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The Future Shape of Things

Sebastian Friebel
Former parliamentary adviser to the German Bundestag

Dear fellow citizens,

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

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

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

I must stress at this point that I do not consider the health risks associated with the virus as trivial. Corona can pose a serious risk, particularly for the elderly and those who are already ill. This fact is undisputed. But the crisis must not blind us to other serious developments that directly affect us all and about which at the same time we know very little.

It is important that we, as a society, should again become capable of exchanging information without prejudice and with good will, even on controversial issues. We in Germany urgently need to learn once more how to listen to and respect each other. If we do not find our way back to this kind of coexistence our society will finally splinter into hostile groups. Unfortunately, responses to the Corona crisis have already contributed to further widening the social divide. But as a result, we as citizens lose sight of our common interests and play into the hands of those who see every crisis first and foremost in the light of a business model.

Politicians and the main stream media are currently trying to distract our attention from the serious political and economic changes that are being implemented in connection with the pandemic, having shown up, in this time of Corona, right on cue. One of their aims to ensure that people, in their fear of the virus, accept measures and permanent restrictions which, given the situation, are in no way justified by the need to maintain social order and are threatening the economic existence of millions of people.

With this report I would like to give my fellow citizens a helping hand so they can deal with publicly accessible sources, and themselves form a picture of these circumstances and of the true extent of the Corona crisis. I cordially invite you to scrutinise my remarks, before the possibility is permanently taken away by the widespread censorship to which we are increasingly subject.

I. The World Economic Forum (WEF)

…as the mouthpiece of the most influential international corporates and major banks, is using the crisis as an instrument to push forward a long-prepared agenda for the world economy.1 This ‘Great Reset’ is presented as a change at global level towards a sustainable economy, but this is a deception. Actually the companies of the WEF, which is mainly controlled by the financial and digital industries, want a centralisation of political power in supranational institutions such as the United Nations, the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).2 They justify this shift of power on the pretext of managing international crises for the welfare of the population.3 But is it realistic to think that the largest corporations in the world are suddenly so concerned with the well-being of the individual? Or are they exploiting the goodwill of people who want a fair and peaceful world, and see supranational organisations as possibly being the key to this?

Former UN leaders warn against abuse of the United Nations

Former UN leaders warn that strengthening these organisations under the current influence of the large corporations enables the latter to undermine democratic control of the global economy and the political power of elected parliaments.4 In this way the resistance of individual states to the privatisation orgies of financial speculators can be circumvented, which would greatly benefit their economic interests. So these companies are using the crisis in order to expand their own possibilities of influence. In addition, they want to force out the middle classes permanently and take over the market shares released as a result. For all these objectives, Corona and the the global economic crisis associated with it hand them everything on a plate. The forces behind the WEF are therefore using their political influence in order to prolong the crisis artificially and bring about the restructuring of the world economy in accordance with their own agenda. This may sound abstract and suggestive of conspiracy theory, but the announcement of the ‘Great Reset’, right at the height of the Corona crisis, speaks volumes in this regard.

To avoid adverse reactions by the population, and especially the middle classes, to these alarming developments, they wrap the plan in a heart-warming story of a humane, ecological globalisation, and hide their real aim of a shift in power behind attractive-sounding clichés like ‘global governance’ or ‘public-private partnership’. But how credible is it, when precisely those forces which have been unleashed for decades by unprecedented overexploitation of nature at the expense of the general public, suddenly present themselves in a green guise? The fact that the United Nations too promotes this worldwide campaign by the banking sector and large corporations, be it said in passing, only points to the already mentioned misuse of the UN for private sector interests.5 It is to be feared that political functionaries worldwide will soon demand that the UN, WHO etc. be given more authority – ‘only’ because of Corona and other crises, of course. But in the end, who would really reap the benefit?

Global economic crisis favours transformation of the world economy

Many citizens see the economic crisis that has arisen as a result of the Corona measures as proof that governments put public health above the interests of business. Unfortunately, precisely the opposite is true: the crisis plays right into the hands of the world’s most influential corporations with their aspired-to transformation of the world economy, very much at the expense of small to medium-sized enterprises. The transfer of political power to higher levels further favours this development. Recently, Bundestag President Schäuble even spoke about this himself with astonishing openness, when he said:

The corona crisis is a great opportunity. In the crisis, resistance to change is diminished. We can now bring about the economic and financial union that we have so far failed to achieve by political means […]’6

It was certainly not his intention, but Schäuble himself illustrates, with this statement, why the crisis is very convenient for the long planned transformation. The centralisation of the economy towards a small number of large corporations and financial investors will be further accelerated by economic union. The most senior political functionaries are aware of these interactions. Some remain silent because they benefit financially or career-wise from these developments. The others keep silent because they know that if they utter just one honest word, the assembled forces of the media and politics will turn on them and put an abrupt end to their political careers. Only a few give even an indication of who this crisis really benefits.

Supranational institutions enable corporations to exert an undemocratic influence. If not enough people recognise in time the dangers of a further concentration of power in the hands of a few large institutions and resist this, then we could soon find ourselves in a world in which our democratically legitimised governments have virtually no power of decision any more. This has long been the case in fiscal policy, which is why redistribution from the hard-working to the rich is likewise proceeding unchecked. In addition, ‘because of Corona’ they now also want to transfer the economic policies of all EU member states to the European Union. However, one should have no illusions as to who will benefit from an increase in the powers of the EU Commission: economic policy at EU level would only serve the interests of transnational companies such as Amazon, BlackRock, Goldman Sachs etc. – an unprecedented privatisation and deregulation would be the consequence. The EU’s attitude is already evident, for example, in the de facto tax exemption enjoyed by digital groups and its privileged treatment of the financial sector. Sahra Wagenknecht describes this relationship as follows:

If more and more competences are now being shifted to a level where the economy, and above all the big companies are much more influential than any other interest group, it is clear what happens: democracy is undermined even more, profit interests become even more shamelessly predominant. It is a complete illusion to believe that a European government would stand up to big business better than national governments. The truth is that because of the balance of power on the EU level, the exact opposite is the case: the more Brussels decides, the easier it is for the mega-corporations to assert their interests.7

Medium-sized businesses and agriculture are bought up, jobs are cut

In parallel to the desired shift in power, governments are ensuring through the Corona measures that large numbers of medium-sized companies can be bought up by large mega-corporations and financial investors. Similar worrying developments have been seen for some years in agriculture. At the same time, Corona is being used as a pretext for widespread job cuts, which is a basic prerequisite for the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, i.e. the digital transformation of the economy. This approach is in line with the ‘Great Reset’ agenda and I am afraid has very little to do with the welfare of the population. I therefore appeal in particular to all small and medium-sized enterprises to resist these efforts. For most workers, too, these vigorously pursued plans pose an existential threat because a fully digitised, fully centralised world economy will be able to manage with a much smaller workforce. The road of digitisation thus leads directly towards a conditional (not unconditional) basic income which would entail total dependence. Or, as Siemens Managing Director Joe Kaeser expressed it:

Digitisation will displace the middle class […] And of ten people affected, only one will rise in the world, nine will go down. And I guarantee you: if there is one thing, that will stop the digital movement, then it will be social unrest.8

So should we uncritically go along with the narrative of digitalisation as salvation, built up by the media and the politicians in the corona crisis? Or is something being forced on us here, whereby in the end the disadvantages to us all will predominate?

II. Digital companies and governments worldwide

…are instrumentalising the fear of the virus to achieve social acceptance for comprehensive digital surveillance and control systems. These systems, which include contact tracing, digital identities, biometric face recognition and digital immunity certificates, are designed for totalitarian control of the entire population. In China, the full range of these inhuman technologies is already in use, which means that the most basic rights of citizens can be restricted by AI-based systems. The combination of a ‘Corona app’ and a preliminary stage of digital immunity certificates is being used to automatically deprive citizens of their freedom of movement if their ‘health status’, as detected by the machine, does not meet the specifications.9 Cameras with facial recognition additionally record and identify every person in public space. The 5G mobile phone standard enables this form of mass monitoring in real time. So in China digital technology determines who is still allowed to leave their home. Such a society can hardly be described as anything but a technocratic tyranny. I am sorry to say that similar plans are also being pursued by our own federal government. It, too, is already seeking to introduce a so-called ‘vaccination or immunity documentation system’, depriving people in our country of basic rights such as freedom of travel and freedom of assembly, or allowing them such rights only if they can prove immunity, e.g. through vaccination.10 These intentions are no different from those of the Chinese dictatorship, and it is only thanks to public protest in Germany that the government has not yet been able to pass this legislation in its original form.

Financial and digital groups set up global surveillance architecture

This year, the World Economic Forum will introduce the ‘CommonPass’, a system for international travel, likewise aimed at surveillance and control of access to public life and freedom of travel worldwide. This system requires people to have a kind of ‘digital identity’, as well as uploading their vaccination status and/or Corona test results to a database, in order to be able to travel at all.11

The project is supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, Google, the major bank J.P. Morgan, the financial group BlackRock and representatives of the United Nations.12 The aim of the institutions and companies involved is to encourage all governments worldwide to use the system. This again shows (besides the above-mentioned ‘Great Reset’) the global ambition of the corporations behind the project, and again the UN is being instrumentalised for their purposes. The question arises as to why the financial groups in particular have such a strong interest in monitoring and controlling people, and why they are willing to invest such a lot of money in the development of these technologies.

Return to normality only with digital surveillance?

Taking into account the current data situation on coronavirus, the German Ethics Council still advises against the introduction of such systems, but does not entirely exclude them for the future.13 It can therefore be assumed that digital immunity certificates or something like the CommonPass will be presented to us in the course of the coming months by the media and the government, as a prerequisite for a return to normality. Several German companies already offer digital surveillance systems, which automatically check whether a person has normal body temperature and is wearing a mask. Some of these systems are already being combined with facial recognition, and manufacturers advertise them as providing ‘effective real-time monitoring of faces with or without masks’.14 Should these technologies be introduced in Germany, it would be a first step towards the Chinese social credit system. I do not want to accustom myself to the idea that such technology will soon be capable of determining our freedom of movement. My concern, however, is that some people would give up their individual freedom for a deceptive sense of security. But are such massive surveillance measures really a proportionate response to the coronavirus situation?

Edward Snowden warns against global architecture of oppression

In this context, I personally agree with Edward Snowden, who has warned against a worldwide architecture of repression using digital technology and suggested that it could outlive the crisis.15 If we allow digital systems to control our freedom of movement and access to public life, by the same token we are giving control of our most fundamental rights over to the digital infrastructure operators. One look at China is enough for us to recognise the real dangers of such a technocratic form of society.

No one should have to live in a world like this, but because of our heedless attitude to the technically feasible we are all increasingly being pushed in this direction. This applies equally to Europe, even though at first glance we may find it hard to imagine. The fact that the 5G network, unlike the previous private mobile phone infrastructure in Germany, is being set up with a lot of tax money, speaks in this context for the fact that this technology will be used, in our country too, primarily for mass state surveillance. In the summer of 2019, at one of the numerous lobbying events in Berlin, I asked the Chief Technical Officer of the world’s largest network equipment supplier whether 5G is actually being developed for private users, and if so, for what specific applications the technology is intended to be used. His answer, that 5G was being developed for ‘professional purposes’, reinforces my belief that this is by no means a matter of the needs of the population. It is therefore a perfidious approach by the federal government that it now wants to implement these old plans by using the money from a ‘Corona Recovery Package’.16

Microsoft and the Rockefeller Foundation collect biometric data of the world population

The introduction of digital identities was an objective even before the Corona crisis and was being promoted by influential players. With ‘ID2020’, the Rockefeller Foundation and Microsoft have been pursuing for several years now a project for the digital, biometric registration of the world’s population, with digital immunity certificates again described as a possible use for the system.17

A global vaccination campaign against coronavirus could soon be used as a pretext to roll out this control system, which has been prepared for years, worldwide – possibly in combination with the CommonPass mentioned earlier. It is important to realise that this means that the identity of every citizen (passwords, health status, bank data, social contacts etc.) will be centrally managed and transmitted to private corporations – a shocking, but unfortunately quite realistic idea. If you look at this and other projects of the digital corporations, you get the feeling that for these companies we human beings are more of a commodity or an economically exploitable raw material, and that our welfare matters very little to them. For example, Microsoft has patented a system whereby human bodies equipped with sensors can be used for the mining of crypto-currencies.18 Seen from this angle, the 2017 Facebook project on Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) is even more surreal. The US billionaire Elon Musk has already developed a robot which implants micro-electronic chips fully automatically in human brains.19 This hardly any longer falls in the category of medical applications, as even the developers no longer trouble to deny.

Are the corporations losing their grip?

I believe that we should immediately launch a broad debate on the ethical aspects of the above technologies. As with genetic cloning, we should also look at microchip implants in the brain to ask the question whether we really want to exploit all the technical possibilities available to us, or whether this form of transhumanism does not lead to dangerous dehumanisation. Is it really still ‘normal’, if mega-affluent people already announce today that they want to link people with an implanted chip into digital networks?20 For what reason does Microsoft want to register the biometric ID of the entire world population? Should we enable companies with such intentions actually to set up a global surveillance architecture ‘because of Corona’, allowing them to gain access to all areas of our lives? And why do the media not ask these questions, but promote all these projects quite uncritically?

Corona brings the ‘brave new world’ – if we do not rapidly become more critical

Influential players, including international foundations, are already openly calling for permanent total surveillance of the entire population – of course ‘only’ because of coronavirus.21 None of these aspects should be left out of account, when we consider the efforts of certain philanthropists in this crisis. In any case, we should be more critical of investors who purchase our consent with strategically placed philanthropy, and who in spite of (or because of?) their supposedly selfless donations are becoming increasingly wealthy and influential.

The cumbersome and partially unfulfillable Corona requirements (e.g. contact diaries, guest lists, contact tracing by the authorities etc.) could encourage many people to accept digital surveillance systems as a convenient solution for everyday life. Should digital companies, the media and government see this Chinese path as key for a return to (new) normality, it should be clear to everyone what they are really aiming for.

In addition to the surveillance aspect, it should be noted that the digital industry has long been extending its business model, in the context of school digitisation, to the education sector as well, and Corona provides a welcome excuse for this. I appeal to all parents and teachers not to be uncritical of these attempts.

These companies are not our friends and do not have the best interests of children, or the safeguarding of individual freedom in mind. First and foremost they want to create dependencies and make their technologies indispensable in all sectors of society. They are increasingly expanding into all areas of our lives, without our ever having really been made aware of it. The digitisation of government, payment transactions, schools, the economy, the media, communication and ultimately the whole of society is driven and financed worldwide by a very small number of large corporations. Are we going to stand by and let these dependencies develop, as the Corona crisis leads to their being further expanded and permanently established?

How much surveillance and control can a free society cope with?

III. The financial sector, and in particular the large international and investment banks

…are instrumentalising the crisis to create new dependencies through extensive lending to governments and companies, and thus extend their political influence. This is done either directly through banks or indirectly through organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. The acute need for capital as a result of the crisis thus makes states liable to be influenced by private donors. Because of this balance of power, any democratic control becomes impossible and the private banking sector is becoming a major political player.

This approach is particularly questionable, because the billion-dollar loans are essentially not intended to support the population or the real economy, but (by analogy with previous ‘bank rescues’) mainly redound to the benefit of the creditors. The money borrowed is therefore only used to a limited extent by politicians in support of the economy, but rather saves the financial sector from losses due to the crisis. This redistribution is paid for by low and middle-income earners, because the enormous new debt is likely to give rise to massive tax increases and capital levies, at the latest after the coming federal elections. At the same time, the loans enable the big banks to exert political influence. Due to these mechanisms, they have an interest in ensuring that the economic crisis resulting from Corona shall be as devastating as possible, however absurd this may at first appear. For this purpose they use the the channels open to them in the media to spread more fear and further exacerbate the economic situation. In addition, through institutions such as the IMF or the World Bank, they are promoting a shift of power in favour of supranational organisations, because this progressively increases their influence on global fiscal policy.

Major banks and the IMF have a big influence on the global response to the corona crisis

The financial sector is already a major player in foreign policy and in the global response to the corona pandemic. For example, when the ‘Event 201’ simulation was conducted in October 2019 by the World Economic Forum and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, participants with links to the World Bank were also present to discuss fiscal responses to a future coronavirus pandemic.22

The corona pandemic simulated for this purpose actually occurred two months later, and the measures developed in the context of the simulation have been implemented since then. This can be seen in the most recent events in Belarus. The IMF, as the long arm of the banking sector, offered the economically stricken state 940 million in June 2020, demanding in return that the small country institute Corona measures such as lockdown, compulsory masking and quarantine.23 The background to these demands was that Belarus, with its restrained approach to coronavirus, had disrupted the desired narrative of the deadly pandemic. Looking at the long list of 102 states that have requested IMF loans in the context of the Corona crisis, a similar IMF approach in these countries is quite conceivable. The IMF itself states that it makes lending conditional on ‘appropriate Corona measures’ by the recipient countries.24 Anyone who wonders why so many countries worldwide have adopted almost identical measures may find an answer here. Belarus rejected the interference of the IMF, and we are currently observing the consequences. That the EU, given the current rate of exchange with Belarus, is not really concerned about the conduct of the possibly rigged elections, is shown from the fact that the OSCE initially turned down the country’s invitation to observe these elections locally with a meagre excuse.25

Corona helps banks achieve their goal of abolishing cash worldwide

In addition to the political aspects, the financial sector is abusing the crisis to continue to push ahead with the drive to global cash abolition. Unfortunately, many people are not aware of the impact of the switch to digital currencies and the enormous potential for abuse associated with this. At this point, I would urge everyone to consider the real consequences of a cashless society and in particular to reflect on the control that the operators of a global digital payment infrastructure would have over the entire population. It should also be recognised that if cash were abolished these companies would make money from every payment transaction worldwide without exception, which I for one would have no wish to see happening.

Influential forces, which even before Corona were already intensively lobbying for global cash abolition, are now exploiting the crisis to achieve their goals. Let us just mention in passing that Microsoft founder Bill Gates is also involved in the project.26 In view of the enormous economic potential in this sector, it is in any case unlikely that such players in this sector will ultimately be concerned with anything other than money and political influence, even if they conceal their aims behind high-profile ‘fund-raising campaigns’. So when we are told that because of Corona we should give up using cash, we should not ignore the strong economic interests behind it. In this context, it is worth mentioning that the UN is also using its name to promote this global campaign by the banking sector.27

The financial sector installs its people at the top and we do nothing about it

Overall, my observations in the Bundestag lead me to the conclusion that the financial sector is influencing politics with an astonishing degree of self-assurance, and is now even able to position its own staff in the highest political offices without provoking any kind of public protest. If Goldman Sachs managers or IMF chairmen can become President of the European Central Bank, the EU seems have lost any connection with the needs and interests of the population. And if BlackRock representatives in Germany are touted as candidates for Chancellor, we appear to be too little informed about the intentions and methods of the financial sector, and so must be lacking a critical faculty. But we need be critical, if on the one hand the assets of billionaires go on steadily increasing while at the same time more and more people are living in poverty in our country. This development is no coincidence – it is just the result of decades of policy in favour of the richest 0.01 percent. In the year 2010, when the Süddeutsche Zeitung was still critically reporting on the influence of the financial sector, former editor-in-chief Heribert Prantl wrote about these issues:

But we also need to talk about how we can bring it about that Europe should not just be dictated to by money and the financial markets – we need to restore power to the people’s representatives and the governments the people have elected.28

A vivid example of this influence of the financial sector on representatives of our federal government is the current CumEx scandal at the Warburg bank, where tax money to the tune of thousands of millions disappeared. Our own Federal Minister of Finance (then Mayor of Hamburg) ‘overlooked’ this theft, later thwarted the recovery of the funds, lied to the Finance Committee of the German Bundestag on the number of discussions he had had with Warburg representatives and says now, as the accusations can no longer be denied, that he cannot any longer recall what was discussed at these meetings.29 It is people like this, dear reader, who hold the most important positions in our federal government and decide how wealth in Germany is to be distributed. The Warburg case provides a unique opportunity for the whole population to study the collusion between top-level politics and the financial sector. Although the affair itself is by no means an isolated case, it is only very rarely that the details of such conspiracies come to light. So I hope that the opportunity does not just pass us by, and citizens do not yet again let themselves be fobbed off by dramatic appeals by political functionaries or mitigating media reports.

IV. With their misleading reporting

…their encouragement of division and polarisation and the calculated fomentation of anxiety, the mainstream media are driving a deliberate wedge into our society.

Fear, in particular, is a handy tool for pressuring all of us to take measures that under normal circumstances we would never accept. Depending on the objective in view, the media variously disseminate fear of terrorism, of climate change or (as currently the case) of the pandemic. In this way they achieve social support for changes that are actually directed against the interests of the population. Their manipulative trick here is to play on our idealism and goodwill, e.g. our tendency to support environmental conservation or the health of our fellow human beings. The result of this influencing is always the same for the citizens concerned: a loss of freedom and prosperity and a further concentration of power in the hands of players who consistently elude our observation, and about whose objectives we are in no way informed. Occasionally it happens that prominent media representatives openly address these power relations in the media. Former Editor-in-Chief of the New York Times, John Swinton, said many years ago at a meeting of the most prestigious American journalists:

There is no such thing as an independent press in America, except in remote small towns in country districts. You are all slaves. You know it and I know it. Not one of you dares to express an honest opinion. If you were to express it, you would already know in advance that it would never appear in print. […] If I were to allow honest opinions to be printed in one issue of my newspaper, I would be like Othello before 24 hours had elapsed – my occupation would be gone. Anyone crazy enough to write his honest opinion would be out on the streets looking for a new job. The business of journalists in New York is to twist the truth, to lie bluntly, to pervert, to revile, to kowtow at the feet of big business (‘Mammon’ in the original) and to sell his own country and people for his daily bread, or, which is the same thing, for his salary. You know it and I know it; what garbage it is, proposing a toast to the ‘independence of the press’! We are tools and servants of the rich men behind the scenes. We are their jumping jacks. They pull the strings and we dance. Our time, our skills, our lives, our possibilities are all owned by other people. We are intellectual prostitutes.30

I am afraid that in this area nothing at all has changed. On the contrary, by this time even smaller regional media can hardly take up a neutral position, because they derive the greater part of their news from a few central press agencies, and when it comes to issues beyond the immediate region no longer do their own research. So today it is that much easier to keep disquieting opinions out of the media. The private and public media, as well as the social networks, thus ensure that people are distracted from the crucial background to important happenings and accept the official narrative they are expected to swallow. In parallel to this society is forced, obviously with the aim of distraction, to engage in unnecessary debates on completely irrelevant issues. Anyone who has taken a closer look at these scientifically developed methods of manipulating opinion will realise that the approach is systematic and is by no means just being applied by chance.31

The pictures from Bergamo: 70% of the undertakers in the region were obliged to isolate, so they asked the military for a one-off transport of 60 coffins.

