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PCR Test Lab Chaos Exposed by Children’s Magazine

A feature in children’s science magazine How It Works has inadvertently shone a light on the wholly inadequate standards in the Milton Keynes PCR testing “megalab” in the spring. Among the accidental revelations of the interview with two lab workers, Beth and Ben, is that the quality control was so poor that the error rate was estimated to be around 30%.

A Lockdown Sceptics reader has summarised the key points (all points are his unless they’ve been put in quotation marks).

1) Long 12 hour shifts with inadequate breaks.

2) Adverse regimental discipline of time management that gravitated into bullying.

3) No Health and Safety training for a BSL2 facility as well as no induction in biohazards and the biology of contagion with a focus on SARS-CoV-2.

4) New starters rushed into a BSL2/3 environment in the absence of scrutiny of CVs/clinical assessment by an occupational health physician (e.g. personnel of unknown health/immunisation status/no determination of Hepatitis B immunisation status/no suggestion of or opportunity for Hepatitis B Vaccination).

5) Haphazard on-the-job-training by individuals with unknown expertise.

6) Recruitment of personnel with no proper assessment even of the most rudimentary skills for a biosecure laboratory.

7) PCR test error rate ~30%. Beth says: “I don’t know the percentage error at the moment, but when I was there I think it was a 30% error rate. That’s fairly high, but you have to remember that, in normal science, you do everything at least three times, whereas there you have one go at it. I do PCR tests a lot, and the threshold would usually be pretty high. But, in this circumstance it was low (i.e., high Cts) because they wanted to account for any detection of the virus. There are a lot of factors that can influence a test and I think when you do a test you should take it with a pinch of salt. You should definitely question a negative result if you know you have symptoms.” With high Cts to pick up any viral fragments you should also question a positive result, even with retesting.

What does this mean for the people working in the COVID-19 lab? Well, after each rack of 94 sample tubes have been processed, these tubes still containing unactivated biohazardous material (and now potentially contaminating the outside surface of almost every tube) are transferred in a plastic bag with a knot tied in it to a four degrees C cold room. Then, when a spurious COVID-19 test result comes back flagged by a biomedical scientist (safely cocooned in a positive-pressure room where the PCR machines inhabit), those at the sharp end have to go into the cold room and open up the plastic bags to fish around for the biosample tubes that need to be re-tested.

According to Beth this occurred 30% of the time – 30 out of every 100 samples. To venture into the cold room to perform this function is a really dangerous operation as the sealed plastic bags are like mini humidifying chambers, so when the bags are opened the aerosolised contents are released into the enclosed environment of the cold room. Therefore, air in the room over time will become contaminated with increasing concentrations of these aerosols, making just entry into this cold room very risky even if you don’t open any bags.

8) “Threshold for detection was low (i.e., high Cts) as they wanted to account for the detection of any virus.” This means the detection of signals in the samples being defined as positive when in fact they could be artefactual or due to cross-contamination between samples, or even picking up contaminants in the facility environment including personnel i.e., false positives.

9) Beth says: “There was no PPE a lot of the time when we were all together… There was less focus on social distance (and safety)” (and more focus on productivity). “I was surprised how little thinking I was required to do. I remember thinking ‘what if I don’t know enough?’ and ‘what if I’m completely out of my depth? But we just had to use manpower.”

This is completely unacceptable to put anybody in a situation where their instincts tell them they are operating in a very dangerous environment, but they are forced to carry on by people with little concern for the safety of their employees.

10) Ben says: “The application said that you would need a lot of experience, but I met one person who started who was a college student, and she didn’t even know how to pipette. That’s no insult to her, because I didn’t know how to pipette when I was a college student, but you don’t expect college students to be in a diagnostic laboratory working on the coronavirus. It was startling.”

This is a clear demonstration of the high incompetence of the UK Biocentre, Oxford University and the recruiters – REED. What these organisations have done is recruit individuals with no experience/qualifications whatsoever and have thrown them into a very dangerous setting, namely handling and processing biosamples containing potentially highly infectious dangerous contagion.

Read the full interview here.

Dr Mike Yeadon discusses the shortcomings of the PCR testing megalabs and their contribution to the false positive pseudo-epidemic for Lockdown Sceptics here.

When will the rest of the media catch on to this scandal?

Scotland Cancels Exams Again – Recovery Scotland Responds

SNP Education Minister John Swinney with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (Getty images)

A new group has been set up, Recovery Scotland (website not yet live), which will be lobbying for balance and a return to normal for Scotland. It’s an offshoot of Time For Recovery in England and is a collection of legal and scientific experts and local politicians. Led by Christine Padgham, the group has issued a statement responding to the Scottish Government’s announcement Tuesday that the 2021 exams will be cancelled.

We at Recovery Scotland were dismayed to hear of the Highers and Advanced Highers being cancelled for 2021, as well as the National 5s.

The Government has justified its actions on the basis of the disruption it itself has inflicted upon school children this year. Disruption to learning could easily be reduced by improving testing strategy and protocol, which would address the issues of the generation of false positives from this test – which is undoubtedly resulting in many being identified as infected and infectious with Covid when they are not.

Mr Swinney said yesterday he did not want pupils’ futures blighted through no fault of their own. We could not agree more. 

This being the second year of exams being cancelled in Scotland, there can be no doubt our children’s futures are being blighted by the government for a virus which, according to the Scottish Government’s own data, poses virtually no risk to them.

“It is safe. It is fair,” Mr Swinney said of cancelling exams. We fail to see how blighting the future of our children is safe, nor how it is fair to put them at such disadvantage when there is almost zero Covid risk to them individually or as a group.

Follow Recovery Scotland on Twitter: @T4RecoveryAlba.

Stop Press: Stephen Daisley agrees, writing in the Spectator, that “There’s nothing ‘fair’ about the SNP cancelling exams“.

School Forces Children to Eat Mashed Potato With Hands – Because Covid

Mariah Drage says the no cutlery rule is “a bit mad considering they can use knives and forks in old peoples homes” (Picture: Adam Hughes/SWNS)

In the latest loony rule to emanate from Covid world, a primary school has forced its pupils to eat meals with their hands after knives and forks were banned. Metro has the details.

Pupils at Edgar Stammers Primary Academy in Walsall are having lunch delivered to their classrooms to ensure they do not mix with children from other bubbles during the coronavirus pandemic. The school has also stopped issuing pupils with knives, forks and even plates over fears of spreading the virus. Hot and cold lunches are dropped off to each class in ‘grab bags’ and children are told to wash their hands before and after eating. However parents were unhappy to discover youngsters were expected to eat “a small amount of mash served in a Yorkshire pudding” without cutlery.

One father was not impressed.

We’ve been telling our son to keep his hands away from his mouth because of coronavirus and now the school tell him to eat with his fingers. It’s utterly ridiculous. Have the school not heard of dishwashers?

The Academy Trust CEO, Professor Michelle Shaw, commented:

We have ensured that we keep our children safe by limiting the use of hard utensils which may spread the virus, and continue to monitor the situation following all available guidance. We cannot transport plates, hot food and utensils around schools safely, as some have steps, nor can we keep that food at the required temperatures to serve it. Therefore we have chosen to provide brown bag, picnic lunches in classrooms. These consist of healthy choices, devised with our caterers. We have risk assessed all of our Covid practices using an external health and safety specialist company and our practices are robust.

Yet all the other schools seem to manage. This is off-the-charts insanity. Yet another example of a head teacher enthusiastically aligning themselves with the authorities for self-important, vainglorious reasons.

Stop Press: A reader writes to tell us that the supposedly open schools nearby to him have sent most of their children home.

Have a look at this local grammar school’s latest news. All year groups closed except Year 11. This is the second local secondary school I’ve read about which is mostly closed. How on Earth can the government square this with their claim to have kept schools open?

Completely unsustainable, you’d have thought – but luckily with so many parents furloughed or made redundant, they are on hand to help their kids self-educate at home. Who can fault the government’s brilliant joined-up thinking after all?

Swedes Warned to “Stay in Bubble” – But Still No Excess Deaths

The Swedish Government has recommended citizens to avoid socialising outside their family over Christmas in anticipation of a Covid spike over the festive period. The Local SE reports.

“Stay in your bubble,” Public Health Agency director Johan Carlson urged people as he and the Swedish government presented new coronavirus guidelines for Christmas.

Sweden’s ban on public gatherings of more than eight people will remain in place through the Christmas holidays, and Prime Minister Stefan Löfven reiterated that eight is also meant to set the standard for all social gatherings.

“Avoid new contacts, meet as few people as you can and meet them as little as you can. Meet them briefly and keep a distance. And preferably meet them outside. Avoid travelling by train and bus,” said Löfven.

However, the country remains much lighter touch than elsewhere, with very few measures enforceable in law and no mask mandate.

Carlson urged people to stay in their current bubble of social contacts if possible. But he said that if people have to travel, and if they think it is necessary to for example meet their parents or grandparents, they should try to travel responsibly, by for example travelling in the same care or use public transport with bookable seats.

“But of course both adults and children have a need to go home to their parents. Middle-aged parents want to go home to grandma, who has perhaps been sitting home alone all of this year. And then you have to make preparations,” he said, adding that people should then take extra care to follow all the social distancing recommendations around ten days or so before they see anyone outside of their usual social bubble.

Lockdown Sceptics reported yesterday that Sweden has seen almost zero excess deaths for 2019-20 (July to July), with just a tiny 1% increase in mortality among the over 80s but below average mortality in other age groups. In the autumn so far, despite the surge in Covid “cases” and deaths the latest EuroMOMO figures show no excess mortality.

Meanwhile Germany has reported its highest daily death figure so far: 568 compared with a peak of 510 in April (Germany was not strongly affected in spring). “Cases” have also jumped despite a lockdown-lite since early November that closed bars, restaurants, gyms and cinemas and (through guidance) limited social contact to two households meeting outdoors. Surging cases, record deaths – you’d be forgiven for thinking Germans are dying in unprecedented numbers. Yet in the German states of Berlin and Hesse at least (the only two for which EuroMOMO has data) there is no excess mortality at all to the end of November.

More evidence of a pseudo-epidemic?

A Pharmacist Writes…

Pharmacist and Lockdown Sceptics reader Dr Rachel Airley has alerted us to what may be a fatal flaw in the Government’s plan to involve pharmacists in delivering the Covid vaccination programme.

We’ve looked into providing the AstraZeneca jab when it arrives but as per usual it’s a typical (Han)cock up. We understand the logistical issues with the Pfizer vaccine but we would be perfectly placed to provide the Oxford vaccine if and probably, when, it finally gets approved.

Instead of allowing all pharmacies to provide the jab in the style of our hugely successful flu jab campaign, they are putting totally unworkable criteria on us which means that most community pharmacies will be excluded.

The criteria mean that community pharmacies would have to provide at least 1,000 jabs a week as a 12-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week service alongside the normal NHS pharmacy contract. That’s five minutes per jab alongside all other services! There would have to be additional funding for a second pharmacist or suitably trained pharmacy technician and probably an additional support staff member. Of course, this won’t be happening. Without these unworkable criteria, the approximately 13,000 community pharmacies in the UK could make real headway in the timely vaccination of the vulnerable. However, these ridiculous criteria mean that all but the largest city centre corporates will be able to provide the staff, space and throughput to do this.

Just why? It’s not just a slap in the face for pharmacists who have continued to see patients face-to-face throughout the pandemic as well as supporting the shielded, but to patients, who will now not be able to have the all-important accessibility that vaccination at a pharmacy provides. This has proven to be so efficient with the flu jab. No one understand the logistics of procurement, storage and administration of medicines like a pharmacist, it’s what we are trained to do. So just why have they done this?

Does anyone feel another letter to their MP coming on?

GMC Pressures Doctors to Have Vaccine

The GMC’s vaccine advice to doctors

A concerned doctor has written to us about the new vaccine guidance received from the General Medical Council.

My wife was circulated this info from the GMC – which strongly seems to imply a moral duty of doctors to be vaccinated to prevent spreading coronavirus to vulnerable patients. The wrong implication is that you have to prove very clearly why you shouldn’t have the vaccine, and even then you will be causing a lot of problems for colleagues and patients.

Since a) there is as yet no evidence whatsoever that vaccination prevents transmission and b) the whole point of vaccination is surely to protect those vulnerable patients in the first place, why such need for fit, working doctors – who will all be in much younger age groups than the elderly and vulnerable – to be vaccinated to protect anyone other than themselves if they wish to do so.

Will vaccination soon be required for registration with the GMC? Given that a recent poll suggested 40% of doctors wouldn’t want to take the vaccine, I suspect there will be an even bigger rush for the exit from the NHS.

Hold Your Local Authority to Account Over Lockdown

Surrey County Hall

Lockdown Sceptics reader Philip, who runs Unlock Surrey, has written to tell us about an effective way of taking action on a local level. Over to him.

I would like to alert my fellow sceptics to another possible front and forum in which to air our grievances, especially now that we are under a “local” lockdown regime. Local authorities on the county council and city council level across England have been given additional powers and responsibilities such as closing non-compliant businesses and venues without recourse and handing out fines. They also have to find the money to fund vastly greater levels of expenditure, from disseminating propaganda and deploying additional lockdown enforcement and compliance squads in local police forces, to mass testing programmes and even paying people to self-isolate. We can expect mass vaccination programmes to be added to these in the coming months.

In many cases a new committee is supposed to oversee these activities, often called the Local Outbreak Engagement Board (LOEB). According to the webpage of my county’s LOEB (Surrey County Council) it was “established to provide political ownership, public-facing engagement and communication for outbreak response”, as “each Upper Tier local authority is expected to develop Local Outbreak Control plans by the end of June. Local Outbreak Control Plans are designed to clarify how local government works with the national Test and Trace service, so that the whole local system is geared up to contain the virus.”

Anyone who has ever tried to complain to a council about something will be aware that they are not the most responsive of bodies. However, a great many of their meetings have been moved online – meaning that it has never been so convenient to hold these people to account. Unlike PMQs or opportunities to submit a question to a cabinet minister, not many people know about or care to engage with these local bodies making it possible to pack the allotted time for questions and petitions with scepticism which the officials must respond to. Petitions require numbers of signatures on the order of hundreds, not hundreds of thousands, so more can be produced with far less effort. The constitutional norm is usually for the questioner, should they wish to (virtually) attend the meeting, to have the right of reply and ask follow-up questions. Of course this does not guarantee a useful response, but if we take a page out of YouGov’s book for instance a carefully phrased question can back anyone into a corner and cause embarrassment!

If nothing else these local arms of government oppression should be made aware that there is a real opposition out there, that people are motivated, getting organised and paying attention. We ought to pressure local government to intervene on behalf of the people it is supposed to represent. Central government should be made to answer why it will not properly justify or explain its methods even to the people who are supposed to carry them out. If nothing else, the general public ought to have an opportunity to watch the videos of these meetings and see who is ruling over them so disastrously without remorse or repentance.

The Surrey LOEB had taken no questions from the public at all for several months until its latest meeting in November. Thanks to the efforts of Unlock Surrey, a support group and activist organisation (using the term loosely!) for sceptics, it had more questions to answer than it can address in a single meeting. All any interested reader has to do to accomplish the same is go to the “Democratic services” or “Meetings” or “Committees” section of their local Council website and find either the LOEB or in absence of one the public health committee, where they should be able to find the details of the next meeting and how to submit a question. Readers who wish to find out more about holding their local authorities to account are welcome to contact Unlock Surrey and we may be able to point them in the right direction. All Lockdown Sceptics in and around Surrey are of course welcome to join!

A few illustrative examples of webpages for these committees across the country are: Surrey, Cornwall, Portsmouth, Isle of Wight, Devon, Bedford, Oxfordshire and Newcastle.

They Lied

A poem by Lockdown Sceptics reader Mike Smelt.

They lied about their modelling

They lied about the deaths.

They lied about immunity

They lied about the meds.

They lied about PPE contracts

They lied about shutting schools.

They lied about pathology

They lied about the rules.

They lied about effects on cancer

They lied about Vitamin D.

They lied about track and trace

They lied about its fee.

They lied about susceptibility

They lied about asymptomatic spread.

They lied about false positives

They lied about hospital beds.

They lied about the cases

They lied about the second wave.

They lied about hospitality

They lied about how to behave.

They lied about the testing

They lied about the forecasts.

They lied about conflicts of interest

They lied about the masks.

They lied about the care homes

They lied about data seen.

They lied about absolutely everything

Now they want us to trust them with the vaccine.

One in Five UK Adults Do Not Think Covid Vaccines Are Safe

Source: Opinium online survey of 2,002 UK adults from December 3rd-4th 2020 (results weighted)

A new poll from Opinium reveals the high levels of uncertainty and distrust among Brits when it comes to the Covid vaccines. Hardly a surprise when they’ve been developed and approved in lightning-fast time.

Younger generations are most likely to be opposed, with over a quarter (27%) of those age under 45 thinking an approved Covid vaccine is unlikely to be safe, compared to just 14% of those aged 45-64, and 7% of those aged 65 or above. Young men are also more likely to be opposed, with 32% of men aged 18-44 saying they do not think an approved vaccine would be safe. Young women are more likely to have more general concerns, with 36% of women aged 18-44 feeling uneasy about the vaccine – partly a result we can probably assume of the uncertainties around the effect on pregnancy and fertility.

Round-up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Two today: “Planet Hell” by Nightwish and “I want to be free” by Toyah.

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, some good news. Cambridge University’s academic staff have successfully rebuffed the vice-chancellor’s attempt to impose a woke code of censorship on the University.

A vote on free speech at Cambridge University has strongly rejected guidelines requiring opinions to be “respectful” – after warnings this could limit freedom of expression. Instead the policy on free speech will support “tolerance” of differing views.

The proposed rules would have required staff, students and visiting speakers to remain “respectful” of the views and “identities” of others. But there were claims this would block controversial ideas and debates.

The university’s governing body, the Regent House, has voted by a big majority in support of amendments from those worried about a threat to academic freedom, introducing a commitment to “tolerance” rather than “respect”. The revised wording on free speech ensures the right to express “controversial or unpopular opinions within the law, without fear of intolerance or discrimination”.

The guidelines, adopted after the vote, will expect “staff, students and visitors to be tolerant of the differing opinions of others”. There is also an assertion of the need to hear from outside speakers, even if controversial, as long as they remain within the law.

Let’s hope this draws a line under the questionable decisions and double standards from Cambridge in recent years. 162 voted for the vice-chancellor’s “respect” proposal; 1316 voted for the “tolerance” alternative. Quite a victory. Congrats to Arif Ahmed, the leader of the resistance and member of the Free Speech Union’s Advisory Counsel.

“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. See also the Swiss Doctor’s thorough review of the scientific evidence here.

Stop Press: Whose bright idea was it to put Santa in a big plastic bubble?

Wrong on so many levels.

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 in October 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 well 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

We know they are lying. They know they are lying, They know that we know they are lying. We know that they know that we know they are lying. And still they continue to lie.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

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.

Alexander 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

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.

Joseph Goebbels (attributed)

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

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…

The new Tiny Tiers ‘Hancock’ Special Edition, the ideal kids Christmas present for 2020

Latest News

Masks to Continue into 2022 – Vallance

Sir Patrick’s advice continues somewhat unbalanced

The Government’s Chief Scientist, Sir Patrick Vallance, has said that people should still expect to be wearing masks next winter. The Telegraph has the details.

The public may have to wear masks for another year, despite a “watershed moment” beginning Britain’s national vaccination programme, Sir Patrick Vallance has said.

As hospitals across the country began administering jabs to the most vulnerable, the chief scientific adviser suggested that restrictions may remain in place long after its full rollout. …

Sir Patrick said: “It may be that next winter even with vaccination we need measures such as masks in place; we don’t know yet how good all the vaccines are going to be at preventing the transmission of the virus.”

The Government scientist also said it would take “quite a long time” to make sure everyone in priority groups receives their jabs, urging the public to “stick to the rules”.

Sir Patrick said that the public could not afford to “let our guard down” as the vaccine is rolled out. 

What he doesn’t explain is why, once the vulnerable who wish to be are vaccinated, it is so important to prevent transmission of a virus that will hardly kill anyone or make them unwell. Begs the question: At what point will the scientific and medical advisers recognise that it is more important to let people get on with their lives and jobs?

Mark Harper, chairman of the Covid Recovery Group (CRG) of Conservative MPs, yesterday urged the Government to set out how freedoms would be restored to those who were vaccinated.

“It’s really positive news that those most vulnerable to Covid-19 are now starting to get vaccinated,” he told The Telegraph.

“They will be wondering, once they’ve had their second doses and are fully protected, how quickly they can start seeing their children and grandchildren and getting back to normal. It would be a real benefit if the Government could set that out as soon as possible.”

Harper put similar points to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock in the Commons, who replied:

The House might be relieved to know that (Mr Harper) and I agree with each other on the need to ensure that as the vaccine is rolled out to vulnerable groups, so we therefore monitor the impact of the vaccine on reducing cases, reducing hospitalisations and reducing the number of people who sadly die from this disease, and taking that basis for the judgment of how soon we can lift the restrictions. He and I want to lift the restrictions as soon as is safely possible and the question of that judgment of how safely is one that we will have to monitor and debate in this House over the coming weeks and months.

This is similar to what he said on talkRADIO in the morning. He told Julia Hartley-Brewer that the Government could ease Covid restrictions once all of the most vulnerable people have received the vaccine, rather than waiting until everyone has been vaccinated.

So which is it? Lifting restrictions once the most vulnerable are vaccinated, or keeping it all going just in case? Given how it’s all gone since March we can probably guess what the Government will be pushed towards by its over-cautious advisers. Do we have any confidence ministers will have the courage and presence of mind to resist their “reasonable worst case” whisperings, backed up with shonky models and dodgy data? At least we can be grateful the CRG can bring something stronger than persuasion.

More Dodgy Data For Lockdown II

Notice the contrast between the reported estimates (L) and modelled estimates (R) for mid-October – on the right the spike is gone and the figures are all much lower

In another embarrassing revision of the data that backed up the Government’s lockdown case in October, the ONS infection survey which at the time indicated a spike in infections has now had its modelled estimate for the period revised to show an almost flat line. Ross Clark in the Spectator has more.

