Month: September 2020

Latest News

From Tragedy to Farce: Boris Forgets His Own Rules

Boris wonders what happened to his hammer as he’s spotted another nut he needs to crack

Several million people in the North-East had yet more Byzantine regulations inflicted on them yesterday by a Government that seems never to see a nut that doesn’t put it in mind of a hammer. Yet hours later, the Prime Minister himself was unable accurately to explain the new rules. Ross Clark in the Telegraph has more.

The Prime Minister has never exactly been a details man, but even so his failure accurately to recall the rules he had imposed on several million people in the North-East only hours before marks a new low in the Government’s handling of COVID-19. To come up with this myriad of rules, change them every few days, and to impose massive fines for failing to remember them, is a form of arbitrary rule which would have shamed one of the Tsars, let alone a democratically-elected UK Government.

The PM’s gaffe comes on the same day that ‘Skills Minister’ Gillian Keegan was asked on the Today programme whether the new restrictions announced for the North-East would allow two households to meet outdoors, and she said she had no idea.

Such embarrassments expose the mess which the Government has created in its fondness for local lockdowns. If members of the Government can’t keep up, what hope the rest of the population?

It’s not as if local lockdowns work, points out Ross:

Just what is the point of local lockdowns anyway? In dreaming up ever more bizarre regulations and huge fines to go with them, the Government has overlooked evidence that is staring it in the face: local lockdowns don’t work. Take Bolton. In the week before local restrictions were imposed on Greater Manchester boroughs at the end of July, 3,886 cases of COVID-19 had been recorded in Bolton. In spite of its residents have since been deprived of freedoms which most of the rest of the country enjoyed through the summer, the number of cases there has since mushroomed to a cumulative 9,274.   

Perhaps someone should tell Angela Merkel, as she readies Germany for local lockdowns to counter their “second wave”.

Is Madrid The “Capital of Europe’s Second Wave”?

The Telegraph has run another scare article about how bad things are in Spain. I have to say it’s very disorienting reading the Telegraph at the moment. Almost all the comment is of an outspoken, sceptical flavour but the news section seems to be colonised by lockdown zealots. It makes it feel like they come from two parallel universes, one where COVID-19 is an overrated virus to which we’re all overreacting and the other in which we’re all doomed.

Anyhow, here’s what one news reporter has to say about Madrid, which he has dubbed “the capital of Europe’s second wave” .

The Madrid region, dominated by the city and its large suburbs to the south, has a cumulative caseload of 722 positives per 100,000 inhabitants in a two-week period – 2.5 times the average for Spain as a whole. In Paris, that number is just 204, despite France having daily case numbers to rival those of Spain. 

The hurried reopening is just one example of carelessness on the part of local government, critics say, which extends to currently underestimating the strain on hospitals and failing to establish a working test and trace system.  

Spain’s Government is threatening to intervene once more and ramp up what it sees as limited measures put in place by Madrid, which last week placed one million people in 45 of 286 districts under local lockdown, meaning they can only leave their home areas for essential reasons.

Sounds frightening, right? But here’s what they don’t tell you. The epidemic in Spain peaked weeks ago. According to the Carlos III Public Health Institute new cases by date of symptom onset peaked and plateaued by the end of August. Here’s the graph, courtesy of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine:

Source: CEBM. Note: data beyond the 14 day cut-off will be revised upwards.

What’s happening in the hospitals right now? Here are the graphs for Spain and Madrid:

In other words, no growth for over a week. This represents around 10% capacity nationally and 25% in Madrid. Here’s the graph of deaths:

Deaths appear to have peaked on September 17th, though are yet to enter sustained decline (these figures are by date of death so the most recent figures will likely be revised upwards in coming days).

So the “second wave” in Spain, far from exhibiting exponential growth towards the catastrophic levels predicted here (and recall that Spain was one of the cautionary tales highlighted by Witless and Unbalanced at their press conference last week), stopped growing over a month ago and is nowhere near overwhelming the healthcare system.

Is this because the new restrictions imposed on the population were successful at “controlling” the virus? Nope. Madrid has been resisting imposing new restrictions, only doing so in certain parts of the city last week. Some lighter restrictions, such as lowering limits on venue capacity and gatherings, were imposed citywide on September 7th. All of these measures came well after the epidemic peaked and plateaued near the end of August.

The lesson: yet again a COVID-19 epidemic goes into spontaneous decline before lockdowns or other interventions could possibly have made a difference. Why? Almost certainly due to the further development of collective immunity – in this case presumably making up for delay caused by the strict lockdown in the spring. Spontaneous decline is a pattern seen in Sweden, in Belarus (where the excess deaths as reported to the United Nations suggest a Covid death toll about the same as Sweden’s), and in South Dakota, all of which refused to lock down and none of which saw more than 0.06% of their populations die, most of them very elderly. All had a lower death toll per million than the UK.

When will our Government and its advisers open their eyes to the plain evidence that COVID-19 does not infect or kill anywhere near as many as they initially feared?

Boris is due to appear with Witless and Unbalanced for a press conference again today (this time with questions, it is rumoured). Will we see a change of heart and strategy? Not likely.

Stop Press: Yesterday the UK reported a record 7,143 new cases, to the unconfined joy of the doom-mongers. But note that this follows three consecutive days of sharp decline, and when plotted by date of specimen still doesn’t yet show any significant growth in the last week. They’re still clearing the backlog from the ramp-up in testing. Prof Carl Heneghan and the team at CEBM have started following the cases here to see how they compare with the graph of doom.

New Paper Blows Imperial’s Catastrophic Predictions Out The Water

A team of epidemiologists including Dr Gabriela Gomes published a new preprint yesterday with a model that they say fits the data better and makes better predictions. It is based on assuming greater variation in pre-existing immunity and susceptibility, and concludes that “most of the slowing and reversal of COVID-19 mortality is explained by the build-up of herd immunity”. Here’s the abstract:

The classic Susceptible-Infected-Recovered model formulated by Kermack and McKendrick assumes that all individuals in the population are equally susceptible to infection. From fitting such a model to the trajectory of mortality from COVID-19 in 11 European countries up to 4 May 2020 Flaxman et al. concluded that “major non-pharmaceutical interventions – and lockdowns in particular – have had a large effect on reducing transmission”. We show that relaxing the assumption of homogeneity to allow for individual variation in susceptibility or connectivity gives a model that has better fit to the data and more accurate 14-day forward prediction of mortality. Allowing for heterogeneity reduces the estimate of “counterfactual” deaths that would have occurred if there had been no interventions from 3.2 million to 262,000, implying that most of the slowing and reversal of COVID-19 mortality is explained by the build-up of herd immunity. The estimate of the herd immunity threshold depends on the value specified for the infection fatality ratio (IFR): a value of 0.3% for the IFR gives 15% for the average herd immunity threshold.

It’s written in technical language so not an easy read for non-specialists. But it’s an important scientific contribution to modelling this virus and is well worth a look for any armchair (or trained) epidemiologists. According to the researchers’ calculations, the Imperial College model overestimated the “counterfactual” deaths from COVID-19 – the number that would have died in the “do nothing” scenario in Professor Ferguson et al‘s infamous March 16th report – by a factor of 11.4. If you divide 510,000 by 11.4 you get 43,814, which is almost exactly the number that have died so far. In other words, the NHS was never in danger of being overwhelmed, the lockdown made zero difference and there will be no second wave.

Stop Press: Watch a new interview with Professor Sunetra Gupta on “Something that is becoming a scientific fact: Pre-existing resistance to COVID-19“. Can someone please tell Chris Whitty?

Curfew Chaos

As the new 10pm curfew on nightlife causes some of the biggest closing time chaos ever seen (leading Manchester mayor Andy Burnham to call for the curfew to be scrapped) a reader sends us the messages he received from his daughter who had been out in it.

“I went out on Saturday night in Manchester for the first time since March and the 10pm curfew was a bloody shambles! It was horrendous! It was worse than any normal kickout time I’ve ever seen in town! Throw into the mix that all the takeaways shut at the same time so no one could get post drink food, and it was bloody bedlam! The streets, taxi ranks, bus stops, trams were rammed way more than they would have been under normal circumstances. It’s put me off going out again. Bloody joke!”

She went on:

“I’ve never seen anything like it. I’d had a lovely evening and the bar I had been in had done loads to ensure it was a safe and pleasant experience and not too different to how it would have been prior to lockdown, in fact it was better, as the music was at a volume where we could still talk, it wasn’t packed and sweaty like normal and it was table service so there was no queuing at the bar etc and then we walked out into absolute chaos! I ended up spending more than I planned so I could get a taxi home rather than squeezing on to the tram”.

“Apparently that’s safer though than three children, who spend all day every day playing together and interacting at school together, having a sleepover in a safe, clean and supervised environment. Madness!”

She’s had to cancel our granddaughter’s (already greatly diminished) upcoming eighth birthday sleepover with four friends (she’d booked a company to come round and put up mini teepees in the lounge with fairy lights and all sorts) and now it’s just her and her step-sister, because they’ve received an email from their school ‘reminding’ them they should not be socializing between households.

Her WhatsApp message below illustrates the further madness and overlooked cruelty, not to mention the negative impact on local businesses such as the party entertainment company, that all these wholly unnecessary and unevidenced restrictions are having on just about everyone. Or in my daughter’s more succinct language – bulls**t.

“I didn’t have an issue with it and neither did the other parents, seeing as they are all in the same bubble at school all day but school sent out an email this morning saying that they’ve become aware of families socialising and having sleepovers etc, which puts the school at increased risk of an outbreak and possible closure, so they have said if they become aware of any more breaches, they will have no choice but to report them. I can’t expect my daughter and her friends not to talk about it and don’t want to tell them to keep secrets, so we’re going to organise something for once it’s all over. She was a little upset to start with but she handled it so well, I was so proud of her. She nearly made me cry because after she’d got over the initial upset, she thanked me for still organising it for her! She’s such a thoughtful child. I hate that she’s missing out on so much because of all this bs!!”

Snooping Neighbours: Police Crash Girl’s Tenth Birthday Party

Perhaps she was right to cancel the party, given the way the police behaved in Ayrshire, Scotland. The Mirror has the story.

Two police officers turned up at a 10-year-old girl’s birthday party after a neighbour reported the family for breaking Scotland’s strict Covid rules.

Mum Leanne Macdonald claims relatives had been “nipping in” to her house to hand little Myla her presents.

She said she “could not believe it” when two uniformed officers later entered her home warning her she was “on alert” and would be fined and charged if she broke the rules again.

Leanne told the Daily Record : “I could not believe it. They came to the door and told me I had been reported for having people in my house.

“I was shocked. The funny thing is, they actually came in to my house to tell me my home was ‘on alert’ and if I broke the rules again I would be fined and charged.

“So the police can come in my house, but my family can’t?”

She said she hadn’t been aware of a change in the rules and had arranged for family members to come at different times so they didn’t go over the limit. What an appalling state our liberties are in when a 10 year-old girl can’t have her relatives visit on her birthday.

Eric Clapton Joins Van Morrison’s Anti-Lockdown Campaign

Another wrinkly rocker with sense. Here’s the press release.

Van Morrison has thanked fans for their recent support – as Eric Clapton joins his campaign to Save Live Music.

Belfast musician Van played a series of three concerts at the London Palladium last week and also released the first of his three new anti-lockdown songs “Born To Be Free”.

Van has been calling for venues to reopen again at full capacity. Now Eric Clapton has come out in support of the campaign.

Eric Clapton said: “It is deeply upsetting to see how few gigs are going ahead because of the lockdown restrictions. There are many of us who support Van and his endeavours to save live music, he is an inspiration! We must stand up and be counted because we need to find a way out of this mess. The alternative is not worth thinking about. Live music might never recover.”

Van released “Born To Be Free” last Friday and it was made available for download and streaming on major music sites including Amazon Music, Apple Music and Deezer. The track has clearly resonated with many who share his frustrations.

Van Morrison said: “Thanks to everyone who came to the Palladium shows and who have supported the new single. The gigs were great and proved that live performance can operate safely. Now we need the Government to ease restrictions further and instil confidence that venues are safe and enjoyable places to be for everyone.”

If enough Lockdown Sceptics readers download “Born To Be Free” will it get to number one on iTunes? You can download it here.

18 Year-Old Writes To His MP

Lockdown Sceptics reader Gilbert Jackson is just 18 but he has wasted no time in writing to his MP to tell him what he thinks of how the Government is trashing his youth and education.

I did not think I would have to be writing to my local MP at the age of 18, but I feel compelled to do so as my civic duty. The restrictions are becoming increasingly absurd and restrictive yet again, with no evidence whatsoever that they are proportionate or necessary. They are taking an unjustified toll on the mental and physical health of the entire country, and they have to end now. This is why I am urging you to vote against the renewal of the Coronavirus emergency powers on Wednesday September 30th. Emergency powers are not justified for one day longer, and certainly not for two more years.

I would first like to make you aware of the damage that lockdown and continuing restrictions has had on my life. I did not see friends for three months from March, which significantly harmed my mental health, and still haven’t seen some. I was meant to be in university now, however I realised when I arrived that it was simply not what university should be. Masks everywhere, online teaching, threats of expulsion for partying, all for students who have a greater chance of being struck by lightning than killed by Covid. This is proved from the US: 48,000 positive tests in students so far, two hospitalisations and zero deaths. 305 people under 60 have died with Covid without pre-existing conditions here in the UK, in a population of 68 million.

Do you remember the initial three week lockdown to protect the NHS, flatten the curve and save lives? I was on board with that as was almost the whole country as it made sense due to the catastrophic predictions of hospitals being overrun. The three weeks ended, deaths had fallen dramatically, so had infections, and it was clear we were past the peak and hospitals had been nowhere near being overrun. Nightingale hospitals weren’t even needed (and are now being decommissioned at eye watering cost). Yet we were then told we needed to stay indoors for an additional 12 weeks. A big ask, but acceptable, we thought. Six months on from that and we are being told to expect an additional six months of restrictions. …

How can it be such a deadly disease that you need to be tested to know if you have it? The real data we have (not Imperial College’s imagined model outputs) suggests that age isn’t even the main risk factor, the presence of other serious medical conditions is (which do of course correlate with age). 95% of deaths had at least one comorbidity, and the average age of death is over 80. These are official figures from the ONS freely available to everyone. Also, the ONS figures have plainly shown that the pandemic has been over since May. Deaths have continued to trend downwards, now accounting for 1% of all weekly deaths. The data shows no spikes for any protests or mass gatherings that were talked up into a frenzy in the news. The Government, scientists on SAGE, at Imperial College London and elsewhere seem entirely ignorant of the real world data which time and again is not fitting with their models.

The smearing by the media and politicians of those who have sought to look at the data themselves and come to different conclusions than the Government scientists as conspiracy theorists has been despicable. Heavy-handed treatment of lockdown protestors is entirely unjust when they are simply standing up for basic freedoms which are now being withheld for an indeterminate length of time by the Government who give no indication of wanting to restore them any time soon. 

This is why the Coronavirus emergency powers need to be revoked in full, rather than the amendment proposed by Sir Graham Brady. With Parliament appearing almost entirely supportive of suppression regardless of cost until a vaccine, which will likely not come for years or be as effective as people profess, I simply do not trust that the amendment will have much of an effect in stopping the immense harm being done to the British public. Life can be normal again. It is only the irrational fear promoted as a policy of Government that is preventing it. 

I urge you to vote against the renewal of the Act, and that you and your colleagues look at all the available evidence and listen to all the viewpoints of eminent scientists such as Professor Carl Heneghan and Professor Sunetra Gupta. It is time to hold the Government to account for their arrogance, lies, and the vast amount of damage they are doing to the economy, livelihoods and mental and physical health.

Find Gilbert on Twitter at @youth_unheard.

Telegraph‘s Allison Pearson Censored on Twitter

Telegraph columnist and Planet Normal host Allison Pearson was suspended from Twitter for her “abusive” sceptical views. She writes:

I woke yesterday morning to find that I had been locked out of Twitter for “violating our rules against abuse and harassment”. I was dumbfounded. Which of my recent tweets had been abusive or harassed anyone? I glanced down the email to see something I had posted last week in response to yet another We’re All Doomed! report on the BBC news. “How hard is it for people to understand? We WANT students to get the virus. They will speed us towards community immunity. It may not be very far off.”

Whether you agree with my tweet or not, it accurately represents the opinion of a number of distinguished scientists, including Oxford’s Prof Sunetra Gupta (whom I interviewed for the Planet Normal podcast) and Prof Michael Levitt, winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2013. Neither is a wacky Covid-denier. They just happen to agree that the worst-case scenario of 500,000 deaths arrived at back in March by Professor Neil Ferguson, which presumed (wrongly) that all age groups were equally susceptible to the virus, was possibly inflated by a factor of 10 or 12. They also reckon that the best strategy now is to shield the elderly and the vulnerable and allow the virus to infect the healthy population, notably the young, so we build up that terrific community immunity that seems to have served the Swedes so well.

She concludes:

The cure is now far worse than the disease, Prime Minister. There are people who would rather die than live in this theatre of the absurd. The risks your scientists frighten us with are vanishingly small. Even under Imperial’s worst case scenario of 500,000 deaths without lockdown, only 99.3% of the UK’s population would not have succumbed to the virus. Many will suffer with loneliness and some will lose the will to live. Many, many more will perish from other diseases. It’s quite simple; shield the vulnerable and let the rest of us get on with pulling this great country out of the mire.

You may get locked out of Twitter for saying it, but I won’t stop. Censorship be damned. The truth will out.

Worth reading in full.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Three today: “The College Student Blues” by Alchemeleon, “College & Prison” by Najje and “Germ-Free Adolescents” by X-Ray Spex.

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Update: Some of you have asked how to link to particular stories on Lockdown Sceptics. The answer used to be to first click on “Latest News”, then click on the links that came up beside the headline of each story. But we’ve changed that so the link now comes up beside the headline whether you’ve clicked on “Latest News” or you’re just on the Lockdown Sceptics home page. Please do share the stories with your friends and on social media.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it 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 (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

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.

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

Samaritans

If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here.

And Finally…

Latest News

Tory Rebellion Grows

It still isn’t clear whether the Speaker of the House of Commons will select Sir Graham Brady’s amendment to the Coronavirus Act, which is due to be renewed on Wednesday. But if he does, and Boris refuses to back down, it looks like the Government is facing defeat. Not only has the number of Conservative MPs prepared to vote for it grown from the 43 who originally signed the amendment to 81, according to Katy Balls in the Spectator, but the BBC reports that Labour MPs may join forces with the rebels. If the amendment passes it will mean that no additional Covid restrictions can be imposed by the Government without being approved by Parliament.

The House of Commons debated the coronavirus crisis yesterday and Conservative MPs lined up to urge the Government to allow Parliament to scrutinise and debate any further measures, including ex-Chief Whip Mark Harper and former Cabinet Minister Chris Grayling. But the stand out contribution to the debate was from Sir Desmond Swayne, a long-standing lockdown sceptic. The Daily Record has the details:

Speaking in the Commons, Sir Desmond said: “The purpose of politicians is to impose a measure of proportion, a sense of proportion on science, and not to be enthralled to it.

“Now I will make myself very unpopular, but I believe that the appearance of the chiefs (Chief Medical Officer Prof Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance) last week should have been a sacking offence.”

“When they presented that graph, with the caveat that it wasn’t a prediction, but nevertheless it was clear that they presented it as a plausible scenario, with its 50,000 cases per day by mid-October based on the doubling of infections by the week.

“Not once, not on one day since March, have there been infections on that day that were double that of the day of the week proceeding.

“Not once. Where did this doubling come from? What was their purpose in presenting such a graph?”

And he added: “It was project fear, it was an attempt to terrify the British people, as if they haven’t been terrified enough.”

Sir Desmond said he believed the Government’s policy has been “disproportionate”, adding: “By decree, it has interfered in our private lives, and our family lives, telling us who we may meet, when we may meet them and what we must wear when we meet them.

“We have the cruelty, the cruelty, of elderly people in care homes, disorientated, being unable to see the faces of their loved ones and to receive a hug.”

Sir Desmond isn’t wrong about the shortcomings of Witless and Unbalanced’s graph. Here it is, but updated to include the latest case data. Projections in red; actuals in blue. Today’s new cases – 4044, down from 5,692 yesterday – amount to 36% of their predicted number of 7,205. We will return to this…

Another Conservative MP who had some forceful words for the Government was Pauline Latham (Mid Derbyshire): “There are many pensioners who wish to see their family rather than live a long life. They would like to be able to make that choice. This Government have a responsibility to listen to those people, some of whom feel passionate because they fought in the war, or their parents fought in the war, for the freedoms that we want.”

Meanwhile, the Government’s handling of the crisis faced equally trenchant criticism in the Lords, with former Chancellor Lord Lamont comparing Witless and Unbalanced’s graph to Tony Blair’s “dodgy dossier”. (Has he been reading Lockdown Sceptics?)

Last night, Matt Hancock, Chief Whip Mark Spencer and Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg were engaged in a frantic round of talks to try and head off the rebellion.

I’m often asked what the most effective way to get the Government to change course is. Getting the sceptical case before the public? Mass demonstrations? Civil disobedience? The answer, I think, is to get Parliament to start doing its job again. Thanks to Sir Graham Brady, that may be about to happen.

Stop Press: Labour MP Daniel Zeichner joked about the closure of 29 branches of Pizza Hut yesterday, putting 450 jobs at risk.

A reader has emailed to say Zeichner has to bear some of the blame for these job losses. “He is my MP, and he has been utterly unresponsive and useless for the entire lockdown when I’ve tried to reason with him,” he says. “His replies could have been written by Matt Hancock.”

More Pointless Restrictions Imposed on Pubs, Bars and Restaurants

Among the new rules that came into force yesterday were those restricting noise levels in pubs, restaurants, bars and cafes to 85 decibels. Managers must now take “all reasonable measures” to stop customers from dancing and groups of six or more from singing. This, in spite of the fact that new cases originating in hospitality venues make up a tiny fraction of the whole (see above). The Mail has more.

They came as Government statistics revealed a tiny proportion of COVID-19 outbreaks have been linked to pubs and restaurants. Just 17 of 532 (3.2%) of England’s reported coronavirus clusters occurred in the hospitality sector last week – down from around 5% the week before the draconian restriction was imposed.

Meanwhile, the proportion linked to schools has doubled to more than 40 per cent after thousands more students flocked back to classrooms and universities, which is likely to have had a massive knock-on effect on care homes where the rate fell from 44 to 25%.

The Government is facing mounting criticism of its decision to impose a 10pm curfew, given that it has resulted in crowds thronging the streets in city centres shortly after closing time.

Downing Street today dismissed a barrage of condemnation of the 10pm curfew, despite Tory MPs branding it a “sick experiment” and the mayor of one of the UK’s biggest cities warning it is doing “more harm than good”.

The PM is facing a rising tide of anger over his handling of the crisis after Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said the Government’s drinking deadline was merely shifting the partying into homes.

Scores of drinkers were spotted in trendy Moseley, Birmingham, on Saturday night twirling around to a brass bands, despite restrictions urging social distancing. Similar extraordinary scenes were witnessed in London and Manchester as the restrictions appeared to backfire spectacularly.

But the PM’s spokesman voiced defiance this afternoon, insisting there is no intention of changing the rules again – and even denying they had caused any serious problems.

What a shambles.

Police Warned Not to Download NHS COVID-19 App

I’ve a feeling we’ll be using this illustration every day for the next month

Police officers have been advised not to download the NHS Test and Trace COVID-19 app on their smartphones, according to the BBC.

Some officers have also been told they may not need to obey self-isolate alerts generated by the app when downloaded to their personal phones.

Lancashire Constabulary has told staff to call the force’s own COVID-19 helpline instead.

The BBC contacted the North-West of England force after a source said the advice had been given because of “security reasons”.

The source also said officers had been told not to carry their personal phones while on duty if they had activated the app.

This applies to staff working in public-facing roles as well as those in back-office positions.

“The health and wellbeing of our officers, staff and the public remains our priority,” a Lancashire Constabulary spokeswoman subsequently told the BBC.

“Members of staff, like all members of the public, are personally able to download the Track and Trace application should they choose to do so. Guidance provided to staff within the workplace remains in line with the national NPCC position.”

The NPCC confirmed the work-phones policy was common to all forces, but said it was carrying out an urgent review of the matter.

“We have been taking time to review the specifications of the app to assess the implications for policing,” added a spokesman.

Presumably, the real reason Chief Constables have ordered their officers not to download the app is that they don’t want them being forced to self-isolate for 10 days after Matt Hancock’s random notice generator goes even more haywire.

Stop Press: The Government has been accused of a “massive state data grab” after millions of messages have started appearing on people’s phones urging them to download the NHS COVID-19 app. Has the Government harvested people’s mobile phone numbers from GPs in violation of GDPR? Christine Burns, a former NHS adviser who was awarded an MBE in 2005 for her work with transgender people, thinks so. She wrote on Twitter: “I read the privacy statement linked to by that message, which details a massive state data grab. I’m never trusting my GP with my data again.”

NHS Extra: A reader has submitted a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office about being spammed by his local GP. If any readers want to do likewise, the details of how to complain are here.

This is the wording of the text I received:

“This is a public health message from NHS Test & Trace. Please download the NHS Covid-19 app from the App Store/Google Play. More info at https://covid19.nhs.uk”

I don’t know if my complaint has any merit but I made four points to the ICO:

1) This is spam (although I am happy to receive information from my healthcare providers – e.g. GP etc; I wasn’t aware that I had agreed to receive this sort of promotional material).