How were the ‘Pictures from Bergamo’ created?

The media also make use of the power of images and use them in a targeted way. They shock us with photographs of alleged Corona mass graves in the USA, while concealing the fact that deceased homeless people have been buried in these communal burial grounds for many years (and video recordings to that effect were being made back in 2016).32 They show us dramatic images of military trucks transporting coffins from Bergamo in northern Italy and at the same time suppress the important information that, according to the Italian Funeral Industry Federation, at the start of the corona crisis 70 per cent of undertakers in the region stopped working for reasons of quarantine, and it was only because of this that the military was called in for a one-off transport of 60 coffins.33 The media groups and public service broadcasters rely on the fact that we citizens do not have the time for background research, and will therefore be forced to trust their reports. But why is their reporting so very selective? And do we not make it far too easy for the media to influence our opinion?

Even Wikipedia is no longer neutral

Even Wikipedia, with its enormous reach and acceptance among the population, has for some time now been selling itself to lucrative PR campaigns by large corporations and wealthy individuals.34 At the same time, it is increasingly becoming a digital pillory for people outside the mainstream. For example, Wikipedia has systematically blackened the reputation of numerous renowned scientists, such as Nobel Prize winner Luc Montagnier, although they were among the most respected in their field even before Corona. This approach is particularly underhand because it is impossible to defend oneself against this form of public defamation, and the internal Wikipedia regime prevents any correction. Another cause for concern is the current trend whereby uncomfortable facts about coronavirus are brusquely denied on the basis of so-called ‘fact checks’, and unpopular views subjected to denigration.

Corona narrative is impressed on children with computer games

Public service broadcasters are also participating in current Corona propaganda, and do not hold back, in this context, from deliberately influencing children. For example, ARD and ZDF are developing a contribution-financed Corona computer game for young people, in which players have to give a wide berth to ‘highly infectious infants’ and ‘conspiracy theorists’.35 I leave it to my readers to decide whether such public relations work, paid for by subscribers, can be seen as a serious response to the pandemic.

Dear Readers,
you probably have little time to check the background to all these statements for yourselves with a view to forming your own opinion about it. Governments around the world have long been trying, in close cooperation with the media and the digital economy, to deprive you of this opportunity by means of censorship.36 This is supposedly justified by allegedly dangerous ‘conspiracy theories’, but the aim envisaged is in no way the protection of the population against false reports, but the repression of uncomfortable facts and opinions. Already now, especially on the major online platforms, content is being arbitrarily deleted, this always being justified as ‘protection against disinformation’. But when we allow alternative views to be censored on spurious grounds, not only do we renounce our fundamental rights of freedom of expression and freedom of the press, at the same time we accept a total dependence on the media, the digital companies and the statements of politicians. The nervous response of our government to any criticism of its Corona measures shows that it has reason at present to be seriously concerned about who controls people’s opinions. When critical voices are widely defamed in the media, while hardly being allowed a say in the matter, this again points to their fear that public opinion could escape their control. But if we now grant the Government the right to empower itself, or its authorised institutions, to act as a kind of ‘Ministry of Truth’, how can this be compatible with our claim to be an open and liberal society?

Democracy is undermined by lobbying and the suppression of uncomfortable opinions

I am afraid, in view of all these machinations, we must draw a very uncomfortable conclusion. We must seriously consider the possibility that on many important issues we are being deliberately and intentionally deceived, and that not only the media, but also our political leaders are doing this, to our general detriment. Anyone who has ever experienced the repulsive moral cowardice that predominates in the Bundestag and in our ministries can no longer have any illusions about the integrity of our Government. The Bundestag is a self-regulating system in which everyone is subject to pressures which leave just a narrow corridor of tolerated opinions. This applies in particular when it comes to the influence of the mega corporations and major banks – these interrelationships are largely taboo, and are also hushed up in non-public committee meetings, even though most major policy decisions are linked to them. If anyone at this point suggests that my statements bring democracy into disrepute, they haven’t thought very hard about it. On the contrary, I want democracy to be restored in the interest of us ordinary citizens. Because once you have been able to witness with what arrogant certainty billionaires influence political decision-making, democracy is the last word that is likely to come to mind.

Church representatives issue warning

Even high-ranking Church representatives have recognised the seriousness of the situation and are warning us about the intentions of financially strong players in this crisis. They remind us that Corona is like a fire accelerant for their efforts, and the ensuing centralisation of political and economic power will soon escape all democratic control. They also point to the dangers of digital surveillance for the individual freedom of each person. It speaks volumes about the intentions of the media that they dismiss this sincere warning from the Church hierarchy as a malicious ‘conspiracy theory’. I fully endorse the call of the bishops and cardinals at this point, and at the same time thank them for having the courage to stand up against the broad front made up of the media, governments and large parts of their own Church, with their well-considered warning.

State of emergency and ‘New Normal’ are being vigorously enforced worldwide

We should become suspicious, if we are now being forced to accept considerable restrictions and permanent changes to our lives. Under no circumstances should we yield to the conspicuously slanted message of politics and the media, according to which we must permanently write off our old life and there is no alternative to the ‘new normal’. Because there is always an alternative. And if the Robert Koch Institute and Professor Christian Drosten are already suggesting that the current state of emergency, including the obligation to wear masks, needs to be extended indefinitely, something is getting seriously out of hand.37, 38

So we are supposed to believe that the state of emergency is to become a permanent state of affairs, worldwide. It is only to be expected that practically all the world’s mainstream media, along with the most influential international organisations such as the UN, WHO, IMF, the World Economic Forum and the World Bank, should be emphatically forcing this message of the ‘new normal’ down people’s throats worldwide.39 But will they succeed? And what does that actually do for children, if they are to live under such circumstances for years at the most important stage of their development?

People are mature enough to take responsibility for themselves

We all have a right gradually to reclaim a degree of personal responsibility. I would therefore argue that we should deal with the realities of the current situation on our own responsibility and without state coercion. According to all known studies, distance is the most effective protection against an infection, and it is reasonable for any responsible citizen to act on this knowledge if appropriate. But we should defend ourselves when disproportionate measures are forced on us.

Does the corona crisis really justify isolating old and sick residents of nursing homes without their consent, separating children from their parents for forced quarantine (as proposed by health authorities in several federal states) or locking up citizens with a positive PCR test against their will in police-guarded facilities (as recently happened in Munich)? And when it comes to equipping people with micro-electronic distance sensors (so-called ‘Corona bracelets’), is this not a deeply degrading, totalitarian measure and, given the situation, completely overdone? The managing director of a a company making these distance sensors recently suggested, in a radio interview, that it would be a good thing if the entire population were so equipped.40 I hope that I am not alone my opinion when I say that this proposal is altogether perverse and the product of a sick mind.

No benefits from everyday mask-wearing have been proven

Equally questionable is the obligation to wear a mask in public, especially without standardisation of the material used for this purpose. The Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices, as the competent higher federal authority, states that for non-medical masks no protective effect has been demonstrated, either for wearers themselves or for others.41 It is characteristic that the authority then goes on, in spite of the state of current scientific data, to insinuate a pseudo-protective effect on the basis of vague formulations, even though such an effect has been shown to be non-existent just a few sentences earlier.

Contrary to the assertions of various politicians, there is still no scientific proof that it makes sense to mandate the wearing of masks for the general population in public places. Medical (!) masks only have a proven beneficial effect in the case of close, continuous contact in closed rooms. The evidence suggests that the misuse of masks, currently to be observed in large numbers of the population, actually increases the risk of infection.42 This is because hardly anyone adheres to the stipulation that the outside of the mask must never be touched, that the mask must be changed after four hours, hands should be washed before and after each use, and masks should not be used repeatedly but must be washed in hot water each time they are used.

Political decision-makers should be clear that such requirements cannot possibly be met in everyday life, and it is therefore highly probable that the damage caused by the masks outweighs the benefit, not to mention the devastating effects on social life. I therefore concur with Professor Christian Drosten, who emphasised the ineffectiveness of masks back in January 2020.43

In this context, I would like to remind you of the statements made by the Federal Chancellor and the Bavarian Prime Minister, according to which everyday masks become dangerous ‘virus breeders’ so the obligation to wear a mask must be rejected. The Vice-President of the Robert Koch Institute, Professor Lars Schaade, also commented on 28.02.2020 on the use of masks in the Corona pandemic:

Well, masks…this has been looked into several times. There is simply no scientific evidence that masks make any kind of sense.44

This statement is also supported by the official figures of the RKI itself, because the introduction of compulsory mask-wearing at the end of April had no positive effect at all on the R-value and the already declining infection figures.45 Currently, the figures are rising in despite of the compulsory wearing of masks in public places. The Bavarian Ministry of Health itself provided a plausible explanation for this, for it stated on its influenza information page (until early October 2020):

The risk of infection can be reduced by a tight-fitting mouth and nose guard (as used in surgery and intensive care). Single layer masks are however ineffective. The general wearing of breathing masks or mouth and nose guards by the general population during an influenza pandemic is unlikely to lead to any significant reduction in the transmission of influenza viruses and is therefore not recommended. Every contact person could be a source of infection. Family members, especially children, and friends are a much more likely source of infection, because of the closer contact involved, than random persons you fleetingly pass on the underground. It follows that the mouth and nose protector should be worn constantly, including at home, to be effective; but this is hardly practical.46

Ministry of Health contradicts itself on everyday mask wearing

So for years, the ministry stated on its influenza page that because of the possibility of infection in the domestic environment, mandatory mask-wearing was pointless. On the coronavirus page, however, the mask is praised as a lifesaver, although here too most infections (after nursing homes) tend to occur at home.47 In the meantime this nonsensical statement has been quietly reworded, because with corona viruses everything is suddenly ‘different’ and masks must now even be worn in the open air.

However this may be, I have no doubt that such measures systematically weaken the physical and mental defences of the population. In this context, it should be mentioned that the German Bundestag warned all members of parliament and parliamentary employees in an internal memo of the danger represented by the significant accumulation of CO2 in the blood during prolonged mask-wearing.48 However, citizens were denied this important information, and the facts about CO2 rebreathing were even denied subsequently by pseudo-scientific ‘fact-checks’.49 The general obligation to wear a mask is therefore a purely psychological tool on the part of governments, and in view of the self-contamination it entails can even be potentially hazardous to health – the aim here being to keep the population in fear, by forcibly reiterating the official narrative of an omnipresent danger.

This approach is in keeping with the strategy of the Federal Ministry of the Interior for Corona crisis communication management, according to which ‘the primeval human fear of suffocation’ should be systematically exploited to achieve the ‘desired shock effect’ in the population.50 I leave it to my readers to decide what view to take of this deliberate inculcation of terror by our federal government. It should not go unmentioned at this point that this ‘desired shock effect’ is highly likely to traumatise young children in particular, and to make them afraid of other people for the rest of their lives. We can already observe how many citizens, as a result of their fear of the virus, have developed a completely disturbed pattern of social behaviour and now perceive their fellow human beings only as a threat. Anyone who has read this strategy paper of the Ministry of the Interior, with its complete lack of empathy, knows the people who are responsible for this fearful social damage.

Is it justifiable, in the light of scientific data, to make children wear masks for long periods of time and in the open air?

Proof of immunity means compulsory vaccination by indirect means

Our fundamental rights, and our unconditional and unlimited access to public life, are non-negotiable. In this context, indirect compulsory vaccination, such as the so-called immunity pass would entail (in connection with a scarcely tested, probably genetically engineered vaccine), must be firmly rejected. As compared with the potential danger of coronavirus, the risks involved here would appear to be incalculable. As a grim reminder of this, we need only refer back to the hasty introduction of vaccines against swine flu, which caused tragic vaccination damage, particularly to children.51 It should also be noted that in the course of the EU-mandated pharmaceutical company’s testing of the Corona vaccine, one volunteer suffered severe side effects in the form of an inflammation of the spinal cord.52 It is not without reason that the development of a safe vaccine takes up to 20 years.53 Those who want to be vaccinated should accordingly sign up on a voluntary basis. But the Corona crisis must not lead to a situation where our everyday life and our social interaction are dehumanised through permanent coercion, because I have no doubt that a breakdown of society would be the result. We must therefore watch closely to see whether the federal government (or the EU) will at a later stage again try to make our return to normality dependent on conditions such as proof of immunity or the like. This would be going way beyond their remit.

Not trivialising the virus, but not ignoring new findings

Corona is not a completely harmless virus. However, in the meantime we have a new level of knowledge which we must also now take into account. In addition, it must be clarified immediately to what extent treatment errors in medication and ventilation of Covid patients contributed to premature deaths.5455 We should therefore not prematurely allow the tragic events in some regions of the world to be the yardstick for our further handling of the problem.

The latest antibody studies in particular show that significantly more people have already had the virus than was initially assumed.56 The values published so far regarding the case fatality rate are accordingly no longer tenable. So we need to find new ways of dealing with the virus, ones that do less harm to society. Above all, we should favour a return to greater personal responsibility, because state intervention in the private sector will in the long run be a threat to social peace. And when the Federal Chancellor literally says that it is necessary to ‘tighten the reins’ on the population, it seems someone has forgotten who actually is (or should be) sovereign in a democracy.

Devastating collateral damage and human suffering in developing countries

There is some evidence that the measures taken are having increasingly unmanageable effects. Federal Development Minister Müller (CSU) recently stated that the coronavirus measures will result in far more deaths than those caused by the virus itself.57 In particular in developing countries, as a result of the lockdowns, the supply chains for key medicines, e.g. for tuberculosis, HIV and malaria, are in a state of partial collapse. In African countries, we can therefore expect the continuation of these measures to result in several million excess deaths.58, 59, 60 To protect ourselves, we are thus turning a blind eye to significantly more victims in other countries. It is probable too that there will be a time lag between the measures and the devastating impact on global food supplies, and that the shortages will particularly affect the poorest.

Development Minister Gerd Müller warns that far more people are dying from the lockdowns than from the virus itself. This is particularly true of developing countries.

The cure should not be worse than the disease – and Corona is no exception

In Germany, well over one million operations were postponed because of coronavirus, including 50,000 urgent operations for cancer. Estimates suggest that the absence of treatment could cause between 5,000 and 125,000 people to lose their lives. In addition, countless other people die because they are no longer receiving treatment for fear of the virus, even when their lives are at risk.61 So is the government really concerned about saving lives? In any case, I would like to express my agreement with a concerned employee of the Ministry of the Interior, who presented a detailed report on the subject in early May about the human suffering resulting from the corona measures, and was coldly sacked by the government for his pains. We have long since reached the point where the damage of these measures exceeds the benefits. In view of the data now available, we must therefore try to find a restrained approach to the pandemic – because the virus is here to stay, after all, and we cannot sacrifice on its altar our entire social coexistence, our culture, the development and education of our children, the economy, our spiritual integrity and ultimately our freedom.

This statement seems apposite today, for it has already been announced that current measures should be continued even after the introduction of a vaccine. Moreover, we have to accept the fact that there just are incalculable risks in life, and this brings me to the most important statement in my report:

We should all assess the situation objectively and rationally, even if another ‘Corona wave’ leads to more fatalities or if we are confronted with a completely novel virus, which is a definite possibility.62 If this does indeed occur, it is likely that an attempt will be made to implement all the above measures within the shortest possible time. I can only urge most strongly that this should not be allowed to happen.

Even with possible excess mortality, advice based on fear is dubious

I cannot prove it, but I think it is conceivable that in the further course of the pandemic Germany will experience excess mortality. This because the omnipresent fear of the virus, the psychological consequences of social isolation and also the physical effects of the current measures (masks, excessive and unhealthy hygiene, lack of exercise) have considerably weakened the immune system of many people. However, I would urge my fellow citizens, even in case of higher fatalities, not rashly to accept measures that would later result in extremely violent repercussions to the detriment of their own best interests. The machinations I have described in this report are and will remain a real threat to the freedom of all of us, to our social and economic well-being. And if you think about it, you cannot avoid coming to the disconcerting conclusion that a high level of anxiety in the population, and the worst kind of economic devastation, would play into the hands of these sinister projects. I am aware how absurd this sounds, but my close examination of the situation makes such a conclusion inescapable. We should therefore, even in difficult and confusing times, keep a critical eye on those who see in every crisis a business model above all, and a favourable opportunity to expand their own power. We should also remember that fear is and always has been a bad basis for decisions.

Unfortunately, not everyone on this earth applies the same moral standards to their actions as we ordinary citizens try to do in our everyday lives. We must face up to this fact, even if it is difficult. Because if we are to recognise who is instrumentalising this crisis for their own purposes, we cannot spare ourselves this logical step.

The purpose of my report was to highlight the alien purposes for which our concerns about coronavirus are being abused. Furthermore, I wanted to bring it about that people in our country can have a public debate on these issues, because the media and politicians have so far used every possible means to prevent it. I hope that I will succeed in both, and that many readers will critically review my comments and concerns.

Finally, I would like to make an appeal to all soldiers and police officers in our country. Even before corona, governments all over the world had embarked on a new course from which they are unlikely to retreat. After many decades of great freedom and economic prosperity, the world is apparently once again moving towards authoritarian forms of government with mass surveillance, censorship and extensive control of the population. Many people have recognised these tendencies and rightly resist them. It is also very likely that in the coming months and years, more and more citizens will come to realise that their freedom and prosperity are under serious threat.

It is equally likely that this realisation will lead to widespread protests against government and the power of the global mega-corporations. If this should happen, I appeal to all soldiers and policemen not to forget to whose protection you have actually committed your services. Remember that a state that serves only the interests of a profit-oriented minority is also a threat to your freedom and that of your families. It is no coincidence that the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few is increasing unchecked, while at the same time leaving the general population with less and less and making them ever more dependent.

The media and politicians are already desperately trying to present protests against all these developments as coming from the extreme right. They do not even shy away from brazen misrepresentations, as their coverage of the protests against the corona measures impressively demonstrates. Should my report reach a wider audience, I too will certainly also be put in the corner of the right-wing extremists, conspiracy theorists or citizens nostalgic for the German Reich. This would not matter to me, because it is only a matter of time before citizens will see through this hateful propaganda against divergent opinions. In the end, the good will and genuine solidarity of the people will assert themselves. I have no doubt about that.

To conclude this report, I have two questions for my fellow human beings:

What Government measures would finally cause you personally to draw the line?

And what will you do if the ‘new normal’ of social distancing, masks and the de facto ban on culture remains, even after the introduction of a vaccine?

Further reading:

Prof. Dr. Rainer Mausfeld, Warum schweigen die Lämmer?

Dr. Sahra Wagenknecht, Couragiert gegen den Strom and Freiheit statt Kapitalismus

Prof. Dr. Klaus-Jürgen Bruder, Digitalisierung – Sirenengesänge oder Schlachtruf einer kannibalistischen Weltordnung

Paul Schreyer, Wer regiert das Geld and Chronik einer angekündigten Krise

Edward Bernays, Propaganda

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited

Publishing details:
Sebastian Friebel
Schellingstr. 109a,
80798 München,
GERMANY

Telegram:
t.me/Wiesollesweitergehen

Twitter:
@es_soll

1 www.weforum.org/great-reset; 2020

2 “Why we need international cooperation now more than ever”; www.weforum.org; 22.09.2020

3 “What COVID-19 could mean for international cooperation”; www.weforum.org; 17.06.2020

4 Barbara Adams, Jens Martens, The UN Foundation – A foundation for the UN?; 2018

5 The Great Reset: A Unique Twin Summit to Begin 2021; www.weforum.org; 2020

6 Die Pandemie ist eine große Chance [The pandemic is a great opportunity]; www.wolfgang-schaeuble.de; 21.08.2020

7 Sahra Wagenknecht, Couragiert gegen den Strom [Courageously against the current]; 2nd edition, p.156; Westend-Verlag [Westend publishers]; 2017

8 “How to Adapt to the Digital Age”; 17.06.2016

9 “Coronavirus: So funktioniert Chinas Farbcode-System” [Coronavirus: Here’s how China’s colour code system works]; www.rnd.de; 16.04.2020

10  “Formulierungshilfe für den Entwurf eines Zweiten Gesetzes zum Schutz der Bevölkerung bei einer epidemischen Lage von nationaler Tragweit” [Formulation aid for the draft of a second law for the protection of the population in the event of an epidemic situation of national scope]; www.bundesgesundheitsministerium.de; 29.04.2020

11 CommonPass; www.weforum.org; 2020

12 “The Commons Project Establishes Global Board of Trustees”; www.thecommonsproject.org; 08.07.2020

13 “Deutscher Ethikrat rät derzeit von Covid-19-Immunitätsbescheinigungen ab” [German Ethics Council currently advises against Covid-19 immunity certificates]; www.ethikrat.org; 22.09.2020

14 “Erkennungssoftware soll Maskenverweigerer identifizieren” [Recognition software to identify mask refusers]; www.rnd.de; 19.09.2020

15 “Corona-Maßnahmen: Snowden warnt vor ‘Architektur der Unterdrückung’”[Corona measures: Snowden warns against ‘architecture of oppression’]; www.heise.de; 11.04.2020

16 “Eckpunktepapier Konjunkturpaket” [Key issues paper on the economic stimulus package]; www.bundesfinanzministerium.de; 03.06.2020

17 www.id2020.org/alliance

18 Cryptocurrency System Using Body Activity Data; Patent WO/2020/060606 bzw. US16138518; 26.03.2020

19 “An integrated brain-machine interface platform with thousands of channels”; www.biorxiv.org; 02.08.2019

20 “Chip stellt Verbindung zwischen Gehirn und Smartphone her” [Chip creates connection between brain and smartphone]; www.tagesspiegel.de; 29.08.2020

21 “National Covid-19 Testing Action Plan”; www.rockefellerfoundation.org; 21.04.2020

22 www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/event201/; 2019

23 Lukashenko on imposition of additional conditions; www.deu.belta.by; 19.06.2020

24 The IMF’s Response to COVID-19; www.imf.org; 29.06.2020

25 “ODIHR will not deploy election observation mission to Belarus due to lack of invitation”; www.osce.org; 15.07.2020

26 www.betterthancash.org/members

27 www.betterthancash.org/members/page/8

28 “Geld regiert die Welt – wer regiert das Geld?” [Money rules the world – who rules the money?]; www.sueddeutsche.de; 20.05.2010

29 “Olaf Scholz mit Vorwürfen im Fall der Warburg-Bank konfrontiert” [Olaf Scholz faces accusations in Warburg Bank case]; www.bundestag.de; 09.09.2020

30 E.J. Schellhous, The new republic – founded on the natural and inalienable rights of man, p. 122; www.archive.org; 1883

31 Edward Bernays, Propaganda – Die Kunst der Public Relations [Propaganda – the art of public relations]; 1928; first German edition 2019

32 “The Potter´s Field”; www.youtube.com; 2016

33 “Coronavirus, Federazione Onoranze Funebri” [Italian Undertakers Federation]; www.adnkronos.com; 24.03.2020

