COVID-19

“Eye-Watering” SAGE Models Had “Too Much Weight”: Another SAGE Scientist Recants His Lockdown Zealotry as the Winds Change

The U.K. relied too much on “very scary” SAGE models to decide on lockdowns, according to the man behind some of those very projections who repeatedly called for longer lockdowns. MailOnline has more.

Just months after SAGE predicted 6,000 deaths per day and called for a Christmas lockdown in response to Omicron, Professor John Edmunds said the models were only supposed to be “one component” of decision-making but were leaned on too much by ministers.

He accepted the models failed to account for the economic harm and the knock-on health effects that lockdowns caused. 

Professor Edmunds admitted that these harms “in principle” could have been factored into models “but in practice they were not”.

His remarks come as Britons face the harsh reality of two years’ of shutting down the economy and health service, with the NHS grappling a backlog crisis that has seen one in nine people in England stuck on an NHS waiting list for treatment and inflation at its highest point in 30 years. 

The epidemiologist, who was among the most outspoken members of SAGE, said some of the death projections in the model were “truly eye-watering”.

Speaking at a medical conference on Tuesday, he said: “The epidemiological model is only one component [of decision-making] and I wondered and I worried that we’d had too much weight.”

He added: “There is of course an enormous economic impact from many of the interventions and other indirect impacts on psychological health and so on. Now these in principle could be included but in practice they were not.”

Professor Edmunds called for the first lockdown to be extended in summer 2021, warning Britain was “taking a risk” by unlocking while still logging 8,000 cases per day and that the decision was “clearly” political.

And he warned against easing the third national lockdown in early 2021, warning it would be a ‘”disaster” and put “enormous pressure” on the health service. 

Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth and all that – but you can’t help feel the recantation is very convenient as we move on from the pandemic and people start to look back with more objectivity at all the crazy, costly things that were done in the name of ‘science’ and at the behest of modellers.

Worth reading in full.

“The Biggest Global Power Grab We Have Seen in Our Lifetimes”: How Serious is the Threat From the WHO Pandemic Treaty?

Later this month the World Health Assembly, the governing body of the World Health Organisation, will meet in Geneva, Switzerland, and among its business are amendments put forward by the U.S. Government to the pandemic treaty, the International Health Regulations 2005.

The process of creating a new pandemic treaty or amending the existing one was announced in December (though the origins go back earlier) and was a response to a call from governments, including the U.K, for a strengthened global pandemic strategy coordinated by the WHO.

In a consensus decision aimed at protecting the world from future infectious diseases crises, the World Health Assembly today agreed to kickstart a global process to draft and negotiate a convention, agreement or other international instrument under the Constitution of the World Health Organisation to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said the decision by the World Health Assembly was historic in nature, vital in its mission, and represented a once-in-a-generation opportunity to strengthen the global health architecture to protect and promote the well-being of all people.

Many are concerned, however, that the U.S. amendments will transfer significant sovereignty over public health policy to an unelected and unaccountable global organisation.

Covid Vaccines Significantly Less Effective in People With Severe Obesity, Study Suggests

People with severe obesity generate a significantly weaker immune response to COVID-19 vaccination compared to those with normal weight, but the previously infected do not have this problem, a study has found. The study was conducted by Professor Volkan Demirhan Yumuk from Istanbul University and colleagues and was presented at the European Congress on Obesity in the Netherlands last week. SciTechDaily has more.

Obesity is a disease complicating the course of COVID-19, and the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine antibody response in adults with obesity may be compromised. Vaccines against influenza, hepatitis B, and rabies, have shown reduced responses in people with obesity…

Researchers measured antibody levels in blood samples taken from patients and normal weight controls who had received two doses of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or CoronaVac [Sinovac] vaccine and had their second dose four weeks earlier. The participants were classified by infection history as either previously having COVID-19 or not (confirmed by their antibody profile)…

In those without previous SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccinated with Pfizer/BioNTech, patients with severe obesity had antibody levels more than three times lower than normal weight controls (average 5,823 vs 19,371 AU/ml).

Similarly, in participants with no prior SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccinated with CoronaVac, patients with severe obesity had antibody levels 27 times lower than normal weight controls (average 178 vs 4,894 AU/ml).

However, in those with previous SARS-CoV-2 infection, antibody levels in patients with severe obesity and vaccinated with Pfizer/BioNTech or CoronaVac were not significantly different from normal weight controls (average 39,043 vs 14,115 AU/ml and 3,221 vs 7,060 AU/ml, respectively).

With obesity a major predictor of serious disease and death in Covid patients, that’s not good news for vaccine efficacy.

Worth reading in full.

Beware a More Transmissible and Deadly Variant, Warns Bill Gates (Who Has a Book to Promote)

Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates has warned there is a “way above 5%” risk the world has not yet seen the worst of the Covid pandemic. MailOnline has more.

The tech mogul and philanthropist said he did not want to sound “doom and gloom” but warned there was a risk an “even more transmissive and even more fatal” variant could be generated.

He said the risk of that happening is “way above 5%” and would mean the world has yet to see the worst of the pandemic.

