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Trying to write the daily update for Lockdown Sceptics when Caroline has left me in charge of the kids

As regular readers of Lockdown Sceptics will know, there was no update on Tuesday or Thursday of this week. This led to all sorts of speculation, including that the site had been subject to a denial-of-service attack and that it had been shadow-banned by Google!

In fact, I took Tuesday and Thursday off because I had to focus on preparing the Free Speech Union’s legal challenge against Ofcom as well as pulling the papers together for next week’s FSU board meting. I’ve also been neglecting my editorial duties at Quillette. That’s my “day job”, as it were, and doing Lockdown Sceptics has been more of a hobby. Continuing to do it every day just isn’t sustainable – particularly if I want my marriage to Caroline to survive! So I’m going to be posting updates (and other material) on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from now on, with weekend posts occasionally.

I know a lot of you enjoy your regular dose of scepticism and I’m sorry I won’t be able to provide it every day. But there’s now a lot more of it about – in the Telegraph, for instance – and I’m confident that in due course even the Guardian and the BBC will acknowledge that the lockdowns haven’t been an unqualified success. I can feel the tide beginning to turn and eventually it will become a tsunami that sweeps away political leaders and top officials across the world.

Never in the course of human history has so much damage been done to so many by so few.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll continue to check the site regularly – and, of course, continue to talk to each other in the comment threads.

China Dragged Feet Over Releasing Vital Covid Info

Xi to Tedros: “Wait till the photographer’s left the room before you kiss my ring.”

Good story in the Associated Press. Throughout January, the WHO publicly praised China for what it called a “speedy response” to the new coronavirus. It repeatedly thanked the Chinese Government for sharing the genetic map of the virus “immediately” and said its work and commitment to transparency were “very impressive, and beyond words”.

Sounds good, right? But behind the scenes, it was a different story, one of significant delays by China and considerable frustration among WHO officials over not being able to get hold of the information they needed to understand the virus and how best to fight it.

China sat on releasing the genetic map, or genome, of SARS-CoV-2 for more than a week after three different Government labs had fully decoded the information. Tight controls on information and competition within the Chinese public health system were to blame, according to dozens of interviews and internal documents.

Very impressive and beyond words! Tell it like it is, Tedros.

Worth reading in full.

Black Lives Matter; Rank Hypocrisy Doesn’t

Doctors in New York join in a Black Lives Matter protest

Last Sunday I pointed out the rank hypocrisy of progressive journalists in the mainstream media wholeheartedly endorsing the Black Lives Matter protests in spite of depicting Dominic Cummings as the antichrist a couple of weeks ago because he drove to his parents’ house in Durham.

But if you think that was an example of hypocrisy on steroids, get a load of this. More than 1,200 US public health professionals have written an ‘open letter’ supporting the protests. Yes, these are the very same panjandrums who were ordering us to stay at home to flatten the curve until about five minutes ago. As David Bernstein writes in Reason:

Remember when all the politicians and talking heads were telling us we had to listen to the allegedly unanimous opinion of public health experts that nothing, literally NOTHING, was more important that social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus? And that anyone who raised objections to the scope or persistence of lockdowns was a misanthropic, anti-science troglodyte. That was yesterday. Today, protesting against racism is more important.

A friend of mine who’s supported the lockdowns until now is absolutely flabbergasted by this volte-face. “I’m sort of used to PC craziness but this is among the most insane things I’ve ever seen,” he told me. “I’m actually struggling to get my head around it.”

Let me help you with that, buddy. The reason public health workers and progressive politicians are now saying Black Lives Matter protestors are free to completely disregard the social distancing rules they’ve been promoting is because the scientific basis for those rules — particularly the most draconian, such as stay-at-home orders — is virtually non-existent. It was never about “the science”. Asking people to socially distance was, at bottom, a form of puritanical virtue-signalling, an opportunity for holier-than-thou elites to boss around the little people. So of course that “scientific advice” has now been trumped by another even bossier, even more self-righteous form of virtue-signalling: anti-racist sermonising.

The fact that the two are completely at odds with each other doesn’t seem to bother them. Just so long as they can wag their fingers in our faces as they turn puce with rage, they’re happy.

Stop Telling Lies About Sweden

Great column by Fraser Nelson in today’s Telegraph which nails the lie that Anders Tegnell, the architect of Sweden’s coronavirus response, has admitted that not locking down the country was wrong. Worth quoting the first few paragraphs in full:

Has Sweden finally repented of its error in rejecting lockdown? “Light touch cost us many lives, Swedish scientist concedes” ran an Australian headline.