34 Helen Buyniski, Wikipedia: “Ein Sumpf aus üblen Machenschaften” [Wikipedia: A swamp of evil machinations]; 2018

35 www.playcoronaworld.com; 2020

36 “Innenminister wollen gegen Verschwörungstheorien vorgehen” [Home ministers aim to take action against conspiracy theories]; www.mdr.de; 09.05.2020

37 Christian Drosten: “Wir haben es selbst in der Hand” [It’s in our hands]; www.zeit.de; 06.10.2020

38 “Die Pandemie in Deutschland in den nächsten Monaten” [The pandemic in Germany in coming months]; www.rki.de; 13.10.2020

39 13.10.2020

39 “Invasion of the New Normals”; www.consentfactory.org; 09.08.2020

40 “Firmenportrait: Kinexon – Abstandshalter für den US-Sport” [Company portrait: Kinexon – distance sensor for US sport]; www.deutschlandfunk.de; from minute 05:06; 28.08.2020

41 BfArM information on the use of mouth and nose coverings; www.bfarm.de; 26.06.2020

42 “Mund-Nasen-Schutz in der Öffentlichkeit: Keine Hinweise für eine Wirksamkeit” [Mouth-nose guards in public spaces: no indication that they are effective]; www.thieme-connect.com; 18.08.2020

43 RBB interview mit Professor Christian Drosten; www.youtube.com; from minute 25:58; 30.01.2020

44 Daily press briefing by the Robert Koch Institute on COVID-19 in Germany; www.youtube.com; 28.02.2020

45 Table with Nowcasting figures for R-number estimates; www.rki.de; 12.10.2020

46 “Grippe (Influenza) – Häufig gestellte Fragen” [Flu – FAQs]; www.stmgp.bayern.de; 2020

47 Epidemiologisches Bulletin [Epidemiological Bulletin] 38/2020; www.rki.de; 17.09.2020

48 House communication 222/2020; German Bundestag; 28.08.2020

49 “Nein, beim Tragen eines Mundschutzes atmet man nicht zu viel CO2 ein” [No, wearing a mouth guard does not mean that you inhale too much CO2]; www.correctiv.org; 24.04.2020

50 Strategy paper ‘Wie wir COVID19 unter Kontrolle bekommen’ [‘How we can get COVID19 under control’]; www.bmi.bund.de; 28.04.2020

51 Grippeimpfung: Wie Pandemrix eine Narkolepsie auslöst [Flu vaccination: how Pandemrix causes narcolepsy]; www.aerzteblatt.de; 02.07.2015

52 AstraZeneca stoppt Covid-19-Impfstoff [AstraZeneca stops Covid-19 vaccine]; www.focus.de; 09.09.2020

53 Development of vaccines – see www.aerztezeitung.at; 15.12.2017

54 “COVID-19: Kleinere Studie mit Chloroquin wegen Komplikationen abgebrochen” [COVID-19: Small-scale study with chloroquine discontinued due to complications]; www.aerzteblatt.de; 14.04.2020

55 “Invasive and non-invasive ventilation of COVID-19 patients” – see www.aerzteblatt.de; 03.08.2020

56 Ischgl study: 42.4% are antibody-positive; www.i-med.ac.at; 25.06.2020

57 “Entwicklungsminister: An Lockdown-Folgen sterben mehr Menschen als am Virus” [Development minister states more peple will die because of lockdown impact than through the virus]; www.reuters.com; 23.09.2020

58 “The potential impact of health service disruptions on the burden of malaria”; www.who.int; 23.04.2020

59 COVID-19-related service disruptions could cause hundreds of thousands of extra deaths from HIV, www.who.int; 11.05.2020

60 “Majority of HIV, TB and Malaria Programs Face Disruptions as a Result of COVID-19”; www.theglobalfund.org; 17.06.2020

61 Coronakrise 2020 aus Sicht des Schutzes Kritischer Infrastrukturen [Coronacrisis 2020 from the point of view of the protection of critical infrastructures]; report KM 4 of the BMI; 08.05.2020

62 A Special Edition of Path Forward with Bill and Melinda Gates; minute 06:30 to 06:59; 23.06.2020

Ivermectin: Cheap Covid Treatment Shown to be Highly Effective in New Peer-Reviewed Study

A new peer-reviewed study by Dr Pierre Kory and colleagues on Ivermectin has been published in the American Journal of Therapeutics. Entitled “Review of the Emerging Evidence Demonstrating the Efficacy of Ivermectin in the Prophylaxis and Treatment of COVID-19“, it provides a new authoritative overview of the evidence to date and calls for the widely available drug to be “globally and systematically deployed in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19”.

The study summarises the impressive evidence base for the use of Ivermectin.

1. Since 2012, multiple in vitro studies have demonstrated that Ivermectin inhibits the replication of many viruses, including influenza, Zika, Dengue, and others.
2. Ivermectin inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication and binding to host tissue through several observed and proposed mechanisms.
3. Ivermectin has potent anti-inflammatory properties with in vitro data demonstrating profound inhibition of both cytokine production and transcription of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB), the most potent mediator of inflammation.
4. Ivermectin significantly diminishes viral load and protects against organ damage in multiple animal models when infected with SARS-CoV-2 or similar coronaviruses.
5. Ivermectin prevents transmission and development of COVID-19 disease in those exposed to infected patients.
6. Ivermectin hastens recovery and prevents deterioration in patients with mild to moderate disease treated early after symptoms.
7. Ivermectin hastens recovery and avoidance of ICU admission and death in hospitalised patients.
8. Ivermectin reduces mortality in critically ill patients with COVID-19.
9. Ivermectin leads to temporally associated reductions in case fatality rates in regions after ivermectin distribution campaigns.
10. The safety, availability, and cost of ivermectin are nearly unparalleled given its low incidence of important drug interactions along with only mild and rare side effects observed in almost 40 years of use and billions of doses administered.
11. The World Health Organisation has long included ivermectin on its “List of Essential Medicines.”

The quality of the evidence for Ivermectin has been challenged, leading many countries including the U.K. and U.S. not to recommend its use for COVID-19. The study takes this criticism head-on.

Although a subset of trials are of an observational design, it must be recognised that in the case of ivermectin (1) half of the trials used a randomised controlled trial design (12 of the 24 reviewed above) and (2) observational and randomised trial designs reach equivalent conclusions on average as reported in a large Cochrane review of the topic from 2014. In particular, OCTs that use propensity-matching techniques (as in the Rajter study from Florida) find near identical conclusions to later-conducted RCTs in many different disease states, including coronary syndromes, critical illness, and surgery. Similarly, as evidenced in the prophylaxis and treatment trial meta-analyses as well as the summary trials table, the entirety of the benefits found in both OCT and RCT trial designs aligns in both direction and magnitude of benefit. Such a consistency of benefit among numerous trials of varying sizes designs from multiple different countries and centres around the world is unique and provides strong, additional support.

A hint of the politics around Ivermectin can be gleaned in the discussion section, where the authors wonder how much more evidence a cheap, safe drug like Ivermectin needs in an international emergency before it can be approved.

The continued challenges faced by health care providers in deciding on appropriate therapeutic interventions in patients with COVID-19 would be greatly eased if more updated and commensurate evidence-based guidance came from the leading governmental health care agencies. Currently, in the United States, the treatment guidelines for COVID-19 are issued by the National Institutes of Health. Their most recent recommendation on the use of ivermectin in patients with COVID-19 was last updated on February 11th, 2021, where they found that “there was insufficient evidence to recommend for or against ivermectin in COVID-19”. For a more definitive recommendation to be issued by major leading public health agencies (PHA), it is apparent that even more data on both the quality and quantity of trials are needed, even during a global health care emergency, and in consideration of a safe, oral, low-cost, widely available and deployable intervention such as ivermectin.

Latest News

Sweden’s Per Capita Deaths in Line with the European Average in 2020

Will Jones has taken another look at the situation in Sweden. He finds that the country does indeed show that lockdowns aren’t needed.

Severe restrictions on civic and economic life are the only thing standing between us and the virus spiralling out of control and killing many times more people than at present. That is the foundational belief of lockdownism. Unfortunately, it is defeated by the example of any country or state that does not impose such restrictions and does not experience such an outcome. A number of states in America fit this description this winter, such as Florida, Texas, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Sweden is the main example in Europe. It is also a good comparison for the UK as it is similarly urbanised (actually slightly more, 87.7% vs 83.4%) and the capital Stockholm has a similar population density to London.

In the spring Sweden imposed only light restrictions, including a limit of 50 on public gatherings, but did not at any point close businesses or most schools or require people to stay at home. This light-touch approach has largely continued, although the country has come under huge pressure to impose more restrictive measures.

In the midst of a winter surge, Sweden finally passed a law that came into effect on January 10th adding some new restrictions on gathering sizes and venue capacity and enabling the Government to close businesses, though it has not yet done so. Reuters reported:

Sweden tightened social distancing rules for shopping centres, gyms and private gatherings on Friday and said it was ready to close businesses if needed, but stopped short of a lockdown to fight the spread of the pandemic.

Earlier in the day, parliament voted the Government wider powers to close businesses and limit the size of public and private gatherings as an addition to what have so-far been mostly voluntary measures to ensure social distancing.

“Today, the Government has not decided on the closure of businesses, but the Government is ready to make that kind of decision as well,” Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told a news conference. “This is not something that we take lightly, but people’s lives and health are at stake.”

From Sunday [January 10th], gyms, sports centres, shopping malls and public pools will have to set a maximum number of visitors based on their size.

In addition, private gatherings will also be limited to eight people, a rule which until now has only affected public events.

A Lockdown Sceptics reader whose family lives in Sweden sent us an update on the current rules.

  • We can visit family and friends – max eight people inside or out
  • Social distancing – one person per 10 square metres in shops etc.
  • Bars and cafes are open but can not serve alcohol after eight o’clock, max four people to a table
  • Restaurants open – table service only and max four people to a table
  • All shops and businesses open but must be Covid safe
  • Hairdressers and beauty parlours open but must be Covid safe
  • Nurseries and primary schools (under 13) open
  • Lower secondary schools mostly open but decision up to the school board
  • Schools over 16 years mostly closed but may take decision to open from January 25th
  • Universities closed
  • Theme parks closed
  • Gyms mainly open but must be Covid safe
  • Public swimming pools and theatres closed
  • Museums and cinemas – some open, some not. Must adhere to Covid restrictions
  • All other businesses open
  • Advice is to avoid unnecessary shopping/travel and so on
  • No requirement to wear a mask/face covering. However, it is advised on public transport during peak times and should be more substantial than a face covering

Despite these much lighter restrictions than in the UK and many other countries, Sweden has had a death toll broadly in line with other countries that locked down hard. Indeed, a study from researchers at the University of Oslo concluded that between July 2019 and July 2020 Sweden had almost no excess deaths at all.

The winter surge is currently in decline in Sweden, and was in decline prior to the new restrictions coming into effect on January 10th. ICU admissions have been declining sharply across the country since the week beginning January 4th, and in Stockholm, which was hit hard in spring, ICU admissions stopped rising at the beginning of December and have declined since (see below).

Source: Swedish Government

Overall excess deaths in the country have been running quite high since mid-November but are now, like ICU admissions, in decline (see below). A recent, very thorough blog post found that if you add Sweden’s all-cause mortality in 2019 and 2020 together (2019 had below-average mortality), it was about the same as the cumulative total for 2017 and 2018.

Sweden didn’t do nothing. But it did a lot less than many other countries including the UK, and without seeing the huge death tolls predicted by those who tell us lockdowns are the only way to “control” the virus. There are places which did even less than Sweden, and their examples should also be studied for the lessons they teach us. But Sweden continues to expose the central myth of the lockdowners – that without severe restrictions things would be far worse than they are now, and so all the collateral damage must be worth it.

Stop Press: Philippe Lemoine, a PhD student at Cornell, has produced a great Twitter thread about Sweden and the unavoidable conclusion that lockdowns don’t have much impact on reducing Covid mortality.

https://twitter.com/phl43/status/1353091523836076032?s=21

Ivermectin: Miracle Cure or Snake Oil?

Shutterstock/File Photo

City AM reports that Oxford University is to investigate the potential of the antiparasitic drug ivermectin for treating COVID-19:

A cheap drug credited with dramatically reducing COVID-19 deaths has been moved to trial stage in the UK.

Researchers at Oxford University are carrying out a Principle trial programme aimed at finding a treatment that can counteract the disease at an early stage and could be used at home soon after symptoms appear.

The next batch of medicines it will assess includes ivermectin, which has been hailed as a Covid “wonder drug”, the Times reported.

Ivermectin has traditionally been used on livestock and to treat people with parasitic infestations, but has been credited with reducing Covid deaths in the developing world.

However, scientists have warned that its efficacy is yet to be properly proven.

“It has potential antiviral properties and anti-inflammatory properties and there have been quite a few smaller trials conducted in low and middle-income countries, showing that it speeds recovery, reduces inflammation and reduces hospitalisation,” Chris Butler, Professor of Primary Care at the University of Oxford and a co-chief of the Principle trial, told the newspaper.

“But there’s a gap in the data. There’s not been a really rigorous trial.”

The drug has been shown to block the entry of viral protein into the nuclei of cells, which could prevent the virus from replicated.

Results from initial, small-scale trials have been described as “promising”, though scientists and health officials have warned that further tests are needed.

It seems worth doing a mini round-up of just some of the evidence recently amassed for the beneficial effects of ivermectin:

The Swiss Doctor has an explanation of how ivermectin works:

To date, the mode of action of ivermectin against the SARS-CoV-2 has remained somewhat of a mystery. Early studies indicated that ivermectin may inhibit viral protein transportation. But a new US-Canadian study, published in Nature Communications Biology, found that ivermectin is highly effective (>90%) in inhibiting the main enzyme (3CLpro) involved in the replication of the SARS-CoV-2 (and other RNA viruses). This might explain why ivermectin appears to be highly effective even as a prophylaxis against SARS-CoV-2 infection

Scepticism is required in all things, of course, but this treatment does look promising, as Mike Yeadon confirms:

https://twitter.com/MichaelYeadon3/status/1352518627212353537

REACT Report: Why Wasn’t it Peer Reviewed?

The latest REACT report from Imperial College received a fair amount of media attention for its finding that “Coronavirus infections are not falling” and that they “may have begun to rise”. Today we’re publishing a guest post by Alice Bragg, who points out that the REACT reports are seldom subjected to peer review.

Here we go again! Imperial College publishing reports that tell us we need more lockdowns for longer. The latest REACT report claims the last three weeks of lockdown have made no difference, so our children must suffer more.

The problem is that this report has not been peer-reviewed. As an academic friend once said to me, “If it’s not peer-reviewed, it’s not relevant.”

Which begs the question: why have only two of the 14 REACT reports, stretching back throughout last year, been peer-reviewed?

Here is the December 15th REACT report on the World Health Organisation website with its own clear warning:

“Preprints are preliminary research reports that have not been certified by peer review. They should not be relied on to guide clinical practice or health-related behaviour and should not be reported in news media as established information.”

Worth noting…

We have all been shocked by the footage from inside Intensive Care Units at hospitals in London and the South East. All the doctors, nurses, porters, cleaners and managers working in them are heroes, and we are indebted to them for the rest of our days.

But are lockdowns the way to prevent these scenes?

One would assume that policymakers would only implement a policy as far-reaching and punishing as lockdown if they had a strong degree of certainty that the suspension of our liberties will save lives.

It was in response to a model produced by Imperial College that the Government imposed the first lockdown. However, it is now widely acknowledged that the assumptions underpinning that model were highly dubious.

In addition, the code that powered that model has been found to be of very poor quality when reviewed and analysed by coding experts, computer programmers and epidemiologists. Even Professor Ferguson himself said that it was a model he had created more than 13 years ago to model the likely course of flu pandemics.

Nevertheless, we have watched our freedom of movement be suspended indefinitely, along with our freedom to associate with others of our choosing, the freedom to assemble and gather, and the freedom to protest (the cornerstone of any democracy). Our children are being denied their right to go to school and, in many cases, have been separated from their peers and wider family for almost a year. Businesses have been forcibly closed, many of which will never recover.

At a time when the stakes are so high, why would Imperial College’s REACT reports not be peer-reviewed?

The answer can be found in the peer-review process itself. Over the last 20 years, the number of papers submitted to journals has grown dramatically. This has been compounded by the growth of ‘pay to publish’ sites that make money every time a paper goes up. Experts who are qualified to carry out rigorous peer-reviews would probably prefer not to spend all their time critiquing other peoples’ papers. Demand outstrips the ‘peer’ supply.

That said, when research findings are being used to guide Government policy, there must be a way to cut through the crowd? After all, not many scientific papers are used to justify a population being denied their basic freedoms or children being taken out of school.

According to David Livermore, Professor of Medical Microbiology at the University of East Anglia and Chair of the Public Health England Resistance to Antibiotics Programme:

“REACT is a surveillance programme which then supports various studies and analyses. Such a surveillance programme would normally have an Independent Advisory Committee”

An Independent Advisory Committee of this nature, according to Prof Livermore, would undertake a number of tasks, including making sure that the people who participate in the programme continue to represent the population. They would also, he stresses, play the role of the peer-reviewer, so that when REACT reports hit the media and arrive on ministers’ desks, the information they contain has been rigorously assessed.

This is only possible if ‘independent’ means what it says, and that people who are constructively sceptical – asking awkward questions – are appointed, not just like-minded ‘friends of the project’. As the debate about ‘the science’ becomes increasingly polarised, inviting informed and qualified critics such as Dr Clare Craig, Dr Jonathan Engler, Dr Michael Yeadon, Dr John Lee and Joel Smalley onto an independent REACT advisory board would inspire great confidence.   

Stop Press: Over at the Spectator, Philip Thomas has more on why the REACT study is problematic

What Value Should We Put on a Human Life?

Today we’re publishing a new piece by Dr David Cook, a senior scientist with over 20 years’ experience in drug research and development. Following the row over Lord Sumption’s contribution to the Big Questions last weekend, Dr Cook explains the concept of Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALY), and then applies it to lockdowns.

In 2017 the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) rejected the drug nivolumab for use in the NHS to treat patients with advanced head and neck cancers. The reason given was that, despite the drug showing positive benefits, it was judged to be too expensive based on the cost per ‘quality adjusted life year’ (QALY). For patients with this disease (and clinicians treating them) this was a hugely disappointing decision and although subsequently nivolumab has been approved for use, at the point of this judgement it must have felt to these patients that their lives were somehow being deemed to be less valuable than those of other patients.

Let’s wind forward to today and Lord Sumption discussing the impact of lockdown on society and apparently suggesting something similar, namely, that some lives are less valuable than others.

But in both of these cases is this what was actually meant? Are we really assigning a value to a life? Are we really judging that some lives are more valuable than others and so more worthy of saving?

To answer these questions, let’s focus on QALYs because these seem to be highly culpable in the crime of ‘life valuation’.

Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) are not used to assess the quality of a life and they are certainly not used to make a judgement on its value.

The reason for this is because QALYs are used to assess the impact and value of an intervention. The judgement as to the quality of someone’s life is something that only the individual can make, but regardless of how they feel about it as a whole, they would certainly be able to tell if it had improved or got worse after some kind of treatment. If I whack you on the hand with a ruler has this improved your quality of life? What if I now kiss it better?

This is the fundamental point – QALYs are always used comparatively: did this treatment or intervention improve or reduce the quality of life?

In assessing the value of new therapies, QALYs are used to try and produce an objective view of their (hopefully positive) impact. A good example of the challenges of this kind of assessment and why QALYs are so helpful is if we think about how we would assess the value of a new analgesic or pain treatment. Such a treatment may have no effect on life expectancy and so its whole impact is on quality of life. But how do you assess this impact when pain is such a personal experience? The only way is to actually ask the individual patient. As a result, a major part of the assessment of the benefit of such medicines is done through use of questionnaires and asking how the individual feels; did the treatment improve your quality of life? Then, by aggregating all of these individual responses together, we can start to assess whether overall the treatment was beneficial or not. You can see that at no point are we making a judgement of the quality or value of the patient’s life. The assessment we are making is of the value of the treatment.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: John Humphrys covers similar ground in his Saturday Daily Mail column. Noting that, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the value of a QALY is about £30,000, he writes:

No one can possibly know yet how much the lockdowns have cost the country. The bills rocket with every day that passes. What we do know is that if we applied the QALY test to the lives ‘saved’, we would no longer be talking about £30,000 a year. It would be many times that amount.

The price of even the most expensive new drug is a drop in the ocean compared to the vast cost of closing down half the nation’s economy – and the bill is rising with every word I type.

So does that mean the life of someone who faces the risk of dying from Covid must be valued more than those who have other life-threatening conditions?

Many people have died because they’ve been unable to get the treatment they needed. Hard-headed calculations were presented to policy-makers who knew what the consequences of lockdowns would be but they took them anyway.

Look Him in The Eyes… A Reader Responds

A reader has written to us to express his disappointment about the NHS’s latest advertising campaign.

I am writing about the shocking new HMG/NHS coronavirus public health campaign. These are the adverts with “Look them in the eyes…” which show a poorly person wearing an oxygen mask.   

In public health the aim of an information campaign should be to give accurate, truthful and honest information so that the public can understand the issues and take any necessary steps or measures for their own health.

Does the Governments and NHS “Look them in they eyes…” poster campaign fit any of the above? A resounding NO! Their campaign is one of blame and division. They have chosen to set one group against another. There is the victim group, this is the sick virus sufferer. They are portrayed as the innocent victim whom someone else has done a terrible thing to.

If there is a victim then this other person must be a perpetrator, a bad person or person who has committed a crime. We would generally consider a perpetrator to have carried out their actions against the victim on purpose and in a planned way. It follows that whoever becomes sick with Covid, or any virus for that matter, has had a bad thing done to them and a bad person is to blame.

The Government and NHS in this poster campaign is blaming one set of people for doing a bad thing to another set of people and no good can come from this. No one is given accurate, measured or honest information upon which they can take actions. Instead, in setting up a victim and a perpetrator, our Government and NHS are setting one lot of people against another. It is extraordinary that a Government and Public Health Service should commission a campaign that blames and divides its population. The campaign fails on all accounts – it provides nothing, people will be angered by it and take no notice of it because it is not truthful, while other people will seek out the bad people to punish them.

A poster campaign like this fails all groups. There are real families who have passed covid on to each other. One person I know of who works for the NHS likely picked up the infection during their hospital shifts. From this person, the elder parents picked up an infection and sadly one died. Does our Government and NHS understand what it is suggesting to this worker and their family? The suggestion is the NHS worker has killed their own parent. 

It is widely acknowledged that many patients acquire their coronavirus infections during their hospital stay. Some of these people have died. Has the Government and the NHS looked itself in the eyes?

This is a terrible public information campaign. I believe it has come from a Government which has taken on the belief it can control a respiratory virus and is desperate to deflect blame as it becomes obvious it cannot.   

When a Government blames its population and attempts to turn one group against another what will become of us? Is the Government aiming for civil war?

