Luke Perry

News Round-Up

NHS Providers Chief Tells U.K. to Brace for “Tighter Restrictions”

Chris Hopson, the Chief Executive of NHS Providers, has said that the country should prepare for “tighter restrictions”, arguing that additional Covid measures may be needed to curb the spread of the Omicron variant in order to save the NHS from being overburdened by Covid patients. The Guardian has the story.

Boris Johnson must be ready to restrict social mixing to stop hospitals being overwhelmed by an Omicron-driven surge in Covid cases, a senior NHS leader has said.

The rapid spread of the new variant means the Prime Minister may have to introduce “tighter restrictions, at real speed” to reduce the number of people falling ill with Covid.

But any new curbs would take two weeks to cut the number of people needing hospital treatment, added Chris Hopson, the Chief Executive of NHS Providers.

His comments came as a leading scientist predicted that the sharp increase in Covid infections seen in recent days means that the NHS will be overwhelmed “quite quickly”.

Professor Peter Openshaw, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG), warned exposure to only “a whiff of infected breath” could lead to catching the Omicron variant.

He also said that mingling during New Year celebrations may well lead to a further increase in those testing positive.

Hopson said that hospital chiefs understood that the Government had set “a high threshold” for how much pressure the NHS would need to be under from Covid before it would tighten the rules.

“Trust leaders can see why the Government is arguing that, in the absence of a surge of a large number of seriously ill older people coming into hospital, that threshold has not yet been crossed,” Hopson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“But we still don’t know if that surge will come. Indeed, the NHS is preparing for it right now,” he added. Eight hospitals in England have begun creating their own “mini-Nightingale” on site to help care for patients at “super-surge” capacity.

Hopson added: “We are therefore in the same place we have been in for the last fortnight. The Government needs to be ready to introduce tighter restrictions, at real speed, should they be needed.”

Worth reading in full.

Bill de Blasio’s Successor as Mayor of New York City Vows to Retain Private Sector Vaccine Mandate

On New Year’s Day, New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams will be sworn into office, replacing the outgoing Bill de Blasio. But little will change regarding the city’s Covid restrictions, such as a vaccine mandate requiring all private sector workers to be jabbed. Adams has selected de Blasio’s Health Department Commissioner, Dr. Dave Choksi, to be part of the incoming administration; looking to the future, Choksi declared that, “the private sector employer mandate will stay in effect in the new year”. The Mail has more.

Mayor-elect Eric Adams has promised a seamless transition regarding the city’s Covid response, including keeping outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio’s planned mandate that private businesses require vaccination for all employees.

“We can’t shut down our city again. We can’t allow the city to go further into economic despair,” Adams during a morning press conference on Thursday, where he unveiled his six-point plan to combat Covid.

At the beginning of December, de Blasio announced what he called a “pre-emptive strike” to prevent another wave of the virus, forcing private employers to require all on-site workers get their shots. 

Businesses were required to start showing proof of employee vaccinations on December 27th, per the policy. The mandate covers all companies in the five boroughs, from Goldman Sachs to the corner bodega. 

Adams’ health advisers are currently mulling the idea to include booster shots in the current vaccine mandates, meaning employers would have to hound their workers to get a third shot. 

School vaccination mandates could also be on the table, officials said. The health commissioner said that his working group will also study a requirement for all public school children to get vaccinated by spring. 

The Big Apple chalked a record 44,000 new cases on Thursday, the largest one-day number since the pandemic began. Governor Kathy Hochul also announced that New York state saw a record 74,207 daily cases on Thursday.

“The private sector employer mandate will stay in effect in the new year with the focus on compliance not punishment,” Health Department Commissioner Dr. Dave Choksi, who will stay on in Adams’ administration, said Thursday.    

“We know businesses share our goal of keeping their staff and their clients safe and their doors open,” he said. “To put it simply, Covid is bad for business and vaccination ensures not just health but also a healthy economy.”

