Fear

Ipsos MORI Poll Showing Large Support for Permanent Restrictions Far Off the Mark, New Data Suggests

A new polling organisation, Prolific, has challenged recent polling by Ipsos MORI that suggested a surprisingly high percentage of Brits believe lockdown restrictions should stay in place “permanently”.

Prolific believed that if the questions asked by Ipsos MORI were changed slightly, the results would come out very differently. How right it was! The results of its own poll have been published in the Financial Times.

A 70-person Oxford-based polling start-up called Prolific… decided to carry out their own 24-hour survey, using a representative sample of 978 people in the U.K. – very similar to the Ipsos poll which surveyed 1,025 people – to see what the results would be if they changed the questions a little. As they explained to us: 

“We ran pretty much the same study as Ipsos, but we… adapted our survey accordingly. Specifically: 

“We added a timeframe to the study, ‘Until Restrictions lift on July 19th’ We removed the word ‘rule’ from the study and replaced it with ‘idea’ 

“We modified the wording of the scale items to make it seem less like a rule, e.g. ‘Having to wear masks in shops and on public transport’ → ‘Wearing a mask in shops and on public transport’ .”

Prolific also changed the question that Ipsos had asked about restrictions remaining in place “permanently, regardless of the risk of Covid” to “permanently, even if there were little to no risk of Covid” – as we pointed out in our post earlier this week, the word “risk” tends to have negative associations, 

And it turns out the results from all these changes were rather different. Specifically: 

“Just three per cent support a permanent curfew, compared to 19% according to Ipsos.

“Just six per cent support permanent closure of nightclubs, compared to 26% according to Ipsos.

“13% supported a permanent 10-day quarantine when returning from foreign holidays, compared with 31% according to Ipsos. 

When it came to masks, there was slightly less of a difference between the two polls: 31% said they should continue to be worn in shops and on public transport, compared with 40% in the Ipsos poll who said wearing a mask in a public place should be mandatory. 

Here is what the Prolific poll results look like as a whole, compared with the Ipsos results represented as crosses (full key below):

What a difference! And as Will Jones recently highlighted, “actions speak louder than words”. The fact that so many people are deleting the NHS Covid app – or never downloaded it in the first place – is surely an indication of the true level of support behind Covid restrictions.

Worth reading in full.

How Would You Prepare Your Former Self for the Age of Covid?

We are publishing an excellent comment today by reader Jimi Cazot that he wrote in response to a Telegraph article on the introduction of Covid vaccine passports. Jimi asks: “If you could go back 10 years and speak to your former self, what would you tell that unsuspecting fool?” His answer below is bound to resonate with many readers.

In the future, many of your national assets will be owned by China. Most of the goods you buy will be made there too, which you will not purchase from your fellow countrymen but a sole supplier owned by an American.

The most successful politicians will not be elder statesmen committed to public service but young upstarts who view the job as a stepping stone towards tremendous personal wealth in later life.

Your Government will pass bills to quash peaceful protest and enable the recruitment of child spies. This won’t be limited to the intelligence services but bodies like the environmental and food standards agencies too. When you ask “why”, nobody will be able to tell you.

Your Government will set up ‘nudge units’ staffed by unknown behavioural scientists. They will tell you what to eat, drink and how you should behave. There will be patronising health and safety signs everywhere you look.

“The media will grow dependent on Government advertising revenue and cease reporting opinions and events that contradict official narratives.

The internet will be dominated by a small number of big-tech companies who will delete all information that they disagree with.

In the name of safeguarding students from harm, schools and universities will cease debate and enquiry. People with contrary views will be barred from campuses. Even student newspapers will be censored by ‘sensitivity readers’.

At work, you will be made to undergo psychological re-education. The people lecturing you will have no knowledge of psychology but nonetheless try to change you at a subconscious level.

People will be sacked from their jobs for saying there are two biological sexes or for telling an ill-judged joke. They will not be forgiven if they apologise.

Every major institution and employer will sign up to this censorious culture and soon you will censor yourself when speaking to friends and colleagues without even knowing that you’ve done so.

When a virus emerges that only kills 0.3% of those who catch it – the majority of which older than the average span of a life – you will be bombarded, 24-hours a day, by terrifying public messaging.

The police will stop you from meeting a friend for a coffee in the park. They will rummage through your shopping bags to make sure you’ve only bought things that they deem essential. They will film you as you walk in the countryside and put the footage on the internet so to shame you.