Each week, the ONS has produced two graphs: one showing the ‘officially reported estimates’ for the number of new daily infections per 100,000 people over the past seven days. Beside that, it also publishes a graph of ‘modelled estimates’ – which are adjusted for such things as false positives and false negatives and show a smoothed-out line of how the ONS thinks infections have changed day by day. Until last week, the two graphs broadly agreed with each other, as you can see from this edition published on October 30th.

I choose this edition because it is the latest one which would have been available when the Prime Minister and cabinet made their decision to place England in a second lockdown, a decision made the following day. 

Both graphs show the infection rate doubling in the two weeks to October 17th, the latest date for which data was then available. The government has been criticised for basing its decision on the ‘dodgy graph’ which claimed that deaths could rise to 4,000 a day by December – an estimate which was already out of date by the end of October. But the ONS data could, on its own, have been used to justify a second lockdown.

However, look at the latest edition of the ONS’ infection survey, published last Friday, December 4th, and something very off seems to have happened. The two graphs – the ‘officially-reported estimate’ and the ‘modelled estimate’ no longer agree.

In fact, they show a very different picture. The modelled estimate now suggests that infection rates in October were much lower than previous thought – indeed, it suggests that the infection rate hardly changed throughout the whole month. 

While the graph published on October 30th could be used to argue for an immediate lockdown, that published on December 4th suggested there was no emergency and that the Tier system might have been given more time to work. As it happened, the next edition, published on November 6th, showed that new cases had begun to fall even before lockdown was enacted.

Ross notes that this shows “modelling can be just as unreliable when it is used to try to tell what has already happened” as when predicting the future.

The new estimate may still be some way out, however, as it disagrees significantly with the King’s College ZOE app, which is perhaps the most reliable of the surveys, being the only one to rely on reported symptoms and not just PCR tests. The ZOE app shows the infection peak on November 4th, just before lockdown, and falling since, unlike the (current) ONS modelled estimate which puts the peak a week or so later.

Hard to follow “the Science” when the compass needle never stops moving.

No Excess Deaths in Sweden This Year – Study

University of Oslo

A team of researchers from the Clinical Effectiveness Research Group at the University of Oslo in Norway has looked at all-cause mortality for Sweden for the past five years (July to July) and found that it barely increased in 2019-20 despite the coronavirus epidemic in the spring. The pre-print study compared the no-lockdown country to its neighbour (and home country of the research team) Norway.

Our study shows that although Covid-19 associated mortality rate was almost 15-fold higher in Sweden than in Norway during the epidemic, all-cause mortality was not higher in Sweden compared with three of the four preceding years. An increase in all-cause mortality was only observed in comparison to the immediately preceding period (2018/19), because mortality was lower than in the previous years. The excess mortality was confined to individuals older than 70 years. In contrast, mortality rates were lower than expected for all ages in Norway and individuals younger than 70 years in Sweden. …

Our study shows that all-cause mortality was largely unchanged during the epidemic as compared to the previous four years in Norway and Sweden, two countries which employed very different strategies against the epidemic. Excess mortality from Covid-19 may be less pronounced than previously perceived in Sweden, and mortality displacement might explain part of the observed findings. 

Most significantly they found that the mortality rate among over 80s in Sweden rose only slightly in 2019-20 on the five-year average, from 201 to 204 per 100,000 people, which is a ratio of just 1.01. In other age groups it was at the average rate or below.

1.01 mortality ratio among the over 80s – that, my friends, is all the difference Covid made in a country that stayed open and free with few restrictions on daily life. And in a way that’s the only number that matters in this whole debate. Not exactly worth crippling an economy over and destroying millions of lives and livelihoods.

Read the full study here. News Medical covered the findings here.

More Evidence of a 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

The latest ONS figures out yesterday show total deaths in England and Wales in week 48 (ending November 27th) down by 79 compared with the previous week. However, Covid deaths are up by 343. Meanwhile, non-Covid deaths are right down at 941 below average. This mismatch between Covid deaths (up) and overall deaths (down) and the sharp reduction in deaths attributed to other causes are classic signs of a pseudo-epidemic resulting from mass PCR testing, as described by Dr Mike Yeadon for Lockdown Sceptics here.

It’s important to appreciate while digesting this counter-narrative which, unlike the official line, is at least internally consistent, that the only data suggesting a ‘second wave’ is upon us are PCR results. Everything is dependent on this. A “case” is a positive PCR test. No symptoms are involved. A “COVID-19 admission” to a hospital is a person testing positive by PCR before, on entry or at any time during a hospital stay, no matter the reason for the admission or the symptoms the patient is presenting. A “COVID-19 death” is any death within 28 days of a positive PCR test. If there is any doubt about the reliability of the PCR test, all of this falls away at a single stroke. …

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. 

What’s the evidence for this?

The key sign of a PCR false positive pseudo-epidemic is the relative paucity of excess deaths equal to the deaths claimed to be occurring as a result of the lethal infective agent. This key sign is present.

It all comes back to the questions sceptics have been asking throughout this epidemic: How many “Covid” deaths are actually caused by the disease? How many “cases” are genuine infections?

Read Mike’s brilliant piece here if you missed it last week.

US Senator Rand Paul: Why Aren’t We Using Proven Covid Treatments?

At a US Senate hearing yesterday on “Early Outpatient Treatment: An Essential Part of a COVID-19 Solution” before Senator Rand Paul and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee a number of doctors advocated the use of various treatments that studies and clinical practice have shown to be effective. They included Vitamin D, Ivermectin and HCQ.

Fox News posted this video from the hearing showing Dr Pierre Kory, Associate Professor of Medicine at St. Luke’s Aurora Medical Centre, titled “‘I CAN’T KEEP DOING THIS’: Doctor pleads for review of data during COVID-19 Senate hearing”. A report on Dr Kory’s contribution from Newswise is here.

The resistance to the use of cheap and proven safe and effective therapeutics such as Vitamin D, Ivermectin and HCQ in this epidemic has been one of numerous mysteries that has cost many lives. Still the Government is not following the evidence on this.

A comprehensive overview of the scientific and clinical studies relating to Ivermectin, Vitamin D and other treatments can be found here. The Swiss Doctor’s page on recommended treatment is here.

Round-up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Four today: “Come And Get It” by Badfinger, “You Can Have Mine” by Augustana, “Someone told a lie” by Steppenwolf and “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next” by Manic Street Preachers.

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 a branch of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), which tweeted on Sunday (and subsequently deleted) a tweet that read: “The push to reopen schools is rooted in sexism, racism and misogyny.” Breitbart has the story.

Director of School Choice at the Reason Foundation Corey DeAngelis noted Monday CTU “filed a request for an injunction to stop in-person instruction that is supposed to start January 11th” – the day after it deleted its tweet condemning the reopening of schools.

DeAngelis further observed the “reopening” scheduled for January 11th in Chicago is “only for ‘students in pre-K and cluster programs.’”

Elementary and middle school students are scheduled to return to in-person instruction in February.

He continued that, while CTU quoted Dr. Anthony Fauci in its request for an injunction, it omitted Fauci’s quote in which he stated, “The default position should be to try as best as possible within reason to keep the children in school […] the spread among children & from children is not really big at all.”

On this issue at least the CDC appears to be taking a sensible line.

On Wednesday, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also repeated his call for schools to open for in-person learning, stating that schools are not a major cause of coronavirus contagion.

“[W]e now have substantial data that shows that schools’ face-to-face learning can be conducted in K-12, and particularly in the elementary and middle schools in a safe and responsible way,” Redfield said.

The CDC director explained infections that do occur among teachers and students are largely due to the spread of the virus within communities or in homes.

“We’re not seeing intra-school transmission,” Redfield affirmed, adding: “I just think it’s healthy for these kids to be in school. That said, they got to do it safely and they’ve got to do it responsibly. And when this was started over the summer, no one really knew for certain. They thought that these public health measures would work.”

“But now the data clearly shows us that you can operate these schools in face-to-face learning in a safe and responsible way,” the CDC director said.

“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. See also the Swiss Doctor’s thorough review of the scientific evidence here.

Stop Press: A sharp-eyed reader spotted that in the Scottish Government’s fatuous “COVID Guide to Etiquette” that we highlighted yesterday the woman shown on page five isn’t wearing her mask over her nose – contrary to official guidance.

Get that nose covered!

Sloppy graphic design and an own goal from the mask zealots.

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 in October 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 well 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

We know they are lying. They know they are lying, They know that we know they are lying. We know that they know that we know they are lying. And still they continue to lie.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

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.

Alexander 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

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.

Joseph Goebbels (attributed)

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

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…

One of my favourite of Bob’s Telegraph cartoons, from June

Stop Press: The polls are now open for the best political cartoon of the year. But one cartoonist found he’d been left out of the party: the Telegraph‘s Bob Moran, a lockdown sceptic whose work regularly features on this site. He took to Twitter to highlight this injustice.

Toby has already been in contact to ask Bob if he’d like the Free Speech Union to take up his case, but he is too gracious to pursue it. Shame. If he was allowed to enter he would surely win the competition hands down.

Latest News

NHS Pressuring People to Sign “Do Not Attempt to Resuscitate” Orders

Lucy, 93, had a surprise visit from a frailty nursing practitioner with an unwelcome follow-up in the post

In a further sign of how “protect the NHS” gets things precisely backwards (the NHS is supposed to protect us) and puts the vested interests of the organisation ahead of the medical needs of the public, NHS medical staff have been caught pressuring older people to sign “Do Not Attempt to Resuscitate” orders and even imposing them without consent. The Mail has the details, telling the story of 93 year-old Lucy.

All in all, Lucy enjoys a good quality of life and apart from some age-related ailments she had been rated as ‘three’ on the NHS Clinical Frailty Scale (one is ‘very fit’ and nine is ‘terminally ill’).

Despite all this, the morning after the nurse’s unannounced visit to conduct a ‘frailty review’, an envelope was delivered to Lucy’s flat containing an A4-size notice with a stark red border.

Designed to be displayed in her home, it was a “Do Not Attempt To Resuscitate Order” — known as a DNAR or DNR — and it stated that Lucy should not be resuscitated by doctors, nurses, or emergency paramedics if her heart stopped. It was signed by the frailty nursing practitioner.

“I was shocked the NHS won’t save me. If I collapse, they are refusing to put me together again,” Lucy told the Mail.

Lucy is one of millions of people who have been caught up in a new – and, no doubt, well-intentioned – NHS initiative to help those over 65 live at home and not burden hospitals. 

As part of this, individuals are encouraged to make early decisions about ‘advanced care’ and sign a DNAR.

However, concern is growing about the pressure put on older people to accept DNARs. An urgent review has condemned their “blanket use” in care homes at the peak of the COVID-19 crisis earlier this year.

Health watchdog the Care Quality Commission says many were put on medical records without the consent of the person concerned and their families.

Lucy Jeal’s horrified family say Lucy never agreed to the DNAR order, which was also sent to her GP. The family now want the order removed from her medical records.

Lucy’s experience struck a chord with readers up and down the country, and we have received hundreds of letters and emails from people sharing their distress at receiving, or seeing their loved ones receive, DNARs without discussion or their permission.

Read Lucy’s story and many more here.

“Queues of Patients Nursed on Trolleys in Corridors – The NHS Was Overwhelmed”

The 2017-18 winter crisis in the NHS, back when it was expected to cope without imprisoning the population and shuttering the economy

An NHS frontline nurse of some 17 years clinical experience has got in touch with some observations about how ludicrous it is to be locking down to “protect the NHS” when the NHS is often in crisis during the winter.

The NHS’s “most serious winter crisis for many years”. A “lack of staff and beds”. 75% of acute medicine doctors say their “hospitals are not properly prepared”. An “inability to cope with the number of patients arriving”. The NHS “not well-equipped to deal with it”. Over 64,000 all-cause deaths in January alone.

Are these predictions for this winter?

No. It is what happened three years ago in the winter of 2017-18. There were more than 50,000 excess winter deaths in England and Wales during that period – the highest recorded excess winter deaths since the winter of 1975-76.

Was there a daily death toll on the BBC news? Do you even remember hearing it in the news?

I remember it actually as I was working in the NHS throughout. Influenza was rife, hospitals were full, ambulances frequently diverted, queues of patients nursed on hospital trolleys in corridors, bed managers scoured the wards for potential discharges. The NHS was overwhelmed.

But I didn’t hear anyone calling for lockdown back then.

This year, on the other hand, critical care bed occupancy was below average as it peaked in mid-November, as these graphs from the Spectator‘s excellent data tracker show.

The problem, of course, is that the political leaders who should have been providing this kind of perspective instead joined in the panic. We have also been severely let down by our public health advisers and scientists.

It’s The Covid Panto, But The Children Aren’t Laughing

The coronavirus crisis increasingly seems to resemble a pantomime, with the ludicrous actors playing their parts and delivering their lines, and pretending not to hear when the audience spots the off-message data poking out of the cupboard at their rear and shouts “it’s behind you!” That’s certainly the feeling Sinead Murphy, a philosophy lecturer at Newcastle University and Lockdown Sceptics contributor, has been getting. Today we’re publishing a new article from her setting out the challenges she has faced navigating lockdown with her autistic son, Joseph, and her epiphany that reasoning with people doesn’t work when they are just playing their parts and delivering their lines.

As I stood across from the acting Head in the vestibule of his school – looking, with his visor, like a poorly-costumed afterthought in the school play – it occurred to me how degraded we have become. That one who ought to be a leader in the community – the Head of a primary school of 630 children – should openly admit that the rationality or otherwise of his decisions on behalf of the children in his school was irrelevant when confronted with recently invented and constantly changing guidelines from the state. That the welfare of all the children – not to mention Joseph, with his additional challenges – was not even to be considered, let alone fought for.

What struck me too was the difference in our demeanour. Notwithstanding his ludicrous visor, his comportment was one of (slightly ruffled) calm; he listened and said little. My comportment, by contrast, was one of heated conviction. And yet, it was he who was selling lunacy that defies all facts, and I who was arguing for reason based on evidence. These are times when lunacy is so deeply institutionalised that it can appear calm, and reason so embattled that it has to act crazy.

When I repeated my question to the acting Head, asking him to respond to the negligible risk to children and the zero cases of child-to-teacher transmission, his response was “I am not a scientist”. Well, I am not a scientist either. But Mike Yeadon is. And Sunetra Gupta is. And John Lee is. And Carl Heneghan is. And those who generate statistics at the ONS and the WHO are. Not only this, these scientists produce comprehensible sentences, which can be read and understood. What is the good of being able to read and understand them if their contents are deemed not for me because I am not a scientist? What a truncation, of the Head of a school, that he cannot form a judgement on the basis of reading analyses written for non-experts by experts, but can only play the role assigned to him by the policy. An acting Head reduced to reading from the script.

And that is when the light dawned on my darkest hour.

Well worth reading in full.

Support Sinead Quinn

Sinead Quinn is the brave hairdresser from Quinn Blakey Hairdressing in Oakenshaw near Bradford who has been fined £27,000 by Kirklees council for refusing to close during the lockdown and quoting the Magna Carta whenever the martinet officials appear outside her salon. She has now started a crowdfunding page to help pay the fines if her legal challenge fails – though if she wins, as she expects, the money will go to her brother who is fighting cancer.

I’m confident in the fact we will win this fight, so in that case the money will go to my amazing brother who is fighting against stage four bowel cancer. He was diagnosed in August 2020 and he’s 36 year old with a wife and two children. He is an amazing soul and he gives me the confidence to fight every single day. He is my best friend and I wouldn’t be able to do this without him.

Here’s to 2021 – my brother cancer-free and standing up for our rights and taking our freedoms back. 

A deserving cause – do give as you are able and spread the word by sharing the crowdfunder.

Vaccination Must Not be Compulsory – Tell Your MP

Following our appeal yesterday to readers to write to their MP to call for no restrictions on those who refuse to have a Covid vaccination ahead of the Parliamentary debate on December 14th, a reader has sent us a copy of the letter he sent to his MP, Anthony Browne. It’s a good letter, and we’re publishing it below in case it inspires others to write similarly.

I voted for you at the last election.

I am writing in connection with the upcoming debate on coronavirus vaccines. I wish to stress that I am not anti-vax, but like many I do have reservations about the vaccine and any thoughts the government might have about making it compulsory or imposing restrictions upon those that refuse to take it.

We live in a free society (or used to anyway) and the very thought that a vaccine might be compulsory makes my blood boil. The government’s handling of this pandemic has been utterly shambolic – we have ended up in the worst of all worlds by having a high death rate and a shattered economy and all for a virus that has an infection fatality rate of under 0.5% (and it may be significantly lower than that).

I’ve never bought into the argument that it was a good idea to quarantine the healthy in order to suppress the virus, and nor do I buy into the argument that we should now vaccinate everyone who is healthy to achieve the same goal. Trying to suppress the virus is like trying to put the genie back in the bottle. We should be shielding the vulnerable and allowing the virus to circulate amongst the healthy, lower risk, population – that is the way we have conquered respiratory viruses in the past and vaccines should be available to the vulnerable and those that want them (and should never be mandatory).

I lived through the Hong Kong flu pandemic in the late 1960s – one in which this country lost c80,000 lives. More than in the current crisis and at a time when the U.K. population was c55m. We did not destroy our economy because of that pandemic and public debt fell during the period in contrast to the mind boggling mountain of debt that has been incurred on your watch.

Do not go down the route of making the vaccine mandatory or imposing restrictions on those that prefer not to take it. If you do, then I for one will certainly never put a cross against your name again.

The link to the Write To Them site, which makes it easier to write to your MP, is here.

Round-up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Two today: “Helplessly hoping” by Crosby, Stills & Nash and “Down Down” by Status Quo.

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, it’s the news that Millwall fans celebrated being back in the stands by taking the first opportunity given them to show how they felt about their players taking the knee in support of BLM. They booed. The Mail has the story.

Millwall supporters booed their own players while they took the knee in support of the fight against racism at The Den this afternoon.

The scenes have prompted reactions from pundits and former players including Trevor Sinclair, Gregg Halford and Gary Lineker, who told his Twitter followers the Millwall fans not booing were in the “minority”.

The day marked the first time that fans were able to attend a game in person since lockdown began in March.

As 2,000 supporters were permitted to attend the Millwall versus Derby County game, it also marked the first time fans have been present since footballers started to take the knee before games.

The gesture has been carried out by players and staff across the country originally in support of Black Lives Matter, before the Premier League distanced itself from the movement.

Not all teams continue to take the knee before games, with Queens Park Rangers’ director of football Les Ferdinand saying the impact of the stance had been “diluted”. 

As their match against Derby County was about to begin, video footage taken from the ground shows that there were a large number of aggressive boos from the stands as the players knelt down.

Millwall boss Gary Rowett said he was “disappointed” by the fans’ behaviour, while opposition manager Wayne Rooney said it was “surprising”.

In response, the FA said in a statement: “The FA supports all players and staff that wish to take a stand against discrimination in a respectful manner, which includes taking of the knee, and strongly condemns the behaviours of any spectators that actively voice their opposition to such activities.”

The scenes sparked shockwaves through the game, and have divided social media users.

Some players, pundits and fans have condemned the fans’ actions while others say the gesture is no longer appropriate.

Stop Press: Not to be outdone, it’s been reported that the Vicar of Dibley will take the knee for BLM in her Christmas sermon.

“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. See also the Swiss Doctor’s thorough review of the scientific evidence here.

Stop Press: The US CDC has stepped up its mask guidance and now advises “universal use of face masks” which it claims is supported by “compelling evidence”.

Universal use of face masks. Consistent and correct use of face masks is a public health strategy critical to reducing respiratory transmission of SARS-CoV-2, particularly in light of estimates that approximately one half of new infections are transmitted by persons who have no symptoms. Compelling evidence now supports the benefits of cloth face masks for both source control (to protect others) and, to a lesser extent, protection of the wearer. To preserve the supply of N95 respirators for health care workers and other medical first responders, CDC recommends nonvalved, multilayer cloth masks or nonmedical disposable masks for community use. Face mask use is most important in indoor spaces and outdoors when physical distance of ≥6 feet cannot be maintained. Within households, face masks should be used when a member of the household is infected or has had recent potential COVID-19 exposure (e.g. known close contact or potential exposure related to occupation, crowded public settings, travel, or non-household members in your house). 

Hard to believe these are supposed to be the authoritative experts given how much in that paragraph is inaccurate or misleading. Have they not noticed, for instance, that mask mandates appear to have done nothing to avert autumn surges in France, Italy, California, etc.?

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 in October 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 well 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

We know they are lying. They know they are lying, They know that we know they are lying. We know that they know that we know they are lying. And still they continue to lie.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

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.

Alexander 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

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.

Joseph Goebbels (attributed)

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

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…

The Ulster Fry has done a brilliant mock Christmas album ad. Not to be missed.

Latest News

Parliament to Debate Petition Calling For “No Penalties For Declining Vaccine”

The petition on the Parliament website, “Prevent any restrictions on those who refuse a COVID-19 vaccination“, has reached over 278,000 signatures and Parliament has announced MPs will debate it on December 14th. You can watch it live on the UK Parliament YouTube channel.

The Government response given on September 11th was hardly reassuring, coming with an ominous “however”.

There are currently no plans to introduce a Covid-19 vaccine in a way that penalises those who do not take up the vaccine. However, the Government will carefully consider all options to improve vaccination rates, should that be necessary.

A Lockdown Sceptics reader suggests: “It’s really important ahead of the debate on December 14th that as many people as possible write to their MPs to oppose any coercive measures when it comes to the vaccine, and to ensure the vaccine doesn’t become a requirement for business, travel, employment etc.”

We quite agree. Time to hit that compose button. Here’s the Write To Them link again.

A Postcard from Switzerland

A Lockdown Sceptics reader has gone to work in Switzerland for the winter, a country which has faced its autumn surge without a new national lockdown.