“Swedish faith in Covid strategy plunges after errors revealed,” said an American newswire.

“Sweden’s Tegnell admits too many died,” revealed the BBC.

Only one country seemed to miss this story: Sweden. Anders Tegnell, its state epidemiologist, was quoted talking about other issues – but not renouncing his strategy. Which raises the question as to whether something was lost – or, rather, added – in translation.

Tegnell was asked if too many had died from Covid. “Yes, absolutely,” he replied. Hence the headlines. He went on to underline doubt, as he often does in his daily televised conferences. Everyone is learning all the time, he said, so if this happened again, of course he’d do things differently.

But it’s still too early to say what, he said. Perhaps he would not have closed down sixth-form colleges. He says he has still seen nothing to make him think lockdown worked – and points to Britain as an example of its failure. Will he have made mistakes? Certainly. Which ones? Only time will tell.

This is why scientists tend to stay out of the political arena: honesty backfires. Admit doubt, and it’s spun as a humiliating admission of failure. Admit regret, and it’s a declaration of incompetence. But science is full of doubt: positing a theory, inviting challenge and welcoming refutation.

Sex Loophole

Useful advice from RDawg in the comments beneath Wednesday’s update:

Those worried about not being able to have sex with somebody outside your own household, under The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2020 which were brought into force from Monday June 1st, I may have found a legal loophole.

It says: “7.—(1) During the emergency period…no person may participate in a gathering which takes place in a public or private place—
(a) outdoors, and consists of more than six persons, or
(b) indoors, and consists of two or more persons.

It then says you can be exempted, if “the gathering is reasonably necessary” and includes —
“(i) for work purposes”

Here’s the loophole: As long as one party pays for sex, this would fall under prostitution which is legally a form of work, and therefore exempt from the restrictions. Remember, in Great Britain prostitution is legal as long as you don’t solicit.

Alternatively, you could both start a business together (perhaps set up a limited company) and therefore every time you meet up it would be “for work purposes”.

I hope this is of some comfort to anyone concerned. 😆

Sceptic of the Week

Reyno de Beer. Jacques Naude African News Agency (ANA)

A big shout out to Reyno de Beer, the lockdown sceptic who challenged the constitutional legality of lockdown restrictions in the South African courts and won. According to a South African website:

The man behind the court victory which has the entire country talking, is an ordinary citizen who felt it was his civic duty to take on the mighty Government single-handedly.

It was the proverbial David taking on Goliath when Reyno de Beer, 43, of Derdepoort in Pretoria, faced counsel acting for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria.

De Beer did not hesitate to make his voice heard; he conducted his own case before Judge Norman Davis.

He was the first applicant in the application to have the COVID-19 regulations declared unconstitutional. And he is immensely proud, but humble, that he won his case.

And the capper to this marvellous story is that De Beer’s victory may open the door to more lawsuits in the country.

I salute you, sir.

Latest ONS data on excess deaths

The ONS released some data today about non-Covid excess deaths in the period up to the week ending May 1st (Week 18), including an analysis of possible causes. Here are the headline figures:

Between March 7th and May 1st 2020, a total of 130,009 deaths were registered across England and Wales; this represents an excess of 46,380 death registrations compared to the five-year average, and 12,900 of these deaths (27.8%) did not involve the coronavirus (COVID-19).

So what was the cause of these non-Covid excess deaths? The ONS allows that some of them may have been due to undiagnosed COVID-19. But goes on to say:

The largest increases in non-COVID-19 deaths compared to the five-year average are seen in deaths due to “dementia and Alzheimer disease” and “symptoms, signs and ill-defined conditions” (the latter mostly indicating old age and frailty); overall, there have been 5,404 excess deaths (an increase of 52.2% on the five-year average) due to dementia and Alzheimer disease and 1,567 excess deaths (an increase of 77.8%) due to “symptoms signs and ill-defined conditions” from Week 11 (ending March 13th) to Week 18 (ending May 1st), which together comprise two thirds of total non-COVID-19 excess deaths in this period.

In addition, some excess deaths were due to asthma and diabetes going untreated:

Deaths due to causes such as asthma and diabetes increased up to the week ending April 24th 2020 and occurred increasingly outside hospital; this could suggest a delay in care for these conditions is leading to an increase in deaths, although this rise could also be related to undiagnosed COVID-19.