2) It creates a significant opportunity for fraudsters to send out their own spam messages (pretending to be NHS modeled on this) tricking people into making an action that will lead to them being defrauded. (We already saw lots of this earlier in the ‘pandemic’).

3) (building on point 2) The text includes a link for people to click on (to: https://coivd19.nhs.uk) while this link is presumably trustworthy this is the classic modus operandi of fraudsters and they must be rubbing their hands with glee at the opportunity it creates for them to copy these tactics. Anti fraud professionals would usually put a stop to this sort of thing.

4) The text promotes two commercial websites – the App Store and Google Play. I wasn’t aware NHS did this sort of promotional activity?

Why Brendan O’Neill is Not A Conspiracy Theorist

Brendan O’Neill wrote an excellent editorial in Spiked yesterday, summing up everything that’s wrong with the Government’s – and the public’s – response to the crisis. He was particularly good on why he doesn’t have much time for conspiracy theories.

It is understandable that some people have weaved conspiracy theories to try to explain the current moment, insisting that dastardly figures like Bill Gates, Big Pharma and of course wicked governments are busily plotting the overthrow of human liberty on the back of a cooked-up virus crisis. After all, things are confusing. Extraordinary events have unfolded with very little clarity or explanation. In such circumstances people will create stories to try to make sense of the sudden diminution of their freedom and their lives. And yet, this conspiratorial bent among anti-lockdown protesters is a very serious problem. It ends up giving rise to a competition of narratives of powerlessness.

So on one side, we have officialdom’s lockdown myopia which disempowers communities by exaggerating the threat of COVID-19 and downplaying our capacity for dealing with risk and uncertainty. And on the other side we have a pushback against officialdom that says dark, evil forces beyond our control are puppeteering this crisis in order to achieve their malevolent ends. In both scenarios, the public is reduced to spectators. Spectators either to the fearful crisis-management of government officials and experts who insist we must follow the rules if we want to survive, or to an evil conspiracy of the usual suspects that we can hate and rage against but not really do much about. In both situations, the capacity of individuals and communities to understand this crisis and to start taking action to alleviate it, or live with it, are diminished. We need a better opposition.

Worth reading in full.

Postcard From University

A student has written to us, describing the horror of life on his university campus.

At my university, Estate Patrol are everywhere, ready to remorselessly disperse large groups, hand out hefty fines and other penalties in ways that make the Stasi look like friendly neighbourhood support officers. I have heard numerous horrific stories from my Russian family about life in the Soviet Union. How can we call ourselves an advanced free society when the same authoritarian measures are being forced upon us?

While our freedoms have been snatched away from us, we are still expected to pay full tuition and accommodation fees (by forcing us into one-sided accommodation contracts), compounding the disadvantages young people already face when it comes to debt and income. Now we face the possibility of being locked up in our halls of residence over Christmas.

We’ve published it in the “Postcard” section as a “Postcard From University”. Worth reading in full.

Dr John Lee: “Politicians Doing Amateur Science and Scientists Doing Amateur Politics – A Pretty Awful Brew”

Dr John Lee, one of the first senior doctors to raise the alarm about the lockdown, appeared on Julia Hartley-Brewer’s TalkRADIO show yesterday to warn of the dangers of a second lockdown. He told Julia the latest coronavirus measures are “completely disproportionate” because “we have politicians doing amateur science and scientists dong amateur politics. Mix the two together and it’s a pretty awful brew.”

New Poem From Bent Knee

Anti-Lockdown poet Bent Knee has sent us his latest.

Do not

Do not sing, do not dance
Forgo the joyful chance

Do not breathe, do not kiss
Intimacy is remiss

Do not embrace and kiss the bride
Love must never override

Do not party, do not play
Limits are here to stay

Do not mingle, do not mix
Follow the rule of six

Do not hug your grandparents
Love is literal violence

Do not believe that you can choose
You must obey the curfews

Do not plead for liberty
Forget your old humanity

Two-Thirds of Wales Locked Down

After a brief respite, lockdown has returned to Wales. The BBC has more.

Nearly two-thirds of Wales’ population will be under lockdown when new restrictions are imposed at 18:00 BST.

Neath Port Talbot (NPT), Torfaen and Vale of Glamorgan will join eight other areas in lockdown, affecting almost two million people in total.

The country’s two biggest cities – Cardiff and Swansea – had restrictions applied on Sunday evening.

The new rules mean no travel outside council boundaries other than for work, education or medical emergencies, with no indoor mixing allowed and no alcohol sales after 22:00.

Conwy, Denbighshire, Wrexham, Flintshire, Anglesey and Carmarthenshire are being “closely monitored” by Public Health Wales, meaning if cases continue to rise they could also face lockdowns.

Wedding planner Gail Windley says it’s an incredibly frustrating time for everyone.

“The rug is being pulled from under your feet constantly,” said Ms Windley, who lives in Neath Port Talbot.

She said one bride she was working with was “very stressed” and would be “glad to get it over with”.

“A wedding is a milestone in your life – that’s how your ancestors will trace you back – so it’s heart-breaking to be involved in that and see it.”

Preston’s Wild Boar Park Well Worth a Visit

We got an email from a reader who’s just spent a pleasant weekend at Bowland Wild Boar Park near Preston. Sounds great!

Myself and the family spent a lovely weekend at Bowland Wild Boar Park. It’s not our first visit, and having previously camped there in the pods before we were a little apprehensive as to the changes.

On arrival we were greeted by a staff member with the obligatory face mask, but no mention of me not wearing one. Once we’d checked in, we were able to enjoy what turned out to be a lovely weekend, with all the fellow pod campers and tenters turning out to be as sceptical as myself. Most had young kids and we all waxed lyrically on the damage done to kids, other health issue, etc.

The park had introduced some changes. No animal petting sessions for the kids, where normally they hand round various animals for the little ones to manhandle, and the barrel ride had set booking times and was disinfected between sessions. The cafe was take-out only, but it was refreshing that despite mask signs everywhere the visitors were mostly unmasked and the staff never challenged any non-maskers. The rest of the park was business as usual.

So if you find yourself near the Forest of Bowland, up t’ north, it is well worth a visit and giving them your support.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Just one today: “Dido’s Lament” by Anna Dennis and Voices of Music.

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, we thought we’d flag up a piece in Spiked by Carrie Clark, the journalist who’s written the briefing paper about unconscious bias training for the Free Speech Union.

How would you react if your employer introduced mandatory astrology training at your workplace? What would you make of an organisation that spent thousands of pounds teaching its employees that their character is predetermined by the alignment of the stars and that, despite what they might consciously think or how they choose to behave, their actions are ultimately dictated by invisible cosmic forces? Now imagine that your employer claims to be fighting the scourge of racism by introducing this training.

Bizarre as it may seem, employers across the UK are dangerously close to doing just that. Workers up and down the country are finding themselves forced to undergo mandatory unconscious-bias training – ostensibly to make them less racist. But unconscious-bias training has, at its heart, a psychological test with barely more scientific credibility than astrology. In effect, employers are throwing vast sums of money at a discredited pseudoscientific method which will do nothing to tackle racism and discrimination in the workplace. Meanwhile, practical changes that might truly benefit black and minority-ethnic employees are ignored.

Unconscious-bias training is an outgrowth of the Implicit Association Test (IAT). When it was first introduced in 1998, the results claimed to show that 90 to 95% of IAT participants were implicitly racially prejudiced. While the test-takers might not have thought of themselves as racist, their responses on the test suggested that they were unconsciously biased against black people. This proved a seductive narrative for committed anti-racists, particularly those whose careers depended on portraying Britain and America as systemically racist. The test seemed to show that vast swathes of people were still ‘unconsciously’ racist, in spite of the dramatic decline in racist attitudes over the past 25 years.

The diversity industry has grown to be hugely profitable. It is now worth a cool $8 billion a year in the United States. Assisted by the IAT’s veneer of scientific respectability, unconscious-bias training has been marketed as an essential tool for any business serious about addressing racial inequality.

But reams and reams of research have discredited the IAT, undermining the entire premise of unconscious-bias training in the process. Time and again, meta-analysis has failed to find a correlation between a person’s score on the IAT and how discriminatory their behaviour is. Psychologists and neuroscientists, still puzzling over the complicated distinction between conscious and unconscious thought, are sceptical of the claim that the IAT measures something that can be defined as ‘implicit’. For instance, the propensity of IAT participants accurately to predict their score in advance suggests conscious awareness of something that the IAT’s creators describe as ‘unconscious’.

This is a fantastic article that’s well worth reading in full.

You can read a summary of Carrie’s briefing paper here, the full version here, and the Frequently Asked Questions the Free Speech Union has pulled together for people that want to opt out of diversity training here.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it 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 (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.49 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

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.

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

Stop Press: Some shops are employing mask recognition technology, according to BBC News, whereby customers have to stand in front of a scanner and are barred from entering if they’re not wearing a face nappy. I wonder if the patent-holder for this marvellous invention is Jeff Bezos, the multi-billionaire owner of Amazon?

Samaritans

If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here.

And Finally…

Prisoners of conscience

In this week’s episode of London Calling, mine and James Delingpole’s podcast, we talk about James’s adventures at Saturday’s anti-lockdown protest in Trafalgar Square, the appalling treatment of students and Laurence Fox’s new political party. At one point, we try to imagine what Boris could do now to redeem himself. Secure a brilliant trade deal with the EU? Hardly. Restore the Britain’s overseas territories, so we once again have an Empire on which the sun never sets? Wouldn’t be enough. Lead Earth to victory in an intergalactic war? Maybe…

You can listen to the podcast here and subscribe to it on iTunes here.

Latest News

Laurence Fox Has Raised £5 Million From Tory Donors

According to a piece in the Mail yesterday, Laurence Fox hasn’t raised £1 million to support his new political party, as reported in the Sunday Telegraph. He’s raised £5 million!

Laurence Fox is launching a new political party to fight the culture wars named Reclaim, and he has already raised more than £5million.

The actor, 42, has received substantial sums from former Tory donors and hopes to stand dozens of candidates across the UK.

The Lewis star says he wants to provide a movement for people who are “tired of being told that we represent the very thing we have, in history, stood together against”.

It comes as Nigel Farage has also threatened to launch an anti-lockdown party after criticising Boris Johnson’s draconian measures to curb the rise in coronavirus cases.

For anyone interested in joining Reclaim, there’s an expression of interest form here.

Stop Press: Patrick O’Flynn, a former UKIP MEP, has some cautionary words for Laurence in the Telegraph. His advice: sign up Nigel ASAP.

National Union of Students Ignores Imprisonment of Students, Launches Campaign to “Decolonise Education”

The President and Chief Executive of the NUS strategise about how best to spend students’ money

You couldn’t make it up. At the very moment that tens of thousands of students across the United Kingdom are being imprisoned in their halls of residence and threatened with expulsion if they show the slightest sign of resistance – the worst treatment of students by university authorities since the Second World War – the National Union of Students has launched a campaign to “decolonise education”. You can read all about it on the NUS website:

At the roots of these movements are a deep hunger and determination to rebuild how things are done, and remove all the things that have led to racism, colonialism and imperialism. And in their place, the aim and vision of a world that is accountable for this violence and works towards restorative justice.

This would be done by working together towards cultural, psychological and economic freedom. Decolonisation as theory and practice is used to imagine this and create what this change would look like.

Decolonisation in practice is about bringing to light and taking apart colonialist power in all its forms. For this, we also need to understand that society as we know it is built upon this power.

This includes all the things that perpetuate and reproduce the legacy of colonialism in areas like education, housing, finance, policing, healthcare and many more.

For example, if we look at education, it is about paying attention to how our education system, our schools, colleges and universities, and ways of learning are built on colonial histories. They all put whiteness at the centre and as a neutral perspective to learn about our world.

Decolonising means providing students, staff and their local communities with the tools and language to critically identify the ways our schools, colleges and universities are built using the same colonial hierarchies. It also means empowering them to confront, challenge and reject the status quo. They would then be able to reimagine how things can be done differently and create alternatives that would benefit us all.

Currently, we do not trust schools, colleges and universities senior leadership teams in their effort to decolonise their institution. And this makes sense: they benefit from it as individuals and don’t want to lose the power they gained from it. This is why we are supporting the creation of alternative learning spaces, such as the Free Black University, who are outside of the current model.

If I was a student, I think I’d want my trade union to focus on more pressing matters.

The Sun has a harrowing report of the restrictions that students at Manchester Metropolitan University are facing. Signs in the windows read “Help us!” and another renamed the institution “HMP MMU”. Students were initially ordered by the University to take down these signs, but the authorities then sheepishly acknowledged that they couldn’t actually prevent students from communicating with the outside world.

Stop Press: A reader has pointed out that virtually no one under 25 has died from Covid in Scotland.

In Scotland for those aged under 25 there has been zero deaths – that is not just those with co-morbidities, that is everyone. No man under 45 has died since June 3rd, there have been 11 in total. The last woman under 45 died on May 2nd, there have been six in total.

Mad SAGE Scientist Warns of Third Wave

SAGE member Dr Emmett Brown warns of a “fifth wave” unless we can travel back in time and blow up the Wuhan Institute of Virology

Professor Mark Woolhouse, a member of SAGE , has warned that Londoners could be a facing a “third wave”! The Evening Standard has more.

London is in a “difficult place” and facing a ban on mixing households, a Labour MP has warned, amid warnings that any lockdown will only delay a “possible” third wave.

David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, said local lockdown measures, such as preventing residents from visiting other people’s homes, were “likely” to hit the capital. It came as Professor Mark Woolhouse, a member of the SAGE scientific advisory group, warned that a third coronavirus wave of COVID-19 is “entirely possible”.

This is like a game of bedwetters’ top trumps. How long before Professor John Edmunds appears on the Today programme to warn of a “fourth wave”?

Riot Police Throw Woman in Her Fifties to Ground at Anti-Lockdown Protest

The footage of the police “dispersing” yesterday’s ant-lockdown protest in Trafalgar Square is pretty shocking. Kathy Gyngell has written an eye-witness account of what happened in the Conservative Woman.

As I reached the south-west corner of the Square I saw police by their motorbikes were donning helmets.

Heading on towards Pall Mall, I saw that grim faced masked police in vans were beginning to pull out from a side street parking. In my innocence I thought this over-manned convoy was off back to base because with no trouble and relatively few people they were just not needed.

How mistaken I turned out to be. It was not till I got home that I found to my horror from the news that far from going back to base this must have been the start of their mobilising against the crowd. Which indeed they did. Officers determined to disperse the crowd, penned it in. Protesters and police were hurt.

Why this clearly premeditated action? Who authorised it and on what grounds?

Who authorised them to pen the crowd in? There was no need – there was no overspill into surrounding streets. And why did the police not regard this crowd with the same tolerance they did with the recent BLM protests?

It has shocked me to the core. And now I see that Sky News instead of focusing on unjustifiable and provocative police action has chosen to relay selective vox pops of ‘conspiracy theorists’. So predictable!

I could have told Sky News that you don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to question the legitimacy or the rationality of the current Emergency powers – or to want to publicly protest against them.

Depressingly nearly all the papers today reporting the ‘clashes’ and the violence that occurred seem to have taken the pro-government line that the police enforcement of the government’s covid rules was justified, that they had a right to silence public dissent against them. They did not report that the police storming of the crowd after two and half hours of standing by was unprovoked or that there was every indication that their action was premeditated and planned. What I had witnessed was them moving into action when the rally was entirely peaceful and causing no disruption.

As a friend who was there to the bitter end reported back to me: ‘It was an amazing day but so tarnished by the police at the end. I feel deeply shocked by the way they stormed in. It was totally unnecessary and quite worrying in our democracy that this is how a peaceful demonstration is treated. It’s made the whole situation all the more worrying, I feel. It did feel amazing however to be surrounded by people not willing to accept this so-called New Normal.’

Worth reading in full.

If the police continue to behave in this heavy-handed and arbitrary manner, it will undermine the rule of law and destroy policing by consent.

Stop Press: If anyone knows the well-dressed, middle-aged victim of this police brutality, please tell her to get in touch. Would love to tell her story.

Postcard From Stockholm

A reader has just returned from a short break in Stockholm. Highly recommended.

A short break outside of this sceptered isle in 2020 is not easy. Every week the options for those who have an employment contract with limited annual leave decreases; two weeks quarantine is not an option. When Sweden was removed by Schapps from the “list”, the choice of Stockholm was made.

What would it be like? Would there be piles of dead bodies in the streets waiting to be removed?

Happily I can confirm all the media generated negative press is very far from the truth. The moment you touch down in Stockholm you feel free. That sense of fear and hysteria is lifted and carried away.

It is truly liberating. Outside of the airport in Stockholm I can confirm that the vast majority get on with their lives without having to wear masks in shops or on the public transport. There is hand sanitiser at various locations and social distancing is observed but the restaurants and bars appeared pretty normal and they even accept cash in the shops.

Once in a while you see a masked-up person but they are invariably foreign tourists. I never had to give my details for any track and trace; maybe there is a system but it wasn’t very evident.

I found Stockholm to be much more interesting than I imagined and the waterfront is stunning. The centre is free from rubbish and graffiti – unlike Paris and Berlin. Highlights are the Royal Palace which was so empty you could sit on the throne if you wanted and of course the Vasa Museum, showing the 17th Century ship in all its glory.

Maybe this week Sweden will be back on the naughty step but dear reader don’t be put off because the absence of queues and crowding is a blessing. Final tip: make sure you book to return on Friday evening rather than Saturday for obvious reasons.

NHS Track and Trace Orders Nokia Owners to Download COVID-19 App

In a cock-up that will surprise absolutely no one, NHS Test and Trace is sending texts to ancient Nokia phones telling their owners to to download the COVID-19 app. Er, what? A reader has been in touch to tell me her 88 year-old mother got this message yesterday and was left feeling somewhat confused. She sent me a photo of her mum’s phone.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Just two today: “Rebel Rebel” by David Bowie and “Your Application’s Failed” by Roxy Music.

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Woke Gobbledegook

Mr Punch: “A theatrical figure from the heyday of Victorian imperialism who ‘entertained’ through an abuse of women and children that mirrored colonial Violence.”

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today it’s the turn of the British Library which, according to chief librarian Liz Jolly, is absolutely neck deep in racism. The Telegraph has more.

The British Library’s chief librarian has claimed “racism is a creation of white people” and backed calls for major cultural change at the institution, the Telegraph can reveal.

Liz Jolly manages the vast collection of literary treasures held by the institution, and is supporting changes to displays and collections in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests. Reforms are being proposed by a “Decolonising Working Group”, which claims the British Library’s London building is an imperialism symbol because it resembles a battleship.

Staff being supported to decolonise the UK’s national library have also suggested that traditional puppet Mr Punch reflects “colonial violence”

The Telegraph has exclusively obtained documents revealing these claims, and a letter endorsed hundreds of employees which declared a racial “state of emergency” at the institution.

In response to this emergency, an internal report called for the removal of statues of the library’s founding fathers, replacing “Eurocentric” maps, and reviewing collections of western classical music which staff branded part of the “outdated notion” of Western Civilization.

The institution recently faced calls for defunding from MPs after the Telegraph revealed employees had urged colleagues to donate to Black Lives Matter and back the work of Labour MP Dianne Abbott.

The Telegraph can now reveal that Chief Librarian Ms Jolly has urged white staff to support the institution’s plans to purge the library of perceived racism.

In a video clip obtained by the Telegraph she tells colleagues: “I think, as I have said before, that we need to make sure some white colleagues are involved, because racism is a creation of white people.”

Ms Jolly receives between £120,000 and £125,000 per year for her work as Chief Librarian, a role she has held since 2018.

She has given her support to a broad “Anti-Racism Project” proposed in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests, telling colleagues “particularly pressing” work was ongoing to review “artworks in the St Pancras building”.

Ms Jolly assured staff that the project is “about developing and delivering major cultural change”, and part of this would be ensuring the repository of literary treasures will “reflect the diversity of Britain today”.

This followed on from a letter declaring a “state of emergency” at the library, signed by 200 employees, demanding BAME staff should review any job cuts which might affect employees with “protected characteristics” to ensure continued diversity at the library, better treatment of these workers, and ensuring the BAME Network has a say in who is employed as Head of Collections.

To tackle the legacy of “colonial violence” at the library, the letter also demands a statue of founder Sir Hans Sloane be removed.

This recommended removal is echoed in a report by the Decolonising Working Group, which claims that the “physical space” of the British Library contains “manifestations of the institution’s racism” by glorifying the British Empire.

Staff claim in the report that: “This glorification is hard to miss in the structure of the building itself, designed as it is in the form of a battleship, by far the greatest symbol of British imperialism.”

The building was designed by architect and former naval officer Sir Colin Wilson, who added maritime references such as portholes to the building.

In the report aimed at reforming the British Library “as a space”, visual aspects including a portrait of Mr Punch which hangs in the institution is critiqued.

The character, popular at seaside shows is: “A theatrical figure from the heyday of Victorian imperialism who ‘entertained’ through an abuse of women and children that mirrored colonial Violence.”

Given that the British Library is guilty of promoting racism and glorifying colonial violence, shouldn’t it stop receiving money from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport? Oliver Dowden, time to wield the axe.

Stop Press: Free Speech Union Advisory Council member Zoe Strempel is not a fan of diversity training. Her latest Telegraph column on the subject is well worth a read.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it 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 (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.49 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

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.

Here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

And here’s a round-up from the good people at Law or Fiction on what constitutes a “reasonable excuse” for not wearing a mask.

Stop Press: A reader tells me about his day out on the Dorset coast over the weekend. He was shocked to see so many people wearing face nappies.

Yesterday my wife and I enjoyed a truly wonderful day out, in the sea air of the Dorset coast. We headed for Lulworth Cove, parked the car, and after coffee walked the the Coast Path until our knees told us to turn back and head for a crab sandwich lunch. The place was busy but not impossibly so, and in any event neither of us were seeking absolute solitude.

But oh dear me, the face nappies! Even by the clear blue sea, with God’s own fresh northerly breeze, they were everywhere. Stout parties of all ages, whose breathing one supposes would be laboured at the best of times, were determined to make life even more difficult for themselves. And plenty of fit youngsters in the same face gear – when they weren’t smoking. It was a real pleasure to chat to couples of our vintage whose attitudes matched our own. I was inclined to shout “take off your silly nappies and enjoy the air, you dummies”, but it will require far more than my exhortations to get this brainwashed nation to snap out of its daydream.

Samaritans

If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here.

And Finally…

Latest News

Laurence Fox Launches Political Party to Fight the Culture War

The Sunday Telegraph has quite the scoop this morning: Laurence Fox is launching a new political party.

The actor Laurence Fox is launching a political party to fight the culture wars after raising over £1 million, including substantial sums from former Tory donors, the Telegraph can disclose.

Fox hopes to stand dozens of candidates for his new party at the next General Election to provide a political movement for people who are “tired of being told that we represent the very thing we have, in history, stood together against”.

His aims include reforming publicly-funded institutions, likely to include the BBC, and celebrating Britain’s history and global contribution.

The new party (provisionally called “Reclaim”) could launch as soon as next month. The party’s name is subject to approval by the Electoral Commission. Papers are due to be submitted to the electoral regulator in the middle of this week.

In a statement to the Telegraph, Fox said: “Over many years it has become clear that our politicians have lost touch with the people they represent and govern.

“Moreover, our public institutions now work to an agenda beyond their main purpose. Our modern United Kingdom was borne out of the respectful inclusion of so many individual voices.

“It is steeped in the innate values of families and communities, diverse in the truest sense but united in the want and need to call this island home.

“The people of the United Kingdom are tired of being told that we represent the very thing we have, in history, stood together against.

“We are all privileged to be the custodians of our shared heritage. We can reclaim a respectful nation where all are included and none are ashamed to have somewhere to call home.

“I have been so encouraged by the support I have received by those wishing to add their voices to this reclamation of our values.

“Our country is now in desperate need of a new political movement which promises to make our future a shared endeavour, not a divisive one. This is now my endeavour.”

I’m a big fan of Laurence’s and take my hat off to him. This is an exciting development. But I note he hasn’t said anything critical about the Government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. So not an anti-lockdown party, but an anti-woke, pro-British party.

Two out of three ain’t bad.

Conservative Government Suddenly Grows a Pair

Charles Moore and Paul Dacre

Coincidence? On the day the Sunday Telegraph breaks the story of Fox’s new party – described by one Westminster source as the UKIP of the culture wars – Downing Street has announced two significant appointments: ex-Telegraph editor Charles Moore is in the frame to become the Chairman of the BBC and ex-Mail editor Paul Dacre is being lined up to become the next Chairman of Ofcom. The Sunday Times has the story.

Boris Johnson is ushering in a revolution at the top of British broadcasting by offering two of the top jobs in television to outspoken critics of the BBC.

Paul Dacre, the former editor of the Daily Mail, is the prime minister’s choice to become chairman of Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator, replacing Lord Burns, who is due to leave before the end of the year.

Lord Moore, the former editor of the Daily Telegraph and biographer of Margaret Thatcher, who has condemned the criminalisation of those who refuse to pay the licence fee, has been asked by the prime minister to take up the post of BBC chairman.

The potential appointments of two right-wing Brexiteers will send shockwaves through the broadcasting establishment.

