In the last few weeks, as the evidence mounts that the infection fatality rate of COVID-19 is not much higher than seasonal flu and that most areas that have experienced bad outbreaks are well on their way to achieving herd immunity, the argument for keeping lockdowns in place has shifted away from the lethality of the disease and towards the medical complications and lingering effects associated with it. Advocates of a ‘zero-Covid’ strategy, like Devi Sridhar, Professor of Global Health at Edinburgh University, point to the complications of COVID-19, such as multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children and adolescents (MIS-C) and the persistent symptoms that some people have experienced after recovering from the illness, as a reason to continue with draconian suppression measures until a vaccine becomes available.
But just how many children are at risk of MIS-C and how many recovered Covid patients experience lingering symptoms? We asked an epidemiologist with a PhD from a Russell Group university and a retired Professor of Forensic and Biological Anthropology – both readers of Lockdown Sceptics – to carry out a review of the evidence and we’ve published their findings today.
It’s good news and bad news: good news for lockdown sceptics and bad news for lockdown zealots. For the most part, the risks of complications and lingering symptoms from COVID-19 are no greater than they are from the flu. So not a great argument for maintaining strict lockdowns – unless, that is, you think entire populations should be placed under house arrest every winter.
Here’s the section in their article in which they compare COVID-19 and seasonal influenza.
Distressing though COVID-19 associated MIS-C is, these cases have decreased from an already low population incidence and risk of fatality. While symptoms may persist in COVID-19 and may sometimes be serious, they are not typically so, and appear to measurably diminish with time, even within the short time frame of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In some years, epidemic – let alone pandemic – flu may lead to a broadly similar number of deaths to COVID-19, even given widely available vaccination.
Like COVID-19, influenza poses an elevated risk to the over-65s. However, influenza presents a clearly greater risk to all other ages, including children and adults. While seasonal flu leads to higher mortality rates at the extremes of age, 2009 H1N1 flu, for example, may have posed a particular threat to ‘working age’ adults.
Multi-organ complications, including myocarditis and encephalitis, occur in both flu and COVID-19. In both cases, these complications have the potential to be persistent and serious, but such instances are rare and may be complicated by pre-existing disease. Patients typically recover in a few weeks and where symptoms do persist, they diminish – if sometimes gradually – in frequency with time. The most persistent symptoms are predominately those such as fatigue, aches and pains, and shortness of breath and are not life-threatening.
It is far from evident that COVID-19 presents a greater risk of complications or persistent symptoms than flu and – given the demographic most affected – COVID-19 does not present as great a threat as flu to children and younger adults and the otherwise healthy.
Epidemiologically and clinically, flu may be as bad as COVID-19. In children, juveniles and productive adults flu appears worse.
This scholarly article, by two sceptical scientists, is worth reading in full.
Stop Press: Lungs damaged by coronavirus can repair themselves within three months, according to a study involving 86 patients in the Tyrolean region of Austria. The Telegraph has more.
Lungs can repair themselves after a serious bout of coronavirus in just three months, a new study has revealed, raising hope patients will not be living with debilitating symptoms for years on end.
Doctors said trials showed nearly half of patients in trials showed no evidence of lung damage at 12 weeks.
Although they confirm longstanding fears that Covid patients can suffer serious effects weeks after recovering from the virus, the results are the first to show that these tend to heal over time.
In light of the evidence that you’re no more likely to suffer medical complications and lingering effects from COVID-19 than you are with the flu, why do public health panjandrums like Devi Sridhar seemingly exaggerate the risk to argue for keeping strict lockdowns in place? Cynics would point to the links between those experts and various funding bodies and institutions that are linked to Bill Gates and which all seem to be singing from the same pro-lockdown, pro-vaccination hymn sheet – and in Prof Sridhar’s case, they do seem to be pretty extensive. As one scientist reader of Lockdown Sceptics pointed out:
I learn that Devi has written a book Governing Global Health Who Runs the World and Why? with Chelsea Clinton (both seem to have taken their MPhil at Oxford at about the same time). Devi has served on the World Economic Forum Council on the Health Industry and is a member of Edinburgh’s WHO Collaborating Centre on Population Health Research and Training. Her 2014 paper in NEJM argues that “a renewed attention to lawmaking efforts by the WHO and the human right to health are crucial elements of progress”. In a BMJ Opinion article, Devi and Chelsea offer advice to the new director of WHO – Dr Tedros – who had come from the The Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria. Apparently, Chelsea’s doctoral thesis is entitled “The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria: a response to global threats, a part of a global future”. HIV/AIDS is a priority of the Clinton Foundation, of which Chelsea is the Vice Chair (and which the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation helps to fund).
