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Censortech

Censorship of Covid dissent reached new heights yesterday with a concerted effort by numerous social media platforms to remove all content relating to the press conference held by America’s Frontline Doctors. Not only did Facebook and YouTube remove the videos – and the server hosting the Doctors’ website disabled it – but Twitter banned Donald Trump Jr from its platform for 12 hours because he posted a tweet that contained content from the press conference relating to hydroxychloroquine. (You can still see a video of the press conference on Bitchute here.) Dr Stella Immanuel, one of the doctors featured in the video, has been widely ridiculed for her strange beliefs, branded a “witch-doctor” and had her Twitter account deleted. (You can read a transcript of some of her remarks at the press conference here.)

According to the BBC, the reason the video has been banned is because it promotes the use of hydroxychloroquine, both as a prophylactic and an effective treatment.

The video, a 45-minute livestream of the first day of a “White Coat” summit by the group, was posted to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube by Breitbart and quickly went viral.

“The virus has a cure, it’s called hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and Zithromax,” says one of the doctors in the video.

“You don’t need masks. There is a cure. I know they don’t want to open schools. No, you don’t need people to be locked down. There is prevention and there is a cure.”

Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have removed the content because it violates their “COVID-19 misinformation policies”, presumably by touting the benefits of hydroxychloroquine.

In a statement to BBC News, Twitter said: “Tweets with the video are in violation of our COVID-19 misinformation policy. We are taking action in line with our policy here.”

“We’ve removed this video for sharing false information about cures and treatments for COVID-19,” Facebook told the BBC, confirming it was also removing other versions of the video.

YouTube told the BBC: “We have removed the video for violating our COVID-19 misinformation policies.”

This view – that claiming hydroxychloroquine can be used both to prevent and cure COVID-19 is straightforwardly false and could lead to people harming themselves – appears to be based on the WHO’s official guidance.

The WHO says: “While several drug trials are ongoing, there is currently no proof that hydroxychloroquine or any other drug can cure or prevent COVID-19.”

“The misuse of hydroxychloroquine can cause serious side effects and illness and even lead to death,” it adds.

There are three things wrong with this argument for censoring America’s Frontline Doctors and anyone who links to the group’s claims.

First, while there may be no definitive “proof” that hydroxychloroquine “can cure or prevent COVID-19”, there isn’t any definitive “proof” that wearing non-surgical masks reduces the risk of infection either. Yes, there’s some evidence that non-surgical masks are effective, but then there’s also some evidence that hydroxychloroquine is effective. This study conducted by the French doctor and virologist professor Didier Raoult, for instance. That study has been subject to intense scrutiny and considerable criticism, but other, less controversial studies have also found hydroxychloroquine to be effective (see here for instance) and it’s still used in hospitals around the world to treat COVID-19 patients, including in the US. In Russia, Spain and Nigeria, as well as in some other countries, its use is recommended by the public health authorities. Yes, its “misuse” can result in harm, but that’s also true of almost any medical intervention, including face masks. Why apply a higher standard to doctors promoting hydroxychloroquine than to those promoting masks? If Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are going to ban anyone from touting the benefits of hydroxychloroquine on the grounds that there’s no definitive “proof” that it’s effective, shouldn’t they also ban anyone from touting the benefits of non-surgical masks?

Second, while some studies have shown hydroxychloroquine to be an ineffective and harmful treatment – see here and here, for instance – there isn’t any definitive “proof” that it’s ineffective and harmful. On the contrary, numerous trials are still going on around the world to try and determine how effective it is (if at all). Many of those trials were halted, including one by the WHO, after a study was published in the Lancet purporting to show the use of hydroxychloroquine increased the risk of death in COVID-19 patients, but the data cited in that paper turned out to be dubious and the Lancet subsequently retracted it and apologised. The trials have now been resumed. In the absence of “proof” that hydroxychloroquine is ineffective or harmful, why should the default positions of the Big Tech companies be to ban any doctors promoting it? In due course, the weight of evidence may point to its effectiveness, so by banning doctors from singing its praises YouTube and Twitter could be causing harm. At present, it’s far from obvious that publishing such content is more harmful than removing it.

