NHS

Brits Told To “Keep Life Moving” by Wearing Face Masks in New Government Scare Campaign

It’s as if ‘Freedom Day’ never happened. A new Government ad campaign tells Brits to carry on wearing face masks and to use the NHS Covid app so as to “keep life moving”. One poster warns that “Covid is still with us” and that you can still pass on the virus “even if you’ve been vaccinated”: “[So] let’s wear face coverings in crowded places to protect others.” The Evening Standard has the story.

An official information campaign, which will hit airwaves, newspapers and other media from Thursday, will see the Government replace its “hands, face, space, fresh air” slogan with its new catchphrase: “Keep life moving.”

A video fronted by TV doctor Dr Amir Khan will also recommend people continue to follow social distancing guidance, as the film shows a young man stepping off a pavement to allow an older neighbour to pass.

The advice comes despite Monday being trumpeted as England’s ‘Freedom Day’, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson removing almost all legal restrictions, including social distancing guidelines.

Pressure has also been placed on young people to get a vaccine, as Health Secretary Sajid Javid reiterates the Prime Minister’s plan to make full vaccination a “condition of entry to nightclubs” by the autumn.

The campaign will warn, however, that being doubled jabbed does not entirely protect you from being infected with coronavirus, or from being told to self-isolate.

The campaign instructs people to stick with the behaviour that has become “second nature” over the past year of lockdowns. This advice appears to have been pulled directly out of Susan Michie’s rule book. In June, the top Government adviser and long-time member of the Communist Party of Britain said measures adopted during the pandemic should become part of our “normal” routine behaviour, just as wearing car seat belts has become commonplace. The Evening Standard continues:

The recommendations include using quick-result lateral flow tests twice a week and booking a PCR test if there is any sign of even mild coronavirus symptoms.

People will be encouraged to keep washing their hands regularly, to check in to pubs, bars and restaurants using the Covid app, and to wear face masks in crowded places where “distancing is not possible”, such as public transport or small shops.

It will also place renewed emphasis on the importance of ventilation in fighting infection during social gatherings, while vaccine take-up will also be pushed.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: “Mask-wearers, in my experience, need no encouragement,” says Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens. “So what’s the aim?”

“Open a Window”: How Many Are Dying Because This is Still the Best ‘Treatment’ the NHS Offers to Those Suffering With COVID-19 at Home?

The highly recommended HART bulletin this week has a piece on how the NHS is failing Covid patients by not offering any adequate early treatment, despite the now plentiful evidence of the clinical effectiveness of a number of safe, repurposed drugs.

Nearly a year and a half after the country was locked down to protect the NHS, how is the NHS performing in managing the very condition that so threatened it?

If you suspect that you or a member of your household is suffering from COVID-19 the advice is to get a test and contact NHS 111 for advice. When you do this you are asked a series of questions designed to ascertain how seriously ill you are. If you report “red flag” symptoms such as severe breathlessness or oxygen saturations below 90% quite rightly you are advised to call 999. But what about the less severe cases? The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued guidance to clinicians on how to assess and manage patients with COVID-19. Patients not severely ill and requiring hospital admission are managed in the community. The guidance advises symptomatic treatment such as a teaspoon of honey or linctus or even morphine sulphate tablets to suppress coughing. This in itself is bizarre advice, given that the British National Formulary (BNF) only recommends morphine for treatment of cough in palliative care with a ‘reminder of the risk of potentially fatal respiratory depression’.  Paracetamol or ibuprofen is recommended for fever. For breathlessness it advises to keep the room cool and open a window. For agitation and anxiety it even recommends a trial of a benzodiazepine (a tranquiliser medication) despite this potentially leading to respiratory depression.

What does not feature in the guidance is early treatment of COVID-19 in the community. Drug treatments such as dexamethasone and remdesivir are recommended for hospital patients. There are a number of established medicines such as ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, zinc and famotidine which have been advocated for early treatment. The evidence in favour of ivermectin, in particular, is growing rapidly as this meta-analysis by HART member Professor Norman Fenton and his colleague Professor Martin Neil shows.