This BMJ paper shows how much money is involved: “…in 2017, official development assistance for health reached $23.9bn, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private funder, gave $2.5bn in health aid…”
Just sayin’, as they say… and I don’t wish to question ‘good works’ at all, but I do wonder why so many countries are doing the same thing and why there is so much conformity and so little resistance within the public health establishment itself.
So is Prof Sridhar promoting a ‘zero-Covid’ strategy for self-interested reasons rather than in good faith? Probably not. In fact, we don’t think that’s a meaningful distinction in her case or in the case of Neil Ferguson, Sir Patrick Vallance, Chris Whitty et al. Rather, we think they are capable of advocating those public health policies that perfectly align with their broader professional interests without experiencing the slightest twinge of discomfort. They’re not being dishonest because they have persuaded themselves of the wisdom of the safety-first, interventionist approach. If they’re engaged in a conspiracy, it’s an unconscious conspiracy. This quote from Robert Musil’s The Man Without Qualities sums it up:
And indeed the most coldly calculating people do not have half the success in life that comes to those rightly blended personalities who are capable of feeling a really deep attachment to such persons and conditions as will advance their own interests.
For fans of conspiracy theories, this one’s a doozy. Thomas Pueyo, who wrote a now famous, pro-lockdown Medium post on March 10th that’s had over 40 million views and been translated into more than two dozen languages is the President for Growth of an online learning platform called Course Hero that’s just raised over $80 million.
Among the claims Pueyo made in his post were:
- The coronavirus is coming to you.
- It’s coming at an exponential speed: gradually, and then suddenly.
- It’s a matter of days. Maybe a week or two.
- When it does, your healthcare system will be overwhelmed.
- Your fellow citizens will be treated in the hallways.
- Exhausted healthcare workers will break down. Some will die.
- They will have to decide which patient gets the oxygen and which one dies.
- The only way to prevent this is social distancing today. Not tomorrow. Today.
- That means keeping as many people home as possible, starting now.
He followed up with another post on March 19th in which he claimed that 10,000,000 Americans would die if strict shut downs weren’t imposed in every US state immediately. “If we do nothing: Everybody gets infected, the healthcare system gets overwhelmed, the mortality explodes, and ~10 million people die,” he wrote.
Not just a run-of-the-mill bedwetter, then, but a kind of super-bedwetter. And a highly influential one at that. The celebrities who shared his post included former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, actor George Takei, Twitter cofounder Ev Williams, author Margaret Atwood, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt and Harvard Professor Steven Pinker. (Et tu, Pinker?)
Well, Course Hero, Pueyo’s company, has just netted $80 million in its latest fundraising round. Tech Crunch is in no doubt about why it’s been so successful – edtech companies offering remote learning tools have all done phenomenally well thanks to school and college closures during the lockdowns.
From a high level, the new raise is not surprising. Other edtech companies have also recently added on more capital to their balance sheets to meet remote learning demand amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But in Course Hero’s case, the new capital comes as a stark contrast to how the business functioned before 2020. After launching, the startup waited eight years to raise a $15 million Series A. Now, after going another nearly six years without raising venture capital, Course Hero has closed two rounds in this year alone.
Should we give Pueyo the benefit of the doubt and accept that he’s just another of Robert Musil’s “rightly blended personalities”? Maybe. But the fact that he hired a PR company to promote his Medium posts suggests he wasn’t just a disinterested blogger.
We’re publishing an original piece today by Michael Lewis and Sinéad Murphy, two philosophy lecturers at Newcastle, about why they object to the the compulsory masks and draconian social distancing measures being insisted upon by their university.