I’m working in the Swiss canton of Valais for the winter season. I was initially going to be working in France but Macron decided on another full lockdown so that was off, especially as it seems the ski season opening has been pushed back until late January now. The Swiss have been very reluctant to have a lockdown again and at the national (federal) level restrictions are light: masks, limits on numbers gathering and so on. Individual cantons can set their own rules within reason, much like individual states in Germany or the USA. My canton (Valais) has decided to shut restaurants and bars but all shops etc. are open and the lifts are working on weekends. Some of the rules are just stupid, such as wearing a mask on an open ski lift, but as across most of Europe many of the decisions are political and not medical, to play the game whilst ignoring it in private.

The Swiss in the mountains are keen to push ahead again and in about a week the restaurants and bars should be open for business and they are keen to hoover up tourists from Germany, Italy and especially France who are now threatening to stop travellers at the border. The government here knows that the ski season is worth billions and without foreigners from outside Europe and likely no Brits either they need to make all their money from what they can. Pootling around the resort is a little dull but a lot of places aren’t too bothered about masks either so it feels much more normal. There has been a half-hearted effort at putting up ‘two metres’ signs and similar but they are cheerfully ignored. After months of bullying and shouting from the UK authorities it feels great to be left alone.

The big moment will be this weekend when all the lifts really start moving as the snow has arrived, all the way down to the valley with more to come. There have been murmurings at federal level about limiting lift capacity and so on but this seems more to settle nerves. If we can get through December then I see no reason why the Swiss won’t just plough on and be done with it. The trees are coated in snow, the mountains look more chocolate-boxy than ever and hopefully by the time I go home some semblance of sanity will have returned.

Switzerland’s “cases” have been on the decline for weeks, since November 9th, despite no lockdown.

Switzerland is one of the places we’ve highlighted before which proves that lockdowns are not necessary to avert catastrophe and that SAGE’s doom modelling is wrong. Another is Sweden, where the latest EuroMOMO figures show the “second wave” has not yet produced any excess deaths and appears to be on the decline (though these figures could be revised in future weeks).

Can someone please tell Boris, Gove and Hancock?

Save Our Rights UK Censored By Facebook

Facebook has taken down the private group page of Save Our Rights UK, reported to have been 42,000 members strong. Is this part of the social media site’s vaccine crackdown? The lockdown-sceptic group has organised and participated in numerous protests, most recently in London last weekend where protestors faced brutal treatment from the police. The group’s public Facebook page is still up, for now.

More Big Tech censorship of the little guys fighting for freedom.

Take a Bow, David Warburton MP

What follows is a letter sent by David Warburton, Conservative MP for Somerton and Frome, to a Lockdown Sceptics reader explaining why he voted against the new tier system on Tuesday. It’s a corker.

Many thanks for taking the time and trouble to get in touch on such an important question. I’m conscious that last night’s vote was one of the most consequential in recent decades: for public health, the resilience of our economy and for the preservation of notions of individual responsibility and liberty. I did vote against the proposed tier system last night and thought it may be helpful to share my reasoning as to why I could not offer my support for this system in its current form.

I very much welcome the constructive approach the Prime Minister has taken in consulting widely within the parliamentary party. We’ve seen additional support offered to those hospitality businesses – such as pubs – which stand to be most severely affected by the continuation of the restrictions we’ve seen. We’ve seen further ground given in other areas, but I remain unconvinced that this tier system struck the right balance between the competing imperatives we’ve faced since March. The need to balance protecting our loved ones from harm and keeping the virus contained and the equally vital need to preserve individual liberty and the means by which people can provide for themselves and pursue their own ambitions.

I have seven key reservations which I outline below – and led me to vote against the tier system. For the sake of clarity I’ve outlined them below in bullet-point form:

1, First, the regulations fail in their essentials. For government regulations to work (which can only be achieved through public consent), they must be clear, and underpinned by cohesive internal logic. But the rules that have been proposed are contradictory and, in many cases, seem almost arbitrary. From last orders at 10pm but 11pm closing (do we all order four rounds at 10pm, or do venues have to pay staff for an hour with no takings?), to the vaguely defined ‘substantial meal’. From allowing soft drinks all day but alcohol only with food, to an astonishingly labyrinthine and impossibly convoluted ‘bubble’ system, with no obvious sense of cause and effect. 

From work meetings being allowed in public or private places (only for self-employed), to no one allowed to meet from separate households either outdoors or indoors, unless they’re on a train or travelling. 

2, I have been asking (both publicly on social media and in private conversations with Ministers) for the data – a cost benefit analysis – which informed the decisions around the Tier system. Apparently the Cabinet Office had been putting this together all weekend for us, which sadly suggests that the data was not the basis for the proposed rules. The crucial question we have to ask ourselves is what is the cost to lives, to livelihoods, to businesses, to mental health, suicides, to all non-Covid related heath and – of course – the future of the economy of the restrictions, against the likely lives saved from those same restrictions.

The ONS have calculated that there will be/will have been 200,000 excess non-Covid deaths caused by the restrictions. This is nearly four times the number of presumed Covid deaths. Bristol University put the figure at 560,000. While I don’t suggest these figures are anything other than an estimate (given the circumstances and fast-moving picture), they should nonetheless give us pause to question the wisdom of continuing a course of action that has produced them.

3, The regional basis for the tiering is problematic. The apparent incidence of Covid-19 is inflated in areas (like our own) that are affected by nearby towns or cities. And many, having had lockdown for a month, find themselves moving into stricter restrictions than were imposed before lockdown.  This would seem to imply that lockdown was ineffective. Which itself would imply that the stricter Tier system will also be ineffective. Figures show that the previous Tiered system was having an effect on infections, whereas lockdown did not have a proportionately greater effect. So why will 99% of country continue under effective lockdown?

There is also a clear implication that the Tiers will continue until Easter. This will be devastating to lives and businesses in our area – while costing all of us, and future generations, almost £1 billion a day. It’s imperative that businesses are allowed to open – including those in the hospitality and tourism sector which contribute so much to the economy of the West Country. The restrictions have gone a long way towards the destruction of hospitality and tourism (and much else) in the West Country. 

4, The NHS pressure argument is dubious. We have seven unused Nightingale hospitals in England (more in the other countries of the union). The excess deaths are barely above the annual average, and there is capacity even in regular hospitals. But even if the NHS does suffer pressure ,this  is not unprecedented – and has been the case every winter for year upon year under successive governments of both main parties. But this has never before been regarded as a reason to make it illegal for people to be allowed to take risks with their health.

5, The data showing massive increases in infections/deaths has been shown to be dubious at almost every turn. For the under 60s, there is a 1 in 300,000 chance of death. For the over 60s, there is a 99% survival rate.  For the over 80s, it’s still 90%. 

6,  There is an alternative to hand – based on individual responsibility that we exercise in our own lives anyway. We should allow the vulnerable to isolate and protect themselves, as with any other virus – no-one suffering from ‘flu goes to visit and then embrace elderly relatives.

7, I have very real anxieties about the precedent that’s being set here: of the state arrogating itself the power to impose such stringent measures on its population when the data upon which this is based is chancy and uncertain. Liberty is like innocence, easy to remove and extremely difficult to regain. And a future government with less benign intentions could easily use this precedent to interfere further – and for malign motives.

So, given the economic, social, health, livelihood, business, mental health costs, the unemployment, insolvencies – each of which is a personal tragedy – I could not, in good conscience, vote to compromise lives and destroy livelihoods. I recognise the pressures under which the Government is operating, and applaud many of the mitigation measures that have been implemented thus far. But I felt impelled to vote against a system which poses such an economic and social threat to our part of Somerset.

I do hope this explains my reasoning for my vote last night and my sincere thanks again for getting in touch.

Vaccination Certificates By The Back Door?

GP and Lockdown Sceptics reader Dr Helen Westwood has written to alert us to some serious concerns she has about the Government planned vaccine rollout.

I am a GP and am utterly dismayed by the handling of the Covid response by the Government and the sacred cow we call the NHS.

Currently CCGs up and down the country are scrambling to get the vaccination program rolled out. NHSE have published the service specification for Primary Care Networks (groups of GP practices) to deliver the vaccines. As this “Enhanced Service” arrangement is voluntary, and it is fraught with difficulty, our PCN has decided not to sign up.

Trafford CCG is putting significant pressure on the individual practices within the network to sign up to deliver the service. If the Practices do not sign up then the responsibility for commissioning a service goes back to the CCG. They have no contingency plan in place (in no small part because of a lack of guidance from NHSE to the CCG’s). This is unsurprising and entirely predictable. Despite all the boasting about being the first country to grant temporary authorisation for the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine they have no idea how they are going to deliver it.

Is it also worth noting that it is only temporary authorisation that has been granted – the vaccine does not yet have marketing authorisation in the UK. This effectively means it is “unlicensed” and as such the prescriber has a duty to explain this to the patient. In usual practice this means that the liability in case of adverse effects lies with the prescriber, not with the pharmaceutical company.

An additional concern I have is that the service specification states that GPs are not to record the vaccination on the patient’s GP electronic clinical record system. Instead it is to be recorded on “Pinnacle”, a system used by pharmacists. As reported in Pulse:

“Vaccination data ‘will flow from Pinnacle and Sonar to the GP patient record in a similar way it currently flows from community pharmacies for flu vaccinations’, it said.

“NHS England aims to ‘implement as soon as possible a fully automated process’ via GP practices’ own IT systems, but ‘this is unlikely to be in place from Day 1’.

“PCN groupings will get access to Pinnacle and Sonar as well as training on how to use the systems ‘free of charge and prior to vaccinations commencing’, NHS England added.

“Recording vaccinations in Pinnacle/Sonar ‘will generate payment’, NHS England said.

“However it added: ‘GP practices must make arrangements within their PCN grouping for the nomination of a host practice which will receive payments due under the ES for and on behalf of the GP practice.’

“It said this was ‘necessary to take account of the varying number of practices, PCNs and designated sites within PCN groupings as well as the fact that data recorded on Pinnacle and Sonar will be used for a variety of different purposes’.”

I am concerned that the data are to be used “for a variety of different purposes”. Does this mean vaccination certificates? I suspect many patients would not be happy about this and would be under the impression if their GP was administering the vaccines the information would be recorded in their confidential medical record.

WHO’s Revised Vaccine Criteria “Wouldn’t Have Picked Up Narcolepsy”

A Lockdown Sceptics reader has flagged to us a letter to the BMJ in June 2019 from Dr Jacob Puliyel, a paediatrician in Delhi, who warns that the WHO’s new vaccine assessment system, adopted in 2013, would no longer pick up rare side-effects such as the narcolepsy that occurred with the swine flu vaccine.

In the old system, reactions that were temporally associated with immunization, for which there was no alternate explanation, were classified as ‘probably’ related to immunization. It facilitated signal detection. This cannot be said for the currently used WHO causality assessment.

In the new causality assessment, only reactions that have previously been acknowledged in epidemiological studies to be caused by the vaccine are classified as a vaccine-product-related reactions. Reactions observed for the first time during post-marketing surveillance (Phase 4 clinical trial) are not considered as “consistent with causal association with vaccine”. All new serious adverse reactions are labelled as coincidental events “inconsistent with causal association”, or “unclassifiable” and the association with vaccine is not acknowledged. It has, in effect, made phase 4 trials redundant.

He concludes:

Given these apparent anomalies, the new WHO’s algorithm for causality assessment of an adverse event following immunization (AEFI) is not fit for purpose and it fails to inspire confidence that it can identify new, uncommon AEFI. It will erode faith not only in the immunisation programme but also the public’s trust in their physicians.

Worth reading in full.

Watch Dr Puliyel explain the problem in more detail here.

Stop Press: The CEO of Pfizer has admitted that he is “not certain” their vaccine stops transmission of COVID-19. To be fair, this would largely be due to “asymptomatic transmission”, which appears to be a myth put about by China.

Stop Press 2: The Telegraph reports that the Government has said it will be months before having the vaccine will exempt a person from having to self-isolate if contacted by NHS Test and Trace because it’s not been confirmed it prevents transmission.

Stop Press 3: The Mail reports that the Government is planning to compensate people who suffer extreme Covid vaccine side effects with payments of up to £120,000 under an existing compensation scheme. Instils confidence.

Sceptic of the Week

This week’s winner is TV dancer Brendan Cole, who has been branded “totally irresponsible” for claiming face masks do not protect against Covid.

He dared to quote on Twitter the Danmask-19 study that found even surgical masks correctly worn offer no significant protection. Seems zealots don’t like to hear actual science. The Mail has the details.

Brendan’s fans, including medical professionals, were left fuming by his “c**p” post and were quick to tell him they had unfollowed him.

Others urged the New Zealand-born ballroom dancer to delete his controversial message, claiming it was full of “misinformation” and would “put others at risk”. 

Dr Joshua Wolrich claimed that Brendan had his facts mixed up and there was proof of the contrary, adding: “Think before you share c**p that fits what you want to believe otherwise you become directly responsible for people coming to harm. 

“Do the right thing and delete this information.”

While one Scottish nurse echoed the doctor’s sentiments, angrily penning: “That is not what we need at the moment. Follow the bl***y guidance and wear to protect others.”

Another fan branded Brendan as “totally irresponsible”, writing: “I work in healthcare and have had patients refuse to wear masks because of this type of misinformation putting others at risk.”

More of his 88,000 followers told the TV star that they were “disappointed” in his “selfish” actions spreading “fake news” and even told him to just “stick to dancing”.

It is not the first time Brendan has voiced his controversial views on social media, as he previously took to Facebook to slam COVID-19 safety measures as “outrageous”.

He penned: “For the first time in recent history we are being controlled in so many ways. Why can we not protest? 

“Why can we not have an opinion and discuss these differences of opinion openly without being silenced or called names. 

“Why is there so much fear and hysteria being pumped down our airways when the numbers (often put in a certain way to look worse than they are) don’t reflect the outrageous measures being put in place. 

“I’m not saying it’s not dangerous and if you have been affected by it then I am truly sorry for you. 

“However, other lives are important too and millions of lives and businesses are being ruined.”

In terms of preventing transmission to others – the usual retort from mask zealots – worth remembering that countries like Italy and France hardly seem to have benefited this autumn from their mask mandates, while in America a study claiming to show masks lower transmission had to be withdrawn when “cases” resurged.

Well done, Brendan. Stand your ground.

Round-up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Just one today: “Injected with a poison” by Praga Khan.

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, it’s Nike Japan’s effort to bring Western woke moralising to an Eastern audience in the form of a new anti-racist advert, which backfires horribly. Philip Patrick explains in the Spectator.

The ad snappily titled ‘The Future isn’t Waiting’ features scenes of bullying and discrimination directed at mixed-raced athletes in Japanese schools. They then fight back and triumph through the power of sport – and the power of Nike sportswear. Boycotters have claimed that the ad massively overstates a real, but far from endemic or Japan-specific problem, and is stirring up division under the fig leaf of Nike’s progressive ‘corporate values’ while really just cynically exploiting currently fashionable ideology for profit.

One reason the Nike ad may have been so badly received here is that the Japanese are simply not used to this kind of advertising. Japanese commercials, often far more entertaining than the programmes which interrupt them, are blissfully free of this sort of sermonising. In fact, they are one of the things I feel nostalgic about when I return to the UK, knowing that as soon as I deplane at Heathrow I will be relentlessly battered around the head with messages of diversity from every billboard, poster, and TV commercial I encounter. And it won’t stop until I get back to Japan.

The most egregious faux pas was the US-based company presuming to lecture the Japanese for its own blatant self-serving ends.

But perhaps the more substantial factor that led to the backlash here, and which from my experience is not just limited to older Japanese citizens, is the country’s distinct aversion to being lectured to from outside. Gaiatsu, or outside power, is a word likely to raise the hackles of even the mildest Japanese person, and for a US-based sportswear manufacturer to wag its corporate finger at Japanese society and offer its own self-serving solutions was never going to go down well.

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.

Stop Press: A reader wonders whether some lockdown sceptics are missing out on the liberation that is arming oneself with a reasonable excuse and going out with a naked face.

It seems to me that most sceptical commentators are prepared to complain about face masks but are not prepared to take any action, claim exemption and go public about the fact that it’s not against the law to be without a mask if you have a reasonable excuse.

Why is this?  If you read the Government guidance it’s quite clear that you don’t have to have a specific disability to claim exemption and the scope for “reasonable excuse” is broad. Irrespective of the fact that there’s no scientific basis to suggest wearing masks works in the community, most sceptics are anxious about the downsides and hence have a perfectly reasonable excuse not to wear them.

Subject to being considerate of those who are terrified of Covid, I find not wearing a mask liberating, especially when I meet other unmasked people, be they disabled or not. I’m sure many more sceptics would feel better if they did the same but why do so many sceptical commentators go on about mask-wearing being the law, reinforcing the idea that we can do nothing about it when clearly we can?

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

We know they are lying. They know they are lying, They know that we know they are lying. We know that they know that we know they are lying. And still they continue to lie.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

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.

Alexander 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

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.

Joseph Goebbels (attributed)

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…

Will Knowland with his wife and five children

In his Speccie column this week, Toby highlights the plight of Will Knowland, the teacher who has been dismissed from his position at Eton College for posting a lecture questioning radical feminism on his own YouTube channel.

The conflict being played out at Eton is quite serious, not least because similar battles are being fought across the educational landscape. It began in September with an English teacher, Will Knowland, composing a video lecture in which he encouraged his students to question the idea that there’s something fundamentally toxic about masculinity. According to a letter addressed to the ‘Eton community’ last week, he felt it was important to acquaint the boys with a more positive view of their sex to counter the radical feminist ideology that’s promoted by the school’s leadership team, which portrays traditional male characteristics as inextricably bound up with a system of patriarchal oppression.

After Knowland posted this video on the school intranet, a member of staff complained to the head. The gist of it was that the content of the lecture was degrading and humiliating and, because of this, the headmaster had a legal duty to prevent it being given. Allowing it to go ahead would have constituted a form of discrimination against women — a ‘protected’ characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

To no one’s surprise, trendy Hendy sided with the complainant. He told Knowland to ditch the lecture and remove it from the school’s internal website. Knowland complied, but when the head also instructed him to take it down from his personal YouTube channel he said he would only do so if he was given a good reason. The head’s claim that the content of the lecture breached the Equality Act is debatable. The Act is ambiguously worded and is often invoked by the promoters of equality, diversity and inclusion to silence dissenters from woke orthodoxy in educational settings. So Knowland was prepared to accept the first of the head’s demands. But even on the most cautious reading of the Equality Act, it doesn’t circumscribe what teachers are allowed to post on their social media accounts. When Knowland stood his ground and said he wouldn’t remove the video unless he was given a good reason, the head suspended him and set a process in motion which ended with his dismissal. Not great, given that the 34-year-old teacher is married with five children, one of them disabled, and they live in a grace and favour house belonging to the school. An appeal is scheduled for December 8th.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Read this tribute to Will Knowland by his former student Cameron Hilditch in the National Review.

Latest News

Government Proposes to Liberate Local Areas in Bid to Placate Rebellion

Bob in today’s Telegraph offers a suggestion as to who might be advising Boris Johnson

The Government has said that towns and villages will be able to go into lower tiers than neighbouring virus “hotspots” in an effort to see off a growing Commons rebellion against their new lockdown plans. The Telegraph has the exclusive.

MPs have been told that rural areas with low infection rates could be “decoupled” from cities that have “unfairly” dragged them into Tiers 2 and 3 under the Government’s regional approach.

It comes amid a major rift between ministers and scientific advisers, who say areas of England are more likely to go up a tier than down one.

Government scientists have said they expect few changes within the system in coming months, with Tier 2 areas far more likely to go up than down and almost nowhere likely to get to Tier 1 until March. Scientists are understood to have told Boris Johnson that he should consider moving Tier 2 areas to Tier 3.

The draconian advice comes despite new figures showing the reproduction or ‘R’ rate of the virus to have come down to between 0.9 and 1.0 – its lowest level since August – meaning Covid could already be in retreat.

Up to 100 Tory MPs are threatening the biggest rebellion of Mr Johnson’s premiership when the new tier system is put to a vote next week amid anger over a broad brush approach that has put low incidence areas into higher tiers because they are in the same county as a city with a high infection rate. 

Government ministers Nadhim Zahawi and Jesse Norman are among those who have publicly criticised the new tiers.

Labour has yet to decide whether it will vote for the tier system, meaning Mr Johnson could face defeat unless he can persuade enough of his own MPs to back down. The Prime Minister said on Friday that he understood the “frustration” of people who have ended up in Tier 2 or 3 despite low infection rates in their own town or village.

According to reports, Mr Johnson has pencilled in Easter Monday as the day when the strict Covid tiers will be lifted.

Ministers and officials are trying to win round Tory MPs by offering them hope that their constituencies will be “decoupled” from hotspots when a review of the Tiers is carried out in mid-December.

It’s a start, but a very small one given the absurdity and destructiveness of the Government’s intention to keep the tier system in place until at least Easter.

The main reason being given for the extreme ongoing restrictions is the supposed need to “protect the NHS” from being overwhelmed. The Sun reports.

The PM is determined to put the NHS first – and believes he will have to wait until after Covid’s winter peak in February and March to ease his grip.

A senior government source told the Sun: “Boris will not countenance hospitals overflowing like they did in Italy. Nor can we get to the stage where we have to cancel operations and treatments. In all likelihood, the tiers have to stay.”

This must be the most expensive and repressive way to manage demand in a health service ever devised – and it’s dishonest to pretend elective surgeries aren’t being cancelled as it is. Why not simply increase surge capacity? It’s not as though hospitals have been overwhelmed so far, even in the spring. In fact, they’re currently running at below average occupancy rates across the country, while the surge capacity that has been created is not being used. As one reader writes to tells us:

Hot off the press from a friend who has spent the last six weeks getting the Nightingale Hospital in Harrogate up to speed at huge expense – they had a sign-off on Tuesday and yesterday were stood down – they may use it at some point for vaccinations. This is the emergency overspill for the Humber (Tier 3), Leeds (Tier 3) and Bradford (Tier 3).

There is nothing out of the ordinary about the mortality rate this autumn, as this explainer by Joel Smalley makes clear, and neither is there evidence that lockdowns are responsible for preventing a runaway epidemic. The R rate, after all, was below 1 before the current lockdown began, with daily deaths peaking on or around November 13th and infections three weeks or so before that. Oddly, the Government has only just announced that the R has fallen below 1, weeks after the surveys it relies on for this calculation – from Imperial College, King’s College and the ONS – announced it occurred. Could this have anything to do with the fact that, at three weeks into the lockdown, they are now in a position to credit it? Not that we can check their working, which remains as obscure and concealed as ever.

