Doesn’t It All Seem So Very Odd?

There follows a guest post by retired dentist Dr. Mark Shaw on the strangeness of this ongoing ‘pandemic’.

I was booked in for a telephone consultation with a new representative from my pension company recently.  We introduced ourselves and somehow couldn’t avoid the subject of Covid. I didn’t want to get too involved in a potentially awkward discussion but couldn’t hold back from highlighting the illogic in so much of the Government’s response to the disease. I sensed he too wanted to remain neutral so it was both a relief and quite surprising to hear him respond with: “I have to agree – it all does seem so very odd.”

Do I sense a point in time, a turning point, now where more and more people are thinking the same?

In the last 18 months:

Why Isn’t It “All Over Bar the Shouting”? Why Aren’t We Back to Normal Yet?

Positive Covid tests as reported by Public Health England declined again yesterday to 29,622 after two days of going up a bit. ONS data, also out yesterday, confirmed that infections have peaked and declined in the past 10 days among people over 16 – though, unexpectedly, also showed a surge among the under-16s that appears not to have been picked up by PHE. Is this because parents have stopped testing their children and reporting it to PHE now school is out and holidays are approaching? Some have suggested the ONS is picking up ‘cold positives’ from old infections. Either way, all eyes are on the data to see what will happen next.

But should they be? After all, what now are we waiting for? All the vulnerable and more are vaccinated, and the vaccines appear to give a decent enough protection from serious disease and death. Or even if they don’t, there’s nothing more that can be done, so we might as well go back to normal anyway and the virus will do whatever it does, and the vaccines will do whatever they do.

With all our delaying of lifting restrictions – planning to take an indefensible four months over it and in the event taking five, and then doing it half-heartedly, leaving strongly-worded guidance in place – it’s hard to believe that Florida ended all statewide restrictions in autumn 2020 and Texas and some other states did so in spring 2021. They saw no new surge after the winter – not until Delta arrived in the last few weeks, suggesting that it’s not lifting restrictions that causes surges (and thus it wasn’t imposing them that ended them) but new variants, presumably due to their partial immune evasion temporarily disrupting herd immunity.

But even so, Delta has shown that it’s nothing much to be afraid of, with the U.K.’s infection rate dropping following the lifting of restrictions on July 19th, having peaked by specimen date on July 15th at 60,665 positive tests. Scotland peaked over two weeks earlier at the end of June.

What more, then, is the Government waiting for? The only reason we were given for still being cautious was uncertainty over the threat from Delta, with Government advisers issuing warnings in the run-up to ‘Freedom Day’ of massive waves of infections and hospitalisations. We now know that this didn’t happen. Even if reported infections don’t continue to drop like they have in the last fortnight, we know that the threat was greatly overblown and the doomy models (which have always exaggerated the risk, as Sweden and South Dakota attest) can’t be trusted.

Is Christopher Snowdon an Anti-Vaxxer?

Christopher Snowdon is plainly an anti-vaxxer, however well he tries to hide it. “Existing Covid vaccines are simply not good enough at preventing transmission and infection,” he writes. Hasn’t he read the trial results, showing 95% efficacy against infection for the Pfizer vaccine and 74% for the AstraZeneca vaccine? Or the large population study from Israel showing Pfizer’s 92% efficacy? Or the study from Public Health England showing 67% and 88% vaccine efficacy against the Delta variant for AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines respectively?

On what does he base his bald assertion that they are “not good enough at preventing transmission and infection”? Clearly not the science. He doesn’t appear to feel it necessary to give a single scientific reference for a claim that flies in the face of all these respectable studies, leaving the baffled reader assuming he must have picked it up in some article he read on an obscure website somewhere, presumably by a pseudo-scientific sceptic in denial.

This, of course, is not the way to go about intelligently criticising someone’s viewpoint. Which is precisely my point. As it happens, I agree with Christopher that the current vaccines are not very good at preventing infection or transmission, particularly now the Delta variant is in town. But I’m also aware that that is not the current mainstream scientific position (though it is based on recent official data and reports). Rather, it is currently a claim being circulated among the very networks that Christopher pillories in his recent piece in Quillette, naming and shaming the “coronavirus cranks”.

