Independent SAGE

Independent Sage Accuses JCVI of Being “Anti-Vax”!

The Zero Covid absolutists at Independent SAGE have, in typical style, denounced the medical and scientific experts on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation of proposing to use children as “human shields” because it wouldn’t rubber stamp the Government’s decision to vaccinate healthy 12-15 year-olds. Surely, it is the Government that wants to use younger teenagers as “human shields” by insisting on extending the vaccine roll out to them even though the health risks clearly outweigh the health benefits? MailOnline has more.

Members of Independent Sage, a vocal group of experts who have clung on to the idea of eliminating Covid, accused the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation of using youngsters as “human shields” to protect adults.

Newly-published minutes from JCVI meetings show that the group first looked at whether letting 12 to 15-year-olds get Covid naturally was better than vaccinating them in spring, months before the rollout was expanded to teens.

Echoing the view of many independent experts, the JCVI accepted allowing the virus to circulate naturally could give youngsters strong immunity and also protect adults — without the risk of side effects from vaccines.

The panel emphasised Covid posed such a tiny threat to children and raised concerns about a heart inflammation condition associated with the jabs in young people.

“Children rarely develop severe disease or die of Covid; even children with underlying comorbidities have a very low risk,’ the JCVI said in its 32nd meeting on May 13.

“There are limited data on Covid vaccine use in children; there is a need to consider the mild transient illness of Covid versus potential rare adverse events associated with vaccination.

“There is an argument for allowing the virus to circulate amongst children which could provide broader immunity to the children and boost immunity in adults.”

The group also considered that children might be better off catching Covid at a young age, when they are at low risk, so that they are less vulnerable in adulthood, as is the case with chicken pox and other viral infections.

Dr Kit Yates, a mathematical biologist at the University of Bath and Independent Sage member, quoted excerpts from a number of JCVI minutes in a lengthy Twitter thread, writing: ‘Anti-vax or JCVI?’

His colleague Professor Alice Roberts, a public health expert at the University of Birmingham, said the views expressed at the meetings were “just appalling”. Other Independent Sage members described them as “upsetting”.

Worth reading in full.

If members of the JCVI can be accused of being “anti-vaxxers”, the phrase has clearly lost any connection with its original meaning and now means “anyone who raises the slightest concern about the Covid vaccines, regardless of their medical or scientific expertise”.

Preventing Covid Infections Among Healthy Children Is Pointless

Thanks to school closures, children missed out on in-person teaching, as well as regular face-to-face interaction with their friends, for the best part of a year.

The main rationale for closing schools was to help ‘flatten the curve’ of total infections, and thereby prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed. (We’ve known since early on in the pandemic that children’s risk of death from Covid is vanishingly small – lower even than their chance of dying from seasonal flu.)

However, evidence suggests that neither lockdowns in general, nor school closures in particular, were necessary to prevent healthcare systems from being overwhelmed; and the harms from school closures were substantial.

Once the Government conceded it was time for schools to reopen, there came a new justification to keep them closed: protecting teachers. Yet studies have repeatedly shown that teachers are not at elevated risk of death from Covid.

Even after schools finally did open up, pupils faced a rigamarole of mask mandates, regular testing and stints of mandatory self-isolation. Since the vast majority of vulnerable people (and most teachers) had been vaccinated by this point, it’s unclear exactly why things couldn’t just return to normal.

As far as one can discern, the specific rationale seems to be: ‘something to do with case numbers and/or long Covid’. Why we should care about case numbers in an age-group that faces a higher risk of death from season flu has not been explained.

As to long Covid, the latest data suggest that only a tiny number of children (less than 2%) continue to report symptoms 12 weeks after infection. One study found that symptoms were no more common among children who’d had the virus than among those who’d never been infected.

Despite all this, demands for more restrictions in schools can still be heard. On 3rd September, scientists associated with Independent SAGE, as well as various other individuals and organisations, co-signed a letter in The BMJ Opinion calling for the Government “to protect children, our wider communities, and the NHS”.

Their “nine point plan” includes such measures as: reinstating face coverings; offering vaccines to all 12–15 year-olds; and reinstating contact tracing “with a strict policy on mandatory isolation”.  

But according to Chris Whitty, “roughly half” of children have already have Covid, and it’s reasonable to assume that “the great majority” are “going to get it at some point” because “this is incredibly infectious”.

Now that almost all vulnerable people have been vaccinated, why are we trying to stop children getting the virus if “the great majority” of them are going to get it at some point anyway? Offering the vaccine to those with an underlying health condition makes sense, but apart from that, why do anything at all?

In fact, shouldn’t we actively encourage young people to get the virus, so as to build up more population immunity before the winter?

Have 1,200 Experts Ever Been Proved Wrong So Quickly?

Guido Fawkes reminds us today that over 1,200 so-called experts signed ‘the Declaration’ – cooked up by the same people behind the John Snow Memorandum – warning of the terrible effect easing coronavirus restrictions on July 19th would have. The Declaration originally took the form of a letter in the Lancet, published on July 7th, in which 120 self-described ‘scientists’, many of them members of Independent SAGE, described ‘Freedom Day’ as “dangerous and premature”. They cited the SAGE modelling showing there would be 100,000 new Covid cases a day if the Government went ahead with its plans and set out the dire consequences for Britain and the rest of the world. “We believe the Government is embarking on a dangerous and unethical experiment, and we call on it to pause plans to abandon mitigations on July 19th, 2021,” they wrote.