As academics and as a university as a whole, our role is reasonably to examine and exemplify what is true and what is good, and to help our students to do likewise. This is particularly relevant for those of us in the humanities, allied as we are with the concept which, above all others, ought to have led policy responses to the virus, and which humanities academics should have seized upon immediately and promoted tirelessly: the humanity of the human.
Historically, the deprivation of the face and the refusal of contact with others (frequently in the context of virulent disease) have been the very first and most effective gestures of dehumanisation. And yet, now we are asked to imagine a truly risible classroom in which the teacher, and perhaps eventually everyone, is faceless, masked, and spaced two metres apart, so that all chance of serious interaction, human interaction – between student and teacher, but, perhaps most ruinously of all, among students themselves – is ruled out in favour of the atmosphere of the operating theatre.
Worth reading in full.
The New York Post has learned that a Black Lives Matter protesters now facing felony rioting and misdemeanour graffiti charges – after a window-smashing spree in Manhattan on Friday night – is a wealthy Upper East Sider whose mother is an architect and whose father is a child psychiatrist.
Clara Kraebber, 20, is one of eight people arrested Friday night after a roiling, three-hour rampage that police say caused at least $100,000 in damage from Foley Square up to 24th Street.
“Every city, every town, burn the precinct to the ground!” the group chanted as it moved up Lafayette Street while busting the plate glass facades of banks, Starbucks and Duane-Reades.
The protest was organized by groups calling themselves the “New Afrikan Black Panther Party” and the “Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement.”
Given her privileged upbringing, Kraebber might seem an unlikely alleged revolutionary in those ranks.
Kraebber’s mother, Virginia Kindred, runs Kindred Arch. Works, a Manhattan architect firm that has designed spaces for Columbia University and NYU, and worked on numerous school and business spaces throughout the city.
Her father is Markus Kraebber, an Upper East Side child and adolescent psychiatrist who teaches at the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry.
In 2016 the family paid $1.8 million for their 16th-floor apartment on East End Avenue. The family also owns a 1730 home — featuring four fireplaces, according to property listings — in tony Litchfield County, Conn.
Turns out, Kraebber was a student at Hunter College High School, a selective school that has been ranked as the top public high school in the United States. So let’s get this straight: a white member of America’s ruling class spent Friday night destroying the workplaces of working class immigrants to advance the cause of racial equality. The Post quotes a New York police officer who is justifiably outraged.
“This is the height of hypocrisy,” one law enforcement source who was at the protest told The Post. “This girl should be the poster child for white privilege, growing up on the Upper East Side and another home in Connecticut.
“I wonder how her rich parents feel about their daughter. How would they feel if they graffitied their townhouse?”
Worth reading in full.
Appearing on Sky News yesterday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was “concerned” after 2,988 new COVID-19 infections were reported in the 24-hour period to Sunday.
Mr Hancock said there had been rises across Europe, and that it was “so important that we do all we can to prevent that happening here”.
He added that the new positive tests were predominantly among younger people, but warned that this could lead to a rise across the population as a whole, because it had happened elsewhere.
He said: “It’s so important that people don’t allow this illness to infect grandparents and lead to the sort of problems we saw earlier in the year.”
No need to worry Matt because there’s been no corresponding uptick in hospitalisations or deaths. In fact, there were only two Covid deaths in the whole of the UK yesterday, according to the Government’s coronavirus dashboard.
Nothing to see here folks, move on…
A regular reader of Lockdown Sceptics has written to tell us about his adventures in Europe as an Australian expat.
We left Australia in September last year on a European adventure. We figured we’d take advantage of my UK dual citizenship status before Brexit and our ability to work from anywhere as digital nomads.
I thought I’d share some perspectives based on our experiences since the plague hit.
We were based in Bulgaria living inside a city apartment with four children when the very restrictive Bulgaria lockdowns started. Contemplating being stuck in an apartment for weeks with four children and with not so much as a balcony, we jumped on a flight to London and got ourselves some farm accommodation in Scotland for a few months. We watched as the mask requirement for shops was coming to Scotland, so bought a car and planned our exit from the UK via the only means possible without a mask requirement on transport, the Eurotunnel. We left Scotland on the same day masks were mandated, spent the next couple of weeks in England and left just before masks were mandated in shops there.