It seems, then, that Christopher is not averse to a spot of ‘crankery’ himself. But how helpful really is all this name-calling, mudslinging and smear by association? Science does not advance by consensus, by everyone agreeing, or by closing down dissenters. Christopher himself is evidently sceptical of one of the key mainstream vaccine claims – that they are highly effective against infection and transmission – so inadvertently places himself within the ambit of his own polemic. Indeed, at one point he fires a shot at the ‘smileys’, as he calls sceptics, for being sceptical of the vaccines, arguing the jabs “have been tested in clinical trials and have demonstrated their safety and effectiveness beyond reasonable doubt in recent months”. Yet he himself goes on to doubt their effectiveness!

Neither Zero Covid nor Vaccinations will Allow us to Return to Normality: We Must Learn To Live With Covid

We’re publishing on original essay today by Dr. Lee Jones, a reader in International Politics at Queen Mary. He argues that trying to suppress a virus that has an infection fatality rate of 0.05% for the under-70s is pointless and the sooner we learn to live with it, the better. Here is an extract.

Lockdowns and other societal restrictions were never recommended in pre-Covid pandemic planning by the World Health Organisation or national governments, because they were of unproven and dubious efficacy and came at tremendous cost. That most countries collapsed into some form of lockdown, throwing out their existing pandemic planning, thus indicates decisions taken in moments of panic, amid mounting, media-induced fear among the general public.

In most (though not all) countries, governments lacked the necessary authority to resist such pressure and hold to existing plans, which focused on delaying the spread of new diseases and mitigating their impact. Crucially, moreover, in many places, including Britain and Australia, the state was also very poorly prepared to do even this. Successive governments failed to invest in necessary capacities, outsourcing planning and preparedness to local authorities and private companies. Consequently, existing systems soon collapsed, adding to the sense of panic. As the U.K.’s Deputy Cabinet Secretary told the Prime Minister’s chief adviser on March 12th – the day that test-and-tracing was secretly abandoned because the U.K. could only handle five tests per week – “I’ve been told for years there’s a whole plan for this. There is no plan… I think we are absolutely fucked.”

Lockdown was thus the result of panic and state failure. It appealed to politicians because it gave the public what they seemed to be clamouring for, and bought time to organise a better response. The trouble is that justifying and securing compliance with such draconian measures entailed a colossal propaganda effort that has permanently skewed public perceptions of the virus, and inverted the proper relationship between state and citizen. As Laura Dodsworth chronicles in A State of Fear, the U.K. Government deliberately mobilised behavioural psychology to instil fear into the population to increase compliance with lockdown measures. The media has followed suit for its own purposes.

A conformist culture ensued in which dissenting voices – even among world-leading scientists – have been silenced, censored, or subjected to abuse. Sceptics are derided as “Covidiots”, “selfish morons” and people who want to “kill granny”. The proper relationship between citizen and state in a democracy has been turned on its head, with the Government telling the public what to do, rather than vice-versa, and demanding that people stay home to “protect the NHS”, when the NHS’s job is actually to protect us.

Worth reading in full.

“This is Still a Very Dangerous Disease,” Says Boris Johnson. But Neil Ferguson Disagrees: “The Equation has Fundamentally Changed”

Boris Johnson today told reporters that Covid is “still a very dangerous disease” as he encouraged people to stick with self-isolation when ‘pinged’. “Don’t forget, we will be coming forward with a new system from August 16th,” he said during a visit to Surrey Police HQ in Guildford. “Until then please everyone, stick with the programme.”

He also warned against drawing “premature conclusions” from the dropping coronavirus case numbers, saying:

I’ve noticed, obviously, that we are six days in to some better figures. But it is very, very important that we don’t allow ourselves to run away with premature conclusions about this. Step Four of the opening-up only took place a few days ago, people have got to remain very cautious and that remains the approach of the Government.

The PM’s remarks may be little more than prudent caution, but describing Covid as “still a very dangerous disease” doesn’t tally with the fatality rate, always very low for most of the population at below 0.1%, and now apparently reduced further including for those at higher risk by the vaccination programme. Does Boris not believe the vaccines are effective? If he doesn’t, what was the point of them? The Government needs to sort out its messaging on this.

PHE Data Shows Vaccine Effectiveness Reduced to Just 17% In Over-50s

The data from the two most recent technical briefings (No. 18, published July 9th, and No. 19, published July 23rd) from Public Health England shows that vaccine effectiveness against infection in the over-50s has plummeted to just 17% in the month between June 21st and July 19th, which corresponds to the main Delta surge.

The data is derived by subtracting the figures in table 5 in briefing 18 (up to June 21st) from those in briefing 19 (up to July 19th) to give just the data for the intervening period.

