Latest News

Medical Journals Refuse To Publish Landmark Danish Mask Study

Three leading medical journals have refused to publish the results of the first major scientific investigation into the effects of wearing masks on the spread of COVID-19. The authors of the long-awaited “gold-standard” randomised controlled trial have admitted their findings are “controversial” and are keeping them secret until their paper has been peer-reviewed and published. The Danish newspaper Berlingske has the details.

Professor: Large Danish mask study rejected by three top journals

The researchers behind a large and unique Danish study on the effect of wearing a mask are having great difficulty in getting their research results published. One of the participating professors in the study admits that the still secret research result could be perceived as ‘controversial’.

For weeks, the media and researchers around the world have been waiting with increasing impatience for the publication of a large Danish study on the effect – or lack thereof – of wearing a mask in a public space during the corona pandemic.

Now one of the researchers who has been involved in the study has said that the finished research result has been rejected by at least three of the world’s leading medical journals.

These include the Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine and the American Medical Association’s journal JAMA.

“They all said no,” says the Chief Physician in the Research Department at North Zealand Hospital, Professor Christian Torp-Pedersen.

However, the Professor does not wish to disclose the journals’ reasoning.

“We cannot start discussing what they are dissatisfied with, because in that case we must also explain what the study showed – and we do not want to discuss that until it is published,” explains Christian Torp-Pedersen.

The study was initiated at the end of April, following a grant of DKK 5m [£600,000] from the Salling Foundations [owner of the Salling Group, Denmark’s largest retailer]. It involved as many as 6,000 Danes, half of whom had to wear face masks in public over a long period of time. The other half was selected as the control group.

A large proportion of the test participants were employees of the Salling Group’s supermarkets: Bilka, Føtex and Netto.

The study and its size are unique, and the purpose was once and for all to try to clarify the extent to which the use of face masks in public spaces provides protection against coronavirus infections.

One of the co-authors, Henrik Ullum, tweeted yesterday they are “very unhappy”.

It wouldn’t be the first time politics has trumped science amongst those who are supposed to be its guardians. Professor Sunetra Gupta said in September that she was having unusual difficulty getting anything on herd immunity published, and Dr Gabriela Gomes has said the same thing.

I think we can be fairly confident that this mask study – the largest ever carried out – doesn’t say what the pro-maskers would like. On October 18th, Alex Berenson revealed on Twitter that one of the study’s lead investigators, Professor Thomas Benfield, had said the study would be published “as soon as a journal is brave enough to accept the paper”.

No courage would be required if the study confirmed Covid orthodoxy. Watch this space.

Mask Creep

Molly Kingsley, one of the three founders of UsForThem, has written a piece for Lockdown Sceptics today about the harm mandatory masking is doing to schools – particularly in those schools that over-interpret the Government’s advice and insist that children wear masks in the classroom – and the strange absent of any public debate about this. The Government didn’t allow the House of Commons to debate mandatory masking before ramming it through with a Statutory Instrument, and the House of Lords has failed to step into the breach.

I am increasingly despondent. Many who believe there should have been more rigorous analysis of this, the most intrusive non-pharmaceutical public health intervention of our times, speak as if the argument has been lost, or believe there are more important battles to fight. Alas, there are many battles ahead. But for children, this is a critical one, particularly for children with special needs. It is a debate we must have even when those around us tell us we should be ashamed to do so.

This is an excellent piece by a mother of two young children who has been red-pilled by the transformation of our democratic Government into a public health dictatorship.

Worth reading in full.

Case Counting: Government Quietly Starts Double Counting Positives

“Case” numbers are all over the place at the moment. After hitting a high on Wednesday of 26,688 reported, they were back down to 21,242 yesterday. By specimen date there still appears to be no overall growing trend since October 12th, except for a bizarre tower on October 19th. As ever with “cases”, what these positive test results actually mean and how they relate to clinical cases of the disease COVID-19 is difficult to unravel.

One issue is whether “cases” now include repeat positive tests for the same individual, conducted for example as they await the all-clear. Previously they did not, but it was revealed this week that as of Thursday October 15th the Government has begun to include duplicates as long as they are from different survey weeks. This means that each person who tests positive and is then tested again each week will continue to add new “cases” to the counter for as long as the test (at what sensitivity they don’t say) continues to find some virus fragments to trigger it. Here’s the relevant part of the revised methodology statement.

People tested and people testing positive

For both pillars 1 and 2, data for England is provided by the NHS and PHE and the number of confirmed cases are collated to give the total number of confirmed cases over the reporting period. More details about the data sources and methodology for pillar 1 and pillar 2 can be found in the section Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing in the UK.

From October 15th, the methodology for people tested and people testing positive has changed.

Previously, the number of people newly tested and newly testing positive was reported, where the figures were de-duplicated over the entirety of the pandemic so an individual would only appear once. This meant someone tested in March and again in September would only be counted in the March counts. This was progressively becoming less meaningful the longer the duration of the pandemic and meant that it was not appropriate to calculate a positivity rate from this data.

Figures are now reported as people tested and people testing positive at least once in the reporting week. People tested or testing positive are only counted once over the 7-day reporting period (Thursday to Wednesday), with a positive test being prioritised over a negative test. A person can be counted within more than one 7-day reporting period. If someone was tested more than once in different reporting weeks, they would be included in the count for all reporting weeks they were tested in.

For example, if a person was tested on Thursday and Friday of the same week, they would only be counted once in the reporting week. However, if someone was tested on Tuesday and Friday of the same week, that individual would be counted in 2 reporting periods, as the 2 tests fall into different 7-day reporting periods. If a person is tested under both pillar 1 and pillar 2 in the same reporting week, then only the pillar they were first tested under is counted, unless they were tested in both pillars on the same day, in which case, they are counted under pillar 2.

Is this what lies behind the increase in week beginning October 15th? It’s unclear whether this change will affect daily case data, as reported on the Government’s coronavirus dashboard, or just the weekly statistics released by NHS Test and Trace. The way the Government introduced this major change without proper announcement or explanation is very poor and doesn’t exactly help us understand the course of the epidemic. As far as we are aware, this is the third methodological change the Government has made when it comes to calculating cases and the positivity rate since July 2nd.

To be fair to NHS Test and Trace, this change may be intended to eliminate the problem in calculating the positivity rate that Dr Clare Craig spotted in tab 5 of the dataset in the press release that accompanied Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance’s presentation on September 30th. A note in tab 5 stated: “The number of people tested in a given week will exclude some people who have been tested in a previous week, so may not be an accurate denominator to use. For example, someone testing negative for the first time in week 1 will be counted in the ‘people tested’ figure for that week. If that same person tests negative again in week 4, they will not be counted in the ‘people tested’ figure for week 4.” As Clare pointed out, if NHS Test and Trace wasn’t including repeat negative testers in the weekly test results – people who’ve tested negative before – that meant the denominator was being artificially deflated and the positivity rate artificially inflated. So what this new change may mean is that repeat testers who’ve tested negative in the previous week are now included in the denominator when it comes to calculating the positivity rate. But when NHS Test and Trace made this change it also decided to include repeat testers who’ve tested positive in the previous week when it comes to calculating “cases”, thereby increasing the number of positive “cases” in the weekly releases. We’ve asked Clare about this and she confirmed this reading. As she said, the most honest way of reporting this would be to only include first positives in the daily and weekly testing data and to keep all the negatives in the denominator when calculating the positivity rate.

Meanwhile, the latest update from the Royal College of General Practitioners shows that patients under investigation for COVID-19 dropped considerably in the North West in the week ending October 18th. This is yet another indication that the autumn epidemic in and around Manchester peaked well ahead of its Tier 3 restrictions coming into effect.

Needless to say, these are not the figures of an epidemic “increasing exponentially ” and in need of authoritarian intervention.

Stop Press: Check out this Facebook video by Luke Pompey. He gets a Covid test in the post, breaks the swab stick in half without taking any swabs, posts it back to the NHS then gets a positive result in the mail a few days later.

Sweden Liberates its Elderly and Takes Another Step Back to Normality

Faced with a small rise in Covid cases, what does Sweden do? Not clamp down hard, as we have, but abolish all remaining restrictions on the elderly, declaring they’ve suffered enough. Fraser Nelson in the Telegraph has more.

Sweden has rejected lockdown and face masks, but infections there are on the rise again. Yesterday, its public health agency published a report noting this – and pointing out that the elderly are at the gravest risk. In any other country, you could guess what would come next: a crackdown or curfew, a ban on socialising, a “rule of six”, no more seeing grandchildren. But what the officials had to say next was – to British ears – astonishing.

The elderly, they said, have suffered enough. They have spent months being advised to avoid public transport, shopping malls and other parts of everyday life. And the result? Loneliness. Misery. This is more than unpleasant: it quickly translates into depression, mental health issues and mortality. “We cannot only think about infection control,” said Lena Hallengren, Sweden’s health minister, “we also need to think about public health.” An important distinction: focus on Covid to the exclusion of other conditions and you risk lives.

Sweden is perhaps the first country in the world to make this case so clearly: isolation kills too. We now know much more about the virus, said Ms Hallengren, but we also know more about the side effects of lockdown – and even in Sweden’s case (where restrictions were voluntary) these effects are severe. Her 21-page report found a “decline in mental health” that was “likely to worsen the longer the recommendations remain in place”. So restrictions for the over-70s have been abolished forthwith, even with Covid rising (albeit slowly). And all this in the name of public health, not the economy. 

This may sound at odds with the Great Barrington Declaration strategy of focused protection of the vulnerable. But in fact it’s the endpoint of it: to reach a level of population immunity in a relatively short space of time that allows restrictions on the high-risk to be lifted. Sweden may well still see the usual rise in respiratory disease this winter, but its public health officials have evidently concluded it is unlikely to include a large new deadly wave of Covid. The evidence to date suggests they’re right. Once again, Sweden pioneers a different way. Let’s hope this time we learn from them.

Stop Press: Sweden is also allowing large gatherings to take place, provided the total number is 300 or below.

Vaccines Unlikely to Prevent Infection

Seasoned sceptic Barry Norris on the Argonautica blog has written an incisive and well-researched piece on the widespread misconceptions of what the Covid vaccines are likely to achieve. Surprisingly, it’s not to prevent infection or reduce the risk of death or serious illness.

It is a common misconception that an approved vaccine will provide “silver bullet” immunity, a scenario based more on a Hollywood film narrative than reality5 because no Covid vaccine trial protocol6 defines its “success” as:

– Providing immunity from infection from the SARS-COV-2 virus
– Reducing mortality risk from the COVID-19 disease7
– Providing immunity from COVID-19 disease symptoms

Instead trial “success” is defined as an amelioration of COVID-19 symptoms in 50-60% of volunteers, who are healthy adults likely to be at risk only from a mild or asymptomatic infection and thus not even a population group facing significant mortality risk from COVID-19.8 These dud Covid vaccines aspire to be buckshot not silver bullets: if they are the answer, what was the question?

Early stage trials have generally demonstrated an antibody response to inoculation with uncomfortable but so far generally tolerable side-effects in healthy adults (although both Astra9 and J&J10 trials were on hold whilst safety data was investigated).11 But the duration of the antibody responses is (as yet) unknown and it has not yet been proven whether the antibodies will offer any protection from the SARS-CoV-2 virus infection or the onset of the COVID-19 disease.12 Moderna recently admitted in the recent rehash of their Phase 1 data “no correlate of protection for SARS-COV-2 has been established”.13 In fact, no vaccine trial has yet presented any data providing any evidence of sterilising immunity which would be considered the gold standard for any vaccine. In a rare interview where senior management has been asked what constituted “success”, the Head of Biopharmaceutical R&D at Astra Zeneca Mene Pangalos confirmed that the vaccine “doesn’t need to cure you of SARS-COV-2”.14

You might think that “success” in all vaccine trials would involve a primary endpoint of a statistically significant reduction in infection from the specific SARS-COV-2 virus amongst the inoculated group versus the placebo group. This is not the case. The primary endpoints are focused on safety and the efficacy of the vaccine in ameliorating the onset of the COVID-19 disease as measured by the severity of symptoms (asymptomatic infections are not even counted toward the primary endpoint but only towards secondary, more speculative endpoints). The vaccines are therefore primarily measuring their effectiveness as a treatment of the COVID-19 disease rather than immunising the inoculated against infection from the SARS-COV-2 virus. This is a subtle but extremely important nuance. An analogy would be a vaccine that delays or mitigates the onset of the AIDS disease but does nothing to protect from being infected by the HIV virus. Hence the stated clinical aim of the vaccines is not to prevent transmission of the virus.

One question this raises is should the vaccines actually be called “vaccines”? Google’s Oxford Languages definition of vaccine is “a substance used to stimulate the production of antibodies and provide immunity against one or several diseases, prepared from the causative agent of a disease, its products, or a synthetic substitute, treated to act as an antigen without inducing the disease”. If the Covid “vaccines” aren’t going to “provide immunity” they’re not really vaccines, are they? More like prophylactics – the leaky condom variety.

Worth reading in full.

Freshers’ Covid

A reader writes to tell us about what life is like for her daughter in her second year of university in the north of England, where there is an outbreak of SARS-CoV-2.

Going to the campus testing centre for a test is becoming a virtual rite of passage at the first sign of a sore throat or a sniffle, along with the obligatory posting of the test result on Snapchat. In my daughter’s house of four occupants, three of them developed flu-like symptoms over the course of last week and by Saturday all three of them had been for tests. (The fourth thinks she had “the virus” earlier this year.) All three tests came back positive so all four of them have had to self-isolate for 10 days. One felt ill enough to spend last weekend in bed but is now much better. The other two, including my daughter, felt a bit headachy and grotty for a few days but are now fine, except that all three of them lost their sense of taste and smell – oddly, this only happened after they had the test. They’re complaining bitterly about this as they can’t taste their food, as well as panicking in case it’s permanent (since there’s so much fear porn about this on the internet). I agree it’s a vexing symptom and I hope they recover from it soon, but it isn’t life-threatening. They seem to have forgotten how ill they were with “freshers’ flu” last year – it persisted for weeks and nobody escaped it, along with viral conjunctivitis, chest and sinus infections, even a case of glandular fever in my daughter’s hall. And yet the university’s student “cases” are rising steadily as the vogue for getting tested intensifies, and most of them seem to be fine except for many of them having this loss of taste and smell.

James Delingpole Interviews Dr Mike Yeadon

James Delingpole has interviewed Lockdown Sceptics contributor Dr Mike Yeadon for the latest episode of the Delingpod. This is a must listen. You can either listen to it on YouTube here or on Podbean here.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Just one today: “World of Tiers” by Hawkwind.

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 plans of the Scottish Government to force all teachers to subscribe to the radical Left notion of “intersectionality” or be out on their ear. Steerpike, the Spectator‘s gossip columnist, has the details.

This year, the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) has been consulting on new ‘Professional Standards’ for teachers, which will come into force in August 2021. In June, the GTCS approved a final draft of the new standards, which it has now published online and asked for feedback.

As part of its powers, the GTCS is able to strike off teachers who do not meet its professional standards, and they are a benchmark of competence for all new teachers joining the profession. In other words, any teachers who do not subscribe to them will not be teaching for very long.

Rather worryingly then, Mr S has spotted that the teaching body has decided to adopt a left-wing political framework for its new standards.

The GTCS lists three professional values that all teachers will be expected to have in Scotland in 2021: ‘trust and respect’, ‘integrity’, and ‘social justice’.

Some of the qualities the GTCS describes as belonging to social justice are innocuous enough. It is hard to object to the idea, for example, that teachers should promote the health and wellbeing of students in their care.

Other qualities are more controversial. If the standards are enacted, it will become compulsory for teachers in 2021 to be: “Committing to social justice through fair, transparent, inclusive, and sustainable policies and practices in relation to protected characteristics… and intersectionality.”

Exactly how teachers are meant to demonstrate their commitment to ‘intersectionality’ (a rather nebulous strand of identity politics that stresses the importance of competing levels of privilege) in their day to day practice, as the standards command, is beyond Mr Steerpike’s imagination.

Thinking of becoming a teacher in Scotland? Forget about the three Rs. You need to read Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, the inventor of this dotty theory.

“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.

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 Sunetra Gupta, Professor Martin Kulldorff and Professor Jay Bhattacharya – actual scientists, unlike Devi Sridhar

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 week and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it. If you Googled it on Tuesday, 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 hit job 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 600,000 signatures.

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.

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.)

Special thanks to graphic designer and Lockdown Sceptics reader Claire Whitten for designing our new logo. We think it’s ace. Find her work here.

And Finally…

Toby in his Spectator column this week has had enough of the profligacy and politicking of the devolved administrations during this pandemic as they have indulged in heavily subsidised lockdowns which seem designed to make the Westminster Government look bad.

The actions of Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford are scarcely any more explicable. His decision had nothing to do with rising case numbers, hospital admissions or deaths. Daily cases by specimen date plateaued in Wales last week, as have the number of COVID-19 patients in critical care. Daily deaths from Covid peaked at 11 on October 7th and haven’t climbed above single digits since. The cumulative death toll in Wales is 1,722, which is about 4% of the total in England.

No, the reason the Welsh Labour leader has imposed these draconian restrictions is to ratchet up the pressure on Boris and make it more difficult for him to avoid imposing a two-week ‘circuit breaker’, thereby enhancing the standing of Keir Starmer, who called for one last week. Drakeford can afford to play politics with his own people’s livelihoods because he knows that Boris — the man he’s doing his best to embarrass — will have to pick up the pieces.

Toby says he hasn’t “quite given up on unionism” and still thinks “we’re better off together”, though worries “what will become of Scotland and Wales if we were to part”. Indeed. Personally I find it bizarre to think we’d no longer be Great Britain or the United Kingdom. Talk about a shock to the system! I’m more inclined to say we should be strict with our separatists in the time-honoured tradition of America and Spain and not even countenance secession. But Toby is more charitable and thinks we should give them an ultimatum: “The English can’t continue bankrolling you if you’re just going to set fire to the money in a misguided effort to make yourselves look better than us. Either you abandon this sophomoric pretence of independence and throw in your lot with us or you become separate sovereign states, entirely responsible for your own affairs.”

Worth reading in full.

Latest News

Record Rise in “Cases” – But October Still Normal For Respiratory Disease

Yesterday saw the biggest daily rise yet in positive tests reported: 26,688. The last three days have each seen significant increases, though it’s worth noting that by date of specimen there is still no major upward trend since the start of the month. That may change in the coming days (the column for October 19th admittedly looks high already) but relying on reporting date can give a false impression of trends.

What’s really missing in these numbers though is context. Were more tests done on October 19th than 18th, so the apparent rise is just an artefact of the increase in testing? And how many of these “cases” are false positives? As Sir Patrick Vallance said on Tuesday, SARS-CoV-2 is now likely to be an endemic virus that comes back in some form each flu season. Infections are rising now because it’s autumn and many respiratory viruses spread in autumn, plus the spring lockdowns will have left some areas with lower levels of immunity. It’s notable that London, where infections were falling before lockdown as Chris Whitty admitted to MPs, has yet to see any major increase in hospital admissions or deaths.

But if Covid infections, hospital admissions and deaths do keep rising throughout the winter there would be nothing unusual about that. Herd immunity doesn’t mean no one gets infected anymore, especially in the colder months. It means enough people have enough resistance to prevent a repeat of the spring and keep it within normal bounds.

COVID-19 isn’t the only respiratory disease around of course. But this year the rest are being strangely timid. Flu and pneumonia hospital admissions and deaths have been trending well below average since May with no sign of change yet, leaving Covid largely having the field to itself. That’s one reason the rise in Covid hospital admissions isn’t likely to overwhelm the NHS – there’s been a corresponding fall in admissions for flu and pneumonia.

If winter 2020 is a typical year then it’s likely to get a lot worse than this – not because we’re in the midst of a “second wave” but because it’s winter. If those panicking and calling for lockdowns think October’s bad, wait till they see a typical December. While the few journalists who have been asking the right questions haven’t been able to get the data from the NHS that would let us properly compare 2020 with a normal year (what are they hiding?), Carl Heneghan and co have tracked down this graph released in 2017 in response to an MP’s request.

It shows that England typically experiences a sharp increase in emergency admissions for respiratory conditions from September through November, followed by an even bigger spike in December, before beginning to drop off again in the new year. How does 2020 compare with this?

October 2016 had around 24,500 admissions, which is an average of 790 per day. Covid admissions this month up to the 18th are 10,503 with 13 days to go. The month started at around 370 per day and reached about 800 as of October 18th, so is currently running about average.

In other words, so far as we can tell from data in the public domain there is nothing unusual about the current October rise in respiratory disease-related hospital admissions. We can expect them to keep on rising and then to peak in December, although we don’t yet know if COVID-19 will fizzle out during the winter, to be replaced by other viruses. The lack so far of a big rise in Covid admissions and deaths in Sweden, London and New York suggests the emergence of herd immunity could lead to it receding. But even if it doesn’t, there is no evidence so far that Covid’s second ripple will exceed the usual bounds of a seasonal virus now that population immunity is moving upwards.

What Western countries have really lost sight of here is perspective. As Philip Johnston points out, in 1999-2000 – the last really bad flu season before this one, when a greater proportion of the UK population died – hospitals would leave people dying in waiting rooms. Yet it never occurred to anyone that this unfortunate situation meant we should shut down society for months on end – an intervention which kills and harms people in numerous ways.

As Professor Karol Sikora says: if lockdown was a drug or a vaccine, the authorities would have to take into account the side effects. Given that it causes so much harm to healthy people for so little demonstrable benefit it is unlikely it would even make it through the first hoop – a point also made by Dr Matt Strauss in the Spectator. Why then should we have different standards for drugs than for other public health interventions? Somewhere along the line, Western nations have lost sight of the key ethical principle that we are not responsible for viruses and illnesses, we are only responsible for our actions. And governments, like doctors, should aim to do more good than harm and not contravene important ethical principles such as consent. Even vaccinations of nasty diseases like measles and TB are not compulsory. Yet lockdown is imposed on all by force of law. How is that ethical? Covid has turned our principles upside down.

Stop Press: The CEBM has a new study explaining T-Cell immunity and reviewing the mounting evidence for longer-term immunity from SARS-CoV-2.

Why Were Democratic Citizens So Willing to Surrender Their Liberty?

Emperor Nero declares war on Neptune and orders his soldiers to attack the sea

Stacey Rudin has written an excellent piece for the American Institute for Economic Research exploring the question of why citizens of liberal democracies around the world complied so readily with draconian government diktats.

One has to wonder, how did this come about? Why weren’t we behaving this way before, when seasonal influenza is known to kill up to 650,000 people globally every single year? Why didn’t anyone ever care about saving all of those millions of people? If we really can stop infections, we murdered all of them!

Fortunately for our collective conscience, none of our pre-COVID public health guidelines so much as suggests that human behaviour can eliminate infections as necessary to stop deaths. We have always understood that we have limited control over invisible biological agents, which is why we do not opt to incur the gigantic costs of “lockdowns” and similar: we realize the effort to save every life, while noble, is unfortunately futile. We cannot stop death, so we accept it, and balance it with many other human interests. We know that pandemics causing upwards of two million deaths can and do occur, yet our CDC does not EVER recommend isolating healthy people outside of the household of the sick, closing “nonessential” businesses, or closing schools for longer than 12 weeks.

So why did we adopt all of these extreme, harmful, and deadly measures in 2020 for COVID-19, a pandemic that has not even caused statistically significant excess deaths in nations with short lockdowns and no lockdowns. Why did we depart so completely from our regulations? Did new science develop? I can’t find any. All pre-Covid epidemiological and public health literature unanimously acknowledges that it is impossible to stop infectious diseases with isolation and quarantine.

Good question and one that most lockdown sceptics have been puzzling over. Why isn’t everyone more like us? As Lionel Shriver said:

The supine capitulation to a de facto police state in a country long regarded as a cradle of liberty has been one of the most depressing spectacles I’ve ever witnessed. In a matter of days, busybodies are ratting out neighbours for going for a run twice; these people would be pigs in muck in the GDR.

Rudin’s answer is that politicians succeeded in persuading the public that they could prevent death – something the public, who’d already been terrified out of their wits by the politicians and their handmaidens in the media, wanted to hear.

To the calm (rational) mind, it is clear that “suppression” is a set of “brakes” that should only be imposed to the minimum extent necessary to manage hospital capacity. Any “extra” suppression just saves infections for later — when you may or may not have a vaccine or improved treatment — at extraordinary cost. To scared (irrational) people, however, suppression provides at least some “hope” of avoiding a horrific early death. You cannot blame terrified people for their feelings, but you can and should blame the media and government for misrepresenting personal risk during a pandemic. No cost is too high to keep open the possibility of staying alive. People focused on that will not comprehend any second- or third-tier consequences of their self-preservation efforts.

This is a terrific piece, written in a punchy, accessible style. Worth reading in full.

Impact of Lockdowns on the Developing World

There’s a good piece in Quillette by Joel Kotkin and Hügo Krüger called “The Coming Post-Covid Global Order“. It makes for grim reading, predicting the further decline of Western liberal democracies and the ascendancy of authoritarian China. The opening, in which the authors document the devastating impact of the lockdowns on the developing world, is particularly sobering.

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated economics in the West, but the harshest impacts may yet be felt in the developing world. After decades of improvement in poorer countries, a regression threatens that could usher in, both economically and politically, a neo-feudal future, leaving billions stranded permanently in poverty. If this threat is not addressed, these conditions could threaten not just the world economy, but prospects for democracy worldwide.

