanced Santa school training at Southwark Cathedral in London, Monday, Aug 24th. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

The Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours has just released its “Insights on celebrations and observances during COVID-19“. It’s hard to imagine, as a reader commented, that it isn’t a little tongue in cheek. From the BBC:

The Government’s scientific advisory committee, SAGE, warns coronavirus could easily spread during the festive relaxation of the rules. They say people should still weigh up if an event could be postponed. If not, meeting online or outdoors where the risks of transmission are lower, could be a better option. But if you do go ahead, they say, it’s important to include everyone taking part in drawing up a plan for how to manage the event.

They highlight the particular importance of involving women in the decision-making. “Women carry the burden of creating and maintaining family traditions and activities at Christmas. Messaging should be supportive of women adapting traditions and encouraging those around them to share the burden and to be supportive of any alterations to adapt for COVID-19 restrictions.”

The Telegraph has provided a helpful summary of the advice:

May your Christmas be merry and bright!

Unlock Defensive Immunity With Vitamin D

A side of smoked salmon from Bleiker’s Smokehouse, a great source of Vitamin D

Three senior medics and a health researcher – David C Anderson MD MSc. FRCP FRCPath, David S Grimes MD FRCP, Parag Singhal MD FRCP and Chris Williams BSc – have written an open letter on Lockdown Sceptics imploring the Government to start issuing large doses of Vitamin D to the elderly and the vulnerable. Not the 10 micrograms (400 units) per day that the Government has just announced it will be giving away to 2.5 million people – which is “wholly inadequate”, according to these experts – but 100 micrograms per day.

Here’s an extract:

The phrase “following the science” has been used repeatedly, but this is inaccurate. Rather, we have been following the mathematicians, whose ignorance of biological science is dire.

To date, the disruptive and damaging attempts to control COVID-19 have been physical in nature. Lockdowns, ‘social distancing’, masks, etc. as if we are fighting a conventional war. Whereas. in reality, we are trying to defend ourselves against a virus, which is invisible and is transmitted through the air in its trillions. The virus will always be with us but we can develop immunity against it. Lockdown, masks, social distancing, closure of schools, universities, places of worship, shops, places of work, etc. may slow down the spread of the virus, but they will not cause it to go away. And people are still dying.

The answer lies in defensive immunity. We had a respite during the summer months when we had the benefit of the Vitamin D-producing sun with the production of vitamin D in our skin. Vitamin D is a hormone, the vital key that unlocks our complex, defensive process of immunity.

Worth reading in full.

Covid Hypocrite of the Week

Michael B. Hancock. Photo: David Zalubowski/Associated Press

More rank hypocrisy from the governing class. This time, the Mayor of Denver, flagged in the Wall Street Journal. Here is his statement of contrition:

I fully acknowledge that I have urged everyone to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel… What I did not share, but should have, is that my wife and my daughter have been in Mississippi, where my daughter recently took a job. As the holiday approached, I decided it would be safer for me to travel to see them than to have two family members travel back to Denver. I recognise that my decision has disappointed many who believe it would have been better to spend Thanksgiving alone… I made my decision as a husband and father and for those who are angry and disappointed, I humbly ask you to forgive decisions that are born of my heart and not my head.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Four today: “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by The Who, “Desolation Row” by Bob Dylan, “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, and “Oh What a Circus” by David Essex.

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Sharing Stories

Some of you have asked how to link to particular stories on Lockdown Sceptics so you can share it. To do that, click on the headline of a particular story and a link symbol will appear on the right-hand side of the headline. Click on the link and the URL of your page will switch to the URL of that particular story. You can then copy that URL and either email it to your friends or post it on social media. Please do share the stories.

Social Media Accounts

You can follow Lockdown Sceptics on our social media accounts which are updated throughout the day. To follow us on Facebook, click here; to follow us on Twitter, click here; to follow us on Instagram, click here; to follow us on Parler, click here; and to follow us on MeWe, click here.

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, from MailOnline, another tale of language policing at the BBC.

Football pundit Steve ‘Tommo’ Thompson has been axed by the BBC for describing a clash between players as “handbags”. The 65 year-old was laid off until the end of the year for using the familiar match day phrase after listeners complained.

Thompson, who works as a freelancer, made the comment on BBC Radio Lincolnshire during Lincoln City’s 1-0 win at Swindon Town on Tuesday. Explaining its decision to suspend Thompson, the BBC said that the term “handbags” did not meet its standards. 

The BBC said: “After listeners raised concerns, Steve acknowledged some of his comments on air didn’t meet the standards we expect. He is taking a break but will be back in the New Year.” Thompson had previously received a written warning about his use of language in 2018 and also referred to a player as a “drama queen”.

But fans have reacted in outrage at the BBC’s decision, arguing that using the well-known phrase did not merit Thompson’s immediate suspension. Marcus Greatorex told the Sun: “It’s just an old term. The BBC should pay more attention to songs on their stations promoting knife crime and drug use”.

Lincoln fan Bernard O’Mahoney said: “As any football fan knows, ‘handbags’ is an incredibly well-known saying… I can’t begin to think who’d be offended by it”.

“Handbags” is such a common term in sports commentary that it appears in the Collins Dictionary. It is described as “an incident in which people, especially sportsmen, fight or threaten to fight, but without real intent to inflict harm”.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Sarah Oliver in the the Mail on Sunday has written a terrific piece about the scandal at Eton following the dismissal of an English teacher for encouraging his students to question the idea that there’s something fundamentally toxic about masculinity. Includes some extraordinary details about how woke the school has become, such as the fact that the boys were shown a film about a man who becomes pregnant and gives birth.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face masks in shops here.

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

If you’re a shop owner and you want to let your customers know you want be insisting on face masks or asking them what their reasons for exemption are, you can download a friendly sign to stick in your window here.

And here’s an excellent piece about the ineffectiveness of masks by a Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry.

Stop Press: Jenin Younes’s recent piece for the AIER blog on “The Strangely Unscientific Masking of America” describes how mask-wearing turned virtually overnight from something unheard of into a moral necessity. Well worth a read.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya

The Great Barrington Declaration, a petition started by Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya calling for a strategy of “Focused Protection” (protect the elderly and the vulnerable and let everyone else get on with life), was launched last month and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it ever since. If you Googled it a week after launch, the top hits were three smear pieces from the Guardian, including: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now tops the search results – and Toby’s Spectator piece about the attempt to suppress it is among the top hits – although discussion of it has been censored by Reddit. The reason the zealots hate it, of course, is that it gives the lie to their claim that “the science” only supports their strategy. These three scientists are every bit as eminent – more eminent – than the pro-lockdown fanatics so expect no let up in the attacks. (Wikipedia has also done a smear job.)

You can find it here. Please sign it. Now over 700,000 signatures.

Update: The authors of the GDB have expanded the FAQs to deal with some of the arguments and smears that have been made against their proposal. Worth reading in full.

Update 2: Many of the signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration are involved with new UK anti-lockdown campaign Recovery. Find out more and join here.

Update 3: You can watch Sunetra Gupta set out the case for “Focused Protection” here and Jay Bhattacharya make it here.

Update 4: The three GBD authors plus Prof Carl Heneghan of CEBM have launched a new website collateralglobal.org, “a global repository for research into the collateral effects of the COVID-19 lockdown measures”. Follow Collateral Global on Twitter here.

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

There are now so many JRs being brought against the Government and its ministers, we thought we’d include them all in one place down here.

First, there’s the Simon Dolan case. You can see all the latest updates and contribute to that cause here.

Then there’s the Robin Tilbrook case. You can read about that and contribute here.

Then there’s John’s Campaign which is focused specifically on care homes. Find out more about that here.

There’s the GoodLawProject’s Judicial Review of the Government’s award of lucrative PPE contracts to various private companies. You can find out more about that here and contribute to the crowdfunder here.

The Night Time Industries Association has instructed lawyers to JR any further restrictions on restaurants, pubs and bars.

And last but not least there’s the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. You can read about that and make a donation here.

Samaritans

If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.

Quotation Corner

It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.

Mark Twain

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.

Charles Mackay

They who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin

To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions…

Ideology – that is what gives the evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you never should trust experts. If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require to have their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.

Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury

Nothing would be more fatal than for the Government of States to get into the hands of experts. Expert knowledge is limited knowledge and the unlimited ignorance of the plain man, who knows where it hurts, is a safer guide than any rigorous direction of a specialist.

Sir Winston Churchill

If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science.

Richard Feynman

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

C.S. Lewis

The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants.

Albert Camus

We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.

Carl Sagan

Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

George Orwell

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

Marcus Aurelius

Necessity is the plea for every restriction of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

William Pitt the Younger

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments.)

And Finally…

We think this is genuine. It’s a guide from the Workplace Mental Health Institute about how to tell if you’re in an abusive relationship, but it applies with extraordinary accuracy to the Government’s attitude towards the people of Britain. Perhaps it’s time to end that relationship…

Latest News

Lockdown 3.0

Bob’s cartoon in the Telegraph on November 1st

Yesterday evening Boris rang in from self-isolation to give his much-awaited briefing on the winter Covid plan. The MailOnline has the details:

Boris Johnson tonight warned against “over-optimism” as he said many areas face going into tougher Tiers after December 2nd than they were in before the blanket lockdown… He braced the public in England for difficult months before the ‘cavalry’ of science comes to the rescue and finally ends the crisis. And he said that although the national lockdown will finish next Wednesday, large sections of the country will still be under harsher measures than before it began on November 5th. Mr Johnson said “things will look and feel very different after Easter, with a vaccine and mass testing”. But he cautioned that the months ahead “will be hard, they will be cold, they include January and February when the NHS is under its greatest pressure”. He added: “Tis the season to be jolly, but it is also the season to be jolly careful, especially with elderly relatives.”

The new tier system is jolly careful indeed. The Telegraph as more on its implications for pubs, shops and services.

For church services

The Prime Minister confirmed on Monday that church services including Christingles and midnight mass will be able to take place in all three tiers. The number of people permitted to attend church together is also set to be determined by the level of restrictions on household mixing.

For hospitality

Pubs and restaurants in tier three areas will be limited to takeaway and delivery services only from next month as part of a tightening of regional restrictions… Diners and pub-goers will be given more time to finish their meals and drinks under the new system. Venues in tiers one and two will have to abide by a new closing time of 11pm, with last orders called at 10pm.

For sport  

Outdoor sports such as golf and tennis will restart in all tiers, as will amateur team sports such as Sunday-league football…  

For non-essential retail

Christmas shopping will be given the greenlight this year as the Government attempts to give hard-up highstreets across the country a major boost. Non-essential retail, including fashion, toys and gadget stores will reopen their doors when the second lockdown ends on December 2nd. 

For socialising

Restrictions on household mixing will stay largely the same. Under the original tiered system, people living in tier one areas were required to comply with the rule of six both indoors and outdoors. However, Government sources suggested last week that tier one could be brought closer in line with tiers two and three due to concerns among scientists that measures in the lowest level are proving ineffective.

Worth reading in full.

The Telegraph has also helpfully whittled it all down to a handy graphic.

It is hard not to refer back Ross Clark’s piece which we flagged in yesteday’s round-up. This is…

a rebadged lockdown. While it will be described as a return to tiers, those tiers will be made tougher and more of us will find ourselves shunted into the top tiers. The result is that most people will be forbidden from mixing with family and friends until Easter – save for a brief truce over Christmas.

It is exactly, in other words, as I predicted. A semi-free Christmas is being used as the thin, dangling carrot which is supposedly going to help us resign ourselves to many months of isolation. 

As always, Ross Clark is worth reading in full, if you haven’t already.

Stop Press: The Government is still working with devolved administrations on the plans for a “semi-free Christmas”, but we learnt from Nicola Sturgeon’s daily press conference yesterday that they will not in Scotland include Hogmany. Who would have thought we’d see an SNP First Minister axing a Scottish tradition? Best pass over to Alan Cochrane on this in the Telegraph.

Stop Press 2: MailOnline reports that fans may soon be able to return to stadiums, albeit in limited numbers. Manchester United v PSG will likely be the first match to welcome them back but there could still be rules to be followed on singing, shouting and drinking

Stop Press 3: Worth taking a look at how total deaths in England and Wales in 2020 compare with previous years. Second wave struggling to gather any momentum.

Florence Nightingale Diagram of UK Deaths, from the
Centre of Evidence-Based Medicine

Lockdowns and Government Restrictions Make no Difference to Mortality Outcomes.

Geographic distribution of 14-day cumulative number of reported COVID-19 cases per 100 000 population, worldwide. Source: ecdc

It is timely that in the run-up to the next gear change in the Government’s endless drive to “defeat the virus”, Frontiers in Public Health has published a peer-reviewed study of Covid mortality outcomes.  

First the Context

We aimed at characterizing the non-viral parameters that were most associated with death rate.

The Methods

We tested major indices from five domains (demography, public health, economy, politics, environment) and their potential associations with COVID-19 mortality during the first eight months of 2020, through a Principal Component Analysis and a correlation matrix with a Pearson correlation test. Data of all countries, or states in federal countries, showing at least 10 fatality cases, were retrieved from official public sites. For countries that have not yet finished the first epidemic phase, a prospective model has been computed to provide options of death rates evolution.

The Studied Countries

From the 188 countries that have declared at least one case, only those counting a minimum of 10 deaths due to COVID-19 up to the study end point (August 31st 2020) were included. China and the United States were also analysed by states or regions, when each of them reached the 10 deaths threshold.

And the Conclusion (our emphasis)

Countries that already experienced a stagnation or regression of life expectancy, with high income and NCD rates, had the highest price to pay. This burden was not alleviated by more stringent public decisions. Inherent factors have predetermined the COVID-19 mortality: understanding them may improve prevention strategies by increasing population resilience through better physical fitness and immunity.

Worth reading in full.

This study focused on the first eight months of 2020. We doubt that anything from the later months of the year, which saw the rule of six, lockdown 2.0, the first and now the second tier system in the UK alone, will substantially challenge the analysis.  

Barry Norris Unimpressed by AstraZeneca Announcement

“I don’t care if everyone else has Adidas… these are just as good.”

The fund manager Barry Norris, who’s been tracking the vaccine trials very closely, wasn’t impressed by yesterday’s announcement by AstraZeneca. This is the note he sent to his clients.

We are amazed at the spin on the Astra vaccine. This was always designed as a two equal dose trial – 0.5 followed by 0.5 – and this population group has only achieved 62% efficacy (compared to a claim of 95% for the mRNA vaccines).

Now in breach of trial protocol they tell us there’s an improved “90% efficacy” in a small initial 0.25 dose followed by a bigger 0.5 dose, in an unofficial population sub-set which is probably so small as to be statistically insignificant. Moreover, they claim to have stumbled across this better recipe purely by accident, and somewhat embarrassingly claim this sub-set consisted of the volunteers who were systematically but “accidentally” given a smaller than intended dose, as reported here. (The Guardian has more details on this “accident” here.)

So riddle me this: the main dose trial shows only 62% efficacy in healthy adults (almost certainly less in the old and already sick) but a smaller sub-set shows efficacy with a lower dose? Lower doses usually lower side effects but they don’t usually result in higher efficacy. So there’s something bogus going on.

Moreover, if the vaccine really does work better with a smaller first dose then what does that say about the antibody response? Is the immune system producing antibodies to the second dose after a similarly-sized first dose? Is this why counterintuitively it works better on a small first dose? Does the volunteer develop immunity to the second vaccine after a bigger first dose?

If so, at best this is a one shot and one season vaccine.

At worst, if the first full dose does raise antibodies to the second full dose then you have the potential for auto-immune side effects, meaning that the vaccine ultimately inhibits the natural antibody response to the virus which would be disastrous in otherwise healthy adults.

Based on this data, the FDA is unlikely to approve the Astra vaccine (though undoubtedly the UK Government will) as:

* The trial protocol has been violated to data mine a more positive outcome.

* The duration of the efficacy is questionable.

* The overall efficacy is much lower than peers and it likely won’t work at all in the vulnerable (82 year-olds with comorbidities.) The US has mRNA.

* There’s no claim that it prevents virus transmission.

* They will want to monitor possible auto-immune side effects.