Lockdown 3.0 is SAGE’s “Pound of Flesh” For Christmas Freedom

Iain Duncan Smith writing in the Telegraph sums up perfectly the mood of MPs in the Covid Recovery Group ahead of the crucial vote next week.

The Chancellor laid bare the stark and painful economic reality for all to see this week. The economy has shrunk by 11.3%, the worst collapse in output in 300 years. Unemployment will reach 2.6 million and borrowing will reach an eye watering £394 billion.

The mood of sombre reflection and deep concern among MPs brought on by the Chancellor’s statement rapidly gave way to disbelief and anger as the full implications of the Government’s new tier system became apparent. In particular, many recalled the past use that has been made of dodgy figures to bounce us into lockdown.

The critical balance in decision making required to ensure that our response to the virus does not end up doing more damage than the disease still seems to elude the Government with the figures on coronavirus simply not justifying their ongoing desperate pessimism, particularly when set against the desperate damage to business, livelihoods and lives, beyond Covid.

SAGE predicted 4,000 daily deaths early next month. This rapidly turned out to be absurd. Four thousand deaths a day would be three times higher than the peak death rate in Brazil, which has a population three times greater than the UK.

Then, with a 16-day time lag, a mass of data showed that infection rates had flattened and were falling before the effect of the lockdown could be felt. That, however, hasn’t stopped Patrick Vallance and ministers rather brazenly claiming that the reductions were down to the lockdown. Liverpool is a good example. The fall there seemed to happen long before the nation-wide lockdown even started. Even the mass testing programme rolled out there, despite what the Government claims, didn’t change the rate of decline. Given that, perhaps the most trusted document produced by the Government was the one covered in scribbled and panicky question marks.

Yet despite the facts, instead of returning to the original tiers from before lockdown, we are effectively about to consign half of England to further lockdown after December 2nd. To put this in context, when the new rules come in the number of people in Tier 1, the lightest level of restrictions, will have fallen from 24.5 million pre-lockdown to just 700,000. Previously, nine million people were in Tier 3, post-lockdown that number will have risen to 23 million. Worse, the new set of tiers are far tougher than they were – even those whose tier hasn’t gone up will still find themselves subject to far tougher restrictions.

The announcement brought an outcry from MPs because so many of their areas have been shunted into Tier 3 on what appears to be contradictory and shallow evidence. Take, for example, the city of Bristol. Before lockdown, they had 292 infections per hundred thousand people and were in Tier 1. Now, after a minor increase in the rate to 309, they have been moved to Tier 3. Or Tunbridge Wells, in Tier 1 with a rate of 48.9 before lockdown and now in Tier 3 with a rate of 103, a figure much lower than other areas in Tier 2.

What was the point of the lockdown if, as we come out, we end up with tighter restrictions than before lockdown? We aren’t even waiting to learn what the effect of the lockdown has been before rushing into these changes.

IDS says there is growing concern among MPs that the draconian new tier system is the “pound of flesh SAGE demanded in return for the decision to have five days off over Christmas and that unless the Government stayed in a de facto lockdown for most of the country now then they would be demanding another lockdown in January”.

He repeats the call for proper cost-benefit analyses to be published to enable MPs to make informed decisions.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: IDS talks to JHB here, telling her the Government must stop listening to the advice of SAGE.

Metropolitan Police Issues Warning About Today’s Protest

For those going along to the protest today, be prepared for an unaccommodating police force. The Territorial Support Group is likely to be out in force. The following is from a statement issued by the Metropolitan Police:

Ahead of a planned protest on Saturday, November 28th, the Met is urgently reminding those looking to attend that protest is not currently a permitted exemption to the prohibition on gatherings under the current Coronavirus regulations.

Strict regulations have been introduced by the Government nationally to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus. This means that anyone gathering for protest risks enforcement action by officers. 

A robust policing plan is in place throughout the weekend and officers will take action if they witness breaches of the regulations. 

Chief Superintendent Stuart Bell, policing commander for this weekend, said: “The Met has a proud history of facilitating protest. However, our city is in a critical fight against COVID-19 and we cannot allow gatherings to jeopardise the progress and sacrifices our communities have made in fighting this virus. 

“That is why we will be taking action in relation to prohibited gatherings on the streets of London, including those related to protest across the capital this weekend. Our top priority is public safety and that is why we cannot allow individuals to break the law and put their health and the health of their friends, family and the wider community at risk. If you are planning on attending a gathering, I would urge you to reconsider and stay at home.”

They’re obviously expecting something big.

“If You Vote to Destroy the Jobs of Others, Don’t Expect to Keep Your Seat”

Peter Hitchens has asked if Lockdown Sceptics readers would care to join him in a campaign for a “mass write-in to MPs this weekend on the lines of ‘If you vote to destroy the jobs of others, don’t expect to keep your seat’”. Websites like Write To Them make it easy, as he points out.

Sounds like a great idea. Good readers, over to you.

Government Threat to Business Puts More Firms at Risk

Is the Government about to use its powers to pull the rug from under firms struggling under the Government’s lockdown measures? One reader is concerned.

On December 1st the Government is proposing to reinstate Crown Preference, a legal concept whereby HMRC gets priority over other creditors to recover unpaid taxes in the event of a company’s insolvency. In normal times this would not have been an especially significant change. However, right now many companies have racked up significant tax liabilities because the Government has been using this as a way of supporting businesses in difficulty. We are not talking about small amounts of money – if you think of VAT (20% of turnover) and PAYE bills since March, these have really added up.

When Crown Preference is reinstated on Tuesday, a company’s lenders, suppliers and credit insurers will need to reduce their exposure by the amount of taxes which are owed (as HMRC will now have priority over these debts). For struggling businesses this will probably mean their credit lines will be pulled from under them, and they will go out of business.

In the current circumstances it is difficult to see this move bringing in much revenue for the Exchequer – at the cost of pushing many businesses over the edge at the worst possible time. Why did we support these businesses in the first place, only now to throw them under a bus? It should be a no-brainer to defer this move, but the Chancellor didn’t announce such a deferral on Tuesday and it feels like the issue has been buried under the weight of other news. It shouldn’t be – it really matters.

Further reading on this is available from the law firm Addleshaws.

Care Homes Ban Christmas Decorations

Care homes are being banned from putting up Christmas trees and decorations by local authorities due to “infection control issues”. CareHome has the story.

Care Campaign for the Vulnerable (CCTV) has revealed it has received “distraught messages from care home managers” due to the ban.

One manager told CCTV: “I’m a manager of a residential nursing home. We are being told the local authority are trying to put a stop to homes decorating for Christmas!

“After everything that has been taken away from our residents this year, we’re now expected to take Christmas away from them too!! ‘Infection control’ issues. I had a visit from Infection Control and we’d started to decorate our reception area and she told us ‘I wouldn’t bother going any further, because you’ll be told to rip them all down’.

“I asked the direct question to the local authority bosses and they’ve told me there’s no published guidance as of yet but they won’t allow Christmas decorations.

“Our hearts are breaking for our beautiful residents. We’ve taken them down. It seems they’re intent on taking away any little thing that brings them joy. That in itself is more dangerous to their well-being than Covid would ever be! And we’ve been through an outbreak and I stand by that statement.”

The care home manager said she has heard similar stories from other care homes.

A spokeswoman for Care Campaign for the Vulnerable said: “’I find this downright appalling. As if residents haven’t lost enough this year already. Why deprive them of the joy of Christmas?”

Pitkerro Care Centre in Dundee is one of those making changes to the way it decorates its home due to the pandemic and is asking people to donate outdoor Christmas decorations and lights to put in the back garden.

Normally during the festive period the care home is covered in Christmas decorations and trees, but this year anything that cannot be wiped down daily is banned.

What this over-zealous, killjoy guidance forgets is that even if surfaces spread the disease they can only do so when they are touched. But no one touches Christmas decorations except to put them up or take them down. More to the point, no one has yet succeeded in culturing the virus from surface samples, suggesting surfaces are not a major route of transmission. As the Lancet reported in October: “During the initial stages of the pandemic there was concern about surface transmission. However, latest research suggests that this is unlikely to be a major route of transmission as although SARS-CoV-2 can persist for days on inanimate surfaces, attempts to culture the virus from these surfaces were unsuccessful.”

Woman Goes Blind After Lockdown Cancels Treatment

Helen Jeremy lost her sight during lockdown

A woman has lost her sight after she was left without her regular treatment for months during the lockdown. The BBC has the details.

A woman has become blind after her monthly eye injections were delayed for four months during lockdown. Helen Jeremy, 73, said everything she enjoyed doing has “gone out of the window” after losing her eyesight.

Thousands more people in Wales are at risk of “irreversible sight loss” because of treatment delays, RNIB Cymru warns. The Welsh Government said health boards are working to increase services.

Mrs Jeremy, from Bridgend, has glaucoma and was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration four years ago. Monthly injections controlled the condition and meant she could still drive and play the piano. However, her appointments were cancelled when the pandemic struck and her eyesight deteriorated.

“I was panicking. It was terrifying. Because I’m a widow I’m on my own and it was awful,” she said. “Suddenly my eyesight was basically gone. By the time of my next appointment I was told there was no point in going on with these injections because the damage had been done to the back of my eye. Everything I loved doing has gone out of the window and my life’s changed totally.”

The NHS said it was just one of those things, nothing to do with them.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said priority at the time was based on patient risk. “We are sorry that Mrs Jeremy sadly experienced deterioration in her eyesight a few weeks following her last treatment in July,” a spokesperson said. “Sadly, some eye conditions can become worse over time despite ongoing treatment.”

The reference to “treatment in July” is clearly misleading as it is the lack of treatment since March that is the problem, which they do not acknowledge. Mrs Jeremy was just not a “priority”. And now she is blind and can no longer do almost any of the things she loves.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Three today: “Tears of Rage” by The Band, “Ain’t Nobody’s Business if I do” by Billie Holiday and “Mad World” by Tears for Fears.

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, it’s the news that Eric Clapton has joined Van Morrison in his anti-lockdown “Save Live Music” campaign with a new collaborative song “Stand and Deliver” – and been called a “white supremacist” for his trouble. National File has the story.

Legendary rock-and-roll guitarist and vocalist Eric Clapton is collaborating with Van Morrison on a song called “Stand and Deliver” that is critical of United Kingdom’s laughably stringent Covid lockdowns and their effects on live music. Predictably, liberals on Twitter are seething uncontrollably over the news.

Clapton, the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, told Variety magazine that he chose to collaborate with Morrison on the song after finding the effect of lockdowns on musicians “deeply upsetting”.

“We must stand up and be counted because we need to find a way out of this mess. The alternative is not worth thinking about. Live music might never recover,” Clapton stated.

Morrison, who founded the Save Live Music campaign, said “Eric’s recording is fantastic and will clearly resonate with the many who share our frustrations,” adding, “It is heart-breaking to see so many talented musicians lack any meaningful support from the Government, but we want to reassure them that we are working hard every day to lobby for the return of live music, and to save our industry.”

The attacks on Clapton from unknown verified profiles on Twitter began almost immediately. Buzzwords such as “white supremacist,” stemming from Clapton’s collaboration with Morrison and off-the-cuff remarks he made onstage in support of British nationalism in 1976, appeared at the vanguard of the outrage machine.

“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: A maskless woman in a supermarket was issued by police with a fixed penalty notice even though she explained to them to them that she was exempt on health grounds. The Mail has the story.

Footage shows two officers from West Midlands Police handing the female customer a fixed penalty notice, saying that she has “broken a guideline”.

A policewoman explains that she can take the fine to court and show her “burden of proof” while the shopper claims that she is exempt from wearing a face covering.

Towards the start of the clip, the male police officer says: “What we’re going to do, we’re going to take this lady’s details.” The man filming asks “what for?” before the policeman urges him to listen to the other officer, who says: “If we give you a fixed penalty notice, what it then does, you take it to court and you show your burden of proof then to the court.”

The female customer says “I don’t need to”, before the policeman responds: “Yes you do.” The policewoman says that, as officers, they “do not have to ask for proof of her exemption” but that they can ask what it is “in a conversation”.

The customer then interjects: “Hold on, hold on. I’ve just shown you my card, I’ve explained my situation.” The policeman replies: “You showed me a card that you printed on the internet. That’s not valid”, to which the customer responds: “So?” He responds: “Because you haven’t got a certificate or a doctor’s note, the onus is on yourself.”

The shopper says: “I can prove to you here that my son’s girlfriend has ordered me a card, which I just said to you, I only texted the other day saying ‘has my card come yet?’ I can prove to you here that she’s put ‘yes, it does take a few weeks, I think my mum’s took a few weeks as well’.”

The camera operator questions whether she has broken the law, to which the policeman says she has “broken a guideline”.

It’s a funny kind of “guideline” that can land you a fine and in court.

The police officers are wrong of course. There is no requirement to produce a certificate or doctor’s note and there is nothing “invalid” about an exemption card. Government guidance explains: “If you have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering: you do not routinely need to show any written evidence of this; you do not need to show an exemption card. This means that you do not need to seek advice or request a letter from a medical professional about your reason for not wearing a face covering.” Furthermore, people are told to be “mindful and respectful” of the circumstances of people unable to wear a mask: “Some people are less able to wear face coverings, and the reasons for this may not be visible to others.”

Someone needs to tell the police officers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that West Midlands Police has any intention of doing so.

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.

Stop Press: Simon Dolan has a piece in Conservative Woman on “Boris’s cruel Christmas joke” that is worth a read.

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…

Pubs may have found a loophole in the Government’s ill-defined requirement that customers in Tier 2 areas must have a “substantial meal” with their pint

Latest News

Lockdown Rebellion Returns

Bob’s cartoon in today’s Telegraph

Fraser Nelson in the Telegraph reports that the Covid Recovery Group of Conservative MPs is now as many as 100 strong and enjoying increasing clout with Number 10. The return to tiers was, he claims, a concession to the rebels, but that doesn’t mean they’re happy with the result.

It all sounds a bit ungrateful, given that it’s not even a year since Boris Johnson personally won an 80-strong majority for his otherwise-doomed party. But many Tories feel that a national collapse is underway, because the Government cannot think its way out of lockdown. Last week, the Chief Whip finally persuaded the Prime Minister of the seriousness of the situation: there are now about 100 MPs in the “Covid group” of rebels. They wanted a local lockdown system, judged on clear criteria and answerable to parliamentary scrutiny.

What they got yesterday was intended to quell the mutiny. No more Vallance and Whitty horror shows, with blood-curdling slides drawn from data which falls apart on further scrutiny. No more “illustrations” or “scenarios” showing 50,000 cases a day or 4,000 daily deaths. In its place, new criteria for judging local lockdowns: virus infection levels, especially among the elderly. The rate of virus growth (or decline). Pressure on the NHS.

In theory, it’s just what lockdown sceptics asked for: a transparent, evidence-based way of judging the new system. But the way the map has been drawn has led even pro-lockdown MPs into revolt as many find their constituency under tougher restrictions than before lockdown. They ask why their constituency has been lumped with others – and how they can justify voting it through. “This is like one of these old colonial maps where they draw a marker pen through territory they don’t recognise,” says one MP.

The new system is riddled with maddening inconsistencies.

Kent is regarded as one homogeneous lump and been placed into Tier 3, having had no special restrictions before lockdown. All of Buckinghamshire has ended up in Tier 2, in spite of places like the Chilterns being almost as Covid-light as Cornwall and the Isle of Wight. York, too, is back in Tier 2 – in spite of having less Covid than before lockdown. In the Commons yesterday, MPs queued up to ask: where is the logic?

It’s looking like MPs will get a cost-benefit analysis, but not the one they’ve been pressing for.

No 10 has made one final offering: to publish assessments of what local lockdowns do to the economy, society and wider public health. This is intended to persuade MPs that the Prime Minister will now look at things in the round and judge local lockdowns by more than simply the virus levels. This would do much to assuage those who argue that officials should talk about risk to cancer treatment, or the chances of furloughed small businesses making it to Easter. But those who have seen the ideas for the report predict that it will be underwhelming, and unlikely to win over any wavering MPs.

In a press release put out by the Covid Recovery Group, Harriett Baldwin MP, a former minister, said:

I voted for the current lockdown on the basis that it would give us a 28-day period to develop a new and enduring strategy for living with the virus that doesn’t require us to keep having to live under cycles of damaging lockdowns and severe restrictions, and to reform NHS Test & Trace so that only the infectious individuals and their close contacts have to isolate. 

Over 23 million of us were living under Tier 1 restrictions before the lockdown that figure will be under 1 million in December.  There is no logic whatsoever in having a month of lockdown only for people to have to live under an even more severe set of restrictions afterwards.

That’s why we must see the evidence, the data and the cost benefit analysis published in full and on time so that we can assess whether or not the current strategy is working, and make sure we know if we are being asked to vote for something with an end date and which will explicitly save more lives than it costs.

While Labour continues to support the Government’s Covid strategy no Tory rebellion can realistically succeed. However, relying on opposition MPs to bail you out is never a good look for a Prime Minister and often means his (or her) days are numbered. And what if Keir Starmer sniffs an opportunity and switches to opposing the measures? The new tier system, in which the majority of English citizens have been placed in a higher tier than they were before the four-week lockdown, looks to be a massive own-goal by Boris and is bound to poll badly. Starmer may conclude that opposing the measures – and calling for a continuing national lockdown instead – is a way to ingratiate himself with Labour’s traditional voters in the Midlands and the North who’ve been placed in Tier 3, particularly those that deserted the party for the Conservatives last December.

If Starmer does decide to abandon Boris the CRG will find itself in a strong position in the run-up to next week’s vote. Some realistic demands would be:

  • More granular differentiation between tiers, so, for instance, the whole of Kent doesn’t have to be plunged into Tier 3 because there are over 500 cases per 100,000 people in Swale, even though there are only 120/100,000 in Ashford. (See MailOnline for the fury this has unleashed.)
  • Meaningful reviews of the tiered restrictions every fortnight, followed by a Parliamentary vote, instead of asking MPs to approve the current arrangements until March of next year and place their faith in Matt Hancock to decide which areas to move in and out of different tiers.
  • A proper cost-benefit analysis of the impact of the tiered restrictions so MPs can make an informed choice about whether to support them every two weeks.
  • The replacement of Sir Patrick Vallance as Chief Scientific Officer with Prof Sunetra Gupta and Chris Whitty as Chief Medical Officer with Prof Carl Heneghan. Okay, maybe that would be too great a humiliation for the PM, but at the very least Gupta and Heneghan should be invited to join SAGE, alongside Dr Mike Yeadon, Dr Clare Craig, Prof Karol Sikora, Dr John Lee, Prof Ellen Townsend, Prof Allyson Pollock and Prof David Livermore.

If the stars align, we might just be looking at a turning point.

Stop Press: According to today’s Times, Boris faces a growing rebellion on his back benches and won’t be able to count on enough support to get his proposed measures through without Starmer’s help.

Tell Your MP How PCR Testing is Fooling the World

Today, Lockdown Sceptics is publishing a brilliant new briefing document for MPs that explains very clearly (with oodles of illuminating graphs) how the fatally flawed PCR test, which was never designed to be used on an industrial scale, has given the false appearance of a deadly autumn epidemic when in fact the underlying signals, such as GP respiratory consultations, hospital admissions and overall deaths, are normal.

It is authored by Dr Mike Yeadon, Dr Clare Craig, Jonathan Engler and Christian McNeill, and comes with all their expertise and experience as they set out in clear terms the issues and the evidence.

From the introduction:

Across Europe, including in the UK, we see the following:

1. Daily ‘cases’ sky-rocketed in Europe as Autumn arrived.

2. Daily deaths labelled as ‘Covid deaths’ rose in line with ‘cases’ – to levels apparently higher than at the Spring peak.

3. BUT: Total all-cause mortality does not reflect the above.

What is behind this conundrum?

The central thesis of this paper is that we have a major problem with PCR-testing.

This is distorting policy and creating the illusion that we are in a serious pandemic when in fact we are not.

This is causing:

Excess deaths due to restricted access to the NHS.

An NHS staffing crisis which is exacerbating matters.

Unprecedented assaults on civil liberties and the economy.

What we need to do about this:

Stop mass-testing using PCR in the UK and replace with Lateral Flow Tests where required.

Other recommendations as detailed later in this document.

We’ve given it a permanent home on the right-hand side. Find it here.

There is also a PDF version which you can download and this is the best one to use for attaching to an email and sending to your MP. Or you can use a website like Write To Them and include a link to the PDF.

Definitely worth reading in full.

Oxford Vaccine To Undergo Extra Trial

In what appears to be an admission of serious problems that need addressing, AstraZeneca has announced that it will run another trial for the Oxford vaccine. The Telegraph has more.

The drug company behind one of the UK’s leading coronavirus vaccines is set to run an extra trial amid growing questions about the jab’s performance.

On Monday, scientists from Oxford University and AstraZeneca revealed that their vaccine had achieved an overall efficacy rate of 70%  in Phase Three trials. However, this rose to 90% in a sub-group, a finding researchers said was “intriguing“.

It was then revealed that this had stemmed from an error when some of those in the study were given just half a dose for the first jab when a full dose had been intended. Those given the intended dose saw efficacy rates of just 62%.

The company has said it will run extra trials to satisfy regulators after US health officials revealed that nobody in the group with 90% efficacy rates was above the age of 55.

Lockdown Sceptics contributor Barry Norris is not impressed by the spin coming out of AstraZeneca as they manage the PR of their disappointing (and botched) trial results.

There’s been no proper scientific release of the data; it’s all just been leaked out selectively and they breached trial protocol over the doses and switching to give the placebo group saline rather than meningitis vaccine, which was the original plan. I also suspect and this is also true of the mRNA trials that the antibody response fades from the data presented as we develop antibodies against the vaccine.