Worth reminding that a cost-benefit of the lockdown in terms of loss of life doesn’t mean comparing the number of people who’ve died from COVID-19 with the number of people who’ve died – and will die – as a result of the lockdown. It means comparing the loss of life that has likely been prevented by the lockdown with the loss of life that is likely being caused by the lockdown. Since there’s very little evidence that the lockdown has prevented any loss of life, the fact that it has clearly caused some – as many as 12,900 in England and Wales in the period March 7th and May 1st 2020 – is pretty damning.

Incidentally, a woman whose father died in an English care home is taking legal action against the Government in an effort to hold it to account. You can contribute to her crowdfunder here.

LancetGate

Anyone extolling the benefits of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is immediately accused of touting “fake news” – and any posts doing so on Facebook or YouTube will likely be removed, having been red-flagged by the small army of “independent” fact-checkers employed by the social media companies.

But in fact, it’s respectable publications like the Lancet which are guilty of disseminating fake news, not sites like this one.

On May 22nd, the medical journal published a blockbuster peer-reviewed study which found that the antimalarial drug, heralded by Donald Trump as an effective treatment of coronavirus, was associated with a higher mortality rate in COVID-19 patients and increased heart problems. Three days later, the WHO announced it was dropping HCQ from its global study into experimental coronavirus treatments due to safety concerns. Other medical institutions and a number of national government quickly followed suit. It was official: HCQ was dead in the water.

Turns out, the Lancet study was fake news. The data were from a little-known US healthcare analytics company called Surgisphere. According to a report in the Guardian:

A Guardian investigation can reveal the US-based company Surgisphere, whose handful of employees appear to include a science fiction writer and an adult-content model, has provided data for multiple studies on Covid-19 co-authored by its chief executive, but has so far failed to adequately explain its data or methodology.

A science fiction writer and a nude model?!?

The Lancet has now retracted the dodgy paper and the WHO has resumed its HCQ trials.

The question is, why did the “independent” fact-checkers fail to spot this bit of fake news when they’ve been so quick to jump on anything purporting to show HCQ is effective? Could it be that they’re not actually independent at all, but Establishment lackeys determined to discredit anything that suggests COVID-19 isn’t the deadly pathogen it’s made out to be by governments around the world, particularly if it emanates from the White House?

In other drug news, Russia is rolling out a new antiviral and Gilead has announced results from a new trial of Remdesivir that look promising,

And in other research news, there’s evidence that COVID-19 is a blood vessel disease, which would explain the high incidence of blood clots, strokes and heart attacks among its victims. Although this evidence was published in the Lancet so TREAT WITH CAUTION.

Ex-Head of MI6 Endorses “Conspiracy Theory” That Virus Originated in Chinese Biolab

M reacts with alarm to the latest intelligence from her mole inside the Wuhan Institute of Virology

The UK Press Gazette announced on Wednesday that it was launching a campaign entitled “Fight the Infodemic”. “The aim is stop key platforms like Facebook, Google and Twitter from promoting misinformation about vital issues like COVID-19 and instead to favour evidence-based journalism from bona fide outlets,” it wrote. Bona fide outlets like the WHO, presumably, which coined the term “infodemic” to describe more or less any article or YouTube video that dissent from the WHO’s regular updates about the pandemic, even though they contradict each other from one day to the next.

Well, the Gazette may now have a new target in its sights: the Telegraph. On Wednesday, the paper revealed that Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6, believes the virus originated in a Chinese virology lab. As regular readers will know, that hypothesis is often singled out as a “conspiracy theory”, part of the fake news “infodemic” that people like the editor of the UK Press Gazette are determined to protect us from.

In an interview with the Telegraph, Sir Richard said he had seen an “important” new scientific report suggesting the virus did not emerge naturally but was man-made by Chinese scientists.

He pointed to a scientific paper published this week by a Norwegian-British research team that claims to have discovered clues within the virus’s genetic sequence suggesting key elements were “inserted” and may not have evolved naturally.

“I do think that this started as an accident,” Sir Richard said in the new Planet Normal podcast hosted by Allison Pearson and Liam Halligan. “It raises the issue, if China ever were to admit responsibility, does it pay reparations? I think it will make every country in the world rethink how it treats its relationship with China and how the international community behaves towards the Chinese leadership.”

Sir Richard, who was the head of MI6 between 1999 and 2004, cited peer-reviewed research produced by Professor Angus Dalgleish of St George’s Hospital at the University of London, and the Norwegian virologist Birger Sorensen.