Could it be that UK Government has backed the wrong horse? To date, it has ordered 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine at a cost of £3 to £4 per dose.

Stop Press: AstraZeneca’s share price has fallen in the US following doubts about the likelihood of it receiving FDA approval.

Stop Press 2: Ross Clark in the Telegraph notes that “A vaccine exit strategy is curiously absent from the PM’s baffling Covid Winter Plan

Dr Roger Hodkinson Was a Lockdown Sceptic Back in April

Readers will recall the marvellous speech delivered by Dr Roger Hodkinson, ex-Chairman of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Examination Committee in General Pathology in Ottawa and a former Assistant Professor, to some health officials working for the Government of Alberta last week, telling them their strategy was all wrong. It’s now gone from YouTube, of course, but you can still catch it at Bitchute. Worth listening to again (it’s short and punchy).

Some speculated about whether the speech was real or a hoax, but we can confirm it was 100% genuine. Indeed, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons has seen fit to issue a statement disassociating itself from Dr Hodkinson in light of his remarks and, for the record, has slavishly regurgitated Covid orthodoxy.

Lockdown Sceptics has made contact with Dr Hodkinson and we are publishing a four-part series by him on the pandemic, with the first part published today. The first three were originally written for the University of Regina School of Public Policy in April and May, but he was told they couldn’t be published unless he toned them down which, naturally, he wasn’t prepared to do. Consequently, they are being published on Lockdown Sceptics for the first time. We will publish parts two and three on Wednesday and Thursday and part four when he’s completed it, which should be in a couple of weeks.

Part one is a scene-setter called “Who Failed and Why?” in which Dr Hodkinson discusses the origins of the virus in China and the disastrous initial reaction by public health authorities. Here is an extract in which he homes in on the WHO:

Statistically speaking, given the probable origin of SARS and COVID-19 in China, the next pandemic is likely to originate there also. That’s a problem. China was secretive about the start of its local COVID-19 epidemic (and still is), wasting valuable weeks before alerting the WHO of its existence which then downplayed its significance for the rest of the world. An early warning system is a vital starting point for effective international response to future pandemics. Clearly, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the WHO cannot be trusted to act any differently in the future.

Furthermore, the (current) head of the WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, is not a physician as have been all his predecessors, and has questionable credentials to effectively lead such a vital international resource at a critical moment in world history. He has, at times, acted as China’s apologist in this whole fiasco, compounding the problem by disseminating China’s misinformation under the imprimatur of the WHO early in the pandemic.

A senior WHO official responsible for the global response to this pandemic, Dr. Michael Ryan, has actually stated that “we may have to enter homes and remove family members” if they are COVID-19 positive – but in a “dignified manner”. It would seem he thinks COVID-19 is as lethal as ebola or smallpox, which it most emphatically is not. Do we want ‘officials’ knocking at our doors in the middle of the night taking away our kids to control future pandemics? I think not, and to attempt such an assault on personal liberty would cause civil revolt. But that was exactly what the WHO recommended!

I believe a personal anecdote is also relevant here. Right in the middle of the SARS epidemic in 2003, I met with the team of WHO officials ‘managing’ the outbreak right in their war room at WHO headquarters in Geneva. There wasn’t a virologist in the room, and of the eight or so people present about half were nurses from obscure African countries doing an obligatory WHO secondment. To say it was a gong show is an understatement. The world was left to its own devices, and so it was initially with COVID-19.

The most rational explanation for the origin of the epidemic in China is not the Wuhan wet food market as the WHO immediately and confidently stated, but rather one of the virology labs in Wuhan doing environmental surveillance of bat corona viruses. There was almost certainly an accidental escape due to poor compliance with laboratory bio-safety procedures for which there have been many examples in China in recent years. COVID-19 was not a genetically engineered virus for use in biological warfare – the corona virus isn’t anywhere near lethal enough for that nefarious use, judging from the number who’ve died in China, unless the entire Chinese population had already been vaccinated against it!

I believe I have made my case that the WHO cannot be trusted, is politically compromised, and is actually incompetent in the discharge of its expected leadership role. But more importantly, the WHO is advocating extreme containment policies that cut to the very heart of personal freedom.

The article continues in the same trenchant, take-no-prisoners tone and is very much worth reading in full.

Vaccination Before Travel

It is happening! Qantas, Australia’s largest airline, is planning to make proof of having had vaccination a condition of travel. From ABC:

Speaking on Channel Nine’s A Current Affair on Monday night, Qantas boss Alan Joyce said he believed it would be a necessity for passengers to be vaccinated once a vaccine is available. And he said the company was looking into the possibility of requiring passengers to have a vaccination passport which would allow them to travel.

“We are looking at changing our terms and conditions, to say for international, that we will ask people to have a vaccination before getting on the aircraft,” Mr Joyce confirmed.

“We think for international visitors coming out, and people leaving the country, we think that’s a necessity.” The Qantas CEO said the company would consider the same requirements for domestic flights.

He said he had talked to the chief executives of other international carriers who were also considering making vaccination mandatory for travel.

A vaccination passport is being touted as a method of proving passengers have been vaccinated.

“What we’re looking at is how you can have a vaccination passport, an electronic version of it that certifies what the vaccine is,” Mr Joyce said.

“There’s a lot of logistics, a lot of technology to make this happen, but the airlines and the government are working on this as we speak.”

Worth reading in full.

Isn’t this is a little rash of Qantas? The big pharmaceutical companies are exempt from liability if a vaccine turns out to have harmful side effects, but not airlines. What if someone only gets vaccinated in order to fly on Qantas and then suffers serious harm? Won’t they be able to sue Qantas? Perhaps the Australian Government, which had to bail out the airline back in April and has probably ordered the CEO to make this announcement, has indemnified it.

They’ve Deprived Us of Our Freedom

A rave on Primrose Hill two weeks ago

A letter printed in the Camden New Journal on the real reason young people go to illegal raves is worth reproducing here in full. Hard to argue with.

Further to your report in March this year various governments decided to close the world down!

Nothing like this had ever happened before, although there had been lots of different viruses over the years. Anyone would think there was a deadly plague.

According to the BBC website, recently there had been 51,766 deaths from COVID-19 in the United Kingdom. But people die all the time.

An alternative heading for your story could have been: “Police drive clubbers to desperation.”

What has actually happened is that in March all venues were closed down and haven’t been allowed to reopen except under lots of restrictions, including social distancing.

Now they’re all closed again. This means there have been no clubs or gigs that people could go to. This is the real reason for the raves in Primrose Hill and on Hampstead Heath.

The police have been rigorously enforcing these regulations by telling venues that they must stay closed and that they will be fined if they open and run proper nights out, but the police ignore any laws they don’t like.

I’m very pleased to hear that there aren’t enough police to do much about these raves. I now plan to go there as soon as possible and join in.

It’s a pity that residents in Primrose Hill claim that they can’t get to sleep. But there are some simple things they can do about this. The obvious solution is just to wear earplugs or earmuffs.

If that doesn’t work then they could just sleep at a different time of the day because it probably doesn’t matter what time of day they sleep, due to the lockdown.

Another solution would be for the police to claim that it’s not their responsibility to stop venues from opening; it’s “a civil matter”, or to use their famous “discretionary powers” to get out of doing it.

As for people like Councillor Pat Callaghan, Holborn and St Pancras MP Sir Keir Starmer, and the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, I think they should all be locked up and deprived of their freedom, because that’s what they’ve been doing to the rest of us.

The first lockdown didn’t achieve anything except depriving people of their normal way of life and this one won’t either.

It’s sad when people die, but the rest of us must get on with our lives. I’m violently opposed to the COVID-19 propaganda and lockdown. I plan to help smash the lockdown by breaking all the restrictions.

I demand my life back. I want it back now!

Paul Brown

The CNJ‘s reports on the rave is available here. (Includes footage.)