Things will start to get very interesting when and if the Astra vaccine is rolled out. People will realise that the vaccine hurts and comes with side effects which in most people will be worse than getting COVID. When people who have taken the vaccine still get COVID (as the response fades) there will be complaints and what if it heightens the risk for otherwise healthy adults through inhibiting the natural response? If it wasn’t for COVID the trial would already have been called a failure.

Astra now saying they will do more trials. Normally this is an admission that the first trial failed and isn’t enough to get the vaccine approved. Coincidentally, this was announced at 4.30pm on Thursday, just after the UK market shuts and with US markets shut for Thanksgiving and not even a proper press release, again.

They are claiming that this will not affect UK authorisation but I think it will. If they haven’t done enough for the American FDA of which this is a tacit admission then are we saying in the UK we have lower safety standards?

Stop Press: A poll has found that almost half of doctors would not take a rushed Covid vaccine. A poll of readers of Medscape UK found that of 308 UK doctors, 4 in 10 would not get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one is approved by the MHRA. Medscape has the details.

Online polling took place 18th-23rd November after the positive Pfizer/BioNTech results but with most responses received before the positive news about the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

Of those who wouldn’t have the jab at this stage:

– 56% cited safety concerns
– 27% would rather wait
– 7% mentioned personal health reasons
– 14% had other reasons

Overall, 59% said vaccination for healthcare staff should not be compulsory. Among those who wouldn’t have the jab at this stage, nine out of 10 were against compulsory staff vaccination.

Are We Over-Counting Excess Deaths?

How many more have died in England and Wales in 2020 than in a normal year? To calculate the number of “excess” deaths, most of us follow the ONS in comparing this year’s figure with the average of the previous five years. But is this a fair representation of how many deaths are above what would be expected? Not when the population is ageing, explains Ross Clark in the Spectator.

Not only is the population of England and Wales growing; it is also ageing. The population of over-70s, for example, has grown over the past decade by an average of 2% a year. Therefore, year on year, we should expect deaths to rise – simply comparing this year’s mortality rate with the five-year average does not give us a like for like picture. A more enlightening view is provided by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, which publishes a weekly ‘mortality monitor’ in which it compares this year’s mortality rate with last year’s, adjusting for the change in population profile over the past 12 months. 

Its analysis shows that deaths in week 46 were 1,442 — or 13% — higher than they would have been had 2020 had the same mortality rate as last year. Compare it with the standardised mortality rate for the years 2015 to 2019, on the other hand, and excess deaths for week 46 of 2020 fall to 1,388.

By this way of counting 2020 was only running at 6% above average mortality by mid-November (see graph above). Many of those extra deaths are the result of lockdown, not the virus, of course.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: An article in the Johns Hopkins Newsletter published on November 22nd summarised the findings of Genevieve Briand, Assistant Program Director of the Applied Economics Master’s Degree Program at Hopkins. She analysed all-cause mortality in the US in 2020, comparing the data to deaths in previous years, and found, to her surprise, that 2020 was less exceptional than it seemed at first blush.

After retrieving data on the CDC website, Briand compiled a graph representing percentages of total deaths per age category from early February to early September, which includes the period from before COVID-19 was detected in the U.S. to after infection rates soared.

Surprisingly, the deaths of older people stayed the same before and after COVID-19. Since COVID-19 mainly affects the elderly, experts expected an increase in the percentage of deaths in older age groups. However, this increase is not seen from the CDC data. In fact, the percentages of deaths among all age groups remain relatively the same.

“The reason we have a higher number of reported COVID-19 deaths among older individuals than younger individuals is simply because every day in the U.S. older individuals die in higher numbers than younger individuals,” Briand said.

Briand also noted that 50,000 to 70,000 deaths are seen both before and after COVID-19, indicating that this number of deaths was normal long before COVID-19 emerged. Therefore, according to Briand, not only has COVID-19 had no effect on the percentage of deaths of older people, but it has also not increased the total number of deaths.

These data analyses suggest that in contrast to most people’s assumptions, the number of deaths by COVID-19 is not alarming. In fact, it has relatively no effect on deaths in the United States.

But how is this possible? After all, hasn’t COVID-19 killed over 250,000 Americans this year?

When Briand looked at the 2020 data during that seasonal period, COVID-19-related deaths exceeded deaths from heart diseases. This was highly unusual since heart disease has always prevailed as the leading cause of deaths. However, when taking a closer look at the death numbers, she noted something strange. As Briand compared the number of deaths per cause during that period in 2020 to 2018, she noticed that instead of the expected drastic increase across all causes, there was a significant decrease in deaths due to heart disease. Even more surprising this sudden decline in deaths is observed for all other causes.

This trend is completely contrary to the pattern observed in all previous years. Interestingly, as depicted in the table below, the total decrease in deaths by other causes almost exactly equals the increase in deaths by COVID-19. This suggests, according to Briand, that the COVID-19 death toll is misleading. Briand believes that deaths due to heart diseases, respiratory diseases, influenza and pneumonia may instead be recategorized as being due to COVID-19.

Needless to say, the article no longer appears on the website of the Johns Hopkins Newsletter – far too heretical. But you can read an archived version here. We’ve made a copy in case the enforcers of Covid orthodoxy remove that too. If it’s gone by the time you read this, email us and we’ll send it to you.

Update: AIER have published an analysis of the article here.

Hospitals That Kill

After yesterday’s story about Covid spreading around hospitals, a reader writes to tell us how this happened to people he knew.

How your story yesterday about hospitals not protecting people from Covid rang true. Two days ago our neighbour died at home after coming out of hospital from 15 months’ unsuccessful treatment for leukaemia. Half that time was spent recovering from the stroke caused by the first bout of chemo. The second bout of treatment ended recently when he gave up on it all and was discharged to come home to die. Guess what? He’d also just caught Covid in hospital, having spent months and months in virtual isolation to protect him, after an infected person was brought into the ward so naturally he’ll go down as a Covid statistic. He was 60.

Last week a close friend’s father-in-law died too. He was in his 90s and had acute renal failure. He was whipped into hospital where he tested negative for Covid twice. By the third test he’d caught Covid too after another infected person was brought in and successfully infected everyone in the ward. Of course, he’s gone down as a Covid statistic too.

Now, both these men had terminal conditions and would have died anyway, probably at the time they did. But nothing can alter the fact that we have been suffocated by precautions to protect people like them from Covid only for the health service we are supposed to be protecting actually to allow them and the people in adjacent beds to catch the wretched disease. In this incredible bizarro world we are being exhorted to save the NHS from being crushed by a disease it’s actively spreading.

Covid spreading in hospitals both increases the true Covid death toll and inflates the number of those who die “with Covid”. We need to get much better at separating those with highly infectious disease in the healthcare system.

Dear Deirdre…

A reader has decided to write to Deirdre, the Sun‘s agony aunt, about a relationship that’s gone south.

Dear Deirdre,

I’m starting to suspect that there might be a problem with my relationship. Please tell me I’m not going crazy.

At the start of this year I started going out with a new man, Boris. He was charming and seemed very clever – he’d been to Oxford and could read Latin. He’d “been around the block” a bit, if you know what I mean, and he was a bit overweight. But he was good fun and very decisive. He liked to “get things done”, which was a big appeal.

Anyway, in March he started to change. He went down the pub one evening with his friend, Neil, who’s a bit of a weirdo to be honest, and Neil told him all about this “Chinese bat flu” that was going to wipe out the human race. Neil showed him all this stuff on his phone that he’d got off Wikipedia and he did some calculations on the back of a beer mat showing that the population of the UK would basically be wiped out in six month’s time unless we completely changed our way of life.

When Boris told me about Neil’s predictions I thought he was having a laugh. Sadly not. The next morning he went to the corner shop and bought all the loo roll and Pot Noodles then he insisted that we stay at home completely, no going to work or socialising, and only going out to buy absolute essentials.

He’s a clever guy, so although I had my doubts I assumed he knew what he was talking about, and creepy Neil was good at maths and had once been on Countdown. Anyway, Boris said it only needed to be for three weeks – to “flatten the sombrero” or something (don’t ask me!) so I thought I’d play along, maybe it was a mid-life crisis or something.

Anyway, three weeks came and went, and still Boris wouldn’t let me go out and see anyone or go back to work. I didn’t complain though. It’s hard to explain – he’d spooked me so much I kind of stopped thinking critically about what he was saying. And it wasn’t too bad at first. I was a bit worried about the financial impact of not working, but Boris said he had lots of money in the bank. And it was quite nice to have a bit of time off. We watched Tiger King on Netflix and I bought a lot of stuff off Amazon to take my mind off things.

After several months things got ever so slightly more normal. Boris said that we could go out again and go to the shops and talk to people, but we still had to “stay safe” at all times and stay two metres apart from other people. I could even go back to work for a bit. I kind of played along with it, thinking he was about to lose enthusiasm for the whole bat flu situation. Then, in the middle of summer, out of nowhere he suddenly announced that we had to wear masks whenever we went to the shops! This was when things started to get really weird. He even wanted to wear a mask when we made love, but I drew the line there.

Then he got angry with me one day and said I hadn’t been taking the rules seriously enough. I should say at this point that Neil and these other creepy blokes from the quiz team down the pub, Chris and Pat, were obsessed with this thing called the “R number”. This had something to do with how much bat flu there was going around. Every day they would call Boris up and tell him that the “R number” wasn’t coming down enough and there was too much bat flu, and Boris would go white and say how sorry he was. Then he would take it out on me and give me these long lectures. One day Chris and Pat sent him this really scary chart, showing how we were all going to die again unless we acted straight away. I remember Boris asking if this was a prediction, and for some reason this made them furious, and they kept screaming over and over “it’s a projection!”, which really confused him.

Boris sat me down and said the “R number” was still too high, and it was all my fault for not following “the rules”. I must have been forgetting about the two metres, or not wearing the mask, or not singing Happy Birthday while I washed my hands or something. He said that he had no choice but to introduce a “Three Tier” system. Tier 1 meant things were bad, Tier 2 meant that they were very bad, and Tier 3 meant that they were catastrophic. We were only allowed to do certain things depending on what Tier we were in. This was the only way we could “save Christmas”. I asked if there could ever be anything lower than Tier 1 and he just shook his head and said that was obviously impossible. He called up Chris and Pat and they said that we could start off in Tier 2. This meant I had to wear a mask even when I was driving in my car and no-one else was around.

We went on like this for a while, until one day Chris and Pat called Boris and gave him a stern talking to. Another “projection” – the R number was going to get high again! Boris then started shouting at me, and accused me of having taken my mask off in Lidl. It was back to “lockdown”. This meant no meeting anyone at all, no going to work, nothing. This went on for a month. I started getting very anxious and worried about everything. Plus I had a really nasty shock one day when I happened to see Boris’s credit card statement. He was tens of thousands of pounds in debt! I started crying and shaking and having some very dark thoughts.

I think Boris realised how upset I was and he sat me down and said he knew that it was tough but it was all for my own good. He didn’t like locking me up like this but I had given him no choice. Then his tone changed and he said that there was some good news – the “lockdown” would end in December! I was overjoyed, until he revealed that the “lockdown” would be replaced by the return of the “Tiers”. Only this time it was even more serious. I could forget about Tier 1. It was just Tier 2 or 3 from now on. To be honest, I couldn’t even understand what the difference between these Tiers was. It was something to do with eating a “substantial meal” and “the rule of 6” – total gibberish, really. Boris did say that we could have five days off “the rules” at Christmas so that I could see my mum, but we would have to sit two metres apart with the windows open and not use the same serving spoons.

I asked him if the more serious “Tier system” meant that the bat flu had got worse. And here’s the weird thing – he said that there was actually less bat flu than before. This made no sense, and I tried to get him to explain, but he started muttering “hands face space” over and over again and talking about the toot of the distant bugle. I used to find that stuff quite charming but to be honest it’s got really annoying and I’m not convinced that he’s in his right mind.

I just don’t know when all of this is going to end. It’s unbearable – the bizarre rules that change every second of the day, the uncertainty, the endless control over my every action, the lack of freedom, the fear and anxiety. I think the mask is starting to make me ill. I just can’t see any hope for the future.

And here’s the thing. I’ve got a friend who works in a hospital. She says that the bat flu was actually real, and it was quite nasty, but it wasn’t anything particularly out of the ordinary. They coped with it without much difficulty and it seems to be going away now. They are having a pretty normal winter in her hospital – certainly no busier than usual. So why the Tiers and the masks and the rwo metres and the massive credit card bill? It doesn’t make any sense to me any more.

I’m at the end of my tether. What should I do?

Yous sincerely,

Anonymous

He hasn’t yet received a reply, but he imagines it might go something like this.

Dear Anonymous,

You asked me what you should do. I’ll tell you. Pack your bags and leave this man, right now. This is not normal behaviour.

The constant control, the limiting of your freedoms, the psychological manipulation, the false hope, the small rewards for good behaviour, the forced financial dependency – these are all the hallmarks of an abusive relationship.

Perhaps he can’t help himself. He seems to be a deeply deluded man. He probably wants this to end as much as you do.

This is not your fault. But it needs to stop – now.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Three today: “I wasn’t born to follow” by The Byrds, “Living in hope” by The Rutles and “I Think I’m Gonna Kill Myself” by Elton John.

Stop Press: “Safetyland“, the latest tune from lockdown sceptic rockers MediaBear, is out now.

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, McDonald’s has been accused of the weird woke crime of “cultural appropriation” because it introduced a sandwich based on a Jamaican recipe. The Mail has the story.

Fast food giant McDonald’s has been accused of “cultural appropriation at its finest” over one of its new Christmas menu items.

The chain announced a new Jerk Chicken Sandwich for its festive menu, which also features a double Big Mac and a Celebrations McFlurry. But it is the Jerk Chicken Sandwich which has caused the biggest stir – and not all for the right reasons. While some have taken to social media to praise the burger, others have hit out at McDonald’s accusing them of “cultural appropriation”.

Cultural appropriation is the adoption of an element or elements of one culture or identity by members of another culture or identity. It is particularly controversial when members of a dominant culture appropriate from disadvantaged minority cultures.

Jerk chicken originates from Jamaica and is believed by historians to come from indigenous Taino people and Maroons – descendants of Africans who were enslaved in the Caribbean islands.

One person tweeted: “The more I think about it the more I’m bothered by the McDonald’s ‘jerk chicken’ attempt. It shows me one of two things: 1) They don’t care to respect the culture or 2) They have zero diversity on their team.”

Another said: “Jerk Chicken Sandwich, yet there is not one McDonald’s in Jamaica.”

One person tweeted: “Who approved McDonald’s Jerk Chicken Sandwich?”

Another added: “Disrespect to the fullest. McDonald’s slapped a dead sauce on top of a crispy chicken and called it Jerk Chicken Sandwich, unreal.”

By this twisted logic there should surely be a ban on the sale of all Jamaican jerk products to non-Jamaicans, and on all non-Jamaicans enjoying them.

Stop Press: FSU Legal Advisory Council member Andrew Tettenborn has written in CapX on the Universities UK Critical Race Theory capitulation that we flagged up in yesterday’s Woke G.

“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 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…

In his Spectator column this week, Toby lets on about the unusual sleeping arrangements that writing Lockdown Sceptics – and having the house rewired – have created in his home.

I’ve moved out of my home. No, Caroline and I haven’t broken up. It’s just that we’re having the house rewired, which means we have to be out of our bedroom by 8am Ordinarily, that wouldn’t matter but about eight months ago I started a blog about lockdown and I’m usually up until 4am working on it. We have almost 7,000 subscribers to our daily newsletter and I want it to be waiting for them when they wake up. And superhuman though I am, I can’t survive on four hours’ sleep a night.

I haven’t gone very far. I’ve stuck a blow-up mattress in the garden shed that doubles as my office. But, weirdly, the children seem to think this is a prelude to divorce. Given how many of their friends’ parents have separated — the divorce rate in England and Wales is 42% — they’ve become experts in the telltale signs, and apparently Mum and Dad sleeping in different bedrooms is one of them. My efforts to reassure them have been in vain. Earlier this week, I explained to 13-year-old Freddie that it was only a temporary measure, but he just stared at me anxiously. “Don’t you and Mum love each other any more?” he asked.

And it’s not just the kids.

Even my mother-in-law has become a bit suspicious. She came to lunch last Saturday – she’s in our support bubble – and because she’s an expert on everything to do with home improvement I asked her if she thought it would be possible to add an extension to my shed and get a lavatory plumbed in. The idea would be to create a separate bedroom with an en suite bathroom. “That way, we could Airbnb it,” I said, rather unconvincingly. She arched her eyebrows and adopted an ironic tone: “I thought it was supposed to be a man cave, not a self-contained flat?”

Needless to say, Caroline has no objections to my sleeping in the shed – she says she sleeps better because I don’t disturb her when I come to bed in the middle of the night – but is slightly irritated that after supper, when the children are refusing to do their homework or are fighting with each other, I just slip out of the back door clutching a bottle of wine and a bowl of nuts. In the past, Caroline has complained that I’m more like a fifth child than a parent, but at least I would occasionally play the role of a more experienced older sibling – helping the others with their ties, walking them to the bus stop, telling them what to do if they got into a fight: “Hit first, hit hard and hit often.” But now I’ve been transformed into a kind of lodger. I smile at the children across the kitchen table, flirt with their mother a little and then retire to my room for the evening.

So now we know the secret of how Lockdown Sceptics gets published at 4am each morning.

Worth reading in full – very funny.

Latest News

Lockdown 3.0 Set to Continue to Summer 2021

Despite all the vaccine optimism and the promise of a relaxation of the rules over Christmas, the dreadful financial forecasts by the OBR yesterday came with some underlying assumptions that appear to foresee restrictions continuing until summer 2021. Guido Fawkes has done the digging.

The Chancellor, in his statement today, used the forecasts from the OBR’s “central scenario” when it comes to Covid complications. So Guido took a look at those underlying assumptions. The OBR assumes, presumably with good reason given how closely it works with the Treasury, widespread deployment of a vaccine by the middle of 2021, not by the Spring, with a high to medium level of restrictions until then. The differences in implied borrowing, growth, and scarring are stark.

The “upside” scenario the Government is clearly not confident of taking place, involves restrictions “broadly equivalent” to October 2020’s tiers 1 and 2. The Government’s modelled upside is the previous tiered system. Meanwhile the “central scenario” expects the whole country to be between tiers 2 and 3 right through until “mid 2021“. No household mixing until June…

As Boris stated earlier this week, his post-lockdown plan is for a “new, stronger and more sustainable tiers framework on December 2nd”, styled as “tougher than in October” – reinforcing the Government’s view that we will find ourselves in the OBR’s “central scenario” where things “may vary regionally and temporally”, however are still predominantly repressive, until the start of summer. Guido can only hope the forecasters are once again wrong.

Read it here.

Hospitals Still Not Protecting Patients From Covid

Professor Carl Heneghan from the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine has warned that UK hospitals are still failing to prevent the spread of the virus among patients. It comes after outbreaks in cancer wards in Edinburgh’s Western General and Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital left a number of patients dead. The Scottish Sun has the story.

The Oxford University expert spoke out as he said levels of ward-acquired infections in Scotland during the ongoing second wave were a “really serious issue”.

It came as it emerged planned ops, including cancer surgery, have had to be axed in Greater Glasgow and Clyde due to pandemic pressures – and more than 100,000 Scots are waiting on key diagnostic tests.

Prof Heneghan said: “Community admissions are coming down but we are seeing this ongoing problem of hospital- acquired infections. It is a big issue now, as it was in the first wave. Staff are becoming infected and then go back and forward betw­een areas in hospitals. We urgently need to get on top. It’s particularly important as we go into winter, where we’ll have Covid hospital-acquired infections, and potentially other infections like respiratory syncytial virus and influenza in hospitals.

“Where we’ve seen problems, it’s often mixing non-Covid patients and Covid patients, and staff taking the virus between areas. What we need is completely separate entrances, separate staff working on these wards, and the staff need to be quarantined when they’ve been working. No mixing. The PPE reduces your risk but not to zero. The more times you see patients who are symptomatic, the more you are at risk.”

Prof Heneghan said old-style community  hospitals – many of which have shut – could have been used for Covid patients to stop disruption at larger health facilities.

He added: “If we look to places like Germany, they have nearly three times as many beds as we’ve got, and they have many more smaller facilities in the community. That allows Covid patients to be put in those facilities and centralised hospitals to keep running.”

In a nod to the Louisa Jordan field hospital at Glasgow’s SEC campus – which hasn’t treated any Covid patients – he said: “If it was a problem to use Nightingale hospitals or staff them, why  procure and pay for them when you could have been thinking about smaller facilities to separate patients?”

The newspaper notes that the number of patients catching Covid in Scottish hospitals doubled in a week during October to 189 as the virus spread to non-Covid wards.

How tragic that we have spent so much money and imposed so many restrictions on the healthy in experimental and often vain efforts to contain this virus, yet have failed to take the basic steps necessary to protect the vulnerable, such as keeping infectious patients separate from other vulnerable patients.

Worth reading in full.

Oxford Vaccine Red Flags

Hilda Bastian in Wired has looked in detail at the AstraZeneca trial and is extremely unimpressed, arguing the vaccine “isn’t up to snuff”.

Presumably, neither of the two trials from which they combined data could have provided a clear answer on the vaccine’s efficacy on its own. To make things worse, Oxford-AstraZeneca reported only the results for certain subgroups of people within each one. (For perspective on this: The two subgroups chosen leave out perhaps half the people in the Brazilian trial.) Meanwhile, one of their key claims is that giving half a dose of the vaccine on the first injection, followed by a standard dose on the second one, led to better outcomes – but neither of these trials had been designed to test this hypothesis. In fact, it’s since emerged that the half-dose/full-dose option started out as a mistake, and one that was only caught when some people in the study didn’t have the usual high rate of adverse effects.

The problems are legion.