Charles Moore will make a great Chairman of the BBC, but the more significant of the two appointments, to my mind, is Paul Dacre’s. Under its current Chairman Lord Burns, Ofcom has had little regard for freedom of expression – a case in point being its “coronavirus guidance” which means lockdown sceptics are rarely featured on the BBC and which the Free Speech Union is hoping to challenge in the High Court. (Please donate to our Ofcom case fundraiser here). But Dacre has long been a staunch champion of press freedom, as he made clear in this speech to the Society of Editors in 2018. If Ofcom’s regulatory remit is to be extended to include the Internet, as seems likely, it’s essential that the new Chairman understands the importance of free speech.

Stop Press: Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, has warned museums and galleries to stop removing statues and other artefacts or risk losing government subsidies, and the Department for Education has issued guidance to teachers saying they should teach children that woke “cancel culture” and “no-platforming” is an attack on free speech and has no place in British society. Is the Conservative Party finally going into battle in the culture war?

The Rising Tide of Lockdown Scepticism

A reader’s photograph of the demo in Trafalgar Square yesterday before the police figured out it wasn’t a BLM or XR protest and got out the truncheons

Hugo Gye has written a good piece in the i about the rising tide of lockdown scepticism.

When the Government starting locking down the UK in March, ministers were surprised by just how easy it all was. Polls showed 90 to 95 per cent of the public supported the strict curbs on everyday life, with little outcry from MPs or the courts, and – unlike in America – no street protests against the measures.

That appears to be changing. There is still broad support for tough action to stop the spread of COVID-19, but it is much less universal than it was: a survey for i by Redfield & Wilton Strategies this week found 57% believe the Government was right to introduce new measures such as a pubs curfew while 17% were against.

A growing number of Conservative MPs, led by Sir Graham Brady, are speaking out at the way Parliament has been sidelined throughout the crisis. And legal figures have criticised ministers for sneaking out changes to the law in the dead of night, sometimes just minutes before they come into force, meaning that neither Parliament, nor the police, nor citizens can scrutinise the incoming regulations or correct potential errors and loopholes.

Gye distinguishes between four different groups of sceptics.

Legal Eagles

One group expressing concern about how the Government imposes ever-changing rules comes from the legal community. Retired Supreme Court justice Lord Sumption has been a persistent critic and this week he was joined by former colleague Baroness Hale, who wrote: “My plea is that we get back to a properly functioning constitution as soon as we possibly can.”

One complaint many lawyers have is that, while changes to the rules are often announced publicly several days in advance through speeches and press conferences, the legislation putting them into effect via statutory instruments is not made available until hours or in some case minutes before it becomes law.

Judges would be able to impose life sentences with no prospect of release on 18-year-olds in exceptionally serious cases under Government plans. Ministers will publish proposals to change the law that prevented the accomplice in the Manchester Arena bombing from getting a whole life order.
There are worries about the legal status of lockdown rules. Human rights barrister of Adam Wagner, of Doughty Street Chambers, told i he supports the principle of the lockdown rules but added: “Now for six months the Government has imposed new laws using an emergency procedure. There is not really any longer a good reason why those regulations can’t be put before Parliament and debated. It is just not justifiable and it is not a good way to make laws.”

He said it was understandable for ministers to use emergency measures in the early stage of the crisis, when they were forced to act at extreme pace, but argued that the failure to implement a more regular procedure had created “a permanent sense of essay crisis” at the top of the Government.

Backbench Battlers

After staying supportive of the Government during the height of the lockdown, increasing numbers of Conservative MPs are demanding a change in direction. Many believe the strategy has been tilted too far towards Covid-19 suppression at the expense of economic concerns and long-term health issues – ex-Cabinet minister Mel Stride, chair of the Treasury select committee, told Boris Johnson: “We should listen very carefully to the epidemiologists, but we must also listen very carefully to the Treasury, to businesses and to economists.”

More than 40 Tory backbenchers have subscribed to a cross-party amendment which could come to a vote on Wednesday, demanding that all changes to the rules are approved in advance by Parliament unless there is a genuine emergency. It is unclear whether Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle will accept the amendment, but the rebels hope the Government will nonetheless cave in advance and agree to their demands.

Outright Opponents

One of the first public figures to speak out against the idea of using lockdown to control Covid-19 was journalist Toby Young, who set up a Lockdown Sceptics website in mid-April. “At the very beginning, there were not very many people who were opposed to the lockdown,” he told i. “I think most people gave the Government the benefit of the doubt.”

Now, he claims, he has much more support – although not the “critical mass” needed to push the Government into a U-turn. He said: “Gradually people are waking up to the fact that the NHS has been failing to provide critical care, because of a diktat from on high… People can see with their own eyes the impact of the lockdown on the high street.”

Businessman Simon Dolan is masterminding a legal challenge to the coronavirus rules which will be heard in the Court of Appeal next month, after losing in the High Court. He insists he understood why the Government initially locked the country down but added: “What I think was catastrophic was to carry on with it when it was evident that the peak had gone, that the NHS wasn’t overwhelmed.”

Both men, although Brexiteers who consider themselves on the right of politics, are adamant that opposing the lockdown is not a right-wing position. Mr Dolan said: “I’ve found myself agreeing with people that I usually disagree with vehemently on almost everything else.” Mr Young added: “The people who are suffering the most as a result of the restrictions the Government has imposed are the most disadvantaged.”

A Government spokesperson said: “During this unprecedented global pandemic we’ve kept all measures under constant review. It’s essential we’re able to take urgent action when necessary to stop the virus spreading, protect the NHS and care sector from a second wave and save lives.

“Both houses have had opportunities to debate and scrutinise all lockdown regulations, and members will continue to have opportunities to scrutinise future regulations.”

Hardcore Conspiracists

The most visible opponents of lockdowns are possibly the least representative: the conspiracy theorists who believe Covid-19 is a total hoax, or caused by 5G networks, or no worse than the common cold.

Leaders of this group include Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers and David Icke, the showman who accuses the royal family of being lizards. The two men are the headline speakers at a two-day rally in central London this weekend which aims to attract at least 35,000 protesters.

More mainstream sceptics tend to be sceptical of these outliers. Simon Dolan said: “I don’t believe particularly in the demonstrations, I think they’re far too easy to hijack and I don’t actually think they make any difference.”

But Toby Young suggested that they helped the cause by highlighting just how strict some of the regulations are: Mr Corbyn was fined £10,000 over a previous protest which broke the official guidelines.

The period of the lockdown seems to have encouraged some conspiracy theories to thrive, such as the 5G claims and the “QAnon” movement which sees the world being under the control of a paedophile cult. Experts have suggested that the dislocation caused by the pandemic may have encouraged some people to seek solace in unlikely places.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: The police decided to break up a peaceful anti-lockdown demonstration in Trafalgar Square yesterday, injuring several people in the process, including a middle-aged woman. As Douglas Murray says in this week’s Spectator, all protests are not equal in the eyes of the police.

A reader who attended the protest describes what happened.

Despite the good general mood, at the end things got a little ugly. People were peacefully dispersing and suddenly a group of police with helmets moved in and started blocking stairways out of the square. We ended up scrambling over a wall to get out after a copper pushed me on the stairs and yelled “move!” It was ridiculous, completely unwarranted behaviour – everyone was already leaving anyway. On the way home we saw some MSM reports about the police having to pen people in to disperse the crowd (not sure how that quite works) and there being injuries. I can honestly say that if they hadn’t turned up, people would have just left. There is stuff on the BBC about the demo having to be broken up, but that is nonsense. It just ended at 3pm. Very sad that a group broadly supportive of the job the police do, and one that showed respect for them by observing a minute’s silence for the police officer killed on Friday, was treated so badly (while police take the knee to BLM who want them defunded). You just couldn’t make it up.

Growing Tory Rebellion

Has Boris’s luck finally run out?

Tim Shipman has a piece in the Sunday Times in which he describes the growing discontent in the Parliamentary Conservative Party with Boris Johnson’s leadership. He describes five groups and ranks each one according to how dangerous it is.

Common sense group

MPs: Around 50
Leading lights: Right-wingers such as Iain Duncan Smith and “red wall” MPs such as Lee Anderson
Grievances: Disgruntled with the new tighter measures to control COVID-19, they also want tougher action to curb cross-channel migration and hate plans for tax rises
Trouble rating: Four stars – The new backbench awkward squad

The Brady bunch

MPs: 12
Leading lights: Sir Graham Brady and the other members of the 1922 committee executive
Grievances: The shop steward of Tory backbenchers usually helps to enforce discipline. Instead he is leading the rebellion over Covid
Trouble rating: Five star – If you’ve lost the 22, it’s often the end

Remainder remainers

MPs: Around 20
Leading light: Bob Neill
Grievances: Enraged that the Government was prepared to break international law over Brexit, they have already forced a U-turn so MPs would have to vote on that first
Trouble rating: Three stars

European Research Group

MPs: 80
Leading lights: Steve Baker, John Redwood and Bill Cash
Grievances: Will cry foul if Johnson does not pursue a hard enough Brexit
Trouble rating: Two stars – Dormant, but potentially deadly

The dispossessed

MPs: Dozens and rising
Leading light: Sajid Javid
Grievances: Everyone who has lost/not been given a ministerial job
Trouble rating: Two stars

Stop Press: A new opinion poll puts Labour ahead of the Conservatives for the first time since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister.

Students Plot the Great Escape

“I only came here to take a degree in Business Studies, not become an expert in tunnel engineering. Still, if it works out at least we can spend Xmas in Switzerland. Bugger, the Covid Marshalls have turned the searchlights on…”

Channel 4 News carried a report yesterday evening, relating how students across the United Kingdom have effectively been placed in lockdown, with some of them unable to leave their halls of residence.

Numerous readers have sent in reports, describing how miserable life is for their children. Here’s one from a parent of two kids at Edinburgh:

My children are out of their halls of residence and staying in an Airbnb to avoid an expected clampdown in Pollock Halls, the resident blocks for 1,900 first year undergraduates. We hope to terminate their contracts with the Halls and move them into a house in the city. Students have been fleeing Pollock in droves, my daughter says. Police squads together with wardens are patrolling the Pollock campus. Young people, many of them away from home for the first time in their lives, have been told they may be banned from returning to their families for Christmas. Snarling wardens called students trying to socialise “disgusting” and all seating in outside spaces has been removed. All students have been banned from pubs. In the canteen, students are shown to seats so cannot choose where to sit. They each sit at single desks facing in the same direction. They receive directives by email from the university, hectoring them about “the rules in Scotland” in a tone that is patronising towards foreigners south of the border. A few nights ago a warden ordered my daughter, who was outside her hall at 10pm, to “go to bed now”. My daughter is 20 next month. It appears the only way to respond is to leave Pollock Halls and find accommodation in the city. Then again, if you cannot meet other students and since all teaching has gone online, why stay in Edinburgh at all?

Another reader reports that his neighbour’s 18 year-old is dreading leaving home and going to university:

Our neighbour’s son is about to head to York tomorrow. His mother reports he is so terrified now, he had a panic attack. What a contrast with how it should be – the most exciting time of a young adult’s life turned into the prospect of doing a stretch in a high security prison, and in solitary confinement too.

Stop Press: Robert Halfon, the Chair of the Education Select Committee, has said locked-down students should receive refunds on their tuition fees.

Staggering Cost of Glasgow’s Nightingale Hospital

Nic Sturge-on discovers a cache of money left behind by the British Government in 1999 and immediately sets fire to it

A reader has done some digging about the cost of the Nightingale Hospital in Glasgow that is shutting its doors. Eye watering!

Further to your story today on the decommissioning contract for the NHS Louisa Jordan facility at the SEC in Glasgow, I had a quick look into the costs involved with this empty COVID-19 hospital.

The contracts page you provided a link that shows it’s costing £429,877.48 for a contract merely to appoint a “Lead Advisor consultant to support the decommissioning of the NHS Louisa Jordan temporary field hospital at the Scottish Events Campus (SEC) in Glasgow”.

The minutes of the NHS Louisa Jordan Governance Board on May 21st state that total decommissioning costs were estimated at over £4 million, so there’s considerably more to come.

A Scottish Government FOI release published on July 22nd shows that no patients were treated at the facility.

This recent spreadsheet from September 10th shows that the final build cost was £30.9 million and monthly running costs have been £2.4 million.

The Herald featured these figures in a story on September 11th.

The Daily Record ran a story on the costs on September 20th, stating that the hospital with no Covid patients will cost taxpayers £67 million.

But, all is not lost – it has been used to provide healthcare training.

And it may have hosted some orthopaedic outpatient consults.

Multiply these staggering sums of cash across all of the standby Covid facilities, and there’s a colossal bill to be paid by taxpayers.

And for what in return?

NHS Track-and-Trace App Plumbs New Depths

The NHS track-and-trace app is the gift that keeps on giving – to lockdown sceptics. I honestly didn’t think this fiasco could become even more embarrassing for the Government, but it has. The latest cock-up is that anyone who’s got a test result back from NHS hospitals or Public Health England can’t actually share their results via the app.

The Telegraph has the details:

Officials were forced to urgently remove a major blindspot in the Government’s COVID-19 app yesterday which meant that more than a third of daily tests were being excluded from the system.

On Saturday morning, it emerged that those who tested positive for the virus in NHS hospitals and Public Health England (PHE) labs were unable to share their result using the official contact-tracing app for the first 48 hours after its introduction on Thursday.

The Department of Health said it had worked “urgently” fix the problem.

Tests carried out by the NHS and PHE make up one in three of those carried out each day, and their exclusion would have meant that casual contacts of a large proportion of medics who tested positive for the virus would not have received automatic notifications asking them to isolate.

As does the Mail:

More than 60,000 Britons are unable to tell the long-awaited NHS Test and Trace app whether they have tested positive for coronavirus, the Government has admitted in the latest fiasco to engulf the UK’s ‘world-leading’ testing system.

Results from swabs examined by NHS hospitals and Public Health England – more than 70,000 a day – cannot be entered into the app as they are not supplied with a test code, the Department of Health has confirmed.

The oversight means sufferers are unable to send out alerts to people they have been near to advise them to self-isolate to curb the spread of coronavirus.

As does the Sunday Times – although the Times points out that it isn’t just results obtained from NHS hospitals and PHE that can’t be entered in the new app. It’s also results received via the ONS infection survey.

On Friday, the day after the app launched, at least 61,000 people tested in England were unable to enter their results. As a result, thousands of other people who had been in close proximity to those with positive results will never be notified.

The NHS Test and Trace website said: “If your test took place in a Public Health England lab or NHS hospital, or as part of national surveillance testing conducted by the Office for National Statistics, test results cannot currently be linked with the app whether they’re positive or negative. We are working to make this available as soon as possible.”

😂 😂 😂

As usual, I turned to Lockdown Sceptics’ dedicated track-and-trace app correspondent to explain what’s going on.

It only took three days for the NHS COVID-19 app to acquire a litany of problems.

Users cannot report negative test results because the app asks for a result code and negative tests don’t have a code. If you reported symptoms to the app when booking that test then your self isolation counter continues to count, even though you have a negative test.

How about positive tests? According to the @NHSCOVID19app twitter account responding to complaints: “If your test took place in a Public Health England lab or NHS hospital, or as part of national surveillance testing conducted by the Office for National Statistics, test results cannot currently be linked with the app whether they’re positive or negative.” This shouldn’t be a surprise to the team building the app as they told us about it in their own documentation. But as this tweet from an incredulous user points out: “So if I get symptoms, and as an NHS nurse, get a test through work (because that’s the only way you can get a test these days), then if I am positive the app will not automatically alert my contacts? Same for a patient with a positive test?” That’s right, if you have your test done in an NHS hospital you cannot tell the NHS app about it.

The ludicrous levels of optimism around this app are evident in the twitter stream: “For every 1 to 2 people who download the app, an infection could be prevented.” Really? Could we see “the science” behind that please?

Meanwhile the venue check-in function doesn’t have a way of telling it when you leave a venue. That’s by design apparently: “You do not need to check out of a venue. Your phone will register when you check into somewhere new, and it will automatically check you out of your last venue at midnight.” So if I visit a venue for a few minutes at 9pm, then go home, and someone who later tests positive visits that venue at 10pm, I will be alerted and asked to isolate. No prizes for seeing the problem with that.

Presumably this level of incompetence is all part of the new normal?

Et Tu, Sainsbury’s?

A reader is disappointed to find his local Sainsbury’s becoming more zealous in its enforcement of the rules.

Sainsbury’s has now moved into enforcement mode. See yesterday’s message from their Chief Executive below.

“Greeters will be on hand outside all supermarkets and busy convenience stores to remind customers to wear face coverings when they enter stores. If you do not have a face covering when you arrive at a store, our colleagues will help you find one.”

Tannoy announcements to be ramped up.

How sad. Our local store at Chertsey was an oasis of common sense before this.

The message has the line: “If you think there is anything else we should be doing that would make your shopping experience easier or better then please do get in touch with me.” It is, of course, a ‘no reply’ email and there is no obvious way on Sainsbury’s website to communicate about anything more than being overcharged for Activia yoghurts.

Stuart Wheeler’s Farewell Party During Lockdown

Stuart Wheeler flanked by daughter Charlotte and David Cameron at the Conservative Summer Party in 2006

JP Floru, author of The Sun Tyrant: A Nightmare Called North Korea, is working on a book about the lockdown policy and has written an original essay for Lockdown Sceptics on the folly of governments removing people’s right to choose when it comes to what risks to take in their lives – what he calls the “nationalisation of risk”. You can read the full essay here, but the final section, in which he describes the last request of Stuart Wheeler, is below.

By all means, let us hear from the experts and the scientists! We should not return to a pre-scientific society based on superstition and prejudice.

But Instead of supplanting people’s individual risk/benefit calculation by central diktat, the Government could have made sure that its citizens had better information to take their own decisions. They could have put more emphasis on how contagious COVID-19 was; and what to do to avoid it. They could have suggested who might want to shield, instead of ordering it. They should have advised, but not dictated.

Some more people might have died. But perhaps they would not have been alone in their final months and weeks and days. Perhaps fewer people would have felt so hopeless that they killed themselves. Perhaps fewer people would have become poor, because they would still have had their jobs. Perhaps fewer people would be angry or in despair. Perhaps fewer people would have seen their quality of life tank so dramatically.

I want to end this with a real story. One of the most interesting characters I have met was Stuart Wheeler. He made his money with spread betting and went on to be tremendously influential in British politics by financing the Conservative Party, UKIP, and assorted Eurosceptic causes. He was a jovial man who hosted everybody of note and potential note at his Elizabethan Castle in Kent, which is often featured in period dramas and other Agatha Christie films.

One day during the lockdown, his friends found this e-mail in their inbox:

“As many of you know, I have cancer and my doctors do not expect me to live more than about six months. So what would I prefer – to never see again my and my daughters’ friends? Or to see them, taking the very slight risk of catching the virus from them, which might shorten my life by a few months? The answer is crystal clear to me…”

“No one who, for my sake, declines an invitation to visit us at the castle, is doing me a favour,” he wrote. “On the contrary, by depriving me of their company, they are doing me a great disfavour.”

Worth reading in full.

Postcard From Rome

For those prepared to “risk” a trip to Rome, the reward is a complete absence of tourists

Long time contributor to Lockdown Sceptics Guy de la Bédoyère has just returned from a trip to Rome which he found surprisingly life-enhancing. He has written a postcard for us, describing the whole blissful experience. Here is an extract:

In the famous H.G. Wells story The Time Machine the remote future is a dystopian world. After a horrific war humanity divided into two: those who took shelter underground and those who took their chances in the sun. By the time Wells’s Time Traveller arrives they have evolved into two species. Those who stayed on the surface have become the passive and indolent cattle known as the Eloi. They are farmed by the hideous troglodyte Morlocks who lurk in their caverns with machines they use for processing the Eloi whom they harvest and eat.

This all came back to me as we wandered in a blissfully quiet Rome, but in a reverse form. In our dystopian future the Morlocks are those who cower at home, by choice or under the government heel, while the rest of us enjoy the sunlit uplands. In short, in a really strange sort of way all the Covid precautions have made life better for those prepared to take their chances and live a little. Perhaps we should keep them on after all.

We have been visiting Rome since 1975 and never before have we walked straight into St Peter’s with no more than a cursory bag check. The great basilica was no busier than a large parish church in a country town on a desolate weekday afternoon. We had Michelangelo’s Pieta to ourselves. It was busy around the Colosseum but not by normal standards. We spent a day in the ruined Roman port at Ostia Antica, wandering around the remains of streets, apartment blocks, houses and temples. I suppose we must have seen a couple of dozen other people but that was all. The Spanish Steps had almost no-one on them. We were only in Rome for three days so didn’t bother with museums as that would have meant more time wearing masks. But I don’t doubt that they are equally empty.

Worth reading in full.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Two today: “Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and “Sitting in the Corner Blues” by Rab Noakes.

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Woke Gobbledegook

Today I bring you the Free Speech Union‘s latest attempt to protect our members from woke gobbledegook.

Many of our members have asked us what to do if they find themselves at odds with their employers about how best to tackle prejudice and discrimination in the workplace. As some of you will be aware, employers, as well as schools and universities, have introduced a raft of new “anti-racism” initiatives in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, from circulating suggested reading lists (Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race) to introducing mandatory unconscious bias training. Is there a way of expressing your reservations about these initiatives that means your employer cannot legally punish you for doing so? What are the limits on what an employer can do to force you to assent to the “woke” orthodoxy on this issue?

Because we were getting so many questions along those lines, and dealing with so many cases of people who are being punished for dissenting from the BLM narrative, we thought it would be helpful to publish some Frequently Asked Questions on this topic. You can read them here. We did a good deal of research in the course of compiling this first set of FAQs, and one of the people who helped with that research, a journalist called Carrie Clark, has written up her findings in the form of a briefing paper. Carrie looked specifically at the Implicit Association Test, a diagnostic tool that sits at the heart of most forms of diversity training. It’s worth reading in full, but the short version is that this test has been almost completely discredited in the scientific literature since it was first devised in 1998. You can read a summary of Carrie’s paper here.

Of course, if you’re concerned about being punished by your employer or your university for being insufficiently woke, the best thing you can do is join the Free Speech Union.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

Tony Husband’s cartoon in the latest Private Eye

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it 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 (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

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.

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

Stop Press: A reader says his local cafe owner is now insisting customers follow absurd, arbitrary mask-wearing rules, following last week’s tightening of restrictions.

A clearly nervous cafe owner tells us that she will risk being closed down if her customers don’t follow the new rules. So we have to put on a mask to walk the three paces from the street door to a table. Then we can sit for as long as we want without a mask to eat or drink, but had to put one back on if we stood up to walk the two steps to look at the cakes or when we wanted to leave. What madness! Why is it OK to sit in a small cafe for an hour without a mask, but the two seconds needed to enter or exit is so deadly a mask is needed? Perhaps the virus is more deadly at a height of 6 foot than it is at at a height of 3 foot?

Mask Extra: The Telegraph has discovered that anti-mask activists are urging people to buy “mask exempt” lanyards to avoid wearing face nappies. Ooh mother! Whatever next?

Samaritans

If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here.

And Finally…

Matt Lucas wheels out his Boris impression to promote the next series of Bake Off. Quite funny, particularly the first bit.

Latest News

75,000 Government’s Official Projection of Lockdown Deaths

But does it even save lives?

The Mail has discovered the figure the Government has put on the number of collateral deaths caused by the lockdown buried in a SAGE report.

Nearly 75,000 people could die from non-Covid causes as a result of lockdown, according to a devastating official figures buried in a 188-page document.

The startling research, presented to the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), will further increase pressure on Boris Johnson to hold back on introducing further coronavirus restrictions.

The document reveals 16,000 people died as a result of the chaos in hospitals and care homes in March and April alone.

It estimates a further 26,000 will lose their lives within a year if people continue to stay away from A&E and the problems in social care persist.

And an additional 31,900 could die over the next five years as a result of missed cancer diagnoses, cancelled operations and the health impacts of a recession.

The toll of deaths directly linked to the virus last night stood at 41,936.

The estimates, drawn up by civil servants at the Department of Health, the Office for National Statistics and the Home Office, were presented to Sage at a meeting on July 15th. The documents stressed that had nothing been done to stop the spread of the virus in March, 400,000 people could have died of Covid.

And if the NHS had been overrun, this figure might have even soared to 1.4 million. But they acknowledged the restrictions had significant unintended consequences.

How can the Government still believe these catastrophic predictions from discredited models when the experience of countries like Sweden, Tanzania and Belarus show the truth about what happens under minimal restrictions? Is it a case of refusing to believe the evidence of one’s own eyes because it is too painful? Certainly, there is some serious corporate groupthink going on.

Incidentally, we can expect the press to periodically discover these reports to Sage. They’re part of a series being done by the Department of Health and Social Care, the Office for National Statistics, the Government Actuary’s Department and the Home Office. The first of these was published in April.

Stop Press: A famous financial journalist who has long been an anonymous contributor to Lockdown Sceptics thinks he knows what the problem is:

Ex Governor of Bank of England Mervyn King has written a book with John Kay recently called Radical Uncertainty. Lots of stuff about the unreliability of models (all models are wrong some are useful). Their simple advice is for people to lay down the model and ask, “What’s going on here?” Boris and his crew in Downing Street don’t have the good sense to do just that. And the cost of their failure in unfathomable.

Economics Prof Replies to More or Less

Take that, Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter

More or Less, the Radio 4 stats programme, wheeled out Sir David Spiegelhalter to ridicule those of us who’ve been highlighting the false positive rate this week, claiming it was all a storm in a teacup. The Huffington Post had a go, too, naming Julia Hartley-Brewer and Toby, among the rank amateurs who’ve apparently misunderstood just how insignificant false positives really are.