More on Protest Pots and Pans

Facts about the pots and pans protest in Denmark and the change in the proposed epidemic law remain hard to verify, as one reader notes:

It is so strange that there is hardly any coverage on main stream news regarding the protests in Denmark. In the Twitter stream there are a few people saying it is not true. Hardly anyone backs up their story with a link to anything official, it all comes back to Twitter and The Local

He has found a story on a local news site, Jyllands-Posten, which does suggest that the story might be true and that the law may be redrafted: (Extracts courtesy of Google Translate)

There has been widespread criticism of the Government’s draft of a new and very far-reaching epidemic law that gives the incumbent Health Minister extensive powers… Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen promised that the Government will look at the bill together with the parliamentary parties. “We will look at the epidemic law again, we take the criticism seriously and a better balance must be found,” she said to the North Jutland radio channel ANR and thus warns of changes in the bill.

Since November 4th, a group of protesters has filled the square in front of Christiansborg with the noise of pots in an attempt to get the politicians’ attention. They want to stop the passage of the epidemic law because they fear that far-reaching powers will be implemented.

The article is available here.

Meanwhile, the idea of a pots-and-pans protest continues to capture our readers’ imagination. We had this in from one yesterday:

Why not go for this on Thursday at 7pm. Get people to flood social media with this protest. Maybe they might sit up and listen like in Denmark

And from another, suggesting an alternative target:

Maybe the pots and pans protest would work better staged outside local and national media stations and offices. Parked vehicles which then sound their horns for two minutes at a designated time would highlight to the purveyors of the scare stories that they cannot have everything their own way. Six o’clock every weekday evening say?

Lockdown: The Right Side of History

YouTuber Kate Wand’s latest video is on the morality of lockdowns, the suffering they cause and the price paid by those who oppose them. It is a reading/visualisation of Stacy Rudin’s article on the American Institute of Economic Research blog.

In the Covid debate, there is a mainstream, “popular” narrative, and a competing, “unpopular” narrative – a “fringe”. The former exploits the common, mediocre desire to be “popular”. Joining the movement is easy. It results in back-pats, validation, and requires no uncomfortable confrontations. This narrative states that it is impossible for humanity to survive the COVID-19 pandemic without a vaccine, lockdowns, and masks, some combination of which will be required into the indefinite future. The narrative supports blaming others for “infecting you” with diseases, rather than encouraging personal responsibility for immune and general health.

Proponents of the competing narrative, on the other hand, must stand up to massive social forces simply to make their arguments, which are not radical: they support a return to classic pandemic management tools, the same ones used by Sweden and other states and countries which did not lock down for COVID-19, which resulted in average mortality for 2020. They do not believe this pandemic warrants a complete overhaul of the economic, social, and educational systems. They believe that every human being should be empowered with truthful information about risk and how to best care for personal health, and to make his or her own choices.

Faced with these competing narratives, we must consider motives and costs. The force of social pressure to conform with the mainstream narrative is large, so we know from the outset that the people willing to argue against it are either insane, or extremely driven, courageous, and strong. It is easy to eliminate the possibility that they are crazy many of them, such as Elon Musk and the scientists who drafted the Great Barrington Declaration are giants in their fields. They risk everything, weathering exhausting personal attacks from all sides, in order to battle the crowd.

Both the article and the video are great and very much worth reading in full or watching in full.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Two today: “No More Tears (Enough is Enough)” by Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand and “The Great Escape – Main Title Music” by Elmer Bernstein.

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Sharing Stories

Some of you have asked how to link to particular stories on Lockdown Sceptics so you can share it. To do that, click on the headline of a particular story and a link symbol will appear on the right-hand side of the headline. Click on the link and the URL of your page will switch to the URL of that particular story. You can then copy that URL and either email it to your friends or post it on social media. Please do share the stories.

Social Media Accounts

You can follow Lockdown Sceptics on our social media accounts which are updated throughout the day. To follow us on Facebook, click here; to follow us on Twitter, click here; to follow us on Instagram, click here; to follow us on Parler, click here; and to follow us on MeWe, click here.

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today we bring you an angsty piece from Teen Vogue, written in the aftermath of the elections across the pond: “Biden’s Call for ‘Unity’ doesn’t square with United States History“.

While it might seem that the country is uniquely divided right now, the United Sates is rooted in contradiction and divisiveness. It was founded through the genocide of Indigenous peoples and flourished through the enslavement of Africans. At its core, America’s values are white supremacy and capitalism. That is true no matter who has been in office.

Biden’s call for a “united America” boils down to nationalist propaganda. Americans have never been united and have been kept apart and pitted against one another by the state. From geographic segregation to immigration bans and racist policing, the United States has privileged the lives and security of some residents at the expense of others. Why should people who have been systematically oppressed, and who have struggled against the government for true freedom, be asked to hold hands with their oppressors?

When it looked for a moment on election night that Trump might take crucial swing states, I sunk into despair and fell asleep. When I woke up and it had become clearer that Biden was going to pull through, I didn’t feel excitement or even safety. I felt exhausted. The next four years will be very different from the Trump era, but they will still be a battle.

Read in full here, or if woke gobbledegook leaves you too exhausted to carry on, read this summary in Breitbart.

Stop Press: It is also worth reading about Senator Tom Cotton’s comments on the erasing of the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s arrival at Cape Cod. From MEAWW.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face masks in shops here.

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

If you’re a shop owner and you want to let your customers know that you will not be insisting on face masks or asking them what their reasons for exemption are, you can download a friendly sign to stick in your window here.

And here’s an excellent piece about the ineffectiveness of masks by a Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry.

Stop Press: Telegraph cartoonist Bob Moran has produced an illustrated thread on masks. It’s a must-read

Stop Press: Shakespeare was an anti-masker! A literary reader has sent us this verse from Venus and Adonis:

Long may they kiss each other, for this cure!
O, never let their crimson liveries wear!
And as they last, their verdure still endure,
To drive infection from the dangerous year!
That the star-gazers, having writ on death,
May say, the plague is banish’d by thy breath.

Venus and Adonis, 526 – 31

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya

The Great Barrington Declaration, a petition started by Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya calling for a strategy of “Focused Protection” (protect the elderly and the vulnerable and let everyone else get on with life), was launched last month and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it ever since. If you Googled it a week after launch, the top hits were three smear pieces from the Guardian, including: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now tops the search results – and Toby’s Spectator piece about the attempt to suppress it is among the top hits – although discussion of it has been censored by Reddit. The reason the zealots hate it, of course, is that it gives the lie to their claim that “the science” only supports their strategy. These three scientists are every bit as eminent – more eminent – than the pro-lockdown fanatics so expect no let up in the attacks. (Wikipedia has also done a smear job.)

You can find it here. Please sign it. Now approaching 700,000 signatures.

Update: The authors of the GDB have expanded the FAQs to deal with some of the arguments and smears that have been made against their proposal. Worth reading in full.

Update 2: Many of the signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration are involved with new UK anti-lockdown campaign Recovery. Find out more and join here.

Update 3: You can watch Sunetra Gupta set out the case for “Focused Protection” here and Jay Bhattacharya make it here.

Update 4: The three GBD authors plus Prof Carl Heneghan of CEBM have launched a new website collateralglobal.org, “a global repository for research into the collateral effects of the COVID-19 lockdown measures”.

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

There are now so many JRs being brought against the Government and its ministers, we thought we’d include them all in one place down here.

First, there’s the Simon Dolan case. You can see all the latest updates and contribute to that cause here.

Then there’s the Robin Tilbrook case. You can read about that and contribute here.

Then there’s John’s Campaign which is focused specifically on care homes. Find out more about that here.

There’s the GoodLawProject’s Judicial Review of the Government’s award of lucrative PPE contracts to various private companies. You can find out more about that here and contribute to the crowdfunder here.

The Night Time Industries Association has instructed lawyers to JR any further restrictions on restaurants, pubs and bars.

And last but not least there’s the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. You can read about that and make a donation here.

Stop Press: The GoodLawProject has announced that it is filing for Judicial Review over the Government’s recruitment of friends and acquaintances to lead key public health bodies. Read more here.

Samaritans

If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.

Quotation Corner

It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.

Mark Twain

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.

Charles Mackay

They who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin

To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions…

Ideology – that is what gives the evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you never should trust experts. If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require to have their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.

Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury

Nothing would be more fatal than for the Government of States to get into the hands of experts. Expert knowledge is limited knowledge and the unlimited ignorance of the plain man, who knows where it hurts, is a safer guide than any rigorous direction of a specialist.