There are other problems, too. In the press release, Oxford-AstraZeneca reports that two of the dosing regimens “demonstrated efficacy.” Presumably, none of the others did, but they didn’t give specifics. Of the only two regimens they reported, one (the mistaken first half-dose, followed by a full dose at least a month later) came in at 90%, and the other (two standard doses at least a month apart) achieved only 62% efficacy. You’ll see reports that the vaccine had 70% efficacy, on average; but that’s un-knowable, because we only have numbers on these two regimens, as opposed to everyone in the trials – and how they arrived at those percentages isn’t explained. As far as we know, some of this analysis could hinge on data from just a few sick people. That means the findings could be a coincidence, or they could be biased by other factors. For example, it has since been revealed that the people who received an initial half-dose – and for whom the vaccine was said to have 90% efficacy – included no one over the age of 55. That was not the case for the standard-dosing group, however, where the reported efficacy was 62%. This demographic difference could be more important than the change to the size of the first dose.

That’s not the end of the problems. Overall, the Oxford-AstraZeneca trials appear to include relatively few participants over the age of 55, even though this group is especially vulnerable to COVID-19. (People over 55 were not originally eligible to join the Brazilian trial at all.) Compare that to BNT-Pfizer’s trial, where 41% of the volunteers were over 55. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine also seems to produce relatively high rates of adverse events. If you want to dig further into this vaccine’s story and issues, I’ve laid out a more detailed rundown of the Oxford-AstraZeneca trials and sources here.

The Oxford vaccine is a more traditional type of vaccine so the lower efficacy and stronger side-effects are more in line with what was originally expected. The concerns do call into question though how political any UK decision to approve the vaccine will be, as well as how many will agree to have it and how far the Government will deem it sufficiently protective to bring the emergency to a close. The Pfizer and Moderna RNA vaccines appear to be more effective (if more expensive and logistically challenging), but we don’t yet know for how long or if they will prevent serious illness or transmission. There are also questions of long-term safety.

Even if a vaccine does enable this crisis to come to an end in the next six months, there is still the problem of what happens next time. We can’t go through this every time a new flu-like pandemic gets going.

Stop Press: A new peer-reviewed article has appeared in Annals of Internal Medicine, “Ethical and Scientific Considerations Regarding the Early Approval and Deployment of a COVID-19 Vaccine“, questioning the ethical basis of the current Covid vaccine trials. Is this the kind of anti-vaxx messaging that Keir Starmer wants banned?

FIVE Places That Prove Lockdowns Aren’t Needed

UK positive tests reported

The foundational myth of 2020’s dangerous new cult of lockdownism is that without severe restrictions on the freedom and movement of the general population COVID-19 will afflict and kill hundreds of thousands of people. That is the only claim that could plausibly justify such extreme infringements of our liberty with all the extraordinary costs and harms that come with them. Disturbingly, its sole basis appears to be a belief in the epidemiological modelling by Imperial College and others which purports to show that this calamity is likely, or at least a reasonable worst case scenario.

Many have pointed out that the Government’s own surveys show that the UK R rate fell below 1 before the recent national lockdown, though this hasn’t stopped the Government claiming it was the lockdown wot done it.

This is far from the only evidence that lockdowns are not necessary for COVID-19 epidemics to slow and decline. Below are the latest graphs from Worldometer for five places (two countries and three US states) which have not imposed a lockdown or many restrictions at all on a national, state or local level this autumn. While most of them have seen a busy autumn in intensive care, hospitals have not been overwhelmed and are operating within normal seasonal bounds. In all of them the epidemic is now (in terms of positive test results) either in decline or plateauing.

Assuming these slowing and declining trends continue, these data will become solid proof that lockdowns and other extreme restrictions on the general population are not necessary to “control” COVID-19 outbreaks, even in winter, and therefore cannot be justified as a matter of proportionate public health policy.

Stop Press: Prof Carl Heneghan has warned that as “cases” plummet, the data the Government will use as the base of its announcement today about which areas will be in which tiers will be out of date by December 2nd.

Scientist Demands Retraction of Original PCR Study

Dr Pieter Borger

A reader writes with news about a challenge being issued by a Dutch scientist to the original paper which underpins the supposed scientific validity of the Covid PCR test.

Today, Dutch scientist sceptic Pieter Borger has issued a paper to journals for publication demanding retraction of the paper with the origin of our PCR test. The original paper was submitted January 21st, and published  January 23rd – the fastest peer review ever! Keep in mind that the virus was only DNA sequenced on January 7th. That paper apparently is the origin of all PCR tests in Europe. Borger says it is dodgy science and should be retracted.

These are his charges from an earlier unofficial publication (translation courtesy of Google translate):

1. Use is made of non-specific primers and probes. This can be established because the letters with which the primer is indicated are not fully stated. This gives the researcher the opportunity to further specify which primer he will eventually use. The researcher may enter the letters left blank himself.

2. The probes must be specific to detect the gene. In the January 2020 article, one probe is said to be specific for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The other probe is common to SARS-CoV viruses. With the group of scientists I work with, we have determined that in reality those probes are the same. Whether those probes are both specific for SARS-CoV-2 or whether they are both more general for SARS-CoV viruses, I don’t know. This test is bad design for this reason alone.

3. I have explained the importance of a correct primer concentration above. We have found that these concentrations are in many cases four to five times too high.

4. There are six primers in total. We found that the GC content was significantly too low for three primers; the correct GC content should be, as I have explained above, between 40% and 60%. Two of the six primers tested were found to have a GC content of 28% and a 34%. This also means that the PCR test is a bad design.

5. Based on the article from January 2020, I investigated which annealing temperature is used in this PCR test. I have explained to you that within a primer pair the temperature difference may be one or at most two degrees. In this test, the temperature difference in one of the important genes turns out to be about 10 degrees in reality.

I have the impression that RIVM itself has also established that something is wrong here and that this was the reason for RIVM to change the protocol and for that reason removed one gene from the test, namely this gene.

6. Insufficient parts of the virus are detected to determine whether one is indeed dealing with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (corona). I am referring to my imagery from above with regard to the auto parts. With the SARS-CoV-2 virus (corona) it is important to examine the entire RNA strand. Otherwise you will not know whether you are dealing with the whole strand or just some fragments.

7. The coronavirus PCR test has no negative control. The aim is therefore not to rule out the possibility that other coronaviruses have been detected.

8. In the PCR test described in the January 2020 protocol, a number of cycles of 45 is assumed. However, it is not indicated at which number of cycles the test should be read as positive or negative. I would like to point out that at 35 cycles you detect almost no infectious virus anymore. Then you will understand that increasing by more than 35 makes no sense anymore. The test does not indicate when you should start reading and that is a major defect in the test. RIVM first used 30 multiplications as a starting point. You cannot just increase the number of cycles to 35 as the RIVM has done. Then you change the rules during the game. Cycles of between 30 and 35 are also a grey area. Again, after 35 cycles, there is no more infectious virus. This applies to 97% of the cases. This has been scientifically proven.

9. The aforementioned January 2020 publication also shows that the test also gives false positive results. Because the result was negative with retesting. This means that you should always re-test if the test is positive. I do not know if this also happens in practice. I do know, for example, that top athletes in case of a positive test often have themselves re-tested and the test then regularly turns out negative. If I tested positive myself, I would insist that I be retested. If that re-test also turned out positive, I would demand a third test. Only if that third test also turned out positive, then I would like to assume that I have indeed tested positive (aside: that does not mean that I am infected with the virus). Only then will you have reduced the uncertainty about the reliability of the result to minimal proportions.

10. My last but by no means least point of criticism is that the article describing the PCR COVID-19 test is not peer reviewed. Why I think this I have explained above. I find that very bad because the test is used for diagnostics.

He adds: “Incidentally, I also notice that two of the authors of this article are also part of the editorial board. In itself there is nothing wrong with that, but it is an extra reason to be careful with the placement of the article.

I presume the actual scientific retraction demand, when we see it, will be more precisely formulated.

This seems like an important developing story, that no doubt will be ignored/censored elsewhere.

“China Is Trolling Us”

Lockdown Sceptics regular contributor Dr Clare Craig has written a scathing Twitter thread about the peer-reviewed study in Nature purporting to show that Wuhan had no infectious virus left at all in May. She calls foul on this highly implausible finding, placing the study alongside the earlier ones from China from which came the asymptomatic transmission myth that has been so effective at shutting down Western societies.

China is trolling us with this and Nature should be embarrassed at having published it. It claims 10 million people were tested in the last two weeks of May in Wuhan. That’s over 700k tests a day. I do not believe that – do you? It then claims that not a single Covid case was found, i.e., Covid disease with symptoms capable of spread – weeks after all the drama. I do not believe that – do you? The ultimate trolling is that what they are claiming to report is a 0.003% false positive rate (all their ‘cases’ were asymptomatic, no viral culture and no transmission). I do not even believe that. It is a total fabrication. What’s the point of peer review if it lets something like this into Nature? Scientists have to start looking more critically at the politics. The studies showing asymptomatic spread were almost all Chinese too with non-Chinese studies observing no spread.

Read it here.

A Vivisection of the Idiocy

We are publishing today Part 3 of Dr Roger Hodkinson’s analysis of the Covid lunacy, written back in the summer but published for the first time on Lockdown Sceptics. Find Part 1 here and Part 2 here. From the introduction:

In this Part Three I intend to dismember limb-by-limb virtually every intervention that has been so forcibly foisted on us, using a combination of (largely) common sense and (some) medical knowledge. If my rant seems excessive to sensitive eyes, I urge you to hold your venom until the end, and then compare the utterly indefensible arbitrary measures with the untimely and unnecessary deaths for so many of our loved ones, and the totally unwarranted devastation of the global economy with hundreds of millions (that’s MILLIONS by the way) of people now out of work and facing a highly uncertain future. The manipulated scale of the threat and the inestimable consequences of the so-called ‘control’ measures begs for a vivisection as the beast is still alive. So here it is.

Well worth reading in full.

We hope to publish Part 4 – “The Autopsy” – in a couple of weeks.

Wanted: National Alliance Against Lockdown

The National Alliance Against Lockdown

Kathy Gyngell, editor of the Conservative Woman, has penned an impassioned plea for some properly financed, concerted opposition to the increasingly totalitarian approach of the Government to the pandemic.

It’s crazy. There are several anti-lockdown groups and many brilliantly outspoken critics of lockdown – scientists, businessmen, lawyers and commentators – out there. They include Lord Sumption, Peter Hitchens, Karol Sikora, Carl Heneghan, Luke Johnson, Toby Young and Simon Dolan, to name but a few.

Add to them the 70 MPs of the Covid Recovery Group, led by Graham Brady, Mark Harper and Steve Baker. And also the millions, some 30% of the public, that successive polls show haven’t been roped into the Save Our NHS lockdown mantras.   

Yet despite this evidence of potential dissent, the case against lockdown has had no traction politically – none. Despite the Daily Mail alone of the MSM taking up the cause.

Why? Because beyond following each other on Twitter, publishing and endorsing each other in a new online industry, there’s been no serious or adequately financed, co-ordinated opposition to the Government’s authoritarian diktats. Not that I can see, anyway.

Is it then surprising that however cogent – legally, scientifically and morally – their case is, that these disparate and fragmented groups and individuals have failed to change the conforming mainstream media’s reporting narrative?

Or that, eight months after Britain was turned to the dark side, they’ve failed to prevent a seemingly beleaguered Boris Johnson from entrenching himself in his bunker as the nation’s Big Brother, against whom there is no rising up?

Or, indeed, that we now find ourselves listening to the Prime Minister’s latest and (in true Orwellian style) ever-changing social rules, which he tells us we must endure in the name of this spectral disease through to next October? With every newspaper co-operatively giving its columns over to dutiful explanations of ‘what they mean’ to an already subjugated and compliant public.

Is it surprising that we watch helplessly as Covid-free normality recedes further across the horizon? Or to find that, in this period of restriction, our ‘liberty’ and economic activity is to be conditional on following whatever the latest set of arbitrary rules and/or compliance with vaccination or testing, is chosen for us? 

Kathy goes on to outline nine key points that need to be pressed home to policymakers by this hoped-for alliance, including “how the public have been frightened and misled into supporting lockdown in the deliberate fostering of a climate of fear and hysteria” and “how the populist ‘Save our NHS’ Covid priority policy was misjudged and mismanaged, leaving millions of patients untreated and at risk of illness and death from all other conditions and diseases”.

Worth reading in full.

And any public-spirited philanthropists feeling moved to come to their country’s aid at this time of Government-induced peril, do get in touch.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Just one today: “Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be” by Max Bygraves.

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, new guidance from Universities UK stating that vice-chancellors and other senior university leaders “should be given anti-racist training on ‘white privilege'”. From the Telegraph:

Institutions must “go beyond” unconscious bias training when it comes to tackling racial harassment on campus, according to new advice from Universities UK (UUK).

University chiefs, staff and students all need to be taught about “racism, racial harassment and microaggressions and white privilege” through training that is drawn up specially form an anti-racism perspective, the guidance says.

UUK, an organisation which represents vice-chancellors, has published recommendations for senior leaders to eradicate racial harassment at universities.

It comes after a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission last year found that there was an “alarmingly high rate” of racial harassment on university campuses.

Nearly a quarter of ethnic minority students said they had experienced racial harassment at UK universities, according to the watchdog’s report which concluded that many universities are unaware of the scale of the problem and are overconfident in their ability to respond to it.

The guidance, from the advisory group set up by UUK, calls on senior leaders and governing bodies to acknowledge issues that exist in their universities and acknowledge that higher education “perpetuates institutional racism”.

Universities are also told to review their curricula to ensure that they are teaching students in a way that is “diverse and inclusive”.

The guidance notes that “curricula that are based on Eurocentric, typically white voices will perpetuate existing inequalities”. It adds that teaching courses from such a perspective is “unlikely to reflect the experience or viewpoints of many members of the student and staff body”.

UUK cited a report published last year by the National Union of Students which claimed that a lack of a “sense of belonging” may contribute to the black, Asian and minority ethnic students performing less well academically.

Perhaps UUK would like to explain why “white” children in UK state schools are the least likely racial group to go to university? Where’s the “white privilege” there? And one would have thought that European universities would be entitled to teach their own academic and literary traditions. Are European institutions no longer to be allowed to sustain a distinctive intellectual culture? Is that not why people from all over the world come to study in them?

Stop Press: Seems like a good time to recap this excellent piece from Quillette back in February: “The Misguided Moral Panic About Racism in British Universities” by Wanjiru Njoya and Doug Stokes. As they point out, the notion that British unis are hotbeds of racism is completely bonkers. They are among the least racist institutions in the world.

“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: A famous doctor who demanded a mandatory mask law has been snapped partying maskless on a boat surrounded by bikini-clad women in the latest instance of hypocrisy from one of our self-appointed moral guardians. Mikhail Varshavski (pictured in the blue cap below), known as “Dr Mike” online and dubbed the world’s “hottest doctor”, was celebrating his 31st birthday in flagrant breach of the very rules he has been insisting on for everyone else.

Read the full story in Summit News.

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 my 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”.

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…

Bob’s cartoon in today’s Telegraph

Latest News

If Lockdown Was a Drug, Would We Use It?

On Thursday I asked why lockdowns aren’t subject to the same rigorous safety and efficacy protocols as drugs and vaccines despite their huge collateral harms for questionable pay-offs. Today we’re publishing an original piece by three scientific researchers that looks at exactly this question.

The authors are Dr Kerry Nield, Dr Juergen Dobmeyer and Dr David Cook, who between them have over 60 years’ experience in the field of drug development and clinical research. So they know what they’re talking about when they say: if Lockdown was a drug, we would not use it. From the introduction:

One of the central tenets of healthcare provision is that all patients have the right to expect equal treatment. Unfortunately, much as we might wish to offer the best treatments to all, there are only finite resources available and so it is necessary to balance the needs of different patients to ensure their fairest distribution. This is a difficult balancing act, but over the years we have developed approaches to ensure such judgements are as objective and as equitable as possible. In the UK, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is responsible for doing this, but the approaches taken by NICE are not unique and similar methods are used by healthcare systems around the world.

Non-pharmaceutical interventions such as the imposition of societal restrictions, ‘lockdowns’, aim to have clinical outcomes i.e., a reduction in COVID-19 cases and deaths. However, unlike almost all other medical inventions these have not been subjected to the normal assessments used to test their effectiveness and worth.

So, what if lockdowns were a new treatment, ‘Lockdown™’, would we use it?

Three important areas are considered by authorities before a new therapeutic is recommended for use:

1. Efficacy and cost effectiveness
2. Safety and the Benefit/Risk profile
3. Lost opportunity cost

This is a thorough, professional analysis of the question by specialists in the field and is not to be missed. We’ve given it a permanent home on the right-hand menu and you can read it in full here.

Covid Crazy: How One Man’s White Lie Locked Down a State

What follows is a guest post by Lockdown Sceptics regular Guy de la Bédoyère on the farce going on down-under.

I can’t be alone in feeling a mild sense of panic that we are being engulfed in a form of lockdown madness. It’s everywhere now. Northern Ireland gets out of one lockdown and throws itself straight back into another. SAGE ‘experts’ have even dreamed up a bizarre form of punitive transactional lockdowns for England: one day off, five days of flagellation back in the clink as retribution for “giving Granny Covid for Xmas”. Christ, it’s like some dystopian vision of public schools.

It seems a thousand years since Imperial College’s infamous 500,000-deaths report from March conceded that it was ‘not at all certain suppression will succeed long-term’ and that attempting measures with such disruptive consequences had never been tried before. Looking back now, Neil Ferguson and his Hole in the Wall Gang sound like lockdown sceptics. Almost.

But now lockdown has become a way of life and government policy. Indeed, in some places it’s the only government policy (apart from not accepting responsibility for anything). In an astonishing development, it turns out South Australia’s instant overnight lockdown was triggered by a lie. A pizza restaurant worker claimed to have caught the virus after a single visit to the pizzeria, not mentioning that he worked there. State officials knew that another employee had tested positive and assumed the strain in question must be incredibly virulent if this young man had become infected after one visit. In a moment of frantic overreaction, the government of South Australia ordered an instant shutdown, throwing businesses back into turmoil and ensuring the masses would immediately pile into their cars to buy life-saving toilet paper in industrial quantities. That’s how a nuclear war could get started.

It’s our version of the 1518 dancing mania that broke out in Strasbourg, a mass psychogenic illness, triggered by a young woman who started spontaneously dancing in public. Sounds familiar? With nerves frayed to the bare bone, people crippled with anxiety provoked by razor brains like Professor Andrew Hayward of SAGE the other day, and stress afflicting everyone from politicians to the residents suffering from dementia in care homes, the conditions are ripe for panic-stricken lockdowns ranging from state sponsored hysteria to individual self-imposed gibbering behind locked front doors.

Even though the vaccine has hoved into view on the horizon, I rather think we’d better grit our teeth and prepare for more of this mania in the last few weeks and months of Lockdown World. South Australia won’t be the last place to go bonkers.

To define true madness, what is’t but to be nothing else but mad? (Hamlet 2.2)

Stop Press: Guy has a piece in the Telegraph reflecting on how “our ancestors would be baffled by our hysterical response to this modern plague“.

Covid Infections Continue to Drop

The latest ONS infection survey published yesterday shows new infections in England continuing to fall. Matt Hancock predictably tried to claim it was the lockdown wot dunnit, despite the ONS concurring with ICL’s REACT study and KCL’s ZOE App that infections were falling before lockdown began on November 5th.

Professor Neil Ferguson was at large again yesterday warning that we now must keep lockdowns in place to avoid a third wave.

We now have clear evidence that Tier 3 measures were working to bring down infection rates in some areas. Tier 2 was also having an impact, but a smaller one. The decision is a political one, but if we don’t want to see infection levels rebound from December 3rd my assessment is that measures between Tier 2 and Tier 3 will be necessary in the great majority of locations.

Clear evidence Tier 3 works? Right, let’s have a look shall we. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of places where positive “cases” peaked and began to fall before Tier 3 (or in some cases Tier 2) was imposed:

  • Liverpool was placed in Tier 3 on October 14th but positive cases had been declining since October 8th, six days earlier.
  • West Lancashire was placed in Tier 3 on October 17th but positive cases had been declining since October 13th, four days earlier
  • Manchester was placed in Tier 3 on October 23rd but positive cases had been declining since October 1st, 22 days earlier.
  • Sheffield was placed in Tier 3 on October 24th but positive cases had been declining since October 8th, 16 days earlier
  • Warrington was placed in Tier 3 on October 29th but positive cases had been declining since October 27th, two days earlier
  • Nottingham was placed in Tier 3 on October 29th but positive cases had been declining since October 9th, 20 days earlier
  • Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire was placed in Tier 3 on October 30th but positive cases had been declining since October 20th, 10 days earlier.

It’s that pernicious myth again, put about by Ferguson and the SAGE modellers, that COVID-19 epidemics only peak and decline once restrictions they’ve recommended are introduced. Yet in Sweden infections declined in April without any new restrictions, and in Switzerland infections are currently declining despite no new restrictions being imposed.

WHO Europe director Hans Kluge has warned that Europe faces a “tough six months” waiting for a vaccine, noting that Switzerland in particular has intensive care units operating at 95% capacity. However, the “Swiss Doctor” Covid fact site has pointed out that this doesn’t take into account all Swiss intensive care beds, and that the high occupancy level is not unusual for winter.

Recently, a lot has been reported internationally about the utilization of Swiss intensive care units. The fact is: the certified intensive care beds are used to almost 100%, the currently available intensive care beds to 79% , and the maximum available intensive care beds to approx. 56%.

Occupancy rates between 85-100% are the norm in winter, and overloads in Swiss intensive care units, including postponing operations and moving patients, are also common during strong flu waves. In 2015, the price watchdog criticized the fact that Swiss hospitals were underutilised with an average of 80% occupancy.

Switzerland’s spring wave never produced above average mortality so the strength of this autumn surge is likely to be in part a delay of the first wave. And in any case, the epidemic appears already to be on the decline with no lockdown necessary.

In England we see from ONS data that regions have tended to go into decline before they reach 2.5% infection rate, sometimes well before. This appears to be independent of the varied restrictions imposed on them, and in many local areas (Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, etc.) occurred prior to new restrictions coming in.

These are not the patterns of a viral epidemic being kept under control primarily by lockdowns but rather by natural limitations such as the availability of susceptible hosts. The evidence is clear that local restrictions are no more necessary to cause a COVID-19 epidemic to peak and decline than national restrictions are, whatever Hancock and Ferguson may say.