Similarly, early administration of inhaled budesonide (an asthma drug) has been shown to reduce the likelihood of needing urgent medical care and reduced time to recovery while a peer-reviewed study in the USA showed fluvoxamine (a common antidepressant drug) prevented clinical deterioration in outpatients with clinical COVID-19.

The U.K. has been quick to roll out COVID-19 vaccines that are still undergoing their clinical trials yet seems reluctant to explore the possibility of cheap treatments with long established safety records. Surely this begs the question why?

Read the bulletin in full here and sign up to receive the next one here.

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?

A Doctor Asks: The Data Is Looking Good, So Why the Doom-Mongering?

There follows a guest post from our in-house doctor, formally a senior medic in the NHS, analysing the latest NHS England data packet.

Once a month, the NHS releases a more detailed summary of COVID-19 related data than provided in the regular daily updates. Although the data set is far from complete, the monthly packets provide a better impression of what is really happening in hospitals than the daily snapshot. I find this month’s information particularly interesting. Apologies in advance to readers for reverting to a more data-driven ‘chart fest’ format for my latest contribution – but stick with it, because there are some important messages here which have not been widely reported so far.

Take a look at Graph One. This rather complicated graphic shows daily admissions in the vertical orange bars and paired daily discharges in the vertical blue bars. Readers will notice that on every day between April 7th and June 30th, there were more discharges than admissions.

The grey line with the secondary y-axis to the right of the chart shows the total number of ‘COVID-19’ patients in hospital on each given day. For the first period from April 7th to May 25th, this was on a falling trend – that’s what one would expect if there were more discharges than admissions each day.

From May 26th to the end of June, however, the total number of patients in hospital ‘with COVID-19’ was on an upward trend – but on each day of the series, there were still more discharges than admissions. How can that be?

I’ve discussed this issue with colleagues and there are only three interpretations we can think of. One is that there are a very large number of patients contracting COVID-19 in hospital who came into hospital without the virus. The second is that some of the ‘discharges’ are in fact patients who were never admitted to hospital at all, but seen in A&E and then sent home. The other is that the data quality is very poor and gives a misleading impression of the true picture.

“You Can Never Exclude the Possibility that There Will be Some New Disease,” Says Boris Johnson as he Warns of “Rough Winter” Ahead

Despite talking of the U.K.’s long, slow lockdown easing as “irreversible”, the Prime Minister today told reporters that an anticipated resurgence of Covid, flu and other diseases means there may be a “rough winter” ahead. Noting that hospitalisations and ICU numbers are up around 30%, Boris Johnson said:

You can never exclude the possibility that there will be some new disease, some new horror we haven’t budgeted for or accounted for… but I think it’s looking good for July 19th to be that terminus point. Things like flu may come back this winter, we may have a rough winter for all sorts of reasons – but that is all the more reason to reduce Covid cases now, give the NHS the breathing space it needs now.

His comments suggest that the reason for the hugely costly decision to defer ‘freedom day’ for a month was to “reduce Covid cases” and “give the NHS the breathing space it needs”. That raises the alarming possibility that restrictions might be re-imposed whenever some pessimistic, unverified modelling suggests the NHS might come ‘under pressure’ during the winter – despite the fact that the NHS comes ‘under pressure’ almost every winter.

There are many criticisms that could be made of this, including that there is no real-world evidence that lockdowns make any significant impact on the course of a COVID-19 epidemic, and that it shows a very narrow and warped sense of priorities when it comes to managing public affairs and public health.

But besides that, even on its own terms it makes no sense to “give the NHS breathing space” by continuing or re-imposing restrictions. Since the main reason experts are so worried about flu this year is they are concerned that lockdowns and social distancing have successfully suppressed flu and other pathogens and left people unexposed to them and thus more vulnerable. In addition to this, Matt Hancock warned last week that the backlog in the NHS of people in need of elective procedures such as hip, knee and eye operations is now estimated to be as high as 12.2 million, resulting in the NHS facing the “biggest pressure in its history”.

But where is this pressure coming from? By the Government’s own admission, the backlog is caused by people staying away from the health service. So how can re-imposing restrictions and stoking panic be the solution to pressure caused by the very restrictions and panic that led people to avoid seeking medical treatment? The only way to break out of this vicious circle is to accept that lockdowns cause more problems than they solve.