In its most recent analysis, the World Bank predicted that the global economy will shrink by 5.2% in 2020, with developing countries overall seeing their incomes fall for the first time in 60 years. The United Nations predicts that the pandemic recession could plunge as many as 420 million people into extreme poverty, defined as earning less than $2 a day. The disruption will be particularly notable in the poorest countries. The UN has forecast that Africa could have 30 million more people in poverty. A study by the International Growth Centre spoke of “staggering” implications with 9.1% of the population descending into extreme poverty as savings are drained, with two-thirds of this due to lockdown. The loss of remittances has cost developing economies billions more income.

Latin America had seen its poverty rate drop from 45 to 30% over the past two decades, but now nearly 45 million, according to the UN, are being plunged into destitution as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic. In Mexico alone, COVID-19 has caused at least 16 million more people to fall into extreme poverty, according to a study by the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

These trends undermine the appeal of neoliberal globalization across the developing world. The pandemic has forced people to stay in their countries, and has closed off the ability to move to wealthier places. With Western countries themselves in disarray, there’s been a growing temptation to adopt authoritarian controls modeled by China, which appears to have emerged from the pandemic and economic collapse quicker than the rest of the world. The pandemic could boost China’s great ambition to replace the West, and notably America, as the heart of global civilization.

Worth reading in full.

The Official Government Line?

A Lockdown Sceptics reader got a reply this week from their MP, Kelly Tolhurst. I’m reproducing it here because it reads to me like the official line provided pre-packaged from central command, albeit with some personal touches. (Although the bizarre, run-on sentences suggest it isn’t just being copied verbatim by Kelly’s researcher). Did anyone else receive something with words like these from their MP? Full of holes, obviously – I’ll leave it to readers to take it apart below the line.

I am terribly sorry to hear that your mother recently passed away, I can only imagine how difficult it was for you to say goodbye in that way and how hard it is to be around loved ones and not be able to kiss or touch them.

It is also very upsetting to hear about your business having to close after all the hard work you put into building it up through a tough period. Without knowing the extent and details of your financial situation it is hard for me to offer specific advice, however I have noted that this blog by Money Saving Expert has been very helpful for constituents with financial difficulties over recent months and hope it provides you with some useful information: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/03/uk-coronavirus-help-and-your-rights/

Regarding our approach to tackling the coronavirus, I understand your frustration with the current restrictions on our normal lives, this is an incredibly difficult situation for everyone. Coronavirus is deadly and, unfortunately, it is now spreading exponentially in the UK. It is our responsibility to act to prevent more hospitalisations, more deaths and more economic damage. We know from recent history that when this virus keeps growing, unless we act together to get it under control, this is the result.

To be clear, our strategy is to suppress the virus, supporting the economy, education and the NHS. Local action is at the centre of our response. The virus is currently not spread evenly, and the situation is particularly severe in some parts of the country. Through the Joint Biosecurity Centre and NHS Test and Trace, we have built up a detailed picture of where and how the virus is spreading. NHS Test and Trace statistics show that testing capacity is up, testing turnaround times are down, and the distance travelled for tests is down too. Thanks to this capacity and analysis, we have been able to take a more targeted approach, keeping a close eye on the situation in local areas, bearing down hard through restrictions on a local level where they are necessary.

I believe that we must take firm and balanced decisions to keep this virus under control. This is the only way to protect lives and livelihoods, and we must act now. Delayed action means more deaths from covid, it means more non-covid deaths, and it means more economic pain later, because the virus comes down slower than it goes up. We should stop it going up in the first place. Unless we suppress the virus, we cannot return to the economy we had; unless we suppress the virus, we cannot keep non-covid NHS services going; and unless we suppress the virus, we cannot keep the elderly and the vulnerable safe and secure.

You also mentioned the range of scientific advice the Government is receiving, and I should point out that the Prime Minister, the Chief Medical Officer and other advisers have been talking to their Swedish counterparts regularly in order to learn lessons from there. They have also been talking to other European countries such as Belgium, which have taken measures, in order to learn internationally. We are all learning the best way to deal with this virus. We are trying to restore the NHS services that were suspended while we dealt with the initial impact of Covid. NHS England has issued guidance for the return of non-Covid health services to near normal levels, making use of the available capacity while protecting the most vulnerable from Covid. The way to minimise disruption to other treatments is to deal with this virus as effectively as we can, so that we do not have a huge spike of people with Covid being admitted to hospital.

“Breathing is Dangerous”

At least in Airstrip One you could still get closer than six feet

An Oxford University student and Lockdown Sceptics reader has written a powerful reflection on the loss of freedom. Here’s an excerpt.

Anyone who ventures out onto the high street will see long queues of masked and muted figures. They probably cannot breathe but, we are told, breathing is dangerous. So we hold our breath. These flimsy shields have become the marks of subservience to a policy that, no one can deny, is bewilderingly inconsistent. The Government has stated on numerous occasions how ineffective face-coverings are; in one document, published on June 23rd, it stated: “The evidence of the benefit of using a face covering to protect others is weak and the effect is likely to be small.” And yet, after only a few months, this symbol of conformity is now normalised and unquestionable. We have become literally silenced and distanced from one another. Why? Because scepticism spreads through communication and scepticism is contagious. According to one official within my university: “If you are comfortable talking to someone, then it is likely that you are not socially distanced.” Our statistical language cannot and does not speak to the sanity of human interaction.

This piece conveys the inhuman weirdness of being a university student at present. Worth reading in full.

First Do No Harm

Professor Ramesh Thakur, former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Professor at the Crawford School of Public Policy in Australia, has written a cracking piece in Spectator Australia on the real harms and dubious ethics of lockdowns.

We now know the fear-mongers were disastrously wrong, but persist with their heartless cruelty nonetheless. In April, the UN Economic Commission for Africa said “between 300,000 and 3.3 million African people could lose their lives as a direct result of COVID-19”. In February, Bill Gates warned of 10 million corona virus deaths in Africa. On October 15th, the real number was 38,977. Gates is a genius as a tech entrepreneur but his grasp of epidemiology is near the other end of the scale. Mind you, the tech sector is one of the very few to have done well financially from the lockdown.

The unbearable cruelty imposed by health bureaucrats without a distinguished medical research record has sucked the very humanity out of society: delaying interstate visits until too late to see a dying father or save one of the twins in the womb in need of urgent attention. As British MP Charles Walker said in a BBC radio interview on October 12th, for many elderly people, “being told that you’ve got to spend the next six or 12 months without human contact, without seeing the people that you love, without embracing your grandchildren, is a price too high”.

Millions will be pushed into extreme poverty.

Of course, the biggest tragedy will be across the developing world over the next decade, with over 100 million more people pushed into extreme poverty, 10s of millions of additional dead from increased infant and maternal mortality, hunger and starvation with more poverty and disrupted crop production and food distribution networks, sharp cutbacks in immunisation and schooling, and destruction of the informal sectors of the economy in which daily wage earners earn a pitiful living. Most countries will also need to prepare for potential spikes in mental health problems and suicides from the fear generated by exaggerated alarmism as well as the loneliness, isolation, financial ruin and despair caused by the lockdowns.

Read it in full here.

Unlikely Hero Emerges – 83 year-old Herd Immunity Advocate

Is this a sign that public opinion is beginning to shift? Last night, the BBC News included a lone voice of scepticism in the form of an 83 year-old Barnsley resident commenting on the Government’s decision to plunge 1.4 million people in South Yorkshire into a Tier 3 lockdown. In what must have been a nasty shock to the BBC team on the ground, the elderly shopper turned out to be a well-informed advocate of “Focused Protection”. The Mail has more.

The outspoken shopper told the broadcaster: “I think it’s all ridiculous, we should never have been in lockdown. All the people who were vulnerable should have been helped and kept home safe.

“And all the rest of us, I’m 83, I don’t give a sod.

“I look at it this way, I’ve not got all that many years left of me and I’m not going to be fastened in a house when the Government have got it all wrong.

“We need… how can we get the country on its feet? Money-wise? Where’s all the money?

“By the end of this year there’s going to be millions of people unemployed and you know who’s going to pay for it? All the young ones. Not me because I’m going to be dead.”

Can we put this woman on SAGE please? She seems to have a much better grasp of the situation than Sir Patrick Vallance.

Worth reading in full.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Lots today: “Everything Seems Bad” by Abbie and The Sawyers, “Bad As They Seem” by Hayden, “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive, “It’ll be Lonely this Christmas” by Mud, “Clampdown” by Bruce Springsteen and “Tiers” by Dusky.

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

Toby featured Calvin Robinson’s tweet yesterday about equalities minister Kemi Badenoch’s response to a Labour question in Parliament telling schools in no uncertain terms that teaching Critical Race Theory and “white privilege” as fact is against the law. Today we bring you Calvin’s excellent piece in the Spectator.

Why, then, have schools been getting away with teaching highly contested political ideas as if they are accepted facts? The idea of ‘white privilege’, for example, is the principal element of Critical Race Theory, which teaches that white people are at a natural advantage and that black people are oppressed, based on nothing but the colour of their skin. CRT encourages a victimhood mentality among young black people, perpetuating the myth of white supremacy, and aligning blame for all societal problems on the white man.

CRT tells white people they are not only privileged but racist, either overtly or unconsciously. Under these rules, a white person can either admit their racist tendencies and be labelled with ‘white guilt’, or they can deny their unconscious bias and be accused of ‘white fragility’. It is a lazy Kafkaesque trap, completely closed off from challenge and criticism by design.

That is why it was so encouraging to see yesterday that Kemi Badenoch MP, the Equalities Minister, make a rousing address to Parliament during a Black History Month debate, in which she made clear that this is no longer to be tolerated. She said the government are avidly and actively against Critical Race Theory, and it has no place in our schools; any school politicising the curriculum is breaking the law.

Worth reading in full. He’s also written on the same subject in the Telegraph.

Little Known Fact: Calvin used to work as a Computer Science teacher at the West London Free School, the school co-founded by Toby.

Stop Press: In their lead article this week, the Spectator highlights how the recently published ONS figures on ethnic pay disparity put paid to any idea of “white privilege”. The article notes: “The ethnic group called ‘White British’ came only fifth in the pay rankings, with a median hourly pay that is 7% lower than ‘White and Asian’, 16% below ‘Indian’, 23% below ‘Chinese’ and a whacking 41% below ‘White Irish’. Among the under-30s, the ‘White British’ come out even worse: they are fifth from bottom, earning 2% less than ‘Bangladeshi’, 3% less than ‘Black Caribbean’, 13% less than ‘Black African’, 15% less than ‘Indian’ and 46% less than ‘Chinese’.”

“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.

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 Sunetra Gupta, Professor Martin Kulldorff and Professor Jay Bhattacharya – actual scientists, unlike Devi Sridhar

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 week and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it. If you Googled it on Tuesday, 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 hit job 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 600,000 signatures.

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.

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).

Special thanks to graphic designer and Lockdown Sceptics reader Claire Whitten for designing our new logo. We think it’s ace. Find her work here.

And Finally…

Latest News

Tiers of a Clown

“Where is Manchester, anyway? Is it near Scotland?”

Andy Burnham accused the Prime Minister of playing a “game of poker with people’s lives” after he imposed a Tier 3 lockdown on Greater Manchester without agreeing a support package.

Talks between the Government and political leaders in Greater Manchester broke down yesterday afternoon, with Andy Burnham and co holding out for £65 million and Boris and his ministers only being prepared to offer £60 million. The upshot is that Greater Manchester is now only going to get £22 million.

At the 5pm presser where Boris tried to spin this to his advantage, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam – or JVT, as Boris insisted on calling him – produced a series of charts appearing to show that, in his own words: “Pretty much everywhere in England is now heating up to some extent.”

But his slide deck told a different story.

For instance, the slide illustrating the geographical spread of positive cases (wrongly described as the spread of “COVID-19”) showed the rate of infection falling in many parts of the country.

Van-Tam made much of the fact that hospitals were admitting more and more Covid patients, particularly in the North West, as shown in the slide below.

But what this chart doesn’t show – and which no journalist asked about, unfortunately – is that Covid admissions in the North West are no higher than admissions would be for other respiratory illnesses in a normal year. Yes, Covid admissions are up, but admissions for pneumonia are down. Indeed, hospital admissions for all respiratory illnesses in the North West were about half the five-year average at the end of September. What looks to be happening is that elderly patients who would normally be admitted for flu and pneumonia are being admitted for COVID-19 instead. Which means that hospitals in the North West are nowhere close to being overwhelmed. If that’s the rationale for placing Greater Manchester in Tier 3 – protect the NHS – it doesn’t stack up.

The feebleness of this justification for the local lockdown was exposed by Jennifer Williams in the Manchester Evening News, who tried – and failed – to obtain the figures. The paper sent an identical list of questions to all the key players in Greater Manchester’s healthcare system, wanting to know trust-by-trust Covid admissions numbers as a proportion of overall capacity, compared to the April peak, and the same figures broken down for intensive care and high dependency beds, plus ventilator beds, including non-invasive ventilation. And it asked for equivalent bed occupancy figures for this time last year, so it could compare them with the start of a normal winter.

Our request was sent to NHS England, Greater Manchester’s Health and Social Care Partnership, each individual hospital trust in the conurbation, the Department of Health and Social Care, the mayor’s office and Downing Street. We gave a 4pm deadline.

Six out of seven relevant NHS trusts did not respond. Wigan, Wrightington and Leigh said that “we are unable to provide figures – these will be issued at national level”, while none of the others have replied.

The M.E.N. understands trusts have been told by both regional NHS England and the Greater Manchester system specifically not to issue their own figures to the media today.

Greater Manchester’s Health and Social Care Partnership responded this afternoon to say that Dr Jane Eddleston would be doing a pooled interview with the Press Association about the hospital picture here. But the M.E.N’s specific questions weren’t addressed.

The mayor’s office has not responded.

The Department of Health and Social Care replied almost immediately this morning, to say NHS England holds the data.

NHS England did respond with some links to data.

But most of the relevant information it offered was only broken down to North West level, which matters.

Government’s argument is about Greater Manchester specifically, so North West numbers are no good – they are skewed by the situation in Liverpool in particular.

Clearly, the reason the data is being withheld is because it shows Greater Manchester’s hospitals are very far from being overwhelmed by Covid patients.

Which begs the question, why are the people of Greater Manchester being needlessly punished in this way?

Stop Press: The always dependable Ross Clark wrote a piece in the Telegraph yesterday headlined: “Don’t believe the scare stories about hospitals running out of ICU beds“. And Sarah Knapton, the Telegraph‘s Science Editor, has written a piece pointing out that ICU beds in Manchester are no fuller than they were this time last year.

Lockdown’s Lethal Toll

Award-winning investigative journalist David Rose wrote a sensational front page story for the Mail yesterday, documenting the scale of the collateral damage to public health caused by the lockdown and the continuing restrictions. Bringing together more than 130 studies, as well as testimony from readers who have contacted him via Lockdown Sceptics, the article documented the impact of this disastrous policy on every sphere of health, including cancer, heart disease, addiction, the welfare of children, domestic violence and mental illness.

Among the revelations are:

  • Delays in treatment are set to cause a 20% rise in deaths among newly diagnosed cancer patients in England – 6,270 excess deaths this year
  • Treatment for strokes fell by 45% during lockdown and there were more than 2,000 excess deaths in from heart disease
  • More than 50,000 operations for children were cancelled
  • Organ transplants fell by two thirds, with the number of those who died on the transplant waiting list almost doubling
  • Total waiting lists for routine orthopaedic and eye operations are at record levels
  • Calls to child abuse helplines rocketed
  • As rates of depression and anxiety doubled, thousands of recovering alcoholics have relapsed

David lined up an impressive array of experts to comment on these horrendous figures.

Professor Karol Sikora, a cancer specialist and head of Buckingham Medical School, said the findings of the Mail’s audit were a “stunning demonstration of lockdowns’ harmful effects across society”.

He added: “If lockdown were a drug, you’d need to consider the side effects, and yet we’re not – even though we seem to be diving headlong into another one.

“People sometimes claim it’s a question of health versus the economy, but it’s not – it’s health versus health.” Professor Sikora supports last week’s Great Barrington Declaration, now signed by more than 10,700 scientists and 29,700 doctors worldwide, calling on governments to adopt an approach of ‘focused protection’, shielding the vulnerable while opening up the economy.

Sunetra Gupta, one of the Declaration’s authors and an Oxford University epidemiologist, said: “These papers and data are starting to build the evidence to show that the collateral damage has been immense – and will continue with extreme measures such as lockdowns. The time has surely come to take their full costs measures into account.”

Congratulations to David on a fantastic story – and thanks to those readers who helped him with it.

Worth reading in full.

No ID, No Drinkie

“Und who is in ze support bubble?”

The Metropolitan Police have told pub landlords to ask for names, addresses and photo IDs of customers before serving them to ensure people from different households aren’t mixing. The Mail has more.

Scotland Yard has been writing to struggling traders in London to say they should ask for names, addresses and even photo ID.

Officers said the procedures would stop households mixing – in keeping with Tier Two curbs introduced last weekend.

However business chiefs said this placed “completely unacceptable” demands on staff and would cost venues bookings if customers could not prove they were following the COVID-19 restrictions.

The Night Time Industries Association has taken legal advice over the “unlawful and misleading advice”.

Police forces around the country are checking on Facebook and other social media sites to see whether landlords are letting customers flout social distancing rules.

This new development follows the news that Sadiq Khan wants the 10pm curfew lifted in London to help struggling publicans and restaurateurs. According to the Evening Standard:

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has called for the 10pm curfew to be scrapped now the capital is under Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions.

Mr Khan said allowing restaurants to remain open beyond 10pm would support businesses by allowing them to increase bookings even with indoor mixing of households banned.

His intervention comes after leading West End bar and restaurant operators warned they will not survive the winter after the “horrendous” first weekend of the new Tier 2 clampdown triggered tens of thousands of cancellations.

But hang on. Didn’t Sadiq Khan insist on putting London in a Tier 2 lockdown? And if he’s so worried about people staying away from pubs, why’s he asking the Metropolitan Police to enforce the “no mixing” rule?

What kind of fools d’you take us for, Mr Mayor?

“No Sign of a Second Wave” – Prof Carl Heneghan

Prof Carl Heneghan has told the Telegraph that the ONS data for the week ending October 9th – published yesterday – indicate that there are no excess deaths.

“There is no sign of a second wave up to October 9th. In week 41, the number of deaths registered was 1.5% above the five-year average.

“We consider the current data normal variation, and only consider it an excess when it gets to two standard deviations, which is about 1,200 excess deaths compared to the five-year average.”

Sarah Knapton, the Telegraph‘s Science Editor, has more.

Although Covid deaths rose to 438 for the week ending October 9th – an increase of 36% from the previous week, when the figure stood at 321 – overall deaths rose just 143 above the five-year average. There were also 19 fewer overall deaths than in the same week last year.

Experts at Oxford University said the number would have to get to 1,200 deaths above the norm before it would usually be considered “excess” above the expected variation in the data.

Researchers also found there would usually be around 1,600 weekly deaths from flu and pneumonia for the same week. Deaths from coronavirus, flu and pneumonia are currently running at 1,621, suggesting there is virtually no increase in expected respiratory deaths.

The ONS figures also do not factor in the UK’s growing and ageing population, which would be expected to increase the number of deaths over time and which are likely to cancel out at least some of the increase.

For example, between 2010 and 2019 the number of deaths for the week ending October 9th rose from 9,281 to 9,973 – about 70 extra deaths a year.

Florence Nightingale diagram illustrating the complete absence of a second wave from the Centre For Evidence-Based Medicine Blog

Dr Jason Oke, Carl Heneghan’s colleague at the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, thinks that’s what’s happening is that older people who would normally be dying of flu and pneumonia at this time of year are dying of Covid instead.

“Total deaths are tracking at the top but not over,” said Dr Oke. “Is it because we have nearly an identical deficit of flu and pneumonia deaths for this time of year?

“COVID-19 plus influenza/pneumonia deaths are at 1,621 this week, while five-year average flu and pneumonia for this week is 1,600.”

Worth reading in full.

Lionel Shriver Takes No Prisoners

Arch-sceptic Lionel Shriver is refreshingly forthright about the mismanagement of the coronavirus crisis in an interview in CapX to promote her 14th novel, The Motion of the Body Through Space.

Shriver, a committed lockdown skeptic, is a fierce critic of the way the virus outbreak has been handled by governments around the world, and deplores the effect the imposed restrictions, such as social distancing (‘the elevation of suffering’?) and face masks (‘narcissistic’?), have had on everyday life.

“It’s filmic, but it’s one of those movies that never ends. It’s not even that interesting. It’s just awful. I hate the way it (wearing masks) changes my interactions with people. I find myself smiling anyway; the impulse is still there. But they don’t get it; they do not receive it. It makes all commercial interchanges dry and almost hostile. I refuse to wear a mask out of doors, because it’s epidemiologically ridiculous.”

It’s not clear whether Shriver is more incensed by the new rules, or by people’s unthinking, uncritical, irrational acceptance of them.

“I was one of the earliest lockdown skeptics. From the get-go I just thought the numbers didn’t justify the response. There were not enough people dying. And what we have exposed is widespread statistical ignorance. Even in the US people think 170,000 people dying is huge, like a massacre; but 3 million people die in the US every year, and a large proportion of those 170,000 would have died this year anyway. But, of course, that sounds callous, and gets you into terrible trouble, but it’s true.”

I wonder how Shriver, who spent the lockdown in London, felt about the almost compulsory NHS worship.

“I found the ‘Clap for Carers’ stuff’ nauseating, and it won’t surprise you to learn I was not out there on the kerb banging my pots. Partly it’s an aversion to group activities of any kind, but it’s also an aversion to the idea that we should worship an institution. I find that baffling. It’s said all the time that the British worship the NHS, that it’s a religion. But why would you worship a healthcare system?

“Other European nations, with much more functional healthcare systems, don’t worship them. It’s peculiar, and I think there’s insecurity at the base of it. The British are all too aware of the shortcomings of the NHS and want to cover them up, they don’t want to admit those shortcomings to themselves.”

It’s exhilarating to hear a prize-winning literary novelist talk so bluntly – and so honestly – about the idiocies of the past six months. Hearing their own feelings articulated so clearly will be music to the ears of many lockdown sceptics.

Worth reading in full.

Scott Atlas Talks to Freddie Sayers

Freddie Sayers, the editor of UnHerd, interviewed Scott Atlas yesterday and the member of the White House’s coronavirus task force made a powerful case for “Focused Protection”, as set out in the Great Barrington Declaration (see below).

Among his key quotes were:

What is his policy?

My advice is exactly this. It’s a three-pronged strategy. Number one: aggressive protection of high risk individuals and the vulnerable (typically the elderly and those with co-morbidities). Number two: allocate resources so that we prevent hospital overcrowding, so that people can be treated for this virus and get the other serious medical care that is needed. Number three: open schools, society and businesses because keeping them closed is enormously harmful – in fact it kills people.

Effect of lockdowns

We must open up because we’re killing people. In the US, 46% of the six most common cancers were not diagnosed during the shutdown… These are people who will present to the hospital or their doctor with later stage disease – many of these people will die. 650,000 Americans are on chemotherapy ­– half of them didn’t come in for their chemo because they were afraid. Two-thirds of screenings for cancer were not done; half of childhood immunisations did not get done; 85% of living organ transplants did not get done. And then we see the other harms: 200,000 cases plus of child abuse in the US during the two months of spring school closures were not reported because schools are the number one agency where abuse is noticed; we have one out of four American young adults, college age, who thought of killing themselves in the month of June…

All of these harms are massive for the working class and the lower socioeconomic groups. The people who are upper class, who can work from home, the people who can sip their latte and complain that their children are underfoot or that they have to come up with extra money to hire a tutor privately – these are people who are not impacted by the lockdowns.

This is the topic, this is why you open up. A secondary gain might be population immunity, but this is the reason to open up.

Climate of fear

This is one of the biggest failures of the voices of public health in the United States and in the world – they specifically instilled fear with their proclamations and statements… And the models that were put forward that were worst case scenarios and were just hideously wrong, and the media that has hyped up these rare exceptions like multi-system inflammation in children even though we know the overwhelming evidence is that this disease is absolutely not high risk for children. All the hyperbole, the sensationalising and the failure of public health officials to articulate what we know instead of what we don’t know… The fear is due to what was said by the so-called experts, by the media and by a failure to understand or care that they were instilling hear… I just heard a famous epidemiologist from Harvard the other day say that to have the idea of herd immunity even being discussed is ‘mass murder’ – these kinds of statements are hideously outrageous.

It’s never appropriate to have fear. There is no such thing as a government leader who is competent who instils fear.

Worth watching in full.

Consultation About HMG’s Coronavirus Dashboard

A reader has got in touch to point out that the Government is currently carrying out a consultation about the data displayed in its coronavirus dashboard. He has responded himself and urges Lockdown Sceptics readers to do the same.

This is my feedback:

Please, please:

1) Don’t show positive PCR tests as “cases”. They are not cases; they are “positive PCR tests”.

2) Don’t show absolute numbers of positive PCR tests. That’s meaningless and depends entirely on the number of tests performed; show the number of positive PCR tests per 1,000 tests.