Stop Press: Camilla Tominey has put together a great short video in the Telegraph rubbishing the government’s data for Lockdown II and showing all the ways it was wrong. Unfortunately, she then argues the tier system was working, but don’t let that put you off because the skewering of Witless and Unbalanced’s dodgy dossier is beautiful.

Bang Pots and Pans to Protest Lockdown

Two Lockdown Sceptics readers emailed us today independently with the same idea. Maybe there’s something in it.

The first reader pointed out that in Denmark during the nine-day protests that overturned the law mandating the vaccine for some groups they banged pots and pans. “If everyone came out of their front door, say, every Friday at 7pm and banged pots and pans to show we don’t consent might it catch on?”

The second reader wrote:

I am trying to get something off the ground for those like me disabled and not able to get to protests, plus everybody around the country. The plan would be on Sunday December 27th and Sunday January 3rd everyone should get out on their doorsteps with a saucepan and bang for an end to this Covid nonsense and freedom. The police could do nothing to stop it and if it was publicised by all those supporting getting out of what the Government is doing to us now it really could be big. Maybe I am dreaming but who knows.

Friday or Sunday, weekly or one off? Time to put it out there on social media and see if it flies: #PotsPansProtest.

Escape YouTube Censorship

An executive from odysee.com got in touch to say there is an alternative to the petty censors at Google.

With the Anna Brees situation I figured I’d check-in. All anyone needs to do is sign up at odysee.com and we can copy an entire YouTube channel over, on an ongoing basis. It takes just a minute.

What’s going on is absolutely awful and we’re extremely committed to keeping this content safe and available. Anything you can do to spread the word would be greatly appreciated. 

Stop Press: Maybe Unlocked – the anti-lockdown embryonic TV channel – should move its YouTube channel to odysee, following the social media company’s decision to censor its interview with Dr Mike Yeadon yesterday. Happily, Facebook hasn’t yet followed suit and you can watch the video here.

Devil’s Dictionary

More entries have come in for the Covid version of the Devil’s Dictionary. (You can see the first set here, the second set here and the third set here.)

Contrarian, n. Someone who disagrees with one’s opinion. (qv controversialist).

Libertarian, n. A selfish person who cares more about themselves than others (qv Granny killer)

Free speech, n. Hate speech; misinformation; fake news.

Civil liberties, n. Antiquated “freedoms” beloved of granny-killing libertarians, based on rose-tinted and historically illiterate misinterpretations of English historical events such as the signing of the Magna Carta, the glorious revolution of 1688, etc.

Protest, n. (1) Pejorative: The propagation of misinformation and conspiracy theories, sometimes accompanied by the defiance of social distancing by granny-killing libertarians and believers in the old normal. (2) Complimentary: The courageous and laudable advocacy of certain approved causes related to environmentalism and anti-racism.

Fact check, n. The replacement of an inconvenient set of contested statements and opinions with a convenient set of contested statements and opinions.

Expert, n. Credentialled scientist/researcher/academic whose opinion one agrees with. (qv “The science”).

Pseudo-expert, n. Credentialled scientist/researcher/academic whose opinion one does not agree with. (qv charlatan/outlier/controversialist).

Death with covid, n. Unacceptable, tragic, entirely avoidable cessation of life which must be be prevented at absolutely any cost whatsoever.

Death from other cause, n. The human condition.

Flatten the curve, v. Archaic. The original meaning of this phrase has been lost to history (qv squash the sombrero).

Herd immunity, n. (1) Scientific myth peddled by pseudo-experts and charlatans, based on the discredited notion that the human immune system can, without unprecedented societal transformation and the advent of a vaccine, cope with a virus without suffering a calamitous collapse. (2) Genocidal strategy proposed by granny-killing libertarians in order to kill as many grannies as possible.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Four today: “Freedom come freedom go” by the Fortunes, “C*nts are still running the world” by Jarvis Cocker, “We’re All Criminals” by Right Said Fred and “Can’t Stop Christmas” by Robbie Williams.

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, the BBC’s diversity drive. From the Times.

The views of white men must not be allowed to dominate decisions about the BBC’s news coverage, according to a senior executive.

Jonathan Munro, head of newsgathering, said that the corporation’s diversity drive was necessary because too many senior editorial positions had been held by Caucasian males.

Mr Munro also admitted that the national broadcaster and other news organisations were blindsided by the failings that led to the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 because so few journalists had grown up on housing estates.

Tim Davie, the new BBC director-general, has made diversity one of his priorities, promising to transform the corporation into a “50/20/12 organisation” – with a workforce that is 50% female, at least 20% black, Asian and minority ethnic, and 12% disabled. Recruitment policies are also being rewritten so that bosses hire fewer people with private-school educations and Oxbridge degrees to address perceptions that it is dominated by upper middle-class graduates.

Mr Munro said that when he joined from ITN in 2014 every editor in BBC newsgathering was a white man. The only woman at that level, Stephanie Flanders, the economics editor, had just left to join JP Morgan. “I don’t think anybody can possibly think that that’s right [or] justifiable,” said Mr Munro, who is white.

Creating a “pipeline” of diverse young staff who could be trained to take leadership roles had “changed the complexion of what we do on air for the better. We don’t want all our editorial meetings to be dominated by what white people think. We don’t want any single group in society to dominate our editorial thinking, because we are not being diverse in our thought process.”

Racial stereotypes and pigeon-holing, obsession with people having the right skin colour, patronising, anti-meritocratic recruitment policies, and an underlying hostility and delegitimising of one racial group because of their skin colour. What century is this again? And one thing the BBC can hardly be accused of is not going on about race enough.

You can listen to the Media Masters podcast in which Jonathan Munro made these remarks here. Funnily enough, he didn’t end his interview by announcing he would stand aside in favour of a woman of colour.

“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 my 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 can give up essential liberty to obtain 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…

Toby appeared on talkRADIO yesterday to talk about the extreme Covid censorship being perpetrated by technology companies online and now the Labour Party is joining in. Watch him here.

Stop Press: Professor Carl Heneghan and Tom Jefferson’s Spectator piece summarising the findings of the Danish mask study was censored by Facebook yesterday because it was supposedly “false information”. Carl tweeted: “Here’s what happened when I posted our latest @spectator article to Facebook – I’m aware this is happening to others – what has happened to academic freedom and freedom of speech? There is nothing in this article that is ‘false'”. This is extraordinary overreach on the part of Facebook, presuming to tell an Oxford professor writing in a mainstream magazine about a peer-reviewed study that he is wrong and may not write about it on their site. Who do they think they are?

https://twitter.com/carlheneghan/status/1329861848573861888

Latest News

Health and Safety Breaches at a Lighthouse Lab

What follows is a guest post by Toby.

Those of us who are dubious about the number of daily cases being announced by the Government each day tend to focus on the false positive rate, as well as the low professional standards at testing centres, leading to cross-contamination before the samples make it to the labs. But focus has now begun to shift to the labs themselves, with Channel 4 broadcasting a Dispatches on Monday night that revealed various lapses at the superlab run by Randox in Northern Ireland that analyses COVID-19 tests from across Britain.

An undercover reporter discovered serious failings, including cross-contamination of test samples. One expert told Dispatches that the lab’s “cavalier approach to safety” could lead to cross-contamination and potentially wrong test results. And by “wrong” they mean a person could be wrongfully diagnosed as positive. After all, if two swabs contaminate each other – one negative, the other positive – they both end up as positive. If cross-contamination is happening at these superlabs – and we have every reason to believe it is – the number of positives is being inflated.

Today, Lockdown Sceptics is publishing an original piece by Dr Julian Harris, a veteran scientist. He got a job in July at the Lighthouse lab in Milton Keynes, one of three superlabs in England run by a company – UK Biocentre – that has received billions in Government contracts. An experienced virologist with a background in biosafety, Dr Harris was horrified by what he witnessed during his first few days on the job. There was no proper induction for new employees familiarising them with how to handle biohazardous material, little awareness of the correct biosafety protocols to follow in the labs and little awareness of the risk of cross-contamination. After his superiors showed insufficient interest in his complaints – treating him as an “irritant”, in his words – he decided to tip off the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). He then worked with the HSE, providing them with real-time information when he encountered a health and safety breach. Before long, the HSE decided it needed to mount a proper, on-site investigation.

After he stopped working at the lab, Dr Harris got in touch with a BBC reporter and an Independent journalist and, when the HSE confirmed to them that it had written to UK Biocentre and notified them of numerous contraventions of health and safety law, they both ran stories last month. But those stories lacked granular detail because the HSE wouldn’t share the letters it had written to the lab operator, either with Dr Harris or the journalists.

Not to be fobbed off, Dr Harris submitted an FOI request to the HSE and yesterday he hit pay dirt: a copy of the correspondence the HSE had sent to UK Biocentre, including two letters containing long lists of health and safety breaches. We’re publishing both of these letters today – you can find them at the foot of Dr Harris’s article here.

Here’s an extract from Dr Harris’s piece:

I’ll give you some examples of the kind of breaches I discovered.

There were >20 Class II Biosafety cabinets (BSCs) for the initial processing of the swab samples. The cabinets are designed to protect the sterility of the samples and protect the operator from any potential contagion in the samples. Unfortunately, overloading cabinets with swab sample bags and unnecessary equipment was a common occurrence. This put the operator at risk of exposure to aerosols containing pathogens escaping from the cabinets into the lab environment, as well as endangering the integrity of the swab samples in the cabinet and risking them becoming contaminated by virus and virus components circulating in the lab.

A build-up of dirt in the cabinets can also compromise the integrity of the swab samples. But there was no schedule at appropriate intervals to fully clean all interior surfaces of the cabinets. Fumigation of the cabinets to inactivate any contaminants before servicing – which is supposed to happen regularly – only happened annually at this lab. The UK Biocentre, which operated the lab, felt it was acceptable to clean an unfumigated cabinet by sticking half your body into the apparatus in an attempt to clean the interior. Another high risk practice was technicians regularly doubling up to process the biohazardous swab samples, interrupting the protective air flows generated by the cabinets and further increasing the risk to the integrity of the cabinet environment.

The lab where the real-time PCR assay was run was kept under positive pressure for processing purposes, which meant no air from other areas was supposed to enter this room and potentially contaminate the assay. But cross-contamination issues started at the beginning of the process before the samples were taken to the PCR lab. The main causes of cross-contamination are the way members of the public use the swab kits; contamination of the insides of the tubes and cap by the operator; and the contamination of the thread of sample tubes with sample medium as shown below. These issues are exacerbated by the poor quality of most sample tubes/caps and suppliers’ mix-and-matching tubes to caps, so some of them don’t fit properly.

A dangerous practice I observed in the lab was the passing of leaky tubes to the liquid handling personnel, unknowingly putting them at risk, as well as contributing to the risk of cross-contamination.

There’s more in this vein, and if you read Dr Harris’s piece, as well as the two letters, the picture that emerges of one of the UK’s largest Covid laboratories is shocking. The UK Government is basing its decisions to impose draconian restrictions on people’s movements, causing catastrophic harm to the economy as well as public health, on testing data that simply cannot be relied upon, thanks to numerous health and safety breaches and the concomitant risk of cross-contamination.

When asked about the myriad ways in which it was contravening health and safety law, the Milton Keynes lab told the BBC that no improvement notice had been issued by the HSE. That’s true, but the lab operator was forced to pay a hefty fee to cover the inspectors’ time, which Dr Harris estimates was between £15,000 and £20,000. UK Biocentre was also told to get its house in order by October 23rd.

This is an important story. Let’s hope other, better-resourced media outfits than Lockdown Sceptics follow it up.

Read it in full here.

Stop Press: The BBC continue to hammer home the failings of Test and Trace with a new exposé “Inside test-and-trace – how the ‘world beater’ went wrong“.

WIKILOCKS SCANDAL: SAGE Used Wikipedia Data For Lockdown Models

Wikipedia: Not a peer-reviewed scientific journal

The documentary “Lockdown 1.0 – Following the Science?” on BBC Two last night exposed that SAGE had admitted to using data from Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia that anyone can edit, in its modelling. The Mail has the details.

No 10’s scientific advisers relied on dubious data from Wikipedia to help steer Britain through the spring’s coronavirus crisis and wrongly predicted the peak of the first wave by two months, an explosive new documentary has claimed.   

Members of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) admitted early virus modelling was based on unverified figures from the online encyclopedia, which can be edited and managed by members of the public. 

Tory MP Steve Baker, who has refused to support the Prime Minister’s second lockdown, told MailOnline: “Some of those claiming to be ‘following the science’ seem not to understand the meaning of the word. SAGE has been put on a pedestal as if they are able to produce a single version of the truth. It’s not possible.”

Professor Ian Hall, deputy chair of the SAGE subgroup SPI-M, defended the approach, saying: “The public may be surprised that we were using Wikipedia to get data very early on in the pandemic, but that was really the only data that was publicly available that we could access.”

The BBC programme also revealed:

  • Britain’s SAGE group advising the Prime Minister on fighting the pandemic contained no specialist on human coronaviruses
  • Before a national lockdown was imposed in March, scientists also predicted the peak of the virus in the UK would be June – when in fact it was April
  • Scientists failed to consider the impact agency workers would have on spreading Covid in care homes by moving between several different sites to work. There were more than 30,000 excess deaths in care homes because of Covid in 2020

Professor Carl Heneghan, director of the University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, told MailOnline:

The fact they used Wikipedia for their models is just completely unacceptable. You’ve got to use verified data. I cannot imagine a scenario where any scientist should be turning to Wikipedia – the thing about models is it’s extremely important the evidence they’re based on is as robust as it can be. It reflects our lack of preparedness, there were outbreaks happening in Europe that could’ve been used to inform. If they [SAGE] didn’t understand the data or couldn’t access it they should’ve been in touch with public health officials abroad to understand them.

The charge sheet against Chief Medical Officer Prof Chris Whitty, who appoints SAGE, and Chief Scientist Sir Patrick Vallance, is growing by the day. Surely, it’s time Boris showed them the door and got some fresh heads in to bring in some new ideas. That’s one Great Reset we could all get behind.

“Don’t Kill Gran” Guilt-tripping Returns to Spoil Christmas

Newest member of SAGE

The Scrooges of SAGE and Independent SAGE have joined forces to try to destroy Christmas. The Sun has more.

Professor Gabriel Scally told Good Morning Britain: “There is no point in having a very merry Christmas and then burying friends and relations in January and February.”

He said Christmas would be a “dangerous time” and would allow the “virus to spread”.

Prof Scally, who is a member of Independent Sage – a rival group to the Government’s own advisers – added: “We need to think very seriously about Christmas and how we’re going to spend it.

“It’s too dangerous a time and opportunity for the virus to spread.”

He highlighted that people could face 25 days of lockdown in January to make up for the “jollity” over the festive period.

But he said the lockdown would pale into insignificance compared with the number of people who could get Covid and spread it over Christmas.

After appearing on the show he tweeted: “We have not made nine months of sacrifices to throw it all away at Christmas.”

Professor Scally is a former Labour donor who has previously contributed £20,000 to Andy Burnham’s bid to become party leader.

Meanwhile, another expert echoed Prof Scally’s warnings.

SAGE expert, Prof Andrew Hayward from University College London, said mixing at Christmas could “fuel the Covid fire”.

He warned that at the exact moment we are on the “cusp of protecting the elderly”, we risk undoing all the good work by focusing “too much” on Christmas.

Speaking in a personal capacity, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Mixing at Christmas does pose substantial risks, particularly in terms of bringing together generations with high incidence of infection with the older generations who currently have much lower levels of infection and are at most risk of dying if they catch Covid.

“My personal view is we’re putting far too much emphasis on having a near-normal Christmas.

“We know respiratory infections peak in January so throwing fuel on the fire over Christmas can only contribute to this.”

What seems to pass them by is that this guilt-tripping could equally be done any year there’s a bad flu going round, as this winter is little different to many others in terms of ICU occupancy and winter mortality. Yet somehow we’ve always managed to celebrate Christmas.

Europe’s “Second Wave” in Decline

Positive “cases” are now in decline in France and have flatlined in Germany.

“It is a fact that the measures are working,” claimed Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases (RKI), referring to Germany’s partial lockdown, in place since November 2nd. According to Reuters: “Bars and restaurants are closed, while schools and shops remain open. Private gatherings are limited to a maximum of 10 people from two households. After an exponential increase in the number of infections over the past weeks, Wieler said a plateau had now been reached. ‘We do not see the number of cases falling yet, but I am optimistic that they will.'”

Positive “cases” and, more importantly, hospital occupancy is also falling in Spain, as the above graphs show. It’s not so long ago, on September 28th, that Madrid was being reported as the “capital of Europe’s second wave”. But the international media quickly lost interest when the deluge never came. In fact, as the above graph shows, by September 28th hospital occupancy in the city had already begun to decline.

Lockdown zealots will claim the declines are due to the interventions. Some of them might be, but that doesn’t mean the interventions were necessary to achieve them. In fact, infections by date of symptom onset in Madrid had already peaked around September 1st, well ahead of the first set of restrictions on September 7th when restaurants, churches, sports centres, theme parks, guided tours, etc. had limits placed on them. Similarly, hospital occupancy had already been in decline for well over a week when the stricter lockdown came in on October 3rd, and schools and universities were not closed even then.

The myth that infections only peak and fall once restrictions are imposed needs to be busted. Time and time again the data tell a different story, but it seems many people don’t want to know. Until they accept this evidence, we are doomed to live in on-off lockdowns, unable to leave them lest the threatened great catastrophe finally arrive.

PHE Finally Recognises T-Cell Immunity

Is PHE at last catching up? In a collaboration between Public Health England and several UK testing bodies, the results of the Edsab-Home trial have confirmed that many people have pre-existing immunity to coronavirus. The Telegraph has more.

A quarter of people may already be immune to coronavirus even though many of them have never been infected, a new study by Public Health England (PHE) suggests.

Over the past few months, researchers have followed nearly 2,850 key workers from the police, fire and health services to gauge levels of immunity to the virus.

They discovered that, by June, one in four had high levels of T-cells which recognised Covid, suggesting they had some level of protection against the virus – but nearly half had never been infected.

Researchers believe they probably picked up immunity from similar coronaviruses such as those that cause the common cold. In the four months of follow-up, nobody with a high T-cell count became infected with Covid, suggesting they were protected against it.

Dr Peter Wrighton-Smith, the CEO of Oxford Immunotec, the company that developed the T-cell test for trial, said it showed antibody testing alone may underestimate the number of people already immune to the virus.

There are now a number of studies that confirm this.

At least six studies have now reported T-cell activity against coronavirus in 20 to 50% of people with no known exposure to the virus.

In blood donor samples taken in the US between 2015 and 2018, around half showed some kind of immune resistance to Covid, even though they were taken years before the virus emerged. Likewise, in the Netherlands coronavirus-fighting T-cells were found in two of 10 people who had not been exposed to the virus. 

During the Swine Flu outbreak, scientists also discovered that people had prior immunity to the H1N1 strain, probably through earlier exposure to flu.

Read the full Telegraph report here.

The Government document, “Evaluating detection of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies“, can be found here.

New Lockdown-Sceptic Student Campaign Launched

A new student-led group has been started out of Oxford to raise awareness of why lockdowns are such a terrible idea. From their manifesto:

We are Unlock, a student-led campaign that aims to highlight the irrationality and inherent unfairness of lockdown policies. 

Unlock believes that lockdowns are highly damaging, based on overzealous science, and contrary to the very foundations of our traditional British liberty. Our mission is to raise awareness about the unforeseen, true costs of lockdown – the shocking excess deaths, the mental health struggles, and the decades worth of damage to our small businesses. This campaign seeks to give a real voice to people who can testify to the impact of lockdown on their lives.

Our duty as citizens is to support the communities around us. Our aim is to increase public awareness of lockdown’s limitations, ultimately to push the government to rethink the cost of their actions.

The campaign has five goals:

  1. Unlock business. We want to unlock the voices of small business owners who have borne the financial cost of lockdown.
  2. Unlock healthcare. We want to unlock the voices of patients who have missed appointments, treatments and screenings, and what this means for them. 
  3. Unlock education. We want to unlock the voices of students who have had a demoralising university experience like none other.
  4. Unlock sport. We want to unlock the voices of gym-goers, sports teams, and individuals who have been stopped from keeping fit and healthy. 
  5. Unlock life. We want to unlock the voices of people who want to regain their liberty and community, and are frustrated because they aren’t being listened to. 

Read the full manifesto here and, if you’re a student, why not get involved?

Visit the group’s website here, follow them on Twitter here and on Facebook here.

Stop Press: On the unlocking theme, Dr Mike Yeadon has done a new interview with Unlocked on “Why Lockdown was a mistake” that is well worth a watch.

Update: YouTube has already deleted the video for “violating YouTube’s terms of service”. Find it on BitChute here.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Two today: “Masquerade” by Andrew Lloyd Webber and “Take that look off your face” by Marti Webb.

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, it’s the turn of the University of Liverpool, where a Lockdown Sceptics reader’s son who works in the Chemistry Department has just been sent a document for “tackling race equality” entitled “Black Lives Matter – a starting point for addressing racial inequity in your department”.

Twelve pages long, its appetising headings include: “Race, Racism, intersectionality and White Privilege”, “Are Black voices heard and boosted?”, “Decolonising the curriculum”, “Educate yourself”, and the ludicrously patronising “Support for your Black staff and students”.

The reading list includes the classics: Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni-Eddo Lodge, How to Argue with a Racist by Adam Rutherford, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo, and Biased – Uncovering the Hidden Prejudices that Shape Our Lives by Jennifer L. Eberhardt.

Here it is on systemic racism:

An important part of understanding systemic racism are the concepts of White Privilege and White Supremacy.

White Supremacy can refer to a social system in which White people experience structural advantages over other ethnic groups, on both a collective and individual level, despite formal legal equality.  Academic, Frances Lee Ansley, describes White Supremacy as “a political, economic and cultural system in which whites overwhelmingly control power and material resources, conscious and unconscious ideas of white superiority and entitlement are widespread, and relations of white dominance and non-white subordination are daily re-enacted across a broad array of institutions and social settings.”