City bars and restaurants have also closed down because of the increase in Omicron infections and the Times Square New Year’s Eve festivities, traditionally an economic driver for Midtown Manhattan, have been pared down from 58,000 to 15,000 revellers. 

Adams will have his inauguration ceremony at the event, after cancelling the in-person event on Saturday, in a move to symbolize that New York City will stay open.  

Worth reading in full.

Latest NHS Data Shows Number of Covid Hospital Patients Half What it Was This Time Last Year

Our in-house doctor reflects on the year gone by, noting the Daily Sceptic’s excellent track record of identifying important issues about the NHS’s management of Covid months before the mainstream media.

As 2021 draws to a close, it is customary to reflect on the year gone by and to anticipate what the new one might bring. Looking back, it isn’t excessively hubristic to feel pride in the achievements of the Daily Sceptic community. We have established a good track record of identifying major issues around the NHS’s management of the pandemic before they became widely known.

We identified high rates of nosocomial infection. Denied by the NHS, then accepted. We spotted errors in attribution of deaths to Covid which were due to other causes. Denied, then accepted. We have exposed numerous public misrepresentations of data by NHS leaders. Often denied then reluctantly accepted, sometimes under pressure from the Office for National Statistics. False positives yielded by PCR Tests? Officially denied. Yesterday accepted by the U.S. Government.

Most recently we noticed a substantial proportion of hospital inpatients classified as Covid were in fact incidental infections. Denied, and ignored until this week when the rest of the commentariat suddenly discovered the Primary Diagnosis Supplement, published weekly since July. We have been analysing that data regularly since the summer. For much of the last 18 months I have been repeatedly struck by the observation by the American writer and politician Upton Sinclair – “It is impossible to get a man to understand something if his livelihood depends on him not understanding it.”

This helps explain why, for the last 12 months, the Daily Sceptic has failed to make much of an impact, but something has changed in the last couple of weeks. Even the Guardian now accept that the figures on ‘Covid admissions’ grossly overstate the number of patients acutely unwell, and if opinion polls can be believed, our points seem finally to be landing with the public at large.

Scottish Government Admits That Hundreds of ‘Covid Patients’ Have Been Hospitalised for Other Reasons

Since the arrival of the Omicron variant, the Scottish Government has refused to release any data about how many Covid patients have been admitted to hospital because of the virus, as opposed to those who have been hospitalised primarily due to other ailments, with SNP Health Secretary Humza Yousaf unable to provide any accurate information. Nevertheless, Yousaf still implied that the confirmed total number of Covid hospitalisations includes those who have tested positive for the virus but were admitted to hospital due to another ailment and are being treated for that, not Covid. The revelation has led Tory MSP Murdo Fraser, Chairman of the Scottish Covid Recovery Group, to accuse the SNP of bringing in draconian restrictions which aren’t justified by the facts. The Telegraph has more.

Humza Yousaf was unable to say on Thursday how many patients on wards included in official figures were in hospital primarily because they were suffering from Covid, and how many were admitted for other conditions and only tested positive only after routine testing.

He claimed advice from Gregor Smith, Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, was that the “majority” of people recorded as Covid patients were in hospital “due to Covid”, raising the prospect that hundreds of the 810 people classed as virus patients on Thursday were actually admitted for unrelated ailments.

Murdo Fraser, the Covid recovery spokesman for the Scottish Tories, said he was “not convinced” that new curbs, such as the forced closure of nightclubs, the banning of mass events and restrictions on hospitality businesses, were based on sound data.

Data from hospitals in England suggests that around a third of hospital patients officially counted as Covid cases are so-called “incidental” admissions, meaning they may have been admitted for conditions such as broken bones and then tested positive. In London, data suggests the figure is around 50%.

Studies have also shown that the omicron variant, which now makes up around 80% of cases in Scotland, results in far less serious illness than previous strains.

However, the SNP Government has so far refused to release figures showing the proportion of people classed as Covid hospital patients who were admitted primarily because of the virus, since the Omicron variant emerged.