It is not the first time he has made such a prediction. In December 2021, he warned his millions of Twitter followers to brace themselves for the worst part of the pandemic having previously cautioned in 2015 that the world was not ready for the next pandemic.

Gates told the FT: “We’re still at risk of this pandemic generating a variant that would be even more transmissive and even more fatal.

“It’s not likely, I don’t want to be a voice of doom and gloom, but it’s way above a 5% risk that this pandemic, we haven’t even seen the worst of it.”

COVID-19 has killed an estimated 6.2 million people worldwide since March 2020, but case numbers and deaths have been dropping in recent weeks.

Gates’s warning comes after Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), this week warned that people still needed to be weary of the virus, and that decreases in overall testing and Covid surveillance in many countries left the world at risk to a resurgence of the virus.

Gates – who releases his new book How to Prevent the Next Pandemic on Tuesday – advised governments across the world to invest in a team of epidemiologists and computer modellers to help identify global health threats in the future.

More epidemiologists and computer modellers?!? Based on their track record of the last two years. I don’t think so!

Worth reading in full.

Discharging Untested Patients to Care Homes Ruled Unlawful by High Court

Government policies on discharging untested patients from hospital to care homes in England at the start of the Covid pandemic have been ruled unlawful by the High Court. BBC News has more.

The ruling came after two women took Public Health England and the Health Secretary, then Matt Hancock, to court. Dr. Cathy Gardner and Fay Harris said it had caused a “shocking death toll”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson renewed his apologies for all those who lost loved ones during the pandemic.

When Covid hit in early 2020, patients were rapidly discharged into care homes without testing, despite the risk of asymptomatic transmission, with Government documents showing there was no requirement for this until mid-April.

Dr. Gardner and Ms Harris said there had been failures in protecting residents and brought the legal challenge. They partially succeeded in claims against Public Health England and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

Speaking outside court, Dr. Gardner said she “believed all along that my father and other residents of care homes were neglected and let down by the Government”.

“The High Court has now vindicated that belief, and our campaign to expose the truth,” she said.

In their judgment, Lord Justice Bean and Mr. Justice Garnham found the decisions of the then Health Secretary to make and maintain a series of policies contained in documents issued on March 17th and 19th and April 2nd 2020 were unlawful.

They ruled this was on the grounds the drafters of those documents failed to take into account the risk to elderly and vulnerable residents from non-symptomatic transmission, which had been highlighted by Sir Patrick Vallance in a radio interview as early as March 13th.

Sir Patrick told the Today programme that “it’s quite likely that there is some degree of asymptomatic transmission”.

A barrister representing Dr. Gardner, from Sidmouth in Devon, and Ms. Harris, from Medstead in Hampshire, told the court at a hearing in March that more than 20,000 elderly or disabled care home residents died from Covid between March and June 2020 in England and Wales.

Jason Coppel QC also said in a written case outline for the judicial review that the care home population was known to be “uniquely vulnerable” to Covid.

“The Government’s failure to protect it, and positive steps taken by the Government which introduced COVID-19 infection into care homes, represent one of the most egregious and devastating policy failures in the modern era,” he added.

Worth reading in full.

“Pandemic phase” of COVID-19 Over, Says Dr. Anthony Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci has declared the U.S. is no longer in the “pandemic phase” of COVID-19 – more than two years after the WHO declared a pandemic. The New York Post has more.

PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff pressed the White House Chief Medical Adviser Tuesday on the state of the virus in the U.S., particularly as many Americans prepare to receive their second booster shots and mask requirements are lifted across the country.

“Here we are. It’s the end of April. It’s the spring of 2022. How close are we to the end of the pandemic?” Woodruff asked.

“We are certainly, right now, in this country out of the pandemic phase,” Fauci replied. “Namely, we don’t have 900,000 new infections a day and tens and tens and tens of thousands of hospitalisations and thousands of deaths. We are at a low level right now.”

“So, if you’re saying, are we out of the pandemic phase in this country, we are,” he added. …

Earlier this month, Fauci indicated his support for individual Americans making their own medical risk assessments when it comes to COVID-19.

“This is not going to be eradicated, and it’s not going to be eliminated,” he told ABC’s This Week. “And what’s going to happen is that we’re going to see that each individual is going to have to make their calculation of the amount of risk that they want to take.”

Fauci’s hopeful rhetoric is in stark contrast to the dire warnings he issued at the start of the pandemic, urging Americans to follow social distancing and masking guidelines.

Good to see that even America’s Mr Lockdown is finally throwing in the towel.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Vice-President Kamala Harris has tested positive for Covid in spite of being quadruple jabbed.

Denmark Suspends Covid Vaccinations

Denmark has become the first country to suspend its Covid vaccination programme as its health authority says the virus has been brought under control. The Telegraph has the story.

The Danish Health Authority noted the high levels of vaccination, a drop in the number of new infections, and stabilising hospitalisation rates as contributing factors to the decision to halt the national immunisation drive. 

Denmark’s Government became the first EU country to remove all pandemic-related domestic restrictions on February 1st, when it announced the virus was no longer considered a critical threat.