Sir Winston Churchill

If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science.

Richard Feynman

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

C.S. Lewis

The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants.

Albert Camus

We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.

Carl Sagan

Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

George Orwell

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

Marcus Aurelius

Necessity is the plea for every restriction of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

William Pitt the Younger

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments.)

And Finally…

In the latest episode of London Calling, Toby’s weekly podcast with James Delingpole, the two old friends get into quite a heated discussion about the recent US Presidential election result. James still insists that Trump won, while Toby is a little more sceptical. It’s one thing to take the views of CNN and MSNBC with a pinch of salt, but Trump’s legal team haven’t made any headway in the courts either. James gets so cross he calls Toby a “cuck” and says he wouldn’t want to be in a foxhole with him. The podcast was recorded before Trump effectively conceded yesterday, but Toby promises not to gloat next week.

You can listen to the podcast here and subscribe to it on iTunes here. Please recommend it to your friends – last week’s podcast was downloaded 13,052 times, the highest seven-day download the podcast has ever had.

Latest News

A “Careful and Limited” Christmas

Christmas decorations covered by tape in a Cardiff Home Bargains, from Wales Online Image: Matthew Horwood

Ministers from all the UK nations met yesterday to agree plans for the festive period. According to the Cabinet Office, they haven’t yet reached an agreement, although it tried to spin this as “progress”:

Welcoming the good progress made by all administrations over the past few days to design a single set of arrangements that can apply across the UK, Ministers reiterated the importance of allowing families and friends to meet in a careful and limited way, while recognising that this will not be a normal festive period and the risks of transmission remain very real.

As such, Ministers endorsed a shared objective of facilitating some limited additional household bubbling for a small number of days, but also emphasised that the public will be advised to remain cautious, and that wherever possible people should avoid travelling and minimise social contact. 

The Sun was one of several papers briefed on the plans under discussion:

What Brits can do this Christmas:

It is believed a limited number of households will be able to meet up indoors including at the pub

This effectively scraps the rule of six over the five-day period

The relaxed rules will likely come in on Christmas Eve through to the Bank Holiday on December 28

All four UK governments are working on a plan that will allow Brits to travel to meet family

Social bubbles will have to be announced in advance and social distancing is still in place – so hugs are still banned

Assuming the four nations can agree this ‘Christmas bonus’, are we supposed to be grateful? As the Mail on Sunday‘s political columnist Dan Hodges pointed out on Twitter, 12 months ago the idea that the Government would be “allowing” us to spend Christmas with our families and loved ones would have been unthinkable. Have we really been so cowed by the Government’s lurch into authoritarianism that this is good news?

Pubs and Restaurants Bear the Brunt Again

Bob’s Telegraph cartoon on April 3rd

Once again, the hospitality industry is to bear the brunt of Covid restrictions after the national lockdown ends on Dec 2nd. The Telegraph has the story:

Hospitality businesses in Tier 3 will only be allowed to offer takeaways, while those in Tier 2 will only be able to serve alcohol with “substantial meals”.

The measures – which are significantly tougher than under the previous tier system – were described as “catastrophic” by pub chiefs on Sunday night, with a warning that one million jobs are now on the line. While there is bad news for pubs, other restrictions will be lighter than under the old tier system. All shops will be allowed to open in all tiers, together with gyms and places of worship, while recreational sport, including golf, tennis and organised team sports can resume. Cinemas will be allowed to reopen in Tiers 1 and 2, and the advice to “work from home if you can” will remain across the country

What’s particularly cruel about this decision is that there’s no evidence that pubs and restaurants are a major source of infection. According to PHE’s own data, only 4% of COVID-19 outbreaks can be traced back to the venues. On what basis, therefore, is the Government decreeing that non-essential shops, cinemas and gyms can reopen, but pubs and restaurants in Tier 2 and Tier 3 areas have to remain closed?

Opposition is mounting on the Tory back-benches, with the 70-strong Covid Reform Group set to oppose the measures (see round-up below). But that will be small comfort to the affected businesses, particularly as Labour has said it will vote with the Government to get the new restrictions through.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, said the news was “far worse than anyone could have anticipated”.

She said: “This a cruel decision and it just feels as if the whole sector is being thrown to the wolves.

“If the tiers had stayed as they were until March, we were already expecting 94% of businesses in Tier 3 and 74% of businesses in Tier 2 to go to the wall. Now we have restrictions that are even worse.

“We make 25% of our profits in the run-up to Christmas and the Government is taking that away.

“This will have a catastrophic effect on a large number of businesses and all those jobs that were furloughed will now be lost. You are talking about the prospect of a million job losses and 30 to 40,000 premises closing their doors for good.”

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Iain Duncan Smith has written an excellent comment piece in today’s Daily Mail about the catastrophic impact the lockdown-in-all-but-name will have on the economy.

Papiere Bitte!

Several readers have drawn our attention to a new Government scheme which enjoys the backing of the former Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt. Details in the Mailonline:

Britons are set to be given Covid ‘freedom passes’ as long as they test negative for the virus twice in a week, it has been suggested. The details of the scheme are still being ironed out by officials in Whitehall, who hope it will allow the country to get back to normal next year.   

To earn the freedom pass, people will need to be tested regularly and, provided the results come back negative, they will then be given a letter, card or document they can show to people as they move around. 

The certificate would be stored on a phone, according to sources, and would allow people to live a relatively normal life until the Government’s vaccination programme gets up to the speed.  It would even allow Britons to get away without wearing a mask, it is thought, and visit family and friends without the need to socially distance. 

A source told the Telegraph: “They will allow someone to wander down the streets, and if someone else asks why they are not wearing a mask, they can show the card, letter or an App.” 

The connotations of such a scheme are of course, pretty grisly. Aren’t we supposed to be freeborn citizens living in a liberal democracy? Why should we have to earn our freedom every two days? It is worth remembering that Brits were carrying their wartime ID cards until 1952.

The Telegraph reports on talks between the Government and De La Rue, the passport manufacturers, to produce Covid travel certificates for those who’ve recently tested negative and who want to travel abroad:

Ministers have asked passport makers to provide Britons with secure certificates to prove they are not carrying coronavirus and help pave the way for a return to normality next year. City sources said companies including De La Rue are discussing certificates guaranteeing travellers have taken tests for the disease and are not infected. However, talks are at an early stage and could come to nothing, with uncertainty among officials about how to navigate an exit from the pandemic.

Worth reading in full.

We’re not convinced these certificates would only be necessary until a mass vaccination programme gets underway. If they’re put in place, what’s the betting that in six months time you won’t be able to go to the pub or go on holiday without a vaccination certificate?

Churches go Underground

Regular church-goers are following the example of religious people in Communist China and holding clandestine services. The Guardian has more:

Minimal information – time, directions – is quietly given with pleas for discretion. Once everyone is assembled in a barn on a remote farm – “away from prying eyes,” says the organiser – it begins.

This is no rave, but an English church service under lockdown, and the organiser is a Protestant pastor. The Christians who will gather illegally in the west of England on Sunday morning – as they have for the past two Sundays – will pray, read from the scriptures, sing hymns and listen to a sermon.

“We’ve been holding clandestine services since this lockdown began,” the pastor told the Observer, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It feels weird for us to act this way. People have said it feels more like an underground church in China.”

“I never thought I’d say this in Britain, but churches are going underground. These are not isolated cases – and the longer it goes on, more churches will join the movement,” said Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, a conservative evangelical group, and a member of the Church of England’s ruling body, the General Synod.

Andrew, a minister at a London church, said: “We’ve carried on as normal [during the current lockdown]. We’re holding a couple of services each Sunday, with about 160 people attending in total.

“We’ve asked people to be discreet. This is not a stunt we’re pulling, we’re not seeking publicity. It was a big decision – I’ve never practised civil disobedience before.”

Worth reading in full.

The story comes hot on the heels of the closure of bookshop and tearoom – The Mustard Seed – in Gedling which cited the Magna Carta in its bid to stay open. From the BBC:

The owner of the Mustard Seed in Gedling, Nottinghamshire, had already been fined a total of £17,000 for breaching coronavirus rules, the Council said.

She had argued she had a right under the Magna Carta and “common law” to remain open.