We carefully selected our next “home” after lots of research (including your site) and arrived in Denmark after an overnight airbnb in France followed by Germany. It was like being on a different planet, no masks, no perspex screens, no one-way aisles with stickers on the floor, no social distancing. The first weekend was rainy, so we took the kids to an extremely busy indoor play centre, with everyone packed in like sardines, no indication of a pandemic except for a few extra bottles of hand sanitizer around. We took the kids to the aqua park, Legoland and Lego House over the course of a few days, again no indication of a pandemic except for Legoland we found a couple of families in masks and one of the rides closed due to it being in a small confined space.
On seeing Denmark weaken their position on masks, we planned our next move once again, and shortly after masks were mandated on public transport in Denmark. We are currently in Norway and much like Denmark, life is normal here. We’re considering making a residency application and our children will start school here next week.
We were considering a flight back to Sydney, Australia, however…
In their wisdom, the Australian Government has placed a cap on the number of arrivals into Australia each day so as to not overwhelm the hotel quarantine program (now billed to the traveller). A Facebook group has been set up for hotel quarantine and the stories in there are very depressing. In order to try and get maximum revenue on enforced empty flights, airlines are giving preference to business class passengers and those who are booking economy fares are being continually cancelled and bumped to a later date, i.e. the best chance of getting home is to book a business class flight. Some people have been cancelled more than a dozen times, and are still waiting after months. Media reports have the number of stranded Australian’s trying to get home at over 23,000. In addition to thousands of expats trying to get home, people who have been given special permission to leave Australia for a funeral, medical travel etc. and were only prepared for a week or two away, are now living out of hotels, running out of money, and risk overstaying their visas.
Finally, back in Australia our Government has announced that it may become a requirement for citizens entering Australia to be vaccinated for COVID-19, if a vaccine is available. We are not excited about the prospect of being first in line for a rushed vaccine, so we, like many Australians may have a limited window of opportunity to find a way back into Australia before being forced to make that decision.
Based on the trainwreck that Australia has become, we feel very lucky to be in Norway and that we’re not stuck in the “lucky country”!
We got an email from a woman whose father is trapped in a care home with a “no visitors” policy.
My father’s care home is still not allowing any visits. I know other care homes have allowed garden visits since June so it is dependent on their management but I am not surprised by their fear.
My poor father is very unwell, but my family will not be allowed to see him unless he is dying. They will hold the phone near to him so he can hear our voices. I am so angry I wish it were possible to sue the Government for causing this misery and despair to so many poor frail and elderly people at the end of their lives. Should he die during this time, and it is looking more likely as I don’t see care homes being less afraid until the spring, I will carry the guilt of not being able to support him during the last months of his life for the rest of my life.
This inhuman cruelty has to stop. The Labour Party and various charities have called on ministers to take urgent action to help care homes in England receive more visitors – more power to their elbow.
If you live in England or Northern Ireland, but not Scotland or Wales, you can still go to Portugal without having to quarantine on your return. Clear? We didn’t think so. Nonetheless, if you’re prepared to risk it, a one-week break in the Algarve sounds idyllic. A reader sent us this yesterday.
I have just spent a week in brilliant sunshine in Vale do Lobo near Faro. Great to escape the new panic over so-called case numbers rising.
It has been a delight to be on holiday where almost everything seems normal. Apart from mandatory masks in shops, very few people seem to be wearing the ridiculous things. The minority that do seem somewhat mad and apologetic – like people who go out in full storm gear, sou’westers and wellies only to find that the sun is out.
We have eaten out every night and didn’t notice any crazed social distancing. The restaurants observe a weird dance in which customers put on a mask to walk to their table then take it off and breathe all over everyone around them for the rest of the meal, before putting the mask back on to leave the premises. What purpose this serves is clearly beyond anyone’s understanding, but it is the law.
Meanwhile, the beaches are uncrowded and completely normal, with children playing, families mingling and no social distancing at all.
The bars are open, complete with live music and the mandatory groups of young Brits singing Sweet Caroline at the top of their lungs.
A great place to go and free of usual crowds. Seems like this part of Portugal is over the virus.