We couldn’t let that slide, obviously, and today we’re publishing an original piece by Gordon Hughes, a former Professor of Economics at Edinburgh University, rebutting these criticisms. Here’s an extract:

The core problem is that the UK is relying upon a set of policymakers who appear to be neither competent nor willing to be honest about the choices that are being made. Selling policies to credulous journalists is simple. Convincing a wider public that contains a significant number of people who have the expertise and willingness to challenge what appears to be irrational policy is a different matter. The UK Government appears to believe that honesty will further reduce already low levels of willingness to comply with current policies. What they – and their public supporters – should recognize is that the unwillingness to admit and discuss the complexity of the cost-benefit calculations that surround testing merely fuels the lack of trust in current policies. Many of the public statements are so obviously wrong that it is hard to give credit to the more generous view that the policymakers are not really incompetent but merely dealing with a very difficult situation.

That, it seems to me, is the real lesson from Sweden. There were many people in the Swedish medical establishment who profoundly disagreed – and still disagree – with the policies recommended by the State Epidemiologist. There was an open debate and individuals were allowed to make their own choices. The outcome was mixed and the sources of failure have been identified and followed up. In the UK – across all of the nations – the attitude is that we (the “experts”) know better than everyone else and you must just do what we say. That is never a good story in an educated democracy. It is especially weak when the self-declared experts are easily challenged on a string of assumptions and issues so that their credibility cannot be sustained. All that is being achieved is a polarization of trust and belief in the competence of both politicians and those who advise them.

Worth reading in full.

Does Sweden Have Herd Immunity?

Stockholmers soaking up the spring sunshine outside a restaurant on April 22, 2020.
A bustling Stockholm in April

As Sweden comes in from the cold, with its scientific advisers being granted audiences with governments around the world and Dorit Nitzan, the WHO’s Regional Emergency Director for Europe, saying the country can “provide lessons for the global community”, attention has turned to the secret of their success.

Kim Sneppen, professor of biocomplexity at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen and a leading virologist, said this week: “There is some evidence that the Swedes have built up a degree of immunity to the virus which, along with what else they are doing to stop the spread, is enough to control the disease… They may now be finished with the epidemic.”

However, the role of immunity in Sweden remains contested. State epidemiologist Dr Anders Tegnell himself has downplayed it, answering a question this week comparing Sweden and Spain by stressing that achieving “herd immunity” had never been a goal of Sweden’s strategy (despite emails surfacing which suggest otherwise). He said:

I’m not sure that the level of immunity in Sweden and in Spain differs very much. I think the main difference between Sweden and many other countries is that we have had the same kind of restrictions and recommendations in place the whole time. And we have a really big adherence from the population to those recommendations. And that makes a difference, that makes us hopefully less susceptible to a second wave.

Maybe we’ll have the same experience in a few weeks’ time, we’ll see, but as I said, I think the big difference is that Spain had a strict lockdown and then opened up again, and then you do get back to quite a lot spread of disease.

Italy currently has even lower “cases” per 100,000 than Sweden (35 vs 37) but it would be hard to argue Italians are a peculiarly compliant people in the way Dorit Nitzan does of Swedes. From the Guardian:

Nitzan stressed that Sweden’s approach may not be applicable everywhere. Other countries should take into account that “in Sweden, the social contract between the government and its population is historically based on a very high level of trust”, she said. “That is the way the Swedish people and the government interact.”

Following the Swedish example, therefore, should not mean “adopting the exact same measures”, she said. “There are lessons to learn from every country. None has done it perfectly; all have made mistakes.

“Each country’s strategy to curb COVID-19 should be based on its specific situation and context, and be both scientifically sound and culturally acceptable. This is Sweden’s approach.”

When Boris Johnson claimed in the Commons that Brits are more freedom-loving than Italians as an explanation for why the UK is now faring worse than Italy he was rebuked by the Italian president, while Corriere della Sera, an Italian national newspaper, wrote on its front page:

Let me get this right – the country that invented queuing and immaculate lawns is not able to obey rules? Instead, group discipline is a trait of the Italians, a people who have a well-deserved reputation for disdain for regulations and individualism verging on anarchy?

There is a danger that the important lessons of the epidemic will be lost in sub-scientific generalisations about supposed national character traits that wrongly imply lockdowns are right for some places but not for others ironically, it appears, the more “freedom-loving” a country is, the greater the need for a firm hand. When Nitzan and Tegnell claim that Swedes have been more compliant than Spaniards, what hard evidence is that based on? The Italians complain about the false stereotypes sent in their direction. We Brits should protest no less loudly about being so supposedly freedom-loving that only a good firm lockdown will break our spirits and keep us in line.

It also needs to be remembered that Spain had one of the longest and strictest lockdowns in Europe whereas Sweden never limited the size of gatherings to less than 50, never closed shops, restaurants, night clubs, schools under 16, or anything else, and never imposed or even encouraged face masks. Are we supposed to believe young people in Sweden stopped socialising and stopped going to parties? What basis is there for thinking that? The pictures that went round in April of young people in Stockholm crowding into nightclubs and cafes shows this up for the nonsense it is, while a recent BMJ article quoted Karolinska Institute immunologist Marcus Buggert in August saying that social distancing in Sweden was “always poorly followed, and it’s only become worse”.

Furthermore, even if Swedes were more compliant with their Government’s guidelines, the guidelines were so loose compared with what was imposed elsewhere that it’s hard to see how the mere fact of compliance makes all the difference.

The antibody rates in Sweden are, as Dr Tegnell notes, similar to those found in Spain and Italy. But then maybe that is why Italy also has no second wave, and Spain’s second ripple appears to be peaking, with the Carlos III Health Institute pointing out that the data on PCR tests by date of symptom onset shows the epidemic topping out weeks ago, even before the end of August.

The evidence for the early emergence of collective immunity rooted in T-cell cross-immunity from previous cold viruses continues to mount. Which is why one of the world’s leading epidemiologists, Oxford’s Professor Sunetra Gupta, is convinced it is playing a major role. It may suit the governments of the world to pretend that it’s all about a myth of Swedish stoicism and not about immunity so that they can exculpate themselves for not taking the same path in March.

But the danger is that the reality of immunity, which would allow countries to go back to normal (actual normal, not New Normal) becomes officially denied and buried. Even in Sweden the Government has called a halt to the lifting of restrictions, with a cap of 50 people in a group now set to remain and local lockdowns being threatened should local outbreaks occur. If Sweden can’t learn the lesson of Sweden, what hope is there for the rest of us?

As the autumn ripples in Spain, France and Britain fade, we need to make sure our leaders learn the right lessons, and can’t get away with crediting the new restrictions, the national temperament, the stars, or anything else except the only thing with hard scientific evidence behind it: immunity.

Stop Press: Fraser Nelson in the Telegraph points out that Chris Whitty rejects the immunity idea because, he says, people aren’t immune to colds and so it is probably short-lived. I suggest Professor Whitty urgently needs to widen his pool of advisers, starting with the immunologists and virologists who wrote this STAT article in August.

The experts who spoke with STAT all felt that the immune responses to this virus are exactly what you would expect to see. And the case of the Hong Kong man who appears to have been reinfected underscore that, several said.

“The fact that somebody may get reinfected is not surprising. But the reinfection didn’t cause disease,” said Peiris, who knows about the case but was not one of the authors reporting it.

Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University in New York who studies human responses to viral infections, said it is hard to be definitive, given the limited human experience with this new coronavirus, but she said she could see no reason to believe the immune system would behave differently to this respiratory virus than to others.

“So far, anyway, the evidence supports functional immunity, but the only way to see how long that will last is to follow people over time and see if those responses diminish,” she said.

“The idea there is that, yes, your antibodies might wane, but your memory responses aren’t absent,” said Menachery, noting that when a primed immune system re-encounters the virus, production of antibodies would kick into gear.

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

Image
Hat tip UK COVID-19

Is ‘Zero-Covid’ Now a UK-Wide policy?

Readers will recall that we were critical of Prof Devi Sridhar’s ‘zero-Covid’ strategy because: (a) the false positive rate means you can never reduce the number of ‘cases’ to zero, so restrictions will never be lifted (see Clare Craig on this); (b) it means quarantining people entering the country in perpetuity; (c) it assumes a vaccine will be be both 100% effective and available soon, neither of which is likely.

However, it looks as though this is now the official policy of the United Kingdom. Yesterday, a joint statement on coronavirus was issued by the UK Government, the Northern Ireland Executive, the Scottish Government, and the Welsh Government that said:

Following our meeting at COBR this week, we therefore reaffirm our shared commitment to suppressing the virus to the lowest possible level and keeping it there, while we strive to return life to as normal as possible for as many people as possible. We agree that our policy decisions should be consistent with this objective.

The lowest possible level and keeping it there.

Sounds like a ‘zero-Covid’ strategy to me.

God help us. (H/t Alistair Haimes.)

UsForThem: The Birth of a Movement

We’re publishing an original piece by Molly Kingsley today. Molly is one of the three founders of UsForThem, a grass roots, parent-run organisation that campaigns for schools to re-open in full and without any intrusive social distancing arrangements, and we asked her to write something for us about why she decided to start a campaigning organisation. Turns out, Molly was red-pilled when she saw the above picture. It horrified her at a deep, visceral level and she felt she had to do something – anything – to prevent this becoming the “new normal” for our children.

One Tuesday morning while nonchalantly slurping my coffee and scrolling through social media, that photo popped into my feed and with it an instinctively visceral reaction that propelled me to action. I looked at it. Then stared a while. Then thought – you’ll have to excuse the profanity but there really is no other way to put it:

“WHAT THE F*CK?!”

Because anyone with an ounce of humanity will know that this is no way to treat a child.

The harms of lockdown and social isolation on children are now, sadly, much better understood, having been written about by a growing number of increasingly alarmed child welfare experts. But you don’t need a psychology doctorate to understand that something that restricts young children’s play in such an abrupt and blunt manner is not likely to be positive for educational and social development – you just need to be a parent. And as parent, once you get an idea in your head that something is harming your child, it becomes hard to let it go. I realised it was not only my right, but my duty, to say, “No.”

UsForThem has probably been the most effective of the anti-lockdown campaigning organisations – an inspiration to us all. This piece is well worth reading in full.

Nic Sturge-on’s Student Hostages

Guido’s brilliant graphic

Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph delivers a blistering attack on the First Minister’s callous sacrifice of Scotland’s students in apparent pursuit of one-upmanship and poll ratings.

This is an absolute disgrace: a thousand new students have been imprisoned across Scotland – victims of Nicola Sturgeon’s preoccupation with looking good and fighting propaganda battles with London rather than taking the measures that would really beat Covid.

And now, incredibly, all of Scotland’s students have been hit with a brutal list of restrictions including a ‘stay away from pubs’ order.

The locked-down teenagers, just starting their varsity careers, are not so much prisoners as hostages – held captive until there’s an improvement in the official statistics about which Ms Sturgeon has thus far been only too pleased to boast.

No longer; Scotland’s figures are at least as bad as England’s means she has had to come up with ever-more draconian restrictions.

But the punitive rules being inflicted on all these kids puts everything else in the shade. Students have been told that they can’t do much more than stare at the four blank walls of their tiny flats, with security guards patrolling their halls of residence, they can’t mix with their fellow freshers, and can’t go home or even meet Mum and Dad.

Worse, any infraction of the draconian rules will be breaking the law. Guido summarises the restrictions.

– No parties and no socialising outside households and their accommodation.
– Increased staff presence in student accommodation
– Further engagement with private providers of student accommodation, especially those with significant numbers
– Intensified liaising with Police Scotland to ensure vigilance
– A strict ‘Yellow Card/Red Card’ approach to breaches of student discipline

The raw deal students are getting is unbelievable, told to go to campus they are mostly doing lectures via video conference, not allowed to socialise and being told they can’t go home at Christmas (there will be tears) and paying full fees. Guido for once thinks complaining students may have a point. It’s been pointed out that university staff are still allowed to move freely in and between halls to check compliance, then go to the pub, then go home to their family.

Stop Press: A student at Glasgow University, Harry Butcher, has written in spiked about how his university feels like a prison, while a fresher at Dundee University, Euan Lee, tells his story, “I got Covid and now 500 people in my university accommodation have to self-isolate“, in the Telegraph.

Covid Avoids Swimming Pools

Perhaps scientists can learn to harness the protective power of pools

A reader has got in touch to tell us about the ridiculous rules she now faces when taking her toddler swimming.

What has really sent me over the edge was receiving a text message this morning saying: “Hi, it’s Water Babies. Following the recent tightening of COVID-19 rules, Wyvern are now asking that all adults wear a face covering when coming to the pool, unless you have an exemption. Please remove it just before you get in the pool and replace it when you get out again. Thank you for your help in keeping us all safe.”

What a clever virus this is it can tell the time, it can tell if you are in a party of more than five other people, it can tell whether you are eating or drinking and now, I am told, it can tell whether you are just in or just out of a swimming pool. I am now considering cancelling my son’s swimming lessons.

Later came an update.

I received a reply from Water Babies Dorset and Salisbury:

“Hi, it is each venue’s own decision but due to latest government restrictions it just so happens that is a requirement at all our venues. Some decided before now, and some more recently like Wyvern. Water Babies x”

I have had a very quick scan on Google and can’t find the “requirement” stating that face masks have to be worn immediately before and after swimming! So I replied “Many thanks for your reply, could I trouble you to send me the link which references this requirement?”

I am waiting for a response.

Winter is Coming

Jemima Lewis in the Telegraph , in a piece entitled “Far too many of us have no idea just how bad this is going to get“, delivers some brutal home truths to anyone still in denial about what is about to happen as the long winter of ongoing Covid restrictions starts to bite.

Even now, as Britain stares into the economic abyss, a stubborn myopia persists. When I tell friends what is happening in the hospitality industry right now – the high street names that are preparing to go into administration; the hundreds of thousands of jobs that are about to be lost – they go pale and back away nervously, as if from a madwoman. “The most important thing is to save lives,” they insist. The lives that will be lost, or ruined, through unemployment, poverty, depression, empty public coffers, crime – perhaps even civil unrest – seem to rest bizarrely weightless on the scale.

It is, in any case, a fait accompli. Nothing in Rishi Sunak’s emergency budget can save the day for those businesses that depend on high footfall. City centres are (or were) the coral reefs of the British economy: small but vibrant landscapes supporting a huge array of different businesses, from locksmiths to restaurants. Lockdown was devastating enough; six months of working from home will kill off the reef for good.

The hospitality industry is right at the front of the unemployment tidal wave. From this unhappy vantage point it is easy to see the boarded-up future from which so many – including some in Government – are still averting their eyes. Perhaps the economy can only be properly understood through experience. If so, this is going to be an agonising lesson.

Worth reading in full.

COVID-19 Assembly Update – Get Involved

The good people running the excellent COVID-19 Assembly initiative have been in touch about their new survey that they want readers of Lockdown Sceptics to help with.

The aim of the COVID-19 Assembly is to allow people to discuss and share the information around COVID-19 and the measures in place to “control” it. We want to create content and tools for volunteers to take to non-sceptics and show them why they shouldn’t worry. The SAGE minutes showed just how deliberate the mainstream media fear-mongering was. 

Unfortunately, it worked really well. If polls are to be believed about 85% of people are genuinely scared. To unpick this programming, we are using the same weapons. We have a survey designed by the former lead psychologist of Cambridge Analytica. The results of this survey will inform the production of our content. It will help us understand exactly which points to focus on in order to change opinions.

This is a very complex problem and we need to work together to solve it. We can’t expect non-sceptics to complete the survey without some sort of incentive. We need you, readers of Lockdown Sceptics, to talk to non-sceptics you know (family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, etc) and ask them to complete the survey as a favour to you or buy them a drink or a coffee!

If you think they’ll do it by themselves then sending a link may do. But if necessary, you could meet them and open the survey on your own phone and ask them the questions. Ask them in the pub, over the phone, at work, over the garden wall, on the street, wherever.

This is extremely important! We need at least 400 non-sceptical people to complete the survey to have a representative sample. Please do your best to target five people each and try to get everyone to share it on social media. The more we get the more we will learn about how to end this nonsense. 

Thanks and good luck!

This is an important and high quality initiative so let’s all get involved and help them reach their 400 target and much more. Find the survey here.

SNP Climbdown On Hate Crime Bill – But Is It Enough?

Scottish justice secretary Humza Yousaf doesn’t appear to grasp that “hate speech” is inimical to free speech

The Times on Thursday devoted an editorial to the small victory north of the border for free speech advocates in getting the SNP’s appalling hate crime bill watered down to make it slightly less appalling.

For months the Scottish justice secretary has defended his hate crime bill against criticism that it is a dangerously illiberal attack on freedom of speech. He appeared undeterred by the lengthening list of critics, who included the Scottish Police Federation, the Law Society of Scotland, the National Secular Society and the Scottish Catholic Church. Concerns focused on a proposal to make “stirring up hatred” a criminal offence, as well as behaviour “likely” to stir up such hatred. Also outlawed would be the possession or communication of “inflammatory material” deemed “likely” to encourage hatred, a measure that could have had implications for bookshops and libraries. A leader column in this newspaper denounced the proposed law as an “act of folly”.

Yesterday, finally, Mr Yousaf admitted defeat and announced that amendments would be brought forward to safeguard rights that should never have been under threat in the first place. His decision is welcome insofar as it goes, although he is not yet off the hook. Critics say the ministerial climbdown, which removed the word “likely”, is a rung or two short of satisfactory.

The Free Speech Union submitted evidence in July to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee opposing the bill.

This definition of “hate crime” is far too broad and will enable groups claiming to speak for people in these protected categories to lobby the authorities to prosecute anyone who challenges their ideology on the grounds that doing so is likely to stir up hatred. Under this new law, not only will those who challenge identitarian dogma be vulnerable to prosecution, but anyone who possesses “inflammatory material” will be too, as will theatre producers who put on plays expressing these forbidden ideas and the actors who perform in them. If the Bill passes, Scotland will become the most aggressive regulator of speech in the United Kingdom and one of the most belligerent in Europe. And it could easily become the basis of a similar law in England and Wales.

The climbdown is a start, but not enough to keep speech free and protected from the constant threat of litigation from the woke and perpetually offended.

If you care about free speech, please join the Free Speech Union.

Round-Up

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

UPDATE: Some of you have asked how to link to particular stories on Lockdown Sceptics. The answer used to be to first click on “Latest News”, then click on the links that came up beside the headline of each story. But we’ve changed that so the link now comes up beside the headline whether you’ve clicked on “Latest News” or you’re just on the Lockdown Sceptics home page. Please do share the stories with your friends and on social media.

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today we feature a protest statement from students and faculty at Boston University. It’s a cracker if anyone is playing woke bingo this’ll get you a full house.

Institutionalized White Supremacy Culture at BU

BU’s residential reopening policies for Fall 2020 create material damage and risk to Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities, as well as those most economically marginalized regardless of race. As BU School of Public Health Professor Michael Siegel has recently explained, the “Learn from Anywhere” model negatively impacts disadvantaged and minority students under the guise of choice. By supporting and even encouraging a dense campus and the return of tens of thousands of inter-state and international students, BU also is increasing the health risk not only to its own campus community but also to the Greater Boston area. Pre-existing economic disparities – the result of systemic racism and discrimination – mean that COVID-19 has a disproportionate impact on Black and Latinx communities. Any action which increases the risk of transmission of COVID-19  thus disproportionately affects the health of those communities.

These racially and economically disparate outcomes are not coincidental. They are the natural result of an institutionalized culture of white supremacy at BU which is designed to perpetuate existing inequality. This culture of white supremacy was born from the hierarchical power dynamic between masters and slaves and the legacies of settler colonialism. It is fundamentally threatened by the sharing of power. It maintains its authority by restricting access to knowledge. It disarms critics by making superficial change, but rejects the need for systemic transformation or the redirection of resources. It demands cooperation, obedience, and sacrifice in times of scarcity, while in times of plenty enriching only those at the top. An organization which operates in this way cannot advance the cause of human equality and social justice – whatever it intends.

 In what follows, we draw from the work of many grassroots activists on anti-racism – particularly Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun, who identified the characteristics of white supremacy culture – to explain how BU’s white supremacy culture brought us to this point. The characteristics of white supremacy culture include but are not limited to paternalism, either/or thinking, power hoarding, a scarcity worldview, a fear of open conflict and tendency toward secrecy in operations, a preference for quantity (or speed) over quality, and a ‘progress is bigger and more’ attitude.

This list is not exhaustive, but we offer it in the spirit of supporting one of the five major pillars of BU’s new Strategic Plan for 2030 – “to strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion.” The work of becoming a fully anti-racist and anti-oppressive institution requires a clear and specific analysis of and accountability for institutionalized white supremacy culture to be successful. We call on BU to begin its anti-racist work on our own campus. We cannot hope to transform the world if we cannot transform our own institution.

Read the whole ludicrous statement here.

Stop Press: Quillette has published an amusing article about Jessica Krug, the ultra-woke, “African-American” academic superstar who turned out to be a white Jewish woman.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it 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 (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

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.

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

Stop Press: A woman was tasered and arrested by police in Ohio on Wednesday after she refused to leave an eighth grade football game for not wearing a mask. The Hill has the story.

Police in Logan, Ohio, who identified the woman as Alecia Kitts, said the officer told Kitts she would be asked to leave because she was not wearing a mask, in violation of school policy. After Kitts refused to leave the stadium, the officer warned she would be cited for trespassing. She was tased after she resisted arrest. …

Police said in a statement that when Smith informed Kitts she needed to wear a mask, she responded she had asthma and would not put it on.

“Officer Smith advised the female several times that she needed to put her mask on, and that if she did not, she would be asked to leave and would have to wait outside the stadium,” the statement reads. “The female continually refused his request and Officer Smith advised her that if she refused to leave, she would be cited for trespassing and escorted off the property.” …

“It is important to note, the female was not arrested for failing to wear a mask, she was asked to leave the premises for continually violating school policy,” the police department said. “Once she refused to leave the premises, she was advised she was under arrest for criminal trespassing, she resisted the arrest, which led to the use of force.”

Watch the video here.

Samaritans

If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here.

And Finally…

A poster made by the son of a Lockdown Sceptics reader

Latest News

Rishi Moves into Poll Position

In the race to succeed Boris, Rishi Sunak moved into poll position yesterday with a cash giveaway that was widely welcomed in the press. The Telegraph‘s Camilla Tominey is in no doubt whose star is rising, and whose is falling.

“Where’s Boris?” is a refrain that has dogged the Prime Minister throughout the coronavirus crisis.

It even featured on the front of last week’s Spectator, as the magazine he once edited asked: “Where is the man we thought we voted for?”

Never has Mr Johnson been more conspicuous by his absence than at Thursday’s hugely significant Commons statement by Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor.

As Mr Sunak introduced his winter economy plan, which will replace the furlough scheme with a new Job Support Scheme, the Prime Minister (and First Lord of the Treasury) was nowhere to be seen on the front bench.

He later emerged at a police station in Northamptonshire (as seen in the video below), where he busied himself meeting new recruits, sitting in a police car with flashing lights and watching a first aid demonstration involving plastic dummies.

Worth reading in full, although, according to Christopher Snowdon in the Spectator, Rishi is driving the nation to ruin.

Meanwhile, some members of Team Rishi are no longer bothering to conceal which horse they’re backing.

Toby contributed to a Michael Crick report for Mail+ yesterday about Boris’s future in which Crick concluded that Boris would probably cling on for a few years before being ousted in a bloody coup.

Prime Ministers aren’t like ordinary people. To get the job requires a persistence, a stamina, a tenacity, that the rest of us don’t have and therefore they’re not very inclined to give up the job either. And if I look back at the seven Prime Ministers of my adult lifetime, from Jim Callaghan to Theresa May, people forecast way ahead of time that they hadn’t got much longer in the job and yet they held on. And I suspect that Boris Johnson will hold on for a few years yet.

I wonder…

Government’s Graph of Doom “Wrong”, says Oxford Epidemiologist

Witless and Unbalanced’s infamous hockey stick

“Wrong” – that’s the verdict of Oxford professor of theoretical epidemiology Sunetra Gupta on the infamous graph presented on Monday by Chief Scientist Sir Patrick Vallance and Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Chris Whitty as part of the Government’s justification for ramping up restrictions. The Telegraph reports.

Speaking to Allison Pearson on the Telegraph‘s Planet Normal podcast, she said: “I think it is wrong. I was quite surprised that such a graph would be presented to the public. It was qualified even by them as being not even a prediction, so it’s very hard to understand the logic of that. Why would you present something that’s not even a prediction?

“Personally, I don’t think it’s possible to predict with any accuracy exactly what’s going to happen. I don’t think mathematical models are very good at that. But this is not even a prediction. It was just following a line of thinking in which the doubling time would remain what it has appeared to be over the last week for an extended period of time.”

On Tuesday, Boris Johnson admitted that the virus may actually be doubling between seven and 20 days.

If the latter was the case, it would mean around 8,000 cases by mid-October, although the latest figures show the UK has already reached more than 6,000 cases per day, described as “near record” figures.

Record reported, yes. But as James Naismith, Professor of Structural Biology at Oxford, points out: “The sudden jump is likely to reflect issues in the testing system reporting.”

In fact, if we look at the graph of cases by date of sample there is little sign of growth over the past week. Of course, recent days will be revised upwards as more swabs are processed and the backlog clears. But even so, the lack of growth is noteworthy – particularly when the recent increase in the number of tests (the immediate cause of the backlog) is taken into account.