“South of the border the data would seem to suggest that it’s only a minority who are in hospital because of Covid,” Fraser said.

“What’s really concerning is the [Scottish] Government either don’t have the data, which is really worrying as they’re taking decisions without this information, or are not prepared to share it with the public or with parliament.

“The data would be able to inform the public as to whether the choices currently being made by the Scottish Government, which are restricting people’s liberty and having a major impact on businesses, are justifiable.”

He added: “We need to ensure that the decisions that are being made, which are affecting people’s liberty and having a major impact on business, are being underpinned by evidence, and I’m not convinced that’s the case.”

Worth reading in full.

News Round-Up

EFL Stops Match-Day Testing to Prevent Fixture Disruption

The English Football League (EFL), which is composed of all professional football clubs in the Championship, League One, and League Two, has announced that match-day testing will be stopped in order to limit the impact of fixture disruption, which has become a potent problem over the festive period. After receiving advice from medical experts, the EFL will now only conduct match-day tests on players if they express symptoms. The Times has the story.

The EFL has scrapped match-day testing for Covid in an attempt to limit fixture disruption for clubs and supporters.

The decision has been taken after consultation with medical advisers after it became clear that the existing requirement was causing concern and uncertainty at clubs as well as affecting fans.

Cancellations of matches due to the combination of Covid and injuries have been widespread throughout the EFL, with last-minute postponements bringing practical and financial challenges.

Over the past week, EFL chiefs have sought advice from medics and have now decided to remove match-day testing, other than for any symptomatic individuals. Correspondence to clubs was circulated yesterday.

The approach is supported by the league’s board, executive and a significant number of club doctors and fits with the EFL’s commitment to play matches. They insist the health and safety of players is not being compromised.

The decision was also taken in the knowledge that players are effectively in a bubble leading up to a game and, for example, may be with the team in a hotel. They are not out socialising.

An EFL spokesman said: “Over the past week, it has become clear that the requirement for match-day testing has caused significant concern and uncertainty at clubs as well as seriously affecting the supporters of those teams.

“As a result, the League revisited the matter with its Medical Advisors and after careful consideration, which included dialogue with a significant number of club doctors, it was determined that the requirement for matchday testing would be removed, except for those individuals who display Covid symptoms.

Worth reading in full.

Unvaccinated Sports Stars Now Unable to Play in Italy

Italy has introduced a mandatory vaccination requirement for all outdoor sports competitors, with those entering the country to play in international tournaments also subjected to the same rules. This would mean that any unjabbed English rugby player will be excluded from the squad, which is due to play Italy in the Six Nations on February 13th. MailOnline has more.

Italy has joined France in making vaccination compulsory for anyone wanting to play outdoor team sports, meaning Premier League players will need to be jabbed in order to move to Serie A this January. 

The Italian Government met this week to implement urgent changes to its Covid restrictions, with every sportsperson in the country, from the professional game to the amateur divisions, needing a ‘Green Pass’ in order to take part.

The ‘Green Pass’ is given out 15 days after a person has been vaccinated for the first time, with the Covid passport-style document also needed to enter swimming pools, festivals, religious buildings, hotels and public transport.

It is unlikely to affect Italy’s top football division as it was revealed earlier this month that 98% of all Serie A footballers are double-jabbed in a league that has been unaffected by the Omicron variant so far.

It is not known how many Liverpool players are vaccinated, though the Premier League did reveal that 16% of top-flight footballers are yet to receive their first dose of the vaccine. 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has been fully supportive of players getting vaccinated and claimed earlier this month that the club would not be signing any new players who have not had both doses. 

“I think it (being vaccinated) will be influential, definitely, in who clubs sign,” said the Liverpool manager. “If a player is not vaccinated at all, he is a constant threat for all of us.

“He doesn’t want to be a threat, it’s not that he thinks ‘I don’t care about the others’ but he is.”

Meanwhile, the England rugby team go to Italy on February 13th for their Six Nations clash, so any players who are not jabbed will be banned from playing. 