We got an email from a reader in Seaford. The country really has been driven completely insane by all the bedwetting propaganda being pumped out by the Government and the BBC.
I went down to Rotary’s Car Boot Sale on the seafront at Seaford this morning. As can be seen from the picture, all visitors were expected to wear masks, as were the stallholders. Numbers on site were limited to 150 with a one-way system, hand sanitiser, and no more than six people, including myself, chose not to wear masks. So conditioned are people that nearly everyone donned a piece of cloth to protect themselves from a terrible virus in the fresh sea air on a sunny day, where the risk was zero. Current number of detected cases in town of 28,000 is zero. Last death in our NHS Trust’s area of 525,000 people was on August 2nd. Clearly, there is a lot of fear about, if not Coronavirus.
- ‘Teachers must not be allowed to “put their feet up and watch Netflix” during future lockdowns, ex-head says‘ – Pauline Wood, the headteacher who was suspended for raising the alarm about teachers unwilling to work during school closures, says the danger’s not over in the Telegraph
- ‘Don’t shoot the messenger – it’s the children who will suffer the most‘ – A companion piece by Pauline Wood about why school governors and local authorities shouldn’t punish whistleblowers. She gives a nice plug to the Free Speech Union, which has been supporting her
- ‘Trade expertise and the ability to rile the pious? You’re hired, Tony Abbott‘ – Excellent column by Rod Liddle in the Sunday Times
- ‘Parliament not leading by example in the back-to-work push, say lawmakers‘ – A group of dozens of MPs and peers written a letter to the Telegraph urging Parliamentarians to return to work
- Dr Mike Yeadon’s response to vaccine consultation – Research scientist and biotech entrepreneur Dr Mike Yeadon responds to the DHSC’s consultation about Covid vaccines on Twitter – and it’s VERY critical. If you’re not on Twitter, you can read it here
- ‘The 1% blunder: How a simple but fatal math mistake by US COVID-19 experts caused the world to panic and order lockdowns‘ – Dr Malcolm Kendrick explains how a rudimentary error led governments around the world to exaggerate the risk of COVID-19 by a factor of 10
- ‘A little good news‘ – Sceptical US political blogger George Dance explains why 2.5 million cases worldwide isn’t such bad news
- ‘More than half of Britons think rules on meeting others are unclear‘ – According to polling data gathered by The Health Foundation and Ipsos MORI, 54% of people think the rules around meeting others are confusing. Just 54%?
- ‘I’m certain that Rhodes will fall. This is why‘ – Depressing article by Dan Hannan in the Telegraph
- ‘My run-in with the New York Times‘ – Andrew Sullivan explains how he became the target of a hit job in the New York Times
Just one today: “You Ruined The Holidays” by Liz Bissonette.
We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums that are now open, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We’ve also just 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.
A few months ago, Lockdown Sceptics launched a searchable directory of open businesses across the UK. The idea is to celebrate those retail and hospitality businesses that have re-opened, as well as help people find out what has opened in their area. But we need your help to build it, so we’ve created a form you can fill out to tell us about those businesses that have opened near you.
Now that non-essential shops have re-opened – or most of them, anyway – we’re focusing on pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants, as well as other social venues. As of July 4th, many of them have re-opened too, but not all (and some of them are at risk of having to close again). Please visit the page and let us know about those brave folk who are doing their bit to get our country back on its feet – particularly if they’re not insisting on face masks! If they’ve made that clear to customers with a sign in the window or similar, so much the better. Don’t worry if your entries don’t show up immediately – we need to approve them once you’ve entered the data.
I’ve created a permanent slot 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 (now showing it will arrive between Oct 7th to Oct 17th). 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 £3.99 from Etsy 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 (now over 31,500).
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).
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 a lot of work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending me 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. (If you want me to link to something, don’t forget to include the link).
In case you missed it, I interviewed Douglas Murray for the Quillette podcast last week to mark the publication of the paperback of The Madness of Crowds. We spoke about all that’s happened since the book came out a year ago – a year in which the crowds seem to have become even madder! Douglas’s conclusion? “The silent majority needs to speak up – now.”
You can listen to our conversation here.