In their paper, the scientists claim to have identified “inserted sections placed on the SARS-CoV-2 Spike surface” that explain how the virus binds itself to human cells.

“The SARS-CoV-2 spike is significantly different from any other Sars that we have studied,” the paper says.

It warns that current efforts to develop a vaccine are destined for failure because the true aetiology of the virus has been misunderstood. To remedy the problem, the researchers are developing their own vaccine, produced by Immunor AS, a Norwegian pharmaceutical company led by Mr Sorensen.

Sir Richard described the study as “a very important contribution to a debate which is now starting about how the virus evolved and how it got out and broke out as a pandemic”, adding: “I think this particular article is very important, and I think it will shift the debate.”

He revealed that the Dalgleish/Sorensen paper had been rewritten several times. An earlier version, seen by the Telegraph, concluded that coronavirus should correctly be called “Wuhan virus” and claimed to have proven “beyond reasonable doubt that the COVID-19 virus is engineered”.

“We are aware that these findings could have political significance and raise troubling questions,” the authors originally wrote. The paper was widely circulated behind the scenes after being distributed for peer review, while intelligence officials reportedly examined its findings.

The Dalgleish/Sorensen paper concludes: “Henceforth, those who would maintain that the COVID-19 pandemic arose from zoonotic transfer need to explain precisely why this more parsimonious account is wrong before asserting that their evidence is persuasive, most especially when, as we also show, there are puzzling errors in their use of evidence.”

The paper has not yet been accepted for publication in any scientific journal. I’m happy to publish it on Lockdown Sceptics guys!

There’s more evidence that the virus didn’t original in the Wuhan seafood market here and here.

Stop Press: The Dalgleish/Sorensen paper has now been published, although in what looks like a neutered form.

Dodgy Death Data

The news that the UK has surpassed 40,000 Covid deaths – as of today, the official toll is 40,261– has led to a lot of finger-pointing, That’s the second-highest total in the world after the US.

The impression given by these headline figures is that we’re still in the midst of an epidemic – that more people are dying than ever – when the reality is that the virus is petering out across the country. But that isn’t clear from looking at the daily death toll because of the way deaths are reported in Britain. A reader has emailed to complain about this.

I’m continually annoyed with the bullshit way in which the “new deaths” statistics are being presented. The daily reported figure is a combination of all deaths since March which so far have gone unreported. However, it is seized upon at the daily briefing and held up as though it’s all deaths within the past 24 hours, which it certainly isn’t.

To compound that bullshit, they show a graph with each days “reported” figure on it, and then they overlay the seven-day average, which is basically just a line on a picture, as it doesn’t convey anything statistically meaningful.

The actual new deaths (at least for NHS Hospitals in England) have been plummeting over the past couple of weeks, with this past week of totals being the lowest since the middle of March.

I show the totals (so far) for the past 14 days below;

T 145

F 120

S 122 (May 23rd)

S 110

M 131

T 131

W 114

T 111

F 101

S 85 (May 30th)

S 72

M 75

T 69

W 24 (up to 5pm yesterday)

I wonder how long it will be before we have a day when NO new deaths are reported by NHS England – my feeling is it will be very soon, possibly the start of next week. My further wonder, then, is how long before the Government realises that there is absolutely no way that the lockdown can continue when there are no longer any people dying of COVID-19?

How reliable are the Covid death tolls of the other countries we’re being compared to?

Spain, for instance, reported no new deaths from COVID-19 in the 48 hours to midday on Tuesday, hailed as “an achievement of everyone” by Pedro Sánchez, the Spanish Prime Minister. Yet on the same day, two Spanish regions – Madrid and Castile-La Mancha – reported 17 deaths between them. When questioned about this, the Spanish Health Ministry said it hadn’t been informed of any death that had taken place in the previous 24 hours.

The reason for the discrepancy is the Health Ministry only includes deaths in its daily update if they’ve occurred in the last 24 hours and been reported to the Ministry. If they occurred earlier, but were only reported in the last 24 hours – or if they occurred in the last 24 hours, but weren’t reported – they aren’t included in the update.

In other words, one of the reasons the UK has a higher death rate than its European neighbours is because some of them have been fiddling the figures.