White Privilege is the privilege experienced by White people when they benefit from unearned advantages, experience an absence of suspicion or negative responses to their presence or actions and have their experiences and culture centred as ‘normal’.

Which is all just lovely, except the claim that British society systematically advantages “white” people is a myth not borne out by the facts. “White” children (and especially boys) do not do best at school, “white” people are not the best paid racial group, and “white” people are the least likely to go to university. So the entire empirical premise is false. But facts don’t seem to come into it.

Of course, there is also the small matter that encouraging people to identify themselves and others primarily by their race and categorise one race as supremacist oppressors and another as a oppressed victims is deeply divisive and harmful to people’s self-understanding. But that, too, features nowhere in the nihilistic woke-fest that is Critical Race Theory.

The reader asks for suggestions as to how his son might resist this nonsense. The Free Speech Union has some suggestions here and here which may be helpful. He should also join in case his woke colleagues turn on him for failing to toe the line.

“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 my 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 can give up essential liberty to obtain 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

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…

Bob’s cartoon in today’s Telegraph

Latest News

Danish Mask Study: Masks Do Not Protect From Coronavirus

The suppressed Danish mask study – the largest randomised controlled trial to date that had been rejected by three top journals, apparently on political grounds (read the interview with the authors here) – was finally published yesterday.

The headline result is that in the study masks do little or nothing to lower the infection rate. It found a 2.1% vs 1.8% infection rate for unmasked vs masked groups (with around 3,000 participants in each group initially). However, due to low virus prevalence these figures correspond to only 53 and 42 participants respectively so the authors had to state that the result is not statistically significant (too few infections to be confident it’s not random).

The most striking finding is that when you look at participants who report wearing face masks “exactly as instructed” as opposed to just “predominantly as instructed” the proportion infected rises from 1.8% to 2.0% (22 participants). This is the wrong way round – if masks are helping, using them better should reduce infections – and 2.0% is almost identical to the 2.1% infected without masks. This suggests the lower figure for all mask wearers was probably just noise.

A few more observations:

  • Reported symptoms did not differ between those who wore masks and those who didn’t, giving no support to the masker theory that masks make the disease milder (or provide immunity) by reducing viral load.
  • For other respiratory viruses the study found 0.5% vs 0.6% infection rate (9 vs 11 participants) for masks vs non-masks, so again almost the same, supporting the primary finding.
  • Although 91 participants reported someone else in their household contracting COVID-19 during the study (52 masked and 39 non-masked), only three reported then catching it themselves – two with masks and one without. Strange, because the home is usually found to be a primary source of transmission.
  • The study looks at protecting the wearer not others (i.e., source control, the usual justification for masks). It couldn’t look at source control as the study took place in April and May before masks were mandated or in widespread use.

With insufficient infections to achieve statistical significance, despite involving over 6,000 participants, the study leaves a need for further studies that are large enough and in areas of high enough prevalence to achieve statistical significance.

We can’t draw firm conclusions about precise differences in infection rates from this study. However, we can say that wearing a surgical mask even “exactly as instructed” does not appear to prevent infection completely – does not appear to prevent it much at all. And if that’s the case for surgical masks, how much more for cloth masks?

Also worth noting that mask mandates have not prevented the autumn surges in many countries around the world, and that maskless Sweden’s autumn rise in infections came somewhat later than elsewhere. None of this is supportive of masks.

The lead author of the study, Dr Henning Bundgaard, a cardiologist at the University of Copenhagen, tersely said: “Our study gives an indication of how much you gain from wearing a mask: Not a lot.”

Reading between the lines it seems the authors had to tone down their scepticism to get it past the editors and reviewers. They are at pains to stress that “this trial did not address the effects of masks as source control or as protection in settings where social distancing and other public health measures are not in effect.” The strongest they are allowed to get in their discussion is: “While we await additional data to inform mask recommendations, communities must balance the seriousness of COVID-19, uncertainty about the degree of source control and protective effect, and the absence of data suggesting serious adverse effects of masks.”

Absence of (scientific) evidence is not, of course, evidence of absence, and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence of the harm wearing masks does, as Professor Sucharit Bhakdi explains here regarding the impact of reducing oxygen supply on people with high blood pressure. One Lockdown Sceptics reader got in touch yesterday with a powerful personal illustration of this.

I thought you might be interested in this account of my trip to A&E the other night, after a suspected heart attack – false alarm, thanks for asking, I’m fine…

On arrival in A&E I was handed a face mask to put on – which I did, feeling a sort of civic duty as it was a set of special circumstances –  and my underlying medical condition was at least in the right place to be resolved if I had any problems (I have had a heart attack previously, so have to ensure I do not suffer from cardiac ischaemia). Up to this point, when I had had my readings taken, both by the paramedics immediately after the incident at home, in the ambulance, and on my arrival in the hospital, my blood oxygen levels had been fine (97 – in case you are unaware, the normal range is 95 to 100 and hypoxia begins at 90).

After half an hour or so, I was moved into a side room – at which point, I took the mask off of one ear, as I was having trouble breathing properly through it, only putting it back on when a member of staff came in to check on me.

After I had been there for an hour, a nurse came to take my readings again and I had put the mask back on whilst she set things up and, after a couple of minutes of wearing the mask, my readings were taken and my blood oxygen had dropped to 93 – a drop of four points (there are only five between normal and hypoxia).

The first reaction of the nurse was to say that they were concerned because of the drop in oxygen, but that “it was probably just because of the mask”.  I took it off one ear again so I could breathe normally and literally with each breath the reading went up by one, so after four breaths, I was back to where I had been without the mask.

From that point on, I left the mask off and, each time my hourly readings were taken, it remained at 97, so clearly the drop in oxygen levels was down to the mask. During this time – and I was there for six hours – not a single member of staff told me to put the mask back on and indeed I saw several staff sitting behind desks or in corridors with their masks removed.

There is a certain irony that before being taken to A&E, I had self-medicated with a spray to open my blood vessels to increase blood flow to the heart, but on admission to hospital I was given a piece of what can only be described as window dressing (or perhaps set dressing would be a more apt analogy) which actually counteracted the medication I had taken to ensure I did not suffer from ischaemia.

What I’d like to know is why extreme interventions with serious collateral harm like coercive mask-wearing and other restrictions on liberty don’t have to meet the same rigorous safety and efficacy criteria as vaccines and drugs. So-called “public health” needs a serious overhaul.

Stop Press: The Swiss Doctor has written about the Danish mask study, as well as other mask studies, here.

“We Can Now Bring About the Economic and Financial Union that We Have So Far Failed to Achieve by Political Means”

Sebastian Friebel, a former parliamentary adviser to the German Bundestag, has written a magisterial account of the supranational undemocratic forces using the public health crisis as a pivot for far-reaching change and the often sinister secrecy being used to achieve it. More of the convergent opportunism we have been highlighting on Lockdown Sceptics. Here’s the opening to whet your appetite.

Dear fellow citizens, I am addressing you as a non-partisan former employee of the German Bundestag with the function of a parliamentary adviser. As a result of my work in parliament and in a parliamentary group, I have become aware that the people in our country are being deliberately deprived of information on the corona crisis which is of crucial importance for assessing the situation. In view of the enormous significance of recent events, I consider it my duty to my fellow citizens to raise these issues publicly. So as to be able to express myself as freely as possible on these issues, I have resigned from my position in the Bundestag.

I suppose many will lay this text aside after just a few lines because they feel sufficiently informed about all aspects of the crisis. I understand this, because I too used to assumed that, when major events occur, we citizens would always be apprised of the background facts. But in the meantime, not least because of my experiences in parliament, I have been obliged to recognise the methods used worldwide by governments, the media and major players in the global economy to the detriment of us all, and to see that often the population is regrettably too uncritical in its response. I hope that despite this widespread lack of concern about political developments, some of you will at least check out the information provided here.

Some of what I report in the following will be considered by many readers as impossible and will be firmly rejected. I would like to say to these people that in publishing this report I am taking on considerable personal risk, and I would not dare to take this step if I were unsure of my statements. I do not want to say much about myself at this point. You, dear reader, only need to know the following about me: I am writing this report in sincere concern for the security, freedom and prosperity of us all. These fundamental pillars of our democracy are acutely endangered because the Corona crisis is being instrumentalised, and our legitimate concerns about the virus being exploited for third-party objectives.

Previously available only in German, now translated exclusively for Lockdown Sceptics. Find it on the right hand menu here. Well worth reading in full over a cup of coffee.

GP Consultations For Respiratory Infections Declining Before Lockdown II

From the CEBM. Click here for the interactive graph.

The CEBM team have updated their graph on GP consultations for respiratory infections in England and Wales. It shows consultations peaking in the week of October 19th-26th, well before lockdown began.

The RCGP surveillance data reports trends for Influenza-Like Illness (ILI), upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) and lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI), along with weekly data on COVID-19 case investigations. The data comes from over four million patients in a network of general practices across England and Wales.

The figure shows that rates of confirmed COVID-19, URTIs and LRTIs rose in September.  Rates of consultations for respiratory tract infections, however, are significantly lower than they were a year ago.

In the week commencing the November 11th 2019, LRTI’s consults were 9.4 per 10,000 and URTI rates were 19.3 per 10,000 about four-fold higher than current consultation rates.

Last year, rates of URTI consultations peaked in the week of December 16th at 30 per 100,000 population and with LRTI rates of 14.7 per 10,000.

The current data suggest that COVID-19 consultations peaked in the week commencing October 19th in primary care and are currently waning (there can be a delay in data though coming through that might change some of the estimates, particularly in the last two weeks).

Remind me again why the Government is proposing to tighten restrictions after December 2nd when clearly whatever we were doing in October was ample, and probably more than enough?

Why is Lockdown Always the Answer?

The Government’s vision for Britain’s future

In light of the maddening news yesterday of the perma-lockdown that awaits us after December 2nd, Ross Clark in the Telegraph bemoans the Catch-22 we now live in where every piece of evidence is taken as justification for tightening the screws.

The Government’s fetish for incarcerating its own citizens is growing stronger by the day. Britain has become a giant Guantanamo Bay of Covid control, maintained by invisible fences of call centres and fines. Worse, the creeping nature of it has meant that we never get any proper debate as to what price we really want to pay to suppress the virus.

We are fed daily with graphs and charts showing the numbers of new infections, hospitalisations and deaths. But we never get the other side of the ledger (not from the Government or its scientists anyway): the impact on our mental health, on other medical conditions and deaths caused by seriously ill people failing to seek timely medical attention, or the price we are going to pay through deprivation caused by economic decline.

We get dribs and drabs – such as the figures put out by the ONS this morning, revealing a huge rise in people admitting to feeling lonely – but they never make it to Downing Street briefings, and still less do ministers allow them to be used in a public debate as to what lockdown is actually achieving. All public policy has been reduced to this one, narrow aim of reducing Covid numbers.

But whatever happens, it seems to mean more lockdown. Like the poor wretches dragged off to medieval ducking stools – who were judged innocent if they drowned, found guilty of witchcraft and burned alive if they survived the ducking – we can’t win. If Covid numbers fall it is taken as a sign that lockdown is working, and must therefore be prolonged. If Covid numbers rise, it is taken as a sign we must have even tougher lockdown. Never mind that Covid numbers were already levelling off before the second lockdown was called, very sharply so in Tier 3 areas such as Liverpool and Nottingham.

Worth reading in full.

Postcard From Zanzibar

Lockdown Sceptics reader Matthew Sample has discovered one of Africa’s havens from the Covid insanity. Sounds amazing.

Following a pleasant ‘Covid-lite’ holiday in Sweden in September I set about investigating other countries which do not impose serious Covid restrictions. My eyes alighted on a Daily Telegraph article written by a lady who had recently spent an idyllic holiday in Zanzibar, free of such rules and restrictions. I booked a flight.

I have now been in Zanzibar for over two weeks. Bliss. Lovely warm sunny weather (with the occasional heavy shower), incredibly beautiful beaches with crystal clear turquoise sea, some excellent bars, cafés and restaurants, comfortable accommodation, cheerful welcoming locals and plenty of sights and activities to interest a holiday-maker. All relatively inexpensive. But most significantly, NO Covid rules or restrictions.

On arrival in Zanzibar via Nairobi (where staff and some passengers sported masks and PPE as if in a biological war zone) we were welcomed at Zanzibar airport where no staff, or locals, were wearing face-masks and no requirement for an expensive ‘Covid negative’ certificate (someone is making a mint from these ‘Profits of Doom’!). After a visa and passport check with a welcoming smile we were wished a happy stay.

Now I have no idea how much ‘Covid’ is prevalent in Zanzibar or Tanzania in general, all I do know is that nobody is in the least bit fussed about it. There are no gloomy statistics or graphs published daily (or at all) to alarm and terrify people. After all, this part of Africa is subject to many more serious endemic illnesses and diseases and nobody has ever wet themselves over these, not even tourists. Malaria? Prophylactic anti-malaria pills always come with the proviso that they are not 100% effective. All I do know is that both locals and tourists (yes, there are quite a few, although not as many as they would like) are happily free of any sense of the fear or paranoia over Covid that so afflicts the West. No silly face-masks anywhere and no anti-social distancing. People even shake each other’s hands without a second thought. Heaven forbid in UK! Life is absolutely normal and, as far as I have observed, people are not keeling over in droves due to Covid. It is an enlightening and pleasant experience which is favourably remarked upon by tourists in the places I have visited.

From my point of view, I would much rather live like this, even with the risk of getting a ‘bug’, than exist with my freedom and social life grossly curtailed under draconian, and probably ineffective, anti-social ‘lockdown’ restrictions cowed behind a de-humanising, fear inducing and probably useless face-mask. How have so many people in UK become so risk-averse that they will tolerate (indeed often encourage) any ‘rules’, however illogical and restrictive, to make them feel ‘safe’? Nothing in life is totally safe and our freedom to take risks should be sacrosanct.  

I was due to return after two weeks. I have cancelled my return ticket.

Read Matthew’s blog, with more from his lockdown-free travels, here.

Postcard From China

A reader writes to tell us of life back to normal in China.

I’ve just had a fascinating video chat with a friend in China. I had a virtual tour of her, largely student, locality – shops, food-halls etc. It was a busy and bustling place with no social distancing and hardly anyone wearing masks. Life is entirely back to normal. The Government line is that the only ‘cases’ of the virus are coming from people who travel in from abroad – hence why they have mandatory quarantine hotels where inbound travellers are taken, by Government officials, for two weeks upon arrival (at your own expense). I find it somewhat difficult to believe that a country with such large and dense population centres has managed to eradicate a virus not dissimilar in terms of ease of transition to the common cold. So one is forced to ask where are the overflowing hospitals and morgues? If there were overflowing hospitals and morgues which the government propaganda machine were hiding, the people would still know and you would see changed behaviour rather than people carrying on as normal. How ironic that the place where SARS-CoV-2 originated has simply moved on from the issue while much of the rest of the world flounders.

The floated reasons that China (and other East Asian countries like Taiwan) have not been so badly affected by Covid range from conspiracy theories and exaggerated claims of the efficacy of their responses to the much more likely proposals of greater pre-existing immunity and the simple realisation that a country can cope without extreme measures.

The Great Escape – to a Welsh Pub!

A Lockdown Sceptics reader has sent us a delightful account of how he achieved a fleeting moment of freedom over the border.

It was a trivial bid for freedom, but important to me. 

I live in England where pubs and restaurants are currently closed, without public consultation or consent. I find this fundamentally offensive. I believe it should be up to individual citizens to choose what risks to accept, but apparently we can’t be trusted, so I am not allowed to have a traditional pint in the presence of other consenting adults, under a Conservative government with a large majority.

I live an hour or so from the Welsh border. After a fanatical two week ‘firebreak’, Wales now has less restrictions than England. So I took a train from England to Wales, with the one intent of having a pint in a pub, as a free man.

This was a predictably surreal experience. All the trains are running as normal, despite having few if any passengers. They are plastered with labels, as are the platforms: SIT HERE, DON’T SIT HERE, DON’T SIT HERE, though this is not the case with the seats on the train, where you can sit as close to another passenger as you and they choose. Clearly the virus is more potent on the platform.

I didn’t know what to expect. I had a ‘reasonable excuse’ prepared were I to be challenged, but the guard stayed in his office and there was no-one else around in any case. In my imagination I had anticipated feeling like an escaped prisoner of war on the run. In reality I had an entire train to myself.

The people in the Welsh town I visited are obviously depressed and fearful, as much about what the next random Government decision may be as about the virus. The talk in Costa Coffee was subdued, but this was nothing compared to the pub, in which the staff (of one) was as well protected as he would be in an infectious disease unit. All that was missing was the airlock.

I was asked for my name and number, and then my postcode: “We’re not allowed to serve people from over the border.” This called for quick thinking. “Well,” I said, “I don’t have a Welsh postcode or an English one. But I do have a New Zealand postcode, would you like that?” Happily, this response seemed to transcend the known rules and I was able to take a table in the otherwise empty pub.

My lunchtime pint was delivered and, though the environment was cold, miserable, and uninviting, I savoured my drink. 

I don’t think having an illicit pint is particularly noble, and I can understand that some people may think me irresponsible for breaking the rules, even though the rules were quite different a few days ago. But for me it was an expression of my rights, and I am prepared to defend my actions in front of anyone and any court.

My need to be free is more deep-seated than the apparent haven of conformity. I think that sooner or later this will be so for more and more people. If we are prevented from making choices then there is no reason for us to exist. Repressing personal judgement is an existential insult. I believe we must resist in whatever ways we can.

“You’re Being Led Down the Garden Path by the Chief Medical Officer of Hell”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvYzf0MqObg

The following is a transcript of the talk delivered by Dr Roger Hodkinson to a private meeting of Alberta government officials that we linked to yesterday, kindly provided by a number of Lockdown Sceptics readers – thank you!

Thank you very much and I do appreciate the opportunity to address you on this very important matter. And what I’m going to say is lay language and blunt. It’s counter-narrative and so you don’t immediately think I’m a quack, I’m going to briefly outline my credentials so that you can understand where I’m coming from in terms of knowledge base in all of this.

I’m a medical specialist in pathology which includes virology. I trained at Cambridge University in the UK. I’m the ex-president of the pathology section of the medical association. I was previously an assistant professor in the faculty of medicine doing a lot of teaching. I was the chairman of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada Examination Committee in Pathology in Ottawa. But more to the point I’m currently the chairman of a biotechnology company in North Carolina selling a COVID-19 test and you might say I know a little bit about all this.

The bottom line is simply this: there is utterly unfounded public hysteria driven by the media and politicians. It’s outrageous. This is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on an unsuspecting public. There is absolutely nothing that can be done to contain this virus other than protecting older, more vulnerable people. It should be thought of nothing more than a bad flu season. This is not Ebola, it’s not SARS. It’s politics playing medicine and that’s a very dangerous game.

There is no action of any kind needed other than what happened last year when we felt unwell. We stayed home, we took chicken noodle soup, we didn’t visit granny. And we decided when we would return to work, we didn’t need anyone to tell us.

Masks are utterly useless, there is no evidence based for their effectiveness whatsoever. Paper masks and fabric masks are simply virtue signalling, they’re not even worn effectively most of the time. It’s utterly ridiculous seeing these unfortunate, uneducated people and, not saying that in a pejorative sense, seeing these people walking around like lemmings, obeying without any knowledge base, to put the mask on their face.

Social distancing is also useless because Covid is spread by aerosols which travel 30 metres or so before landing. Enclosures have had such terrible unintended consequences. They should everywhere be open tomorrow as was stated in the Great Barrington Declaration that I circulated prior to this meeting.

And a word on testing. I do want to emphasise that I’m in the business of testing for Covid. I do want to emphasise that positive test results do not – underlined in neon – mean a clinical infection. It’s simply driving public hysteria and all testing should stop unless you’re presenting to hospital with some respiratory problem.

All that should be done is to protect the vulnerable and to give them all in the nursing homes that are under your control, give them all three to five thousand international units of Vitamin D every day, which has been shown to radically reduce the likelihood of infection.

And I would remind you all that using the province’s own statistics the risk of death under 65 in this province is one in 300,000, one in three hundred thousand, you’ve got to get a grip on this. The scale of the response that you’re undertaking with no evidence for it is utterly ridiculous.

Given the consequences of acting in a way that you’re proposing, all kinds of suicides, business closures, funerals, weddings, etc. etc., it’s simply outrageous. It’s just another bad flu and you’ve got to get your minds around that. Let people make their own decisions. You should be totally out of the business of medicine. You’re being led down the garden path by the chief medical officer of hell for this province. I’m absolutely outraged that this has reached this level, it should all stop tomorrow. Thank you very much.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Two today: “Zoom” by Fat Larry’s Band and “Wake Up Everybody” by Teddy Pendergrass, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes.

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 bringing you some interesting historical data about the origins of “taking the knee”, the supplicant gesture favoured by British police officers when faced with Black Lives Matter protestors.

At one stage, it was widely believed to have originated on Game of Thrones, in which various conquered leaders had to “take the knee” before their conqueror to show fealty to their new master. Not so fast, said the professors of woke-logy (or should that be woke professors?). It was not an act of genuflection, but a way of protesting about the unfair treatment of black people, particularly in America, as devised by the NFL player Colin Kaepernick in 2016.

But an enterprising Lockdown Sceptics reader has found an instance of “taking the knee” that predates both of these – a photograph of a group of white businessmen professing their loyalty to the Ugandan leader Idi Amin. Their willingness to “take the knee” before the tyrant was not surprising, given that he boasted of keeping the decapitated heads of his enemies in his freezer.

History doesn’t record when this photograph was taken, but it accompanies this article by Tatenda Gwaambuka in the African Exponent that’s well worth a read. He reckons Amin was responsible for the deaths of anything between 100,000 to half a million people.

Next time someone tells you that “taking the knee” is a sign of just how compassionate and progressive they are, you might point them towards this picture. Unless they’re your boss, in which case you probably shouldn’t.

“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: Good riposte from Laura Perrins on Conservative Woman to the topsy-turvy idea that it is the uncovered human face that is scary.

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 650,000 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 can give up essential liberty to obtain 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

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…