3) Don’t imply a positive PCR test is equivalent to an infection. There are many reasons why a positive PCR test does not mean an actual infection not least because of false positives; show the likelihood that a positive test is an infection (For example, if the infection rate in the UK is 0.2% and the false positive rate is 2.4% then the likelihood that a positive PCR test indicates actual infection is 7.7%). In fact, it may be better to display the statistically likely infections per 1,000 tests.

Would it be good for many of us to provide this sort of feedback?

Labour Party Resignation Letter

A reader of Lockdown Sceptics, has shared the resignation latter she’s just sent to Keir Starmer. I daresay he’s had quite a few like this since calling for a two-week ‘circuit breaker’, ignoring the devastating impact that any additional restrictions will have – are having – on the least well off.

Dear Keir Starmer

I write in sadness and some desperation to explain to you why after having been a member for most of my adult life, I wish to leave the Labour Party.

The situation regarding the response to Covid 19 is destroying this country. Yes at the start the actions the government took may have been explicable but for many months that has ceased to be the case. What upsets me as a party member has been that lack of opposition my party has shown to this disastrous curb on our freedoms. Please just consider a few easily verifiable facts:

* The tens of thousands of deaths caused as a direct result of the response to Covid – the cure should never be worse than the disease.
* The number of essential health checks missed – heart screening, cancer screening etc.
* The effect on mental health of the restrictions and the horrific economic fallout to come, the increased suicide rates, including heartbreakingly amongst children
* In the wider world the effect on the poorest people some of whom were being lifted out of poverty but who now will not be helped. Unicef say 1.2 million children and 56700 mothers could die due to disruptions in basic interventions caused by the response to Covid.
* The lies that are being told even now about the strain on intensive care beds in places like Manchester and Liverpool. Yes there is a strain but it is pretty much the same as every year because we don’t have enough intensive care beds.
* The number of people (including the elderly) who are asymptomatic – yet we have committed the crime of denying those in care homes access to their families for months and months. What does that do to people with dementia?
* Why is Sweden on course to have an annual mortality rate in line with the yearly average when they did not lockdown?
* Ask yourself why the Great Barrington Declaration (well thought out views of many respected scientists) was taken off Google?

Frankly this is utter wickedness being perpetrated on the people of this country and the wider world. It won’t be good enough to look back in 20 years and see what we should have done. People of integrity and bravery need to stand up and be counted now.

But you, and my party, have not done that. Instead you have looked for a bigger lockdown. You have looked to score forensic points against Boris Johnson at PMQs. You have not acted to try and protect people. For this reason in all conscience I cannot stay as a member of this party as in my view it no longer acts to protect ordinary people.

I urge you in all humanity to change your course of action.

Yours sincerely

XXXX XXXXXX

Dr Reiner Fuellmich’s Video Censored by YouTube

It won’t surprise readers to learn that YouTube has taken down the video of Dr Reiner Fuellmich talking about his class action suit against various public health agencies. A reader has drawn my attention to this:

You may already be aware that Dr. Reiner Fuellmich’s video on preparation for a class action against the Robert Koch Institute (Drosten and Wieler) and the WHO has been removed from YouTube – at least the English version. The German version is, presumably temporarily, still there.

Stop Press: Read this article in the Times of Oman about Dr Fuellmich’s law suit.

Covid Marie Celestes

A reader has very kindly adapted one of Dr Mike Yeadon’s twitter threads into a stand-alone piece. The subject is the utter wrong-headedness of the SAGE advice regarding the “second wave” and the need to protect NHS hospitals from being overwhelmed. Here are the first three paragraphs:

A source just gave me the following information. A hospital in Wales, Nevill Hall in Abergavenny, has 250 beds. 200 beds are empty. The surgeons are bored and pass much time on the nearby golf course. I think this might be one answer to why UK doctors are not investigating to find out why hospitals have no patients in them! Apparently all Covid cases are currently being sent to this hospital. This story tallies with the original evidence which drew me into this ghastly mess we’ve made of our country. I’ve not mentioned this for quite a while but you all should be incandescent about it.

A good friend who’s a Professor of Cell Biology was playing hockey many miles from home. He fell into conversation with one of the opposing team. This person is a fairly senior manger in NHS England and has daily sight of bed disposition across the service. He was upset to have realised that, as intensive care beds emptied because the many COVID-19 patients either recovered or sadly died, they were not being replaced by elective surgical patients. To the best of my recollection, this was late June. I was put in touch with the NHSE staffer by my friend, because he knew I was, by then, telling him all the time that “something is seriously wrong”. I met up with the NHSE manager who, by good fortune, lives less than 10 miles from me. He told me that the utilisation of the ICU beds was at a far lower % than ever in his whole career. Worse, he told me the reason, showing me part of a management briefing he’d recently attended. To my surprise, in the section entitled “NHS Priorities”, the top one wasn’t what I expected to see – to get the NHS back to normal service ASAP. No, that was there, but it was second.

The top priority was entirely contradictory to the second and essentially said “Run the NHS as lightly loaded as possible in order to be prepared to cope with the second wave”. Just so we’re clear, it’s not an accident that it’s hard to get access to the NHS at present. No, it’s a strategic choice: they’re not seeing you, doing fewer elective surgeries, to protect the NHS. Kafka would probably have rejected this as a plot line on grounds that it’s absurd. While there has recently need an increase in utilisation of ITU beds, I don’t know about you, but to me it’s completely unacceptable that someone’s decided it’s ok not to replace your heart valve and certain other elective surgeries. Why? To cope with an expected “second wave”.

We’ve given it pride of place on the right-hand side in the section entitled: “How Many Non-Covid Patients Are Being Neglected?”

Worth reading in full.

I’m Not a Conspiracy Theorist, But…

I got a good email from a retired scientist and lockdown sceptic who’s been asking the question, Cui Bono?

I’ve been trying to follow the money.

It seems labyrinthine, but the EU – for example – has put EUR 15.9 billion into tests, treatments and vaccines and EUR 1 billion into research and innovation to ‘tackle’ Covid. UK Research and Innovation has already awarded GBP 422 million each in research and innovation grants in response to or ‘related to’ COVID-19 – mainly to private organisations, but some to Universities. ‘Related to’ is a pretty broad term judging by the titles in the spreadsheet – “Dinosaurs and Robots: COVID-19 continuity” (Natural History Museum) is one of my favourites.

The EU also support the WHO ACT-Accelerator, as do the United Kingdom and other states, Bill & Melinda Gates, Gavi (the vaccine alliance), The Wellcome Trust (Sir Jeremy et al.) and others – including, as it happens, the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria – remember that was Chelsea Clinton’s MPhil topic, completed at Oxford about the same time as co-author Devi Sridhar’s graduate work, and the organisation Tedros came to the WHO from. The WHO ACT-Accelerator has a diagnostics pillar that aims to invest USD 6 billion in testing alone and USD 18.1 billion in vaccines.

Mike Yeadon may be in a better position than me to judge the financial scale and probity of all this. As a sometime professional programmer, I can’t understand how the NHS contact tracing app may cost GBP 35 million. I think it is simple enough for an undergraduate dissertation project. Once international treaties or contracts have been signed, and money has been promised, it’s no wonder Boris can’t back out, is it? Wouldn’t he be a marked man – or at any rate, trapped by treaties or contracts – or both? And aren’t most of his key advisers invested in this Tulip mania? Which of the public health people are free of conflicts of interest here? Is this regular in health policy?

I think Devi and Chelsea’s book would be well worth a read and Devi’s knowledge of the politics must be far better than her knowledge of the science – which doesn’t seem great. It’s a pity, though, that she is not a dispassionate and independent observer, but a well-embedded ‘actor’ in the politics, given her pivotal role in shaping the Scottish Government’s response.

But who in power is going to wake up one morning and say ‘nothing to see here’? The costs are sunk or promised. Ships are sailing for Darien and no-one is going to call them back.

Finally, I am not a ‘conspiracy theorist’, but… I do believe there are wrongs arising out of false statements of (scientific and other) fact being made knowingly or recklessly, causing millions of people to suffer damage in pursuit of the above Coronatopia, and that this may amount to agreement arising in a tort, if not a crime, and therefore a statutory conspiracy or conspiracy to defraud in law (a further part of which is the consistent false statements used to justify ongoing lockdown measures – necessary to perpetuate a deception). I think that German lawyer may be on to something…

Stop Press: Annabel Fenwick Elliott in the Telegraph also thinks there might be something to the conspiracy theories after all.

Eight months on, my burning question remains unanswered. What is really going on? About 50 million people die each year worldwide. Some deaths are preventable, others not. Over the course of 2020, this pandemic has claimed 1.1 million lives; most of whom were elderly or already ill. Heart disease kills 17 million annually; cancer 9.6 million. Respiratory diseases, including bronchitis, pneumonia and emphysema take 2.5 million lives a year.

Why then, are we still playing this ridiculously destructive game with healthy peoples’ lives – a risky experiment that, as is starting to emerge, will very likely kill more people than it saves in the long run?

Worth reading in full.

Statistician’s Letter to the Telegraph

Brian Gedalla, a retired statistician, has written a good letter to the Telegraph that he’s shared with us. Let’s hope it’s published.

Sir,

Two weeks ago, I suggested to an eminent doctor (a personal friend) that we were moving from a situation where we were suffering from a pandemic to one where Covid-19 was endemic in the population. He scoffed and accused me of playing games with words.

Yet, yesterday, Sir Patrick Vallance suggested precisely the same thing and added that “the notion of eliminating Covid is not right”, adding that people “would have to learn to live with the virus”.

That, of course, is what so many of us have been saying for months only to have our views dismissed by experts like Vallance as dangerous nonsense.

Surely, Vallance’s belated conversion to the blindingly obvious calls for a radical rethink of the whole approach to dealing with this disease and an end to the endless cycle of lockdowns, economic destruction and denial of basic civil liberties?

Brian Gedalla,
Chartered Statistician

Postcard From Albania

A reader has sent us a postcard about his recent weekend break in Albania. Sounds like a winner.

“Take care during your trip to that badly lit old fashioned country and bad drivers and roads.”

This is what my Grandmother texted to me before I headed on a spontaneous weekend trip to Tirana, the capital of Albania. Nowadays, you would have thought we would all cringe at such a prejudicial statement as this. However, almost all Brits would agree with the sentiment. We have been raised to assume the worst about any country ending in ‘nia’.

However, the fact is the state of the roads in Hallam, where she lives, is awful – maybe Nick Clegg had bigger worries during his tenure as MP for the constituency? Moreover, it wasn’t in Albania that my bike of two days was stolen on its first outing. No, that was by Catford Bridge station.

Albania, compared to these places is brilliant, and I’m not just saying that out of relief that I wasn’t killed. The people are tremendously kind. It is normally the case that a foreign accent is a giveaway, and activates the ‘tourism surcharge’. However, in Albania it was quite the opposite. Whilst everyone kept to their lane, they would go out of their way to ensure great service, especially to us westerners. It turns out that decades of fascist and communist rule made them appreciate the freedoms of enlightened societies.

This meant we fired guns, played blackjack and even saw a macaw in a slightly dingy pet shop. Not bad for a Islamic country. Further, Alabania is the northern neighbour to Greece. That means a Mediterranean climate, cuisine and culture, that instantly gives you a holiday buzz. Sure, half the architecture is 20th century breezeblock with an ostentatious façade, but that just makes one appreciate the difference between Albania and our (currently not so) green and pleasant land.

Of course, you get the feel that they have bigger problems. But this is essentially what makes Albania great. The police may ask you to put your mask on, even outdoors. But all this means is you have to cover your chin. There are also rules against loud music and drugs – despite it being the marijuana production capital of Europe. The enforcement of these laws, however, is ridiculously laissez-faire. Having gone through what Albanians have, the police are onto bigger, real issues than virtue signalling. Though they are abundant, their presence is barely felt.

Ultimately, every nation likes to think their way of doing things is best. Of course, we occasionally give concessions to countries we think are on our level – we will let the French cook for us and the Germans build. However, in the UK we have never given a moment’s notice to 90% of the world for they are just ‘backwards’. After decades of decline in British achievement, expansion, trade, culture, bravery and strength, maybe we should?

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Four today: “I’m a Sceptic” by Modern Saints, “Scepticism is Just the Start” by the Forbidden, “There Are Bad Times Just Around The Corner” by Noel Coward and “I Predict a Riot” by the Kaiser Chiefs. Are you listening, Boris?

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

For those of us trying to hold back the tsunami of woke nonsense it can sometimes feel like a pointless exercise – there’s just so much of it. So it was heartwarming today to hear the Conservative MP Kemi Badenoch, the Equalities Minister, making it clear exactly where she stands. If she’s a candidate in the next leadership contest (won’t be long, surely?) I’ll be campaigning for her.

“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.

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

The top three hits on Google if you search for the Great Barrington Declaration

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 on October 5th and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it ever since. If you Google it, one of the top hits you get is a smear piece from the obscure Leftist conspiracy website Byline Times – written by a journalist Christopher Hitchens described as “risible” – and one from the Guardian headlined: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this hit job the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now shows up in the search results – and my Spectator piece about the attempt to suppress it is among the top hits – although the three featured hits at the top of the results page are all Guardian smear jobs and 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 hit job.)

You can find it here. Please sign it. Now over half-a-million signatures and closing in on 600,000.

Stop Press: Jay Bhattacharya has written a good piece for the Telegraph rebutting some of the arguments that have been made against “Focused Protection” and Martin Kulldorff has given an interview in two parts in which he defends the strategy here and 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.

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.)

Special thanks to graphic designer and Lockdown Sceptics reader Claire Whitten for designing our new logo. We think it’s ace. Find her work here.

And Finally…

James Delingpole and I rant and rave about Boris’s imposition of a Tier 3 lockdown on Greater Manchester, as well as the Government’s other shortcomings, in the latest episode of London Calling. Worth listening to while you walk the dog, always making sure to keep your mask on and not talk to anyone in another household. Don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes.

Latest News

Wales To Go Into Full Lockdown

The First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford announced yesterday that Wales would be plunged into a full lockdown from this Friday until November 9th. The BBC has more.

People will be told to stay at home, while pubs, restaurants, hotels and non-essential shops will shut.

Primary schools will reopen after the half-term break, but only Years 7 and 8 in secondary schools will return at that time under new “firebreak” rules.

Gatherings indoors and outdoors with people not in your household will also be banned.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said the “time-limited ‘firebreak'” will be “a short, sharp, shock to turn back the clock, slow down the virus and buy us more time”.

Without action the NHS will not be able to look after those falling sick, he told a press conference.

Leisure businesses, community centres, libraries and recycling centres will shut. Places of worship will be closed for normal services, except for funerals and weddings.

The announcement follows rising case numbers in Wales and increasing hospital admissions, and replaces the 17 local lockdowns that had been in place.

Figures now stand at 130 coronavirus cases per 100,000 over seven days – there were 4,127 cases recorded between October 9th and 15th.

Needless to say, daily deaths in Wales are in low single digits and cases are falling.

Daily deaths from Covid peaked at 11 on October 7th and haven’t climbed above single digits since. The cumulative death toll in Wales, as of yesterday, was 1,712, which is about 3.9% of the total in England.

There is absolutely no need for a ‘circuit breaker’. Let’s call this by its proper name, a hospitality industry breaker.

One of the many irritating things about this is that Mark Drakeford can indulge in this pointless virtue-signalling without worrying about the economic impact because the Chancellor has agreed to bung Wales an extra £350 million this year. We’re now facing an untenable situation where Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland can all afford to introduce these absurd, economically destructive measures because the English are covering their losses. It is this, more than anything else, that will tear the union apart.

Stop Press: Matthew Lynn has the right idea. He’s written a comment piece for the Telegraph‘s Business section saying that Scotland and Wales should pay for their own lockdowns.

26,000 Excess Deaths in Private Homes, But Not From Covid

According to data released by the ONS yesterday, around 26,000 excess deaths were recorded in private homes in England and Wales between March 14th and September 11th, but only 3% were due to COVID-19. The BBC has more.

More men than normal are dying at home from heart disease in England and Wales, and more women are dying from dementia and Alzheimer’s, figures show.

More than 26,000 extra deaths occurred in private homes this year, an analysis by the Office for National Statistics found.

In contrast, deaths in hospitals from these causes have been lower than usual.

The Covid epidemic may have led to fewer people being treated in hospital…

Between March and September 2020, there were 24,387 more deaths in England than expected in private homes, and 1,644 in Wales. The large majority did not involve COVID-19.

Of these, an extra 1,705 men died from heart disease in their own homes in England compared with the average number over the previous five years.

This is 25% more than normal. In Wales there was a similar rise in male deaths from heart disease, of 22.7%.

Over the same period, deaths in hospitals from heart disease went down by about a quarter in England and Wales.

During the pandemic, about 1,400 more women than usual died at home from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

While deaths from these conditions also increased in care homes, hospital deaths from dementia decreased by 40% in England and 25% in Wales.

Prof David Spiegelhalter, Chairman of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at the University of Cambridge, says that this equates to an extra 100 people dying at home every day between March and September.

“Usually around 300 people die each day in their homes in England and Wales,” he commented.

“The latest ONS analysis confirms that even after the peak of the epidemic this has stayed at around 400 a day and shows no sign of declining. That’s one third extra, very few of which are from Covid.”

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: The Mail has also done a story on this.

Manchester’s Hospitals Not Overwhelmed – Andy Burnham

Emergency episodes for respiratory conditions in Manchester are below the five-year average

Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, and Sir Richard Leese, the Leader of Manchester City Council, issued a joint statement last night in which they expressed their frustration that the Government is continuing to put out fear-mongering stories about hospitals in Greater Manchester being on the verge of collapse. This was in response to Boris’s Downing Street spokesperson claiming Greater Manchester’s hospitals were on track to be overwhelmed by October 28th if the area isn’t immediately placed under a Tier 3 lockdown. Burnham and Leese dispute this:

We are disappointed that the Government has today sought to raise public concern about the NHS in Greater Manchester with selective statistics.

Greater Manchester’s ICU occupancy rate is not abnormal for this time of year and is comparable to the occupancy rate in October 2019. Also, providing information about individual hospitals does not reflect that our hospitals work as a system to manage demand.

We are not complacent about the position in our hospitals and are monitoring the situation closely. But in the current situation, we believe it is essential that our residents are given clear, accurate information about the state of the NHS in Greater Manchester and that public fears are not raised unnecessarily.

They’re not wrong. The chart above, which Prof Carl Heneghan and colleagues flagged up in the Telegraph on Saturday, shows that emergency episodes for respiratory conditions, including Covid, are well below the five-year average in Manchester University hospitals.

Interestingly, Sir Richard Leese has suggested that a policy of “focused protection”, shielding the elderly and the vulnerable rather than forcing everyone to self-isolate in their homes, would be far more sensible than a Tier 3 lockdown, echoing the strategy laid out in the Great Barrington Declaration – and his proposal has been endorsed by several local Conservative MPs. The Telegraph has more:

He claimed this would be less than a fifth of the cost of the business closures that would happen in Tier 3, enabling businesses to stay open and the majority of people to avoid tougher restrictions.

The plan was backed by senior Conservatives in the area including Sir Graham Brady, the Chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tories, who said there was no scientific basis for the tier system.

Sir Graham, the MP for Altrincham and Sale West, said the proposal should not be “dismissed out of hand”, adding: “The fundamental point about Tier 3 is the proposals don’t appear to have any evidential basis. There is no reason to think that closing some pubs and bars would have a significant impact on the spread on the virus.”

He was joined by James Daly, the Tory MP for Bury North, who said he was “extremely sympathetic” to Sir Richard’s proposal, and Chris Green, the Tory MP for Bolton West, who said: “I think this is a good direction of travel. Let’s keep our hospitality running up to Christmas and support people at home if they are deemed vulnerable.”

William Wragg, the Tory MP for Hazel Grove, said: “I think Richard Leese’s proposal has merit and should be properly considered.”

Sir Richard said: “Most people who test positive for the virus are not getting particularly ill. They are not the problem”, pointing out that those most at risk of hospitalisation were older people and those with existing underlying conditions, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure or respiratory illnesses.

“If this is the evidence, wouldn’t it be much better to have an effective shielding programme for those most at risk, rather than have a blanket business closure policy of dubious efficacy?” he said.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Ross Clark has written a piece for the Spectator headlined: “Does Manchester really need tougher restrictions?” I’ll let you guess the answer.

High Noon: Robert Jenrick, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, has given Burnham until Noon today to reach a deal – or else. But can Boris really force the people of Greater Manchester to observe Tier 3 restrictions in the teeth of opposition from the Mayor and the leader of the council?

Why Does Hancock Want to Lock Up the North When Cases Are Falling?

Matt Hancock said in the House of Commons yesterday that talks had begun with local leaders in South and West Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, the North East and Teesside about joining Liverpool and Lancashire in the tightest level of lockdown. But why, when infection rates across the North are falling? The Mail has more.

Official data shows Nottingham, Newcastle, Sheffield and Manchester are among the cities where cases have started to fall after a surge at the end of September, when thousands of students and staff poured back into universities.

Infection rates in all four cities have been steadily decreasing for several days, suggesting they are on a consistent downward trend rather than a temporary dip. Yet Mr Hancock warned tonight that large parts of the North of England are headed towards a ‘Tier 3’ lockdown.

The Mail then looks in more detail at the infection rate in a number of Northern cities.

In Nottingham the rolling weekly rate of cases peaked at 1,001.2 per 100,000 people for the seven days to October 8th – the highest in England – but since then the number has been falling, currently standing at 787.6.

Manchester’s current rate is 432.5, after peaking at 583.5 in the seven days to October 3rd, while in Sheffield it’s 396.7, down from a high of 500.3 in the week ending October 7th. The rate in Newcastle stands at 371.5, down from 553.8 in the same period.

Zero Transmission in Pubs, Gyms and Restaurants, According to NHS App

“Hello Dido? Is that you? Matt here. If I bung you another £12 billion, do you think you can get NHS Test and Trace working by Christmas?”

Lockdown Sceptic‘s very own NHS Test and Trace correspondent has been combing through the NHSX data to see how many outbreaks have occurred in the businesses that are being forced to close in Tier 3 areas. Answer: almost none.

We are all getting used to seeing QR code check-in posters in shops, gyms, offices and restaurants. Ever wondered how many of those venues have been deemed to have a COVID-19 outbreak? Perhaps that data is driving the decision to shut pubs and gyms?

We can see for ourselves because NHSX publishes the data via its “risky venues API”. It’s easy to see, just click here: If you see something like “{“venues”:[]}” that’s what we techies call an empty list and it means there are no venues listed. Zero.

Of course, the list is constantly being updated and perhaps today is just a good day when nowhere is risky. If only someone were clicking on that link regularly and keeping a track of the results, like the graph at the bottom of this page. Then we could see a grand total of, er, four venues that have been flagged up since the app was released. Yes, four. They were in September. There have been none in October.

Remind me why we’re shutting pubs, gyms and restaurants?

As NHSX say on its website, “The purpose of maintaining records and displaying an official NHS QR poster […] will help to avoid the reintroduction of lockdown measures and support the country to return to, and maintain, a more normal way of life.” In that case, isn’t NHSX’s own data telling us we can all get back to normal?

A Guardian Reader Writes…

I got an email today from a disillusioned Guardian reader. There must be a fair few of those!

As a reader of the Guardian since my early twenties 40 years ago I was willing to believe in the integrity of its journalism. My faith has waned over the years as the paper’s investigative journalism has become more obviously and frequently shallow, and in the last weeks it has become a Government mouthpiece. But I didn’t expect such flagrant falsehoods as the ones I have read today in its coverage of Scott Atlas’s Twitter ban.

In particular: “In a stream of posts, Atlas falsely claimed that several US states and other countries had taken up widespread use of masks without evidence of any positive effect. He also incorrectly said that there were ‘many harms’ to the practice.” To the contrary, there is considerable research to support Atlas, available to anyone with internet access.

The article continued: “Atlas’s views on how to deal with the virus have raised alarm in scientific circles. He has repeatedly cast doubt on masks and social distancing, and suggested people could gain natural self-defenses against the disease even without a vaccine through ‘herd immunity’.” Which “scientific circles”? All of them? And what exactly is “alarming”?

It goes on: “Friday saw the daily number of confirmed cases exceed 70,000 for the first time since July, with almost 900 deaths. In a leaked report, the White House put 26 states in the ‘red zone’ – indicating a dangerous level of new infections – including almost all states in the midwest.” In fact, the rates are falling, even according to the authority the article itself cites. That site says that there there were 393 deaths on Sunday, which supports Trump’s assertion rather more than the Guardian‘s.

Pro-Masking Fanatic Gary Lineker Caught Shopping Without a Mask

Oh, Gary Gary

Gary Lineker has always made his feelings about wearing masks very clear. Back in April, he tweeted: “How can there be any debate about whether we should be wearing a mask? Even if it’s only a one per cent chance of making you safer. Even if it is only a one per cent chance of stopping you giving it to someone else.”

On July 2nd he wrote: “Can’t understand why anyone would object to wearing a mask. Painless gesture to ensure you don’t spread the virus to others, and great for hiding bad breath.”

And on July 14th, he tweeted: “Why would anyone object to wearing a mask in a shop? Not exactly a hardship. What a country of snowflakes we’ve become.”

He then added: “Wearing masks, of all things, is the most obvious thing we can do to help decrease the spread of the virus, and the smallest of all the sacrifices. No brainer.”