Third, social media platforms should err on the side of free speech, so in the absence of “proof” that hydroxychloroquine is actually harmful they shouldn’t ban people promoting it. If an organisation intends to violate a person’s right to free speech – particularly a social media company – the burden of proof should be on that organisation to show that more harm will came from allowing the person to speak than from stopping them speaking, and in this case, that threshold hasn’t been met.

I’m afraid this is just another example of Big Tech companies labelling a point of view that’s endorsed by Donald Trump and other conservatives as “misinformation” to give them with an excuse for censoring it. The real reason, as always, is political.

A Patient Writes

Today’s Blower cartoon in the Telegraph

I got an email from a frustrated reader who tried and failed to get an appointment with his GP yesterday.

Two days ago I got to witness what a basket case the NHS has been turned into.

My GP does not now do face to face bookings. Nor can you book an appointment over the internet any more, you have to ring up.

So at 12.30pm I did so. I was in a queue, and I ended up hanging on the phone for 40 minutes until I spoke to a receptionist. I asked her if I could speak to a GP. She said sorry, there were no appointments available this week, but I could ring at 8am or 2pm to try and get an ’emergency’ appointment. I said it’s only 45 minutes till 2pm, could this not be sorted now: she said no, the computer system only “opens” at 2pm.

So I rang back at 2pm. It was engaged. I tried again 20 times, it was always engaged. I finally got through and was put in a queue. At 2.45 I spoke to the receptionist. I requested an emergency appointment. She said sorry, they have all gone, I’d have to try tomorrow at 8am.

At this point I pretty much broke down, saying I’d been on the phone for nearly an hour and a half today and still no sign of any appointment with a GP, and no guarantee I would get one this week, no matter how many times I rang back. I was in utter despair.

The slightly happy ending to the tale is that because I complained to her so much, she did pass a message on to the doctor, and I was rang later to tell me a prescription was ready to pick up. But no GP appointment, which is what I most need.

This is what the Government has done to the NHS thanks to its bug eyed focus on one single virus, a virus which has declined massively in the last four months. I pity those who are older than me and iller than me, this is a terrible situation with real human cost.

Btw, I live in Bath which, as far as I am aware, has had very, very few infections in the last months.

Public Hopelessly Misinformed About Covid Mortality

This is astonishing. An opinion pollster – Kekst CNC – has discovered that the people of Scotland believe that 10.23% of the UK population have died from coronavirus! That’s approximately seven million people, more than the entire population of Scotland (5.454 million). No wonder mobs of nationalists are setting up makeshift roadblocks on the English border.

Admittedly, Kekst only asked 89 Scots, so it’s a tiny sample, but the polling company asked 527 women across the UK the same question and they think that 9.91% of the population have succumbed to the virus. Men are less pessimistic – they believe 3.45% of the population have died – but the mean figure is 6.76%, or four-and-a-half million. And in the US, the mean is a whopping 9%! That’s twenty nine-and-a-half million.

This throws some light on why the British public has been so compliant with lockdown restrictions and are so keen on mandatory face coverings. (According to Kekst, 65% of the UK population is in favour of compulsory face masks in indoor public spaces.) They’ve effectively been completely terrorised by the Government and the mainstream media. Not bed-wetters, just hopelessly misinformed.

Needless to say, the real Covid death toll is <0.1% of the UK population.

Postcard From the Hague

A reader has been in touch to tell me about his recent trip to The Hague. Sounds heavenly.

I just returned from two weeks house-sitting in The Hague. The difference in atmosphere was jaw-dropping. Whilst there are some token rules (largely ignored), it is clear that the Dutch have not been subjected to anything like the kind of fear campaign that the Brits have. The city centres of The Hague, Rotterdam, and Amsterdam were all bustling and filled with lively outdoor and indoor bars cafes and restaurants, with no distancing or masks. I even attended three jazz gigs, one of which took place in a crowded bar in Amsterdam, and featured a legendary 85-year-old Dutch drummer who also happily chatted to me in close proximity afterwards without batting an eyelid. (I suppose he must be one of those old people who have decided to “keep on living”).

Returning to the UK involved a stern commandment to fill in the Government’s online form and present it at the border or risk a hefty fine. After descending the steps down to the car deck of the ferry back to Harwich behind a British woman adorned with plastic gloves, a face mask, AND a plastic visor over her head (I never saw any such thing in Holland of course), I then breezed through the passport control without any mention of the form, meaning I needn’t have bothered with it and had been merely convinced to comply voluntarily by the threat of a fine.