Neighbour will be told to spy on neighbour, and when you have friends round for dinner the police will knock on your door and give you a fine.

You will be told to stay two metres away from other people at all times. You will be made to wear a facemask even though there’s no evidence that they do anything at all. When this becomes apparent, scientists will say you must wear them so as not to frighten other people. Your freedom will end where another’s fear begins.

Families will be kept from dying loved ones. Widows will be denied the comfort of human touch. Daughters will be arrested for collecting their mothers from care homes.

Vast numbers of children will be sent home from school and denied a proper education just because one classmate lost their sense of smell.

Weddings will be cancelled. Nightclubs will be closed. Churches will be shut. Singing and dancing will be prohibited. Lovers will be kept apart.

Vaccines will be created using messenger ribonucleic acid technology. When the inventor of that technology warns against its use by those at little risk from the virus, records of him will be expunged and someone more ‘helpful’ will be credited with his work.

You will be told that the vaccine isn’t compulsory, yet those who refuse might be sacked from their jobs. They will be made to queue for longer at airports. They will be put under house arrest if they come into contact with someone who has the virus, whilst those who have had it will not. They will be stopped from going to bars and stadiums. There will be two classes of people: the clean and the unclean.

Your unassailable and decadent leaders will ignore the rules they set for others again and again, blissfully untroubled by the cries of hypocrisy.

Global leaders, bureaucrats, scientists, royalty and the super-rich will meet in private to discuss how we all must live. They’ll say there are too many people and not enough resources, but nobody will ask who we should get rid of and how. Blinded by hubris, they’ll believe that they alone can bring about a utopian future. The language they speak will be impenetrable to most, it made up of meaningless phrases like ‘stakeholder capitalism’, ‘collectivisation’, ‘sustainable development’ and ‘Build Back Better’. Every now and then, however, they’ll make things very clear: “You will own nothing. You will rent everything. You will be happy.”

Few will question what this means, how it will be brought about or what mandate they have for doing so. Those who do, or any of the above, will be insulted, ridiculed and so pushed to the margins of society that they are effectively silenced.

Most will stand on their front doorstep at 8pm every Thursday, clapping their hands and bashing saucepans.

Now, what do you think your former self would say?

Therapists Warn Of Rise in Anxiety over the Easing of Restrictions

Reports suggest that a high proportion of Brits not only disagree with the easing of lockdown restrictions on July 19th (or ever, in some cases) but are also seeking help from mental health organisations due to their anxiety over ‘Freedom Day’. MailOnline has the story.

One in five people are suffering from what experts have dubbed “Covid Anxiety Syndrome”, with people reporting fears of losing control as the restriction rules put in place to protect people from contracting the virus are removed.

Meanwhile, mental health charities have warned of a surge in treatment requests while an opinion poll has revealed half of people want restrictions to remain in place.

Research by the London South Bank University (LSBU), shows that 40% of respondents to a survey avoid touching things in public, and nearly 25% are avoiding being in public places. 

Professor Marcantonio Spada from LSBU’s Centre for Addictive Behaviours and Professor Ana Nikčević from Kingston University first identified the concept of Covid Anxiety Syndrome in April 2020.

Their research found that people were developing a particular set of behaviours as a result of their fear of the virus.

Covid Anxiety Syndrome consists of forms of coping such as a constant attention to threat, worry, avoidance and excessive checking, that can keep people locked into a state of continuous anxiety and fear of contracting the virus.

Professor Marcantonio Spada, Professor of Addictive Behaviours and Mental Health at LSBU, said: “Our data indicates that after one month of re-opening of society many people are still struggling with aspects of Covid Anxiety Syndrome, a similar figure to what we previously observed during full lockdown.

“This means that there are still many people who find it difficult to disengage from the Covid threats which may make return to normal daily living harder as restrictions ease.

“Our new findings show how vital it is that people affected by Covid Anxiety Syndrome receive support. Mapping out how we will do this will become a priority for mental health service providers.”

Meanwhile, an opinion poll carried out for the Observer has revealed 50% of people believe Freedom Day should be pushed back.

The poll, of more than 2,000 people, also revealed around 65% will continue to wear masks in shops and supermarkets while 54% will wear them on public transport. …

Research by mental health charities backs up the findings, with Mind reporting that 55% of adults and young people are concerned about seeing and being near others when restrictions ease next week. 

Nearly half, 46%, of those who have been vaccinated, say they are still concerned they will catch the virus. 