But in spite of this constant finger-wagging, Gary was spotted wandering around Marks and Spencer in Barnes on Sunday night without a mask.

The Express has the story.

Hypocrisy, thy name is Lineker.

Stop Press: There may be an even bigger hypocrite than Lineker in our midst. Matt Hancock was spotted in a chauffeur-driven ministerial car without a mask, forcing Number 10 to issue reminders to ministers about the need to wear masks, even in ministerial cars.

Might Most Positive Test be Wrong?

We’ve devoted a lot of attention to the false positive rate of the PCR test on this site – and even though we haven’t run anything new on it recently don’t assume we think the problem has gone away. That’s why we’re delighted to publish a piece by a maths teacher called David Mackie today highlighting just how much impact a seemingly low false positive rate can have on overall results. Here are the opening four paragraphs:

A lot of people are bad with numbers, and especially so in the area of probability. Earlier this year (with accidental prescience), in the school where I work, as part of our off-curriculum ‘mind-broadening’ provision for sixth-formers, a few of my colleagues and I presented students with a puzzle involving imperfect methods of testing for rare conditions. Such puzzles can yield startling results – ones which even bright students are often reluctant to accept.

For example, if the incidence of a disease in the population is 0.1% and the test has a false positive rate of 5%, the probability that a randomly-selected individual testing positive actually has the disease is approximately one in fifty: about 2%, or a probability of 0.02.

Though this is easy to demonstrate, it is remarkable how resistant many perfectly intelligent people are to the conclusion, even when shown the proof. “But the test is 95% reliable”, they protest. “How can it be that a person with a positive test has anything less than a 95% chance of having the disease?”

That kind of response merits attention. It does so because it is an example of an important failure to understand relevant data (and/or the terminology used to describe those data); and it is a failure that renders people blind (or, worse, resistant) to legitimate concerns about the significance of the published results of recent mass testing – concerns that are still not receiving the wider public attention that they deserve.

This is a very clear explanation of the problem. Worth reading in full.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Two today: “Fool If You Think It’s Over” by Elkie Brooks and “Never Ending Story” by Limahl.

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.

Stop Press: A couple in Milan have been fined £360 for kissing in the street without wearing masks. They should have arranged to meet discreetly via Love in a Covid Climate.

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, I’m highlighting the report of Alison Lowe, an historian commissioned by Leeds City Council to review the status of statues in the city in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests. She was clearly expecting to find a lot of public unhappiness with the statues, even though none of them were of individuals who were central to the slave trade. But in fact over 90% of the people surveyed said they didn’t have a problem with them and didn’t want them to be taken down. The Yorkshire Evening Post has more.

Ms Lowe said: “I was surprised there were so few people wanted any change. I thought it would be a 30-70 split or 40-60 and I worried about that at the beginning because if there was no clear feeling it would be hard. As a panel we wanted to do the right thing by the majority of people and only 10% wanted some active change. I know thousands did not (respond) but we had to take it that they were happy with the status quo.

“There was a perception that lots of black people would write in and say ‘get rid of statue X or Y’. That was as a result of the Edward Colston toppling in Bristol which was as a result of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter. There was a belief, no facts, that lots of black people were angry about statues but I had lots of conversations with Black Lives Matters groups and actually people were not really that interested.”

So there you have it. Almost no one in Leeds wants the Council to take down any statues of the City’s colonial era panjandrums, including the black residents.

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.

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 Sunetra Gupta, Professor Martin Kulldorff and Professor Jay Bhattacharya – actual scientists, unlike Devi Sridhar

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 week and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it. If you Google it, one of the top hits you get is a smear piece from the obscure Leftist conspiracy website Byline Times, and one from the Guardian headlined: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this hit job the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now shows up in the search results – and my Spectator piece about the attempt to suppress it is one of 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 550,000 signatures, compared to the John Snow Memorandum’s 4,400. Embarrassing.

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.

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.)

Special thanks to graphic designer and Lockdown Sceptics reader Claire Whitten for designing our new logo. We think it’s ace. Find her work here.

And Finally…

Alf Tupper cannot believe he’s done so well – and neither can Keir Starmer?

One of our readers has noticed the uncanny resemblance between Alf Tupper, the Tough of the Track, and Labour leader Keir Starmer.

Latest News

Je Suis Samuel

Tens of thousands of demonstrators rallied in the Place de la Reublique yesterday to pay tribute to Samuel Paty, the history teacher who was brutally murdered on Friday. The Mail has more.

The French Prime Minister joined thousands of demonstrators rallying in tribute to a history teacher who was brutally beheaded at a school near Paris for showing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed to his class.

Samuel Paty, 47, was brutally stabbed to death and beheaded by Aboulakh Anzorov, 18, in a northern suburb of the French capital on Friday afternoon.

In Paris, thousands including French Prime Minister Jean Castex gathered to pay tribute to the slain teacher in a defiant show of solidarity at the Place de la Republique.

Some held placards reading ‘I am Samuel’ that echoed the ‘I am Charlie’ rallying cry after the 2015 attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which published caricatures of Mohammed.

A moment’s silence was observed across the square, broken by applause and a rendition of La Marseillaise, the French national anthem. Others recited: ‘Freedom of expression, freedom to teach.’

Demonstrators also gathered in major cities including Lyon, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Nantes, Marseille, Lille and Bordeaux.

Worth reading in full.

Twitter Censors Scott Atlas

Twitter capped off a week of aggressive censorship of right-of-centre publications and views by deleting tweets by Scott Atlas, a member of the White House’s scientific team battling coronavirus. The Federalist has more.

Atlas, a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institute, not only had his tweets removed, he was banned from tweeting until he deleted the tweets that Twitter for unclear reasons objects to. Here are the tweets in question:

In an email to the Federalist, Atlas outlined the evidence behind his tweet.

In the deleted tweet, I cited the following evidence against general population masks:

1) Cases exploded even with mandates: Los Angeles County, Miami-Dade County, Hawaii, Alabama, the Philippines, Japan, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Israel.
2) Dr. Carl Heneghan, University of Oxford, director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine and editor in chief of British Medical Journal Evidence-Based Medicine: ‘It would appear that despite two decades of pandemic preparedness, there is considerable uncertainty as to the value of wearing masks.’
(https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/masking-lack-of-evidence-with-politics/)
3) The WHO: ‘The widespread use of masks by healthy people in the community setting is not yet supported by high quality or direct scientific evidence and there are potential benefits and harms to consider’ (http://bitly.ws/afUm)
4) The CDC: ‘Our systematic review found no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.’ (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/5/19-0994_article).
I also cited an article giving detailed explanation of the reasons why masks might not prevent spread: https://t.co/1hRFHsxe59

Notwithstanding this evidence regarding arguably the most important and contentious debate raging in American society — the constant mandate of masks — it appears some 20-something with his pronouns in his Twitter bio just pushed a button and erased scientifically accurate information. For some reason, which hopefully Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey can explain when he is dragged before the Senate, Atlas was silenced by the tech giant.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Jordan Schachtel has more on the same story in his substack blog.

Nobel Prize-Winning Scientist No-Platformed by Lockdown Zealots

Michael Levitt, lockdown sceptic

Michael Levitt, joint winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize for Chemistry and Professor of Structural Biology at Stanford, has been no-platformed by the organisers of a conference on biosystems design and synthetic biology, even though these fields both owe a huge debt to his work. He took to Twitter yesterday to break the news.

This is an absolute disgrace. Scientists aren’t supposed to no-platform other scientists because they disagree with their scientific views. That’s completely antithetical to the spirit of scientific inquiry. The scientists who threatened to pull out if Michael Levitt was allowed to participate should be ashamed of themselves.

Sounds like a job for the Free Speech Union

Is Greater Manchester Running Out of Hospital Beds?

Cases by specimen date in Manchester – note the peak around September 30th and the steady fall since

The Guardian has splashed on a “leaked document” that supposedly reveals hospitals in Greater Manchester are set to run out of beds to treat people seriously ill with COVID-19.

It showed that by last Friday the resurgence of the disease had left hospitals in Salford, Stockport and Bolton at maximum capacity, with no spare beds to help with the growing influx. The picture it paints ratchets up the pressure on ministers to reach a deal with local leaders over the region’s planned move to the top level of coronavirus restrictions.

It suggested that Greater Manchester’s hospitals are quickly heading towards being overwhelmed by the sheer number of people with Covid needing emergency care to save their lives, in the same way that those in Liverpool have become in recent weeks. By Friday 211 of the 257 critical care beds in Greater Manchester – 82% of the total supply – were already being used for either those with Covid or people who were critically ill because of another illness.

But how accurate is this “leaked document”? Not very, judging from the assessment of Prof Carl Heneghan and his colleagues in the Sunday Telegraph. Readers will recall that they point out the number of daily cases in the Manchester area are falling.

They peaked on the September 30th with 596 cases and a seven-day average of 461. As of October 9th, the seven-day average has fallen from the peak by nearly 20% to an average of 374.

More importantly, the data for respiratory condition admissions shows that they’re below the four year average.

Looking at all respiratory episodes at Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust we see that until week 15 the 2020 admissions matched closely with the four year average for the corresponding week: average monthly activity was 96% of the four year average.

However, this began to diverge significantly after week 16, when the monthly activity became only 57% of the four year average. Looking at emergency episodes alone shows a similar pattern: from week 17 they were at 60% of the four year average.

As for the Guardian‘s breathless revelation that 82% of critical care beds in Greater Manchester are occupied, so what? That sounds about normal for this time of year, possibly even below average.

It’s a non-story. The document was probably leaked by a member of the Government trying to increase pressure on Andy Burnham.

Stop Press: I was right about 82% being normal for this time of year. Occupancy of adult critical care beds in Greater Manchester at the end of October 2019 was 83.6%. Data here.

Scotland’s Dodgy Data

An academic at Edinburgh University has got in touch to point out there’s some jiggery pokery going on with the daily case data north of the border.

You should take a look at the Scottish Covid daily update for an example of how the authorities are abusing statistics for presumably political ends.

Their daily update always includes a top statement along the lines that “1,167 new cases of COVID-19 reported; this is 17.6%* of newly tested individuals” (numbers for October 18th).

Scary indeed, given the percentage of positive tests in the UK as a whole is currently between 5 to 7%. However, the asterisk leads to an explanation of how this is calculated. In short, they have counted the positive tests out of 15,089 performed (this figure is given further down the page), and then divided it by a totally unrelated number – the number of people who have never been tested before (calculating back, around 6,630 people). The actual percentage of positive tests is 7.7%; still high, but much less alarming.

The metric is said to be “under review”, but has been so for at least a week. It is hard to imagine how they decided to use it in the first place, let alone continue to do so.

Local Lockdown Protests

Some elderly residents stage a protest outside their care home

A reader has written in to tell us about his experience organising a local lockdown protest in Croydon. Sounds like it was quite successful.

I staged, with some success, I think, a very small-scale anti-lockdown event in Croydon earlier today. I consider it to have been reasonably successful and I have written the following report in the belief that it may be of interest to your readers.

Through the Lockdown Sceptics and Keep Britain Free forums, I have managed to create a small but expanding network of sceptics across Surrey. Many of us want to play a part in swaying public opinion towards Covid dissent, but not everyone feels comfortable with the way the big protests are conducted and, for my own part, work commitments prevent me from making it to London.

Accordingly, we have started to organise very small-scale gatherings in our local town centres, the first of which took place this Sunday. We had one group in Guildford, while I and another member set ourselves up in Croydon for a couple of hours. Since neither of us had ever attempted anything of the sort before, we were somewhat self-conscious at first and I couldn’t help feeling like I was in the Tooting Popular Front. Still, several other groups and individuals had set themselves up in the town centre with different axes to grind, and compared to them we looked positively discreet.

We didn’t have any tables and chairs set up, so we had to promote ourselves a bit by speaking to passers-by. Nerves had to be overcome, but it all seemed to go very well. Some members of the public were interested in what we were doing. My honourable comrade diverted his attentions towards unmasked people on the basis that they were more likely to be receptive to us, while I approached masked people whom I supposed might only be wearing masks under duress. My comrade’s approach seemed to be more successful.

Rather than trying to drag people into conversation, we just asked them if they’d like to take a leaflet asking people such questions as “What do you think the psychological effects of masks and social distancing are on children?” and “How would you feel if you or a relative had a treatable illness which became terminal because you were refused access to the NHS?” We also pointed out a few inconvenient truths, such as the average age of Covid deaths and the rate of false positives. I cannot take full credit for the leaflet as I merely modified a template which had been prepared by another member (thanks, Comrade TW). I added a list of useful websites such as Lockdown Sceptics (crawl, grovel, &c.) in case people should be interested in looking further into Covid scepticism. We started with 30 leaflets and managed to give away around half of them.

While 15 leaflets distributed over two hours doesn’t sound hugely impressive, since it was the first time either of us had attempted such a stunt, I’m inclined to regard it as successful. I had begun with some considerable apprehension that public reception would be hostile or someone in a hi-vis would try to move us on, but I’m pleased to say those fears did not come to anything. Moreover, my conscience is quite satisfied that I have done my bit to overturn the present chaos.

I hope to be able to repeat these events in the near future in more locations around Surrey. If anyone wants to stage a similar event of their own accord I would heartily encourage it. As not everyone here feels comfortable with the tune of the larger events, this local approach allows you to protest entirely on your own terms, and without the inconvenience of having to go all the way into London. All the same, I would advise trying to do it at least in pairs. Even though today’s event was entirely peaceful, people may be vulnerable on their own.

For more on the Surrey group, see ‘Meet Fellow Sceptics’ in the LS forums.

Stop Press: Dr Kevin Corbett, a former nurse and anti-lockdown activist, has written to tell me of a very successful rally in Hull on Saturday.

I think the Wake Up Hull rally went very well. I stayed for the whole rally, and also the march, which proceeded in a very orderly fashion, gaining lots of interest and support from shopkeepers and shoppers. It was a superbly well organised event by Wake Up Hull who had an effective sound system and had posted volunteers to help protect attendees and speakers. The success of this Saturday’s rally was truly a testament to the forward planning and level headedness of those organising, who are working to help local people and businesses survive and thrive. The range of speakers (and topics) covered on Saturday were diverse, and included Professor Roger Watson, Mark Steele, Kate Shemirani (via link) plus myself and several other less known speakers notable for their own health and spiritual knowledge, expertise and local links. The Hull police assisted the organisers and took out several masked troublemakers who were spoiling for a fight. As you can imagine this police action was hugely applauded by the rally goers as was the calm demeanor of the police throughout. It also made those of us who’d personally witnessed the atrocious behaviour of the Metropolitan Police at similar events to note how relatively better the Hull police seemed at doing their job without hurting people (unlike their London colleagues). Overall, it was an incredible event attended by four hundred rally goers. The police acted as though they knew that this year’s government COVID-19 ‘diktats’ were just that. Common sense prevailed and because of the tenor of the rally due to the organisers, and their successful police liaison, it really felt for all of us involved, as though we were now living in a democracy once more. People felt hopeful and optimistic for the future and it showed in their actions and behaviour. So well done all at Wake Up Hull for showing the UK exactly how to do it.

Postcard From Bulgaria

Unmasked shoppers at a vegetable market in Sofia

A reader has sent us a “Postcard From Bulgaria” that we’ve added to the postcard roster on the right-hand side. Sounds like a good place to visit (although it’s not currently in the UK travel corridor).

The early morning mini-bus from Yambol trundles into the village, and drinking a coffee outside the bar the village mayor from a few years back calls out jovially to those of us waiting to board: “Mask!” Unaffronted (you’ll see why in a moment), the majority of us pull from our pocket a crumpled, grubby-ish scrap of ear-looped linen and don it, at least until we reach our seat. “Losho!” laughs the ex-mayor, rocking merrily back and forth on his seat (maybe it was a rakia he was drinking, not coffee), and nobody disagrees. ‘Losho’ can mean anything from ‘bad’ to ‘useless’ to ‘barmy’ which I would say is the majority view now in Bulgaria with regard to mask-wearing.

Worth reading in full.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Special Andy Burnham edition today: “North South Divide” by Tim Patterson, “North vs South” by El Axel and “Divided Nation” by Manic Depression.

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 San Diego School District which has decided to abolish grading on the grounds that awarding grades to students is racist. Libby Emmons from the Post Millennial has more.

California’s second largest school district has decided that since minority students cannot make the grade, grades should be dispensed with altogether.

“This is part of our honest reckoning as a school district,” San Diego’s schools VP Richard Barerra said. “If we’re actually going to be an anti-racist school district, we have to confront practices like this that have gone on for years and years.”

Those practices, apparently, include expectations and assessments as to how well students are meeting those expectations. Using an outcome based assessment approach, it was determined that teachers are failing minority students by grading them not based on their academic achievement, but on their skin colour.

This determination was made based on data which revealed that minority students received 30% of all failing or near failing grades.

Kids who are English learners, or have disabilities, had lower grades, as did Native Americans, Hispanics, and black American students. Only seven percent of failing marks were distributed to white students. The San Diego school district believes that this is because teachers are racist, otherwise why would they seek to address grading rather than underlying issues?

It was as a result of these numbers that the San Diego school board decided to dispense with grading standards. Kids are now permitted to turn in the work at any time that appeals to them, and still have it graded as though they’d turned it on deadline. Teachers will not be permitted to use testing to determine grades, but are meant to grade per a “mastery of the material”, although it’s unclear as to how a teacher is meant to figure out a student’s “mastery”.

Classroom behaviour doesn’t count either, so probably no more points for participation. It’s only a student’s working knowledge, apparently, that will affect how they do in school. Although again, it’s unclear as to how that presence of that knowledge will be determined.

Junior at University City High School and Student School Board Member Zachary Patterson said: “I know students all across the school district are really happy with the idea that these other accountability measures are no longer going to be defining their understanding of knowledge.”

It was Patterson who brought up concerns that some students might be unfairly penalized for cheating. The school board intends, this week, to review their zero-tolerance policy on cheating, with perhaps an eye toward allowing cheating, since to not do so might be racist.

Surely, isn’t it a little bit racist to say you’re no longer going to penalise kids for not doing their homework on time, being naughty or cheating because that’s not fair on minority students? Wouldn’t it be fairer to have the same high expectations of all students, regardless of their skin 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.

And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

Stop Press: Readers will recall that a large, randomised control trial to test the efficacy of masks was carried out in Denmark earlier this year – the only large RCT that’s ever been done on masks. So why haven’t the results been published yet? According to one of the lead investigators on the study, it will be published “as soon as a journal is brave enough”. Which suggests the results are not what the pro-maskers want to hear. Alex Berenson has been tweeting about it.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Sunetra Gupta, Professor Martin Kulldorff and Professor Jay Bhattacharya – actual scientists, unlike Devi Sridhar

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 week and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it. If you Google it, the top hits you get are two smear pieces from the obscure Leftist conspiracy website Byline Times, and one from the Guardian headlined: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this hit job the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now shows up in the search results – and my Spectator piece about the attempt to suppress it is the top hit – 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 half-a-million signatures.

Stop Press: Lockdown Sceptics contributor Omar S. Khan has written a blog post defending the GBD from its critics.

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 awarding 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.

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.)

Special thanks to graphic designer and Lockdown Sceptics reader Claire Whitten for designing our new logo. We think it’s ace. Find her work here.

And Finally…

In my latest column for Spectator US, I’ve written about the migration of the paranoid style in politics from the right to the left.

It is widely accepted as fact in contemporary politics that all the biggest conspiracy theories originate on the far right, whether it’s QAnon, birtherism or the belief that Sandy Hook was staged by actors. The notion was popularized by the political scientist Richard Hofstadter in his famous essay ‘The Paranoid Style in American Politics’. Hofstadter saw a golden thread linking the scapegoating of Jews and Catholics by 19th-century populists to the fever dreams of Joseph McCarthy, who believed a fifth column had embedded itself in America’s most powerful institutions. According to Hofstadter, these theories appeal to the white working class because they feel marginalized and dispossessed. ‘America has been largely taken away from them and their kind, though they are determined to try to repossess it and to prevent the final destructive act of subversion,’ he wrote.

It is this piece of conventional wisdom — that conspiracy theories are inextricably bound up with a toxic white nationalism and can, if they’re allowed to run wild, lead to the eruption of racial violence — that has persuaded the custodians of social media that they have a public duty to ban their proponents from spreading them.

But the reality is that conspiracy theories are now more ubiquitous on the left than they are on the right. We saw this after Trump’s victory in 2016, with numerous pundits in the mainstream media blaming it on the insidious influence of Russian bots and troll farms, as well as Steve Bannon’s fiendish use of Facebook to worm his way into the heads of blue-collar voters.

It was now the turn of America’s bicoastal overlords to feel that their country had been taken away from them and, like Hofstadter’s paranoid losers, they convinced themselves that a malignant, invisible group of subversives was responsible and it was their duty to expose them.

A British journalist called Carole Cadwalladr, who saw Trump’s victory as just one facet of a vast right-wing conspiracy that encompassed Boris Johnson, Brexit and Cambridge Analytica, was even shortlisted for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize.

Worth reading in full.

Latest News

Government Was Warned About Looming Cancer Crisis Five Months Ago

Lockdown Sceptics has obtained a briefing note written by Professor Karol Sikora on May 18th warning the Government about the looming crisis in cancer care and making a series of recommendations about how to avoid it. Prof Sikora even flagged up the risk that GP referrals of suspected cancer patients would fall dramatically, which Cancer Research UK said yesterday meant that 350,000 people who would normally have been referred to hospital with suspected cancer in the past six months have still not been seen.

The briefing note was produced at the behest of Sir Simon Stevens, the NHS’s Chief Executive, but after submitting it to a civil servant in the DHSC Prof Sikora never heard anything more.

Not only did Prof Sikora identify all the risks that have subsequently materialised, he also suggested a solution: collaboration with the private sector. Here’s his conclusion:

The surge of cancer patients is expected by late summer 2020. The independent sector has huge resources to assist the NHS by working in partnership. Developing a plan centrally and authorising local coordination based on existing NHS cancer centres would provide the most effective structure for implementation. This will significantly mitigate against delay and strict rationing to ensure the best long-term outcomes for our patients.

When the official inquiry begins into the unending series of cock-ups by the Government and the Civil Service, this document will be a smoking gun.

Did Tony Blair Break Quarantine Rules?

Tony Blair leaving Harry’s Bar in Mayfair 10 days after returning from the United States

You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s one set of lockdown rules for the political elite and another for the hoi polloi, given how many times members of the political class have been caught flouting the rules. The latest addition to this ignominious list is Tony Blair. The Sunday Telegraph has devoted its front page splash to the story.

Tony Blair was last night accused of a “flagrant” breach of COVID-19 restrictions, after failing to self-isolate for a fortnight after a two-day trip to the US on a private jet.

In pictures obtained by this newspaper, the former prime minister is seen leaving a restaurant in Mayfair 10 days after his return from Washington DC last month.

The Sunday Telegraph understands that Mr Blair appealed to Whitehall ­officials for special dispensation from the COVID-19 rules, but that he was not issued with the formal exemption letter he would have needed to avoid the 14-day isolation period.

The Telegraph is not aware of any other exemption for which Mr Blair could qualify. He claims he was advised to follow rules on attending “international conferences”, having travelled to the US for a ceremony at the White House at which Israel signed agreements establishing formal relations with Bahrain and the UAE.

But the “international conferences” exemption to the rules applies to ­diplomats, staff at international bodies such as the UN and formal representatives at international conferences who have been “granted privileges and immunities”.

Mr Blair is considered a private ­citizen, having stepped down from his post-No 10 role as Middle East envoy in 2015.

Those taking advantage of the exemption require “an exemption letter to show at the border”.

A spokesman for the former Prime Minister said he was invited by the US Government because of the role he played in the agreement between Israel and the UAE – describing the ceremony as a “diplomatic conference”.

The spokesman also insisted Mr Blair “posed no risk to anyone” as he was tested before his departure, on arrival at the White House, and again several times since returning to the UK.

Posed no risk to anyone?

Well, I’ve had the virus and recovered and have the antibodies to prove it, so I’m not a risk to anyone either. Does that mean I, too, can disregard the rules when they’re inconvenient?

Didn’t think so.

Stop Press: The Mail on Sunday has confirmed that MPs did flout the 10pm curfew in a House of Commons bar on October 5th. Matt Hancock has confirmed that he was in the bar on the night in question, but left to vote at 9.40pm and won’t disclose whether he returned afterwards in spite of being asked the question 30 times. Things are looking a bit sticky for the Health Secretary.

Tory Grandees Ask: “What’s the Exit Strategy?”

Sir Graham Brady, lockdown sceptic

Also on the front page of the Sunday Telegraph is a story about how senior Tories, including Sir Graham Brady, Chair of the 1922 Committee, are demanding to know what the exit strategy is.

Senior Conservatives expressed growing anger at the Government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, amid mounting concern that swathes of the country are heading for further restrictions this week.

On Saturday, Julian Jessop, an independent economist, said that another lockdown could result in a fresh hit to GDP of at least 5%.

Lord Lamont, the former Chancellor, warned that repeatedly imposing draconian restrictions and then lifting them is “deeply damaging to business and is not really a strategy”.

Sir Graham Brady, Chairman of the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers, whose Altringham and Sale West constituency in Manchester faces being placed in the highest tier of restrictions, said constant lockdowns or “circuit breakers” to suppress the virus would be “pointless”.