A Smidgen of Optimism on Masks

Lockdown Sceptics reader Steve Sieff finds cause for optimism in the change in emphasis to medical and surgical masks in the various mandates, rules and guidance. Steve runs the Green band: Red band website which makes the case for a coloured wrist band system that could promote individual choice when it comes to social distancing and managing Covid risk.

I have an optimistic view to offer on the advance of N95 masks.

I know that the position of most lockdown sceptics is that masks should go. I also know that many of the LS arguments are based on the lack of evidence that they are effective to reduce transmission – even in some cases that they increase the risk of harm. I do not know, but I suspect, that for many LS readers, the question of transmission is largely irrelevant because they consider that the negatives of a masked society outweigh the gains that might be made if some reduction to transmission were shown. The logic behind this goes back to the fundamental belief that COVID-19 should not be ascribed the special status that it has been given on the basis that it affects a small percentage of people. Beyond that, the groups most likely to suffer can be easily identified and therefore can easily protect themselves or be protected.

I believe that underpinning the views above is a strong desire amongst the vast majority of LS readers to see a restoral of the individual’s right to make choices for themselves. We would all like to see a more balanced presentation of risks and of facts from our Government (and others). In the event that the balanced presentation of available data convinced some people to take extraordinary protective measures, we might disagree with the reaction, but most of us would acknowledge and respect others’ right to be cautious provided their decisions did not overly impact on the decisions we make when not in contact with them. This is the basis of Green Band: Red Band of course.

In the context of individual freedom, I wonder if a shift towards more protective masks might be a positive thing. I know that this might sound like anathema to most LS readers so I will explain. The mask narrative to date has been that “my mask protects you, your mask protects me”. This logic moves us away from personal responsibility towards collective responsibility. Those who do not wear a mask are letting down others and are stigmatised. More protective masks such as N95s and N99s could change this narrative. These masks are designed to protect users. If they were widely available then the message could shift to wearing a mask to protect yourself. There would still be some protection for others, but the emphasis would be on protecting oneself. That is extremely important because it could pave the way for masks to become a choice. Those at lower risk (whether through age or vaccination) could decide that they do not require the protection that a mask provides while those who were more concerned could opt to protect themselves.

Of course, this shift in approach will not come easily. There will be many who argue that mandatory self-protection has an important place (see seat-belts, motorcycle helmets, etc.) because the dramatic reduction in risk is worth enforcing for the relatively minor loss of liberty. And there will be those who will continue to believe that the individual has a duty to protect the NHS by making every effort not to get sick/injured, etc. While hospital numbers remain high, those arguments will no doubt be persuasive for the majority. However, as hospital numbers fall, the general assessment of risk will change. It is harder to maintain a climate of fear without supportive death rates and as increasing numbers of people are vaccinated. At that stage the availability of protective masks could give the Government the opportunity to end mask mandates in favour of advising people to wear N95/N99s if they are concerned.

Stop Press: The Connexion reports that the WHO is maintaining its recommendation for fabric masks.

A Close Encounter With the Police

A Lockdown Sceptics reader has written to us describing a nightmarish afternoon dog walk.

I just need to offload.

I went two miles to a huge area of open space. Arrived at 3pm. Walked the dog and got back to the car at 4.30pm, darkness now creeping in and a howling gale. My 21 year-old was with me (student final year law degree… yep so much stress and upset). We were about to drive off when a police car drove up and a rather hot (okay unnecessary detail) bobby stopped us.

Now at this point I looked around at the car park. Four cars and maybe a few bedraggled dog walkers. Hmm… No way he’s here for Covid surveillance, I thought. Maybe it’s a drug selling hotspot? To cut a long story short, yes he was there to nab (engage and educate) Covid rule-breaking criminals. After a 15-minute chat I drove off uncomfortably, having given him no details about how far we had come or why. The local police had actually sent a patrol car out in the rain to a hill at dusk to ask people why they were there!

Admittedly, my husband is critically vulnerable according to the NHS. Was I taking unnecessary risks and endangering his life? We walk locally and rarely go in shops. I’m  antisocial. I don’t need shops but I do need open spaces!

I relayed this story to a close friend. Her reply was aggressive, judgemental and swift. I shouldn’t have driven and my actions put others at risk. She claimed I could have had an accident and caused yet more issues for the ambulance service. I was very much in the wrong. She is a partner at a large law firm. She’s now so far lost in the crazy mists of fear that her reasoning is, in my opinion, misguided and extreme. A lawyer! We’ve had many such conversations and I’ve patiently listened and respected her views. This was a line too far over-stepped.

I’m terrified for the evolution I see in society. It’s gnawing holes of fear and anger into my very being . I’m watching the shifting mood, peoples lives used like props in a high-budget Derren Brown special.

And so, don’t stop fighting. I’m a harassed and war torn ‘at home mum of three’ with no influence. I need you… and all the other questioning sceptics. I want educated reasoning rather than fear-focused propaganda.

Next Week’s Davos Guest List

Like so much else these days, next week’s DAVOS summit will take place on Zoom. Deutsche Welle has the story:

It’s that time of the year again when a sleepy Alpine town in Switzerland usually comes alive as the global elite descends on its snow-clad slopes to debate global challenges. This year, however, Davos has been left undisturbed with its eponymous annual jamboree moving online amid a still raging COVID-19 pandemic…

The more than 50-year-old annual event attended by global political and business leaders, celebrities and prominent social activists is taking place amid the worst economic crisis in living memory that has rendered millions jobless and deepened global inequalities.

An annual risks survey published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Tuesday warned that economic and social fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to “social unrest, political fragmentation and geopolitical tensions”.

We need an economic recovery that is “more resilient, more inclusive and more sustainable”, WEF founder Klaus Schwab told reporters…

The pandemic and the uneven responses to the crisis unleashed by it have stoked geopolitical tensions. Governments have chosen to put national interests ahead of others, unilaterally shutting down borders and hoarding food and medical supplies.

We need to restore trust in our world, Schwab said. “We have to substantially reinforce global cooperation again and engage all stakeholders into the solution of the problems we face, and here we have to engage particularly business.”       

Nowhere has this me-first approach been more apparent than on the vaccine front where rich nations have secured billions of doses – many times the size of their populations – while poor nations struggle for supplies. The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is also one of the speakers, cautioned that the world was on the brink of “catastrophic moral failure”.

The global scramble for vaccines, or vaccine nationalism, risks prolonging the pandemic and delaying the easing of global travel restrictions.

“COVID-19 anywhere is COVID-19 everywhere,” WEF President Borge Brende told reporters. “We all are in the same boat and we would have to collaborate to really make progress.”

It is interesting to note that the WEF has a date in mind for when it may be able to meet in person:

A virtual summit doesn’t mean that Davos regulars, many of them without official badges, would be robbed of their opportunity to hobnob and strike deals at glamorous receptions that take place on the side lines of the main event.

The WEF has said it would hold its marquee event in person in Singapore from May 13th-16th later this year.

Worth reading in full.

Sceptics Under Fire

It won’t have escaped readers’ attention that lockdown sceptics are coming under increasing fire from defenders of lockdown orthodoxy. Now, it seems, the most fanatical of these defenders – a group that includes Neil O’Brien MP – have created a website called “Antivirus: The COVID-19 FAQ“. As you’ll see if you click on the link, it attempts to rebut most of the sceptics’ arguments and singles out a group of sceptics for criticism, most of them contributors to this website.

We thought about producing a lengthy response, making all the obvious points: the fact that some sceptics’ predictions have turned out to be inaccurate doesn’t mean their main argument – that the costs of lockdowns outweigh the benefits – should be dismissed; the proponents of lockdowns have made equally inaccurate predictions (remember the “Graph of Doom”?); some of the stories we’ve flagged up that were initially dismissed as “conspiracy theories” have turned out to be quite plausible (e.g. that SARS-CoV-2 escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology); there’s a world of difference between being a ‘lockdown sceptic’ and a ‘Covid denier’; the WHO has confirmed that our reservations about the accuracy of the PCR test are well-founded; etc., etc.

However, we thought it might be more fun to invite readers to defend lockdown scepticism from the arguments set out on Neil O’Brien’s ‘myth-busting’ website instead. So please take a look at the website and let us know what you think. Put the word “Antivirus” in the subject line and we’ll publish some of the best responses over the next few days.

Stop Press: We’ve received a terrific response to Christopher Snowdon’s Jan 16th piece in Quillette that we’ll publish tomorrow.

Round-up

https://twitter.com/gbdeclaration/status/1353000419270795265

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Seven today: “Hard Times Of Old England” by Steeleye Span, “Who’s Zoomin’ Who” by Aretha Franklin, “Running Out Of Fools” by Aretha Franklin, “Never Get Out Of These Blues Alive” by John Lee Hooker and Van Morrison, “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’” by The Allman Brothers Band, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who and “Hard Times (Nobody Knows Better Than I” by Ray Charles

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 as well as post comments below the line, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Stop Press: In another disturbing development for our times, it would appear that the best hope of a right swipe on a dating app is getting vaccinated. TMZ reports that Tinder, Bumble and OkCupid have all seen a major uptick in profiles mentioning the words “vaccine” or “vaccinated’ in their bios, and indicating vaccination readiness as a screener for matches. The jury is still out on whether the vaccine reduces transmission.

Sharing Stories

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

Social Media Accounts

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

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, we bring you the author Jen Hatmaker, who has publicly apologised for the offensive opening line of the prayer she delivered at the inaugural interfaith prayer service held for President Joe Biden. The Christian Post has the story:

Christian author Jen Hatmaker, who on Thursday joined a progressive group of interfaith leaders for the National Prayer Service in honour of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, has apologized for the first line of a prayer she delivered at the event.

“Almighty God, You have given us this good land as our heritage,” Hatmaker began in the prayer that she said was written by organisers of the event in her apology posted on Facebook shortly after the event.

“I was proud to offer the final liturgical prayer which was written by the organizers to serve as an anchor. I have one regret and thus apology. The very first sentence thanked God for giving us this land as our heritage. He didn’t. He didn’t give us this land,” she said.

“We took this land by force and trauma. It wasn’t an innocent divine transaction in which God bestowed an empty continent to colonizers. This is a shiny version of our actual history. If God gave this land to anyone, it was to the Native community who always lived here,” Hatmaker continued.

She explained that as soon as she read the line from the prayer she began to regret it.

“I panicked and froze and then just kept going. I am so sorry, community. Primarily sorry to my Native friends. It matters to me that we reckon with our history of white supremacy and the lies we surrounded it with, and I am filled with regret that I offered yet another hazy, exceptional rendition of the origin story of colonization. Ugh,” she lamented. “I can’t go on without apologizing. My stomach hurt all day.”

Hatmaker, who is also a mother of five, said if she could change anything about the prayer she would have included a call for America to repent of things like the unjust systems the nation has built.

Hatmaker, who is also a mother of five, said if she could change anything about the prayer she would have included a call for America to repent of things like the unjust systems the nation has built.

“God, may we continue to be a people who reckon with our violent history, repent from the unjust systems we built, denounce white supremacy in all its forms past and present, and continue to work together to form a more perfect union,” she said

Stop Press: In a comment piece for the Times, Janice Turner says that the US is heading towards eradicating “the language of biological sex in order to appease an influential trans lobby”.

Stop Press 2: The Post Millennial has an exclusive interview with they/them, the editor of the Spectator USA’s new Wokeyleaks column who is seeking to expose the “CEOs and board members of the social justice movement”.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to obtain a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card – because wearing a mask causes them “severe distress”, for instance. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and the Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. And 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. Another reader has created an Android app which displays “I am exempt from wearing a face mask” on your phone. Only 99p.

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

And here’s an excellent piece about the ineffectiveness of masks by a Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry. See also the Swiss Doctor’s thorough review of the scientific evidence here and Prof Carl Heneghan and Dr Tom Jefferson’s Spectator article about the Danish mask study here.

Stop Press: We have been reminded that today, 24th January, is the deadline by which the Secretary of State for Health was bound to review the requirements of the mask rules. The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place) (England) Regulations 2020 were passed on 24th July 2020. Regulation 9 stipulates that: “The Secretary of State must review the need for the requirements imposed by these Regulations before the end of the period of six months beginning with the day on which they come into force.’” It is unclear what the review will have entailed, but if any reader can enlighten us, please do so. According to Regulation 10, the mask regulations expire “at the end of the period of 12 months beginning with the day on which they come into force.” Six months to go.

Stop Press 2: The Telegraph has an entertaining postcard from South Dakota, where the Republicans are shunning masks to the consternation of the Democrats.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya

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

You can find it here. Please sign it. Now over three quarters of a million signatures.

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

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

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

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

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

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

The Simon Dolan case has now reached the end of the road. The current lead case is the Robin Tilbrook case which challenges whether the Lockdown Regulations are constitutional. 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 and Runnymede Trust’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.

And last but not least there was the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. A High Court judge refused permission for the FSU’s judicial review on December 9th and the FSU has decided not to appeal the decision because Ofcom has conceded most of the points it was making. Check here for details.

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…

Latest News

How the Left Flunked the Lockdown Challenge

Lockdown Sceptics contributor and (as he puts it) working class revolutionary socialist Phil Shannon has a terrific piece in Left Lockdown Sceptics looking at how and why the Left failed so badly when Covid hit. Phil wrote for Lockdown Sceptics back in June on a similar theme and it’s great to have an update.

As a four-decade, veteran revolutionary working class socialist, it has dismayed me to see how the contemporary Left, whether in Government, in ‘Opposition’, in the trade unions, on the activist fringes or simply as liberal Guardian-reading, BBC-listening individuals, has almost uniformly become a noisy outpost of knee-trembling Covid Hysterics who have embraced, with disturbing relish, the mania for lockdown. The Left has become an auxiliary arm of the capitalist state and its distinguishing feature has been to spruik [publicly promote – Ed] for tougher, earlier and longer lockdowns. Through its love of a lockdown which devastates the working class, lays waste to civil liberties and disrespects science, the contemporary ‘Left’ well deserves to have quotation masks attached to it.

How the ‘Left’ has Flunked the Virus/Lockdown Challenge

Threat Inflation of the virus

The Left got off on the wrong foot by misrepresenting Covid as much more scary than what it actually is i.e. a bad-to-ordinary flu season. The Left has joined the lockdown establishment elite in inflating the risk posed by the SARS-CoV-2 virus by (1) lumping together deaths ‘with’ and deaths ‘from’ Covid; (2) conflating positive virus test results – including false positives – with actual clinical cases; (3) ignoring Covid’s fatal attraction almost solely for the already-ill elderly whilst being fairly innocuous to everyone else; (4) portraying the virus as a constant menace despite its cyclic behaviour as just another recurring, seasonal, warmth-shunning, mutating respiratory virus which naturally peters out during its summer recess; (5) deep-sixing the fear-quelling concept of naturally-acquired herd-immunity including pre-existing cross-immunity from other coronaviruses, both cornerstones of immunological and virological science; and (6) ignoring the fact that Covid was the plague that never was because it had been circulating globally, courtesy of the vast international Chinese tourist trade, since as early as September-October 2019, with nobody noticing anything statistically out of the ordinary in overall death rates prior to the March Madness triggered by panicky politicians in 2020.

Lockdown policy panic

From this failure of data and basic science, it has been a logical shimmy for the Left to join the policy panic by endorsing the disproportionate, and damaging, government response of economic lockdown. The Left does so under the time-honoured and politically-resonant banner of placing ‘lives before commerce’ but, in this instance, the sterling socialist catchphrase of ‘people before profit’ is mere rote dogma because it seeks to crack the nut of a mostly humdrum virus with the sledgehammer of deep economic contraction resulting in massive job losses and a decline in working class living standards, whilst recklessly embracing a giant Ponzi scheme of stellar government debt and deficit which will inevitably be paid for by austerity, increased taxes and lost opportunity costs which will fall most heavily, as they always do, on the current and future working class.

‘New Normal’ pseudoscience

Lockdown is the central dogma of ‘social distancing’ pseudoscience, a voodoo religion which comes with a host of ineffective, superstitious, magical-thinking, placebo-like, demonstratively ostentatious ‘New Normal’ rituals, all of which the Left has uncritically subscribed to – school closures, quarantining the healthy, smart-phone QR sign-in, Perspex checkout shields, masks, the 1.5 metre rule, test-test-test, track-and-trace, elbow-bumps and fist-pumps, the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder of hand sanitiser use, high-rotation North Korean style ‘public safety announcements’, Stand-Here/Don’t-Sit-There decals, ‘support bubbles’, Covid Marshals, Hallelujah vaccines, immunity-passports, limits on public gatherings, curfews, travel restrictions, border closures …. all of these pointless political and cultural theatrics predicated on a wildly exaggerated fear of a not terribly lethal virus. By also recycling vacuous slogans – ‘flatten the curve’, ‘do the right thing’, ‘save lives’, ‘slow the spread’, ‘stop the spread, ‘stay safe’ – the Covid-deranged Left has abrogated critical thinking for simplistic advertising copy.

Phil goes on to diagnose the “political pathologies afflicting the Left from lockdown” and explores the root causes.

Worth reading in full.

Lockdown Bills Begin to Arrive

In his budget yesterday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak brought the beginnings of realism to bear on the public finances after a year of make-believe economics, though there was still plenty of that. Kate Andrews has the details in the Spectator.

Last March’s £30bn spending splurge was just the start of hundreds of billions of pounds spent in the fight against COVID-19. Today Sunak pledged another £65bn: furlough and the Universal Credit uplift were both extended; incentive payments for businesses to take on apprentices were doubled; and ‘restart grants’ worth £5bn to help businesses get back on their feet were unveiled.

But this Budget wasn’t all giveaways. The Tory Chancellor announced a new, tiered system for corporation tax, which hikes the rate from 19% to 25% in 2023 for the most profitable businesses. He has also frozen personal income tax thresholds: dubbed a ‘stealth tax’, this will bump workers into higher tax brackets as wages rise while the thresholds don’t.

What does this mixed bag of policies mean for the UK’s economic recovery? The good news out of today’s Budget was an update from the Office for Budget Responsibility, which has moved forward its most recent forecast for GDP to return to pre-pandemic levels. This is now expected to happen in the middle of next year.

After contracting an astonishing 9.9% in 2020, growth is forecast to be 4% this year (reflecting a winter dominated by lockdown, and a summer in which restrictions are expected to be lifted), followed by a specular 7.3% boom in 2022.

The more problematic news, however, is that after 2022, growth rates are expected to fall back down to business as usual: hovering around a fine, but by no means impressive, 1.6% rate.  

As we continue to struggle through severe hits to the economy (another dip is predicted by the OBR this winter to account for the current lockdown), any positive growth figures might seem like good news. But if Sunak has plans to address the UK’s £2.8 trillion debt and sky-high deficits in the coming years without raising taxes further, it’s going to require a pro-growth agenda. 

Kate explains that the tax hikes are not to try to pay off the mountainous debt – a political aspiration that has receded into the far distance – but merely to tread water and service it.

The bills are finally falling due and it’s not pretty. The unemployment bomb has been deferred once again with the extension of the Universal Basic Income furlough scheme to the autumn. That’s a nettle no Government wants to grasp and it will be interesting to see what happens as we get closer to September.

Worth reading Kate’s piece in full.

The HCQ Saga

We’re publishing today an original piece by Rick Bradford, an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Bristol Department of Engineering, who asks if much of the world has failed to benefit from an effective, early-stage treatment for COVID-19, hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), because of misleading early trial results. He writes:

Hydroxychloroquine is not an exotic new drug with which doctors and medical authorities have little experience. On the contrary, it has been used widely for decades to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. It came to public attention as a potential treatment for COVID-19 early in 2020, not least because of President Trump’s espousal of it.

In the period March – July 2020, attention focused on the WHO-led multinational Solidarity Trial and the UK’s own Recovery Trial which addressed the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19.

The Chief Investigators of the Recovery project released a press statement on June 5th 2020 which stated simply, “no clinical benefit from use of hydroxychloroquine in hospitalised patients with COVID-19”.

On July 4th 2020 the Solidarity project discontinued the hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir trials. The interim trial results showed that hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir produced little or no reduction in the mortality of hospitalized COVID-19 patients when compared to standard of care. The Solidarity Trial found that all four treatments evaluated (remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon) had little or no effect on overall mortality, initiation of ventilation and duration of hospital stay in hospitalised patients.

The Recovery and Solidarity trials were exclusively carried out on seriously ill patients in hospital, rather than the early-stage patients for which there was existing evidence that hydroxychloroquine might be effective. A drug which acts against the pathogen is most relevant when the pathogen is multiplying. In the later stages of COVID-19, the illness becomes an immune-system-driven inflammatory condition, and by that time the original pathogen has already done its damage. Could it be that the negative results of the Recovery and Solidarity trials were due to their deployment to patients in an inappropriate phase of the disease? Certainly, Professor Didier Raoult from IHU-Marseille, and an early leading proponent of hydroxychloroquine, was not impressed with the Recovery trial, accusing it of being “the Marx Brothers doing science”.

In passing I note that a further multinational trial, REMAP-CAP, was also deployed only to seriously ill patients with severe pneumonia admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU). I have found no results from this study. On June 3rd 2020 it was suspended following the scare from a now infamous Lancet paper by Mehra et al which claimed the use of hydroxychloroquine increased death rates (the paper was retracted a few days later). I presume that trial was never restarted.

Another criticism of the Recovery and Solidarity trials which has been made is of the dosage regime, with the doses appearing to be substantially greater than standard practice when the drug is used against malaria, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis (see, for example, “Killing the cure: The strange war against hydroxychloroquine“).

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: A paper on another cheap drug that has shown early strong signs of effectiveness, ivermectin, was removed this week by the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology, despite being provisionally accepted, leading to questions of fair treatment. The Scientist has more details.

The paper’s removal has drawn anger from members of the FLCCC [Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance] and its followers. In comments on Twitter and in an interview with The Scientist, the organization’s president, Pierre Kory, describes the move as “censorship.” He adds in the interview that the paper had already successfully passed through multiple rounds of review. In reversing the paper’s acceptance, the journal is “allowing some sort of external peer reviewer to comment on our paper,” he says. “I find that very abnormal.”

Ivermectin is widely used in tropical medicine to treat parasitic infections, but its use as a COVID-19 drug has been controversial since the beginning of the pandemic, with major health organizations consistently stating that there is insufficient evidence for its efficacy in prevention or treatment of the disease.

The FLCCC’s paper (also posted on the organisation’s website) reviewed epidemiological and clinical evidence on ivermectin’s use in people infected with and exposed to SARS-CoV-2. In it, the authors argued that health agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) should update their recommendations to include the drug.

Frontiers takes no position on the efficacy of ivermectin as a treatment of patients with COVID-19, however, we do take a very firm stance against unbalanced or unsupported scientific conclusions.—Frederick Fenter, Frontiers

After being contacted by The Scientist, the journal posted a statement from Frontiers’s chief executive editor, Frederick Fenter, saying that “Frontiers takes no position on the efficacy of ivermectin as a treatment of patients with COVID-19, however, we do take a very firm stance against unbalanced or unsupported scientific conclusions.”