On Friday magistrates in Mansfield granted a closure order.

This means the business has to close immediately. Failure to do so could lead to imprisonment, a fine, or both, according to Gedling Borough Council.

Anyone visiting could face the same punishment

Stop Press: A hasidic syngogue in Brooklyn pulled off quite the coup in hosting a maskless wedding for the chief rabbi’s grandson. Details in the New York Post.

A Pots and Pans Protest

Pots and Pans – Protest essentials

It’s hard to come by news of the Danish Government’s reverse ferret on its new, draconian epidemic law – there’s been nothing in the mainstream media – but Lifesite seems to think it’s definitely true.

Nine days of public protest and criticism from medical and professional sources have reportedly forced the Danish Government to back down from its plan to impose a special law regarding diseases that are considered to be “socially critical”.

The draft “epidemilov”, or “epidemic law”, had provisions allowing the use of police to force vaccinations on certain groups defined by the state. While the ruling Social Democrat coalition Government intends to come back with a new or an amended draft law, public outrage has already ensured that it will be under intense scrutiny, especially since all parties except the Social Democrats have voiced their opposition.

This important news turned out to be hard to pin down and is still being presented as fake by Danish commentators on social media, with a number of users claiming to live in Denmark saying they had heard of no demonstrations or change of mind on the part of the Government. Indeed, mainstream international media, including MSN, were silent about the event, which would have gone unnoticed if it were not for local social media users who posted videos of the “pots and pans protest” that put pressure on Danish authorities.

The story has prompted several of our readers to suggest similar action here. We got this yesterday, for instance:

Bash pans for freedom every Thursday

The Danish overturned a mandatory vaccine law by crowds standing outside their Parliament for two weeks apparently though it’s difficult to confirm.

Nevertheless, every Thursday the whole country could come out and bash saucepans for freedom from government tyranny by safety-ism. When was it? 7pm?

No consent to covid-pass. No consent to mass testing. No consent to mandatory vaccination. No consent to Big Pharma given a free pass on financial responsibility for dangerous vaccines. No consent to fascistic policing. No consent to petty fines. No consent to their divide and rule of people with woke policies. No consent to draconian regulations or Acts of Parliament. No consent to rule by dictat

And from another reader:

I read with interest the idea of a pots and pans protest action. What about a service station protest? Where people meet at their nearest service stations, stay in their individual cars and honk their horns/display messages of freedom? I do think people need to be in the same space physically for it to have any impact and I suspect any ban on protesting will remain after lockdown

Even in Japan

A reader has been in touch with more on the Japanese protest outside Shinjuku station in Tokyo that we flagged up a few days ago.

Thought you might be interested to know that resistance is building even among the super polite, face mask-fetishising Japanese. I chanced upon a protest today outside Shinjuku station in Tokyo. There are minimal restrictions here, but the participants are still angry about the pressure to wear face masks at all times, social distancing requirements, Zoom-only university classes, and the constant Corona ‘case numbers’ updates. “We know it’s all bullshit and we’ve had enough,” said one of the organisers I spoke to. There are apparently three separate sceptic groups here but they collaborate closely. There were 800 gathered outside the Japanese Diet building last week, and there was a ‘no mask excursion’ on one of the train lines recently. Interestingly, this protest was extremely good natured, jolly even, and there were zero police in attendance.

Oh, and the sign reads “Corona is a farce”.

Clarification

Yesterday’s item on asymptomatic spread suggested that the results of the Wuhan study were at variance with new guidance from the CDC. This was to misread the CDC’s guidance which was in fact talking about the risk of presymptomatic and asymptomatic spread combined, not just warning of the risk of asymptomatic transmission. Consequently, the CDC’s advice is compatible with the results from Wuhan – at a pinch.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Five Today: “Year of the Plague” by Steven Wilson, “Here Come Those Tears Again” by Jackson Browne, “Tears of A Clown” by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, “My Life” by Billy Joel and “Take Back The Power” by The Interrupters

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Sharing Stories

Some of you have asked how to link to particular stories on Lockdown Sceptics. To do that, click on the headline of a particular story and a link symbol will appear on the right-hand side of the headline. Click on the link and the URL of your page will switch to the URL of that particular story. You can then copy that URL and either email it to your friends or post it on social media. Please do share the stories.

Social Media Accounts

You can follow Lockdown Sceptics on our social media accounts which are updated throughout the day. To follow us on Facebook, click here; to follow us on Twitter, click here; to follow us on Instagram, click here; to follow us on Parler, click here; and to follow us on MeWe, click here.

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today we bring you a multi-coloured mural of Winston Churchill in Cannon place in Brighton, which attracted complaints – but not for the reason you think. The Telegraph has more.

A mural of Winston Churchill wearing stockings and suspenders and giving the V sign (pictured) has attracted complaints from locals who claim the hand gesture is 'offensive'

A multi-coloured mural of Winston Churchill wearing stockings and suspenders was bound to raise eyebrows when it appeared on a wall in one of Brighton’s busiest streets.

However, it is not the former Prime Minister’s suggestive lingerie which has attracted complaints from locals – but the trademark “V” sign he is making with his right hand.

The owner of the property next to where the mural is painted, in Cannon Place, was shocked when he received a call from the Council to say a passer-by had found the gesture offensive. They seemingly believed that Churchill was swearing.

Mr Phillips, who runs the Sandpiper guest house, told the Telegraph he was flabbergasted it was not Churchill’s near-naked bottom half which had prompted criticism, but perhaps the most iconic symbol of Britain’s victory in the Second World War.

“The mural was painted a month ago and a week later the Council contacted me. I thought the complaints were going to be about the stockings – and people told me politicians do a lot of strange things! But people take pictures in front of it all the time. This is Brighton after all, and it’s better than having graffiti on the wall.

“The Council said someone would come over to paint over the hands, which would look really bad. They called me half an hour later and apologised and said it was going to stay.”

Worth reading in full.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face masks in shops here.

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

If you’re a shop owner and you want to let your customers know you will not be insisting on face masks or asking them what their reasons for exemption are, you can download a friendly sign to stick in your window here.

And here’s an excellent piece about the ineffectiveness of masks by a Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya

The Great Barrington Declaration, a petition started by Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya calling for a strategy of “Focused Protection” (protect the elderly and the vulnerable and let everyone else get on with life), was launched last month and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it ever since. If you Googled it a week after launch, the top hits were three smear pieces from the Guardian, including: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now tops the search results – and Toby’s Spectator piece about the attempt to suppress it is among the top hits – although discussion of it has been censored by Reddit. The reason the zealots hate it, of course, is that it gives the lie to their claim that “the science” only supports their strategy. These three scientists are every bit as eminent – more eminent – than the pro-lockdown fanatics so expect no let up in the attacks. (Wikipedia has also done a smear job.)

You can find it here. Please sign it. Now approaching 700,000 signatures.

Update: The authors of the GDB have expanded the FAQs to deal with some of the arguments and smears that have been made against their proposal. Worth reading in full.

Update 2: Many of the signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration are involved with new UK anti-lockdown campaign Recovery. Find out more and join here.

Update 3: You can watch Sunetra Gupta set out the case for “Focused Protection” here and Jay Bhattacharya make it here.

Update 4: The three GBD authors plus Prof Carl Heneghan of CEBM have launched a new website collateralglobal.org, “a global repository for research into the collateral effects of the COVID-19 lockdown measures”.

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

There are now so many JRs being brought against the Government and its ministers, we thought we’d include them all in one place down here.

First, there’s the Simon Dolan case. You can see all the latest updates and contribute to that cause here.

Then there’s the Robin Tilbrook case. You can read about that and contribute here.

Then there’s John’s Campaign which is focused specifically on care homes. Find out more about that here.

There’s the GoodLawProject’s Judicial Review of the Government’s award of lucrative PPE contracts to various private companies. You can find out more about that here and contribute to the crowdfunder here.

The Night Time Industries Association has instructed lawyers to JR any further restrictions on restaurants, pubs and bars.

Christian Concern and over 100 church leaders are JR-ing the Government over its insistence on closing churches during the lockdowns. Read about it here.

And last but not least there’s the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. You can read about that and make a donation here.

Samaritans

If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.

Quotation Corner

It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.