And still the Government fails to show on its dashboard a graph of the positive rate, which as Our World in Data notes, is a “crucial metric for understanding the pandemic”.

What possible excuse could there be for not including such important data in the UK Government’s coronavirus dashboard? Is it because it doesn’t look nearly so scary, and so is no good for inducing fear and compliance?

As it happens the positive rate has increased a bit during September, from 0.6% on August 26th to 1.2% on September 8th and 1.7% on September 22nd (the latest date for which we have data). That means it doubled in 13 days to begin with and since then, 14 days later, only increased by a further 42% (100% would be doubling again). So it initially doubled at around half the rate of the Government’s “every seven days” and then slowed down, though did pick up again a bit in the past week (growing 30% between September 15th and September 22nd, a doubling time of around two and a half weeks if it continues). This suggests the current level of growth is not exactly “exponential” and may already be beginning to peak. Of course, we will have to wait and see what comes of the latest rise. But the question at this point is why the Government is making a show of dubious projections of exponential growth from raw case data and not setting out the much less troubling reality.

Sunetra Gupta is clear about where things are headed.

Prof Gupta, who has argued that a large number of people could have already been exposed to the virus, said: “The fate of this virus is going to be principally determined by what fraction of the population is either immune or already has some form of resistance to it.

“The proof is in the pudding. It’s a question of whether when infection rates rise, death rates will rise. We’ve seen a summer with very low infection rates despite quite a lot of mixing. So that indicates that there is a level of herd immunity in place.”

Sick Children Turned Away by Covid-Only NHS

There was a scandalous story in the Evening Standard yesterday – sick children are being turned away from two London hospitals because they’re preparing for an anticipated surge of Covid patients over the winter.

Sick children will be turned away from A&E at two major London hospitals throughout the winter to enable them to focus on treating adults with Covid.

The paediatric A&E at the Royal Free, in Hampstead, will close at the end of the month. The children’s casualty unit at University College London Hospital, in Bloomsbury, will remain closed, having initially shut to under 18s in March.

It is not known when they will reopen but the closures are said to be “temporary”. The Royal Free and UCLH have been designated as “surge sites” for the feared second wave of Covid patients.

So let me get this straight. An actual child in need of emergency medical care will be turned away by an NHS hospital just in case a notional person in their 80s with a serious underlying illness catches coronavirus and needs a bed? Even though the risk of the hospital’s critical care capacity being overwhelmed if the NHS returns to normal is very low?

This is absolute madness.

As Cases Rise in Belgium, Restrictions are EASED

In what is being hailed as the first move of its kind in Europe, the Belgian government is responding to rising cases by easing restriction rather than tightening them. Ross Clark in the Spectator has more.

If there is one country which has influenced the Government’s toughening of Covid restrictions over the past fortnight it is Belgium. It was Sophie Wilmes’ government which, faced with a resurgence of Covid cases in late July, came up with the idea of placing a limit on the size of social gatherings – five rather than the six which Boris Johnson went on to impose in England six weeks later. It was the Belgian government, too, which came up with the idea of setting a curfew for pubs – 11pm rather than the 10pm which will come into effect in England, Scotland and Wales today. At the same time, Belgium extended the compulsion to wear a mask to most public places.

So did those measures do the trick in Belgium? Not quite. Daily confirmed cases rose from around 600 a day at the end of July to peak at just over 900 a day in the middle of August. They then fell back to around 400 a day at the beginning of September – before a further resurgence. On Wednesday, there were 1834 new infections.

But here’s the thing. In spite of rising cases, Belgium is now relaxing its restrictions rather than tightening them. This week it has announced that people will now be able to meet up in groups of 10 rather than five. The quarantine period for people self-isolating will be reduced to seven from 14 days and masks will no longer have to be worn everywhere in public – though they will still be required on public transport, shops, cinemas and on some crowded streets.

This is still a highly restrictive regime, so in that sense nothing to write home about. Belgium hasn’t been transformed into Sweden or Tanzania. But it indicates a shift in outlook and strategy, away from suppression at all costs to something more nuanced. It appears the idea is to make the restrictions more bearable and sustainable. But perhaps the inner logic of the shift will mean it turns into more before long.

Stop Press: The UAE’s National newspaper has run a report headed “Sweden’s ‘herd immunity’ model gains momentum in Europe“, citing as evidence the recent soliciting of advice from Sweden’s epidemiologists by British and Irish governments. And also Professor Carl Heneghan’s remarks to the BBC that he detects a “shift in policy” and a “move towards Sweden,” with more focus on personal responsibility and acceptance that cases will rise. And also the comments of a leading virologist in Denmark, Kim Sneppen, professor of biocomplexity at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, this week: “There is some evidence that the Swedes have built up a degree of immunity to the virus which, along with what else they are doing to stop the spread, is enough to control the disease… They may now be finished with the epidemic.”

Stop Press 2: Belgium has moved away from the PCR test as the main measure of the epidemic, presumably over reliability concerns. From now on, decisions about whether to tighten or relax restrictions will be mainly based on hospitalisations.

Scottish Students Banned From Going to the Pub

“Now cheer up lads. Life in this prison isn’t so bad. There’s no social distancing, and you didn’t have to take out a loan to get a place here. Miles better than a Scottish university, so what’s not to like?”

Our heart goes out to students at Scottish universities. Nic Sturge-On has banned all students in North Korea Scotland from going to the pub. The BBC has more.

Universities Scotland said the new guidance that had been agreed with the Scottish government was a “necessary step at this crucial moment of managing the virus in the student population, to protect students and the wider community”.

The new rules state that all universities will “make absolutely clear to students that there must be no parties, and no socialising outside their households”.

They go on to say: “This weekend, the first of the new tighter Scottish government guidance, we will require students to avoid all socialising outside of their households and outside of their accommodation.

“We will ask them not to go to bars or other hospitality venues.”

Extra staff will be brought into student accommodation to watch for any breaches of the guidance and to support students who are self-isolating.

Stop Press: Students at the University of Edinburgh have told of the ‘prison-like’ conditions they are having to live in:

First-year students living in the university’s catered accommodation Pollock Halls have endured being surveilled by staff as they eat alone at single desks at the JMCC cafeteria. …

First year student Florence Carr-Jones added that the dining hall feels like “exam invigilators patrolling the space”.

She added that outside of dining times, “security guards roam the halls in the evenings knocking on noisy doors, threatening fines and suspensions”.

Liberty added: “There are huge queues to get into the dining hall and staff lead students to tables so you don’t even choose who you sit next to.”

Plus: Watch this threatening video from Principal of University of Glasgow Anton Muscatelli

NHS Track-and-Trace App Doesn’t Work on iPhone 6

After today’s news that the NHS’s cutting-edge app doesn’t work on the iPhone 6, we asked our track-and-trace app correspondent to give us an update.

The latest version of the NHS COVID-19 app was available from yesterday, getting the prestigious home screen position in the Apple App Store. It has already done something amazing for me. It has made me feel a twinge of sympathy for Matt Hancock. One of the reasons this app is four months late is because it had to be changed to use the much vaunted “Apple and Google approach”. More specifically, it uses the ExposureNotification feature which respects your privacy by not sharing your data with the app’s authors, the Government. The problem is that Apple only provide that feature in iOS 13.5 or later and iOS 13.5 is only available on iPhone models 6s or newer. So the app cannot do its exposure notification thing if you have the plain iPhone 6 or older. If you try to install the app from the app store it won’t let you and there is nothing that Matt Hancock and team can do about it. It is true that less than 3% of iPhone owners still use the five year-old model 6, but from a PR point of view it is unfortunate that they are more likely to be older or less well-off. As Mr Hancock must surely be getting used to by now, even small percentages of large numbers, such as the number of iPhone owners in the UK, mean headline grabbing statistics: around 750,000 people could be excluded.

So Matt finds himself on BBC Breakfast trying to encourage us all to download and use the app but having to tell Charlie Stayt: “Only a very small proportion of people have phones that don’t have the latest iOS software. The best thing that they could do if they want to get the app, of course, is to upgrade.” Oops. Upgrading in this case means not just downloading the latest software – those phones won’t do that – it means buying a newer phone, as Charlie well knows: “What, buy a new phone? In terms of reaching those most at risk, for example, those who have the least money are the least likely to have newer phones and […] older people will have less sophisticated phones, maybe don’t have phones at all. Surely those are some of the people you would most like to reach?”

Yes indeed Charlie, but you and everyone else in the media were not making that point back in June when you were pressuring the Government to use the Apple solution which we knew back then would have this problem. To be fair, I also said on this site that if you must build an app then use the Apple/Google technology, but I also made the case that track and trace apps are not the panacea that politicians and the media make them out to be. They will always be problematic. The evidence from many countries this year has borne that out but the Government and the media have largely ignored it. Even with the latest phone the Times is reporting that one in three alerts from the new app will be false positives. This is just another data point for us sceptics to say, “We told you so!” But is anyone listening?

Less Than a FIFTH Adhere to Self-Isolation and Quarantine Rules

A new preprint study finds that in the UK just 18% of persons with Covid symptoms adhere to self-isolation, and only 11% adhere to quarantine if contacted by NHS Track and Trace (Hat tip Adam Kucharski). And this is what the Government is spending hundreds of billions of pounds on and thinks is the way out of lockdown?

Postcard From Zanzibar

A reader has sent us a postcard from Zanzibar. Sounds lovely. How do we get there?

Salamu (Swahili for Greetings) from Zanzibar, an island off the coast of Tanzania best known as the birthplace of Freddie Mercury, where we are bathed blissfully in sunshine, trade winds and, best of all, mask free.

While many countries in Africa locked down, Tanzania realised very quickly that with a median age of 20, half that of Europe, the cure being worse than the disease would be an inevitable consequence of shutting down the economy. They kept their economy open.

It was a wise decision. In a country of 56 million people, only 516 cases of CV19 have been registered and 21 deaths. Given that there is no formal healthcare reporting system, it is inevitable that these numbers are under-reported. However, as 2.5 million people die every year in Africa from another infectious disease (Tuberculosis), the Tanzanian Government and healthcare community thankfully enjoy a sense of context about risk management sadly lacking among the bureaucrats and government advisors our taxes pay for.

Alas, the local economy has still be shell-shocked. As global supply chains breakdown, tourism falls off a cliff, foreign aid and non-governmental agencies shut down, the most poor and vulnerable are back to what they know best. Subsistence living and seeking aid from ‘developed countries’. Ironically, these are the same so called ‘developed’ countries whose lockdowns have caused the very economic catastrophe ‘developing‘ countries are now suffering from.

Not content with presiding over a historic economic collapse at home; the same ‘experts’ whose gold plated salaries, pensions and healthcare benefits our taxes pay for, have also been the architects of a lockdown syndrome that will condemn another 100 million people to living below the global poverty level of $1.90 a day, while causing an additional five million global deaths from illnesses ranging from malaria and tuberculosis to heart disease and cancer.

Yet, as always, the locals here laugh, sing and see the bright side of life. Freedom from an entitlement mentality and the hysteria of main stream media has its upsides!

Tanzanians understand that the only way we are going to dig ourselves out of this catastrophe is if ordinary people insist the governments we elect make balanced and transparent decisions based on integrated health and economic data… and not just the ‘do no harm’ mantra of doctors.

Wish you were here? Flights and hotels are cheap. Planes and airports empty. The local people will welcome you with nothing more infectious than open arms, gracious hospitality and a healthy appreciation that life is all about living, not obsessing about the avoidance of dying.

Hakuna matata!

Starvation in Madagascar Exposes Selfishness of Lockdowns

The argument that I hear perhaps most often from lockdown zealots is that lockdown is the compassionate course of action because it protects the vulnerable and doesn’t sacrifice them for the sake of the economy. People before profits. Yet as I try to point out to these well-meaning but misguided souls (rarely with much success), the truth is that lockdowns themselves kill vulnerable people, and very likely a great deal more than they’re saving. The point of herd immunity is not to be indifferent to the vulnerable but to protect them by building up a community immunity quickly while they shield, and not doing lots of other damage at the same time.

In the Spectator this week, Jo Deacon reminds us why this is true, with an account of life in Madagascar.

Like many countries, Madagascar has gone into lockdown. People rush to make it home before curfew, their face masks dangling around their chins. Children play together in the dust outside the locked school gates. The hotels and restaurants are empty, swimming pools drained. Health checkpoints have been set up by the side of the road and people jostle each other as they wait in line for their temperature to be taken before entering town. In the developing world, a cut in income quickly translates into increased malnutrition, inability to pay for basic medicine, and death from starvation or entirely treatable illness. So far, just over 200 people have died from Covid in Madagascar, a country with a population of 27 million. The lives lost due to the indirect impacts of Covid from famine, decreased vaccinations and medical care are likely to be orders of magnitude greater. I was recently telling my youngest son the story of Hansel and Gretel and the wicked stepmother who led them away to die in the forest as they could not afford to feed them any more. There is nothing allegorical about this tale to a Madagascan: it is something we see daily.

The United Nations expects in the region of 71 million people to be pushed back into extreme poverty in 2020 because of the global response to COVID-19. Meanwhile, the official death toll with the disease is yet to reach a million.

In the UK we have had just over 53,000 excess deaths so far in 2020. In 2014-15 the excess winter deaths were 44,000. Nobody even noticed the 2015 epidemic, yet in 2020 with only around 9,000 more deaths – a 20% increase – the public has been terrorised into surrendering their liberty and sanity. Countries like Sweden, Tanzania and Belarus show that the death toll probably wouldn’t be any higher without lockdown.

However well-intentioned, there is nothing compassionate about lockdowns.

Glasgow Nightingale Hospital To Be Dismantled – As Restrictions Increase

A reader has written to say that a family member who is part of a Scottish engineering firm noticed yesterday on the website for Public Contracts Scotland that a tender had gone out and contractors found for the dismantling of Glasgow’s Nightingale Hospital. Is there any clearer sign of the incoherence, if not outright mendacity, of the Government’s strategy, that it will increase restrictions while clearly having no expectation of hospitals being overwhelmed. The bubble must burst soon, surely.

The Government’s Internet Censorship Bill

In his latest Spectator column, Toby has written about the case of Kristie Higgs, the 44 year-old Christian administrator who was fired by a secondary school for posting a message on her private Facebook account criticising the sex and relationship education curriculum at another school.

There are two free speech issues at stake here. The first is whether an employer’s social media policy, limiting what employees are allowed to say on Facebook and other platforms, can legitimately be extended to private conversations, particularly when the employee has taken steps to disguise her identity. On the face of it, that looks like a breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to privacy. The second is whether Kristie’s comments constituted “illegal discrimination” as defined in the UK’s Equality Act 2010. Did they create an ‘”intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment” for LGBT colleagues, even though they wouldn’t have known about them if they hadn’t been circulated by someone trying to get her into trouble? Or is she permitted to express such views by Article 10 of the ECHR, which protects the right to freedom of expression?

Kristie’s legal team can also appeal to the Equality Act, which makes it illegal to discriminate against employees for their possessions of various “protected characteristics”, including religion and belief. Her lawyers will argue she lost her job because she expressed her belief about the immutability of natal sex. However, when Maya Forstater’s lawyers made that argument in an employment tribunal last year – she was sacked for refusing to use trans women’s preferred pronouns – the judge said her gender critical beliefs weren’t “worthy of respect in a democratic society”.

Kristie’s treatment is obviously deeply concerning for believers in free speech, but there’s another aspect of her case that worries me. According to a recent white paper, a Bill will soon be brought before Parliament empowering Ofcom to regulate the internet. Under the proposals, Ofcom will be able to impose punitive fines on Facebook for not removing content that political activists find “offensive”, even if it doesn’t fall foul of any existing speech laws.

Twitter already bans users for misgendering trans people, so it won’t take much of a push for all the social media companies to ban people for criticising trans ideology.

The Free Speech Union recently published a briefing paper about the Government’s proposed new internet censorship law that you can read here. The fact that Ofcom will soon be regulating social media is one of the reasons the Free Speech Union is taking Ofcom to court over its censorious “coronavirus guidance”, published on the same day as the country was placed under full lockdown, which cautions broadcasters against challenging the advice being issued by “public health authorities”, i.e. the state. If you’re concerned about the erosion of free speech, please donate to the Free Speech Union’s “Litigation Fund” here.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Just one today: “Instant Aura” by Rishi.

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Woke Gobbledegook

Royal Lives Matter

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today is the turn of Harry and Meghan – or “Woko Ono”, as she’s known to Harry’s exasperated friends. On Tuesday, the couple formerly known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex urged US voters to reject Trump hate in the forthcoming US Presidential election. The BBC has more.

“As we approach this November, it’s vital that we reject hate speech, misinformation and online negativity,” the Duke said as he sat on a bench alongside Meghan.

He also reminded Americans to be discerning in the content they consumed online.

“When the bad outweighs the good, for many, whether we realise it or not, it erodes our ability to have compassion and our ability to put ourself in someone else’s shoes,” he said.

“Because when one person buys into negativity online, the effects are felt exponentially. It’s time to not only reflect, but act.”

100%, copper-bottomed gobbledegook.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it 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 (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

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.

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

The Care Home Scandal – A Call For Evidence

Lockdown Sceptics has asked an award-winning investigative journalist, David Rose, to investigate the high death toll in Britain’s care homes. Did 20,000+ elderly people really die of COVID-19 between March and July or were many of them just collateral lockdown damage? With lots of care homes short-staffed because employees were self-isolating at home, and with relatives and partners unable to visit to check up on their loved ones because of restrictions, how many elderly residents died of neglect, not Covid? How many succumbed to other conditions, untreated because they weren’t able to access hospitals or their local GP? After doctors were told by care home managers that the cause of death of a deceased resident was “novel coronavirus”, how many bothered to check before signing the death certificate? The risk of doctors misdiagnosing the cause of death is particularly high, given that various safeguards to minimise the risk of that happening were suspended in March.

David Rose would like Lockdown Sceptics readers to share any information they have that could help in this investigation. Here is his request:

We are receiving reports that some residents of care homes who died from causes other than Covid may have had their deaths ascribed to it – even though they never had the disease at all, and never tested positive. Readers will already be familiar with the pioneering work by Carl Heneghan and his colleagues at the Oxford Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, which forced the Government to change its death toll counting method. Previously, it will be recalled, people who died of, say, a road accident, were being counted as Covid deaths if they had tested positive at any time, perhaps months earlier. But here we are talking of something different – Covid “deaths” among people who never had the virus at all.

In one case, where a family is deciding whether to grant permission for Lockdown Sceptics to publicise it, an elderly lady in reasonable health was locked in her room for many hours each day in a care home on the south coast, refused all visitors, deprived of contact with other residents, and eventually went on hunger strike, refusing even to drink water. She died in the most wretched circumstances which were only indirectly a product of the virus – and yet, her death certificate reportedly claims she had Covid.

I’m looking for further examples of 1) elderly people who died as a result of the lockdown and associated measures, but whose deaths were wrongly attributed to “novel coronavirus”, and 2) those elderly people who clearly died from other causes but whose deaths were still formally ascribed to Covid because they once tested positive for it, even after the counting method change.

If you have relevant information, please email Lockdown Sceptics or David directly on david@davidroseuk.com.

Samaritans

If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here.

And Finally…

One of the few bright spots in the last six months has been the comic videos of Andrew Lawrence. Not only is Andrew scathingly sceptical and heretically un-woke, he’s also very funny. This is his take on the news that Sir Patrick Vallance has a £600,000 shareholding in GlaxoSmithKline. Conspiracy theorists will love it…

Latest News

Did AIDS Hysteria Prefigure Covid Hysteria?

Turns out, we’re not the champions, my friend

Today we’re publishing an original contribution to one of the most interesting sections on the right-hand side: “How Have We Responded to Previous Pandemics?” This one is by veteran science and medical correspondent Neville Hodgkinson, who covered the AIDS pandemic for the Sunday Times. He sees depressing parallels between the hysterical over-reaction to that pandemic and the over-reaction to this one, with the same misallocation of resources.

Here’s an extract:

One of the consequences, as now, was a huge misallocation of money to the detriment of genuine medical need. A 1993 report from the University of Northumbria Business School, to which Stewart contributed, found that for each AIDS death, health authorities were spending an average of £290,000 on HIV prevention and research, compared with £50 for each death from heart disease. Many UK health regions had considerably more AIDS workers than patients.

Whereas in 1985 a Royal College of Nursing report predicted that one million people in Britain would have AIDS in six years “unless the killer disease is checked”, the actual cumulative, year-on-year, total of AIDS cases by 1990 was still below 5,000. Today, AIDS kills fewer Britons than die from falling down stairs. Even those deaths might have been avoided if the true nature of the condition had been recognised.

Stewart’s findings and recommendations also remained unpublished by the WHO. It was not until June 2008, 25 years after the panic over AIDS began, that the organisation finally admitted the threat of a world pandemic among heterosexuals was over, though it continued to maintain that sub-Saharan Africa was being devastated by the disease.

In fact, Africa was and is one of the biggest victims of the illusions around AIDS, as I found when Andrew Neil, then editor of The Sunday Times, sent me there in 1993 to find out what was happening. My reports, showing that scarce resources were being misdirected to an imaginary epidemic created by an unvalidated “HIV” test, got the scientific and medical establishment in the UK into a frenzy but were never refuted.

How can scientists, who we look to with so much respect, get things so wrong? The answer is that they are human beings, just like the rest of us.

One of the key lessons that could have been drawn from the AIDS debacle is that there is no such holy grail as “the data” or “the science” demanding a particular course of action, contrary to the repeated claims by the Prime Minister and his Health Secretary. It’s how the data are interpreted that is important, and in this regard the Government is receiving a very one-sided and out-of-date perspective.

One of the most startling points Hodgkinson makes is that many of the protagonists in the British and American Government’s response to the Covid crisis are the same people – or are linked to the same organisations – that led the worldwide fight against AIDS.

These include Anthony Fauci, the “AIDS Czar”, who as head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has presided over an era in which several hundred billion dollars have been spent on AIDS research and treatment, including a completely futile but continuing search for a vaccine.

Another is Sir Roy Anderson, the current Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Imperial College, London. He co-authored an influential, 150-page Royal Society study, published in September 1989, analysing the AIDS epidemic and making predictions about future spread. The other main author was Sir David Cox, professor of statistics at Imperial for more than 20 years, now long since retired.

The predictions were wrong, as demonstrated by an 8,000-word analysis first submitted to the society in September 1990 by the late Professor Gordon Stewart, one of its most distinguished members, with a lifetime’s work in public health.

The error, he said, came about because the statistical model used rested on two false assumptions. The first of these was that the essential cause of AIDS was HIV; and the second was that the virus was already spreading heterosexually, beyond the original susceptible groups of homosexual men with multiple sexual partners, and drug addicts, and would cause a global pandemic.

This is a fascinating piece from a journalist who is witnessing the mistakes the authorities are making in response to the current pandemic and has seen it all before.

Worth reading in full.

When Will the Government Treat Us Like Grown-ups?

Prof Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance
Witless and Unbalanced

The BBC continues its infantile campaign against the concept of herd immunity, failing to explain (as Professor Sunetra Gupta does here) that it is a perfectly ordinary scientific term (if clumsy from a PR perspective), the basis of how vaccines protect a population, and is the only realistic endpoint of an epidemic where (as in this case) elimination is unrealistic and unjustifiably costly.

BBC News reports that it has obtained, via a Freedom of Information request, every email sent by Sir Patrick Vallance and Chris Whitty from the start of February to the start of June containing the words “herd immunity”. They appear to be trying to get the pair in trouble for ever having thought (back when they still spoke some sense) that herd immunity was worth talking about.

At the start of the pandemic, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, spoke about “herd immunity” – the idea that once enough of a population had been exposed to the virus, they would build up natural immunity to it. [LS Fact Check: Herd immunity according to Oxford Languages is the “resistance to the spread of a contagious disease within a population that results if a sufficiently high proportion of individuals are immune to the disease, especially through vaccination”. It does not require people to be “exposed to the virus”, as the BBC claims, as they could have T-Cell cross-immunity or be vaccinated.]

Sir Patrick and the Government have both insisted this was never official policy. The Government also denies there was any delay in locking down the country, as some critics have suggested.

Emails obtained by the BBC reveal the alarm among the Government’s top scientific advisers at the reaction to Sir Patrick’s words.

In one email from March, Sir Patrick asks for help to “calm down” academics who have expressed anger at his repeated references to herd immunity and the delays in announcing a lockdown.

The emails show “herd immunity” began to appear after Vallance’s media round on March 13th:

“Our aim,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that morning, is to “try and reduce the peak – not suppress it completely, also because most people get a mild illness, to build up some degree of herd immunity whilst protecting the most vulnerable”.

To many, his words appeared an unequivocal endorsement of herd immunity. They also appeared to explain the Government’s reluctance to order the kind of lockdowns and social distancing measures that were already in place in many other countries, despite cases increasing and worrying scenes in hospitals in Italy.

Speaking to Sky News on the same day, Sir Patrick talked about not suppressing the virus completely, to help avoid “a second peak”, and also to “allow enough of us who are going to get mild illness to become immune to this”.

When asked how much of the British population would need to contract the virus for herd immunity to become effective, he calmly replied “probably around 60%”.

With an approximate 1% case fatality rate, the interviewer responded, that would mean “an awful lot of people dying”. [LS Fact Check: the BBC is confusing the case fatality rate with the infection fatality rate.]

At the time, there was no strong evidence that being infected by coronavirus would result in long-lasting immunity.