“If further restrictions on people’s lives are proposed, the Government has to set a clear end date and a strategy for returning life to normal,” Sir Graham said.

Amidst all these rumblings of discontent on the backbenches, a pollster with close links to Number 10 has warned that public opinion is turning.

James Frayne, who has previously carried out focus group research for the Government, warns of a looming shift in public opinion, against further lockdowns. He also accused the Government of “playing down the obvious economic risks associated with harsher measures”.

His warning came as a poll by ORB International found that just 10% of people believe the pandemic is under control in this country – a record low.

Mr Frayne, founding partner of the Public First policy research agency, states: “Opinion will shift fast with public realisation of the economic trauma set to befall us. Oddly, politicians have mostly kept this hidden from the public to date.

“But when Government reduces personal and business support – as they must – people will see the direct trade-offs being made: essentially, health versus living standards. In this new world, the key polling question will be: ‘are you happy to pay a lot more in tax and risk your job for a national lockdown?’ For most, the answer will be a resounding no.”

Mr Frayne suggests that Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, has identified a shift in public mood, which is leading him to resist No 10’s attempts to move the city into Tier 3.

“The fact he has highlighted the relatively low growth of Covid cases there, as well as talking in stark terms about the economic damage Tier 3 would bring about, is a major step… If the Labour Party follows Burnham’s lead – not imminently likely, granted – the Government would be in a very vulnerable position politically.”

He adds: “If they are not careful, they are going to look like they are blasé about the lives of ordinary people across the country.”

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: There’s a good piece in the Sunday Times documenting the deteriorating relationship between the Government and its scientific advisors.

“We’ve begun to hate the scientists,” said one Tory MP who has supported the Government on all the votes on restrictions. “You’ve got these guys on SAGE briefing journalists, going on the telly saying the PM must bring in a national lockdown. Why are they allowed to do that? You are either part of the team or you’re not. You can be an independent scientist and say what you like. You can’t be part of SAGE and go on telly saying they need to do this.”

Report From Yesterday’s Anti-Lockdown Protest

Yesterday’s anti-lockdown protest on Oxford Street

A reader has been in touch to tell us about his experiences on yesterday’s anti-lockdown demo in London. Not all “anti-vaxxers”, as the Evening Standard would have us believe.

I’d say around two to three thousand gathered at Speakers’ Corner. There was a bit of confusion initially between the two groups leading the event, with StandUpX wanting to head down Oxford Street, and Justice UK wanting to march directly to Downing Street. It had a bit of a Judean People’s Front vs the People’s Front of Judea feel about it. The two groups split, although the Oxford Street march probably attracted about 90% of us.

There were a lot of police and Community Liaison Officers on hand, but no sign of the more thuggish variety from the Territorial Support Group that brutalised the Trafalgar Square gathering. The police behaved very reasonably, walking us down Oxford Street and through Oxford Circus. The crowd, as with the Trafalgar Square rally, was peaceful and good natured. Several bus drivers obligingly sounded their horns in support. We got talking to various people as we walked along. One lady had lost her job recently and her savings were too big to get Universal Credit. Another said many of her neighbours had told her they would be at the march, but when she got to the station it was deserted.

Several marchers engaged with passers-by on Oxford Street, encouraging them to take off their masks. The numbers of – particularly younger – people wearing masks outside was thoroughly depressing. They stood, watched and photographed the protesters filing past. No doubt behind the masks they were open mouthed. We thought there was still quite a way to go to persuade people.

Eventually, the march turned up Rathbone Place and was stopped there by police. Lots of us wondered whether we were about to be kettled, so left. We popped in to a fairly busy pub and the remaining marchers passed by. There were some dismissive reactions from some in the pub. Three couples on the table next to us bellowed about the “nutters” and how there wasn’t “a mask among them”. It’s inconceivable that they were all part of one household, but will have lied about that. People pay lip service to the rules but don’t comply when it suits.

Later we came across a much depleted march near Covent Garden, which we re-joined for a short period before heading back to our hotel. Not sure where they ended up or whether they made it down Whitehall.

Who are the Real Heirs of John Snow in the Herd Immunity Debate?

John Snow, the founder of epidemiology

The scientific Establishment has come up with an answer to the Great Barrington Declaration which it has called the John Snow Memorandum, named after the 19th Century public health scientists thought to be the founder of epidemiology. But as we pointed out on Lockdown Sceptics a couple of days ago, John Snow was a maverick who refused to believe the consensus among the scientists of his day about the causes of infectious diseases and instead set about gathering empirical evidence like a proper scientist. And when he discovered the real cause of the Soho Cholera outbreak, he came up with a targeted intervention that stopped it in its tracks. In short, John Snow has much more in common with Martin Kulldorff, Sunetra Gupta and Jay Bhattacharya – the original authors of the GBD – than he does with the Establishment toadies who’ve signed the Memorandum.

The same point is made by Robert E Wright in an excellent post for the American Institute for Economic Research.

What the signatories of the John Snow Memorandum want you to think is that they are the John Snows of 2020, bravely following “the” science. But the fact is, the Lancet and signatories like Chelsea Clinton represent the Establishment, hellbent on maintaining current policies regardless of the mounds of evidence that lockdowns do not work to stop the spread and increase other forms of mortality. They gloss over the fact that Snow searched for a targeted intervention, not the lockdown of London.

Worth reading in full.

NHS Test and Trace Hands Over Data to Police

Just when you thought public trust in the Government couldn’t sink any lower, the Department of Health and Social Care has said information obtained by NHS Test and Trace about which individuals should be self-isolating will be shared with the police so they can ensure people are complying. Sky News has more.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) confirmed it had “agreed a memorandum of understanding with the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC)” to provide forces with the information on a “case-by-case basis”.

In a statement, a spokesman told Sky News: “It is a legal requirement for people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and their close contacts to self-isolate when formally notified to do so.

“The DHSC has agreed a memorandum of understanding with the NPCC to enable police forces to have access on a case-by-case basis to information that enables them to know if a specific individual has been notified to self-isolate.

“The memorandum of understanding ensures that information is shared with appropriate safeguards and in accordance with the law. No testing or health data is shared in this process.”

I wonder how people will feel the next time they look at that NHS Covid app on their phones? As Alistair Haimes said on Twitter, the DHSC was very keen to tell us how many millions of people were downloading the app when it was rolled out a couple of weeks ago. Can they now start telling us how many millions have started deleting it?

Covid Cases in Manchester Not “Out of Control”

Prof Carl Heneghan and colleagues from the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine have taken a deep dive into Greater Manchester’s Covid data in the Telegraph to see whether the city really does need to go into a Tier 3 lockdown.

The question on everyone’s mind is whether Covid is out of control in Manchester, or has Burnham got it right, and the Government should hold off?

First, let’s look at cases, which don’t seem to be out of control, and are, if anything, declining. They peaked on the September 30th with 596 cases and a seven-day average of 461. As of October 9th, the seven-day average has fallen from the peak by nearly 20% to an average of 374.

Nine out of the 10 Greater Manchester’s boroughs report recent increases in their Covid rates whereas Manchester’s are on the wane. But this further underpins the need to understand the context of what is actually happening.

The sweeping term “cases” hides a diverse typology of reality, apart from false positives. The only critical cases are those with serious symptoms (who may go on and be admitted to hospital) and those who are contagious (who may transmit the disease to others).

Suppose the increase is due to healthy student-age people. In that case the increase is unlikely to be reflected in either admissions or deaths, especially in the student age group, who play no part in national mortality statistics.

Contagious youngsters are unlikely to pass the pathogen on after a week from symptoms onset and if they continue to test positive with few or no symptoms, it’s likely because they are shedding pieces of dead viruses which have little or no public health significance.

Manchester University’s figures can help as the university keeps data on known positive cases among its staff and students. It includes those on and off-campus but does not indicate where someone might have contracted the virus.

These data also do not support further measures: cases peaked on the October 2nd – a spike driven by the return of over 70,000 students to the city – and have fallen significantly since. They are 75% less than what they were at the peak.

Hospital admissions may shed some light on the need for lockdown. Data from NHS England show the current seven-day average for admissions from the community is 12 a day to NHS Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, up from an average of eight a day in the previous week.

But more telling are the data from weekly and monthly mandated Secondary Uses Service (SUS) repository for healthcare data in England.

These data show a dramatic reduction for respiratory condition admissions compared with what we would normally expect at this time of year.

In short, cases are falling and hospital admissions for respiratory conditions are falling.

Leave Andy Burnham alone, Prime Minister.

The Lost Children of Covid

More than 750,000 children were absent from school last week
IRINA POLONINA

According to the Sunday Times, 750,000 children were absent from school last week, giving an 89.9% attendance rate, compared with 95% last autumn. The truly alarming thing, however, is that many of these children will never return to school.

They are the lost children of Covid. Bright teenagers are dropping out of education to turn to crime, sometimes to feed their families. Teachers spend weeks waiting for promising pupils to return, only to realise they are not coming back.

Other children are being removed from school for home education or long stays abroad for fear of the virus.

Sophie, 16, one of four children in a single-parent family, lives in Walker, one of the most deprived parts of Newcastle upon Tyne. The teenager, whose mother was a nurse before having a family, won a scholarship to start this term at the Royal Grammar School, one of the city’s private schools. She is determined to go to university and become a doctor, but some of her friends from local schools are dropping out.

Boys she grew up with, “lads who dabbled in drugs before the pandemic”, are not in school. Some are drug dealers. “Kids my age feel helpless,” Sophie said. “Some of my friends went for the induction day at sixth-form college last month and never returned. The college is trying its hardest to get them back into class, but they are just like, ‘Nah, that’s it.’”

She added: “A lot of people I went to school with have got sucked into drug-dealing. I know of kids who did it slightly before the pandemic; now it’s all they do. So many people have been made redundant… their mums and dads… their least worry is whether their kid finishes a business course at college; they [the parents] are trying to get their own lives back on track.”

Yet more evidence of the terrible collateral damage done by the lockdown policy. Worth reading in full.

French Police Raid Homes of Government Ministers

Police in France have carried out dawn raids of the homes of the country’s former Prime Minister, current and former Health Ministers, and other senior officials, as part of an inquiry into the French Government’s cack-handed response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Independent has more.

COVID-19 patients, doctors, prison and police personnel and others in France have filed dozens of complaints in recent months, notably over shortages of masks and other equipment, prompting the Paris prosecutor to order an investigation.

The offices of Health Minister Olivier Veran, as well as the private addresses of former prime minister Edouard Philippe, Veran and his predecessor Agnès Buzyn, and Sibeth Ndiaye, ex-spokeswoman for President Emmanuel Macron, were searched on Thursday, the French health ministry has confirmed.

Geneviève Chêne, Director General of the French public health agency, as well as top health ministry official Jérôme Salomon, were also targeted in the police raids, which his department said were conducted “without any difficulties”.

A source close to Edouard Philippe, who remains Mayor of the port town of Le Havre in Normandy, told AFP that he “has always said that he was willing to put himself at the disposal of the authorities”. They said that the search was carried out “in a courteous manner and with the full cooperation of the mayor”.

Come on, Cressida Dick. What are you waiting for? Time to pay a visit to Matt Hancock’s London flat.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Two today: “This is Only Making Things Worse” by the Crosstown Rivalry and “Revolution” by Spacemen 3.

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 Cornell University English Faculty which has just voted to change its name from “the English Department” to something more… inclusive. The Washington Times has more.

The English Department at Cornell University has voted to change its name in an effort to distinguish English the language from English the nationality.

The department at the Ivy League university in New York voted to change its name to “the Department of Literatures in English” during its first faculty meeting of the fall semester earlier this month, the student-led Cornell Daily Sun reported Wednesday.

The change would help to eliminate the “conflation of English as a language and English as a nationality,” English professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies Kate McCullough told the newspaper.

The proposal, co-written by English professor Carole Boyce-Davies, was spurred by the wave of racial and political unrest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Ms. Boyce-Davies told the Daily Sun.

“Faculty around the country – not just faculty of color, but faculty in general – began to look at the institution to see how we can help advance a discourse that challenges structural forms of racism which get reproduced in students and in teaching over and over again,” Ms. Boyce-Davies said.

“What surprised us was the fact that so many of the White faculty of the English department signed on – we were amazed,” she added. “By the time we were ready to officially take it to the department as a whole, we had over 75% of the faculty signed on.”

Ms. Boyce-Davies said English Professor and Department Chair Caroline Levine signed the proposal without hesitation.

Stop Press: The Taxpayers’ Alliance has discovered that the Government spent £416,644 on face-to-face courses teaching civil servants about unconscious bias within the last two years. The Telegraph has the story.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

A state advertisement in Germany giving the finger to anti-maskers

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.

And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

Stop Press: This is a very good critique of masks by Roger Koops on the American Institute for Economy Research blog.

Alarming Video: A reader sent this video, which he obtained form a source in the Irish police. It purports to show a group of Romanian riot police dragging passengers not wearing masks from an underground train and brutally assaulting them on the platform. Frightening stuff.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Sunetra Gupta, Professor Martin Kulldorff and Professor Jay Bhattacharya – actual scientists, unlike Devi Sridhar

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 week and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it. If you Google it, the top hits you get include two smear pieces from the obscure Leftist conspiracy website Byline Times, and one from the Guardian headlined: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this hit job the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now shows up in the search results – and my Spectator piece about the attempt to suppress it is the top hit – 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 has over half-a-million signatures.

Stop Press: The GBD is provoking a lot of debate, most of it poor, but occasionally quite good. Here is Tyler Cowen’s critique in Bloomberg. And here is David Henderson’s reply for the American Institute for Economic Research.

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.

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: A Berlin court has suspended an order for bars and restaurants to close from 11pm to 6am. The Mail has the story.

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.

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.) Thanks to all those readers who wished me happy birthday yesterday.

Special thanks to graphic designer and Lockdown Sceptics reader Claire Whitten for designing our new logo. We think it’s ace. Find her work here.

And Finally…

Andy Shaw, one of the co-hosts of Comedy Unleashed, has written a short piece for Lockdown Sceptics about his heroic efforts to put on live comedy at a pub in Bethnal Green in spite of all the ludicrous restrictions. I went last Tuesday and it was bloody marvellous. Well done to Andy for not letting the ongoing lockdown madness defeat him.

On Monday October 12th we re-opened Comedy Unleashed at the Backyard Comedy Club, East London. We had three fantastic nights. We worked closely with the venue and it took an enormous amount of organisation. We split one gig over three nights, with 1/3 of the usual audience; implemented social distancing without killing the atmosphere; found a way for people not to wear masks during the performance; the venue introduced a plethora of processes, from instructions to be included with ticketing information and a limit on the number of comedians allowed in the green room; the venue stocked up on beer and pizzas and introduced table service. The staff had to get everyone served in record time and were amazing. We had to increase the ticket price and still lost money. But we were back and it worked. On Thursday morning, the Tier 2 Covid measures were announced for London, which means that the audience size would have to be halved. The venue is now scrambling to work out if they can keep things going and they may have to lay off their staff (again) and pour the beer down the drain (again). Anyway, we recorded one of the nights and the comics had lots to say about the lockdown madness. (See highlights of Geoff Norcott’s performance.)

Latest News

“SAGE is Like a Golfer With a One-Club Strategy” IDS

Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP has penned a withering attack on SAGE in the Telegraph, targeting its catastrophically one-dimensional handling of the pandemic.

In the midst of this sits the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage). The normal run of affairs is that advisors advise and ministers decide. Yet with Sage it is different. Though it is a public body, it is one which the like of I have never previously come across.

So much of the advice influencing policy that has changed our lives and livelihoods has come has come from this opaque organisation, which operates behind closed doors and whose members were only officially identified in May after a very public clamour for transparency.

Appointments to it of an estimated 100 scientists and academics appear to be made by the Chief Scientific Officer [Patrick Vallance] and the Chief Medical Officer [Chris Whitty] alone. And yet its “advice” has taken on the character of commandments written on tablets of stone – despite the fact that many of its recommendations are hotly disputed by other reputable scientists with relevant expertise. Meanwhile, when the government does not follow its advice exactly, it immediately publishes its minutes, in what appears to be a nakedly political act.

The search for a way to control the virus without severely damaging the economy and causing life-threatening delays to other vital health treatments is an entirely legitimate one. But – as one scientist put it to me – Sage has fallen prey to a form of groupthink that focuses exclusively on a drive to push down the infection rate to the exclusion of all else.

The problem is that if this one aim becomes the only thing that is discussed and advised on by Sage, we end up like a golfer with a one-club strategy – lockdown.

So, while it was gratifying to see the Prime Minister this week break ranks with the scientific technocracy over what Sage euphemistically calls a “national circuit breaker”, however with London and other places now entering Tier 2 restrictions, the risk is that it could come to be seen as a national lockdown by stealth.

Why, he asks, has more not been done to promote effective treatments, such as rolling out pre-emptive antivirals as part of protecting high-risk groups?

With the average age of death from Covid-19 standing at 82, and fewer than 4% of those who have died of the virus having no known comorbidities, such a policy of prescribing antivirals to members of vulnerable groups would reduce both admissions and deaths. Such a move now could help prevent the need to lock down the economy.

Importantly, in 2012 the Government did this very thing by massively widening the prescription of antivirals in the community to combat the risk of flu.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Antiviral drug remdesivir has been found to have “little or no effect” on the chances of survival of hospitalised COVID-19 patients, according to a WHO clinical trial although the authors allow it may still work early on or as a prophylactic. According to the Swiss Doctor, the treatments with the best current evidence base are: for prophylaxis and early treatment Zinc, Quercetin, Bromhexine, Vitamins C & D, and Aspirin (early treatment only); for ancillary treatment Hydroxychloroquine, High-dose vitamin D, Azithromycin and LMW heparin.

Cases Fall Again

From CEBM

How can the Government justify bringing in new restrictions and continue to warn of “exponential” increases in cases when it is becoming clearer by the day that “cases” are barely rising in most areas? Furthermore, this flattening-off happened before the additional restrictions were put in place, just as the autumn spikes in the North appeared despite the local lockdowns. When will the Government give up its conceit of claiming to control this virus and focus on protecting the vulnerable while the rest of us get back to normal?

Lockdown is Political

We’re not partisan here at Lockdown Sceptics and welcome readers from across the political spectrum. However, it’s hard not to notice that lockdowns seem to have a greater attraction for people on the Left than the Right. We’ve known this for some time, but it’s particularly apparent in the latest polling from Gallup in the USA. To illustrate: a miniscule 4% of Democrat voters say they’re ready to return to normal activities right now compared to a whopping 59% of Republicans. Again: 71.5% of Democrats say they avoid going to public places compared to 34.5% of Republicans. (It’s also apparent that women are much more pro-lockdown than men). Partly this will be a reflection of how partisan the issue has become in America around Trump in an election year. And, of course, Democrats tend to be richer than Republicans so are less likely to be feeling the economic damage. But it has also become increasingly clear that the Left sees the pandemic as an opportunity to drive forward some of its favourite causes, such as disfiguring inner cities with endless bicycle lanes. Something No 10 ought to keep in mind when it listens to the demands of Sage, whose members are overwhelmingly left wing.

A Top NHS Doctor Writes…

London’s ITU Network – occupancy not rising

We’ve heard again from our friend, the top NHS doctor, whose understanding of what’s going on in NHS England gets deeper by the day.

I’m beginning to understand this latest crap from the medical point of view. The ground truth is that there are very few Covid patients in London hospitals.

More in the north east sector than elsewhere (Barts/Royal London/Newham/North Middlesex, etc.) but certainly not swamped – maybe 5% to 10% of ICU beds but there is no flu around at all this year so far. So that’s a normal upper respiratory case load and as we know ICU capacity can be ramped up very quickly if needed.

There were 82 patients in total in ICU in London on October 15th – half of them not intubated. We have an ICU bed stock of approx 1,500 across the capital, so well within capacity.

The problem – the reason the NHS wants tighter restrictions – relates to how the medical management have ‘organised’ the hospitals.

Instead of designating certain hospitals as ‘dirty’ (‘fever hospitals’) and other sites as ‘clean’ they have instituted a bizarre and complicated traffic light system.

Red means Covid positive; Amber means Covid suspected but swab not back or negative test with Covid clinical signs; Green means Covid negative.

Patients are mixed up all over the place and this may be one reason for the high hospital acquired rate – everyone knows you can’t keep things separate when staff are coming and going or patients have to be moved about the hospital for tests, etc.

So you may be asking why has it been set up like this? Non-medical people assume that the NHS is a cohesive national system. In fact, it is a series of quasi-independent fiefdoms ruled by princelings – especially so in London. There is a vast amount of under-the-counter professional jealousy and rivalry. Essentially no one wants to be the dirty hospital – so there is vast push back, foot dragging and passive resistance to the sensible plan of isolating patients and their carers on one site.

Allied to that, Simon Stevens has decreed that all hospitals have to continue business as usual instead of scrapping non-urgent stuff – again, this is a political thing and exacerbates the problem of in-hospital transmission by having more staff and patients moving around the place.

So the pressure from the NHS for more lockdown is one of convenience not emergency. They are nowhere near approaching overload. They have had five months to sort this out and have completely failed (again).

When medical managers implement a useless plan which is clearly not working, instead of scrapping it early and starting again, they tend to double down and start blaming external factors – a bit like politicians because they are often incapable of shouldering responsibility and terrified of the personal reputational risk. Of course, they are not the ones to suffer. Salaries and final salary pension schemes are still paid by the taxpayer. Lockdown only affects doctors and NHS managers in a positive way. They get to stay at home and have less work to do but still get the same level of remuneration what’s not to like?

As Charlie Munger says – show me the incentive and I’ll show you the outcome.

“It’s An Absolute Shambles” ONS Survey Nurse

The Lockdown Sceptics reader who is participating in the ONS’s Covid infection survey and whom we heard yesterday has written an update.

Amazingly, I’ve just had a visit from a lovely nurse. She spent half an hour telling me what an absolute shambles it is. Her husband is trying to get her to give her notice because of how stressful it is. I asked if she’d let me pass on her number, but they’ve been instructed very firmly that they mustn’t speak to anyone in the media and she didn’t dare. But she did say I could tell you what she said.

Some days they’re given nothing to do. Some days, they’re given more than they can possibly do and she ends up working until 10 at night to finish the paperwork. Sometimes they give her some people to see at one side of her two-hour’s driving area and some at the other, so it’s impossible to see them all.

They get their list in the evening and have to see everyone on it they can the next day. No chance to make prior arrangements with them. They’re not allowed to see people at weekends or evenings, so she keeps missing anyone who has children.

People have been promised their results, but no one has been given any at all.

It’s being administered by several private companies and no one knows who’s supposed to be doing what. When she emails about a problem, they never get back to her in time for the answer to be of any use; usually weeks later, always by a different person.

Lots of people, like me, have had lots of missed appointments, but they’re listed on the system as having happened, even though they haven’t.

In the beginning, it all worked reasonably well, but they keep taking on more and more subjects and it’s getting worse and worse. She, and all the subjects are doing their best to make it work, but it’s becoming impossible.

I felt really sorry for her. Whatever data, if any, is coming out of this, it just has to be a steaming pile of poo.

Best Smoked Salmon For Christmas

Vitamin D. Yummy!

Bleiker’s Smokehouse in Yorkshire has won the “Best Smoked Salmon for Christmas” accolade from Good Housekeeping. Well-deserved – it’s Toby’s favourite. And don’t forget, salmon is a natural source of Vitamin D which we now know beyond doubt is an effective prophylactic against Covid. Indeed, if the Government had spent 1% of the money it has spent on NHS Track and Trace (£12 billion and counting) on buying smoked salmon from Bleiker’s and distributing it to care homes, we’d likely have far fewer Covid deaths.

Order it here.

Charity Commission Censors Lockdown Sceptic

A reader has written to tell us the shocking story of the Charity Commission threatening a charity trustee who has dared to question the wisdom of lockdowns.

More evidence of attempted censorship of anti-lockdowners, but this time from the Charity Commission.

Yesterday, the Charity Commission sent a threatening email to a small local charity in Norfolk called Hey Jude, which supports people with chronic neurological diseases and cancer.

A week ago, its founder, Dr Henry Mannings, wrote an opinion piece that was published in the regional newspaper Eastern Daily Press and widely shared. In it, he essentially argues along the same lines as the GB Declaration.

The Charity Commission has alleged in its email that the article “could give the impression that Dr Mannings is writing in his capacity as charity trustee”, and warned that although no action will be taken at this time this incident has now been ‘”saved to the charity’s records”, and they may “decide to proactively look into the concerns in future”.

But if you read the article, there is no mention of the charity in the article at all, other than in the caption below the article’s photo, which correctly states that Dr Mannings is the founder of the charity.

But even if he did mention the charity in his article, what on earth has that got to do with the Charity Commission? If it’s verboten for a trustee of a charity to have a point of view on the lockdown and associated measures, why isn’t the Commission censuring those who toe the Government’s line?

Lastly, in case you missed it, note how pernicious the allegation actually is. It wasn’t even that Dr Mannings spoke on behalf of the charity, it was that the article “could give the impression” that he did.

This is a clearly a completely unfounded warning email that has been sent to intimidate Dr Mannings and the charity – the nasty implication being “shut up or the charity may face consequences”.

I would use the word unbelievable but I think I’ve exhausted its use over the last six months.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Two today: “Life Is A Risk” by Red Metafor and “Outdoors And Indoors” by The Creams.

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.

“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.