Mark Twain

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.

Charles Mackay

They who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin

To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions…

Ideology – that is what gives the evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you never should trust experts. If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require to have their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.

Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury

Nothing would be more fatal than for the Government of States to get into the hands of experts. Expert knowledge is limited knowledge and the unlimited ignorance of the plain man, who knows where it hurts, is a safer guide than any rigorous direction of a specialist.

Sir Winston Churchill

If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science.

Richard Feynman

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

C.S. Lewis

The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants.

Albert Camus

We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.

Carl Sagan

Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

George Orwell

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

Marcus Aurelius

Necessity is the plea for every restriction of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

William Pitt the Younger

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments.)

And Finally…

Latest News

Lockdown 2.0 to End in Tiers

Boris is expected to announce his post-lockdown Covid plans on Monday. The Telegraph has the details.

England’s national lockdown will end on Dec 2nd but be replaced by a new harsher three-tier system, Boris Johnson will announce on Monday.

More areas will be placed into the higher tiers than before the lockdown after warnings from SAGE scientists that the previous levels of restrictions were not strong enough and a tougher regional approach was needed.

The Telegraph can also reveal that everywhere from factories and offices to towns and cities will be blitzed with mass testing if cases start to rise, under plans to be set out this week.

The Prime Minister’s “Covid winter plan” is expected to place more areas into the higher tiers to ensure further restrictions are not needed.

While some local measures will be similar to those in the previous system, some tiers will be strengthened to safeguard the gains made during the national lockdown.

Last night it emerged that the 10pm curfew for restaurants and pubs – which has been severely criticised by Tory MPs – is likely to be extended to 11pm when the tiers are published on Monday.   

Final details will be signed off at a meeting of the Cabinet today. Details of the new tougher tiers system, which comes into force on Dec 3rd, will be announced on Monday, with the final decision on which areas are in which tiers on Thursday. The plan will set out how people will be able to spend their Christmas, but ministers have made clear that the ­festive season will be different to ­normal, with some restrictions expected to remain in place.

This is sad news indeed, not least as it suggests the lockdown logic of the likes of Professor Ferguson is still dominating Downing Street thinking, with small relief to be taken from the curfew on bars being moved to 11pm. Happily it looks like Boris can expect stiff resistance from the Conservative back benches.

Boris Johnson’s plans for a new toughened three-tiered system to replace the national lockdown next week is under threat after 70 Conservative MPs threatened to veto the plans in Parliament. The Tory MPs on Saturday wrote to the Prime Minister saying they could not support further new restrictions if the Government does not publish an economic analysis of the impact of the restrictions… The number of signatories to the letter is more than enough than the 43 Tory MPs to defeat the Government’s 85-strong working majority in the Commons if Labour votes against the plans when they are put to MPs next week.

Referring to the previous tiered system of restrictions, which were not as onerous as the ones set to be proposed this week, the Conservative MPs told Mr Johnson: “The tiered restrictions approach in principle attempts to link virus prevalence with measures to tackle it, but it’s vital we remember always that even the tiered system of restrictions infringes deeply upon people’s lives with huge health and economic costs.”

It is also worth listening to the Planet Normal podcast interview with Steve Baker, Vice-Char of the Covid Recovery group, on the prospects of a back bench rebellion.

Stop Press: A Telegraph survey has found that one in four will break the rules at Christmas.

There is No Asymptomatic Spread

A new paper in Nature has struck a blow against the Covid orthodoxy of asymptomatic spread. Following the lockdown, the city government of Wuhan conducted a city-wide nucleic acid screening for SARS-CoV-2. It was carried out on an impressive scale:

There were 10,652,513 eligible people aged ≥6 years in Wuhan (94.1% of the total population). The nucleic acid screening was completed in 19 days (from May 14th, 2020 to Jun 1st, 2020), and tested a total of 9,899,828 persons from the 10,652,513 eligible people (participation rate, 92.9%). Of the 9899,828 participants, 9,865,404 had no previous diagnosis of COVID-19, and 34,424 were recovered COVID-19 patients.

The results make good reading for lockdown sceptics.

The detection rate of asymptomatic positive cases was very low, and there was no evidence of transmission from asymptomatic positive persons to traced close contacts. There were no asymptomatic positive cases in 96.4% of the residential communities.

Previous studies have shown that asymptomatic individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus were infectious, and might subsequently become symptomatic. Compared with symptomatic patients, asymptomatic infected persons generally have low quantity of viral loads and a short duration of viral shedding, which decrease the transmission risk of SARS-CoV-2. In the present study, virus culture was carried out on samples from asymptomatic positive cases, and found no viable SARS-CoV-2 virus. All close contacts of the asymptomatic positive cases tested negative, indicating that the asymptomatic positive cases detected in this study were unlikely to be infectious.

The report in Nature is a bit technical, but very much worth reading in full.

Lockdown Sceptics readers will recall that Dr Maria van Kerkhove, the technical lead of COVID-19 response and the head of the emerging diseases and zoonosis unit at the World Health Organisation, said the same thing about asymptomatic transmission at a WHO press conference on June 8th:

Question: It’s a question about asymptomatic transmission, if I may. I know the WHO’s previously said there are no documented cases of this. We had a story out of Singapore saying that at least half of the new cases they are seeing have no symptoms and I’m wondering whether its possible this has a bigger role than the WHO initially thought in propagating the pandemic.

Dr Maria Van Kerkhove: We have a number of reports from countries who are doing very detailed contact tracing. They are following asymptomatic cases, they are following contacts and they are not finding secondary transmission onward. It’s very rare and much of that is not published in the literature.

The comment drew sharp criticism at the time, and the WHO swiftly explained that there had been a “misunderstanding”. We will look out for a further update.

Stop Press: The Centre for Disease Control might also want to take a look at these results. They have just released new guidance saying that “Most SARS-CoV-2 infections are spread by people without symptoms“. Not in Wuhan they weren’t.

Covid Immunity is for the Long Haul

Another good news study. This time on the long-term immune responses to Covid. Details in Nature:

The immune system’s memory of the new coronavirus lingers for at least six months in most people. Sporadic accounts of coronavirus reinfection and reports of rapidly declining antibody levels have raised concerns that immunity to SARS-CoV-2 could dwindle within weeks of recovery from infection. Shane Crotty at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology in California and his colleagues analysed markers of the immune response in blood samples from 185 people who had a range of COVID-19 symptoms; 41 study participants were followed for at least 6 months. The team found that participants’ immune responses varied widely. But several components of immune memory of SARS-CoV-2 tended to persist for at least 6 months. 

The study has not been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal but it is the most comprehensive long-range study on immune memory to the coronavirus to date. The New York Times has further details.

Eight months after infection, most people who have recovered still have enough immune cells to fend off the virus and prevent illness, the new data show. A slow rate of decline in the short term suggests, happily, that these cells may persist in the body for a very, very long time to come.

“That amount of memory would likely prevent the vast majority of people from getting hospitalized disease, severe disease, for many years,” said Shane Crotty, a virologist at the La Jolla Institute of Immunology who co-led the new study.

The research squares with findings from elsewhere.

The findings are consistent with encouraging evidence emerging from other labs. Researchers at the University of Washington, led by the immunologist Marion Pepper, had earlier shown that certain “memory” cells that were produced following infection with the coronavirus persist for at least three months in the body.

A study published last week also found that people who have recovered from COVID-19 have powerful and protective killer immune cells even when antibodies are not detectable.

This is happy news, but it came as no surprise to Dr Yeadon, commenting on the NYT article:

Genuinely good news, but not a surprise. Per the article, those recovered from SARS still have vigorous T-cell responses 17y later. Humans are good at becoming immune to this virus. That’s great. That’s why vaccines work yet will be needed by so few.

Twitter, @MichaelYeadon3 17 Nov 8.47 pm

The NYT article is worth reading in full.

You can read the study here.

Protests Spreading Faster than the Virus

A protestor holds aloft a quote from Dr Mike Yeadon at a rally in Bournemouth

Hundreds came out to march against the lockdown yesterday in Bournemouth, Liverpool, Basildon and Hyde Park. The Daily Mail has a full report.