The following day, a group of more than 500 academics published a joint letter, criticising the lack of social distancing restrictions imposed by the Government, adding that “going for ‘herd immunity’ at this point does not seem a viable option, as this will put the NHS at an even stronger level of stress, risking many more lives than necessary”.

In an email to Sir Mark Walport, the UK’s former Chief Scientific Adviser, discussing the scientists’ letter, Sir Patrick suggests the message in response should be “herd immunity is not the strategy. The strategy is to flatten the curve… and to shield the elderly… As we do this we will see immunity in the community grow”.

Sir Patrick appears clearly rattled by the backlash to his use of the phrase.

Add a sprinkle of Neil Ferguson alarmist modelling on March 16th and that’s how we got into this mess, as Government ministers and their scientific advisers caved to the mob over the following fortnight.

The same stunt was pulled on Anders Tegnell in Sweden, who has also had to deny that herd immunity was ever an aim, despite emails surfacing that suggest otherwise. But of course epidemiologists were discussing herd immunity in March. They would have been professionally negligent not to have been – it’s a fundamental concept in the science.

What this shows is a chronic failure of leadership from our politicians who, rather than explain to the population what “herd immunity” really means and why building it up is the only viable way to protect the vulnerable and return to normal, crumbled at the first sign of discomfort with the idea and switched to a suicidal suppression strategy while waiting for Godot a vaccine. This treats the public like children who can’t cope with grown-up ideas and hard choices. No wonder it laid the foundation for the emergence of the new paternalistic Covid state that takes away our liberty (because we can’t be trusted to behave) to keep us “safe” – though in truth does anything but.

A Very Sensible MP

Conservative MP Richard Drax had a letter in the Telegraph on Monday that reflects the growing scepticism among Conservative MPs.

SIR – A major rethink on how we battle coronavirus is urgently needed. Now, we’re far better informed, so locking us all down and destroying more lives and livelihoods are not the answer.

Even when a vaccine is found, it may not grant total immunity. In the meantime, as with every other disease, we must learn to live with it.

The most vulnerable are more than capable of deciding how to protect themselves, while the young need to get on with their lives and enjoy their youth, which passes all too quickly.

Enough of this hourly analysis, which creates an atmosphere of fear out of all proportion to the threat. Our best weapon against the virus, for now, is common sense, not over-reaction, which is devastating our country.

Richard Drax MP (Con)
London SW1

Another person who thinks people are more than capable of deciding how to protect themselves is Lockdown Sceptics reader Steven Sieff, who runs the Greenband/Redband site. He has had a letter published in the BMJ criticising the elimination strategy and proposing his freedom-respecting coloured wristband system instead.

If the route to elimination and isolation of the vulnerable both cause too much suffering then what next? Practical suggestions have been largely absent amongst the torrent of voices who question the lockdown approach. But some do exist. One such example is the targeted protection advocated by the greenbandredband system. This approach proposes that all adults be given the right to choose whether to class themselves as vulnerable or low risk. No arbitrary lines, just a personal choice based on personal risk assessment. From there very simple rules exist. For those who classify themselves as vulnerable, distancing/protection measures similar to those in place currently would be maintained. The low risk would also follow these rules when interacting with the vulnerable. But where low risk individuals mixed with each other, they would not be bound by distancing rules.

Worth reading the whole letter.

Support for Government Falls to Lowest Levels – For Not Locking Down Hard Enough

Blower’s latest in the Telegraph

Pollster Ipsos MORI finds support for the Government’s handling of the crisis at its lowest levels yet.

Ipsos MORI’s September Political Monitor shows half the public say the Government is handling the coronavirus very or fairly badly (50%, up 10 points from last month) while a third say it is handling it very or fairly well (32%, down 10 points). This is the lowest score seen so far in this series (when it began in March, 49% thought the Government was handling it well and 35% badly). Fieldwork was carried out before Tuesday’s latest announcements of new restrictions.

Evaluation of the Government’s handling of the crisis is largely split along party lines with 60% of Conservative supporters saying they think the Government is handling it well, compared with just 15% of Labour supporters (of whom 72% are critical).

The poll was done before the announcements of the latest restrictions on Tuesday. But will they help? Polling by ComRes suggests not – not, sadly, because the public are crying out for freedom, but because they want more restrictions.

Of the measures announced on Tuesday by the Prime Minister to the House of Commons and, separately, in a broadcast to the nation at 8pm, all retail and hospitality workers, as well as everyone in taxis wearing mandatory face coverings had the highest level of net public support (73%), followed closely by people working from home (72%). Reducing the number of guests at a wedding from 30 to 15 had the lowest overall public net support (46%), but even this had more support than opposition by a ratio of more than 4:1.

The public also tended to feel that each of these measures would be effective in curbing the transmission of COVID-19. Around three quarters of English adults believe that making those who can work from home do so (76%), and requiring all retail and hospitality workers to wear a face covering (75%) would be an effective way to stop the transmission of the virus, while seven in ten say the same of halting the resumption of audiences at live sporting events (70%). However, just over half say that the new 10pm pub and restaurant curfew would be an effective way of stopping the spread of the virus (53%), although this is twice as many than those who think it would be an ineffective method (27%).

Despite this, nearly two in three English adults say that the new measures from the Government are not strict enough (65%) and a similar proportion (64%) would support a two-week “circuit-breaker” lockdown, including a ‘Stay at Home’ message, compared to just 17% who oppose.

Such depressing polling only shows how deeply the propaganda has penetrated, and why good leadership at a time of crisis is so important.

“She really enjoyed each day for me to brush her hair, a simple pleasure now denied.”

Proliferation of Private sector Care homes - About Manchester

Stefan Emory has written a heartrending account in Conservative Woman of the impact of lockdown on his wife Ann, who was admitted to a care home last year after 35 years together.

My partner has late stage Alzheimer’s and is completely dependent for all aspects of her care and wellbeing. At her stage, there is very little comfort, dignity and pleasure left in her life, but she really enjoyed each day for me to brush her hair, which I would also do to calm her down when distressed or agitated – a very simple pleasure now denied to us both.

My biggest fear now is that she may reach the very end stage and that I will not be free to be there to hold her hand on her way out.

Although the Government issued (extremely Sir Humphrey-esque) care home visiting guidance in July, it placed all the responsibility on care homes, who are unwilling to take that responsibility and have done no more than to allow very limited garden visits, which are most dissatisfying for both the resident and visitor.

I am aware that some organisations have been lobbying the Government for more practical guidance, but they seem to be using the softly-softly approach, whereas it is now abundantly clear that they need to engage in a very vocal public media campaign.

From my observations, it is only those of us who have cared directly for a loved one with dementia who really understand the devastating impact on the person affected.

So many health and care professionals do not really seem to understand, or only superficially. When the dementia becomes severe, the only unfailing voice for the sufferer is the voice of the family member, who by their relationship knows the sufferer better than any health or care professional.

That is why the visitor lockdown is so devastating – the impact is the silencing of the only voice that truly understands the sufferer and unceasingly has their best interests at heart. 

He worries that with the ban on daily visiting and the lack of inspections, “all the right conditions are in place for some absolutely horrific cases of neglect and abuse behind closed doors”.

Worth reading in full.

And, remember, if you know of any such cases of neglect, please contact the investigative journalist David Rose on david@davidroseuk.com.

Tegnell Turning?

Some worrying news from Sweden. A small rise in cases in Stockholm in the last few days appears to be causing chief epidemiologist Dr Anders Tegnell to shift to embracing lockdowns and masks as tools for handling the virus. The Telegraph has more:

Sweden’s state epidemiologist has said that he is now willing to recommend lockdown measures such as school closures, and strict limits to the size of gatherings – so long as they are only imposed locally and for three weeks at a time.

The Public Health Agency of Sweden’s new approach to local restrictions, floated first at a press conference on Tuesday, marks its biggest strategic shift since it launched its no-lockdown strategy in March.

“We are thinking of fairly short restrictions, to break the spread of infection requires perhaps two to three weeks at most,” Anders Tegnell told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper in an interview published on Wednesday afternoon. 

“We are still developing the concept, so to say, but something like that.” …

“The restrictions could be extremely local. It could be about a single workplace or city district: wherever you see a spread and think that there are restrictions that might stop it,”  Dr Tegnell told the newspaper.

The agency has so far been sceptical of issuing a general recommendation for face masks to be worn in public, but, according to Dr Tegnell, it now sees a role for them in helping control local outbreaks.

Sad to see a sceptic hero shifting to endorse masks and lockdowns, but it is to be hoped they remain only as short-term and local measures. The idea seems to be to try to keep on top of local outbreaks and minimise the risk of the virus spreading to the vulnerable. But since SARS-CoV-2 is now endemic, and presumably seasonal, it leaves the question of how long these brutal threats of lockdown will continue to be held over the Swedish population as tools to combat infection, and why they are for COVID-19 and not other seasonal viruses. I hope the great man has thought this one through.

How Many People With “Flu-Like” Illnesses Are Being Mislabelled as Covid?

Today Lockdown Sceptics is publishing a new paper by Consultant Pathologist Dr Clare Craig looking at how to tell the difference between a real Covid outbreak and one resulting from another seasonal respiratory virus and false positives. Here’s an excerpt:

Why are we seeing alleged excess Covid-like cases in people in their 20s? The narrative is the same across Europe: that a new surge in Covid cases is being driven by young adults. This is despite the fact that during the spring epidemic, symptomatic outbreaks were focused on nursing homes and hospitals. Large numbers of symptomatic young people were not observed in the spring. Why are they being seen now? Why would the impact of the virus at a population level be so different now to what it was in the spring?

Real Covid cases lead, after a time, to rising antibody levels. The percentage of 20-29 year olds with antibodies to Covid has not risen between June and 6th September. It has actually fallen, as it has for the rest of the population. There is a serious inconsistency with the widely accepted hypothesis that the recent surge of flu-like illness must be Covid and the steady continued drop in Covid antibody levels throughout the population. The latter is scientifically provable, the former remains only a hypothesis.

Epidemics spread fast and cluster geographically. Where recent epidemic outbreaks of actual Covid have been mapped, such as in Florida and Marseille, the spread from young adults to other age groups happened within a week and within two weeks Covid was detected in every age group. Given that the time from diagnosis to death is approximately 20 days then a rise in deaths was seen approximately 27 days after new cases in young adults.

The UK data demonstrates that the rise in alleged-Covid cases in young people from the beginning of August did not reach other age groups for a full month. Also, the data since mid Sept has not shown the expected consequent increase in deaths in the UK from the August surge. It seems the outcomes from the UK surge in flu-like illnesses in August does not appear to match that seen in recent genuine Covid outbreaks. This is puzzling, and must make us more cautious.

Some might argue that vulnerable groups have been successfully shielded in the UK and this could explain the lack of deaths now in the UK. Are we better at shielding than Florida and Marseille. Have we successfully hermetically sealed 15-25 year olds from vulnerable groups? It is not obvious that we have shielded any more successfully than other countries. If we have not shielded more successfully, then why has our death rate not increase. like other countries? Death rates should have already increased if this outbreak is Covid rather than other flu-like viruses.

The percentage of young people testing positive for Covid remains low, at a few percent of those tested. Although the false positive rate for Covid testing has not been definitively established, the rate we are observing in the young in the UK is low enough that we cannot exclude the possibility that they are almost all Covid false positives. To differentiate real Covid from false positives requires careful thought and more thorough assessment and testing of those cases. It is essential that loss of smell and Chest CT confirmation is used to confirm where there are genuine outbreaks.

Well worth reading in full.

Facebook Flags Belgian Doctors’ Letter as “False Information”

Barrister and Lockdown Sceptics reader Sarah Ewart got in touch to tell us that when she shared on Facebook the letter from the Belgian doctors questioning the wisdom of lockdowns that LS featured on Sunday the social media company flagged it as false information.

Sarah says:

This has really disturbed me. Assuming the letter is what it purports to be, it represents the view of hundreds of Belgian professionals. I had not realised that free speech and debate was being censored to this degree. I am in genuine despair over what is happening and desperate to do what I can to restore our country to one of freedom, democracy and open debate. 

Speechless Raab Skewered by JHB

Julia Hartley-Brewer left Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab momentarily speechless on her talkRADIO show yesterday as she informed him of the number of healthy under-60s who had died with COVID-19 since February. Here’s what one Lockdown Sceptics reader had to say:

The interview of Dominic Raab by Julia Hartley-Brewer this morning was simply stunning. JHB asked Raab how many healthy under-60s have died of Covid since February. Raab has literally no clue, was unable to even give a ballpark figure. When JHB told him it was 307 Raab was stunned. It took him a couple of seconds to compose himself and start muttering a reply. 

A very senior member of the Government seems to be completely unaware of exactly how innocuous Covid is to the majority of the population. Beyond that, it’s nothing short of outrageous that a senior Cabinet member should have no grasp whatsoever of the basic numbers of the single biggest issue that has faced this country for decades. The Government is clearly making decisions based on narratives and ideas presented to them without scrutinising them at even the most basic level.

Can you imagine anyone running a serious business in this way – not having a clue for example how many clients one has or how much money the business turns over, more or less?

There is no conspiracy here, just colossal incompetence and negligence.

Watch it here.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

One for Boris: “He’d Send In The Army” by Gang Of Four. And two by the Black Angels in honour of his henchmen, Witless and Unbalanced: “Science Killer” and “Manipulation“.

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. The Government on Monday announced they were dropping plans for gender self-identification – a victory for women and common sense. But don’t think that means the Government is abandoning its support for the trans agenda. Caroline ffiske in Conservative Woman yesterday exposed how the the Government Equalities Office (GEO) has funded a number of the resources that will now make their way into schools through compulsory Relationships and Sex Education – resources that misrepresent the law and gaslight children about biological sex and their rights to bodily privacy and dignity. Is it any wonder, she asks, that it was reported last week that at one Kent school 15 pupils, most of them girls, are identifying as genders different from their birth sex?

In February 2019, the GEO advertised the funding it would be making available to various LGBT groups.

Its announcement explained that a group of organisations would split £1million “to extend work that protects children from homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying”. According to the press release, an existing initiative “delivered by Barnardo’s and Stonewall” had already supported “1,200 schools in England”.

The PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic) Association was contracted by the GEO to assess everything produced through the project funding against a “shared standards framework” and provides links to all the resources on its website. What is the word for the opposite of a treasure trove? 

An organisation called Consortium provides a dangerous and irresponsible factsheet that tells us that puberty blockers are a fully reversible medication.

Yet the NHS has stated that it’s “not known whether hormone blockers affect the development of the teenage brain or children’s bones” and that “side-effects may also include hot flushes, fatigue and mood alterations”.

Another Consortium factsheet tell us: “When delivering sex education, it is important to use inclusive language. For example, avoid saying ‘men’s/boy’s penises’ and just say ‘penis’,’ effectively teaching kids that biological sex does not exist. It’s cruel, it’s bullying; kids can see that biological sex exists.

An advised “important topic for discussion” is the fact that “anal sex is not exclusively practised by men who have sex with men, many heterosexual couples enjoy anal sex”. Why is it important? For schoolkids? 

Another factsheet says that within a school “a new pupil who has already transitioned need not disclose“. What this means is that a boy can use the girls’ toilets and facilities without the girls even being told. Read that again. The girls’ rights to privacy, even to information – dismissed.  

With respect to toilets, the same factsheet says: “If boys’ and girls’ toilets are separate, the school must ensure that a pupil who transitions may use the facilities that match their new gender presentation and their wishes.” What about girls who don’t want a boy in their toilets? This advice misrepresents the law. Girls have a right to single-sex toilets. 

Surgery is casually introduced. “Surgical interventions to modify the sex characteristics and bring them more in line with the gender identity are not undertaken under 17 years old. Genital surgery may be described as ‘lower or bottom surgery’; breast/chest surgery may be described as ‘top’ surgery.”

Just like that… so casual. 

The risks surrounding such deeply invasive procedures are, of course, not mentioned. The lifetime of medication, potential sterility, pain, regret. No? Kids too sensitive?  

Worth reading in full.

Bonus Gobbledegook: Titania McGrath tweeted a picture from Metro, which was too good not to share.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it 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 (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

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.

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

Stop Press: An eagle-eyed Twitter user spotted a letter from two surgeons, one of them a former president of the Royal College of Surgeons and the other a former council member, to the Telegraph back in August in which they say they ceased to use masks in their practices decades ago “after a series of controlled trials showed that using them either had no effect on, or sometimes actually increased the risk of post-operative infection”.

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Ofcom Judicial Review Update

The Free Speech Union has just updated the GoFundMe it launched to cover its legal costs in the Judicial Review it is bringing against Ofcom with respect to the “coronavirus guidance” the regulator published on March 23rd, the same day the full lockdown was imposed. As I’ve written about before, this “guidance” has contributed to the suppression of dissenting views about Covid in the mainstream media, particularly the BBC.

When, on April 20th, Ofcom slapped down Eamonn Holmes, an ITV presenter, for arguing in favour of always maintaining an open mind with respect to different theories about the coronavirus crisis and the Government’s response to it, the FSU believed this was an action of considerable consequence for free speech in the media.

The FSU decided it ought to take action. If a small public interest group dedicated to free speech stood for anything, it should stand for upholding the rights of broadcasters and journalists to discuss matters of considerable public interest without fear of censure by a state regulator. Given that it is likely that Ofcom will become the regulator of the internet in due course, we considered it vitally important that Ofcom should pay proper attention to Article 10 of the Human Rights Act that states that we all have the right to free expression. Ofcom should encourage – rather than discourage – open-mindedness, open debate and tolerance for dissenting views. Ofcom was establishing a worryingly bad precedent.

We made a complaint to Ofcom in the hope that it would realise the error of its ways if we brought the conflict between what it had done and its duties under the Human Rights Act to its attention. However, when Ofcom refused to budge on the issue, the FSU decided to initiate litigation to make the case for open-mindedness and free inquiry.

A judge will shortly be deciding whether to allow us to proceed with a Judicial Review of Ofcom’s censorious behaviour. We think we have a strong case but litigation is never certain so we have asked the judge for a “Protective Costs Order” which would place a limit on the liability faced by the FSU should we lose the case. Given that Ofcom claim already to have spent over £16,000 just responding to our application for a court hearing, the amount at risk could be considerable. The bigger the size of this fund the more likely that the action will go ahead and we will have the opportunity to strike a major blow in favour of free speech and the right to challenge the Government’s narrative.

If things go our way and we defeat Ofcom in court, the money in this fund will be held over and used to support other litigation to protect free speech.

Thanks again for all your support, which has already helped us a great deal. If we can ask just one more thing, it’s that you share this GoFundMe on social media. The more the word gets out, the better our chances of being able to fight these and similar battles in future.


Please donate to the Free Speech Union’s “Fighting Fund” GoFundMe here so we can take Ofcom to the High Court and share the link with others.

This is a vitally important case for free speech.

Samaritans

If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here.

And Finally…

Latest News

Take Back Control

Brendan O’Neill has written a blistering piece for Spiked in which he urges the British people to take back control – not from Brussels, but from Boris and Dom!

We can’t go on like this. We cannot continue to allow the Government to control every aspect of our lives. We cannot idly accept that the state has the right to introduce rules and regulations that dictate everything from how long we can stay in the pub to who we can invite to our weddings. We cannot sit back and watch as government scientists use jumped-up, fact-lite graphs of fear to try to terrify and pacify the populace and prep us for yet another onslaught on our liberties. We cannot just watch and nod as officials shut down more areas of the economy, with a stroke of their pen, plunging Britain further into the worst recession on record. This is not sustainable. Something has to give, something has to break. The only important question right now is this: how can we make sure that happens?

I know exactly how he feels.

Worth reading in full.

A Reply to Tom Chivers

Tom Chivers and James Ferguson disagree about the significance of the false positive rate of the PCR test

Tom Chivers took a pop at Lockdown Sceptics in UnHerd yesterday, arguing that writers on this site were exaggerating the importance of the false positive rate of the PCR test and, contrary to our claims, there really is a second wave hurtling towards us. The subhead was: “Sceptics who talk up ‘false positives’ are engaging in wishful thinking.”

Tom’s piece is worth reading for anyone interested in this debate – he makes some good points, although not all of them land with the same force.

I asked James Ferguson, the financial analyst who wrote about the false positive problem for Lockdown Sceptics on September 12th, to reply to Tom’s piece.

Tom Chivers delivers what he believes to be a series of deathblows to the idea (of which I am an adherent) that most positives are false positives and therefore that the September surge in cases is not necessarily the start of a second wave but potentially a false alarm. It should be noted from the outset that part of the problem here is that the Government has an unfortunate tendency to call positive tests, ‘cases’, when they are not. The PCR machines that the tests are run on come with a big sticker on the side warning that they are not to be used for diagnostics, only for screening. The manufacturers specifically warn against confusing a positive PCR test result with a medical case, the latter requiring both symptoms and a doctor’s diagnosis. This is typical of the slapdash approach that the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and the Department of Health have taken to jeopardising our entire economy.

To return to Chivers’ case, he agrees that if the incidence of COVID-19 is 0.1%, then a false positive rate of 1% will mean that out of every 10,000 people tested, the test will correctly identify all 10 of those with COVID but will also wrongly positively identify 100 of those who don’t have it. In this instance, Chivers writes, it would mean that if you tested positive, you would only have “about a 9% chance of actually having the disease” (10/110). However, he argues, those that then insist that this means “there’s no real reason to believe that there is a second wave, because positive test results hugely overstate the real number of cases, (are) quite crucially wrong.”

Why? First, because the people being tested in Pillar 2 (community) tests are not selected randomly. He presumes that they have some reason to be tested, either symptoms (which they are supposed to have to apply) or at least exposure to another positive test. So, even if most people are breaking the rules and are having tests whilst asymptomatic, we can assume that 10% do have flu-like symptoms. This changes the maths quite a lot. For the 10,000 being tested, their likelihood of having the disease is higher than the 0.1% prevalence in the population as a whole. If the prevalence among test subjects is 1%, equal to the FPR, then the chances of being positive if you get a positive test result shoot up from 9% to 50%.

All well and good. However, Chivers has made his first error. It is true that the crucial relationship is between the incidence and the FPR. So, if Pillar 2 test subjects are not representative of the population, then the incidence within their subset rises and the proportion of false positives declines. At the same time, though, if Pillar 2 subjects have a higher incidence than the general population, they won’t be representative of the general population any longer and so any increase in positives is only relevant to that subset and not of the population as a whole. So, a surge in ‘cases’ would be of limited relevance to the country as a whole and, unless corroborated, certainly no reason to impose restrictions.

Chivers airily suggests that while the incidence in the general population is 0.1%, according to the ONS, “even if the true number (for those being tested) is only 1%, that makes a huge difference.” Maybe so, but this is sleight of hand. There were only 30-40 COVID-19 diagnoses a day throughout August in all of NHS England. Let’s say Brits are a very hypochondriacal bunch and only 1% of all those reporting COVID-type symptoms actually have the disease. That would make about 110,000 subjects (5%), out of the 2.25m tests carried out, symptomatic. This implies 95% of the test subjects had the same incidence as the population as a whole (0.1%) and just 5% were symptomatic with an incidence of 1%. That averages to a subset incidence of 0.145%, not “1%”, which would mean that 145 true positives out of 100,000 tests would combine with 1,000 false positives for a false positive rate, not of 50% as Chivers implies, but 87.3%. We shouldn’t be forgetting that the more hypochondriacal test subjects are, the less truly symptomatic and the more representative of the wider population, so even 87% is probably an overestimate.

Yet perhaps realising this flaw, Chivers goes on to assert that “it doesn’t really matter” because, as long as the testing hasn’t got any worse, any increase in the number of positives must logically reflect an increase in incidence. This is true enough. If the false positives stay roughly the same – for example, 1,000 out of every 100,000 – and the incidence rises from 100 (0.1%) to 1000 (1%) say, then the FPR drops to 50% and all the new positives might be assumed to be new cases. However, it is equally true that if the positives start to surge almost back to old highs, like they have in September, and yet the number of hospitalisations is no higher than the end of June, then some might think this is prima facie evidence that the tests might well have changed and that possibility should be investigated with as much vigour and speed as possible (think contaminated test kits).

Ah, I hear you say, but we don’t need to do that because the ONS tells us that the incidence is now 0.11% (as at 10th September) which is 3x higher than the 25th August trough. However, what the ONS doesn’t tell you is that they derive incidence in a very basic way from… you guessed it, positives per 10,000. So if there are 11/10,000 that means 73,700 in the whole country. But if instead we take hospitalisations (204 in England on 19th September, so assume about 225 for the UK), multiply by a factor of 10 for asymptomatics and multiply by 21 days for infectious period, we get a far more up-to-date estimate of 47k infectious cases, or an incidence of 0.07%, about 4x higher than the August lows admittedly but still down 93% from the peak rates of incidence we saw back in early April.

Patients can ask their doctors for a second opinion. I think it is only fair that lockdown Britain should be allowed the same courtesy.

James Ferguson’s Parliamentary Briefing

The top graph shows the number of cases rising, whereas the middle one shows hospitalisations and the bottom one deaths.

In addition to the above, James Ferguson has written another piece on the false positive rate, this time at the request of a Parliamentarian (whom he hasn’t named). So not an original piece for Lockdown Sceptics, but he has given us permission to publish it nonetheless.

Some of it will already be familiar to people who’ve been following the coverage of the false positives rate on this site, but some of it won’t. For instance, I wasn’t aware of this tidbit about Dr Susan Hopkins, one of Dido Harding’s scientific advisors.