And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

Stop Press: A new preprint study by Dr Colleen Huber and colleagues reviews the evidence on masks and finds “mask use is not correlated with lower death rates nor with lower positive PCR tests” and that due to risks of contamination the “use of face masks will contribute to far more morbidity and mortality than has occurred due to COVID-19”. Worth a read.

Woke Gobbledegook

The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford has removed human remains from its displays – including any artefacts made using human bone, teeth and tissue. CREDIT: © Pitt Rivers Museum University of Oxford

The new Belgian Director of the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford – which has inspired generations of students with its rag bag of fabulous oddities – doesn’t seem very fond of the institution. Martin Fletcher in the Telegraph has more.

When the museum reopened for the first time since the Covid lockdown last month, visitors were greeted with brightly-coloured new signage warning that the PRM is ‘a footprint of colonialism’; that its labels ‘use language and imagery that is derogatory, racist and Eurocentric’; and that ‘often the interpretation in the cases evades the complex and devastating circumstances in which many of the objects were collected’.

Under the leadership of Van Broekhoven, who conducted similar work in the Netherlands before her arrival in Oxford, it has conducted an ‘ethical review’ of its entire public collection. Displays are being systematically relabelled and ‘contextualised’ to explain their historical and cultural significance. Around 120 human remains, including skulls, scalps and a mummified Egyptian child, have been removed from public view and put into storage.

The PRM has even removed – from a case labelled ‘Treatment of Dead Enemies’ – the celebrated shrunken human heads with their sewn-up lips and eye sockets and great cascades of hair.

The Shuar and Achuar people of the Upper Amazon produced these ‘tsantsas’ by removing the brains and skulls before boiling the skins and filling them with hot sand and rocks to shrink them. They were allegedly a means of imprisoning the souls of enemy warriors, or possibly of honouring Shuar chiefs.

Last month the Oxford Mail called the removal of those heads ‘the latest symptom of a politically motivated curatorial revisionism sweeping the land’. A Times art critic accused the museum of ‘patronising’ the public and observed that ‘nobody will be attracted to the Pitt Rivers by the slogan: “It’s the museum that won’t let you see its shrunken heads”’.

But Van Broekhoven is unrepentant. ‘Our audience research has shown that visitors often saw the museum’s displays of human remains as a testament to other cultures being “savage”, “primitive” or “gruesome”. Rather than enabling our visitors to reach a deeper understanding of each other’s ways of being, the displays reinforced racist and stereotypical thinking that goes against the museum’s values today.’

Sounds like Van Broekhoven is aiming to close the museum altogether. First tell visitors it’s a monument to white supremacy, then give away all the exhibits.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Sunetra Gupta, Professor Martin Kulldorff 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 on October 5th and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it. If you Googled it last week, the top hits you got were two smear pieces from the obscure Leftist conspiracy website Byline Times, and one from the Guardian headlined: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this hit job the day before it appeared). On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now shows up in the search results – and Toby’s Spectator piece about it is the top hit – 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. It now has more than half-a-million signatures.

Stop Press: The number of experts signing a petition doesn’t have any bearing on the truth of its claims, of course. In the “hierarchy of evidence” for evaluating healthcare interventions, expert opinion is dead last. This letter in the BMJ by John Ioannidis on why petitions and open letters should be taken with a large does of salt is very good.

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.

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).

Special thanks to graphic designer and Lockdown Sceptics reader Claire Whitten for designing our new logo. We think it’s ace. Find her work here.

And Finally…

Comedian Simon Brodkin thinks he’s figured out how the Government picks its coronavirus policies – and it bears an uncanny resemblance to the National Lottery. Watch his latest YouTube video.

Latest News

What SAGE Has Got Wrong

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

Today we’re publishing a blockbuster of a piece by Dr Mike Yeadon about what SAGE has got wrong (which is quite a lot, it turns out). To recap for those who aren’t already familiar with Mike’s work for Lockdown Sceptics, as well as his metastasising Twitter threads: he has a degree in biochemistry and toxicology and a research-based PhD in respiratory pharmacology. He has spent over 30 years leading new medicines research in some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, including serving as Vice President & Chief Scientist for Allergy & Respiratory at Pfizer, and since leaving Pfizer he has founded his own biotech company, Ziarco, which he sold to the world’s biggest drug company, Novartis, in 2017.

In this article, Mike identifies two assumptions that SAGE has made, both of which he is convinced are wrong: that the entire population is susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 and that only 7% of the UK population has been infected with COVID-19 so far. It is these two assumptions that are driving SAGE to urge the Government to place the entire country under a second national lockdown. After all, if you think 93% of the country is vulnerable to the virus – and you think the infection fatality rate is around 1% (which is also wrong, obviously), you’re going to want to use any means necessary to suppress infection until a vaccine comes along. “I can empathise with anyone in that position,” writes Dr Yeadon. “It must cause despair that politicians aren’t doing what you’ve told them they must do.”

But both of these assumptions are wrong. Mike goes to great lengths to show that, in reality, about 30% of the population already had prior immunity to the virus, thanks to their exposure to other coronaviruses, including those responsible for some strains of the common cold, and that approximately 32% of Britons have been infected. If you factor in that 10% of the population are aged 10 or under and are therefore completely invulnerable to the disease, that leaves about 28% who are susceptible to being infected, not 93%. Not a million miles away from the herd immunity threshold, in other words, which is why Mike thinks the so-called “second wave” will shortly fizzle out, just as it has begun to do in Spain.

Mike draws on more than 30 years of experience as a working scientist, as well as an encyclopaedic knowledge of virology, to reach this conclusion – the same conclusion, broadly speaking, that the scientists who drew up the Great Barrington Declaration have come to.

The article is long, but it’s easy to read because Mike has such a robust, punchy style, hammering his points home with a kind of merciless aggression. And the reason he’s so merciless is because he is absolutely furious with the sanctimonious, supercilious panjandrums that sit on SAGE and are causing so much needless destruction.

SAGE has nothing useful to tell us. As currently constituted, they have an inappropriate over-weighting in modellers and are fatally deficient in pragmatic, empirical, evidence-led experienced scientists, especially the medical, immunological and expert generalist variety. It is my opinion that they should be disbanded immediately and reconstituted. I say this because, as I have shown, they haven’t a grasp of even the basics required to build a model and because their models are often frighteningly useless (Lee, 2020), a fact of which they seem unaware. Their role is too important for them to get a second chance. They are unlikely to revise their thinking even if they claim they have now fixed their model. The level of incompetence shown by the errors I have uncovered, errors which indirectly through inappropriate ‘measures’, have cost the lives of thousands of people, from avoidable, non-COVID-19 causes, is utterly unforgivable.

As a private individual, I am incandescent with rage at the damage they have inflicted on this country. We should demand more honesty, as well as competence from those elected or appointed to look after aspects of life we cannot manage alone. SAGE has either been irredeemably incompetent or it has been dishonest. I personally know a few SAGE members and with the sole exception of a nameless individual, it is an understatement that they have greatly disappointed me. They have rebuffed well-intentioned and, as it turned out, accurate advice from at least three Nobel laureate scientists, all informing them that their modelling was seriously and indeed lethally in error. Though this may not have made the papers, everyone in the science community knows about this and that SAGE’s inadequate replies are scandalous. I have no confidence in any of them and neither should you.

Very much worth reading in full.

London Lockdown

London will be put into tier 2 lockdown on Saturday at midnight it was announced yesterday, which means a ban on household mixing indoors and discouraging people from travelling or using public transport. Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs this was due to an “exponential” growth in infections.

It’s not surprising that the Health Secretary has singled out rising cases as the key metric since the number of Covid hospitalisations in London was 51 on October 10th, with three deaths. That’s three out of nine million, or 0.00003%.

From Business Insider:

Speaking in Parliament on Thursday morning, the UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said more localized restrictions were necessary in London and elsewhere to stop the “exponential” growth in infections.

“In London, infection rates are on a steep upward path, with the number of cases doubling every ten days,” Hancock said.

But are cases doubling every 10 days? Here’s the graph by specimen date.

Looks to be peaking around October 8th, even allowing for the lag in reporting. The Mail has also spotted that it appears to be slowing down. Here’s further confirmation from GP data.

What about Liverpool, placed in tier 3 on Wednesday? Here’s the graph by specimen date. Daily cases appear to have peaked around October 7th there, too.

What about Madrid, the erstwhile “second wave capital” of Europe? Here is its hospital occupancy graph, in sustained decline.

Despite the continuing accumulation of evidence that lockdowns aren’t needed to control the virus, the Government’s new best friend, the many-headed WHO, was calling for lockdowns again yesterday after a brief spell of discouraging them. Reuters has the details.

Urging governments to “step up” swiftly to contain a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the WHO’s European director Hans Kluge said the current situation was “more than ever, pandemic times for Europe”.

New infections are hitting 100,000 daily in Europe, and the region has just registered the highest weekly incidence of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with almost 700,000 cases reported.

“The fall (autumn) and winter surge continues to unfold in Europe, with exponential increases in daily cases and matching percentage increases in daily deaths,” Kluge told an online media briefing.

“It’s time to step up. The message to governments is: don’t hold back with relatively small actions to avoid the painful damaging actions we saw in the first round (in March and April).”

Kluge’s been looking at some “reliable epidemiological models”, apparently.

“These models indicate that prolonged relaxing policies could propel – by January 2021 – daily mortality at levels four to five times higher than what we recorded in April,” he said.

But taking simple, swift tightening measures now – such as enforcing widespread mask-wearing and controlling social gatherings in public or private spaces – could save up to 281,000 lives by February across the 53 countries that make up the WHO European region, he added.

Kluge does not identify these models, so we do not know if they are published or peer reviewed. (Ferguson’s infamous March 16th model has still not been peer-reviewed). But it’s okay because Mr Kluge has seen them and he can assure us they are reliable. So on that solid scientific basis he is telling the world’s governments to take “swift tightening measures now” such as masks (for which the WHO admits there is no reliable evidence) and “controlling social gatherings”. Just like that. But do such measures work, are they necessary, and are they worth it? What does the actual data say? These questions, as always, go unanswered.

Stop Press: Stanford’s Dr John Ioannidis has a new peer-reviewed study out, published by one of the other branches of the many-headed WHOdra, that estimates the IFR for healthy under-70s at just 0.05%.

Lockdown Zealots Invoke “Scientific Consensus” to Debunk Great Barrington Declaration

You’ve got to admire the gall. Three leading specialists in the field of infectious disease start a petition that is signed by tens of thousands of their fellow scientists and the lockdown zealots write a rebuttal claiming to speak on behalf of the entire scientific community. That’s the boast made by the authors of the John Snow Memorandum – a riposte to the Great Barrington Declaration which appeared in the Lancet yesterday under the headline: “Scientific consensus on the COVID-19 pandemic: we need to act now.” Consensus? Only in their echo chambers. How can an attempt to debunk a declaration that has gone viral within the scientific community plausibly claim to reflect a consensus?

If you Google the “John Snow Memorandum” it’s the top result already and all the other results are positive, too, unlike the Great Barrington Declaration. Funny that, given Google’s explanation for why it took so long for the Great Barrington Declaration to show up in the search results. “It can take a little time for our automated systems to learn enough about new pages like this for them to rank better for relevant terms,” explained a Google employee, when questioned about this. “This delay can vary by country. This page is and was ranking in the first page in the US, has risen elsewhere and likely will continue automatically.”

Of course there isn’t a “consensus” among scientists about the best way to mitigate the impact of this pandemic. But even if there was, so what? A scientific hypothesis doesn’t become more or less true according to how many other scientists believe it. I’m reminded of the book 100 Scientists Against Einstein. When asked about it, Einstein replied: “If I were wrong, one would have been enough.” And, ironically, the public health scientist the memorandum is named after – John Snow – was himself a maverick, challenging the “consensus” among scientists of his day. Indeed, had he not done so, he never would have found the true cause of the cholera outbreak in Soho in 1854 that made his name.

The conventional wisdom at the time – the view held by the scientific establishment – was the miasma theory, which held that diseases such as cholera and bubonic plague were caused by pollution or “bad air”. Instead of relying on this theory, Snow actually did some on-the-ground research, talking to local residents and analysing the pattern of infection. In this way, he was able to trace the source of the outbreak to a water pump in Broad Street and end the epidemic. Snow’s discovery, which came about because he engaged in methodical, empirical research rather than relying on some divorced-from-reality theory, is regarded as the founding event of the science of epidemiology.

For a group of establishment panjandrums to invoke John Snow’s name, given that their entire approach to the pandemic is rooted in abstract mathematical modelling, is almost laughably inappropriate.

Here is the kernel of the John Snow Memorandum (I’ve added some comments in square brackets).

SARS-CoV-2 spreads through contact (via larger droplets and aerosols), and longer-range transmission via aerosols, especially in conditions where ventilation is poor. Its high infectivity,1 combined with the susceptibility of unexposed populations to a new virus [No mention of cross-immunity], creates conditions for rapid community spread [No mention of repeated observations of spontaneous decline]. The infection fatality rate of COVID-19 is several-fold higher than that of seasonal influenza [This is not reflected in the overall death toll, which is in many places only a bit higher than a strong flu wave or, in some cases, e.g. Germany, less],2 and infection can lead to persisting illness, including in young, previously healthy people (ie, long COVID) [Post-viral complications are not unique to Covid and it’s too soon to say how long they’ll persist].3 It is unclear how long protective immunity lasts [The number of people who’ve been reinfected is infinitesimally small],4 and, like other seasonal coronaviruses, SARS-CoV-2 is capable of re-infecting people who have already had the disease, but the frequency of re-infection is unknown [Most are mild].5 Transmission of the virus can be mitigated through physical distancing, use of face coverings, hand and respiratory hygiene, and by avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. Rapid testing, contact tracing, and isolation are also critical to controlling transmission [No evidence is presented for these claims, some of which are contradicted by the data]. WHO has been advocating for these measures since early in the pandemic [WHO did not endorse face coverings until June].

It claims: “Japan, Vietnam, and New Zealand, to name a few countries, have shown that robust public health responses can control transmission, allowing life to return to near-normal, and there are many such success stories.” This is untrue: there are not many such success stories. Of those listed, Japan did not have “robust public health responses” and New Zealand is now cut off from the world. The reason why most East Asian countries like Japan and Vietnam were not as badly affected as European countries is not yet entirely clear (many believe it is higher levels of pre-existing immunity, thanks to their exposure to other SARS viruses, i.e. herd immunity) but the reason is unlikely to be their “public health responses”, which a study in the Lancet showed had no impact on a country’s death toll.

This section of the memo directly contradicts the GB Declaration’s herd immunity and focused protection strategy:

Any pandemic management strategy relying upon immunity from natural infections for COVID-19 is flawed. Uncontrolled transmission in younger people risks significant morbidity3 [Only four children aged 15 and under in the UK have died of Covid] and mortality across the whole population [There are always risks, but ongoing restrictions are also risky and deadly]. In addition to the human cost, this would impact the workforce as a whole and overwhelm the ability of health-care systems to provide acute and routine care [Sweden’s healthcare system was not overwhelmed in spite of no lockdown]. Furthermore, there is no evidence for lasting protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2 following natural infection,4 and the endemic transmission that would be the consequence of waning immunity would present a risk to vulnerable populations for the indefinite future [SARS-CoV-2 is already endemic but immunity and cross-immunity provides ongoing protection, plus there are increasingly effective treatments]. Such a strategy would not end the COVID-19 pandemic but result in recurrent epidemics, as was the case with numerous infectious diseases before the advent of vaccination [There is a flu season every year, which includes coronaviruses, and only very limited vaccines, yet we seem to cope okay]. It would also place an unacceptable burden on the economy and health-care workers, many of whom have died from COVID-19 or experienced trauma as a result of having to practise disaster medicine [Surely, it’s the ongoing restrictions that are placing an “unacceptable burden on the economy”?]. Additionally, we still do not understand who might suffer from long COVID [Why is an unknown amount of harm being weighed more heavily than the known harm that results from lockdowns?].3 Defining who is vulnerable is complex, but even if we consider those at risk of severe illness, the proportion of vulnerable people constitute as much as 30% of the population in some regions.8 Prolonged isolation of large swathes of the population is practically impossible and highly unethical [We’re shielding vulnerable groups as it is and it would be less “prolonged” if we go for a herd immunity strategy than if we continue with the suppress-until-there’s-a-vaccine strategy]. Empirical evidence from many countries shows that it is not feasible to restrict uncontrolled outbreaks to particular sections of society [Which countries, what evidence? A number of countries such as Germany and Denmark avoided the high death toll in care homes seen in the UK and elsewhere]. Such an approach also risks further exacerbating the socioeconomic inequities and structural discriminations already laid bare by the pandemic [Unlike ongoing restrictions that disproportionately affect the most disadvantaged, not to mention cushioning the public sector but bankrupting the private sector?]. Special efforts to protect the most vulnerable are essential but must go hand-in-hand with multi-pronged population-level strategies [Having said it is “practically impossible” as well as unethical to isolate the vulnerable it now says it is essential to do it indefinitely].

It ends: “The evidence is very clear: controlling community spread of COVID-19 is the best way to protect our societies and economies until safe and effective vaccines and therapeutics arrive within the coming months.”

But effective therapeutics that lower the death rate are already here, while any vaccines that make it through trials are likely to be only partially effective. There is no argument for reopening society later that doesn’t already apply now, and these restrictions are already intolerable and destroying our jobs, our culture and our way of life.

Stop Press: The Government has told care homes they will need to make room for coronavirus patients who have been discharged from hospital. That’s right, they’re about to make exactly the same mistake they made last time that resulted in such a heavy toll in the care sector. Combined with the official advice to the vulnerable not to shield themselves at home, this is the opposite of protecting the vulnerable. With healthy, working-age people stuck at home because their workplace is closed due to the perma-lockdown, but retired people encouraged to be out and about, it’s the opposite of the GBD’s formula of how to bring this epidemic to an end as quickly and safely as possible.

Putting it Into Practice

Steve Sieff who runs the GreenBandRedBand site has got in touch with a suggestion of how to put focused protection into practice while respecting personal choice.

Following Matt Hancock’s wholly unfounded dismissal of the Great Barrington Declaration on Tuesday, it is difficult to imagine what could persuade the Government to consider any alternative to the suppression orthodoxy. If Steve Baker is looking to help the Government “find an alternative strategic plan between the Great Barrington Declaration and where we are today” he might want to start with the proposal at GreenBandRedBand. The idea is that people should be allowed to assess their own risk level, choose which wrist band to wear – green for prepared to risk catching the virus, red for those who are more wary – and interact accordingly. Those who wished to do so could then mix freely with like-minded people, but would be asked to continue to apply measures to break transmission of the virus to those who remained worried.

Although retention of any of the current measures would be anathema to many lockdown sceptics, it is increasingly clear that the Government is entrenched in its position that herd immunity is nothing more than a callous way of sending people to their deaths. For Steve Baker and the small band of Tory rebels who are trying to persuade the Government to consider a strategy other than perpetual cycles of lockdown, the GreenBandRedBand system has the huge advantage that it is not reliant on herd immunity or on segregation of any group. So it addresses directly the Government’s objections to strategies like the Great Barrington Declaration.

It also builds on the methods of suppression that the Government has been championing throughout. If distancing etc. is truly effective to break the chain of transmission and the rules require people to implement those measures now, then there is no reason why the same measures cannot continue to work when implemented in a more targeted way. Rather than penalising people for failing to follow a host of restrictive and ever changing measures, the system would vastly reduce the restrictions on people’s freedom, and by doing so would give far more incentive to follow the rules that did remain. More carrot, less stick.

If any of the old Boris is left, the system could be the best of all worlds for him. He could appease the members of his own party who are crying out against the restrictions on freedom. He could continue to ‘follow the science’ in that distancing etc. would be maintained wherever required as determined by individual circumstances. He could put Labour back in its box for wanting to shut the country down even further, he could give the economy a huge kickstart without emptying the Government coffers, and he could justifiably claim to be protecting the NHS and the lives of the public by focusing attention and resources on preventing the vulnerable from getting infected.

In addition to the website the system is also explained in the British Medical Journal here and here.

Is the ONS Survey Only For The Housebound?

A Lockdown Sceptics reader agreed to be part of the ONS Covid survey, but found it a waste of his time.

I got randomly selected by postcode to participate in a Covid infection study for the ONS by Oxford University.

Had my first appointment on August 9th. Nice nurse visited me at home, signed me up for a year one visit every week for a five weeks, followed by one a month took swabs and blood.

I mentioned that I’d be going away for a few days, but would be in the country and could easily attend a test centre, or whatever. Apparently no problem.

Had a call while on holiday. Could I be home later in the day? Nope, but I’ll be back in a couple of days, will that do? No problem, someone will call you soon. They didn’t.

A couple of weeks later I had a call to say, could I be home in a couple of hours? Nope, I’m at work, but I can do anytime tomorrow, will that do? Fine, someone will call later. They didn’t.

A couple of weeks later I called the helpline and it promised to call me back. Two days later a lovely person did. Oh dear, she said, that’s not good. I’ll escalate this and someone will call you soon.

A week or so later, someone called. Could I be home at 3pm? Nope, I’m at work, but you can see me here, if you like? Can’t do that –we can only visit you at your registered address. Okay, how about tomorrow? Say, 11am? Ah, well, we only get given our list in the morning, then we phone people and go see them. So, you can’t give me more than a few hours notice before coming to see me and you have to see me at home? Yes, sorry. So, don’t you keep missing people? Er… yes, that does happen a lot…

What I take from this, is:

a. If this is competence, it sure doesn’t look like it.

b. If this is supposed to be a random sample of the population, it’s surely excluding almost everyone who actually goes out to work, isn’t it?

Rule of Six Doesn’t Apply to the Lonely

A reader has spotted a loophole in the law that means the Rule of Six doesn’t apply to anyone who is feeling lonely or depressed.

Having perused the new regulations in the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (Medium) Regulations 2020, under Statutory Instrument Number 1103 that came into force on October 14th, I noticed a number of exemptions to the so-called Rule of Six.

Under Schedule 1 (Tier 1 Restrictions), Regulation 3, Part 1 (Restrictions on gatherings), Paragraph 3 (Exceptions), subsection 4(e) the following is written: “Exception 3 is that the gathering is reasonably necessary to enable one or more people in the gathering to avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm.”

As the good people of Law or Fiction pointed out, Low Mood, Sadness and Depression act as reasonable excuses for such exceptions. If one feels lonely or depressed, then as far as I can see the law allows for gatherings of more than six.

Sorry if this is a bit confusing, legal specifics aren’t my forte. You’ll find the relevant text in the regulations, about a third of the way down.

I don’t want this to be some sort of get-out-of-jail card to be abused. I’ve had mental illness in the past and depression that sucks the life out of you, and this entire saga is bringing me back to those lows. If depression takes hold, it is very hard to escape, and very easy to see how it can cause personal harm.

This reader spotted a gem at the bottom of the new guidance: “No impact assessment has been prepared for these Regulations.”

Is Public Opinion Finally Turning?

Polling by OnePulse, admittedly not the most scientific data gathering outfit, suggests the public mood on the continuing mishmash of restrictions is beginning to shift.

Asked if they support the new three tier system of local lockdown measures, 24% of the respondents said they support it, 15.02% oppose and 60.98% have mixed feelings about it.

Asked how they feel about the coming months, 42.67% say they feel disheartened, 7.91% fine and 60.44% concerned.

And asked what should be prioritised, the NHS, saving lives or the economy, 16.09% said saving lives and protecting the NHS, 35.47% said saving the economy and 42.4% said a mixture of all three.

These are very different to OnePulse’s earlier polls, which showed overwhelming public support for the forever lockdown. Worth reading in full.

The Xhosa Cattle Killings

In the early nineteenth century, the British colonized Southeast Africa. The native Xhosa resisted, but suffered repeated and humiliating defeats at the hands of British military forces. The Xhosa lost their independence and their native land became an English colony. The British adopted a policy of westernising the Xhosa. They were to be converted to Christianity, and their native culture and religion was to be wiped out. Under the stress of being confronted by a superior and irresistible technology, the Xhosa developed feelings of inadequacy and inferiority. In this climate, a prophet appeared.

In April of 1856, a fifteen-year-old girl named Nongqawuse heard a voice telling her that the Xhosa must kill all their cattle, stop cultivating their fields, and destroy their stores of grain and food. The voice insisted that the Xhosa must also get rid of their hoes, cooking pots, and every utensil necessary for the maintenance of life. Once these things were accomplished, a new day would magically dawn. Everything necessary for life would spring spontaneously from the earth. The dead would be resurrected. The blind would see and the old would have their youth restored. New food and livestock would appear in abundance, spontaneously sprouting from the earth. The British would be swept into the sea, and the Xhosa would be restored to their former glory. What was promised was nothing less than the establishment of paradise on earth.

Nongqawuse told this story to her guardian and uncle, Mhlakaza. At first, the uncle was sceptical. But he became a believer after accompanying his niece to the spot where she heard the voices. Although Mhlakaza heard nothing, he became convinced that Nongqawuse was hearing the voice of her dead father, and that the instructions must be obeyed. Mhlakaza became the chief prophet and leader of the cattle-killing movement.