During review of the article in what the journal refers to as “the provisional acceptance phase,” Fenter says in the statement, members of Frontiers’s research integrity team identified “a series of strong, unsupported claims based on studies with insufficient statistical significance, and at times, without the use of control groups.”

The statement continues: “Further, the authors promoted their own specific ivermectin-based treatment which is inappropriate for a review article and against our editorial policies. In our view, this paper does not offer an objective nor balanced scientific contribution to the evaluation of ivermectin as a potential treatment for COVID-19.”

The statement provided no information about why these concerns had been raised and acted on now, rather than earlier in the publication process.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press 2: The British Ivermectin Recommendation Development (BIRD) panel has issued its recommendation on the use of ivermectin for COVID-19. It explains:

The antiparasitic medicine ivermectin, which is widely available in LMICs, has been tested in numerous clinical trials of prevention and treatment of COVID-19 with promising results. A large body of evidence on ivermectin use in COVID-19 had thus accumulated, which required urgent review by health professionals and other stakeholders to determine whether it could inform clinical practice in the UK and elsewhere. More specifically, answers were needed to the following priority questions: (i) For people with COVID-19 infection, does ivermectin compared with placebo or no ivermectin improve health outcomes?, and (ii) for people at higher risk of COVID-19 infection, does ivermectin compared with placebo or no ivermectin improve health outcomes?

On February 20th 2021, the British Ivermectin Recommendation Development (BIRD) meeting was convened in Bath, United Kingdom, to evaluate the evidence on ivermectin use for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Evidence to address the priority questions was evaluated by a panel of clinical experts and other stakeholders in the form of a DECIDE evidence-to-decision framework, the gold standard tool for developing clinical practice guidelines.

Find it here.

A School That’s Following Government Guidance

This is not Government guidance

A Lockdown Sceptics reader has got in touch to tell us that, in line with Government guidance, his son’s school is not insisting on tests and masks, and has responded well to his emails querying their initial statements.

I just wanted to write, following the Daily Telegraph reporting that schools are banning pupils who do not have the tests, that my son’s school is not like that. I wrote an email to the school last week highlighting all the points (see below). The headmaster wrote to all parents on Tuesday confirming this and their position on masks.

In line with Government direction, I would also wish to highlight that, whilst testing is strongly encouraged, it remains voluntary and, in those instances where parents do not wish their children to be tested (or, indeed, where the students are of an age (16 or above) when they can decide themselves not to be tested) they are still able to return to School as normal. In a similar fashion, the Government direction we are following as a School is that the wearing of masks inside buildings (for example, in classrooms and communal spaces) is recommended but not compulsory. As we gain a greater understanding of how many pupils choose not to wear a mask, we may adapt our systems to enable greater social distancing or to further reduce risk in other ways”. 

I have been writing to them quite a lot and got my son excused from wearing a mask last term, highlighting that a GP letter was not required and pointing them towards the Government website. Their position seems to become more relaxed following my emails (for example, “must have completed their first test” became “should have been offered Test 1 before they return”). Maybe my emails have opened their eyes a little. I hope so.

Here is my original email.

Dear Mr XXXXX,

Good morning. I am writing in relation to the testing programme as part of the return of pupils to face to face tuition. I want to understand what the school’s position is in relation to being tested or not and the reasons behind those rules, bearing in mind the legality of any such decision.

You state in your letter dated February 25th 2021 that, “before students start face to face teaching, they must have completed their first test (Test 1)”. This is not the Government’s position. You later state that, “testing of course remains completely voluntary, although strongly encouraged.” It hasn’t been made clear what will happen if pupils do not have the tests, but I should point out what it says on the relevant government website here.

It says, “From March 8th, all children and students should return to school and college. All primary pupils should attend school from this date. All secondary pupils and college students will be offered testing from March 8th, and those who consent to testing should return to face-to-face education following their first negative test result. If you or your child (if they are aged over 18) do not consent, they will not be stopped from going back and will return in line with their school or college’s arrangements.” (emphasis added)

It is therefore perfectly clear that the tests are voluntary and children are not to be excluded if they do not have the tests. All it is saying is that if you do have the tests, you need to have a negative result before returning. This is the Government’s position and the legal position. What are the arrangements at the school for those who do not have the tests, bearing in mind what I have brought to your attention, i.e., you cannot exclude those who do not have the tests?

I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely

Stop Press: The Guardian asks: “Should primary schoolchildren be made to wear masks?” Communist Party and SAGE member Susan Michie says the benefits are that whatever small degree of transmission is occurring in these age groups could be limited, and it could help normalise the practice, meaning young children wearing masks may make their families more likely to accept masks. And that’s where the debate is in the Guardian.

May be an image of text that says "LAWYERS for LIBERTY"

Jo Rogers from Lawyers for Liberty is offering a useful service on Facebook for the parents of children who don’t wear masks or consent to tests.

If you don’t want conflict with the school, but want your concerns noted, click this button to provide your details.

The email below will then be sent anonymously within 48 hours from Lawyers for Liberty.

The email will not reference your child or you.

Here is the email.

Find it on Facebook here.

Poetry Corner

A Complex Post-traumatic in Covid Times

When I walk into the shop
All you see is a selfish being
Not wearing a mask as provision
But my trauma is not for your seeing

The mask represents oppression
Not only in my life, but historically
Despite now loose from their clutches
I still do not feel free

My trauma is not palatable
To the staunch covid followers
Though they do not know the abuse
Inflicted on me as child by monsters

They say, “I’m doing it to save lives”
But when I’m triggered I die daily
The manipulation ever rife
Gas lighting is not a maybe

Being under house arrest is the same
As when I was locked in my room at 3
Banging on the door with my cries
Till I was let out temporarily.

Being forced fed my food
Like the propaganda machine and their lies
If you really were humane
Why not look into my eyes

Tell me my pain doesnt matter
Or that of my fellow spirits
We are just humans coping best we can
But being pushed to our outer limits

I had too much forced upon me
So forgive me for declining the coercion
I will not be poisoned by their prick
So go ahead, cast your aspersion

Rising From the Ashes

Four readers today have written to tell us about their new business ventures since lockdown disrupted their previous employment.

Herts Pasta:

My husband is a chef who lost his job as a result of the Government restrictions (not as a result of Covid). He has now set up a business in Hertfordshire making and delivering fresh pasta meal kits www.hertspasta.com

Simpkin & Roses:

Simpkin & Roses was a successful catering and events business, owned and run by me and my wife, and our sole source of income. We had a good reputation and were really beginning to see the rewards from 10 years of work, during which we also got married and had two children.

This all came to an abrupt end a little under a year ago when our business effectively became illegal. Due to various technicalities we have only qualified for around £6k of grants. I won’t get started on this as it’s counterproductive!

We have just launched a nationwide delivery service of really delicious frozen ready meals, all made by hand in small batches. All packaging is recyclable and compostable. We will have children’s meals available very soon but at the moment we have a selection of meals and soups, all double portions. We launched on Monday at long last, having taken until July to really come to terms with the fact that the “three weeks” was the long haul. We had our third child in November which was another complication but finally we have done it and are very excited about the future!

Anyway the website is www.simpkinandroses.com and we would love to serve any like-minded sceptics. We are running a promotion at the moment and if you use the coupon WELCOME21 at the checkout you will get 15% off.

Alison Cotton:

I have been running my own bookkeeping business in the Salisbury area for 13 years but, with many of my clients forced by this wretched lockdown into closure or vastly reduced operations, I am now earning less than half of my income a year ago.

I’m simply not ready to throw in the towel so if any businesses or individuals out there would like some assistance with their bookkeeping or general office admin I’d be delighted to help – and would offer my services free of charge initially if someone is really struggling. I’d hate to see the entrepreneurial spirit crushed in small businesses who have quite enough to deal with in complying with the outrageous barriers put in their way by this government.

Please email me here.

Huckleberry:

Since losing my position at the start of Lockdown 1, I then spent much time sitting around waiting for it all to get back to normal, however as we all know things didn’t. My wife then lost her job in October and we then decided to start a new venture. I have been in the kitchen and bespoke furniture industry before, but www.huckleberryhome.co.uk started up around the kitchen table in November and I am pleased to report is now firing on all cylinders after a three month start time. It’s been a lot of hard work, has literally been done for nothing as we are still both on Universal Credit but I am delighted that it is working and hope you can share the good news.

If you have a story to share then email us here and we’ll see if we can give your new venture a boost.

COVID-1984

A few more Party slogans from readers:

CRUELTY IS COMPASSION
INFORMED CONSENT IS CONFORMED CONSENT
PROTECT THE NHS – DIE AT HOME

WE ARE NO LONGER AT WAR WITH THE SOUTH AFRICAN VARIANT; WE ARE NOW AT WAR WITH THE BRAZILIAN VARIANT. WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN AT WAR WITH THE BRAZILIAN VARIANT

Round-up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Five today: “The Fear” by Travis, “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, “My City Was Gone” by Pretenders,  “Line Up” by Elastica and “Where’s the Freedom” by Subhumans.

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 as well as post comments below the line, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email Lockdown Sceptics here.

Sharing Stories

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

Social Media Accounts

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

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, it’s racist babies. Christopher Rufo tweets that “the Arizona Department of Education has created an ‘equity’ toolkit claiming that babies show the first signs of racism at three months old and that white children ‘remain strongly biased in favour of whiteness’ by age five”. Spiked has the details.

Have you ever wondered if your baby is racist? You should, according to the Arizona Department of Education.

Journalist Christopher Rufo’s investigations have revealed how far critical race theory has spread in America’s institutions – including, most alarmingly, in schools.

His latest discovery is that the Arizona Department of Education has released a new “equity” toolkit intended to help families and teachers tackle racism among children. It advises that even babies as young as three months old can show racial prejudice. The evidence? They “look more at faces which match the race of their caregivers”.

According to the toolkit, by the age of two and a half kids use race to determine who their playmates should be. “Expressions of racial prejudice often peak at ages four and five”, it says. “By kindergarten, children show many of the same racial attitudes that adults in our culture hold – they have already learned to associate some groups with higher status than others.”

So what should we do about this? The toolkit says that children must be made aware that “the reality in which they are embedded ascribes unearned privileges to their whiteness”.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: With The Muppet Show now available on Disney+, the company has slapped a woke warning on it: “This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of peoples or cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together.”

Paul du Quenoy in the Critic can see why.

White and class privilege also rear their ugly heads throughout the series. The otherwise innocuous-looking Scooter, a bespectacled novice who seems so nice and inoffensive in his casually preppy mien, sure does know how to get his way in the theatre in which the show is set. All he has to do is issue implicit threats at Kermit the Frog, who manages the acts, by mentioning his unseen uncle, who owns the theatre and will presumably wield all the inequitable power of finance capital if Scooter’s whims and dictates are ignored. The hateful structures of power in the Muppet universe are all too obvious, even if their fetters are invisible.

And who could ignore Statler and Waldorf, the greatest villains of them all, a pair of old white males in black tie who survey the action from the elevated comfort of their exclusive box? Named for prominent hotels that are perhaps the source of their wealth, their main function is to cast down sarcastic comments upon the poor defenceless performers while they also, to add insult to injury, mock each other for their various disabilities. At the very least, we should have a separate warning to guard us against the ugly and retrograde notion, so blatantly reinforced by The Muppet Show, that the arts only exist for the amusement and approval of rich white men.

Worth reading in full.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to obtain a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card – because wearing a mask causes them “severe distress”, for instance. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and the Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. And 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.

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption. Another reader has created an Android app which displays “I am exempt from wearing a face mask” on your phone. Only 99p.

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

And here’s an excellent piece about the ineffectiveness of masks by a Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry. See also the Swiss Doctor’s thorough review of the scientific evidence here and Prof Carl Heneghan and Dr Tom Jefferson’s Spectator article about the Danish mask study here.

Stop Press: Joggers have been told by scientists they should wear face masks when running outside near others. The Derbyshire Times has more.

Experts have warned there can be a “danger” for pedestrians when a “puffing, panting” jogger passes by them, but stressed it is safe for people to “run freely” when in wide open spaces.

The warning comes amid fears that pedestrians could inhale the air from passing joggers, putting them at possible risk of catching Covid-19.

Trish Greenhalgh, professor in primary care health sciences at the University of Oxford, told Good Morning Britain: “There is no doubt the virus is in the air, there is no doubt that you can catch it if you inhale, and that someone else has exhaled.

“The exercising jogger – the puffing and panting jogger – you can feel their breath come and you can sometimes actually feel yourself inhale it, so there’s no doubt that there is a danger there.

“40% of Covid cases happen by catching it from people who have no symptoms.

“So you’re jogging along, you think you’re fine, and then the next day you develop symptoms of Covid, but you’ve actually breathed that Covid onto someone perhaps you know, an old lady walking a dog, or something like that.”

“40% of Covid cases happen by catching it from people who have no symptoms” that’s even higher than the Government’s mantra of one in three. In fact the studies show asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission accounts for only around 0.7% of transmission, not 40%.

Stop Press 2: A new study by D. G. Rancourt reviewing the harms of mask-wearing has been published on ResearchGate. Find it here.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya

The Great Barrington Declaration, a petition started by Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya calling for a strategy of “Focused Protection” (protect the elderly and the vulnerable and let everyone else get on with life), was launched in October and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it ever since. If you googled it a week after launch, the top hits were three smear pieces from the Guardian, including: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now tops the search results – and Toby’s Spectator piece about the attempt to suppress it is among the top hits – although discussion of it has been censored by Reddit. In February, Facebook deleted the GBD’s page because it “goes against our community standards”. 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 three quarters of a million signatures.

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

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

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

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

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

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

The Simon Dolan case has now reached the end of the road. The current lead case is the Robin Tilbrook case which challenges whether the Lockdown Regulations are constitutional, although that case, too, has been refused permission to proceed. There’s still one more thing that can be tried. You can read about that and contribute here.

The GoodLawProject and three MPs – Debbie Abrahams, Caroline Lucas and Layla Moran – brought a Judicial Review against Matt Hancock for failing to publish details of lucrative contracts awarded by his department and it was upheld. The Court ruled Hancock had acted unlawfully.

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

There’s the GoodLawProject and Runnymede Trust’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.

Scottish Church leaders from a range of Christian denominations have launched legal action, supported by the Christian Legal Centre against the Scottish Government’s attempt to close churches in Scotland  for the first time since the the Stuart kings in the 17th century. The church leaders emphasised it is a disproportionate step, and one which has serious implications for freedom of religion.”  Further information available here.

There’s the class action lawsuit being brought by Dr Reiner Fuellmich and his team in various countries against “the manufacturers and sellers of the defective product, PCR tests”. Dr Fuellmich explains the lawsuit in this video. Dr Fuellmich has also served cease and desist papers on Professor Christian Drosten, co-author of the Corman-Drosten paper which was the first and WHO-recommended PCR protocol for detection of SARS-CoV-2. That paper, which was pivotal to the roll out of mass PCR testing, was submitted to the journal Eurosurveillance on January 21st and accepted following peer review on January 22nd. The paper has been critically reviewed here by Pieter Borger and colleagues, who also submitted a retraction request, which was rejected in February.

And last but not least there was the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. A High Court judge refused permission for the FSU’s judicial review on December 9th and the FSU has decided not to appeal the decision because Ofcom has conceded most of the points it was making. Check here for details.

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…

Blower’s cartoon in yesterday’s Telegraph

Latest News

Lockdown 3.0

Bob’s cartoon in the Telegraph on November 1st

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

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

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

For church services

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

For hospitality

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

For sport  

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

For non-essential retail

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

For socialising

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

Worth reading in full.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lockdowns and Government Restrictions Make no Difference to Mortality Outcomes.

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

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

First the Context

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

The Methods

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

The Studied Countries

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

And the Conclusion (our emphasis)

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

Worth reading in full.

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

Barry Norris Unimpressed by AstraZeneca Announcement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* The duration of the efficacy is questionable.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr Roger Hodkinson Was a Lockdown Sceptic Back in April

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vaccination Before Travel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worth reading in full.

https://twitter.com/ACurrentAffair9/status/1330788260856131584

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

They’ve Deprived Us of Our Freedom

A rave on Primrose Hill two weeks ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Brown

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

More on Protest Pots and Pans

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

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

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

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

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

The article is available here.

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

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

And from another, suggesting an alternative target:

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

Lockdown: The Right Side of History

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJc2Ybe7F3E

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

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

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

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

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

Round-Up

https://twitter.com/bobscartoons/status/1330562373917274113?s=21

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

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

Love in the Time of Covid

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

Sharing Stories

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

Social Media Accounts

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

Woke Gobbledegook

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Venus and Adonis, 526 – 31

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya

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

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

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

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

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

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

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Samaritans

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

Quotation Corner

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

Mark Twain

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

Charles Mackay

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

Benjamin Franklin

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

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

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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

Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury

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

Sir Winston Churchill

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

Richard Feynman

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

C.S. Lewis

The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants.

Albert Camus

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

Carl Sagan

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

George Orwell

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

Marcus Aurelius

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

William Pitt the Younger

Shameless Begging Bit

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

And Finally…

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

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

PHE’s Latest Vaccine Study Suggests Hospitalisation Risk INCREASES After the Second Dose

It’s not two weeks since Lockdown Sceptics was casting doubt on Public Health England’s alarming claim that the Delta (Indian) variant had more than double the risk of hospitalisation of the Alpha (British) variant. How long will they take to backtrack after the panic has done its damage, we asked?

Well, it turns out that even before Boris took to the podium on Monday PHE had already released a new study claiming that vaccines after all are more effective at preventing hospitalisation against the Delta variant than the Alpha variant. Here’s the story in the Telegraph:

Vaccines are more effective at preventing hospitalisation against the Indian/delta variant than they were against previous types, once people are double-jabbed, new data shows.

Real world data shows the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is 94% effective against hospital admission from the variant after one dose, rising to 96% after two jabs.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was found to be 71% effective against hospital admission after one dose, rising to 92% after two jabs.

In both cases, two doses had a greater impact preventing hospitalisations than was the case with the Kent variant. 

The new study and the earlier study aren’t quite showing the same thing. The earlier study showed the risk of hospitalisation with the Delta versus Alpha variant for all those testing positive, not just the vaccinated, though subsequently adjusted the results for “vaccination status”. The new study specifically looks at the hospitalisation risk in those vaccinated with respect to the Alpha and Delta variants and compares them. However, the two studies should come to broadly the same conclusion, as they are both looking at how much more serious disease is with the Delta variant. At any rate, given that a large proportion of the vulnerable population is now fully vaccinated, we certainly shouldn’t see a doubling in the hospitalisation rate with the Delta variant if, as is claimed in the new study, the vaccines are better at preventing serious disease from that variant.

Ross Clark suggests the problem with the earlier data was that the sample size was small and biased. As he notes, PHE’s modelling misses the most obvious data point, that the rate of hospitalisations per case has not increased as the Indian variant has become dominant (see graph below). How then can the Indian variant have twice the risk of hospitalisation?

Is the new study any more reliable than the earlier one? As usual with a PHE observational study, it’s hard to tell, as much of the method is hidden behind opaque statistical techniques with working that is not set out. All the reader knows is that raw data is taken and transformed by some statistical process into hazard ratios and vaccine effectiveness estimates that are all but impossibly to verify. What we can do, though, is look at the results of this largely concealed data-processing and see if it makes sense.

Below is the table from the study (there’s only one, it’s a very short paper), and it shows something very curious.

Covid Madness

by Manfred Horst

Ophelia (1851) by John Everett Millais.

Though this be madness, yet there is method in ’t.

Shakespeare, Hamlet II,2

Perhaps we should consider it a privilege to live one of the absurdest and grotesquest episodes of recent world history.

Perhaps we should consider it a privilege to witness how easily scientific and democratic control mechanisms can be overwhelmed by a global panic disorder.

Perhaps we should consider it a privilege to be merely publicly and socially ostracised if we dare utter a dissenting opinion to the uniform mainstream madness and hysteria.

Perhaps we should consider it a privilege to only be fined or imprisoned (not eliminated) if we dare disobey ridiculous and inhuman governmental orders.

Certainly, in the developed West, we must also consider it a privilege to still be living quite well.

Any one of the hundreds of subtypes of common cold/bronchitis viruses which assail our immune systems every year would produce the same clinical and epidemiological features as SARS-CoV-2 – if we decide to test and look for it:

  1. Non-specific symptoms – fever, cough, headaches, muscle aching, diarrhea etc.
  2. If we look very closely, perhaps we’ll find something a little more exotic (but still not truly specific), e.g. anosmia and ageusia
  3. A generally benign and transitory illness
  4. In some rare cases, longer-lasting sequelae
  5. Possible severe complications in elderly, frail and particularly susceptible patients
  6. A mortality at an average age which corresponds to the average age of death of the general population

All this was known before the end of February 2020. Chinese scientists had diligently published the data,1 although their authoritarian government had reacted completely disproportionately, as most other governments would in its wake.
At the very latest, the presentation of the first Italian cohort of 2,003 “Corona deaths” on 12th March2 allowed only one rational conclusion: SARS-CoV-2 is not a killer virus.
The average age at which these deaths had occurred was 80.3 years, 75% were male – almost exactly the average age of death in the general Italian population. They had all – with two possible exceptions – been suffering from at least one serious co-morbidity which could also explain or contribute to the fatal outcome.

There were two further rational conclusions which should have been drawn from the fact – by now confirmed around the world – that people who die of – or “with” – COVID-19 leave the world at the same average age as everybody else:

  1. Although the epidemic may “squeeze” the deaths which would have occurred over a given year into a shorter timespan, COVID-19 cannot increase population mortality in the long run.
  2. Government measures in order “to save lives” from COVID-19 are bound to fail, as they would need to increase the current average life expectancy in a matter of weeks or months – an impossible undertaking.

The world’s response to SARS-CoV-2 has been anything but rational, however. A population driven into hysterical fear by the mass media demanded of its elected representatives or its authoritarian rulers to be protected from this particular common cold virus, and the politicians have obligingly imposed draconian measures. This has been, and still is, a terrible panic pandemic.

Emotional pictures of coffins, of patients on ventilators and shuffled into trains or on planes, absolute numbers of cases and deaths – these have been the mass media’s main daily offerings during the past few months. People, often very intelligent people, have been frightened to death, totally unable to look at the sober numbers and facts and put them into perspective.

Every day, more than 150,000 people die on this earth,3 half of them from cardiovascular disease and cancer. Most of us don’t keep daily count of all those deaths – it would be difficult to carry on with our normal lives otherwise.

Tuberculosis kills more people every year4 than will have been – rightly or wrongly – attributed to COVID-19 in 2020. Tuberculosis kills children, adolescents and young adults too – i.e. it does reduce life expectancy. COVID-19 does not.