PHE consultant Dr Susan Hopkins provided Baroness Dido Harding with a “rapid off my head [sic] response that could be used” clearly intended to dismiss the warnings about false positives out of hand, rather than invite further informative discussion. Hopkins confirmed a “population prevalence < 0.02%” whilst insisting that all serological tests (Pillars 1, 2 and 4) had FPRs that are “definitely less than 1 in 100 and… more likely 1 in 1000.” Yet she did not seem to understand the mathematical implications. With 0.02% incidence, a FPR of “1 in 1000” means 83% of positives are false, whilst “1 in 100” means 98% would be. Does H3 (Hancock, Harding and Hopkins) seriously not know this?

Worth reading in full.

Sir Graham Brady Tells Freddie Sayers Mood Among Tory MPs is Changing

Sir Graham Brady, the Conservative MP and Chairman of the 1922 Committee, has given an interview to Freddie Sayers for UnHerd in which he says he thinks the Government will not force a vote on his amendment – calling for a Parliamentary vote on all future coronavirus measures – but will concede the point. He also says backbench Conservative MPs are becoming increasingly sceptical.

I think like most people in the country my colleagues were pretty apprehensive then. We were facing a new virus, nobody knew how it would behave. There was plausible speculation that it could rapidly overwhelm intensive care capacity in the NHS, and of course the House of Commons was about to go off for an Easter recess. So it did seem reasonable at that point to grant emergency powers to ministers to be able to do what needed to be done if there were terrible pressures with which the NHS couldn’t cope.

We did that, perhaps some of us with a heavier heart than others, but were prepared to accept it as a set of temporary measures.

I think the mood has changed over time. Many of us have been making the case for sensible, cautious opening, since April. Certainly it was pretty obvious back then that you could allow open air markets to operate, and garden centres, all things that could have reduced the economic damage and also helped to give people who have been locked away in their houses for too long a little bit of interest and some fresh air. So all of that could have been done much more quickly than it was.

But increasingly, some sectors like aviation and the events sector have been completely put out of business by the restrictions. As that has become apparent, and sections of the economy have been shut down for a very long period of time, more and more of my colleagues are spending time in their constituencies talking to constituents who are losing their jobs, losing their livelihoods, people who have built up businesses over many years and are seeing them failing, and that is changing the mood. People are recognising that there is a balance to be struck here. We all want to encourage the safest approach in terms of hand hygiene and social distancing (most people have shown they’re quite willing to do their bit) but it’s got to be balanced with the recognition that there are other downsides if you overdo the restrictions.

Worth watching in full.

Ofcom Judicial Review Update

The Free Speech Union has just updated the GoFundMe it launched to cover its legal costs in the Judicial Review it is bringing against Ofcom with respect to the “coronavirus guidance” the regulator published on March 23rd, the same day the full lockdown was imposed. As I’ve written about before, this “guidance” has contributed to the suppression of dissenting views about Covid in the mainstream media, particularly the BBC.

When, on April 20th, Ofcom slapped down Eamonn Holmes, an ITV presenter, for arguing in favour of always maintaining an open mind with respect to different theories about the coronavirus crisis and the Government’s response to it, the FSU believed this was an action of considerable consequence for free speech in the media.

The FSU decided it ought to take action. If a small public interest group dedicated to free speech stood for anything, it should stand for upholding the rights of broadcasters and journalists to discuss matters of considerable public interest without fear of censure by a state regulator. Given that it is likely that Ofcom will become the regulator of the internet in due course, we considered it vitally important that Ofcom should pay proper attention to Article 10 of the Human Rights Act that states that we all have the right to free expression. Ofcom should encourage – rather than discourage – open-mindedness, open debate and tolerance for dissenting views. Ofcom was establishing a worryingly bad precedent.

We made a complaint to Ofcom in the hope that it would realise the error of its ways if we brought the conflict between what it had done and its duties under the Human Rights Act to its attention. However, when Ofcom refused to budge on the issue, the FSU decided to initiate litigation to make the case for open-mindedness and free inquiry.

A judge will shortly be deciding whether to allow us to proceed with a Judicial Review of Ofcom’s censorious behaviour. We think we have a strong case but litigation is never certain so we have asked the judge for a “Protective Costs Order” which would place a limit on the liability faced by the FSU should we lose the case. Given that Ofcom claim already to have spent over £16,000 just responding to our application for a court hearing, the amount at risk could be considerable. The bigger the size of this fund the more likely that the action will go ahead and we will have the opportunity to strike a major blow in favour of free speech and the right to challenge the Government’s narrative.

If things go our way and we defeat Ofcom in court, the money in this fund will be held over and used to support other litigation to protect free speech.

Thanks again for all your support, which has already helped us a great deal. If we can ask just one more thing, it’s that you share this GoFundMe on social media. The more the word gets out, the better our chances of being able to fight these and similar battles in future.

Please donate to the Free Speech Union’s “Fighting Fund” GoFundMe here so we can take Ofcom to the High Court and, if you can, share the link with others. This is a vitally important case.

Global Panic and Mass Hysteria

“Though this be madness, yet there is method in ’t.” – Hamlet

We’re publishing another original piece today, this one by Manfred Horst, a a senior consultant to pharma and biotech companies. It’s a rueful reflection on how the world responded with mass hysteria to what is, essentially, just another virus, no worse than a bad flu.

None of the governments which imposed societal lockdowns and deprived their populations of most of their fundamental liberties seems to have done so on the basis of any kind of benefit/risk analysis. They all followed the advice of some very peculiar “experts” – mostly virologists and epidemiological model builders. They all seem to fear that they could be held to account for an exponential number of deaths resulting from this “new” disease. They all seem to however completely disregard the enormous damage which their measures are inflicting on their citizens, their societies and the world at large. None of them listened to – let alone stimulated – contrarian opinions from other experts, who often had to accept an appearance in alternative media outlets in order to make their views known. Hopefully, the cautionary tale of the current hysteria will serve as a lesson for the future. Science is not monolithic dogma, but continuous hypothesis testing and falsification. Supposedly scientific models predicting the future can be as awfully wrong as any oracle or prophecy.

Worth reading in full.

A Solicitor Writes…

A solicitor who is very well-informed about the impact of the coronavirus guidance on businesses – particularly small businesses – heard something quite ominous in Boris’s 8pm statement last night that less eagle-eared viewers will have missed.

You have probably spotted the worrying sentence in the PM’s address today “in retail, leisure, tourism and other sectors, our Covid-secure guidelines will become legal obligations”. As ever, we await the actual law, but it sounds very much as if the Government is planning to give the guidance legal force. This will presumably take precedent over the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 so that risk assessment for COVID-19 would become incidental. We have already seen steps towards that approach in 5G(b)(ii) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) Regulations 2020 but it sounds like the plan is now to force businesses to take measures to protect against transmission which would not be warranted by a risk assessment.

In other words, businesses will be forced to jump through even more hoops before staff can return to work, having to comply with volumes of pointless red tape instead of using their common sense. Is Jeff Bezos a donor to the Conservative Party?

Government “Pauses” Plans to Allow Fans Back in to Stadiums

For me, this was the worst piece of news yesterday: the Government has changed its mind about letting fans back into sports stadiums from October 1st. As a QPR season ticket holder, I miss going to see my team play more than anything else and was so confident that things would soon return to normal – after all, outdoor transmission of the virus is almost unheard of – that I renewed my season tickets for me and my son a few weeks ago. I didn’t factor in the idiocy of this Government.

Even the bedwetting Guardian thinks this measure is completely unnecessary.

The government has dealt a devastating blow to sport by pausing its plans for the partial return of fans to stadiums on 1 October because of the rapid spike in Covid-19 cases. It will add to growing fears that clubs could go out of business due to lack of gate receipts for potentially months more to come.

The decision, which was first reported by the Guardian on Monday, was confirmed by Michael Gove, who told BBC Breakfast: “We do want to, in due course, allow people to return to watch football and other sporting events but it is the case that we just need to be cautious at the moment and I think a mass reopening at this stage wouldn’t be appropriate,” the Cabinet Office minister said.

I’m sorry to report that Michael Gove is himself a Ranger.

Letter to an MP

A reader has sent us the letter she wrote yesterday to her MP, Stuart Anderson. This one’s a doozy.

Dear Stuart,

I’d appreciate your response to the questions below:

As the number of PCR tests being done has increased massively over the course of the summer, why are the case numbers consistently presented to the public without a clear framework of percentages of the tests done?

Why is a positive test now automatically called a ‘case’?

Why is the fatally flawed PCR test still being used to measure cases when the only statistics of any real importance are deaths and hospitalisations?

Does Matt Hancock understand that ‘less than 1%’ false positives when a virus is circulating at such low levels means that most positive cases are in fact false positives? Does he even care?

Why does he insist that the case numbers are doubling every seven days when they’re clearly not? Is he just really thick? Is he blatantly dishonest? Is he both?

If it’s down to dishonesty, why is he lying to the public?

Why was yesterday’s television briefing by Whitty and Vallance concentrating on a potential 49,000 ‘cases’? Is this because they really like big, scary numbers?

Why are they being encouraged to extrapolate the currently non-existent doubling as part of a worst case scenario?

Have they been told to do this by Hancock? By Johnson? Is this why they cover their backs with the repeated use of words such as ‘if’ and ‘could’?

Why is everyone so keen to use the word ‘exponential’ when any increase (I include France and Spain in this) has been nothing of the sort?

Why is everyone so keen to use France and Spain as examples, but not Germany, Sweden, etc.?

Why are scientific advisors being wheeled out to smooth the path for further restrictions with their doom-laden scaremongering?

If the ‘worst case scenario’ of 200 deaths a day from Covid by Hallowe’en is true, is that really enough reason to lock down the country again?

If 200 people died a day of flu, would it be front page news? Would it lead to a tv address by the PM outlining yet more restrictions on civil liberties?

If masks and social distancing work, then why no discernible impact on flu and pneumonia deaths?

As the pool of people vulnerable to becoming seriously ill from Covid is limited and shares many of the criteria of the pool of those vulnerable to serious illness from other respiratory ailments, what is the likelihood of them dying of both, twice?

Why did we not lock down the country in the winter of 1999-2000, when (off the top of my head) 50,000 died? See also (again off the top of my head) the bad flu seasons of 2014-2015/2017-2018?

Is the ongoing issue of casually assigning Covid deaths to those who died with, rather than of Covid being properly addressed?

Are you surprised to discover that keeping work colleagues, schoolchildren and families apart for months and then allowing them to meet again has resulted in an uptick in infections of all kinds?

If the government hadn’t locked the country down over the summer, do you think more people might have developed immunity to the virus by now?

Why does Patrick Vallance keep insisting that immunity in the population is at such low levels? Has he not heard of T cell immunity?

If the majority of new cases are in care homes, followed by workplaces and schools, how will closing pubs early or preventing people meeting socially in groups of seven have any effect on these?

Why do the latest restrictions treat outdoor spaces as though they were indoor spaces?

Why is the government paying any attention whatsoever to what Neil Ferguson has to say?

Why does the government think it’s in any way appropriate to rush through a vaccine, and then start by injecting the most vulnerable people in the population with it?

Seeing as bad flu seasons are often the result of ineffective vaccines, why would even a safe Covid vaccine be any more successful, particularly as there is no coronavirus vaccine in existence as yet?

If the NHS is in imminent danger of being overwhelmed, why have the Nightingale hospitals been mothballed?

If the NHS isn’t in imminent danger of being overwhelmed, why do we need another lockdown?

As the NHS wasn’t overwhelmed in the Spring, why does the government assume it will be now – or is that no longer the primary reason for imposing further restrictions on the public?

If ‘protecting the NHS’ is no longer the primary reason for imposing further restrictions on the public, then what is the reason?

And finally…

When is this Government going to take responsibility for its poor decisions and stop blaming, threatening, and punishing the British public for a catastrophe of its own making? And when are you going to stop defending its actions?

Postcard From Istanbul

We’ve received a “Postcard” from a reader who’s just back from Istanbul. Doesn’t sound too bad, once you realise the rules aren’t being enforced.

Unfortunately, the “city of mosques” has become “the city of maskes” as Istanbul pretends to play its part in managing the COVID-19 pandemic. But before fellow sceptics stop reading or cross Istanbul off their Covid bucket list, there is good news. Despite fairly rigid enforcement of “maske, maske!” in shops, public transport and museums, we walked the streets naked – except for our clothes – without challenge or even a second look from the Istanbulis. The face mask here is not considered a virtue signal, rather it is considered a talisman. It does not matter where it is worn, so long as it is worn. Under the nose, under the chin, on the elbow (yes!) and I even saw one person with a mask on the back of his neck. These all seemed acceptable and, in fact, there were plenty of people who, like us, had simply abandoned them. The police were not enforcing mask wearing and were among the worst offenders for not doing so. Our hotel was next to the Karakoy Police station where Istanbul’s finest sat sunning themselves daily, ready to fall asleep at a minute’s notice. They watched us walk past several times a day without comment.

Worth reading in full.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Four today: “What Have I Done To Deserve This?” by the Pet Shop Boys, “How Long” by Charlie Puth, “Closing Time” by Leonard Cohen and “Banned From the Pubs” by Peter and the Test Tube Babies.

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot here for woke gobbledegook.

Monday saw the publication of a report by the National Trust on the links between various National Trust properties and slavery and colonialism. This is from the introduction to the report:

The National Trust has made a commitment to research, interpret and share the histories of slavery and the legacies of colonialism at the places we care for. Those histories are deeply interwoven into the material fabric of the British Isles; a significant number of the collections, houses, gardens and parklands in our care were created or remodelled as expressions of the taste and wealth, as well as power and privilege, that derived from colonial connections and in some cases from the trade in enslaved people. We believe that only by honestly and openly acknowledging and sharing those stories can we do justice to the true complexity of past, present and future, and the sometimes-uncomfortable role that Britain, and Britons, have played in global history since the sixteenth century or even earlier.

Slavery is “deeply interwoven into the material fabric of the British Isles”?

Come off it.

The Telegraph has more.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it 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 (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here (see above).

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.

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

Stop Press: A German children’s charity got laboratory tests done on one of the masks typically sold in shops after it had been worn by a child in school for eight hours. Eight hours! Result: 82 bacterial colonies and four mould (fungoid) colonies. More here.

The Care Home Scandal – A Call For Evidence

Lockdown Sceptics has asked an award-winning investigative journalist, David Rose, to investigate the high death toll in Britain’s care homes. Did 20,000+ elderly people really die of COVID-19 between March and July or were many of them just collateral lockdown damage? With lots of care homes short-staffed because employees were self-isolating at home, and with relatives and partners unable to visit to check up on their loved ones because of restrictions, how many elderly residents died of neglect, not Covid? How many succumbed to other conditions, untreated because they weren’t able to access hospitals or their local GP? After doctors were told by care home managers that the cause of death of a deceased resident was “novel coronavirus”, how many bothered to check before signing the death certificate? The risk of doctors misdiagnosing the cause of death is particularly high, given that various safeguards to minimise the risk of that happening were suspended in March.

David Rose would like Lockdown Sceptics readers to share any information they have that could help in this investigation. Here is his request:

We are receiving reports that some residents of care homes who died from causes other than Covid may have had their deaths ascribed to it – even though they never had the disease at all, and never tested positive. Readers will already be familiar with the pioneering work by Carl Heneghan and his colleagues at the Oxford Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, which forced the Government to change its death toll counting method. Previously, it will be recalled, people who died of, say, a road accident, were being counted as Covid deaths if they had tested positive at any time, perhaps months earlier. But here we are talking of something different – Covid “deaths” among people who never had the virus at all.

In one case, where a family is deciding whether to grant permission for Lockdown Sceptics to publicise it, an elderly lady in reasonable health was locked in her room for many hours each day in a care home on the south coast, refused all visitors, deprived of contact with other residents, and eventually went on hunger strike, refusing even to drink water. She died in the most wretched circumstances which were only indirectly a product of the virus – and yet, her death certificate reportedly claims she had Covid.

I’m looking for further examples of 1) elderly people who died as a result of the lockdown and associated measures, but whose deaths were wrongly attributed to “novel coronavirus”, and 2) those elderly people who clearly died from other causes but whose deaths were still formally ascribed to Covid because they once tested positive for it, even after the counting method change.

If you have relevant information, please email Lockdown Sceptics or David directly on david@davidroseuk.com.

Samaritans

If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here.

And Finally…

In the latest episode of ⁦our London Calling podcast, James Delingpole⁩ and I commiserate with each other over our mutual heartbreak regarding the PM. Send in the army to make sure people drink up by 10pm?!? It’s as if he’s reading from a script written by his enemies. Has a Marxist terrorist cell kidnapped his baby? “Wreck the economy or the kid gets it.”

Listen to our ramblings here and subscribe on iTunes here.

Latest News

10pm Curfew? Time For Bed, Prime Minister

Stay at home… Go back to work… Stay at home… er…

Our hopeless, busted flush of a Prime Minister is going to announce today that pubs and restaurants will have to close by 10pm from Thursday, with table-only service for the foreseeable future. Exceptions to the “rule of six” for weddings and funerals will be eliminated, too. Needless to say, this is to fend off a wholly imaginary “second wave”. The Mail does its best to relay Downing Street’s spin on this nonsense, although its heart isn’t in it.

In July, Mr Johnson urged staff to “go back to work if you can” in a bid to prevent city centres becoming ghost towns.

But a source told the Mail that employees will be advised to “work from home if you can” during the coming weeks.

The restrictions have divided the Cabinet, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Business Secretary Alok Sharma both warning about the potential impact on the economy. But a senior Government source insisted all ministers accepted the move was needed to bring the R-rate, which measures how fast the disease is spreading, back under control.

“The aim is to cause maximum damage to the R and minimal damage to the economy,” the source said. “Unless we act now, there will be greater economic damage later on.”

Businesses and schools will be allowed to stay open, with Government sources insisting the measures do not amount to a second lockdown.

The Two Ronnies of Doom

Blower’s latest in the Telegraph

Richard Littlejohn has a cracking piece in the Mail about Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance’s apocalyptic press conference.

Sitting 6ft apart behind a newsreader-style desk, The Two Ronnies of Doom delivered an alarmist prognosis of a rising death toll, backed up by speculative graphs based on ‘the science’ — what most of us would call ‘guesswork’.

They could have looked at another graph, from Monday’s Daily Mail, which showed that cancer kills around 450 people a day, compared to just 21 from – or should that be with? – coronavirus.

Five people die daily in traffic accidents. In fact, for those under 50, you’re more likely to be hit by a bus than contract a fatal dose of Covid.

But using the Government’s better-safe-than-sorry approach to the corona pandemic, that would be enough to justify closing every road in Britain.

Hang on. Come to think of it, that’s exactly what they are doing.

During Monday’s dismal YOU’RE ALL GOING TO DIE! diatribe, Vallance and Whitty even managed to invert the language, talking about Britain ‘turning the corner’ – and not in a good way. When normal folk speak of turning the corner, it usually means things are getting better.

Worth reading in full.

Many people have ridiculed Whitty and Valance’s prognosis – 49,000 new cases a day by October 13th if cases continue to double every seven days, not least because the killer graph the Two Ronnies used to illustrate this risk showed cases declining in the last seven days.

If cases haven’t doubled between September 9th and 15th, given that the “rule of six” was only introduced on the 14th, why should we believe they’ll start doubling from now on? And, of course, the lion’s share of the new blue cases – the actual cases – are based on Pillar 2 community testing carried out by PHE, so ~91% of them will be false positives.

Sir Patrick Vallance said that if cases do climb to 49,000 on October 13th we could expect to see 200 people a day dying from Covid in November. Sounds grim, right? But hang on a minute. That’s a case fatality rate of 0.4%. Given that the CFR is usually 10 times higher than the infection fatality rate, that’s an IFR of 0.04% – or less than half that of seasonal flu.

Remind me why we need a second lockdown for at least six months, Chief Science Officer?

Sir Patrick pointed to rising cases in Spain to illustrate the danger, claiming we were lagging Spain by a couple of weeks. But cases in Spain aren’t actually rising, according to Carl Heneghan, Jason Oke and Tom Jefferson, who produced a quick response to the press conference.

In a press briefing today Professors Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance showed epidemic curves for Spain and France – demonstrating how cases numbers have been growing rapidly, possibly exponentially, since August. As is often done when using case numbers by publishing date, the raw numbers are smoothed with a seven-day moving average. Drawn this way, the data shows a continued upward trend.

But drawing the epidemic curve for Spain using cases by symptom onset produces a different result. We have put these two methods together on a single graph so that they can be compared:

The epidemic curve based on the symptom onset date does not show the same continued growth – it appears to show cases stalling in late August.

Everyone I know is completely baffled by the smoke-and-mirrors press conference conducted by Whitty and Valance – and, of course, they refused to take any questions so no journalist was permitted to interrogate their data. Do they believe the nonsense they’re peddling or have they been put up to it by the Triumvirate? 49,000 cases a day would put the UK right at the top of the list of world’s countries affected by COVID-19. David Paton, Professor of Industrial Economics at Nottingham University Businesses School, told the Telegraph he would “take a dim view” if his students presented similar data.

So what’s going on? Why have they embarrassed themselves in the way?

If they’re just stooges for Caesar, Pompey and Crassus (Boris, Dom and Gove), what’s their agenda? Why does a Tory Government want to completely destroy the British economy – predicted to lose £250 million a day while the 10pm curfew remains in place? Won’t that just propel Mr Woodentop into Downing Street?

Even senior politicians are perplexed. An ex-Minister WhatsApped me yesterday evening:

What am I missing here? I seem to be in a parallel universe. Deaths are in single digits. So what if young people are getting it? That’s good. They then become immune. All we have to make sure is they keep away from old people. We can’t shut down the f***ing country again on a false analysis of the problem. In March and April cases were high and deaths were high. In September cases are high but deaths are low. I don’t understand the hysteria in Govt at the moment. They aren’t stupid. They can see the same as me. I really don’t get it.

My best guess is that the Triumvirate know, in their heart of hearts, that they made a colossal cock-up in March and are desperately clinging to Neil Ferguson’s doom-laden prognosis as the rationale for all the terrible damage they’ve done. Rather than admit they got it wrong, they have to remain faithful to their original hypothesis which, if you follow Ferguson’s logic, means we’ve only succeeded in postponing the apocalypse, not averting it. So if we don’t lock down again and “protect the NHS” – i.e. turn it into a Covid-only service again – the Government will be buried under half a million corpses. No, the restrictions must continue until we have a vaccine.

“They are running around like headless chickens, seemingly fearful of being blamed for killing people,” said one veteran Tory MP, quoted in the Telegraph.

Brutus, it’s time to start sharpening your knife.

What’s Really Happening to Cases?

A numerate reader has done some number crunching based on PHE’s weekly data and discovered that in most parts of England cases have fallen in the past week.

Meanwhile, in Sweden…

Thank God for the control group!

Sebastian Rushworth, who’s been working as an emergency physician in Sweden, has written an interesting blog post about what it’s like working on the front line in Stockholm. Answer: it’s an absolute breeze. This is a follow-up to a piece he wrote in August, in which he speculated about whether Sweden had achieved herd immunity.

In my earlier article in August, I mentioned that after an initial peak that lasted for a month or so, from March to April, visits to the Emergency Room due to covid had been declining continuously, and deaths in Sweden had dropped from over 100 a day at the peak in April, to around five per day in August.

At the point in August when I wrote that article, I hadn’t seen a single covid patient in over a month. I speculated that Sweden had developed herd immunity, since the huge and continuous drop was happening in spite of the fact that Sweden wasn’t really taking any serious measures to prevent spread of the infection.

So, how have things developed in the six weeks since that first article?

Well, as things stand now, I haven’t seen a single covid patient in the Emergency Room in over two and a half months. People have continued to become ever more relaxed in their behaviour, which is noticeable in increasing volumes in the Emergency Room. At the peak of the pandemic in April, I was seeing about half as many patients per shift as usual, probably because lots of people were afraid to go the ER for fear of catching covid. Now volumes are back to normal.

When I sit in the tube on the way to and from work, it is packed with people. Maybe one in a hundred people is choosing to wear a face mask in public. In Stockholm, life is largely back to normal. If you look at the front pages of the tabloids, on many days there isn’t a single mention of covid anywhere. As I write this (19th September 2020) the front pages of the two main tabloids have big spreads about arthritis and pensions. Apparently arthritis and pensions are currently more exciting than COVID-19 in Sweden.

In spite of this relaxed attitude, the death rate has continued to drop. When I wrote the first article, I wrote that covid had killed under 6,000 people. How many people have died now, six weeks later? Actually, we’re still at under 6,000 deaths. On average, one to two people per day are dying of covid in Sweden at present, and that number continues to drop.

In the hospital where I work, there isn’t a single person currently being treated for covid. In fact, in the whole of Stockholm, a county with 2,4 million inhabitants, there are currently only 28 people being treated for covid in all the hospitals combined. At the peak, in April, that number was over 1,000. If 28 people are currently in hospital, out of 2,4 million who live in Stockholm, that means the odds of having a case of covid so severe that it requires in-hospital treatment are at the moment about one in 86,000.

Oh Boris! If only you’d had the courage to follow your instincts!

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: The Swiss Doctor has compiled some data about Covid in Belarus. In spite of the fact that it was the least locked down country in Europe – even less locked down than Sweden – it has had a grand total of 785 deaths to date. Can this official death toll be trusted? Probably not, but all-cause mortality figures show that deaths are about three times higher than the official data – no worse than a bad bout of seasonal flu.

Sensible Scientists Write to Boris Urging Rethink

A group of sensible medical experts led by Prof Sunetra Gupta, Prof Carl Heneghan and Prof Karol Sikora have written an open letter to Boris urging him to rethink his Covid strategy. (Does he have one? Who knew!)