News of the prophecy spread rapidly, and within a few weeks the Xhosa king, Sarhili, became a convert. He ordered the Xhosa to slaughter their cattle and, in a symbolic act, killed his favourite ox. As the hysteria widened, other Xhosa began to have visions. Some saw shadows of the resurrected dead arising from the sea, standing in rushes on the river bank, or even floating in the air. Everywhere that people looked, they found evidence to support what they desperately wanted to be true.

The believers began their work in earnest. Vast amounts of grain were taken out of storage and scattered on the ground to rot. Cattle were killed so quickly and on such an immense scale that vultures could not entirely devour the rotting flesh. The ultimate number of cattle that the Xhosa slaughtered was 400,000. After killing their livestock, the Xhosa built new, larger kraals to hold the marvellous new beasts that they anticipated would rise out of the earth. The impetus of the movement became irresistible.

The resurrection of the dead was predicted to occur on the full moon of June, 1856. Nothing happened. The chief prophet of the cattle-killing movement, Mhlakaza, moved the date to the full moon of August. But again the prophecy was not fulfilled.

The cattle-killing movement now began to enter a final, deadly phase, which its own internal logic dictated as inevitable. The failure of the prophecies was blamed on the fact that the cattle-killing had not been completed. Most believers had retained a few cattle, chiefly consisting of milk cows that provided an immediate and continuous food supply. Worse yet, there was a minority community of sceptical non-believers who refused to kill their livestock.

The fall planting season came and went. Believers threw their spades into the rivers and did not sow a single seed in the ground. By December of 1856, the Xhosa began to feel the pangs of hunger. They scoured the fields and woods for berries and roots, and attempted to eat bark stripped from trees. Mhlakaza set a new date of December 11 for the fulfilment of the prophecy. When the anticipated event did not occur, unbelievers were blamed.

The resurrection was rescheduled yet again for February 16, 1857, but the believers were again disappointed. Even this late, the average believer still had three or four head of livestock alive. The repeated failure of the prophecies could only mean that the Xhosa had failed to fulfil the necessary requirement of killing every last head of cattle. Now, they finally began to complete the killing process. Not only cattle were slaughtered, but also chickens and goats. Any viable means of sustenance had to be destroyed. Any cattle that might have escaped earlier killing were now slaughtered for food.

Serious famine began in late spring of 1857. All the food was gone. The starving population broke into stables and ate horse food. They gathered bones that had lay bleaching in the sun for years and tried to make soup. They ate grass. Maddened by hunger, some resorted to cannibalism. Weakened by starvation, family members often had to lay and watch dogs devour the corpses of their spouses and children. Those who did not die directly from hunger fell prey to disease. To the end, true believers never renounced their faith. They simply starved to death, blaming the failure of the prophecy on the doubts of non-believers.

By the end of 1858, the Xhosa population had dropped from 105,000 to 26,000. Forty to fifty-thousand people starved to death, and the rest migrated. With Xhosa civilization destroyed, the land was cleared for white settlement. The British found that those Xhosa who survived proved to be docile and useful servants. What the British Empire had been unable to accomplish in more than fifty years of aggressive colonialism, the Xhosa did to themselves in less than two years.

Original by David Deming, Associate Professor of Arts and Sciences at University of Oklahoma. Copyright © 2009 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

The parallels are uncanny.

Round-Up

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.

“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 £1.49 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.

And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

Woke Gobbledegook

Ellie Harrison – A Social Justice Warrior in Wellies

Ellie Harrison, a presenter on Countryfile, has said the Black Lives Matter protests have led her to rethink her attitude to the countryside. The Telegraph has more.

The British countryside is racist, a Countryfile presenter has said, revealing that Black Lives Matter has led her to re-evaluate her own behaviour.

There was debate over an episode of the BBC show earlier this year when Scout Ambassador Dwayne Fields presented a section about perceptions by ethnic minorities of the countryside.

The report focused on research from the Government’s Environment Department, published last year, which said that some ethnic groups felt UK national parks were a “white environment”.

Ellie Harrison, a presenter on the show, has spoken up on the issue and said that ethnic minority people do face discrimination in the countryside, and there is “work to do”.

She said the huge reaction on social media to the programme had taken the show’s producers a week to read and sort.

Ms Harrison wrote in Countryfile magazine: “I spooled through the comments, which broadly came in three flavours: ‘I’m not racist so there is no racism in the countryside’; ‘I’m black and I’ve never experienced racism in the countryside’; and importantly, ‘I have experienced racism in the countryside’.

“So there’s work to do. Even a single racist event means there is work to do. In asking whether the countryside is racist, then yes it is; but asking if it’s more racist than anywhere else – maybe, maybe not.”

It’s off to the re-education camp, comrades.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Sunetra Gupta, Professor Martin Kulldorff and Professor Jay Bhattacharya – actual scientists, unlike Devi Sridhar

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 week and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it. If you Google it, the top hits you get are two smear pieces from the obscure Leftist conspiracy website Byline Times, and one from the Guardian headlined: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this hit job the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now shows up in the search results, 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 done a smear job.)

You can find it here. Please sign it. It’s now past the half million mark.

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.

Request For Help From Investigative Journalist

Daily Mail journalist and Lockdown Sceptics supporter David Rose is looking for people who have suffered severe ill effects or even died as a result of treatment for cancers and other serious illnesses being delayed by Covid. The Mail wants to draw more attention to the disastrous collateral damage being caused by the restrictions.

If anyone is willing to talk to him, please contact him direct at david@davidroseuk.com.

Shameless Begging Bit

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

And Finally…

Latest News

Letter From a Care Home Whistleblower

A Care Home Assistant has written to Lockdown Sceptics in response to our request for information about the neglect of elderly residents in care homes.

She begins:

My experience of working through COVID-19 is one that can best be described as harrowing, heartbreaking, and infuriating, which has left me with a sense of loss and emptiness that borders on overwhelming – but not for the reasons the media, this Government or the NHS would have you believe. COVID-19 has brought out the very worst in the care industry giving our managers, team leaders and head office carte blanche to run roughshod over the rights of both their staff and their residents. I have listed a few of the things I have experienced and witnessed as a result.

There then follows a catalogue of appalling neglect and abuse, such as the following:

Forced testing – management made it absolutely clear within the XXX home that staff who did not get tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis would be refused shifts despite this being a clear breach of contract. The same home also demanded that all their residents be tested for COVID-19 (later when the tests became more widely available around late spring to summertime) including those with dementia who had to be held down in their beds or chairs while a nurse performed the extremely invasive procedure. This caused such distress to the confused people that many of them screamed, cried in fear and thrashed about violently, causing themselves injury. Despite this failure to act in the best interests of the residents, management did not alter their instructions and the testing continued regardless of the danger and distress it caused the staff and residents. Another home run by XXX has declared it a disciplinary offence, which would result in being sacked, to refuse COVID-19 tests or even to argue with the management against such a decision – another violation of workers’ rights.

Worth reading in full.

We have put this whistleblower in touch with David Rose, the investigative journalist who is working on this story. If you know of similar stories, or you’re a care home worker with a story to tell, please contact us here.

Police Investigation of Grimes and Starkey on Hold After Backlash Over Free Speech

Yesterday, the Metropolitan Police contacted Darren Grimes and David Starkey to tell them that the investigation into them for stirring up racial hatred – a crime that carries a maximum of seven years in jail – had now been put on hold while it’s being reviewed by a “senior officer”. In other words, they’re abandoning this absurd investigation.

Toby issued a statement about this development in his capacity as General Secretary of the Free Speech Union.

I’m relieved that this is over, but alarmed that the police embarked on this witch-hunt in the first place.

Dr David Starkey’s words never came anywhere near meeting the threshold for stirring up racial hatred, let alone Darren Grime’s decision to broadcast them.

The Free Speech Union was able to find a top criminal solicitor to defend them and helped galvanise support across the media and in Government. But for every person we’re able to help, ninety-nine go undefended.

Everyone should be defending the right to free speech, not just those on the frontline. If you don’t stick up for the speech rights of contrarians — even those who offend people — the authorities will eventually come after you.

As George Orwell said, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

You can read about the police’s decision to put this ridiculous investigation on hold in the Mail, the Times and the Telegraph.

Has the Government Ditched SAGE for the WHO?

Is Dr Tedros Adhanom the new Sir Patrick Vallance? Now that lockdown-loving SAGE has switched horses to Labour, having been side-lined by the Government, and with Health Secretary Matt Hancock ruling out herd immunity and focused protection on Tuesday, it looks like the Government is pursuing a “third way” backed by the WHO.

WHO Chief Scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan has penned a piece in the Telegraph, reiterating her boss Tedros Adhanom’s recent dismissal of herd immunity and setting out the WHO’s latest position. It bears a striking resemblance to the Government’s approach.

Dr Swaminathan begins by rehearsing the arguments against herd immunity and focused protection, claiming they mean “wasting precious resources discriminating against high-risk groups”. Professor Sunetra Gutpa has responded to her critics in UnHerd. I have interpolated her responses into Dr Swaminathan’s criticisms to illustrate how each point can be countered.

Dr Swaminathan: First, herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus with the use of a vaccine, not by exposing them to it. For example, herd immunity against measles requires about 95% of people to be vaccinated. Once immunised against measles, they act as a protective buffer preventing the virus from circulating and infecting the remaining 5% of the population who are unvaccinated.

Prof Gupta: Measles, if it arrives on ‘virgin soil’, can devastate a population. In Tahiti and Moorea and the South-east and North-west Marquesas, between 20% and 70% of the population was lost to the first epidemic. Natural infection with measles provides lifelong immunity, and we now have a vaccine which provides similar solid, durable protection. We have not been able to eliminate the disease, but those who rather selfishly choose not to vaccinate their children are only able make that choice because the risks of infection are kept low by those who are immune – currently, a combination of those, like me, who caught it and recovered and many others for whom it is vaccine induced. The vaccine does not work in babies, which is why you have to wait till they are a year old before they get it. We can do this because herd immunity keeps the risk of infection down, so they are are unlikely to be infected in their first year of life. Without this herd protection, many under ones would die (as they regularly do in sub-Saharan Africa) despite a vaccine being available.

Dr Swaminathan: Second, we are nowhere close to the levels of immunity required to stop this disease transmitting. We know from sero-epidemiology studies that less than 10% of the global population has shown evidence of infection. That means the vast majority of people are still susceptible to the SARS-CoV2 virus. To achieve herd immunity for SARS-CoV-2, it is estimated that at least 60 to 70% of the global population – over five billion people – would need to be infected which, in the absence of a vaccine, may take years. Furthermore, as with other coronaviruses, reinfection cannot be ruled out, exposing people to disease again and again. Cases of reinfection have already been reported. 

Prof Gupta: The development of immunity through natural infection is a common feature of many pathogens, and it is reasonable to assume that COVID-19 does not have any tricks up its sleeve to prevent this from happening – it would pose a very serious problem for the development of a vaccine if it did. Having said this, the COVID-19 virus belongs to a family of viruses which do not typically give you lifelong immunity against infection. Most of us will never have heard of these other four ‘seasonal’ coronaviruses that are currently circulating in our communities. And yet surveys indicate that at least 3% of the population is infected by any single one of these corona cousins during the winter months. These viruses can cause deaths in high risk groups or require them to receive ICU care or ventilator support, so it is not necessarily true that they are intrinsically milder than the novel COVID-19 virus. And like the COVID-19 virus, they are much less virulent in the healthy elderly and younger people than influenza.

One important reason why these corona cousins do not kill large numbers of people is because even though we lose immunity and can be reinfected, there is still always a decent enough proportion of immune people in the population to keep the risk of infection low to those who might die upon contracting it. Also, all the coronaviruses in circulation – including the Covid-19 virus – have some features in common which means that getting one coronavirus will probably offer some protection against other coronaviruses. This is becoming increasingly clear from work in many labs, including my lab in Oxford. It is against this background of immunity from itself and its close relations that COVID-19 virus has to operate…

Unfortunately, we do not have a good way of telling how many people have actually been exposed to the new virus, or how many people were resistant to start with. We are able to test for antibodies – and my lab in Oxford has been doing so since early April – but, as with other coronaviruses, COVID-19 antibody levels decline after recovery, and some people do not make them at all, and so antibody levels will not give us the answer. More and more evidence is accumulating that other arms of immunity, like T cells, play an important role.

Indications of the herd immunity threshold having been reached are available from the time signatures of epidemics in various parts of the world where death and infection curves tend to “bend” in the absence of intervention or to stay down when interventions were relaxed (in comparison with other locations where the opposite happened). But we do not know how far we are from it in most parts of the UK. It is important to bear in mind that the attainment of the herd immunity threshold does not lead to disease eradication. Instead it corresponds to an equilibrium state in which the infections lingers at low levels in the community. This is the situation we tolerate for most infectious diseases (like flu which kills 650K people every year globally). The situation can be vastly improved through vaccination, but it is very difficult to eliminate the disease even with a good vaccine.

Dr Swaminathan: Third, letting the virus spread through populations unchecked would have devastating consequences for communities and health systems. Far too many people would develop severe disease and die, hospitals would be overwhelmed with the influx of patients, particularly as flu season takes off in the northern hemisphere, and communities would be ravaged by the sheer number of people in need of care. We also have no idea how many people will suffer the debilitating impacts of post-Covid syndrome or “Long Covid”, or for how long. Many people describe suffering from months of persistent fatigue, headaches, “brain fog” and trouble breathing. Other serious conditions from being sick with COVID-19 – such as physical and cognitive limitations, psychiatric problems and issues with the lungs, heart and brain – are being reported. 

Prof Gupta: It is not at all unexpected that some people would suffer post-viral symptoms for extended periods of time (I believe I did!) and that it may be quite debilitating for some. Among the lessons we could learn from this crisis could be a wider recognition of the frequency and intensity of post-viral syndromes and an investment in support (leave of absence from jobs, help with daily activities) of those unfortunate enough to suffer in this way. But it is not a new phenomenon and cannot be a good enough reason to stop the world and potentially let tens of millions of people starve to death.

Dr Swaminathan: Fourth, it is a mistake to believe that the virus only severely impacts older people and those with underlying conditions. Research has shown that mortality increases significantly with age, but younger people with no underlying health conditions have developed severe disease and died. At the peak of Italy’s outbreak, up to 15 per cent of all people in intensive care were under 50. 

Finally, how would this theoretical “focused protection” play out in the real world? Governments are already encouraged to protect high-risk groups, as part of a raft of public health measures that are only effective when applied together. Choosing a single intervention, with disregard for the realities of local transmission, would be unwise, ineffective and deadly. 

Prof Gupta: We are of course also able to test for presence of the virus, and there is much attention on this with ‘test and trace’ strategies. However this test, known as the PCR test, is of limited value as it cannot tell us whether someone is infectious and can pass on the disease, whether they have the virus but cannot pass it on, or indeed whether the virus has been destroyed by the immune system and only fragments remain. This means that we need to make public health decisions based on only partial information, and in a changing environment, and is why assumptions of how many people have been infected and are immune are so important.

The Great Barrington Declaration proposes a solution for how we may proceed in the face of such uncertainty. It suggests that we exploit the feature of this virus that it does not cause much harm to the large majority of the population to allow them to resume their normal lives, while shielding those who are vulnerable to severe disease and death.

Under these circumstances, immunity will build up in the general population to a level that poses a low enough risk of infection to the vulnerable population that they may resume their normal lives. All of this can happen over a period of six months, and so this Focused Protection plan does not involve the permanent segregation of the vulnerable from the rest of the population…

Many components of protecting the vulnerable have already been enacted in the process of locking down so we should be discussing how these can be improved rather than dismissing them. Directing efforts at hospitals and care homes is one obvious priority. Other parts of the problem – such as the protection of vulnerable people within family settings – require careful discussion and thought, but it must always be borne in mind that these are temporary measures and in the long run could save more lives than cycling in and out of destructive lockdowns.

Dr Swaminathan goes on to explain what the WHO is now proposing. It is recommending controlling outbreaks through “decisive action to suppress transmission” with “robust testing and contact tracing”. This will enable targeting of “disease clusters” while avoiding “punishing national lockdowns”. Sound familiar? She claims: “We’ve seen this approach succeed in many countries,” though fails to name one, and I can’t think of any. New Zealand? But it is an island in the middle of an ocean and now closed for the foreseeable future. She pins her hope on the arrival of an “efficacious SARS-CoV2 vaccine… as early as next year”, at which point “we can realistically and safely strive for herd immunity”.

Yet Kate Bingham, chairman of the UK Vaccine Taskforce, warned on Tuesday that a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, like flu vaccines, will likely only be up to 50% effective. The head of the Oxford University coronavirus vaccine team, Professor Andrew Pollard, doesn’t seem to think that will be enough to protect the elderly and the vulnerable, saying: “Even if we had enough vaccine for everyone, it’s unlikely that… the physical distancing rules can be just dropped.”

If 50% isn’t good enough, though, what is the WHO’s envisaged endpoint, since that may be as good as it gets? Or if it is good enough, why can’t we just get on with aiming for herd immunity now?

It’s hard to see how this waiting around under lockdowns can be ethical. As Dr Matt Strauss argues in the Spectator yesterday:

If lockdowns were a prescription drug for COVID-19 treatment, the FDA would never have approved it. The seminal Imperial College London paper and other mathematical models like it were used to justify their use, but clinicians would never prescribe a drug or propose a surgery based on such modelling. The now well-publicised failure of these models to accurately predict COVID-19 outcomes proves the rule.

Dr Swaminathan concludes by saying until an effective vaccine is here “we have to outsmart this virus, by understanding where and how it spreads, and not giving it a chance to do so”. This seems an extraordinarily naïve statement from the WHO chief scientist given the last 10 months. Meanwhile, life is largely back to normal in Sweden and other places that didn’t impose lockdowns. If the Government is now taking its science from the WHO rather than SAGE then it needs to think again.

Stop Press: Stacey Rudin has written a fascinating piece in AIER on “What’s Behind The WHO’s Lockdown Mixed-Messaging“. The answer may have something to do with China.

Liverpool is Always Short of Hospital Beds

A shortage in ICU beds in Liverpool was making the news yesterday. Here’s the Times.

Intensive care units at Liverpool’s main hospitals are at 95% capacity as a rebellion against the lockdown by local businesses grows.

Sources have told the Times that the number of COVID-19 patients across all beds is expected to surpass its April peak in the next seven to 10 days.

About half of the intensive care beds across the Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have been taken by patients with the virus, according to the Financial Times.

However, what they don’t mention is that Liverpool ICUs are almost always operating at close to capacity during the autumn and winter. A reader dug these stats out from 2018 and 2019 from the Department of Health website.

The Mail has spotted the story too.

Liverpool’s biggest hospitals are only 10% closer to capacity than normal for October, official data has revealed.

The city’s NHS critical care beds are usually 85% full at this time of year, with 51 out of 60 beds occupied across three hospitals, according to NHS England data from the past six years.

But councillor Paul Brant has warned Liverpool’s intensive care units are already at 95% capacity, sparking fears of an impending crisis. One senior doctor has claimed only 58 out of 60 beds are currently full, with half thought to be filled by coronavirus patients.

The underlying problem here is surely that our “world-beating” NHS has only 6.6 ICU beds per 100,000 people. That compares to 38.7 in Germany, 29.4 in the US and 11.6 in France. Maybe some of the obscene sums spent dealing with this confected crisis should go on that.

At the Sign of the Three Bellends

A Merseyside pub got a surprise new name overnight on Wednesday as the owner protested the pub’s closure as part of the tier three lockdown. The Mail has the story.

A Merseyside pub has been cheekily renamed in an act of defiance towards the Government’s new lockdown restrictions in the area.

The James Atherton in New Brighton, the Wirral, has renamed itself “The Three Bellends” – with a sign featuring the faces of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, his close adviser Dominic Cummings and Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

The sign appears as pubs were forced to close in the Liverpool area on Wednesday as part of the Government’s new three-tier system of coronavirus restrictions for England.

Stop Press: Professor Angus Dalgleish in Mail asks how Hancock is still in a job in a searing take down that is well worth a read.

Covid Is Not Categorically Different

Donald J Boudreaux at the American Institute for Economic Research has penned an insightful piece on the terrible psychology of Covid overreaction.

Since March, the coronavirus has been treated as if it is a danger categorically different from other dangers, including other viruses. But this treatment is deeply mistaken. The coronavirus is not a categorically different danger. It occupies a location on the same spectrum that features other viruses. Reasonable people can and do debate just where this location is – that is, how much more dangerous is the coronavirus than are ordinary flu viruses and other ‘novel’ viruses that plagued us in the past. But the coronavirus is well within the same category as other viruses.

Yet humanity has reacted – and continues to react – to the coronavirus as if it is a beast that differs from other health risks categorically. The hysterical overreaction by the press, public-health officials, and politicians – an overreaction undoubtedly supercharged by social media – has convinced many people that humanity is today being stalked by a venomous monster wholly unlike anything to which we are accustomed.

Only by assuming that this virus differs fundamentally from other risks can governments continue to get away with unprecedented and arbitrary restrictions on peaceful human activities – restrictions on activities such as working at the factory or office, on dining out, on attending religious services, on going to school, and even on seeking medical treatments for non-Covid-related ailments. Only by being convinced that the coronavirus poses a threat categorically unique are ordinary men and women led to change their ways of living and interacting as fundamentally as many have done, and to tolerate the categorical change in governments’ responses to epidemics.

The trouble is that people seem to want to be scared.

Very many people today seem almost eager to be misled about the danger posed by Covid. Much of humanity today appears to perversely enjoy being duped into the irrational fear that any one of us, regardless of age or health, is at the mercy of a brutal beast categorically more lethal than is any other danger that we’ve ever confronted. I hope that my despair proves misguided. 

Worth reading in full.

COVID-19 Antibodies Provide Lasting Immunity

Researchers at University of Arizona Health Sciences have confirmed that COVID-19 immunity is lasting. The Medical Xpress has the details.

One of the most significant questions about the novel coronavirus is whether people who are infected are immune from reinfection and, if so, for how long.

To determine the answer, University of Arizona Health Sciences researchers studied the production of antibodies from a sample of nearly 6,000 people and found immunity persists for at least several months after being infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

“We clearly see high-quality antibodies still being produced five to seven months after SARS-CoV-2 infection,” said Deepta Bhattacharya, Ph.D., associate professor, UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson, Department of Immunobiology. “Many concerns have been expressed about immunity against COVID-19 not lasting. We used this study to investigate that question and found immunity is stable for at least five months.”

Based on results from SARS they are hopeful for longer lasting protection.

“The latest time-points we tracked in infected individuals were past seven months, so that is the longest period of time we can confirm immunity lasts,” Dr. Bhattacharya said. “That said, we know that people who were infected with the first SARS coronavirus, which is the most similar virus to SARS-CoV-2, are still seeing immunity 17 years after infection. If SARS-CoV-2 is anything like the first one, we expect antibodies to last at least two years, and it would be unlikely for anything much shorter.”

How Many Hospital “Cases” Are Really Covid?

A top NHS doctor and regulator contributor to Lockdown Sceptics has written a short note for us on the Government’s incomplete and misleading data on hospital admissions.

An eagle-eyed reader in the comments yesterday noticed that the number of ‘patients admitted with Covid’ is the total of the number of patients admitted with a positive test on admission, and the number of patients who tested positive after a number of days in hospital.

He wonders whether this is muddying the waters in respect of the accuracy of the stats – and he is quite right to ask that question.

To try and achieve a bit of clarity – some patients present to hospital with symptoms consistent with Covid and a positive test that has already been done elsewhere. They are classified as ‘admissions positive’.

Some patients present to hospital with symptoms consistent with Covid but have not been tested. They are regarded as possible Covid (as it could be flu, or pneumonia for other reasons). Those patients are tested on admission, but the test result doesn’t come back for a couple of days. If it turns out to be positive, that patient is then put in the Covid admission column.

Some patients present to hospital for a totally non-Covid reason – he mentions his wife having a caesarean section. On admission all patients are swabbed for Covid even if they have no symptoms and they are not likely to either. If the swab then comes back as positive, they are then listed in the Covid admission column. You can clearly see the problem with this, in that a whole load of patients who have no Covid symptoms, never develop any and are in hospital for totally different issues are classified in the Government stats as Covid admissions.

Unfortunately, the officially released statistics are insufficiently granular to distinguish which patients listed as ‘Covid admissions’ are actually sick with Covid and which are merely co-incidentally positive with no symptoms.

Whilst in hospital, all patients are routinely swabbed at regular intervals. So, a patient can be admitted for example after a minor stroke. Swabbed on arrival – swab negative. During the stay in hospital, the patient will be swabbed every few days. Suddenly on, say, day eight, a swab comes back positive. Patient added to the Covid admissions column despite not having any symptoms and having contracted the infection while in hospital. This has been flagged up by the Oxford CEBM already, because the proportion of patients contracting the infection whilst in hospital seems to be increasing – i.e., coming in without Covid and picking it up as a hospital acquired infection (though of course, most of them will have no clinical symptoms).

So, in summary, the headline figure broadcast of ‘patients admitted with Covid’ includes:

– Patients who really are ill with Covid and need treatment
– Patients who test positive but have no symptoms and are in hospital for an unrelated issue
– Patients who arrived without Covid, but contracted it in hospital and may never have developed symptoms either

Unfortunately, we can’t be told what percentage of the reported ‘admissions with Covid’ actually have symptoms of the disease and other confirmatory tests (characteristic Chest X-ray signs, lowered arterial oxygen on blood gas analysis, raised inflammatory markers, high temperature, etc). These are the true ‘Covid positive’ patients.