Briefing 18 gives 9,885 ‘cases’ of the Delta variant in those over 50 who have received at least one vaccine dose and 1,267 ‘cases’ in the unvaccinated over 50 up to June 21st. Briefing 19 gives 18,873 ‘cases’ in the vaccinated and 2,337 in the unvaccinated for the period up to July 19th. Subtracting the earlier from the later gives 8,988 ‘cases’ in the vaccinated and 1,070 in the unvaccinated for the month from June 21st to July 19th.

To calculate the vaccine effectiveness we need to know the infection rate in the vaccinated and unvaccinated groups. According to the PHE week 29 surveillance report, as of July 18th, 20,331,977 people over 50 in England were vaccinated and 2,016,818 were unvaccinated. This gives an infection rate in the vaccinated of 0.044% and an infection rate in the unvaccinated of 0.053%.

Vaccine effectiveness can be calculated by dividing the infection rate in the vaccinated by the infection rate in the unvaccinated and taking away from 100%. Thus 0.044/0.053 gives a vaccine effectiveness of 16.7%, which rounds to 17%.

PHE has recently published a study in the NEJM claiming vaccine effectiveness against the Delta variant of 67% for AstraZeneca and 88% for Pfizer. However, that was using data from April and May when prevalence was very low. This data is from the recent surge in the Delta variant, which is when vaccine effectiveness is really tested. Like recent data from the surge in Israel, it shows that vaccine effectiveness against infection is not holding up.

As noted yesterday, vaccine effectiveness against serious disease and death appears to be holding up much better. This means that those who see vaccines as the necessary pre-condition to removing restrictions don’t need to change course. However, it does indicate that vaccines do little to prevent infection or transmission and so there is no justification for vaccinating young people and children to protect others, or for any coercive measures like vaccine passports. Each person can be free to weigh up the risks and benefits of being vaccinated for themselves.

This article has been updated.

New Data Casts Doubt on the Effectiveness of Covid Vaccines Against Infection

A snapshot of data from the beginning of the month in Israel suggests that the Pfizer vaccine is not protecting against infection now the Delta variant is in town, with infections in the vaccinated across all age groups being no less than you’d expect if the vaccine did nothing.

Could there be another explanation here? Possibly. It’s only a snapshot. What if infections in the unvaccinated peaked earlier than in the vaccinated, as ZOE data at one point showed happening in the U.K.?

Talking of ZOE data, in the middle of last week the study updated its methods (described here) which had the result of completely removing the peak in the unvaccinated infections and replacing it with the opposite, a further climb (see below, the old method put the peak around July 1st).

Christian Organisation Tells the Unvaccinated They’re Not Welcome

A reader has contacted us to tell us her shock upon discovering that the Christian organisation she supports, United Beach Missions, is requiring the people who participate as volunteers in its summer activities (many of them young people) to be vaccinated. Here, we publish her correspondence with them.

She first contacted them through a web form:

I was very concerned to see that you are requiring a vaccine for the beach mission. I presume you are unaware that all the current Covid vaccines are only possible because of abortion benefit, and that a number of Christians feel a moral obligation to avoid the vaccine. This article concerns the use of foetal cell lines in the production of the vaccines. 

Furthermore, I personally have never known a vaccine to have caused such a quantity of adverse reactions or deaths. I base that on the Yellow Card scheme Government data and USA VAERS data. There are many doctors who are currently being censored who are saying it would be absolutely immoral for children or young adults to be coerced to take the vaccine. Safety trials do not finish until 2023 and there is no mid to long-term data on safety. I pray that the beach mission will not take this stance as we know a number of young people who would love to do beach mission and have done it in the past.

This was UBM’s reply:

Dear xxxx,

Thank you for your letter which we have read with interest. 

I am sure you will agree that we are in very difficult days. The steps we have reluctantly taken have been done so with the best of intentions and prayerfully before the Lord.

They have been taken in line with the best Christian and medical advice available to us and with the overarching aim of keeping people safe. We are therefore asking those who come on teams this year to have had the vaccine with the aim of keeping others safe. The issue is the risk to people closely sharing living accommodation, and we are seeking to protect and care for people by limiting transmission, isolation and people getting long Covid. We have sought to minimise the risk as much as possible. We accept this is unlikely to be a perfect set of decisions but has been made after much prayer, consultation and discussion.