NHS App Gains 2.7 Million Users Following Addition of Vaccine Passport

Almost three million people have signed up to the NHS app since the addition of the “NHS Covid Pass” section, showing a user’s vaccine status, as well as recent test results. The Guardian has the story.

The app, separate from the NHS Covid app, began enabling people to show proof that they had received the vaccine from May 17th, in order to travel internationally or attend sporting events, such as Wimbledon and Euro 2020 matches. The app already had other functions in order to access medical services, such as booking GP appointments.

Between May 17th and June 14th, almost five million distinct users logged on to the app, with the Department of Health and Social Care stating that more than six million users had been reached in total.

The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said: “Technology undoubtedly plays a huge role in how we deliver healthcare now and in the future and it is great to see so many people downloading, using and benefiting from the NHS app.

“It is vital we embrace the momentum we have built-in using technology and innovation in the health and care sector over the last year as we look beyond the pandemic to improve treatment, care and the experiences of patients.”

While the Gov.uk website mentions only that the app allows users to show their vaccine status “if required for international travel”, the Chief Executive of NHSX (the digital arm of the health service) says: “It has been good to see it used to open up sporting events, facilitate travel, and encourage the use of NHS services online.” Last month, a senior Whitehall figure said it is “almost certain” that vaccine passports will be required in domestic settings, such as for events of more than 1,000 people.

The Guardian report is worth reading in full.

A Doctor Writes: Chris Whitty’s Slide Show Yesterday Was a Blatant Exercise in Biased Data Selection

The following is a guest post from Lockdown Sceptics’ in-house doctor, formerly a senior medic in the NHS.

In early November, Patrick Vallance and Chris Whitty were summoned before the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee and questioned about their presentation of data to justify a second lockdown. Following their appearance, the government was obliged to ‘correct’ a number of misleading graphics which portrayed the situation as being far more serious than it actually was. The Government was officially criticised by the U.K. statistics watchdog for the misleading presentation.

After last night’s Downing Street press conference I expect Greg Clark, the Committee Chair, will be scheduling a repeat appointment.

Professor Whitty’s presentation was a blatant example of data selection. At the risk of image overload, I will run through a few points he made and quite a few more that he somehow overlooked. This is by no means a comprehensive critique – to be frank, I don’t have time and I doubt the readers have the patience to go through all the egregious errors and data manipulation that went on last night. We will have to leave that to the Science and Technology Committee.

Let’s start with hospital admissions. The official slides measure admissions per 100K population. Here it is, showing an alarming rise in admissions in the North West of England in Graph One.

All English Adults to be Offered Covid Vaccine by End of the Week

All adults in England are expected to be offered a Covid vaccine by the end of the week. The country lags just slightly behind Wales which opened up vaccine bookings for all over-18s on Monday. Sky News has the story.

Sir Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of the NHS in England, said the health service hoped to “finish the job” of vaccinating people over the next month.

He told the NHS Confederation conference: “It is now very important that we use the next four weeks to finish the job to the greatest extent possible for the Covid vaccination programme…

“By July 19th we aim to have offered perhaps two-thirds of adults across the country double jabs.”

He also said that from today 23 and 24 year-olds would be able to book an appointment.

“I expect that by the end of this week, we’ll be able to open up the National Booking Service to all adults age 18 and above,” added Sir Simon…

Sir Simon also told the NHS conference that new treatments for people with Covid were expected in the coming months.

“We expect that we will begin to see further therapies that will actually treat coronavirus and prevent severe illness and death,” he said.

“Today I’m asking the health service to gear up for what is likely to be a new category of such treatments – so-called neutralising monoclonal antibodies – which are potentially going to become available to us within the next several months.”

The NHS England boss said community services would be needed to deliver the infusion to people before they are hospitalised, and typically within three days of infection.

The treatment aims to “neutralise” the virus in infected patients and prevent serious disease.

Worth reading in full.

NHS Told to Differentiate Between Patients in Hospital “For Covid” and Those in Hospital “With Covid” – and Not Before Time

After almost 15 months of various forms of lockdown, hospitals have finally been told to change the way they collect data on patients who test positive for Covid. They have been instructed to differentiate between those who are actually sick with Covid symptoms and those who test positive but are actually ill with something else. The Independent has the story.