It is not clear to me why we can’t be told this information, but one can be sure that the headline figure reported on the BBC of daily admissions with Covid is almost certainly higher than the number of patients admitted with symptoms of Covid for active treatment and possibly very much higher.

Plus, of course, some of the patients tested as positive will in fact be false positives on the PCR…

Not having data on symptoms also deprives us in the UK of having clear data and charts on cases by date of symptom onset like they have in Spain, which provide an important early indication of the shape of the epidemic and how it is developing. We’ve only had nine months to sort this out.

How Many Died Because They Were Kicked Out of Hospital?

Source: NHS and ONS

A Lockdown Sceptics reader has put together this graph that raises the question how many died because they were kicked out of hospital? Around half of NHS patients were discharged in short order, and very few were admitted to replace them. SAGE’s own analysis for the Government estimated that as many as 40% of the excess deaths during the epidemic were due to lockdown rather than Covid. Is such a strategy really ethically defensible? And Matt Hancock says that “focused protection” would put the vulnerable at risk! Why are hospitals still cancelling and delaying medical care?

Armed Police Shut Down Liverpool Gym

Armed police will now be visiting premises that refuse to close in Liverpool

Talk about a hysterical overreaction! A gym in Liverpool received a visit from seven or eight armed police officers yesterday because it hadn’t closed, as all gyms in “Tier Three” areas are supposed to do. The Mail has more.

Armed police served a Liverpool gym owner with a £1,000 fine for refusing to shut despite strict Tier 3 lockdown rules.

Nick Whitcombe defied the newly-imposed lockdown rules and refused to close Bodytech Fitness in Moreton because they “won’t have one to come back to” if he did.

A member of the public noticed that the gym was still open for business and called the police who issued a warning instructing him to close.

A short while later, when he didn’t shut the premises, ‘seven or eight’ armed police officers turned up his gym, demanding that it close or face a fine.

Mr Whitcombe tells the story in more detail.

“After meeting with the police yesterday, they told us we would get a warning first day, then a second warning, £100 fine, £200 fine and so on.

“They were with us this morning, gave us our warning. Then came back this afternoon, orders from their top boss to issue a fine straight away.

“So, they’ve told us ‘close immediately’ or I’ll take a £1,000 fine.

“Obviously we still had quite a lot of members training and I said to the officers, ‘I’m not asking anyone to leave. Even if I am I’m going to let them finish their sessions first’.

“So they’ve issued the fine. First one’s £1,000. They can come back in three hours and issue £2,000. Three hours after that £4,000.

“It’s disappointing. They sent out seven or eight firearms officers, what a waste of resources.”

In an earlier video announcing his refusal to close the gym, Mr Whitcombe said: “We will not be closing our doors. We can’t.

“If we close our facility we won’t have one to come back to. We will not have a gym to come back to. There will be no business, there will be no gym, there will be no jobs.”

What were the police going to do if Mr Whitcombe refused to close? Shoot him and his customers in the head?

Postcard From Portugal

A reader who lives in Portugal has written to tell us of his sadness at what has become of his country. It sounds wearily familiar.

Like most of the rest of the world, Portugal had a lockdown period. In our case, it went from March 18th to May 4th. Also, like in many other countries, we were initially told it would be just two weeks to “flatten the curve”, which extended to six due to a delay in reporting cases and deaths which was perceived as a rise. In late April, a Portuguese researcher working in Norway called André Dias wrote an open letter to the President of the Republic (who is the Chief of State, while the Prime Minister is the Chief of Government), saying the lethality of Covid had been extremely exaggerated by Imperial College and that it would be safe to return to normal with no restrictions.

Nevertheless, after lockdown (which we prefer to call the “state of emergency”), we went into a “state of calamity” and the PM told us it would be impossible to return to the old normal without a vaccine. It is unconstitutional for the PM to mandate anything during the state of calamity, but he did so anyway. Specifically, while in some other countries, wearing masks only became mandatory several weeks or months after the lockdown ended, it’s been mandatory here in closed public spaces since the end of lockdown (though it wasn’t mandatory anywhere during lockdown). Also, the PM kept schools closed for the remainder of the 2019/2020 school year and opened more establishments every two weeks. Large parties became illegal, though a far-Leftist celebration called “festa do Avante” still took place in early September.

In the beginning of May, it was still considered a “civic duty” to stay at home. In mid-May, cases and deaths went down considerably, which put most people in high spirits. This would be short-lived, however, since they began testing asymptomatic people in late May. As you can imagine, we began having hundreds more “cases” (which, of course, are only positive tests), especially in Lisbon. Once again, there were people saying we had ended lockdown too soon, that the general public wasn’t following the rules and that new restrictions had to be introduced. We pretty much stopped talking about deaths and started talking about cases. In July, it became mandatory in the island of Madeira to wear masks even outdoors. However, at the time, the PM said we couldn’t afford a new lockdown. Moreover, we went from a state of calamity to the less serious “state of alert”. Nevertheless, it became forbidden to sell alcohol in certain establishments, and cafés (though not restaurants) had to close at 8pm. Also, in response to several illegal private parties, the Government began forbidding large gatherings more and more.

For the record, the Portuguese have a mixed relationship with masks. Half wear them outdoors and the other half don’t. I’ve seen shop owners removing their masks indoors while not attending customers. I believe it’s mandatory for kids after pre-school to wear masks indoors.

Personally, while I’m not afraid of masks, I hate wearing them, both because I can’t breathe very well with them on and because they’ve been the most persistent symbol of the “new normal”.

Now, we come to today, which is why I’m writing this. After a count of more than 2,000 daily “cases”, we have gone back to a state of calamity. Fines for breaking the rules are to become heavier than ever, gatherings can only be of five people instead of 10, masks are to become mandatory outdoors and the PM has proposed it should be mandatory for employees, students, etc. to install an app called StayawayCovid on their phones. Worse than anything, though, is that the PM has said it’s possible we will have a second lockdown after all, at least as a last resort. We haven’t closed any establishment but, as has happened elsewhere, medical consultations are now done mostly (though not yet exclusively) by phone, with cancer and cardiovascular patients pretty much abandoned for the sake of potential new Covid hospitalisations. Surgeries have been cancelled in some hospitals.

Predictably, no one tells us how many have so far died of cancer, cardiovascular diseases or suicide.

I was optimistic that the worst wouldn’t come to Portugal, but this latest bit of news has really dampened my spirits. I know of at least a journalist and a couple of doctors who write opinion pieces calling out the Government and public health authorities, but there’s no organised opposition as far as I know.

Finally, I appeal to the people reading this to resist what’s happening and do whatever they think will work. Personally, I’ve donated to Rocco Galati and Simon Dolan, both of whom are filing lawsuits against the Canadian and English governments respectively. My hope is that, if one or both are successful, it may send a message to other governments. I’ve also signed the Great Barrington Declaration.

Stop Press: Simon Dolan is in the High Court today. To date, people have donated over £360,000 to his CrowdJustice fundraiser.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Three today: “Here we go again” by the Isley Brothers, “Herd Mentality” by Lex Rodent and – a tribute to Sunetra et al – “Declaration Of Hope” by Authenticity.

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 bring you the tearing down on Sunday by violent mostly peaceful protestors in Portland, Oregon of statues of former Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln in a declaration of “rage” toward Columbus Day. An unexpected voice of condemnation came from Sean Ono Lennon, John and Yoko’s son, who Monday took to Twitter to mock the protestors. 

The 45 year-old musician, who has more than 300,000 followers on Twitter, wrote: “The Pyramids of Giza were made under coercion from evil Pharaohs who were not very woke. I think we can all agree the Pyramids should be torn down immediately.” And then: “Since the invasion of Britain by Emperor Julius Caesar in 55 B.C., Italy has remained deafeningly silent. I think it’s time Italy was held accountable.”

An unlikely hero, but we’ll take him.

“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 £1.49 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.

And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Sunetra Gupta, Professor Martin Kulldorff and Professor Jay Bhattacharya – actual scientists, unlike Devi Sridhar

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 week and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it. If you Google it, the top hits you get are two smear pieces from the obscure Leftist conspiracy website Byline Times, and one from the Guardian headlined: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this hit job the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now shows up in the search results, 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. It’s now closing in on half-a-million signatures.

Stop Press: Toby has written about the shameless attempt to suppress and discredit the Declaration in his Spectator column this week.

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.

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…

This video is laugh-out-loud funny. Indeed, we recommend you sit down before watching it because there’s a risk you may fall over.

Latest News

Labour Calls For National Lockdown

Covid-19: Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer calls for circuit breaker - BBC  News

When Labour leader Keir Starmer last week questioned whether local lockdowns were working because 19 out of 20 had failed to reduce cases we should have guessed it was the local bit he was taking issue with, not the lockdown. Tory lockdown rebels heroes had been wondering out loud why Labour kept criticising the Government’s measures but then supporting them or abstaining, and now they know. It’s because they think they don’t go far enough.

Unhappy northern Labour council leaders likewise are not complaining about their areas being locked down per se. They’re complaining about being singled out and treated differently, and about the level of financial support. Many would be happy with another national lockdown with generous handouts.

So Keir makes his move. Seeing the opportunity to outflank the Government by siding with the SAGE scientists (who, it emerged on Monday, called for a national ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown on September 21st) and with public opinion (which continues to favour stronger restrictions, though by a shrinking margin, and often not so much in practice), the Labour leader has come out in favour of a two week lockdown.

The plan is backed by Graham Medley from SAGE and Matt Keeling from the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPIM), who claim in modelling to be published later today that between 3,000 and 107,000 deaths could be prevented by January if the Government imposes the measure. Talk about a confidence interval!

The Spectator has published the full text of Starmer’s statement.

The number of Covid cases has quadrupled in the last three weeks. Cases may be doubling as quickly as every seven to eight days. There are now more people in hospital with Covid than on March 23rd when we went into national lockdown. And while the number of cases is rising more sharply in some areas it is increasing across all regions of the UK and in all age groups.

We know from bitter experience and great personal loss where all this leads. Three things are now clear: the Government has not got a credible plan to slow infections. It has lost control of the virus. And it’s no longer following the scientific advice.

The SAGE minutes from September 21st – published yesterday – underline this. They warn that: “A package” of “stringent interventions” is now urgently needed. SAGE also says that: “not acting now… will result in a very large epidemic with catastrophic consequences.”

They warn that: “as in the first wave… the burden of a large second wave would fall disproportionately on the frailest in our society [and] on those on lower incomes and Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.”

Among their recommendations is a ‘circuit breaker’, a short period of national restrictions that SAGE believes would bring the R-rate down and “re-set the incidence of disease to a lower level”. SAGE’s advice is that this could set the “epidemic back by approximately 28 days or more”.

They’re very clear that: “The more rapidly these interventions are put in place the greater the reduction in Covid-related deaths and the quicker they can be eased.” The Prime Minister has not acted on this advice.

Doubling every seven or eight days.

Now where have we heard that before? That’s right, on September 21st when Witless and Unbalanced presented us with their Graph of Doom predicting nearly 50,000 cases per day by October 13th. How’s that getting on?

From CEBM

Absolutely nowhere near. There were 17,234 cases yesterday – roughly a third of the predicted amount – and the trend has been almost flat for a week. The Government has claimed it was the introduction of the Rule of Six on September 14th and the 10pm curfew on September 24th that has kept numbers down – the latest iteration of the “cases down, lockdown working, cases up, more lockdown needed” strategy that can never be wrong. Why then are the most restricted areas the worst affected? And why have cases started to fall in Spain without closing bars or imposing harsh lockdowns? They can’t answer that question, but neither do they seem to care anymore.

Source: Government

Looked at by specimen date, the curve is even flatter (note that the last four days will go up in the coming days). Has it “quadrupled in the last three weeks”? Three weeks ago on September 22nd 4,926 “cases” were reported, so the number has trebled not quadrupled in that time. Is it now “doubling every seven days”? A week ago 14,542 “cases” were reported. So it’s gone up by 19% in the past week and appears to have slowed down. Where is Keir getting his data from as it doesn’t appear to be from the Government?

Maybe “cases” will shortly start going up again, but that is no excuse for misrepresenting the current situation. Are they likely to though? Here are the positive rate curves for the UK, Spain and France, with little sign of runaway growth, so you’d have to bet against it.

Starmer continues:

In the last three weeks [Boris has] introduced two sets of far less stringent restrictions – one on September 22nd, one yesterday. Both times the Prime Minister has promised that his measures will control the virus and drive down the R-rate. But we now know this is not supported by the evidence.

We also know that SAGE has concluded the £12 billion test and trace system is only having – in their words – “marginal impact”.

And we also know that in 19 of the 20 areas that have been under local restrictions for over two months infection rates have gone up, not down. There’s no longer time to give the Prime Minister the benefit of the doubt. The Government’s plan simply isn’t working. Another course is needed.

That’s why I am calling for a two-to-three week ‘circuit break’ in England in line with SAGE’s recommendation.

A temporary set of clear and effective restrictions designed to get the R rate down and reverse the trend of infections and hospital admissions.

This would not mean closing schools. But if this happens imminently, it can be timed to run across half-term to minimise disruption. But a circuit break would require significant sacrifices across the country.

It would mean only essential work and travel. That everyone who can work from home should do so. Non-essential offices should be closed. Household mixing should be restricted to one household except for those who’ve formed support ‘bubbles’. And all pubs, bars and restaurants would be closed for two-to-three weeks – but compensated so that no business loses out because of the sacrifices we all need to make. It should also mean the UK Parliament moves to remote working.

A circuit break would also provide an opportunity to reset and to rectify some of the mistakes the Government has made. In particular to get a grip on testing and hand over track and trace to local authorities. A circuit break will have to be accompanied by extensive support for jobs, businesses and our local economies.

He concludes by pledging his party’s votes so Boris could push the ‘circuit breaker’ through by overriding his own MPs (42 of whom voted against the 10pm curfew yesterday, including Graham Brady, John Redwood and Chris Green, who resigned as a Government PPS over his opposition to lockdown).

Politically this a shrewd move by Starmer, but it is disappointing for lockdown sceptics as it reinforces Boris’s message that he is taking the middle course between lockdown and “let it rip” and will probably result in him being even stricter – as well as Sadiq Khan playing follow-my-leader and plunging London into a completely unnecessary ‘tier two’ lockdown. Boris has already conceded that he will consider a ‘circuit breaker’ if his tier plan fails.

‘Circuit breaker’? More like ‘economy breaker’, ‘back breaker’, ‘hope breaker’.

Hancock Dismisses Great Barrington Declaration

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock in the Commons yesterday dismissed the Great Barrington Declaration and its strategy of focused protection of the vulnerable while building up herd immunity. He repeated the now standard counter-arguments, which appear to have become Government orthodoxy.

Some have set out this more relaxed approach, including in the so-called Great Barrington Declaration, and I want to take this argument head on because on the substance, the Great Barrington Declaration is underpinned by two central claims, and both are emphatically false.

First, it says that if enough people get Covid, we will reach herd immunity. This is not true. Many infectious diseases never reach herd immunity, like measles and malaria and Aids and flu, and with increasing evidence of reinfection, we should have no confidence that we would ever reach herd immunity to Covid, even if everyone caught it. Herd immunity is a flawed goal without a vaccine, even if we could get to it, which we can’t.

The second central claim is that we can segregate the old and the vulnerable on our way to herd immunity. This is simply not possible.

Steve Baker tries to have it both ways and says the Government “must find an alternative strategic plan between the Great Barrington Declaration and where we are today”, though offers no insight into what that might be. The Mail quotes Dr Mark Woolhouse, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, disputing Hancock’s points, though agreeing herd immunity is still some way off.

Prof Woolhouse said: “Going forward, we would expect more people to be exposed at some stage or another and that immunity would be important, whether natural or through a vaccine. Herd immunity is the way this thing ends, one way or another, it is critical to what happens to COVID-19 in the long term. Whether he (Mr Hancock) calls it a goal or not, it will end with herd immunity.”

Prof Woolhouse described the Health Secretary’s comments about it being impossible to segregate the old and the vulnerable as a “tremendous fallacy”.

“I don’t know, or how Matt Hancock knows, it’s not possible, we have to do it to some degree because those are the people who are at risk of getting seriously ill and dying,” he said.

“We should be paying much more attention to protecting the vulnerable and elderly. I worry that that statement is impetus to give up on the idea of protecting people who need protecting. I worry that fallacy is being promoted in this brief statement.”

Ross Clark in the Spectator ably counters the arguments against immunity.

To date, the World Health Organisation has recorded 38 million confirmed cases of COVID-19. In a search of medical literature, the Nevada team found five cases of documented reinfection. If infection with COVID-19 did not give the vast majority of us immunity from reinfection – at least for a few months – it is hard to believe that it would not be obvious by now, with vast numbers of cases being recorded.

It is nonsense for Hancock to compare SARS-CoV-2 to malaria, measles and Aids they are completely different types of virus (malaria isn’t even a virus). And we do acquire immunity to flu as well as to other coronaviruses and cold viruses, which is why they keep mutating and appear with different strains with differing degrees of virulence.

Meanwhile, Nadine Dorries MP tweeted: “There is no such thing as herd immunity.”

https://twitter.com/NadineDorries/status/1316086032908070926?s=20

There is no such thing as herd immunity.

Nadine Dorries is a Health Minister.

Vaccine Hopes Fade

Dr Chris Whitty contemplates what a wait-for-a-vaccine strategy looks like without a vaccine. (It’s actually Dr Beaker from Gerry Anderson’s Supercar, but the resemblance is uncanny.)

If we can’t become immune through infection why do we think we can become immune through a vaccine? Does the Government not understand how vaccination programmes work? That’s the question it isn’t answering. There was, however, a candid admission from Boris Johnson on Monday that a vaccine may never come, a point reiterated by Chris Whitty later in the day. Responding to a question from Steve Baker, Johnson said: “SARS took place 18 years ago, we still don’t have a vaccine for SARS. I don’t wish to depress him, but we must be realistic about this. There is a good chance of a vaccine, but it cannot be taken for granted.”

So, er, shouldn’t we learn how to live with the virus then, just as we have with seasonal flu?

Reinforcing this message, Kate Bingham, head of the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce, told Sky News last night that the first wave of COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to end the pandemic, and that uncertainties remain over how much protection they give and for how long. Sky then went to Professor Jonathan Ball, a vaccine expert at Nottingham University, who claimed “at the moment we have no protection against COVID-19 at all” and says antibody levels fall quickly after infection so if the same happens with a vaccine it may only protect for a month or two. Has he not been following the science on T-cell immunity?

Try telling that to the Swedes, Professor.

Meanwhile, WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus was also dismissive of herd immunity on Monday, labelling it “scientifically and ethically problematic”. The BBC has more.

Speaking at a news conference on Monday, Dr Tedros argued that the long-term impacts of coronavirus as well as the strength and duration any immune response remained unknown.

“Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it,” he said.

“Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak, let alone a pandemic.”

The WHO head added that seroprevalence tests where the blood is tested for antibodies suggested that just 10% of people had been exposed to coronavirus in most countries.

“Letting COVID-19 circulate unchecked therefore means allowing unnecessary infections, suffering and death,” he said.

Tedros’s comments came in the same week that the WHO’s Head of Emergencies, Mike Ryan, said they want to try to avoid “massive lockdowns that are so punishing to communities, to society and to everything else”. WHO COVID-19 special envoy David Nabarro also said on Thursday that: “We in the World Health Organisation do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus. The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganise, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.”

So they don’t want lockdowns, which are disastrous for humanity and especially the poor, but neither do they support herd immunity, which is supposedly too far off, despite all the research showing lower thresholds due to T-cell cross immunity, and the evidence from countries such as Sweden, Belarus and Tanzania and the US state of South Dakota. There is also the curious case of the East Asian countries, which, as Ross Clark points out, have had far lower death rates regardless of the measures they took.

And if we’ve never in the history of public health used herd immunity as a strategy for responding to a viral outbreak, how does Tedros believe we managed to cope with the global flu pandemics of 1957-58 and 1968-69? Don’t recall a lockdown or a vaccine being part of the solution then.

Where does this leave the Government’s strategy, particularly as realism about a vaccine sets in? Nowhere at all, as far as I can see. If the new restrictions are not about waiting for a vaccine, which the Government now seems to accept is a distant prospect, what are they for? Boris has surrendered the dubious high ground of “the Science” with its remorseless call to lock everything down to Keir Starmer, leaving the Labour leader with the unanswered question of what to do when the ‘economy breaker’ ‘circuit breaker’ is over. Do another one? Then another? But by eschewing the heretical science of herd immunity and focused protection Johnson has left himself with no science at all – just a dog’s breakfast of purposeless restrictions with no hope to offer.

Until the Government accepts that more harm than good is being done by ongoing restrictions, and that we should follow Sweden’s proven strategy, we are doomed to be stuck in an endless, stop-go loop of economic destruction, where every rise in “cases” results in new shackles and every drop off is just taken as proof that the latest are working.

Stop Press: An eagle-eyed reader spotted the following nugget in the SAGE minutes released on Monday:

Overall, the evidence base on which to judge the effectiveness and harms associated with different interventions is weak and so there is considerable uncertainty around the estimates presented here.  

Even SAGE admits they’re making it up as they go along.

False Positives and False Outbreaks

We’re publishing today a new piece by consultant pathologist and regular Lockdown Sceptics contributor Dr Clare Craig, who has looked at what the false positive rate might mean for care homes.

Outbreaks of Covid in care homes appear to have spiked in September in the UK. Does this mean we will see a resulting spike in deaths? This paper explores the possibility that a significant number of the alleged outbreaks in care homes could be based on false positive test results. The continuing absence of systemic cross-checking of alleged positive results against established clinical and diagnostic evidence such as loss of smell and distinctive CT chest scans remains deeply disappointing. At an absolute minimum, anyone who receives an alleged positive Covid result should be retested from scratch.

Failure to do this produces multiple problems.

Diagnosing false positive test results as cases in care homes has the effect of increasing workload for the homes, instilling fear in residents, staff and relatives and artificially boosting the case numbers. Large numbers of elderly, frail patients may well be wrongly labelled as having Covid. When this is combined with their high risk of dying anyway, it is possible that multiple deaths could be wrongly attributed to Covid. The impact of these false positive Covid cases in care homes could easily have skewed the overall data on deaths from Covid, impacting negatively on policy making.

Well worth reading in full.

Contact Tracing Worse Than Useless

Great Barrington Declaration co-author and Stanford Professor of Medicine Jay Bhattacharya has co-authored a new article on the problems with contact tracing.

Throughout the COVID-19 epidemic, public health authorities have promoted contact tracing as a key tool to combat the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Nearly every country infected by the virus has adopted some version, though with evidently mixed results given the global spread of the epidemic. Our purpose in this essay is to make the case that, contrary to conventional public health wisdom, most of the hope placed on contact tracing efforts to control the epidemic is ultimately futile. It may be useful when the number of cases in an epidemic is very small and only if it is applied aggressively without regard to privacy rights. In cases that do not fit that description, contact tracing may make an outbreak worse.

This is probably why a 2019 WHO study on measures against pandemic influenza found that from a medical perspective “contact tracing” is “not recommended in any circumstances”.

Worth reading in full.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Just one today: “Mersey Blues” by Strawberry Walrus.

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, a bombshell for the campaign against Lord Nelson at the National Maritime Museum. The letter “proving” he supported slavery has been shown to be a forgery. The Mail has the details.

Horatio Nelson’s original letter to Simon Taylor is lost, presumed destroyed but, unknown to the anti-abolitionists, the Admiral had kept a ‘pressed’ copy — a sort of early carbon copy — in his rarely-seen private files, which are now in the British Library.

Comparing this pressed copy with the newly discovered document reveals that Taylor and his anti-abolitionist cronies made no fewer than 25 changes to Nelson’s original letter before they rushed it into print after the Admiral’s death to try to influence the vote in parliament.

Many of the changes were minor and editorial but overall were designed to rally the dead hero’s support for their lost cause.

In the key passage, Nelson did not write ‘against the damnable and cursed doctrine’ of slave trade abolition, as the doctored version had it. 

The original wording was ‘against the damnable cruel doctrine’ and he was referring to the consequences of freeing slaves to face possible starvation and massacre in the chaos that would follow.

While a diplomatic man who clearly had no wish to pick fights with powerful anti-abolitionists, Nelson was relatively enlightened by the standards of the day.

When a young man, Nelson had sailed to the Arctic with Olaudah Equiano, a freed slave who became a hero of the abolitionists, and whenever Nelson had an opportunity to personally intervene on behalf of enslaved people, he took it. 

As he did when freeing 30 galley slaves held in Portuguese ships in 1799, or employing freed slaves in his household such as Fatima, a young girl discovered in a French warship, who became his mistress Emma Hamilton’s maid.

Nelson even lent his support to a scheme, soon squashed by the planters’ lobby, to replace slave labour in the West Indies with paid labour from China. 

As so often, the woke conception of “social justice” is at odds with natural justice.

“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 £1.49 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.

And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Sunetra Gupta, Professor Martin Kulldorff and Professor Jay Bhattacharya – actual scientists, unlike Devi Sridhar

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 week and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it. If you Google it, the top hits you get are two smear pieces from the obscure Leftist conspiracy website Byline Times, and one from the Guardian headlined: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this hit job the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now shows up in the search results, 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 done a smear job.)

You can find it here. Please sign it. It’s now closing in on half-a-million signatures.

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.

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…