The stance of UBM on these ethical questions is very much in line with the churches from which our members come and in line with other Christian organisations. UBM is not pro-abortion and we have made this very clear in our teaching many times. 

We accept that that vaccination raises important questions and we fully respect the conscientious objection of other believers in not taking the vaccine. 

There are others however who in good conscience believe that to take a vaccine is the better pro-life decision: we trust that you can appreciate their position.

Ultimately we all have the same Lord to Whom we must answer. 

We thank your for your support for UBM. We ask for your forbearance and prayers that we may be given wisdom and help in undertaking our mission this year.

Yours in Christ,

xxxx, xxxx 

Her reply:

NHS Says 66% of 18-30s Are Vaccinated as of July 18th – But PHE Says its 59%. Don’t They Know?

The NHS has announced that around two thirds of people aged 18-29 in England have now had one vaccine dose. The Telegraph reports.

A third of young adults in England have still not had a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, new figures show.

Around 66.4% of people aged between 18 to 29 had received a first dose as of July 18th, according to estimates from NHS England.

This means 33.6% are likely to be unvaccinated – the equivalent of around 2.9 million adults under 30.

The data shows that vaccine uptake continues to be lower among men than women, with only 65% of men aged 25 to 29 having had a first dose, compared with 71.9% of women in the same age group.

Yet the update from Public Health England, out today, with data up to July 18th, reports the same figure as 59%. It also shows the trend flattening, suggesting it’s unlikely to hit 66% very soon.

What’s going on? This is a difference of around 600,000 people. Don’t they know how many they have vaccinated? How can they disagree by over half a million people?

Stop Press: A reader has got in touch with an explanation.

The PHE figure would appear to be sound see here.

Scroll to the bottom. You’ll see that the 18-24 age group is 59.07% and for 25-29 age group it’s 59%.

The problem is that when the NHS report 66.4% vaccinated this is a deception. For the general population statistic, they arrive at this number by taking total vaccinations and dividing by the population in mid 2019. Of course, many who have had vaccinations have (either due to, or for other reasons) sadly died. (I notice that they’ve just updated this to the mid 2020 population, but it’s still not accurate.)

Meanwhile, the PHE statistic is based on vaccinations given to those in an age group with an NHS number. It’s a reasonable guess that those without an NHS number are less likely to go for an NHS vaccine.

Last time I wrote, I predicted that the error was at least 1.5% and growing.

The statistic you quote suggests the error to be more than 6%.

Applied to the country as a whole, this would mean that only 81.7% of the population has been vaccinated.

The statistic the NHS use is simply not a percentage. It is a deceptive misuse of statistics which is mathematically wrong.

The statistic is so badly wrong, that it is possible that in the future it will be possible to have more than 100% of the population vaccinated.

I believe for this reason that once they start vaccinating children they may switch the statistic.

At the moment, if you are to use the total vaccinations given then you must divide this by the total population in 2021.

Total vaccinations = 46,433,845
Total UK population = 68,265,710

So the total with one dose vaccinated is: 46,433,845/68,265,710 = 68%

This is not as impressive a figure, but it sits in the 60%-80% target we were all told about for herd immunity, and given the additional natural immunity, it’s fair to say that the whole lockdown/rules and nonsense can now come to an end.

We all know, though, that they won’t.

The Great Betrayal

Destroy their education. Destroy their jobs and their job prospects. Destroy their social life, their friendships, their mental health. Force them to work long hours at school or in physically demanding jobs in uncomfortable and breath-inhibiting face masks. This is what our country has done to our young people in the past 16 months.

Why? In an attempt (and not a very successful one) to protect a small minority of mostly elderly folk who are particularly vulnerable to one disease while we wait in limbo to develop a vaccine and roll it out to the vulnerable population.

Then do we give them back their freedom? Not at all. Then we move the goalposts, making freedom conditional on more and more people getting the vaccine. Until we make it to so-called ‘Freedom Day’, a month later than originally planned, and Boris Johnson chooses then to tell young people that their freedom to do the things they enjoy will be dependent on receiving a vaccine.

A vaccine that uses experimental technology and was rushed through trials without waiting for the full safety data (trials which will never now conclude as the control groups have been vaccinated). A vaccine, or rather vaccines, which the authorities now acknowledge increase the risk of dangerous blood clotting and heart conditions, particularly in younger people. Vaccines for which there are now more reports of fatalities in the U.S. than all other vaccines put together for the past 30 years.