For it is blatantly absurd to calculate “years of life lost” in the case of Corona-deaths: while it is true that a living octagenarian has a few years of statistical life expectancy left, a dead one has none. In the current Covid hysteria, this sort of nonsense does get published however5 – well, why not apply the method to just any cohort, or to the whole population? We will all have to forego some statistical life expectancy when we leave this world.

Of course, physicians and healthcare workers need to try their best and save every individual life. Of course, an infection with SARS-CoV-2 can cause serious and life-threatening complications in some individuals – but so can virtually any one of those ever-mutating respiratory tract viruses.6 This one is having a spectacular career only because the whole world has been following it with a specific PCR-test and has been putting it into the glaring public limelight. Most healthcare workers have been frightened too. How should they not be, when they are told that this is a totally new and terrible killer virus, that they need to isolate and register every suspected Covid case, that they have to wear protective gear and face masks when approaching these patients, when all they hear and see in the media is cases, deaths, coffins and mass graves? Historical examples of physicians and nurses sent into unfounded panic do exist7 – for the first time, we have now seen this happen on a global scale, as healthcare systems everywhere have become terribly tilted and corrupted towards fighting this one and only disease.

A (perhaps) hitherto unknown virus, originating from China where the authoritarian government – for whatever reason – imposes a temporary local quarantine, the rapidly available possibility of testing (though with a completely unvalidated procedure) and thus the illusion of being able to follow the virus’s spread around the world, a daily recording of cases and deaths in a manner reminiscent of a football league table,8 and of course virtually all the media riding on the hysteria with emotional pictures and stories – these were the main ingredients which made people panic and governments stumble into horribly disproportionate measures. A planned and orchestrated propaganda, bent on destroying freedom and democracy, could hardly have been any more effective.

None of the governments which imposed societal lockdowns and deprived their populations of most of their fundamental liberties seems to have done so on the basis of any kind of benefit/risk analysis. They all followed the advice of some very peculiar “experts” – mostly virologists and epidemiological model builders. They all seem to fear that they could be held to account for an exponential number of deaths resulting from this “new” disease. They all seem to however completely disregard the enormous damage which their measures are inflicting on their citizens, their societies and the world at large. None of them listened to – let alone stimulated – contrarian opinions from other experts, who often had to accept an appearance in alternative media outlets in order to make their views known. Hopefully, the cautionary tale of the current hysteria will serve as a lesson for the future. Science is not monolithic dogma, but continuous hypothesis testing and falsification. Supposedly scientific models predicting the future can be as awfully wrong as any oracle or prophecy.

Every political measure destined to “save lives” has a cost – in terms of both money and human lives.9 Given the age characteristics of people dying with COVID-19, there was, from the start, not much – if any – life which could be saved. The “war”  declared by our heads of state against this virus has been, and still is, an entirely futile fight against normal population mortality: We all die, and on average we die at our average age of death. It did not matter which measures governments took, the epidemic (like every common cold epidemic) ran its self-limiting course anyhow.10 Had we accepted the appearance of this mutated Coronavirus as we have so far accepted all the other newly mutated respiratory viruses every year, without testing for them, we could have carried on with our lives as before, and we would not have seen any unusual upswing in population mortality.

For the excess mortality which could be observed in some countries and areas during the months of March and April started generally exactly on the day on which governments imposed draconian measures against their peoples.11 Everywhere, the younger population was struck by increased mortality too – but hardly anybody in the 15-64 years age groups dies with COVID-19. Therefore, it has to be assumed that this tragic excess mortality is due to panic and lockdown.12

From www.euromomo.com: The excess mortality seen in these age groups starts with lockdowns and cannot be due to COVID-19

Every economist (and every politician?) worth his or her salt knows that economic growth, trade and prosperity are essential factors for a reduction in population mortality.13 In 2020, the world economy has been drastically diminished by government intervention. The consequences for Africa, for India, for all those areas of the globe which had just begun to escape regularly recurring mass famines are dreadful.14 Our political leaders will need to carry their heavy guilt, and there will hopefully be a day of reckoning.

Where are we going from here, where are our governments leading us? In Europe, the epidemic, if it ever was one, has run its course – independently of which measures were or were not taken by governments:

From https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/sweden/

However, the climate of fear and panic continues to be entertained – with numbers of “infected cases” – in reality (falsely?) positive tests, in people who are generally without any or with only very mild symptoms. Given that these tests are being expanded exponentially,15 and the distinction between an incidental positive PCR-test for SARS-CoV-2 and hospitalisation and/or death due to the illness COVID-19 is not being made,16 we have to expect that those numbers will increase too however. We can thus continue this ludicrous circus forever, we can also repeat it every year – we just need to develop a specific test for a newly mutated respiratory tract virus.

In the meantime, we are still restricted in our fundamental liberties, our economy is still strangled and becomes more state-controlled by the day, we still cannot gather freely in congresses, football stadiums and demonstrations, we still cannot travel normally, we still inhumanely isolate our old and fragile citizens, and – perhaps worst of all – we still impose social and psychological child abuse on our educational institutions.17 What is currently happening in the United Kingdom, in Australia, in some states of the USA – all those supposed beacons of human liberty – simply beggars belief.18

No wonder that the overt absurdity of it all (overt to anybody who cares to analyse the bare numbers) induces some people to look for an explanation beyond mere human hysteria and stupidity. Future history books will undoubtedly present the mask-wearing politicians of today as ridiculous clowns or as callous criminals – or both.

Thank goodness, more and more people around the world are waking up and beginning to challenge the Covid religion. Whether there be a method and plan to it or not – we must end this madness. Nothing less than human civilization and progress may be at stake.

Manfred Horst, MD, PhD, MBA is a Senior Consultant to pharma and biotech companies.

References

1 N. Chen et al.; Lancet (2020), 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30211-7

2 https://www.today.it/video/coronavirus-brusaferro-iss-eta-media-dei-deceduti-e-80-3-bfdpm.askanews.html

3 https://www.visualcapitalist.com/how-many-people-die-each-day

4 Tuberculosis

5 For example: https://wellcomeopenresearch.org/articles/5-75

6 https://theconversation.com/can-you-die-from-a-common-cold-126241

7 For example, the hysteria around a false alarm of a pertussis epidemic in two American hospitals

8 https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

9 See, for example : Thomas Sowell, Basic Economics, 5th edition, p ; 586ff. : Saving lives

10 For an analysis and discussion of the uselessness of all non-pharmaceutical intervention by governments, see for example  a recent study by the US National Bureau of Economic Research : https://www.nber.org/papers/w27719.pdf

11 https://medium.com/@JohnPospichal/questions-for-lockdown-apologists-32a9bbf2e247

12 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/341832637_All-cause_mortality_during_COVID-19_No_plague_and_a_likely_signature_of_mass_homicide_by_government_response

13 See, for example : Anna, Hans and Ola Rosling : Factfulness, or again : Thomas Sowell, Basic Economics, 5th edition, p ; 586ff. : Saving lives

14 https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/hunger-could-be-more-deadly-than-coronavirus-in-poorer-countries/2020/05/14/32fd3f9a-8bd3-11ea-80df-d24b35a568ae_story.html

15 https://www.gov.uk/guidance/help-the-government-increase-coronavirus-covid-19-testing-capacity

16 https://www.bbc.com/news/health-53722711

17 http://www.oecd.org/coronavirus/policy-responses/combatting-covid-19-s-effect-on-children-2e1f3b2f/

18 https://www.aier.org/article/madness-in-melbourne/

Latest News

Vaccine Rollout Continues Apace

The Queen and Prince Phillip have received their first doses of the vaccine

The Telegraph reported yesterday that momentum is gathering behind the rollout of the vaccine.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccine roll out is being ramped up across the UK, after Boris Johnson promised vaccines would soon be available to people within 10 miles of their home.

The Prime Minister confirmed that as of January 7th, with the Pfizer and Oxford jabs combined, 1.26 million people in England and over 1.5 million across the UK have been vaccinated.

The latest figures show an increase of 200,000 vaccinations in one day, and includes more than 650,000 people over 80, which is 23% of all the over-80s in England.

As he announced the national lockdown that began on January 5th, the Prime Minister insisted that that there is “one huge difference” compared to the lockdown of last March.

“We are rolling out the biggest vaccination programme in our history,” he said. “We have vaccinated more people in the UK than in the rest of Europe combined. 

“By the middle of February if things go well, and with a wind in our sails, we expect to have offered the first vaccine dose to everyone in the four top priority groups identified by the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation.”

595 GP-led sites are already providing vaccines, which should increase to 1,000 by the end of next week according to Mr Johnson. There are also 107 hospital sites with a “further 100 later this week”, he added.

Also contributing to this “unprecedented national effort” will be the armed forces, who are set to be drafted in to help run mass vaccination centres in sports stadiums and public venues. 

It is a good thing that those in the priority groups who want it are getting the vaccine, including the Queen and Prince Phillip, not least as this is a form of focused protection as recommended by the authors of the Great Barrington declaration. In the Wall Street Journal last month they wrote:

Given these facts, the Great Barrington Declaration calls for focused protection for the vulnerable. That means directing limited resources, now including vaccines, to shield these people from infection.

Vaccinating vulnerable groups as quickly as possible isn’t just about protecting them – it’s also about protecting the NHS. Writing in the Telegraph yesterday, Juliet Samuel pointed out that the key to lifting restrictions lies with easing the strain on hospitals.

Thankfully, there is a windfall headed our way, in the form of the Covid vaccines. In seven weeks, if all goes to plan, the vast majority of the demographics most likely to die of this disease will be largely immune. That should be more than enough to end the lockdown.

The Government is keen to attach long lists of conditionals to this promise, however. Asked about it, Boris would only say that in the spring, “very much I hope there will be the chance, to look at some relaxations of restrictions”.

The factor to watch is not actually the rollout of the vaccine programme, but the hospitalisation rate and the performance of the NHS. The race is not between death and vaccinations, but between vaccinations and beds.

Organised societies have always had to make trade-offs about the value of human life. What’s so odd about the British approach, however, is that we have replaced the sanctity of human life with the sanctity of the health system. If the NHS had double the capacity, the policy would no doubt be to tolerate twice the death rate. This tells us something about the perceived role of Government. It isn’t there to save lives, as such, but to look like it might be able to save lives. “Our NHS” is an emotional rallying cry not because it is a brilliantly effective system (God knows it’s not) or even because many of its staff work very hard, but because it is a structure we rely upon to hide our vulnerability. It is about the ideal, rather than the grim reality.

The problem with an ideal is that it easily eludes a cost-benefit analysis. Against it, you must raise other ideals: universal education, for example, or freedom. Covid policy tells us that none of these ideals currently have the same power as the promise of a hospital bed staffed by a caring nurse. If the reality falls, the Government gets the blame.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Writing in the Sunday Times, Robert Collville calls for the NHS to be rebuilt to withstand the next crisis.

Stop Press 2: A retired GP has got in touch to point out how difficult it is to volunteer as a vaccinator.

My wife and I and another retired GP here in north east Scotland wanted to volunteer as unpaid vaccinators. As general practices here are not involved in the vaccination programme, the only way to get involved is for us to apply for jobs as grade 5 nurses working for NHS Grampian on a short term contract. We have done so, but interviews are not until after January 17th. Then will come training, so you can see where this is going. Why on Earth did they not have this vaccination workforce ready for the beginning of January?

Panicking the Public? How Covid Stories Don’t Add Up

Christine Padgham has an written an interesting piece for Think Scotland looking into the problems the pandemic response is creating, both now and in the future.

On Friday, Nicola Sturgeon addressed the nation yet again and openly considered the possibility of tightening current Covid restrictions further. Where is Scotland now? How did we get here? Where are we going?

Let me lay my cards on the table: I’m a lockdown sceptic. But like any good scientist/sceptic, I am constantly re-evaluating my position. Every day I ask myself repeatedly: am I wrong?

I’d love to be wrong.

So yesterday, in an act of unusually brave self-flagellation, I listened to BBC News. I was dutifully informed that hospitals are about to collapse in South East England. I am quite familiar with the English hospital data and so I am aware that there are hospitals struggling there, and this is clearly worrying. It makes me wonder if I’m wrong about the situation in Scotland, but then again the statistics were released as usual at 2.00pm. My fear was once again fed that we in Scotland will never get out of this positive feedback loop we are in: our obsessive fear and testing of Covid is creating more of a problem than the disease itself.

The problems we are storing up are: medical, societal, personal, economic, democratic. The present and future damages just go on and on.

Our First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, thinks that Covid impact is reduced by limiting social contact. This has become her whole Covid mitigation strategy, along with many other leaders around the world. She has created this idea, which has stuck, that humans generally, and Government specifically, can manage the spread of a virus. She has sold this idea relentlessly, with the help of the media, who have provided her with endless propaganda to help. Now, if she wants to reduce cases, the only tool at her disposal is to further reduce social contact – without regard or respect for the costs of such measures; the costs we know land disproportionately on the most vulnerable: the children, the elderly, the poor.

But many people have had enough and their number is growing. We are heading for a crisis whichever way you look at it and it seems that people are perhaps beginning to understand this.

Put simply, there is no evidence that lockdown works to prevent the spread of a virus. 

We know the Government told us this in March and it was correct. Lockdown and the quarantine of the healthy is a bizarre experiment – never tried before but not treated as the experiment it is. We talk as if we have always dealt with viruses this way. There has been no rigorous analysis of the virological results of lockdown at all, much less the societal effects. We haven’t asked what effects this will have on our immunity either. Are we storing up huge health problems for next year and the years beyond?

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: A new data site has been launched called Inform Scotland for those “who share a common concern that contextualised data on Covid in Scotland is not as easily available as it should be, and that Scotland lacks forums where critical and informed discussion of this data and the policies which are claimed to rest on it can take place”. Looks very good.

Stop Press 2: A reminder that Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance is himself a lockdown sceptic – or was. Ahead of the first Lockdown in March, the Evening Standard reported his comments on Sky News:

If you completely locked down absolutely everything, probably for a period of four months or more then you would suppress this virus,

All of the evidence from previous epidemics suggests that when you do that and then you release it, it all comes back again.

The other part of this is to make sure that we don’t end up with a sudden peak again in the winter which is even larger which causes even more problems.

So we want to suppress it, not get rid of it completely which you can’t do anyway, not suppress it so we get the second peak and also allow enough of us who are going to get mild illness to become immune to this to help with the whole population response which would protect everybody.

New Study: Assessing the Impact of Lockdowns on COVID-19

Image from Sky News

John P. A. Ioannidis, Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology, Professor Jay Bhattacharya, a founding signatory of the Great Barrington Declaration, and other colleagues at Stanford University, have published a new, fully peer-reviewed study. Their objective was to assess the impact of the non-pharmaceutical interventions adopted by many countries in response to the outbreak of COVID-19.

The spread of COVID-19 has led to multiple policy responses that aim to reduce the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2. The principal goal of these so-called non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) is to reduce transmission in the absence of pharmaceutical options in order to reduce resultant death, disease, and health system overload. Some of the most restrictive NPI policies include mandatory stay-at-home and business closure orders (“lockdowns”). The early adoption of these more restrictive non-pharmaceutical interventions (mrNPIs) in early 2020 was justified because of the rapid spread of the disease, overwhelmed health systems in some hard-hit places, and substantial uncertainty about the virus’s morbidity and mortality.

Because of the potential harmful health effects of mrNPI, including hunger, opioid-related overdoses, missed vaccinations, increase in non-COVID-19 diseases from missed health services, domestic abuse, mental health and suicidality as well as a host of economic consequences with health implications, it is increasingly recognized that their postulated benefits deserve careful study… We propose an approach that balances the strengths of empirical analyses while taking into consideration underlying epidemic dynamics. We compare epidemic spread in places that implemented mrNPIs to counterfactuals that implemented only less-restrictive NPIs (lrNPIs). In this way, it may be possible to isolate the role of mrNPIs, net of lrNPIs and epidemic dynamics. Here, we use Sweden and South Korea as the counterfactuals to isolate the effects of mrNPIs in countries that implemented mrNPIs as well as lrNPIs. Unlike most of its neighbors that implemented mandatory stay-at-home and business closures, Sweden’s approach in the early stages of the pandemic relied entirely on lrNPIs, including social distancing guidelines, discouraging of international and domestic travel, and a ban on large gatherings. South Korea also did not implement mrNPIs. Its strategy relied on intensive investments in testing, contact tracing, and isolation of infected cases and close contacts.

They describe their methodology as follows:

We estimate the unique effects of mrNPIs on case growth rate during the northern hemispheric spring of 2020 in England, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United States by comparing the effect of NPIs in these countries to those in Sweden and South Korea (separately). The data we use builds on an analysis of NPI effects and consists of daily case numbers in subnational administrative regions of each country (e.g. regions in France, provinces in Iran, states in the US, and counties in Sweden), merged with the type and timing of policies in each administrative region…

It is important to note that because the true number of infections is not visible in any country, it is impossible to assess the impact of national policies on transmission of new infections. Instead, we follow other studies evaluating the effects of NPIs that use case numbers, implicitly assuming that their observed dynamics may represent a consistent shadow of the underlying infection dynamics.

Having set out their method, they say:

In the framework of this analysis, there is no evidence that more restrictive non-pharmaceutical interventions (“lockdowns”) contributed substantially to bending the curve of new cases in England, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, or the United States in early 2020. By comparing the effectiveness of NPIs on case growth rates in countries that implemented more restrictive measures with those that implemented less restrictive measures, the evidence points away from indicating that mrNPIs provided additional meaningful benefit above and beyond lrNPIs. While modest decreases in daily growth (under 30%) cannot be excluded in a few countries, the possibility of large decreases in daily growth due to mrNPIs is incompatible with the accumulated data…

They then turn to the winter surge in case numbers.

During the northern hemisphere autumn and winter of 2020, many countries, especially in Europe and the US, experienced a large wave of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality. Those waves were met with new (or renewed) NPIs, including mrNPIs in some countries (e.g. England) and lrNPIs in others (e.g. Portugal) that had used mrNPIs in the first wave. The spread of infections in countries that were largely spared in the spring (e.g. Austria and Greece) further highlight the challenges and limited ability of NPIs to control the spread of this highly transmissible respiratory virus. Empirical data for the characteristics of fatalities in the later wave before mrNPIs were adopted as compared with the first wave (when mrNPIs had been used) shows that the proportion of COVID-19 deaths that occurred in nursing homes was often higher under mrNPIs rather than under less restrictive measures. This further suggests that restrictive measures do not clearly achieve protection of vulnerable populations. Some evidence also suggests that sometimes under more restrictive measures, infections may be more frequent in settings where vulnerable populations reside relative to the general population.

Finally, they conclude:

In summary, we fail to find strong evidence supporting a role for more restrictive NPIs in the control of COVID-19 in early 2020. We do not question the role of all public health interventions, or of coordinated communications about the epidemic, but we fail to find an additional benefit of stay-at-home orders and business closures. The data cannot fully exclude the possibility of some benefits. However, even if they exist, these benefits may not match the numerous harms of these aggressive measures. More targeted public health interventions that more effectively reduce transmissions may be important for future epidemic control without the harms of highly restrictive measures.

It’s quite technical, but worth taking the time to read in full.

Stop Press: A new study in Sweden has found that Schoolteachers were no more likely to catch COVID-19 than the rest of the population when Sweden remained open during the first lockdown.

Ivermectin

In the round-up, yesterday we linked to video letter from Dr Tess Lawrie of the Evidence-Based Medicine Consultancy in Bath to the Prime Minister concerning the potential of Ivermectin to prevent and treat COVID-19. The video, as many readers found, swiftly and mysteriously disappeared from YouTube so we’ve moved the story up here to give it greater prominence. Dr Lawrie’s message is still available on the consultancy’s website, together with the report and the related press release (pdf) which provides more detail:

New British research has examined and pooled data from a wide range of international studies – including Argentina, Bangladesh, Iran, Pakistan, Spain, Egypt, India and the US – and found that the anti-parasitic medicine Ivermectin not only reduces deaths from COVID-19, but can be used to protect doctors and nurses – as well as others who have had “contacts‟ with ill people – from getting the infection.

The report was published last week by an independent UK-based medical research company, the Evidence-Based Medicine Consultancy Ltd (E-BMC).

The research was conducted to support the recent findings of Dr Pierre Kory and clinical experts of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC) in the US. Doctors around the world are now working together to raise awareness of this life-saving medicine which probably reduces the risk of a person dying from COVID-19 by between 65% and 95%.

In addition, the researchers believe that ivermectin should be offered as a prophylactic measure to health care workers as soon as possible because the analysis shows that ivermectin substantially reduces COVID-19 infections in these at risk groups.

The conclusions of the new global research are so clear that it is believed Ivermectin should be viewed as an essential drug to reduce the severity of illness and fatalities caused by the COVID-19 virus.

In most studies included in the review, the doses of Ivermectin given were similar to those given for common parasitic infections in humans (e.g. 0.2mg/kg orally, equivalent to a 12mg tablet for a 6kg adult).

Commenting on the research, Dr Tess Lawrie of the E-BMC, said, “This is really good news. Ivermectin will have a significant impact on the battle against COVID-19

Meanwhile, over in the USA, Drs Pierre Kory and Paul Marik of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance appeared before the National Institutes of Health COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel to present the latest evidence on ivermectin. The press release (pdf) which followed said:

The doctors explained to the panel that numerous clinical studies, including peer-reviewed randomized controlled trials, showed large magnitude benefits of ivermectin in prophylaxis, early treatment and also in late-stage disease. Taken together, the doctors reported that the dozens of clinical trials that have now emerged from around the world are substantial enough to reliably assess clinical efficacy.

Specifically, the FLCCC physicians and Dr. Hill presented data from 18 randomized controlled trials that included over 2,100 patients. The trial results demonstrated that ivermectin produces faster viral clearance, faster time to hospital discharge, faster time to clinical recovery, and a 75% reduction
in mortality rates.

“In order to save thousands who will die while waiting for their turn to receive the vaccine, it is imperative that treatment guidelines issued by the NIH over four months ago be updated to reflect the strength of the data for ivermectin in prophylaxis, early treatment, and late-stage disease,” said Dr. Kory, FLCCC president, following the hearing.

Ivermectin has not yet been approved by any of the relevant authorities in the UK as a COVID-19 treatment, but with so much emphasis being placed on rollout of the various vaccines it is worth considering that there are other potential drugs that could have been part of the solution.

Boris’s Latest Rules are More Baffling Than Ever

from Getty Images

Charles Holland, a lawyer who writes regularly for the Spectator, has examined the rules of the new Lockdown and he is not impressed:

When Boris Johnson rolled back the legal restrictions over summer as Britain emerged from the first lockdown, he was clear that enough was enough:

Neither the police themselves, nor the public that they serve, want virtually every aspect of our behaviour to be the subject of the criminal law… After a long period of asking… the British public to follow very strict and complex rules to bring coronavirus under control… we will be asking [people] to follow guidance on limiting their social contact, rather than forcing them to do so through legislation.”