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing with the intention of providing constructive input into the choices with respect to the COVID-19 policy response. We also have several concerns regarding aspects of the existing policy choices that we wish to draw attention to.

In summary, our view is that the existing policy path is inconsistent with the known risk-profile of COVID-19 and should be reconsidered. The unstated objective currently appears to be one of suppression of the virus, until such a time that a vaccine can be deployed. This objective is increasingly unfeasible (notwithstanding our more specific concerns regarding existing policies) and is leading to significant harm across all age groups, which likely offsets any benefits.

Instead, more targeted measures that protect the most vulnerable from Covid, whilst not adversely impacting those not at risk, are more supportable. Given the high proportion of Covid deaths in care homes, these should be a priority. Such targeted measures should be explored as a matter of urgency, as the logical cornerstone of our future strategy.

In addition to this overarching point, we append a set of concerns regarding the existing policy choices, which we hope will be received in the spirit in which they are intended. We are mindful that the current circumstances are challenging, and that all policy decisions are difficult ones. Moreover, many people have sadly lost loved ones to COVID-19 throughout the UK. Nonetheless, the current debate appears unhelpfully polarised around views that Covid is extremely deadly to all (and that large-scale policy interventions are effective); and on the other hand, those who believe Covid poses no risk at all. In light of this, and in order to make choices that increase our prospects of achieving better outcomes in future, we think now is the right time to ‘step back’ and fundamentally reconsider the path forward.

The list of signatories is impressive. You can read the letter and see the full list in the Spectator.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Three today: “Long Slow Suicide” by the Divine Comedy, “Masked Hysteria” by BeastTheButcher and “Why?” by Bronski Beat.

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. But today we thought we’d tell you about an antidote to woke virtue-signalling – QPR’s decision not to take a knee at last Friday’s 12.45pm fixture against Coventry. Or rather, we thought we’d let Les Ferdinand, QPR’s Director of Football, tell you.

The taking of the knee has reached a point of ‘good PR’ but little more than that. The message has been lost. It is now not dissimilar to a fancy hashtag or a nice pin badge.

What are our plans with this? Will people be happy for players to take the knee for the next 10 years but see no actual progress made? Taking the knee will not bring about change in the game – actions will.

You tell ’em Les. Is it too much too hope that this rare injection of common sense into the national debate on how best to tackle racism will put an end to the absurd displays of BLM fealty in the Premier League?

The Guardian has more.

Stop Press: Free Speech Union Advisory Council member Doug Stokes, Professor of International Relations at the University of Exeter, has a terrific piece in Conservative Home on why the Conservative Government needs to stop standing on the sidelines in the culture war.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it 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 (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

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. (And while you’re about it, sign this one, too, calling for the repeal of the Coronavirus Act.)

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

Stop Press: London Mayor Sadiq Khan is pushing for face masks to be work in all public spaces in London, not just shops, according to the Mail. Remind me who elected this clown? That’s right, nobody did. His term of office expired on April 20th this year.

The Care Home Scandal – A Call For Evidence

Lockdown Sceptics has asked an award-winning investigative journalist, David Rose, to investigate the high death toll in Britain’s care homes. Did 20,000+ elderly people really die of COVID-19 between March and July or were many of them just collateral lockdown damage? With lots of care homes short-staffed because employees were self-isolating at home, and with relatives and partners unable to visit to check up on their loved ones because of restrictions, how many elderly residents died of neglect, not Covid? How many succumbed to other conditions, untreated because they weren’t able to access hospitals or their local GP? After doctors were told by care home managers that the cause of death of a deceased resident was “novel coronavirus”, how many bothered to check before signing the death certificate? The risk of doctors misdiagnosing the cause of death is particularly high, given that various safeguards to minimise the risk of that happening were suspended in March.

David Rose would like Lockdown Sceptics readers to share any information they have that could help in this investigation. Here is his request:

We are receiving reports that some residents of care homes who died from causes other than Covid may have had their deaths ascribed to it – even though they never had the disease at all, and never tested positive. Readers will already be familiar with the pioneering work by Carl Heneghan and his colleagues at the Oxford Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, which forced the Government to change its death toll counting method. Previously, it will be recalled, people who died of, say, a road accident, were being counted as Covid deaths if they had tested positive at any time, perhaps months earlier. But here we are talking of something different – Covid “deaths” among people who never had the virus at all.

In one case, where a family is deciding whether to grant permission for Lockdown Sceptics to publicise it, an elderly lady in reasonable health was locked in her room for many hours each day in a care home on the south coast, refused all visitors, deprived of contact with other residents, and eventually went on hunger strike, refusing even to drink water. She died in the most wretched circumstances which were only indirectly a product of the virus – and yet, her death certificate reportedly claims she had Covid.

I’m looking for further examples of 1) elderly people who died as a result of the lockdown and associated measures, but whose deaths were wrongly attributed to “novel coronavirus”, and 2) those elderly people who clearly died from other causes but whose deaths were still formally ascribed to Covid because they once tested positive for it, even after the counting method change.

If you have relevant information, please email Lockdown Sceptics or David directly on david@davidroseuk.com.

Samaritans

If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here.

And Finally…

Latest News

Oxford University Scientists Demolish Government Case for Second Lockdown

Professor Carl Heneghan and crew at the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine have been working overtime at the weekend pushing back against the Government narrative.

The Mail yesterday published their demolition of the Government’s paper-thin case for imposing yet more emergency restrictions to try to suppress and eliminate this virus. Entitled “The only ‘circuit break’ in the pandemic we need now is from the Government’s doom-mongering scientific advisers who specialise in causing panic and little else“, they don’t hold back.

Today, our bewildered Prime Minister and his platoon of inept advisers might as well be using the planets to guide us through this pandemic, so catastrophic and wildly over-the-top are their decisions.

Now we look set to repeat the pattern of what happened six months ago when they first panicked the country into shutting down, except that this time it has been given a fancy title – operation ‘circuit break’.

Whatever the name, it may be a grave error with terrible consequences for the health of the British people and for the health of the country. How can we possibly be making the same mistake – again?

Why is it that the Government is once again in the grip of doom-mongering scientific modellers who specialise in causing panic and little else?

They address head-on the comparison with Spain, pointing out that the second ripple in Spain appears already to have peaked:

Take the latest reliable data from Spain (up to September 3) which does not indicate any sort of upward curve in infections, let alone one coming to get us here in Britain.

In fact, the data shows that the number of Spanish cases did grow last month – but then reached a plateau.

Some of Spain’s 17 provinces are already past the peak infection (when considered by the date that symptoms began), while the proportion of completely asymptomatic cases in Spain is on the rise. [See the graphs here, pp9-10.]

Anyone who has clinical experience of dealing with respiratory viruses knows that the only certainty is uncertainty itself.

Yet our PM, and his Dad’s Army of highly paid individuals with little experience of the job at hand, continue to behave as if they are acting on the basis of certainty.

Instead, they move from one poorly designed, rash decision to another, driven by the misguided belief that we are experiencing a ‘second wave’, following Spain’s ‘trajectory’ and just ‘behind the curve’ there.

Most people now have colds, not Covid, they say – though that in itself creates problems for our overstretched testing system:

The good news, then, is that anyone going down with a new respiratory illness is likely to be suffering from a cold – not Covid.

But the rhinovirus presents us with a problem, too. Because the symptoms of a cold mean many of us will need a Covid test. 

And increased Covid testing is picking up dead – entirely harmless – fragments of virus as well as genuine infections. So many of the positive results we think we are getting might not be positives at all.

Our inability to accurately report the most simple measures – the proportion of positive tests that were asymptomatic or the date at which the symptoms began, for example – is a major problem for our intelligence gathering.

And the result is a confused, rudderless Government lost in a swamp of poor statistics and ill-informed recommendations.

Worth reading in full.

The CEBM’s full consideration of the situation in Spain is here. There are also other new pieces from Carl Heneghan and co in the Speccie on the impossibility of the Government’s apparent aim of eliminating the virus, and in the Telegraph on the problems with testing. Plus a video on Sky here on the non-existent second wave.

Stop Press: Even the BBC is letting some sceptical comment through. Here’s their health correspondent Nick Triggle yesterday:

The idea of curbing the spread of the virus to stop the NHS being overwhelmed brought people together in the spring.

But what is the aim now the NHS was not overwhelmed? Suppression of a virus that clearly can’t be suppressed without a huge cost to society?

As Prof Robert Dingwall, a government adviser, put it last week, this virus is here “forever and a day” and the public may just be growing comfortable with the idea that people will die – just as they accept that people die of flu ever year.

If only someone had pointed this out before.

The Only Thing Unprecedented About This Pandemic is the Hysteria

Making an apocalypse out of a pandemic

Tim Black has written an intriguing piece on spiked comparing the world’s reaction to COVID-19 with 20th century pandemics such as the Asian Flu. Fascinating, and a clear indictment on our present hysteria.

When, in July 1957, British prime minister Harold Macmillan told a Tory Party rally that the British people “had never had it so good”, supplying the postwar period with its famously optimistic gloss, one historical fact tends to be overlooked: the world was in the grip of a pandemic.

Influenza A virus subtype H2N2 – known as the Asian Flu – had emerged in China in the winter of 1956-7. By April, Hong Kong had reported 250,000 cases. By June, India had recorded over a million. Later that summer, as Macmillan was basking in the postwar boom, the Asian Flu hit Britain and the US. By the time the pandemic had been contained in 1958, it is estimated to have killed about 1.1million people worldwide, including over 30,000 in the UK and over 100,000 in the US.

Yet there Macmillan was, painting a rosy picture not just of the present but of the future, too. The Labour Party was similarly unconcerned by the pandemic raging outside its door, preferring instead to address other matters it deemed more pressing, from the make-up of the Shadow Cabinet to arguments against unilateral nuclear disarmament, for which shadow foreign secretary Nye Bevan was heckled at that October’s party conference – held, as it happens, when UK deaths from Asian flu were at their peak.

Likewise, media coverage of the pandemic was restrained. As the historian Mark Honigsbaum wrote in the Lancet: “There were few hysterical tabloid newspaper headlines… Instead, the news cycle was dominated by the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik and the aftermath of the fire at the Windscale nuclear reactor in the UK.”

In fact, the 1957-58 influenza pandemic barely seemed to register as anything other than a public-health problem. The approach, led by local and regional medical authorities rather than central government, was pragmatic, and perhaps a little fatalistic. “We will have our epidemic of influenza, of a type not very different from what we know already, with complications in the usual age groups,” remarked Ian Watson, Director of the College of General Practitioners’ Epidemic Observation Unit in June 1957.

Worth reading in full – although Lockdown Sceptics got there first, of course.

The End of the Union?

We’ve received an email from an academic at a Scottish University. He thinks the most destructive legacy of the Boris’s epic mishandling of the coronavirus crisis might be the break-up of the United Kingdom.

Thank you so much for this website. You have helped to preserve my sanity during this time of global madness. I am a politics lecturer at a Scottish university, so the hardest thing about this is seeing that very few people value liberal democracy, having no problem when democratic governments took away their freedom with so little (if any) hard evidence to support lockdowns and mask requirements. Even though some recent literature showed that support for liberal democracy was in decline, especially among young people, I was still surprised at what happened and am increasingly alarmed at where things are going. Critical thinking went out the window in March and is still hard to come by, but your website seems to be bringing some rational thought back into this benighted world. I remain hopeful that a new Prime Minister could change things. Otherwise, I cannot see any way out of what was the biggest overreaction in history. The basic problem is that governments cannot admit that they overreacted to the hysteria instigated by the media and wrecked the economy and healthcare services, along with causing serious damage to our freedom. I do not believe the conspiracy theories and fear that their advocates are harming the efforts of those of us who stick to the evidence. I have interviewed enough politicians to know that many are prone to groupthink and following the herd. Here in Scotland, independence now seems closer than ever. Unionist politicians, both here and in London, are handling the situation very badly. Nicola Sturgeon seems to have a Svengali effect on most of the Scottish population, while Boris Johnson appears to be all over the place. While the economic, democratic and health costs of the coronavirus hysteria will last for years, the biggest cost of all might be the territorial integrity of the UK.

A Dentist Writes…

More on mask mouth. A dentist tells us:

Mask mouth: no surprise, as if the nose is partially or fully blocked mouth breathing is required.

Simplified: Mouth breathing dries saliva, which is the body’s mouth cleaning and tooth protection mechanism. Mask wearers should be advised to chew sugar-free gum to encourage saliva ‘injections’ in the mouth.

“I Had Been in Active Labour for Eight Hours on My Own.”

A reader who recently gave birth has written to tell us of the appalling experience she had having a baby in a London hospital in the locked down NHS.

I found out I was pregnant in January. I was able to go to my 12-week scan with my mum and husband, which was wonderful. However, that was the last time I was able to have anyone accompany me to any antenatal appointments.

I attended a routine blood pressure clinic when I was 38 weeks pregnant, where I was told my baby had stopped growing properly, and that I needed an urgent induction that day. All of this news was given to me to process on my own without my husband being present. 

My contractions started the next day, but my husband had to leave at 7pm, as visiting hours were only between 2pm and 7pm. 

My waters broke at half past midnight. I remember feeling incredibly alone. I called my husband and asked him to come in as we live a 20-minute drive from the hospital, but the midwife told me he wouldn’t be allowed with me until I was dilated more than 4cm and was transferred to the labour ward. This stressed me out considerably but I was already too exhausted to argue so I told my husband to go back to bed. 

I then sat on my birthing ball in my cubicle, put my headphones in and bounced my way through increasingly painful contractions. My waters continued to break and I didn’t know what to do and couldn’t reach my call bell because of the pain. One of the other patients must have rung their bell for me because the midwife came and checked on me and I asked for gas and air. My contractions continued to ramp up. I was texting my mum and sister at this point and they were like a virtual support team but no substitute for the real thing sadly. 

The midwife came back at around 2:30am and I asked to be transferred to the labour ward for an epidural, as I knew that if the pain continued escalating at the current rate I wouldn’t be able to cope for much longer. She agreed that I could go, so I called my husband again and told him to come. 

The head midwife then came and said that I needed to stay on the antenatal ward because there was no space for me on the labour ward, and that I needed to have the pethidine injection in the meantime. I asked if my husband would be allowed in because I had told him to come and she said we could “negotiate”. I had the injection before being transferred to a side room with my husband who had just arrived. I had been in active labour for eight hours on my own. 

I don’t remember much of the next four hours – my next memory was of being rushed down to the labour ward to have a spinal and an epidural. I gave birth to our daughter at 1:18pm. 

We were then transferred to the postnatal ward at 5:30pm. I managed to have a very quick shower in my room on the labour ward, thank God, because all the showers on the postnatal ward had signs saying they were out of order, presumably because of Covid. 

My husband then had to leave me at 7pm with my new baby, after almost three days of no sleep, on a ward of new mothers, which was also understaffed. Of course I did not sleep at all. I still had a catheter and a cannula in, neither of which I required any further, and I had to chase the midwives throughout the night to ask when they were be removed, until they eventually did so at 5am the next morning. This meant that I had a painful right hand and I also had to carry around both my catheter and my new baby with me whenever I went anywhere. 

There was nowhere easy to change her nappy, so I ended up doing it in her cot and praying she wouldn’t make a mess. This again, while having a catheter that I had to hold because it hadn’t been secured to me, and not being able to put any underwear on. I was bleeding down my legs as I walked around because the sanitary pad I had wasn’t secured. I felt like I was in a nightmare and if I had had my husband there he would have been at least able to help while I rested. 

I had also sustained a second degree tear, which had been stitched whilst I was on the epidural. I had forgotten about the tear until later on when I started to ache and realised that I didn’t know how to care for the wound. I asked the midwife, and she just told me not to sit on it. I had to ask for extra painkillers because I was in agony. 

The midwife brought me formula when my baby cried and she told me off because I was not feeding her. I just needed someone to help me latch her – my husband had tried just before he left but without much success. 

They also had to check my baby’s blood sugar before every feed. I had said I wanted to feed her at around 8pm, and then had to wait three hours for the test to be done, by which point her blood sugar was dangerously low. I was then told off for this. 

My husband was allowed back on the ward at 2pm the next day and I just prayed for his arrival. Fortunately, we were discharged that afternoon. 

A week after the birth I had to go back to the postnatal ward for two nights due to my high blood pressure not being controlled by my medication. I took my baby with me. I had to look after her on my own while I was extremely ill, and had to constantly chase for medication and regular monitoring to be done. 

As you can see, there were multiple instances before and after the birth when I needed an advocate and someone to support me; not to mention when I was experiencing intense pain for hours alone. Fathers are not an added extra, they are a necessity. 

This is a snapshot of my birth story under current guidelines. I am sure there are many more stories which are more horrific than mine. I hope more women don’t have to go through this kind of experience. It tainted my first day with my baby and has certainly had a traumatising effect on me. The Government need to lift all restrictions on maternity wards immediately to avoid any further unnecessary traumas. 

A campaign #butnotmaternity has been started on social media and there is a petition to sign here.

Stop Press: Another reader has been in touch with an insight into how the NHS is preparing for the second wave by yet again depriving ordinary healthcare of resources:

My son in law is an experienced senior nurse and does occasional shifts at the local, large and prestigious hospital in the A&E department. 

He tells us of the following: day the hospital – buildings and staff – have been divided into red and green facilities and teams, in preparation for the coming second wave: red being Covid-only staff, green being all other staff.

My son-in-law was allocated to the red team. They have all been idle, without a single Covid patient anywhere in the hospital as of September 18th.

The green team, however, have been rushed off their feet, without even enough ‘green’ porters to move patients about the hospital.

As a consequence, my son-in-law was asked to find a private place to change from his red team uniform to a green one in order to help out. He has not been re-allocated to the green team and will resume his red team allocation on his next shift.

It’s quite likely that he is not alone in being asked to do this. He says he feels the whole scenario in the hospital is something from a French farce.

French Hospitals At “Tipping Point” – But What Does That Mean?

The leader of an A&E union in France is quoted in the Telegraph claiming that France is in the midst of a “second wave” and hospitals are “at tipping point”. But what does that mean? It is yet another vague metaphor, the sole purpose of which appears to be to spread alarm, like “second wave”, “surge” and “spike”. Britain, too, is at “tipping point”, according to Health Secretary Matt Hancock yesterday.

So are hospitals in France about to run out of beds – is that what it means? Nothing of the sort. The truth comes out further down the page, when the report quotes the head of healthcare in Paris, rather than an excitable union boss.

Less alarmist, Aurélien Rousseau, head of the Paris region health agency, said that while “tension levels have reached maximum levels”, “we will not see a remake of the first wave, rather a second season of the epidemic”.

On the plus side, patients were better treated, less often hospitalised or placed on ventilators in intensive care and for shorter times, he said. Hospitals will be sorely tested, however, because “there is no question of deprogramming non-Covid treatment”.

The infection rate in the French capital now stands at 160 per 100,000 inhabitants, but the R level remains stable, he added.

Some 20% of intensive care beds are now occupied by patients with Covid, he said.

Ladies and gentlemen, the second wave.

And how’s our own second wave getting on?

How long do you think until they accept it’s over?

Back To (Nearly) Normal in Bergamo

A reader has returned from a trip to Bergamo, one of the worst hit cities in the world in the spring, with some encouraging news.

I’ve just returned from a three week trip to Bergamo. You would think the “Chernobyl” of the virus would be a scary place. Exactly the opposite: groups of adults and students mixing in any numbers enjoying the autumn sun, a large market set up in the central square. All the restaurants are as normal, no arrows, plastic screens, one way systems, etc. Just good food as you’d expect and normal waiter service second to none. Whilst mask wearing is compulsory in shops, in the street as you’d again expect in Italy half the population seem to wear the mask as a fashion item around their wrist. We had a lovely time and not once did we see the fear that seems to stalk every street in the UK. And no quarantine to boot upon return. At least the Italians haven’t forgotten la dolce vita!

The Real Science of Covid

UK Government policy – not based on science

One of our most diligent correspondents, from the moment Lockdown Sceptics was set up, is a financial researcher and fund manager who wishes to remain anonymous. Many of the best papers and articles we’ve linked to in the past five months were sent to us by him. He’s now accumulated a mountain of data on the disease and we asked him to assemble it in one place, organised under different headings, which he’s very kindly done. We’ve published it here and given it pride of place at the top of the right-hand menu and called it “The Real Science of Covid”. For those familiar with the Swiss Doctor, it’s a bit like that except, if anything, even more thorough. For sceptics everywhere, it’s an indispensable resource.

To give you a sense of just how useful it is, here’s the section entitled “The Collateral Damage From Lockdowns is Vast and Will Kill Millions”:

Lockdowns are the moral equivalent of carpet bombing, ineffective with vast collateral damage.

Disruptions to food due to lockdowns may kill more from hunger than Covid.

Covid is not the only illness in the world and millions will die from interrupted care, for example from tuberculosis and HIV, as the New York Times reports.

“COVID-19 risks derailing all our efforts and taking us back to where we were 20 years ago,” said Dr. Pedro L. Alonso, the director of the World Health Organization’s global malaria program.

It’s not just that the coronavirus has diverted scientific attention from TB, H.I.V. and malaria. The lockdowns, particularly across parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America, have raised insurmountable barriers to patients who must travel to obtain diagnoses or drugs, according to interviews with more than two dozen public health officials, doctors and patients worldwide.

Unicef warns on the consequences of poverty and malnutrition for kids could harm millions.

According to a stark report published in Lancet Global Health journal on Wednesday, almost 1.2 million children could die in the next six months due to the disruption to health services and food supplies caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The first famines of the coronavirus era are at the world’s doorstep U.N. warns.

COVID-19 could reverse decades of progress toward eliminating preventable child deaths, WHO warns.

The Gates Foundation estimates that the response to Covid has set back vaccination 25 years.

Furthermore, there is good reason to believe that lockdowns increased deaths of the vulnerable and elderly.

This is true in much of the world. Here is a study looking at how lockdowns drove excess deaths for non-Covid illnesses.

Interrupting medical care kills people. More people died in Denver of unattended heart attacks during lockdown than from Covid.

New cancer diagnoses collapsed in the United States as the coronavirus pandemic first hit. Almost all diagnoses collapsed in the UK as well.

And same was true for heart attacks and strokes in the NHS in the UK.

Analysis of NHS data reveals the deadly consequences of the government’s messaging to “stay at home, save lives, protect the NHS”. During the lockdown, there was a near 50 per cent decline in admissions for heart attacks. The risks of COVID-19 outweighed the risk of seeking NHS care despite worsening symptoms for many people: 40 per cent more people died from lower-risk treatable heart attacks than usual. For strokes, the situation is further exacerbated by living alone and not having visitors as 98% of emergency calls for strokes are made by someone else.

The economic damage is also horrific.

The World Bank estimates over 71 million will be plunged into extreme poverty due to lockdowns/quarantines

The United Nations has warned that response to Covid is reversing decades of gains in poverty, healthcare and disease

More Than Half of US Business Closures Permanent, Yelp Says. Half of black businesses in the US have been wiped out.

Worth reading in full.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Two today: “NO EVIDENCE” by Comethazine and “Why Can’t They Understand?” by David P Bailey

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We’ve also introduced a section where people can arrange to meet up for non-romantic purposes. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it 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 (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

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.

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

The Care Home Scandal – A Call For Evidence

Lockdown Sceptics has asked an award-winning investigative journalist, David Rose, to investigate the high death toll in Britain’s care homes. Did 20,000+ elderly people really die of COVID-19 between March and July or were many of them just collateral lockdown damage? With lots of care homes short-staffed because employees were self-isolating at home, and with relatives and partners unable to visit to check up on their loved ones because of restrictions, how many elderly residents died of neglect, not Covid? How many succumbed to other conditions, untreated because they weren’t able to access hospitals or their local GP? After doctors were told by care home managers that the cause of death of a deceased resident was “novel coronavirus”, how many bothered to check before signing the death certificate? The risk of doctors misdiagnosing the cause of death is particularly high, given that various safeguards to minimise the risk of that happening were suspended in March.

David Rose would like Lockdown Sceptics readers to share any information they have that could help in this investigation. Here is his request:

We are receiving reports that some residents of care homes who died from causes other than Covid may have had their deaths ascribed to it – even though they never had the disease at all, and never tested positive. Readers will already be familiar with the pioneering work by Carl Heneghan and his colleagues at the Oxford Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, which forced the Government to change its death toll counting method. Previously, it will be recalled, people who died of, say, a road accident, were being counted as Covid deaths if they had tested positive at any time, perhaps months earlier. But here we are talking of something different – Covid “deaths” among people who never had the virus at all.

In one case, where a family is deciding whether to grant permission for Lockdown Sceptics to publicise it, an elderly lady in reasonable health was locked in her room for many hours each day in a care home on the south coast, refused all visitors, deprived of contact with other residents, and eventually went on hunger strike, refusing even to drink water. She died in the most wretched circumstances which were only indirectly a product of the virus – and yet, her death certificate reportedly claims she had Covid.

I’m looking for further examples of 1) elderly people who died as a result of the lockdown and associated measures, but whose deaths were wrongly attributed to “novel coronavirus”, and 2) those elderly people who clearly died from other causes but whose deaths were still formally ascribed to Covid because they once tested positive for it, even after the counting method change.

If you have relevant information, please email Lockdown Sceptics or David directly on david@davidroseuk.com.

Samaritans

If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here.

And Finally…

Matt cartoon, September 20