World’s Most Influential Statistician Says Social Distancing Rules Unnecessary

Freddie Sayers has a new interview up at UnHerd, this time with Professor Karl Friston, ranked by Science magazine as the most influential statistician in the world. He’s the guy who coined the phrase “immunological dark matter” to explain the apparently mysterious discrepancy between Covid death tolls in different countries. Judging from everything he says, Professor Friston is a fully-fledged lockdown sceptic. Here is Freddie summarising the interview:

His models suggest that the stark difference between outcomes in the UK and Germany, for example, is not primarily an effect of different government actions (such as better testing and earlier lockdowns) but is better explained by intrinsic differences between the populations that make the “susceptible population” in Germany – the group that is vulnerable to COVID-19 – much smaller than in the UK.

As he told me in our interview, even within the UK, the numbers point to the same thing: that the “effective susceptible population” was never 100%, and was at most 50% and probably more like only 20% of the population. He emphasises that the analysis is not yet complete, but “I suspect, once this has been done, it will look like the effective non-susceptible portion of the population will be about 80%. I think that’s what’s going to happen.”

Theories abound as to which factors best explain the huge disparities between countries in the portion of the population that seems resistant or immune – everything from levels of vitamin D to ethnic-genetic and social and geographical differences may come into play – but Professor Friston makes clear that it does not primarily seem to be a function of government coronavirus policy.

In other words, none of the interventions made by the British Government, with the support of its scientific advisors, has made the slightest bit of difference to the rate of infection or the death toll.

As Freddie points out, this has huge implications when it comes to relaxing social distancing measures – and makes a nonsense of compulsory mask-wearing on public transport.

Immediately it would change how we should think about lifting lockdown: a tube carriage in London might in theory have to be restricted to 15% capacity to maintain social distancing of two metres, but if, as Professor Friston believes, the susceptible population in London was only ever 26% and 80% or more of that group is now provably immune via antibody testing, you can put a lot more people in a tube carriage without increasing the level of risk. Ditto restaurants, pubs, theatres and most recently, MPs in parliament. It would question the whole idea of social distancing being a feature of any “new normal”.

Worth watching in full.

Sir Patrick Vallance Puts Two Metres Between Himself and Politically Toxic Quarantine Plan

At the daily press briefing on Wednesday, Sir Patrick Vallance was at pains to distance himself from the Government’s plan to quarantine arrivals at British airports for two weeks, reports the Times.

At Wednesday’s press conference, Vallance confirmed that SAGE scientists had not been asked to provide advice on the Government’s quarantine proposals.

He warned that quarantining new arrivals at ports of entry was only likely to be effective at the beginning of a pandemic when it could be used to restrict travel from countries with high rates of infection. He emphasised that the decision about when to impose such measures was “something for politicians to make”.

They make the policy and they make the timing decisions. The advice that the experts from SAGE gave is that the measures at the border are most effective when the incidence is very low in this country and when applied to countries which have higher incidence.

Meanwhile, Theresa May is leading a back bench rebellion against the plan. Already, the following workers will be exempt:

  • People moving through the UK (such as passing through airports en route to another country)
  • Road hauliers
  • Coach and public transport operators
  • Seamen, ship pilots and ship inspectors
  • Air crew
  • Civil aviation inspectors
  • Cross-channel rail drivers and crew
  • Civil servants or government contractors needed for “essential policing or essential government work”
  • Guards escorting prisoners
  • People entering the UK to carry out emergency work on water, sewerage, electrical or rail networks
  • Nuclear personnel essential to safe operation of a site
  • Inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in the UK for an inspection
  • People carrying out critical roles at a space site or on a spacecraft
  • Specialist aerospace engineers
  • Downstream oil workers
  • Offshore oil workers
  • Postal workers in the UK in their official role
  • Specialist workers in the UK to ensure continued production or supply of goods
  • Specialist waste management workers
  • Someone receiving healthcare (or accompanying a child)
  • People transporting blood or human cells
  • Healthcare professionals needed to work in next 14 days
  • Medicines regulator inspectors
  • People taking part in clinical trials
  • Those carrying out a clinical investigation
  • Telecoms engineers
  • People working in the UK who reside in another country and return at least once a week
  • Seasonal workers in the UK specifically to work in horticulture

If the Government is looking for a face-saving way to climb down, couldn’t it just make this list even longer?