Two weeks on from ‘Freedom Day’, their predictions aren’t holding up terribly well.

According to Public Health England, the number of new daily cases fell to 21,691 today, another five-week low. So the 1,200 signatories of the Declaration exaggerated the number of daily cases that would follow ‘Freedom Day’ by 500%.

The Lancet letter also predicted that hospital admissions would soar as a result of Boris’s recklessness:

The link between cases and hospital admissions has not been broken, and rising case numbers will inevitably lead to increased hospital admissions, applying further pressure at a time when millions of people are waiting for medical procedures and routine care.

Perhaps they should have thought twice before inserting that word “inevitably” because the latest data shows hospital admissions falling. “Another 731 admissions were recorded by officials on July 30th, the latest date available – down 15% on the week before,” reports MailOnline.

And it wasn’t just these 1,200 ‘experts’ who were sounding the alarm. Let’s not forget that Keir Starmer also described Boris’s plan to ease restrictions as “reckless”.

And, of course, our old friend Neil Ferguson said on July 18th that it was “almost inevitable” that daily cases would climb to 100,000 a day if Boris went ahead with the unlocking the following day and added that “the real question” was whether they would reach 200,000 a day or more and warned of a “significant burden on the healthcare system”. Out by 1000% – which is actually pretty modest by Ferguson’s standards.

As Guido Fawkes says: “Guido can’t remember a time 1,200 so-called experts were proven so wrong in one fell swoop…”

Boris’s decision to go ahead with ‘Freedom Day’ is the first time I can think of in the past 16 months when he’s stuck to his guns in the face of wildly apocalyptic claims from various ‘experts’ about the consequences of “letting it rip” (their phrase for giving us our freedoms back). On every previous occasion, because he’s done exactly as these gloomsters have asked, they haven’t been proved wrong. Admittedly, locking down three times hasn’t stopped the U.K. from having one of the worst Covid death tolls in Europe, and Sweden’s excess deaths in 2020 were lower than ours in spite of not locking down. But the crystal ball gazers have always been able to argue that things would have been so much worse if we hadn’t locked down. Yet this time – finally – Boris ignored their doom-mongering and, as a result, they have been proved spectacularly – and humiliatingly – wrong.

Will this experience stiffen Boris’s backbone the next time he’s prevailed upon by the Government’s scientific advisers, sundry public health experts and the chin-wobblers in the Cabinet to lock down again, which really is inevitable? We can but hope.

Member of Independent SAGE Who Warned Against Reopening is Race Adviser with No Medical Qualification

One of Independent SAGE’s “experts”, who on Tuesday criticised the Government for not delaying the latest easing of lockdown restrictions, is a social scientist-cum-race adviser with no medical qualifications. Dr Zubaida Haque, a founding member of the group, told Good Morning Britain that the third step of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown should have been stalled because of the Indian Covid variant – not only to protect the unvaccinated but also to protect the vaccinated, who she claimed could still be vulnerable to this strain of the virus.

Vaccines will certainly help to reduce severe disease [from the variant]… but at the moment there are some things that we still don’t know about this variant and one of the main things we don’t know is, to what extent it can still escape the vaccines. We need to find that out.

What the Government should have done was to stall this stage of the roadmap, particularly because we didn’t pass test four… [which says] if we think that there’s any further risk from new variants of concern, we should stall. They have completely ignored that and gone ahead.

The Telegraph has more on Dr Haque’s medical expertise – or lack thereof!

Dr Zubaida Haque… specialises in racial equality and has been involved with various Government-commissioned reports on welfare issues. 

In an interview with Good Morning Britain, she said the Government should have stalled the latest stage of the roadmap out of lockdown…

She went on to criticise Matt Hancock for his recent comments indicating vaccine hesitancy may be behind the rise in Covid hospitalisations in Bolton, one of the Indian variant hotspots. 

“This whole notion that, that at the moment, everyone’s freedom is threatened because of vaccine hesitancy groups is absolute nonsense,” Dr Haque said.

It was one of Dr Haque’s many TV interviews and newspaper columns since the pandemic began, ranging in scope from vaccine passports and the reopening of schools to financial support for low-paid workers needing to self-isolate.

However, she has no medical, clinical, virological or epidemiological qualifications.

Instead, her PhD thesis was titled: Exploring the validity and possible causes of the apparently poor performances of Bangladeshi students in British secondary schools. 

She now works for the Hamilton Commission, an organisation set up by Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton to improve the representation of Black people in U.K. motorsport.

Dr Haque was not the only member of the historically overly cautious Independent SAGE group to take to the airwaves criticising the latest step towards freedom. 

Dr Kit Yates and Prof Gabriel Scally both appeared on Sky News, on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, talking about the new variant. 

Dr Yates is an expert in using mathematical techniques to predict biological models at the University of Bath, while Prof Scally is president of the Epidemiology and Public Health section of the Royal Society of Medicine.

Sir David King, chairman of Independent Sage said: “When we set up Independent SAGE we wanted to ensure that it was truly multi-disciplinary and fit for purpose when it comes to giving the best possible evidence-based advice in relation to the pandemic.

“We are proud to have such a wealth of experience to call upon as [we] require.”

Worth reading in full.