There has obviously been a sharp U-turn in this approach and though previous rule changes have been justified on the basis of making them easier for the public to understand and for the police to enforce it would be hard to mount such a defence now, says Charles Holland.

The law is very complex, the mere 12 pages of regulations for the English Lockdown 1 have been superseded by 120 pages of the (thrice amended) Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020. Intricacy more appropriate to the Dungeons and Dragons’ rulebook has not stopped an accompanying barrage of guidance, ministerial statements, spokespersons’ clarifications, police pronouncements, public information posters and pop-ups…

The circumstances in which a person may leave their Tier 4 home to access childcare services, for example, has been subject to wholesale amendment three times in less than three weeks. Sparing readers the tedious technical ebbs and flows, the current position reserves the use of a particular species of childcare to parents who are “critical workers”, but only where “reasonably necessary” to enable them “to work or search for work, undertake training or education, or to attend a medical appointment or address a medical need'”.

Parking the checklist-style complexity, it is difficult understand the rhyme or reason for this sort of cheese-paring. Why is it reasonable for a critical worker to put their child in childcare in order to attend a job interview, but not to attend a funeral?

Matters are made worse by guidance which overstates the law. The latest lockdown guidance resurrects previously challenged advice that exercise “should be limited to once per day”. The word ‘should’ (not ‘must’) indicates to lawyers that this is non-legally binding advice. Non-lawyers, such as the ambulant constable or PCSO in your local park, may not draw such nice distinctions. The Met’s ominous suggestion that Londoners can “expect officers to be more inquisitive as to why they see them out and about” raises the spectre of al fresco debates on restrictions and exceptions. There is plenty to debate: the regulations now set out 16 non-exhaustive categories of circumstances deemed to be a reasonable excuse to leave the home, with an overlay of non-enforceable guidance to further confuse what is already unclear. Derbyshire Constabulary, in particular, have once more come under the spotlight for what appears to be enforcement of guidance (exercise locally) rather than the law.

The gilding of the law with guidance remains a continuing mystery. If you want exercise to be limited to once per day or to be taken locally, why not legislate for that? Why devalue the legislative currency, already under pressure because of the sheer volume of regulatory output? Press reports suggested that the Government did consider travel restrictions, and even a night-time curfew, but was not prepared to go that far.

Further confusion arises from post-legislative departmental ‘clarification’. Lockdown 3 saw the removal of the express ‘recreation’ exemption from the stay-at-home rule: within two days, representations from angling and shooting organisations had caused Government officials to ‘acknowledge’ that fishing and shooting constitute ‘exercise’, and thus within a permitted exception…

Why does this matter? Because the cost of lockdown will be squandered unless it works. The great unanswered question is this: is the current combination of laws, guidance and enforcement policies the best mechanism to achieve the minimum in social mixing and concomitant reduction in transmission of the virus? I’m not convinced.

No-one would envy Government the task of coming up with the right mixture of rules and imploring people to use their common sense. But constant tweaking of the criminal law to micromanage ways in which people might need to venture out of the front door and interact has produced a mush of overwhelming complexity. This is a gift to both the loophole spotter and the overzealous enforcer. It undermines enforcement against the irresponsible, who can – and do – use complexity of the law as justification for not understanding it. The resurgence of arbitrary lines of fine-tuning also undermines a message that would be more effective if put simply.

So while Boris’s broadcast message to “stay at home” was straightforward, the rules are anything but. There are too many regulations. They are too complicated. And Government advice only adds to this confusion. 

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: The Telegraph is reporting that police will issue fines to rule breakers after one warning.

Stop Press 2: The police do themselves get caught out occasionally. A number of officers were spotted tucking into breakfast inside a café. A clear breach of the rules and the matter is being investigated according to MailOnline.

The Military Approach to Managing the Crisis – Focused Protection

Lieutenant-Colonel David Redman on Remembrance Day, 1995, in the former Republic of Yugoslavia

C2C journal has an interview with David Redmond, the former head of Alberta’s counter-terrorism strategy and an ex-military man. He draws on decades of high-level military experience to offer a robust alternative to Canada’s pandemic response.

C2C Journal: Throughout this crisis we’ve heard plenty from public health officials and doctors, and to a lesser-degree from economists and assorted other public policy experts. But while it’s popular to talk about how we are “at war” with COVID-19, we’ve heard next to nothing from the people who actually know how to win wars. Take us through the military perspective on how we should be battling this disease.

David Redman: The first step to resolving emergencies is to respect the planning process. From the time I was a lieutenant, the army taught me to begin with what we called the Estimate of Situation. Once you have your problem, you analyse the mission: Who is your enemy? Who are your allies? What tasks are given? What tasks are implied? What can go wrong? After many years working with Government and the private sector, I’ve discovered that the knowledge and skills required for this sort of operational planning are severely lacking outside the military.

When an emergency happens, you need a process to create a plan, and then you need to follow that plan. Since the 1950s every Government in this country has had a set of emergency plans: what to do in the case of a forest fire, flood, dangerous goods accident or pandemic etc. These are all updated regularly. Alberta’s pandemic plan was last updated in 2014.

But what happened in the middle of March when COVID-19 appeared on our shores after wreaking havoc in China, Italy, Spain and France? Governments took every plan they’d ever written and threw them all out the window. No one followed the process. They panicked, put the doctors in charge and hid for three months. And now, having made that mistake, we can’t get out of it.

C2C: Why is it a mistake to put doctors in charge of a pandemic?

DR: The short answer is that a pandemic is not a public health emergency. It is a public emergency. These are two very different things. Public health emergencies are best used for local outbreaks of disease. An outbreak of measles in a single community that can be isolated could be considered a public health emergency. A provincewide or nationwide pandemic should never be declared a public health emergency because the powers that you need and the people who are going to be affected go far beyond the health care system. It affects every citizen, every industry, every non-profit organization. Everything.

The problem with our COVID-19 response is that power has been placed in the wrong place. Why? Because Governments adopted the wrong mission statement. The first principle of war is the selection and maintenance of the aim. If you miss on that, things are going to go very poorly. Across the country it appears to me that our aim has been to minimize the number of people who catch COVID-19. That is repeatedly reflected in the media. The daily case count is the most important thing in every daily newscast and every news story. It’s all the politicians seem to talk about. This is wrong…

C2C: Rather than put doctors in charge, what should we have done in response to COVID-19 in those first crucial months last spring?

DR: Since the middle of March, we had access to reliable statistics from China, Spain, Italy, France that showed quite clearly 70% of all deaths arising from Covid-19 were of people over the age of 80. Another 18% were 70 to 79 years old. Only 3.5% were under the age of 60. And less than 1% of the people who’d died up to that point didn’t have at least one pre-existing underlying medical complication. This wasn’t September. This was March. We knew very quickly what Covid-19 was doing – it was killing old people who had severe comorbidities. The immediate response should have been: how do we protect those people?

As we say in the military, an 80% solution applied with vigour immediately is better than a 100% solution applied too late. What holds in a battle holds in pandemics too. First, we should have identified every concentration of vulnerable people, including all nursing homes, hospitals and palliative care homes. Then comprehensive options should have been developed to quarantine both the residents of these facilities and the staff who supported them. Support and relief systems for these staff and surge capacity should have been discussed back in March. Instead each new outbreak in a seniors home seemed to come as a surprise.

Can this man please be placed in charge of coordinating Britain’s response to the next pandemic?

Worth reading in full.

Round-up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Five today: “Something Better Change” by The Stranglers, “A Winter’s Tale” by David Essex, “Don’t Give Up” by Peter Gabriel (featuring Kate Bush), “United We Stand” by Brotherhood of Man and “Sympathy For The Devil” by The Rolling Stones.

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 as well as post comments below the line, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Sharing Stories

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

Social Media Accounts

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

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, we bring you the University of Pennsylvania’s Athletics Department which has just adopted the recommendations of its Racial Justice Task Force. Campus Reform has the story:

The University of Pennsylvania’s Athletics Department approved a series of diversity-related recommendations from its “Racial Justice Task Force,” including a “permanent shared space for Black student-athletes” which is also open to “allies and non-athletes.”

Director of Penn Athletics and Recreation M. Grace Calhoun and the Division of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics unanimously affirmed the task force’s recommendations.

Penn Athletics states that “these recommendations have been created as a beginning, not a conclusion” in the process of making the athletics department into a “more diverse, inclusive, anti-racist organisation.”

The athletics department will create a “permanent shared space for Black student-athletes,” which will also be open to “allies and non-athletes.” This centre will also be “open late night and early morning with swipe access,” and include work-study opportunities “funded by the Black Student-Athlete Fund”.

Among the task force’s short-term goals is the hiring of an “Athletic Diversity & Inclusion” designee, who will be “solely dedicated to job responsibilities focusing on diversity and inclusion”. In the long-term, the University is recommended to “secure funding for and hire a Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer”.

The task force notes that financial restrictions may apply in the short-term and therefore recommended that an existing staff member serve alongside a “group of diverse staff” which will assist with implementing the task force’s other recommendations…

According to the recommendation, student-athletes will view a one-hour video entitled “Broadening Your Perspectives”. Then, students will be divided into 30-person groups to discuss the video and view additional content.

In the long-term, staff members will undergo training during in-services, as well as implicit bias training for hiring managers “on an ongoing basis”. 

Chance Layton, Communications and Membership Coordinator for the National Association of Scholars, told Campus Reform that “the intention of creating a space marketed for ‘Black student-athletes and club sport athletes’ is straightforward neo-segregation. Racially segregated spaces are not ‘separate but equal,’ and they shouldn’t be. They shouldn’t exist, period.”

“Had this draft plan stuck with community engagement and enrichment, especially for the community around Penn, it might have served its purpose,” he added. “Instead, the drafters have opted to worsen race relations on campus.”

Stop Press: Over in the Critic, David Scullion has noted that the Germans are rethinking the names they give to weather events.

Before 1998 in Germany cloudy low pressure weather systems used to have female names and sunny highs were male, demonstrating beyond doubt the patriarchal nature of the planet. But now fearless activists [sic] journalists have uncovered another profound injustice in our atmosphere: the fact that German storms are given German names. The group have just started something called #WeatherCorrection, and no, it’s nothing as sinister as the cloud-seeding that tyrants reportedly do to make sure their birthday is sunny, it’s just a harmless plot by the New German Media Makers to re-make the weather in their image. The group have started naming weather fronts foreign-names instead of German ones as an awareness campaign in which they also want the media to impose race quotas when hiring. In Germany anyone can name a weather system; it’s €360 for a sunny high but €240 for a rainy low. Of course, placing a lower value on so-called “worse” weather is problematic, as is the discriminatory practice of only accepting euro payments when placing your political ad in the sky, but it’s progress. The next task will be combatting the white fragility of snowflakes and re-naming the earth’s light-source something a bit less male.

Stop Press 2: Tom Slater has written a good column in the Sunday Times on how we let IT guys censor a President. Brendan O’Neill has something to say about it too, in Spiked-Online.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to obtain a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card – because wearing a mask causes them “severe distress”, for instance. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and the Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. And 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. Another reader has created an Android app which displays “I am exempt from wearing a face mask” on your phone. Only 99p.

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

And here’s an excellent piece about the ineffectiveness of masks by a Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry. See also the Swiss Doctor’s thorough review of the scientific evidence here and Prof Carl Heneghan and Dr Tom Jefferson’s Spectator article about the Danish mask study here.

Stop Press: A reader has got in touch to challenge the perception that the populations of Asian countries have always been enthusiastic mask wearers.

I have lived in Asia for most of the last 20 years (China and Malaysia) and travelled extensively throughout the region during that time.

So it is with absolute authority that I can say that the claim that wearing masks in public in Asian countries was common prior to this Covid crisis is complete and utter rubbish. I have seen this assertion made on numerous occasions by politicians and others here in Britain. It simply isn’t true.

Prior to the Covid crisis, masks could be seen from time to time on a very small proportion of people, primarily as a protection against severe pollution (for which a mask definitely does help). In more recent times I have encountered the odd person with a cold wearing a mask out of consideration but this is something I have encountered perhaps half a dozen times over a period of 20 years.

The idea that mask wearing was widespread prior to the Covid crisis is just not true and the few people that did wear them did so primarily to protect themselves from pollution.

If our hope is a complete return to normality at some point, I think it is essential that this claim of widespread mask wearing in Asia prior to Covid be called out for the misinformation that it is.

Have other readers had a similar experience of mask wearing in the East Asia? Let us know here.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya

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

You can find it here. Please sign it. Now over three quarters of a million signatures.

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

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

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

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

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

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

The Simon Dolan case has now reached the end of the road. The current lead case is the Robin Tilbrook case which challenges whether the Lockdown Regulations are constitutional. 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 and Runnymede Trust’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.

And last but not least there was the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. A High Court judge refused permission for the FSU’s judicial review on December 9th and the FSU has decided not to appeal the decision because Ofcom has conceded most of the points it was making. Check here for details.

Stop Press: A new group called Lawyers for Liberty are supporting the Robin Tilbrook case against the Government examining whether the Government has acted constitutionally in enacting a lockdown. They are asking for witness statements from UK-based business owners, large or small, who have been forced to close, as the group’s spokesperson, Jo Rogers, explains:

https://twitter.com/JoRogersUK/status/1346923599333109762

You can access the form to submit a statement on their Democracy Declaration page, and you can learn more about the group from this interview with Jo Rogers.

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…

Bob Moran’s cartoon in todays Sunday Telegraph

Latest News

Gavin Williamson U-Turns Over Primaries Reopening

In a last-minute change-of-plan, the Education Secretary has declared that all primary schools in London will remain closed on Monday, regardless of whether they’re located in Covid “hotspots” – prompting renewed calls from the teaching unions to close all schools across the country. MailOnline has more.

A teaching union has called for all schools across the country to be closed for the start of the new term after the government U-turned on its decision to keep some primaries in London open despite rising Covid cases.

The Government bowed to protests, legal pressure and scientific advice on New Year’s Day after it initially omitted a number of the capital’s boroughs from the forced closures.

But Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, questioned why the same restrictions are not being rolled out across the rest of the country where cases are also surging.

Gavin Williamson had this week released a list of London primary schools in coronavirus ‘hotspots’ that would stay shut for two weeks after the start of term next week.

The list did not include areas where Covid rates are high such as Haringey whose leaders said they would defy the Government and support schools that decided to close.

Under the Government’s initial plan, schools in the City of London and Kingston were set to reopen but those in 22 other London boroughs would have remained closed.

The leaders of Camden, Islington, Greenwich, Haringey, Harrow, Hackney and Lewisham boroughs, and the City of London, said in a letter to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson: ‘We ask in the strongest terms that your recommendation is urgently reviewed and our primary schools are added to the list of those advised to move learning online.’

The action prompted an emergency Cabinet Office meeting today where they decided to abandon the original plans and order the remaining area to close their primary schools.

The move is expected to see similar arrangements to the spring lockdown when schools continued to accept children from key worker families but moved to online learning for the vast majority of pupils.

The main argument against keeping primaries open in some London boroughs is that that Covid infection rates in those boroughs are no different to the rates in neighbouring areas where schools will remain closed.

“It never made sense that neighbouring boroughs were being instructed to have different arrangements despite having similar rates of infection,” said Caroline Kerr, leader of Kingston Council.

But if the only objection to the Government’s school closures policy was that it was inconsistent, that could just as easily have been addressed by opening more schools rather than closing more.

This is a disappointing development and suggests the so-called “hawks” in the Cabinet – lockdown zealots like Matt Hancock and Michael Gove – have prevailed in their ongoing power struggle with the “doves”.

Gavin Williamson’s stock has never been lower. Expect him to be exiled to Northern Ireland (or the back benches) in next week’s reshuffle.

Stop Press: When secondary schools reopen, pupils could be in for a nasty shock. According to Schools Week, the Government is considering making face masks mandatory in secondary school classrooms.

Doctors in Revolt Over Single-Jab Covid Strategy

The Telegraph‘s Paul Nuki has a story in today’s paper about the global debate over whether the UK Government’s decision to focus on maximising the number of people who’ve been given just one jab – at the expense of giving people two jabs – is sensible. Answer: Probably not.

Scientists across the world were locked in fierce debate on Friday over the wisdom or otherwise of the UK switching to a single dose strategy for COVID-19 vaccines.

White coats were flapping on social media after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) published its rationale for the move on Thursday night.

“The advice… is aimed at maximising protection in the population”, said the JVCI.

“Given the high level of protection afforded by the first dose, models suggest that initially vaccinating a greater number of people with a single dose will prevent more deaths and hospitalisations than vaccinating a smaller number of people with two doses”.

The move to prioritise first jabs of the vaccines was initially proposed by former prime minister Tony Blair. There is little doubt it is an innovation, though some prefer the word gamble.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Eric Topol, the American medic with a large social media following, isn’t a fan of the single-dose strategy.

https://twitter.com/EricTopol/status/1344734726586683392

New Year’s Eve in Trafalgar Square

An almost empty Trafalgar Square as the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve

One intrepid reader ventured into Central London on Thursday night to celebrate New Year’s Eve. She didn’t have much fun.

Last night I went to London. I live east of the city and drove in down the A11. Which, for those who don’t know, goes right past the Royal London Hospital, as mentioned in yesterday’s newsletter.

I could not resist a little drive round the block to go past the ambulance and A&E entrance of the hospital. Only one ambulance to be seen and no people. Pretty bloody unusual for 10pm on New Year’s Eve…

Carrying on, I parked in Covent Garden, which was deserted except for covid marshals. On the way, I took another detour over London Bridge to see the river. It was boarded up on the sides. Lots of ‘guards’ in high vis but there might have been fireworks set up on it.

Having parked, Covent Garden was like a ghost town. I got a Boris bike and went for a ride. Trafalgar Square was totally boarded up. Large police presence, not many people. Picadilly and Leicester Square were empty. Then I went down Whitehall towards Parliament Square – it was getting close to midnight by then. Loads of police, including the Tactical Support Group (TSG) and horses. A few hundred people waiting. Most people in very small groups or pairs, all very calm and well behaved. I did not see any sign of the protestors organised by Piers Corbyn but they might have been blending (no placards).

I stopped on the Embankment about 50 yards from Westminster Bridge. It was five to midnight according to my photo of Big Ben. Then, at about two minutes to midnight, the TSG decided to move everyone on…

That made the crowding bad as everyone was being shepherded in the same direction and there was a fair bit of traffic so people could not walk in the roads. Seemed a mad thing to do – to wait until so close to midnight.

One of the police horses was getting extremely fractious (I am a horse person for a living, I can tell) and it was between myself and the bike rack where I was going to return the bike, so I held my ground. A police woman told me to move along. I said no way while that horse is between me and the exit. Even she could see it was dangerous so she let me be and then the clock struck.

There was massive cheering, the fireworks went off across the river and then everyone did start dispersing, without being asked really as there was no real reason for staying.

As we left I found myself beside a young woman with a scooter. Turns out she was a nurse of 10 years experience at one on the large London hospitals. She said it was busy and hard work, everyone was doing 12 hour shifts, but no worse than usual for the time of year. She said she had decided to come (unmasked) because she had been working so hard she was treating herself to a night out because it was a historic night and you would never see London like this again on New year’s Eve.

She said people’s good will kept them all going at her hospital, but many of her colleagues felt as she did, that the measures were out of proportion to the risk and the NHS has been badly managed in preparation for this crisis. She said the staff shortages were being created by constant testing so many staff perfectly fit for work were sitting at home.

Is the London Nightingale Really Reopening?

A reminder, courtesy of Guardian headlines, that a shortage of ICU beds in the NHS is nothing new (h/t James Melville)

Something a bit fishy going on. Matt Hancock did the rounds of the broadcast studios on December 30th claiming that the London Nightingale had been “reactivated”. But to date there isn’t any sign of the ExCel Centre being readied for new patients. And how does Hancock plan to overcome the staffing shortages we’ve heard so much about? The Telegraph has more.

Nightingale hospitals will not be able to come to the rescue of hospitals overwhelmed by Covid patients because there is no “magic pile” of nurses to staff them, health leaders have warned.

Consultants and nursing leaders said high levels of nursing vacancies, coupled with large numbers of staff off sick with coronavirus or stress will make it nearly impossible to use the Nightingale hospitals, which [were] built around the country at the start of the pandemic.

The makeshift hospitals were built at an estimated cost of £220 million, with sites in London, Manchester, Bristol, Sunderland, Harrogate, Exeter and Birmingham.

Of these, the Exeter site received its first Covid patients in November while Manchester, Bristol and Harrogate are currently in use for non-Covid patients.

London’s Nightingale has been “reactivated”, the NHS said earlier this week, while other sites currently not in use are being readied.

But Mike Adams, the Royal College of Nursing’s England director, said on Friday the expectation that the Nightingale hospitals could deliver a significant increase in capacity was “misplaced”.

He said: “I have real concerns that the expectation that this mass rollout in capacity can happen is misplaced because there aren’t the staff to do it. If we are having to cancel leave to staff these areas, the obvious question is where will the staff come from to open the Nightingales?

“Nursing is already stretched beyond capacity, so there is no magic pile of nurses we can call upon.”

The top doctor who provides Lockdown Sceptics with regular updates from inside the NHS says he thinks it’s unlikely the London Nightingale will be reactivated. “My understanding is that it will ‘reopen’ as a vaccination centre,” he tells me. “St John Ambulance people to redeploy there from Jan 11th for vaccination. Can’t see how it can reopen as an inpatient facility and none of my colleagues think it will either.”

Stop Press: MPs have branded the empty Nightingale Hospitals an “expensive PR stunt“.

Stop Press 2: Richard Tice paid a visit to the ExCel and found no evidence it’s about to be converted into a hospital again. Watch the video he made about his fact-finding mission on Twitter.

https://twitter.com/ticerichard/status/1344648440333160450?s=21

Deaths Don’t Add Up

The senior financial journalist who regularly writes snippets for Lockdown Sceptics has spotted that the number of people who’ve been recorded as having died of Covid sits a little uncomfortably with the actuarial data

I’ve been thinking about the data you linked to a couple of days ago stating that actuarially-adjusted deaths are only 6.9% above average this year.

From the ONS data to Dec 25th there have been 592,525 deaths in England and Wales year to date. If the estimate from the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries is correct, then excess deaths are running at around 38,245.

Yet the ONS says that COVID-19 has been mentioned in 68,341 deaths. If we assume that every excess death has been caused by Covid, then reported Covid deaths exceed “excess deaths” by 30,096 (44% of total reported C-19 deaths).

This rough number-crunching appears to confirm the sainted Professor Neil Ferguson’s comment, from earlier in the year, that many of the Covid deaths would have occurred anyway within a few months.

N.B. Fraser Nelson in the DT piece you flagged up mentions that an old biddy in Switzerland died after being given a vaccine “but at the age of 91-years old with multiple illnesses”. Fair enough. But this comment might be applied equally to nearly half of C-19 reported deaths.

Van Tam’s Bingo Slip

There follows a guest post by Freddie Attenborough, a regular Lockdown Sceptics contributor.