Now if so much as ONE person on the enormous half-empty ferry tests positive we will all be told to self-isolate, I suppose.

What’s Causing Excess Deaths in Homes?

There’s an interesting new blog post by Carl Heneghan and Daniel Howden at the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine about the high numbers of excess deaths in homes and what the likely causes are.

While the currently registered deaths in England and Wales have fallen below the five-year average for the last five weeks, excess deaths at home remain above average and high. Over 700 excess deaths per week – 3,799 in total reported in the home setting over the past five weeks. Only 179 deaths of these have mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate.

It is not clear why there is such excess in the home. What is clear is that this represents a huge number of unexplained – and potentially avoidable deaths – particularly if they represent individuals deterred from visiting hospitals.

The number of deaths in the home setting are almost 50% higher than the total number registered with COVID-19 in any setting over the last five weeks (3,799 versus 2,582).

Individuals deterred from visiting hospitals. If that’s not the cause, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.

The Telegraph wrote a news story about the paper yesterday.

Masks All Removed in Unison

Not wearing a mask, even on the deck of a boat in the open sea, can attract some ‘Paddington stares’

I’ve been sent an unusually upbeat email about a trip to the seaside from a reader who identifies himself as Charlie in Warwickshire.

Myself and family booked a 1hr Coastal Sea Cruise, last Sunday morning, to leave from a Harbourside in North Devon (obscure to protect the company). When we got there, we noticed that everyone in the queue had face masks on, which I thought was odd.

It was only then that we checked the booking that said “Face Masks should (note, should) be worn on all Cruises” which is strange for many reasons – outdoors, by the Coast and in the lovely sea air on a boat where you’re sat outside.

I had my exemption card in my lanyard and then went to the booking office to ask them about it. They saw my card and were really cool about things saying – no worries, just show to one of the crew.

Went back in the queue and my partner donned her ‘bandit scarf’ and my daughter didn’t have any covering as she’s under 11.
The people in the queue ranged from couples to families, all of them in masks (including, worryingly, a few kids under five) and quite a few were giving me their best ‘Paddington Stares’ even after scrutinising my exemption card.

So, got on the boat and no problems as I sat at the back of the boat, in the outside. Captain comes on and says “going to go through some Covid awareness points but I can tell you that your masks are not necessary as we’re out in the beautiful sea air and the risk is low”.

In unison, they all removed their masks like it was some sort of revelation and surprise! All it took was someone ‘in authority’ to issue some commands and they dutifully complied.

So it was both worrying and heartening to see the masks come off. Worryingly, because they were like drones being programmed what to do, despite all their instinct and evidence telling them it was unnecessary to begin with.

If people need to be told that a face mask is not required on a sea cruise, and can’t work it out to begin with, then I weep for the future.

Round-Up

Here’s a 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 Re-Opened

A couple of months 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 re-opened, 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.

Now that non-essential shops have re-opened – or most of them, anyway – we’re now focusing on pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants, as well as other social venues. As of July 4th, many of them have re-opened too, but not all. 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 – particularly if they’re not insisting on face masks! Don’t worry if your entries don’t show up immediately – we need to approve them once you’ve entered the data.

Forums Back Up and Running

I enjoy reading all your comments and I’m glad I’ve created a “safe space” for lockdown sceptics to share their frustrations and keep each other’s spirits up. But please don’t copy and paste whole articles from papers that are behind paywalls in the comments. I work for some of those papers and if they don’t charge for premium content they won’t survive.

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums that are now open. Initially, they became a spam magnet so we temporarily closed them. However, we’ve now found a team of people wiling to serve as moderators so the Forums are back up and running. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

Some “Mask Exempt” lanyards created by a reader

I thought I’d create a new permanent slot down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard. The one featured above, or one very like it, is available for free here and has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here. The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. And you can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from eBay here.

And don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face nappies in shops here.

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation recently to pay for the upkeep of this site. If you feel like donating, however small the sum, 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…

Yesterday, I reported that a house cat had supposedly tested positive for the virus. A reader was reminded of this Simpsons episode in which a “secrete conclave of America’s media empires” dream up the next “phony crisis” and hit upon “house cat flu”. A case of life imitating art?

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