It comes after Mind reported that one in four adults experienced mental distress for the first time during the pandemic, with NHS figures showing an increase in people’s contact with mental health services since March 2020.   

Worth reading in full.

Alarming Number of Brits Want Restrictions to Continue Permanently, According to New Poll

Last month, leading SAGE member and renowned Communist Susan Michie caused a stir (among sceptics, at least) by suggesting that mask-wearing and social distancing should become part of our “normal” routine behaviour and stay in place “forever“. Unfortunately, her view is not quite as fringe as we might hope.

New polling by Ipsos MORI for the Economist suggests that a high percentage of Brits believe a number of lockdown restrictions should stay in place “permanently”, including nighttime curfews (19%), travel quarantine (35%), and face masks (a whopping 40%!). Well over 40% of Brits also believe that only those who have been vaccinated against Covid – and are able to prove it – should be allowed to travel abroad (“permanently”).

Matthew Holehouse, a British Politics Correspondent at the Economist, says this could be an anomalous result because we’re living through a “very strange time for public opinion”: “Do some people struggle to differentiate how they feel now from how they’ll feel once covid is gone?” Either way, the results are alarming.

The write-up from the Economist is worth reading if you can get past the paywall.

Stop Press: There’s bad news from YouGov, too. Its latest polling suggests that more than one-fifth of Brits are “very nervous” about lockdown restrictions ending and more than 50% are either “very nervous” or “fairly nervous”.

What kind of nation have we become?

The YouGov findings are also worth viewing in full.

“Existing in Lockdown Is Not Enough – Some of Us Want to Live!”

There’s a great letter in the Telegraph today asking where broadcasters find Brits who want to remain in lockdown. These people may be happy to merely “exist”, the author writes, but “some of us want to live”! Judging from England fans filling Wembley Stadium and dancing in streets across the country last night, many more are in the “get back to normal” camp than some reporters suggest.

SIR – Television reporters constantly interview members of the public who claim that they don’t want lockdown to end. Where do they find these people?

If their lives have not been blighted by the lockdowns of the last 16 months, I can only assume that they don’t work or run a business; they don’t go shopping; they never eat out; they don’t have school-age children or students in their family; they don’t know anyone in hospital or a care home; they don’t have health problems or ever need to see a GP; they never go on holiday; they never go to the theatre, a cinema or to a concert; they don’t support a charity; they neither attend nor support nor try to organise a local club or organisation; they don’t go to public talks or meetings; they don’t have or want any social contact; their family never plans an event such as a wedding; they don’t wish to attend any funerals.

This amounts to existing, not living. Some of us want to live!

Valerie Monaghan
Cowbridge, Glamorgan

Ugandans Told to Lock Down or Get Locked Up

Ugandans, whose Ministry of Health preaches the idea of “fighting the virus not the people”, have been told that they could be thrown into prison if they break lockdown rules by operating banned businesses or even by not wearing a face mask when outside. BBC News has the story.

According to new rules released by the Health Ministry in a statutory document, those found operating banned businesses such as bars, nightclubs, cinemas and shops selling non-food items face time in prison.

Current lockdown measures also restrict cultural ceremonies like weddings to only 20 people, and anyone found hosting a larger number might be jailed.

Heads of households or owners of premises or property who fail to report people infected with Covid to health officials may be imprisoned as well.

Not wearing a mask outside of one’s residence or assisting someone to escape from quarantine, could land one in jail.

Since the country first went into lockdown in March 2020, security forces have in some cases meted out violence on the public while enforcing control measures and several people have been killed.

Officials warn that Uganda is currently going through a second wave of Covid infections which should have peaked by early August.

Graphic from Reuters.

Lockdown rule-breaking – which also includes praying in open places – could land Ugandans in prison for two months, according to Voice of America. State Minister for Health Anifa Kawooya says the new measures are necessary. “These penalties are not punishments. In one way, it is to instil attitude change… That the moment that you know that if I don’t observe these [standard operating procedures], this will happen.”

The BBC News report is worth reading in full.

Five Year-Olds Are Suffering Panic Attacks About Meeting Friends After More Than a Year of Lockdowns

It’s not just adults who have been affected by the Covid campaign of fear. Children as young as five are now having panic attacks over meeting their friends following more than a year of lockdowns, according to the Telegraph.

Experts said young children had become increasingly anxious, with some fearful of leaving their homes, amid an explosion in “locked-in trauma” across the country.