At least 22 people have today been arrested after anti-lockdown protesters clashed with police when hundreds took to the streets in an ongoing fight against coronavirus restrictions.   

Rallies were held in Bournemouth, London and Liverpool, where a growing crowd chanted “freedom” as they marched through the city centre in the rain this afternoon.

The group in Merseyside were shepherded by police, who later moved in to make arrests, with some demonstrators seen being pepper sprayed as they grappled with officers on the ground. It is thought that the protest began at 1pm and started with around 100 people gathered on Church Street before the group grew significantly in size.

At least 13 people were arrested during the demonstration in Liverpool, Merseyside Police confirmed. Among those detained was a 36 year-old man from Kirkby, who was arrested on suspicion of assault of an emergency worker after an officer was pushed to the chest on Church Street.   

Rallies were also held in London, where the Metropolitan Police confirmed four were arrested for breach of COVID-19 regulations after gathering at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park.

Officers confirmed those detained remained in custody this afternoon while the “remainder of the crowd have been dispersed”.     

Michael Walsh, of the Central West Command Unit, said: “We take reports of breaches of COVID-19 restrictions seriously. We are still in a pandemic and it is extremely selfish of a small minority of people to carry on without regard for the regulations.”

There were similar scenes on the south coast, with social distancing nowhere to be seen as activists marched through the seaside town of Bournemouth, holding placards reading “freedom” and “the pandemic is over”.

As street protests are repeatedly being met with arrests and dispersal orders, here’s an idea from a reader, previously posted in the comments, but worth flagging here following yesterday’s item.

Shall we set in motion “unarrestable” protests?

Say, on 1/12/20, i.e. before they renew lockdown from December 2nd, an en masse sit in in cars outside of parliament hooting horns.

Or in the queues caused by extra London cycle lanes.

Or on motorways (a go-slow, like when they tried to increase fuel duty).

Or even everyone, everywhere in the country wherever they are but at a given time (will have to be co-ordinated) all hooting their horns.

A bit like the gilets jaune protests but no-one is breaking the law

On the subject of protests, another reader has asked an interesting question.

Just curious in light of all the news about retailers going into administration. Why do you think they are not taking out full-page adverts in the major newspapers to complain about the lockdown?

Locally, various retail-park retailers including the Range, Poundland and B&M are still open and crammed to the gunwales with COVID-19-transmitting (ahem) people bringing their kids for a trip out, while TK Maxx, Debenhams and Ikea are closed.

Why have clothes and shoes shops been closed? Are they not selling essential items? All it’s done is force people who need ‘essential’ coats and shoes into the food retailers. It feels like the major non-food retailers are somehow benefitting from the enforced lockdown. How? Why? And why are the other retailers not complaining loudly?

Your comments welcomed! Sending this to my MP who will ignore it.

If anyone has thoughts on this, and feels like stepping in for the MP, do please get in touch here.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Just one song today: “Don’t fence me in” by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters.

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Sharing stories: Some of you have asked how to link to particular stories on Lockdown Sceptics. The answer used to be to first click on “Latest News”, then click on the links that came up beside the headline of each story. But we’ve changed that so the link now comes up beside the headline whether you’ve clicked on “Latest News” or you’re just on the Lockdown Sceptics home page. Please do share the stories with your friends and on social media.

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today we’re flagging up an item from the Society books section of the Guardian: “How ‘woke’ became the word of our era.”

But what is ‘woke’? Most online dictionaries define it as a perceived awareness of inequality and other forms of injustice that are normally racial in nature. A few describe the term as characterising people who are merely ‘with it’– as in, every cool kid you knew at uni. And increasingly, these days, many use it as a pejorative term to describe someone who is a slave to identity politics. How can all three possibly be the same? It’s a sensibility, a quality, a state of being, a feeling backed up by a set of actions, sometimes all these things at once.

I can’t think of a word that reflects the era as well as ‘woke’ does. There is its relative newness (it was born and grew up alongside social media), its popularity as a hashtag and its political implications and activist leanings. There’s also its journey from black culture to the internet and mainstream news. All theses qualities are extremely particular to this moment.

Confession: I dislike the word (especially since 2016, when MTV declared the term the new “on fleek”.) Ironic, considering I am textbook woke. I identified with what it was but cringe at what it has come to mean, and bristle at the way the word is now weaponised. The disparity compels me to interrogate the term and its evolution. As Susan Sontag writes in Notes on ‘Camp’, which inspired this essay, “no one who wholeheartedly shares in a given sensibility can analyse it; he can only, whatever his intention, exhibit it. To name a sensibility, to draw its contours and to recount its history, requires a deep sympathy modified by revulsion.” So let’s consider what woke is, and what it isn’t…

If woke gobbledegook is the sort of thing you enjoy, this article is most definitely worth reading in full.

Alternatively, read John Redwood’s latest post on his blog: “Politically correct speaking.”

Stop Press: Another literary giant has fallen foul of woke standards. This time its Ted Hughes. The British Library has flagged the poet as implicated in the slave trade thanks to the actions of a distant ancestor.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face masks in shops here.

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

If you’re a shop owner and you want to let your customers know you want be insisting on face masks or asking them what their reasons for exemption are, you can download a friendly sign to stick in your window here.

And here’s an excellent piece about the ineffectiveness of masks by a Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya

The Great Barrington Declaration, a petition started by Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya calling for a strategy of “Focused Protection” (protect the elderly and the vulnerable and let everyone else get on with life), was launched last month and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it ever since. If you Googled it a week after launch, the top hits were three smear pieces from the Guardian, including: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now tops the search results – and Toby’s Spectator piece about the attempt to suppress it is among the top hits – although discussion of it has been censored by Reddit. The reason the zealots hate it, of course, is that it gives the lie to their claim that “the science” only supports their strategy. These three scientists are every bit as eminent – more eminent – than the pro-lockdown fanatics so expect no let up in the attacks. (Wikipedia has also done a smear job.)

You can find it here. Please sign it. Now approaching 700,000 signatures.

Update: The authors of the GDB have expanded the FAQs to deal with some of the arguments and smears that have been made against their proposal. Worth reading in full.

Update 2: Many of the signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration are involved with new UK anti-lockdown campaign Recovery. Find out more and join here.

Update 3: You can watch Sunetra Gupta set out the case for “Focused Protection” here and Jay Bhattacharya make it here.

Update 4: The three GBD authors plus Prof Carl Heneghan of CEBM have launched a new website collateralglobal.org, “a global repository for research into the collateral effects of the COVID-19 lockdown measures”.

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

There are now so many JRs being brought against the Government and its ministers, we thought we’d include them all in one place down here.

First, there’s the Simon Dolan case. You can see all the latest updates and contribute to that cause here.

Then there’s the Robin Tilbrook case. You can read about that and contribute here.

Then there’s John’s Campaign which is focused specifically on care homes. Find out more about that here.

There’s the GoodLawProject’s Judicial Review of the Government’s award of lucrative PPE contracts to various private companies. You can find out more about that here and contribute to the crowdfunder here.

The Night Time Industries Association has instructed lawyers to JR any further restrictions on restaurants, pubs and bars.

Christian Concern and over 100 church leaders are JR-ing the Government over its insistence on closing churches during the lockdowns. Read about it here.

And last but not least there’s the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. You can read about that and make a donation here.

Samaritans

If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.

Quotation Corner

It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.

Mark Twain

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.

Charles Mackay

They who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin

To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions…

Ideology – that is what gives the evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you never should trust experts. If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require to have their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.

Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury

Nothing would be more fatal than for the Government of States to get into the hands of experts. Expert knowledge is limited knowledge and the unlimited ignorance of the plain man, who knows where it hurts, is a safer guide than any rigorous direction of a specialist.

Sir Winston Churchill

If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science.

Richard Feynman

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

C.S. Lewis

The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants.

Albert Camus

We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.

Carl Sagan

Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

George Orwell

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

Marcus Aurelius

Necessity is the plea for every restriction of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

William Pitt the Younger, House of Commons 18 November 1783

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments.)

And Finally…

Check out this bit from Simon Evans’s set at Comedy Unleashed. He performed the same set at the Free Speech Union’s comedy night, but this was the following day – on November 4th, our last day of freedom. Should raise a smile.