About 81% of Denmark’s 5.8 million inhabitants are fully vaccinated with two doses of the vaccine, and a further 62% have received a booster jab.

The Government will no longer issue vaccination invitations after May 15th but health officials expect to resume the programme after the summer.

Bolette Soborg said: “We plan to reopen the vaccination programme in the autumn. This will be preceded by a thorough professional assessment of who and when to vaccinate and with which vaccines.”

Encouraging development in the slow walk back to normality.

Worth reading in full.

Hospitals Clogged With ‘Well’ Patients – 16% of Patients Are Fit to Be Discharged But Are Blocking Beds

NHS beds are being blocked by “well” patients, new figures show, with three quarters still on wards, adding to hospital pressures. The Telegraph has the story.

Of the 87,775 patients in ward beds as of April 5th, around one in seven (16%, 14,487) had Covid, the highest proportion since February 17th.

But separate figures published on Thursday by NHS England show 71% of patients deemed medically fit to leave remained stuck. 

Only 5,178 of the 17,968 deemed medically fit on April 3rd were discharged. 

In response to increasing pressures, one NHS boss has asked families to help discharge their loved ones from hospital even if they’re still testing positive. 

Dr. Derek Sandeman, Chief Medical Officer for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care System (ICS), said staff sickness rates, rising Covid cases and “high numbers” of people needing treatment has created a “perfect storm” across the region.

If hospitals are ‘under pressure’, as was reported this week, then rather than telling sick people to stay away, promptly moving well people on would seem a good place to start.

Worth reading in full.

Millions of Patients told “Don’t Go to A&E Unless You’re Dying”

Millions of patients were urged Wednesday not to go to A&E unless they are dying after six trusts warned of waits of up to 12 hours in emergency departments. MailOnline has more.

Trusts across Yorkshire claimed the pressures have left them with no choice but to prioritise patients in “genuine, life-threatening situations”.

West Yorkshire Association of Acute Trusts, which covers 2.5million people, said its casualty units were “extremely busy”. Figures show there has been a “sharp uplift” in patients attending over A&E over the past fortnight, with the total number of visits up 14% on the same time last year. 

Meanwhile, in another sign of the constant pressure NHS medics are facing, South Central Ambulance Service – one of the largest trusts of its kind in the U.K. – declared a critical incident this morning, telling patients to make their own way to hospital unless their injuries or illnesses are not serious.

The service, which covers seven million residents across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Sussex and Surrey, asked the community to only call 999 in an emergency. 

Their warnings came as millions of Britons started paying more national insurance from today, with Boris Johnson insisting the 1.25% hike is ‘necessary’ to bail out the NHS and social care in the wake of the pandemic. The Prime Minister insisted it was the “right thing for the NHS”, which has seen waiting lists spiral to a record high after hospitals were forced to cancel thousands of operations during the pandemic.

Ministers insist the tax rise, tagged the Health and Social Care Levy, is needed to help tackle Covid backlogs and reform the adult social care system – raising £39 billion over the next three years. 

But health chiefs warned the service is already behind schedule in its routine care recovery plan because of rising numbers of Covid patients. More than 16,500 hospital beds are currently occupied by infected people in England, similar to levels seen during the worst part of the Omicron wave in January.

Chris Hopson, head of NHS Providers, said the rising rates – which appear to have finally slowed down – coupled with staff absences “mean that we’re not going as fast as we would like on backlog recovery”.

Stay Off Work If You Get Covid Symptoms – But Go to Work if You Get Covid Symptoms, Government Tells Public

Britons should go to work if they have a headache or feel tired – even though both are now officially recognised as Covid symptoms and the public is advised to stay at home if they have Covid symptoms – Health Secretary Sajid Javid said today. MailOnline has more.

Asked whether he would still go to work if he had a headache, Sajid Javid claimed he would “first reach for the Nurofen”. He said it would also depend “how tired I felt”. 

Health chiefs last week quietly expanded the list of tell-tale signs of the virus to warn of nine other symptoms. As well warning of headaches and feeling tired, officials also now say that a blocked or runny nose, a loss of appetite and feeling or being sick can signal that someone is infected.

The decision marked a huge change in the Government’s stance on symptoms, after acknowledging only three for the entirety of the pandemic (a fever, cough and loss or change to taste or smell), despite other countries and health bodies including up to 14.

The move coincided with the vast majority of employees in England no longer being able to get any free swabs as part of Boris Johnson’s “Living With Covid” strategy. Experts warned the axing of free tests for all but the most vulnerable – coupled with the expansion of the NHS symptom list – will trigger a “free for all” on staff absences, leaving workers to decide “whether or not they stay at home and for how long”. …

The NHS notes on its website that the now 12 Covid symptoms – which also include an aching body, a sore throat and diarrhoea – are “very similar to symptoms of other illnesses, such as colds and flu”. People experiencing these symptoms, who also have a temperature or don’t feel well enough to work, should “try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people”. They should also take “extra care” to avoid contact with anyone at higher risk from the virus.