Waits of up to four years for help on the NHS have forced a growing number of families to seek help from private psychologists – only to find that they are oversubscribed and unable to take on more patients, a Telegraph investigation reveals.

Leading private therapists said they are taking twice the normal level of calls from worried parents, forcing them to turn away patients, or open waiting lists for the first time in their careers.

Experts said many children were suffering behavioural problems fuelled by lockdowns, social distancing and fear of infection, with many now anxious about everyday social activities…

Dame Rachel De Souza, Children’s Commissioner for England, said a survey of more than 550,000 children – the largest such poll in history – will show mental health to be the greatest concern of this generation of children.

She said her visits across the country, as part of a forthcoming commission, had found children suffering “locked-in trauma” and struggling to adjust to changes to their lives since the pandemic…

Dame Rachel told [a meeting run by the NHS Confederation]: “I’ve been around the country and seen those sad little faces… putting their arms around their friends as they tell me about having their trauma from losing a grandparent, not being able to go to a funeral. Coming out of lockdown and not knowing how to make friends anymore, not knowing how to talk to anyone else,” she said…

During the 12 months since the first lockdown, 420,504 children and young people have received NHS treatment for mental health problems, an 11% rise in two years.

But experts say this is just a tiny proportion of those who need help.

Child Psychologist Maryhan Baker has seen demand for her services double in recent months, with average waiting times jumping from two weeks to nearly four months.

“I’m working longer hours and more evenings to fit more people in but the demand is beyond my own individual capability,” she said.

She said many parents who approached her for help had been warned by GPs “not to bother” waiting for an NHS appointment.

“It’s going to get worse before it gets better. There are a lot of children who were maybe just a bit anxious before the pandemic presenting now with compulsions, eating disorders, self-harm and other control behaviours,” she said.

Worth reading in full.

A Doctor Writes: “Why the Panic?”

There follows a guest post from our in-house medical expert, formerly a senior NHS doctor.

At the end of March, I thought I’d written my last article for Lockdown Sceptics. All the data was pointing in the same direction – hospitalisations falling, vaccinations increasing. I firmly believed that we would be back to normal by the summer and there was no further need for me to comment on graphs of hospital admission data.

But I’m back. Not because hospitals are once again packed with Covid patients, but precisely because they aren’t. Last week I wrote a piece showing that hospital admission rates and intensive care occupancy continue to fall – yet we are exposed to a daily diet of catastrophising about rising community ‘cases’ and deadly new variants to justify continuing societal restrictions. 

So, let’s have a look at the news of hospitalisations increasing. Graph One shows the admissions from the community broken down by English regions from April through to June 8th. Indeed, there is a scary looking increase in admissions. The biggest increase proportionally seems to be in the North West and the Midlands.

But let’s put this into context by looking at Graph Two. Not quite so scary. The Prime Minister is correct in saying that hospitalisations have risen in the last few weeks. He must have forgotten to mention how that relates to the overall context – in that the rise is negligible in practical terms.

And the case mix continues to reflect a different segment of the population being badly affected enough to be admitted to hospital. Graph Three shows a continuing increase in the proportion of younger people and a continuing drop in the older, more vulnerable age group admitted to hospital. The difference is substantial, consistent and obvious. We know that younger people are less likely to be seriously ill, less likely to need prolonged admission and far less likely to die. So why the panic? Continuing to measure ‘Covid cases’ in the community makes about as much sense as testing for the common cold – also frequently caused by a coronavirus, by the way.

Time to Move on From Focused Protection

There follows a guest post from Steve Sieff, creator of GreenBandRedBand.com.

In June 2020 I launched GreenBandRedBand.com. It is a type of what came to be called focused protection. My system proposed a way of people communicating to others if they wanted to be protected from coronavirus or if they were content to run the risk of contracting the virus. Those who were prepared to take the risk would show others how they felt by wearing a green wrist band or some other garment to communicate their position. Those who wanted to be protected but didn’t want to shield at home would wear a red equivalent. Around those requiring protection it was envisaged that all of us would respectfully adopt the measures that were being recommended to help stop the spread of the virus. Although that would still have been disruptive and unwelcome, it would have been far more palatable than being obliged to take measures around those who did not require them, and infinitely more so than laws which criminalised social interaction. So the system seemed to me to strike the right balance between retaining our personal freedoms and respecting the rights and wishes of others.

I’ll take this opportunity to express my thanks to the large numbers of Lockdown Sceptics readers who contacted me to express their support or who purchased bands and to the editorial team for featuring the site on a number of occasions.