Stop Press: Simon Dolan and his legal team have written an eight-page letter to Priti Patel challenging the legality of the quarantine plan. They make the following points:

  • A significant number of people who travel to and from the UK are fully exempt from the plans, meaning thousands of potentially infectious people will be free to spread the virus anyway.
  • Under the regulations, anyone is permitted to use public transport to travel to their place of self-isolation and once there can live with others and can also go out to the shops to obtain supplies of food. So what’s the point?
  • There is no way of enforcing the 14-day quarantine period – this is completely dependent on self-compliance.
  • The regulations will have a devastating effect on the aviation and travel industries.
  • The knock-on effect will be felt by countless other industries – such as the hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions catering to foreign visitors.

Facemasks Mandatory on Public Transport – What Fresh Hell is This?

Commuters at Waterloo Station waiting to board the 5.45pm to Guildford

At Thursday’s press briefing, Transport Minister Grant Shapps announced that face coverings would be mandatory on public transport from June 15th. Why, given that even the WHO has concluded that wearing masks is pretty pointless?

Today, in a Lockdown Sceptics exclusive, I’ve published a comprehensive review of the scientific literature on facemarks by the biomedical researcher David Crowe. His conclusion is as follows:

Evidence is largely against mask-wearing by the general public. It is generally seen as ineffective, may take attention away from other protective measures, will reduce the supply of masks for healthcare workers and may cause harm when worn for extended periods of time.

Worth reading in full.

The Government must know that facemasks are useless, so why this ridiculous assault on our liberty? The only explanation I can think of is that ministers like Grant Shapps don’t think the public will believe them if they tell the truth – that it’s perfectly safe to use public transport – because they’ve succeeded in scaring the bejesus out of them over the past 12 weeks. The only way to coax the labour force out from under their beds and back into the workplace is to make mask-wearing compulsory.

A Parent Writes…

I’ve been getting a lot of emails like this:

I am appalled as a parent that going back to the classroom for my youngest means social distancing – no toys, no books, no proper outdoor playing, etc… whilst out there we are treated with pictures of mass gatherings with hundreds flaunting the rules we are meant to adhere to. Bonkers and double-standards of the highest order.

And the Real Identity of Wilfred Thomas Is…

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It’s a lockdown sceptic

The young academic who’s written several brilliant piece for Lockdown Sceptics using the pseudonym “Wilfred Thomas” has told me to reveal his true identity. “I’ve decided to leave higher education,” he says. “If an academic can’t write that type of thing and put his name on it then what’s the point of higher education?”

The man behind the mask is in fact… drum roll… Dr Frederick Attenborough, a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Bishop Grosseteste University.

Freddie will be writing more for Lockdown Sceptics, but under his real name in future. In the mean time, have another read of his masterwork: “The 1957-58 Asian Flu Pandemic: Why Did the UK Respond So Differently?

Round-Up

And on to the round-up of all the stories I’ve noticed, or which have been been brought to my attention, in the last 24 hours:

Small Businesses That Have Reopened

A few weeks ago, Lockdown Sceptics launched a searchable directory of open businesses across the UK. The idea is to celebrate those retail and hospitality businesses that have reopened, as well as help people find out what has opened in their area. But we need your help to build it, so we’ve created a form you can fill out to tell us about those businesses that have opened near you. Please visit the page and let us know about those brave folk who are doing their bit to get our country back on its feet.

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the last 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. It takes me about nine hours, which doesn’t leave much time for other work. If you feel like donating, however small the amount, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links I should include in future updates, email me here.

And Finally…

In my Spectator column this week I take aim at YouTube for banning my video setting out the case against lockdowns and shadow-banning the Triggernometry interview with Peter Hitchens. Here’s a couple of paragraphs:

Apparently YouTube now has a policy of censoring any talking heads, no matter how distinguished, who dissent from Covid orthodoxy. This was announced by the company’s CEO Susan Wojcicki on CNN on April 19th. In an interview on Reliable Sources, she said YouTube would remove any information about the virus it regarded as “problematic”: “Anything that would go against World Health Organisation recommendations would be a violation of our policy.”

For those who care about free speech, this is deeply alarming. One of the WHO’s recommendations in the early stages of the pandemic was that countries indiscriminately quarantine whole populations, as China did. That policy, which has been widely taken up and which may well have caused more deaths than it has prevented, has resulted in the civil rights of more than a billion people being suspended. Is the American social media company really saying we’re not allowed to criticise that? Yes, because that’s exactly what I was doing in the video clip I posted.

Stop Press: I’m happy to announce that on the day my column appeared, YouTube ended its shadow-ban of the Hitchens interview. I was just one of several voices calling for the ban to be lifted, but Peter was kind enough to thank me on Twitter.

Delighted to do anything to help, Peter.