The new restrictions, which will begin on January 6 when Serie A resumes after its winter break, also affect the fans, who will need a ‘Green Pass’ in order to enter stadia at any level. 

Those sports stars who are double-jabbed will also be exempt from any quarantine rules, but are advised to wear a mask for up to a week after their arrival. 

Worth reading in full.

Australian Medical Experts Say Three Booster Jabs Should Be Administered A Year

Analysing data on the effectiveness of the Pfizer and Moderna booster jabs provided by the U.K Health Security Agency (UKHSA), some Australian medical experts have said that three annual booster jabs will be needed for the foreseeable future. For example, Jaya Dantas, a Professor of International Health, declared that “it appears that there might be a need for regular boosters”. The Guardian has the story.

Australians may have to receive two or even three Covid jabs each year to maintain defences against the virus if early results on the efficacy of booster shots turn out to be a useful guide.

Weekly data published just before Christmas by the U.K.’s Health Security Agency shows the effectiveness of both the Pfizer and Moderna boosters against symptomatic diseases is lower for the Omicron than the Delta variant across all periods after the injection.

The analysis included 147,597 Delta and 68,489 Omicron cases in the U.K. The agency stressed the “results should be interpreted with caution due to the low counts and the possible biases related to the populations with highest exposure to Omicron (including travellers and their close contacts) which cannot fully be accounted for”.

The U.K. data showed both Pfizer and Moderna boosters had 90% effectiveness against symptomatic diseases from the Delta variant up to at least nine weeks.

By contrast, efficacy against the Omicron strain was about 30% lower, and appeared to drop away further after nine weeks.

Israel has already begun administering a second booster dose to follow the original three-dose treatment, and at least one U.S. medical centre is considering recommending staff have a second booster.

Medical experts in Australia said results beyond the 12-week dataset would be needed to get a longer term picture.

Jaya Dantas, a Professor of International Health at Curtin University, said it was still early days for the understanding of the efficacy of the vaccinations but “it appears that there might be a need for regular boosters”.

“You might need boosters, say maybe two a year or three a year,” Dantas said, with elderly people more likely to be in line for a triple annual dose…

Michael Lydeamore, an infectious disease modeller at Monash University, said it was reassuring from the U.K. study that “no matter what your initial first two vaccine doses were – so either AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna – you get basically the same protection” from the Pfizer or Moderna booster.

“That’s really important, because we know the AstraZeneca protection is a bit lower to start with than Pfizer,” Lydeamore said “But both go up to about the same level after a booster, so that’s really good.”

Worth reading in full.

We Need More CO2 In The Atmosphere, Not Less

We’re publishing a guest post by journalist Chris Morrison questioning whether rising CO2 levels really will lead to a catastrophic rise in global temperatures. Should we instead be worrying about the risks of falling levels of CO2?

Phew what a relief – along came humans just in time to rescue planet Earth by releasing a portion of carbon sequestered in the ground to finally put the brake on the carbon dioxide famine that was threatening to wipe out all living life forms.

Implausible? Well, the hypothesis is unproven, although it is promoted by many eminent scientists. But then the suggestion that small increases in atmospheric CO2 are leading to runaway global heating and climate breakdown is also an unproven scientific hypothesis supported by many eminent scientists.

What is certain is that the science is not yet settled, despite the increasingly successful efforts of neo-Marxist green activists, useful idiot journalists, here today-gone tomorrow politicians and grant-hungry, self-identifying ‘scientists’ to whip up a ‘climate emergency’ that can only be addressed by a massive increase in state intervention, control and power.

Earlier this year Steven Koonin, an Under-Secretary of Science in the Obama Administration, published a book titled Unsettled in which he noted that “the science is insufficient to make useful projections about how the climate will change over the coming decades, much less what our actions will have on it”.

He also noted that “rigidly promulgating the idea that climate change is ‘settled’ (or is a ‘hoax’) demeans and chills the scientific enterprise, retarding its progress in these important matters. Uncertainty is a prime mover and motivator of science and must be faced head on.”