A year down the line LS highlighted a Guardian article reporting on a ‘variant’ of my system being used in some places in the U.S., and other readers may recall Freddie Sayers in UnHerd discussing something similar. You might assume that I would welcome news that a similar system is getting some mainstream attention at last.

But times have moved on and in June 2021 I have slightly mixed feelings about it. On the one hand it is great to see that people are realising that they can manage themselves by communicating with each other rather than needing the Government to micromanage their lives. That should have happened from the outset. On the other hand, in places where the vaccines are available to the vulnerable, there is a strong argument that the time for this system is coming to an end because everyone should be ‘green’.

I proposed the system as an alternative to lockdown and restrictions and to recognise that people would rebound from the fear messaging at different rates. It was designed to be sustainable while large numbers of vulnerable people remained. But it was not envisaged to be permanent. As the numbers of vulnerable reduce, so does the need for specific measures to cater for that vulnerability. There comes a point where the position has moved to the extent that it is no longer kind or helpful to continue to indulge fear. Indeed by continuing to do so one risks perpetuating fear unnecessarily.

When GreenBandRedBand.com was conceived, vaccines seemed a long way off. But a year later they are a reality and the rollout in some parts of the world has been rapid. It may be that we manage to improve their efficacy or that we develop more treatments for people who do contract the virus but essentially the vaccines are our best effort. People who are worried about being vulnerable – or who are actually vulnerable – aren’t going to get a better offer than vaccination. So if you aren’t ready to stop asking for protection after vaccination is available to you then it starts to look like you will never be able to be comfortable with normal social interaction. Or in the terms of my system, you absolutely don’t have to be vaccinated to choose green, but if you were red before and being vaccinated isn’t enough to make you choose green, then what will?

Government Infected by Its Own “Scaremongering Propaganda” Over Unlocking on June 21st, Says Professor David Paton

If the Government was truly following the science, it would not delay the lifting of lockdown restrictions beyond June 21st, according to David Paton. Instead, as the Professor of Industrial Economics at the University of Nottingham writes in today’s Mail, the mood at Number 10 is extremely pessimistic because our leaders have become infected by their own “scaremongering propaganda”.

Ministers told us that the vaccines were the route to freedom because they would protect the public and break the link between infections and hospitalisations. That has proved to be the reality.

Indeed, the contrast between the grim peak of the second wave and the vastly improved situation today is stark, despite the advent of new variants.

It is true that the number of cases is currently increasing – up from a low point at the end of April of about 19 positive tests per 100,000 people to 44 per 100,000 now – but the impact of the rise has been nothing like as devastating as previously.

NHS data shows that hospital admissions have risen somewhat from a low of 74 per day to the current average of 103 per day, yet at the peak in January we saw over 4,000 admissions on a single day.

There is even better news when it comes to the number of patients admitted to hospital in the last seven days. The latest figure of 869 is 0.6% down on the previous seven-day period, and nothing like the savage January peak of 34,336.

It is the same story with death rates, which are currently averaging 5.7 per day, up from a low of 4.3 per day, but that compares to a January peak of no fewer than 1,245 deaths on a single day…

Ignoring such hard data, some of the advocates of delay like to bolster their argument by citing the modelling done by the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE), which sets out some pessimistic scenarios in the event of lockdown’s demise.

But there are two serious problems with this approach. First, SAGE’s record on modelling throughout the pandemic has been poor and overly negative. Second, it was the SAGE models themselves which formed the basis of the Government’s roadmap.

Even against the backdrop of the bleakest SAGE scenario, ministers initially maintained that the reopening on June 21st should proceed.

In fact, fully aware of the gloomiest SAGE projections, Boris Johnson explicitly stated on April 13th that “at the moment I cannot see any reason to change the roadmap”.

Given that the picture has turned out to be much healthier than anything SAGE projected, there would be no logic at all behind any delay. In their two scenarios closest to the Government’s roadmap, SAGE’s models indicated that there could be between 6,100 and 10,200 hospital patients by early June with more increases to come.

In fact, the present total of just 879 is only 14% of SAGE’s lower projection. So we are currently in a much better position than the Government envisaged…

At times it seems as if the Government has developed a bunker mentality, infected by its own scaremongering propaganda and SAGE’s shroud-waving.

But it is time to stop hiding behind the flawed models and fearful messages, embrace openness and get the country moving again without a delay. The real catastrophe would be a timid surrender to the voices of hesitancy and anxiety.

Worth reading in full.