On 28 December, the UK’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Van Tam, joined the Prime Minister for one of his now semi-regular Covid press conferences. According to Breitbart News, at one point, “The top doctor said people should not think, ‘after the second dose of your vaccine, it’s okay to behave with wild abandon and go off to the bingo halls and whatever you like and so forth’.”

Bingo halls. What a wonderful sliver of rhetorical spite. By this rhetoric doth the activist behind the ostensibly objective scientific façade reveal himself. The condescension for the working-class, Brexit voting scum couldn’t be any clearer, could it? Bingo halls. A place-holding metonym drawn from the realm of fish and chips, pubs, boozing, council estates, seaside holidays, nail bars, self-employment. All that toxic masculinity, all those “Karens.” Yuck.

Some of what’s happening with lockdown now is, to me at least, usefully considered as a visceral, psychological reaction to the lack of control these people were able to wield when it came to Brexit. Sounds over the top, doesn’t it? Until you peruse their Twitter pages. These are not happy people. There’s anger, but, perhaps most importantly, there’s an unmistakeable sense of anxiety too. “Tory Scum” got in the way of Corbyn’s utopian society; Trump got in the way of corporate friendly (sorry, I mean “migrant friendly”) global capitalism; Brexit got in the way of their beloved European research networks and funding opportunities.

Lack of control is arguably the root cause of a psychological dysfunctionality like anxiety. For four years they’ve had to live as part of a society that was doing something they didn’t like and that they couldn’t control. They’ve never forgiven the “Bingo Hall” povs for that. It makes them anxious. And what do anxious people really want most of all? Control.

But here’s the thing, because, when you think about it, what is anxiety? It’s simply a location on a wider psychological spectrum that has “desire for minimal control” at one end (e.g. the figure of the hedonist), and “desire for high levels of control” at the other (e.g. the figure of the neurotic). Generalised anxiety is towards the latter end, the right-hand end, of this spectrum. Some anxious people can of course get by in life simply by establishing minimal types of control over their own local environment (their house, their living room, their routines, etc). Some need to manage and regulate the behaviours of others too. Beyond that, and a little further along the spectrum, some need to control everything and everyone around them. And, as we move across towards the very extreme right-hand end of this spectrum of control, we get to sadism; that is, the need to completely control others and, further, to dole out harsh punishment or humiliation to those who can’t be controlled. Have some of our scientific bureaucrats started to slide out towards this end of the spectrum? Is it the peculiar constitutional and political positioning of SAGE – ostensibly just “advisory,” but, thanks to the power of media-relations and clandestine leaking, also a de facto executive body – that has allowed them to do so?

Put another way, is what’s happening now with our never-ending lockdown the biomedical equivalent of an occupying army sadistically razing a village that’s been found to have been aiding and abetting the resistance? It makes me wonder. After all, those villages aren’t destroyed solely because of psychopathic anger; there’s also the functional need to reassert control over what hitherto hadn’t been controlled adequately. It isn’t just “we will hurt you for your disobedience,” (punishment response) but also, and at the same time, “never again will we not know what you’re doing behind our backs” (reassertion of control response). It’s this combination that creates the peculiar phenomenon we term “sadism.”

I’m not a psychologist, but I’m struggling for psychological answers, because I don’t think what’s happening is analysable in any strictly political, social or economic way. J.G. Ballard is probably the greatest sociologist of lockdown, because he saw more clearly than most that it wouldn’t be the violence of the Marxian working-classes, but rather, the neuroses of the well-paid and cosseted middle classes who would in the end destroy western, liberal, capitalist societies. So when people like Van Tam let slip these odd little comments, I feel I’m more right than I am wrong. It’s also the type of analysis that would shed a little more light on Professor Ferguson’s otherwise curious “getting away with instigating lockdown” comment from his recent interview with The Times. Getting away with … well, what, precisely? Revenge? The reassertion of technocratic control over Parliamentary unpredictability? I ask simply because it isn’t a socially recognisable thing for someone to remark that they’re “getting away” with keeping people safe, or that they’re “getting away with” saving lives. Okay, maybe he meant, “getting away” with doing what’s right in order to keep the povvy Bingo players alive. But if that is indeed what he meant, then what would that statement imply? That he and his colleagues have been hoping to find an opportunity for reasserting technocratic control over the great unwashed and that they’d finally found one… which then leads us back to my psychological analysis of their motivations.

I’m not saying that they know at any literal, conscious level that this is what they’re doing. I’m sure they feel they’re acting for the best of reasons. In that sense, they’re no different to the rest of us, are they? Most social actions require most of us, most of the time, to lie to ourselves: e.g. “I’m happy at work!” “I cheated on my wife because she wasn’t making me happy, so, really, all of this is her fault!” “Money doesn’t buy happiness!” etc., etc. But at a social psychological level, somewhere between the unknowable unconscious and the rationality of the cerebellum, I wouldn’t be surprised if a literally “sadistic” need for control now drives people like Van Tam and Ferguson; a desire to re-establish control, and to do so overtly enough that he and his colleagues can convince themselves that, after four years in the wilderness, they finally have re-established control.

Half of Britons Think BBC Does Not Share Their Values

Almost half of Britons think the BBC no longer represents their values amid declining levels of trust in the broadcaster, down from 62% in 2016. The Times has more.

The results are understood to chime with the unpublished research recently conducted by the BBC which found that residents of well-off and diverse neighbourhoods held the broadcaster in higher esteem than people from poorer and less diverse communities.

The findings also tally with an Ofcom report in November which said that the BBC’s bedrock older middle-class audience was going off it. The report added that it was seen as the least impartial public service broadcaster, below ITV, Channel 4, Sky and Channel 5. Fifty-four per cent of adults believe that it provides impartial news.

The new research, by YouGov, found 44% of the public thought that the BBC represented their values badly. This was particularly true of older people, with 48% saying that the BBC did not adequately represent their views. In the north of England it was 51% and Scotland 47%. Among those who voted for Brexit, 58% were unhappy with the overall stance of the corporation.

Asked how their views of the BBC had changed over the year only 4% said that its values had become more like theirs while 33% said it had become less like theirs. Older male viewers outside London and the southeast were the most likely to be dissatisfied with the BBC’s perceived values.

The findings come before a government review on public sector broadcasting. Boris Johnson has made little secret of his desire to reform the BBC amid speculation that the licence fee in its present form could be scrapped.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Darren Grimes has added his 10 cents worth to the BBC’s expenditure of £1.5 million on a woke New Year’s Eve fireworks display.

Poetry Corner

Today, a poem composed by an NHS doctor. He calls it ‘Pandemic Polemic’.

Better hunker in your bunker, for Corona’s here today,
Do not try to take an aeroplane, they’ll turn you all away;
Wear a mask to catch the sneezes though not much good will it do,
And send a friend or neighbour for a cold compress or two.

Better listen to the experts, they will tell you how to cope
Although as messages conflict you really haven’t got a hope,
So panic, panic, panic – try to remember why
If you sweat up in a fever you are surely going to die.

If you’re pregnant try to miss out on the rush hour on the bus
For you do not want to run the risk of catching it from us;
And you cannot have the vaccine they’ve developed for the flu
For what it does to foetuses we haven’t got a clue.

Do not come into Casualty with “query dose of flu”
As the last thing that the doctors want is catching it from you;
Wash your hands and smear them with that antiseptic goo;
Sneeze only in a tissue and then flush it down the loo.

And stock up with provisions for a month or maybe three
(You can order them from Tesco, and delivery is free)
But for most of us, including the disabled and the old
The coronavirus symptoms won’t be
much
more
than
a
cold.

Round-up

https://twitter.com/bobscartoons/status/1344621783635406849?s=21

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Four today: “Little Boxes” by Malvina Reynolds, “Abandoned Luncheonette” by Daryl Hall and John Oates, “Why Am I Drinkin’” by Merle Haggard, “Only A Pawn in Their Game” by Bob Dylan

Stop Press: I spoke too soon when I said a reader had compiled a definitive list of all those pop songs with the word “Tears” in the title. Another reader has come forward with some additions. This one could run and run!

Tiers (Django Reinhardt & Stéphane Grapelli)
Tiers and Pavan (The Strawbs)
Tiers of Rage (The Band)
Tiers Dry On Their Own (Amy Winehouse)
Tiers Are Not Enough (ABC)
A Little Bitty Tier (Burl Ives)
“No More Tiers (Enough is Enough)” (Barbara Streisand)
Drown In My Own Tiers (Aretha Franklin)

One shouldn’t overlook the band – Tiers for Fears

Stop Press 2: This ditty about the year gone by sung to the tune of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” is a corker.

https://twitter.com/toadmeister/status/1345071159730200576

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 as well as post comments below the line, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Sharing Stories

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

Social Media Accounts

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

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, it’s the turn of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has just unveiled some new rules for the next Congressional term: the elimination of gendered terms, such as “father, mother, son, and daughter”. Breitbart News has more.

Within the proposals are the creation of the “Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth”, which would require Congress to “honour all gender identities by changing pronouns and familial relationships in the House rules to be gender neutral”.

In clause 8(c)(3) of rule XXIII, gendered terms, such as “father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, first cousin, nephew, niece, husband, wife, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, half sister, grandson, or granddaughter” will be removed.

In their place, terms such as “parent, child, sibling, parent’s sibling, first cousin, sibling’s child, spouse, parent-in-law, child-in-law, sibling-in-law, stepparent, stepchild, stepsibling, half-sibling, or grandchild” will be used, instead.

Something to look forward to next Christmas: being able to see your “parent’s sibling”, your “sibling’s child” and your “sibling-in-law”.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: RT celebrates the 10 anti-woke media heroes of 2020.

Stop Press 2: RealClear Politics has a list of the top 10 suppressed news stories in 2020.

“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. Another reader has created an Android app which displays “I am exempt from wearing a face mask” on your phone. Only 99p, and he’s even said he’ll donate half the money to Lockdown Sceptics, so everyone wins.

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

And here’s an excellent piece about the ineffectiveness of masks by a Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry. See also the Swiss Doctor’s thorough review of the scientific evidence here.

Stop Press: Is the Government about to make face coverings mandatory in outdoor spaces? Yesterday’s edition of the World at One included an interview with Professor Catherine Noakes, who chairs the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours on SAGE and is supporting further measures. What SAGE wants, SAGE gets. Interview starts at 21m 10s.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya

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

You can find it here. Please sign it. Now over three quarters of a million signatures.

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

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

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

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

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

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

The Simon Dolan case has now reached the end of the road.

The current lead case is the Robin Tilbrook case which challenges whether the Lockdown Regulations are constitutional. 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 and Runnymede Trust’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.

And last but not least there was the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. A High Court judge refused permission for the FSU’s judicial review on December 9th and the FSU has decided not to appeal the decision because Ofcom has conceded most of the points it was making. Check here for details.

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.

Stop Press: Read Oliver Kamm in the Times on how he overcame clinical depression. He has written a book on the subject that’s out next week.

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…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-5zEb1oS9A&list=RDyQBuz8D_9GM&index=10

Yes Minister anticipated the Nightingale Hospitals fiasco over 30 years ago. Watch this clip on YouTube of Jim Hacker visiting an empty hospital.

Vitamin D: Did a Prescribing Ban in Care Homes Contribute to Fatalities?

Smoked Salmon: A great source of Vitamin D. Order from Bleiker’s Smokehouse in Yorkshire

Key points

Vitamin D, contrary to popular thought, is not a vitamin. It is an inflammation-regulating steroid hormone involved in many of the body’s essential processes.1 Leaked NHS internal guidance, issued in June 2020, states that “evidence supports a causal role in Vitamin D status and COVID-19 outcomes”, and urges clinicians to “monitor, report and treat”.2

Meanwhile, a NICE rapid evidence review also published in June, states “there is no evidence to support taking vitamin D supplements to specifically prevent or treat COVID‑19.” However, it does re-enforce its September 2018 advice that at-risk groups should take a 10µg supplement all year round.3

Rewind to March 2018: the ‘world’s biggest quango’ NHS England, released new guidance not to issue Vitamin D and many other commonly available over-the-counter (OTC) medicines on prescription, which was intended to save NHS costs by promoting patient self-care.4

Vulnerable elderly care home residents, many of whom lack mental capacity, are unable to obtain Vitamin D without a prescription, as Care and Quality Commission (CQC) regulations prevent tablets being given by care staff without GP Guidance.5

This logistical deadlock has not been resolved, and Vitamin D deficiency has long been known to be widespread in care homes.6 Over 19,000 care home residents in England have died with COVID-19, representing at least 36% of all COVID-19 fatalities in England and Wales.7 8

Defining evidence: why the different guidelines?

Evidence is increasing that Vitamin D deficiency is causally linked to both likelihood of contracting COVID-19, and severity of infection.9

The NICE rapid evidence review,3 which states there is “no specific evidence” for Vitamin D in COVID-19, is heavily focused on the outcomes of the eight included studies, without corroborating this with the known physiological mechanism for how Vitamin D attenuates the inflammatory cascade in the lungs with coronaviruses.10 The physiology surely somewhat dispels the caution that NICE have that the correlation between low Vitamin D and severe COVID-19 may be incidental, or weakened by potential ‘confounders’. Confounders are factors which account for, or mask, an association. However, the confounders that the NICE review3 claim weaken three of the included studies could may actually strengthen when causal inference is considered. These confounders mentioned by NICE for Covid-19 severity included obesity, high blood pressure and socio-economic status: these are all independently linked to low vitamin D status.11 12 13 Could Vitamin D status, therefore, be the common link? The physiological mechanism would support this. The NICE rapid evidence has excluded relevant data on countries affected by COVID-19 and their latitude, showing countries such as the UK, who are above the 30 ̊north latitude line, meaning there is not enough light for the skin to make Vitamin D all year round. Interestingly, in the UK, there is not enough sunlight between October and March, 6 meaning deficiency would be at its peak in the population at the end of March.

In short, the leaked report, now a published study,2 is more comprehensive and credible than the NICE rapid evidence review, as it includes all the circumstantial as well as the forensic evidence.

Figure 1: SARS-CoV-2 enters the cell via the ACE-2 receptors within the renin-angiotensin system (RAS). Image courtesy of R&D systems.10

How vitamin D protects against COVID-19

Vitamin D acts to re-balance the renin angiotensin system (RAS). This is a hormone system that regulates blood pressure, fluid balance and vascular resistance. It is the dysregulation of the RAS that creates the pro-inflammatory cytokine storm in COVID-19, triggering the potentially fatal severe acute respiratory infection. Vitamin D moderates the RAS by binding to the ACE 2 receptor cells, attenuating the inflammatory response and lung injury. 9 10

Known risk factors and vitamin D status

Well-known risk factors for COVID-19 have been well publicised to be age, obesity, ethnicity and socio-economic status. While there are social factors at play that increase risk for some groups, could Vitamin D also provide a physiological reason these groups are also at risk of severe COVID-19 infection? A very interesting study conducted in Israel showed that COVID-19 outcomes were worse in communities where traditional dress was worn, and where individuals had poor vitamin D status. This took into account and adjusted for baseline characteristics such as age.14

Table 1: Some better known risk factors for Covid-19 and their known link to Vitamin D deficiency

Risk FactorLinked to low Vitamin D?Linked to Covid-19?
EthnicityDarker skin less able to absorb. If cultural clothing covers skin, UV light cannot be absorbed 14BAME communities identified in UK as more susceptible
ObesityVitamin D is fat soluble, and dilutes into fat cells, making it less available13Obese identified as more likely to require ICU admission for COVID-19
Socio-economic statusAn independent risk factor for Vitamin D deficiency11Thought to be due to social factors such as working in hospitality and living in densely populated areas.
Type II Diabetes
VD protects against T2 diabetes by reducing parathyroid levels1 6NHS trusts reported in spring that type II diabetics were more likely to require ICU treatment
Older ageSkin is less able to absorb with age3 6The majority (estimated 74%) of COVID-19 deaths have occurred in over 70s.

Death stats for nerds

The evidence is increasingly undeniable that Vitamin D is linked to COVID-19. We also know that Vitamin D is not routinely given to residents in care homes,5 and in general, the guidance to take supplements is not widely promoted. Could this be partly to blame of the shockingly large number of deaths this year in England’s care homes?

The following data have been compiled by this author from the published ONS Excel spreadsheets on deaths in care homes,7 and total deaths attributed to COVID-19 in England and Wales8 with some totals and percentages worked out, so they can be viewed in a context that wouldn’t be seen on the BBC news.

Table 2: Covid-19 Death statistics for care homes in England

Percentage of all COVID-19 deaths (England and Wales) who are care home residents in England*36% (19,726 of 54,678)
Percentage of deaths of all causes (England and Wales) who were care home residents in England17% (84,740 of 494,975)
Percentage of care home COVID-19 deaths that occurred in the care home and not in hospital (indicating only palliative treatment offered)75% (14,722 of 19,726)
Percentage of all England and Wales COVID-19 fatalities over 80 years of age61% (33,352 of 54,678)
Percentage of all England and Wales COVID-19 fatalities over 70 years of age74% (40,696 of 54,678)

*This is likely to be an underestimate, as ONS state that deaths recorded early in the pandemic were not attributed to COVID-19. 8

A shocking 36% of all deaths in England and Wales attributed to COVID-19 have been of care home residents under NHS England. These are the most vulnerable in our society, and have already been failed in many respects through the pandemic, as limited resources and PPE were prioritised for the NHS.

Ambiguity and conflicting guidelines preventing treatment

Before Vitamin D was linked to COVID-19, there was already an inequality with Vitamin D provision, detailed in this study. A Catch-22 between the NHS England prescribing ban, the CQC strict policing of supplement administration, and a failure of Local Authority Public Health promotion of existing guidelines (10µg per day), meant that giving much-needed Vitamin D supplementation to care home residents fell through a large but unnoticed gap between different agencies’ responsibilities, rules and regulations.4 5

Given that most of the deaths from COVID-19 occurred in care homes and not in hospital, we may never know how many of these were vitamin D deficient, as recent blood tests are less likely to be available. However, the circumstantial evidence is stacking up well that this failure may have contributed to the care home death toll.

The million dollar question is, was NHS England’s do not prescribe guidance ever intended for care home residents in the first place? The document describes items not to be routinely prescribed in primary care. Primary care by definition, is ‘first’ point of contact care, e.g. an independent person rocking up to their GP and requesting a prescription. Quite rightly, if this prescription request is for something cheaply and easily available at the pharmacist, that person should go straight there. However, it could be argued that care home residents are not directly linking in with primary care, but their main source of care is in the tertiary/social care sector. Therefore, the NHS England prescribing guidance is arguably not applicable to them. Were local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG’s) ever intended to issue guidance that a care home resident with limited capacity should be responsible for their own Vitamin D as ‘self-care’, when all their other medications would be controlled on their prescription? Or was this a tragic error of interpretation by CCG’s of what is actually shockingly ambiguous guidance?

We don’t have the answer to that now, but this author has submitted a Freedom of Information request to obtain it. So within 20 days, we may have.

If the answer is no, then vulnerable care and nursing home residents have been left without a simple and cheap treatment that could have protected them from COVID-19 because of a misinterpretation of an ambiguous guideline, and because no-one along the chain of events sought to clarify it. If the answer is yes, it was intended for care home residents, then the next question is – why?

That answer is in the guidance – it’s to reduce NHS prescribing costs. But by now much? The recommended dose required to maintain good blood vitamin D levels and to prevent deficiency is 10µg, equivalent to 400 International Units (IU’s).6 Two months’ supply of a 100IU tablet (taken every other day, giving 12.5µg/500IU’s per day) can be obtained for as little as 59p by the NHS. That’s a cost of 30p per patient per month.15

Conclusion

The combination of loneliness, lockdown, and denial of a cheap and evidence-based treatment amounts to an abysmal failure of the most vulnerable members of our society. As we are locked down again, and the economy left to likely ruin, why is this safe, well-evidenced and ridiculously cheap treatment being ignored? This has to stop now. NHS England must review their position, and allow for and actively promote prescribing to those who cannot buy Vitamin D. If this Government really cared, instead of ‘stay home, protect the NHS, save lives’, they would stay ‘stay sane, take vitamin D, you could survive’.

References

1 Bilke, D.et al.: Vitamin D, an ancient hormone. Available at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1562/2005-02-02-IR-430. Accessed 5th November 2020.

2 Davies, G. et al.: Covid-19 and Vitamin D information. Available at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jffdZOSuIA64L_Eur8qyCQ12T7NXrHSKPxtMe134C0Y/mobilebasic?fbclid=IwAR0lYaw5dKPFd-vUmvTm5GD8uZYZ_E6Hl9SSj32FjuuCkJBy-YB6heKy30w. Accessed 4th November 2020.

3 National Institute of Clinical Excellence: COVID-19 rapid evidence summary: Vitamin D for COVID-19. Available at https://www.nice.org.uk/advice/es28/evidence. Accessed 4th November 2020.

4 NHS England: Conditions for which over the counter items should not be routinely prescribed in primary care. March 2018. Available at: https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/otc-guidance-for-ccgs.pdf. Accessed 4th November 2020.

5 Williams, J et al.: Responsibility for vitamin D supplementation of elderly care home residents in England: falling through the gap between medicine and food. Available at https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.06.21.20136697v1. Accessed 5th November 2020.

6 SACN (Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition). Vitamin D and health. London, 2016 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sacn-vitamin-d-and-health-report

7 Office for National Statistics: Number of deaths in care homes reported to the Care Quality Commission. Available at https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/datasets/numberofdeathsincarehomesnotifiedtothecarequalitycommissionengland. Accessed 4th November 2020.

8 Office for National Statistics: Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional. Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/datasets/weeklyprovisionalfiguresondeathsregisteredinenglandandwales. Accessed 4th November 2020.

9 Davies, G. et al: Evidence supports a causal role for Vitamin D status and Covid-19 outcomes. Available at https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.05.01.20087965v3. Accessed 4th November 2020.

10 R&D systems: ACE-2: The Receptor for SARS-Cov-2.AVilale at https://www.rndsystems.com/resources/articles/ace-2-sars-receptor-identified. Accessed 4th November 2020.

11 J Léger-Guist’hau et al. Low socio-economic status is a newly identified independent risk factor for poor vitamin D status in severely obese adults. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27524803/. Accessed 4th November 2020.

12 Pils, S. et al.: Vitamin D status and arterial hypertension: a systematic review. Available at: https://www.nature.com/articles/nrcardio.2009.135. (Abstract). Accessed 4th November 2020

13 Walsh, J. et al.: Vitamin D in obesity. Available at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28915134/. Accessed 4th November 2020.

14 Israel, A. et al.: The link between vitamin D deficiency and Covid-19 in a large population. September 2020. Available at https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.09.04.20188268v1.full.pdf. Accessed 4th November 2020

15 drugtarriff.co.uk: https://www.drugtariff.co.uk/DrugInfo/drugdetails.aspx?doseid=580784. Accessed4th November 2020.