NHS England has instructed hospitals to make the change to the daily flow of data sent by NHS trusts and told the Independent that the move was being done to help analyse the effect of the vaccine programme and whether it was successfully reducing Covid sickness…

One NHS source said the new data would be “more realistic” as not all patients were sick with the virus, adding: “But it will make figures look better as there have always been some, for example stroke [patients], who also had Covid as an incidental finding.”

In a letter to hospital bosses on June 7th, shared with the Independent, NHS England’s Covid Incident Director, Professor Keith Willett, said that from now on NHS England wanted “a breakdown of the current stock of Covid patients into those who are in hospital with acute Covid symptoms (and for whom Covid is the primary reason for being in hospital); and those who are primarily in hospital for a reason other than Covid (but for whom the hospital is having to manage and treat the Covid symptoms alongside their primary condition)”.

He added: “In lay terms, this could be considered as a binary split between those in hospital ‘for Covid’ and those in hospital ‘with Covid’. We are asking for this binary split for those patients newly admitted to hospital and those newly diagnosed with Covid while in hospital.”…

NHS England data on hospital admissions is published daily at a regional level and several days later on the Government’s dashboard. An internal daily dashboard of Covid data tracks infections across hospitals but is not made public.

Professor Ian Douglas from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said: “I think there are good arguments for presenting these data separately – people in hospital ‘with’ vs ‘for’ Covid, as it does partly address the burden to health services due to the virus. Not completely though, because people in hospital with Covid will presumably also need to be treated differently to avoid further spread, which places some extra burden on the hospitals.

“I’ve got no idea what the split is like at the moment, and importantly we won’t know retrospectively what the trend is. Following on from that, there are only a few days before any announcement about June 21st, which may not give us long enough to be sure about what direction the ‘for Covid’ numbers are going.”

This change resembles the recent shift in the definition of a “case” by the CDC in America, where an infection in a vaccinated person is now only a “case” when the person is hospitalised or dies, whereas with the unvaccinated any positive PCR test still counts as a “case”, no matter how mild or asymptomatic.

Now, I’m all in favour of a more restrictive and conventional definition of case that gives a more realistic picture of the impact of the disease. But one can’t help suspect it’s more about politics than science when the kind of change many of us have been calling for since the start only comes once it helps to create the impression that the vaccines are working.

The Independent report is worth reading in full.

England’s NHS Waiting List Hits Five Million for the First Time

In striving to “protect the NHS”, we have instead placed it under record levels of pressure. The number of people waiting to start hospital treatment in England alone continues to rise and has passed five million for the first time. The number waiting for more than a year remains significantly higher than before Covid – and lockdowns – began. The number of people who actually require treatment will be higher still since many are expected to be living with undiagnosed diseases, such as breast cancer, having been reluctant to burden the health service with check-ups during the pandemic. The Guardian has more.

NHS England’s latest set of monthly performance figures, published on Thursday, show that the waiting list stood at 5,122,017 in April – up 171,720 in a month.

The total has risen from the 4.95 million who were on it in March, which was itself almost 252,000 up on the 4.698 million recorded in February – a month-on-month rise of 5.4%.

The number of people being forced to wait at least a year for treatment in hospital, especially surgery, has fallen for the first time in over a year but remains a serious problem. Thursday’s figures also show that 385,490 people have now been waiting more than 52 weeks, 50,637 down on the 436,127 who were in that position last month.

Such long waits are a new phenomenon. In contrast, in March last year – before Covid triggered a suspension of much NHS care – just 3,097 patients had faced such an unusually long delay.

Ministers, NHS chiefs, medical groups and health charities are worried that growing numbers of patients are facing lengthening waits for vital care including cancer treatment, a hip or knee replacement, heart operations and surgery to remove cataracts to improve eyesight.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Professor Karol Sikora, on Lucy Johnston’s “Sketch notes on a pandemic” podcast, says: “I’ve been working in oncology for nearly 50 years and I’ve never seen a crisis like this before.”