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Panicking Boris Imposes Second Lockdown

“Crikey Moses! I think we’d better press the panic button. What do you think, Dom?”

Late on Tuesday night the Government announced a raft of new restrictions would be imposed in England from next Monday. The BBC has more.

Social gatherings of more than six people will be illegal in England from Monday – with some exemptions – amid a steep rise in coronavirus cases.

A new legal limit will ban larger groups meeting anywhere socially indoors or outdoors, No 10 said.

But it will not apply to schools, workplaces or Covid-secure weddings, funerals and organised team sports.

It will be enforced through a £100 fine if people fail to comply with police, doubling up to a maximum of £3,200.

Don’t imagine the “workplace” exemption applies to restaurants, pubs and cafes. According to the BBC: “The change applies to… gatherings indoors and outdoors, in private homes, public outdoor spaces, and venues such as pubs and restaurants.”

This is in response to the rise in cases in the community – 2,460 new cases on Tuesday – which, as I explained in the Telegraph on Monday, is an artefact of increased testing. In the past week alone there have been over 1.3m coronavirus tests, compared to just 95,188 in the first week of April.

Testing has increased to 1.3 million in the past week. More tests = more false positives, hence the rise in cases.

Admittedly, daily deaths increased to 32 yesterday, up from a handful on Sunday and Monday. But that’s likely to be due to delayed reporting over the weekend rather than a rise in infections. After all, the mean lag time between infection and death – in those rare cases when infection actually results in death – is 18 days and 18 days ago infections weren’t rising. And the number of deaths in the past seven days is the lowest it’s been since the peak last April.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but the fact that Government has decided to react in this way to what is clearly just an increase in false positives is quite extraordinary. Are senior politicians really that innumerate? The answer is “yes”, obviously. The really infuriating thing is that, with schools re-opening, life was beginning to feel almost normal again and the the hospitality industry was showing signs of life. As of next Monday, we’ll be back to where we were before July 4th.

Stop Press: The Government is considering imposing the UK’s first curfew in Bradford, according to the Times.

People could be banned from going out after 10pm or 11pm in hotspots under measures to tame rises in infections which are largely driven by socialising. It is understood that Bradford is being considered for a curfew after ministers required venues in Bolton to close after 10pm.

Ministers have been impressed by how Belgium brought cases under control by early imposition of tough restrictions such as banning people in some cities from leaving home at night except for work or medical care.

Impressed by Belgium?!? I wonder who “ministers” will look to for inspiration next? Kim-Jong Dan?

Eminent Scientists Pooh-Pooh “Second Wave” Hypothesis, Cast Doubt on PCR Testing Data

Rare sight on Lockdown Sceptics – a bedwetting cartoon

Lockdown Sceptics is proud to bring you a new paper today by three distinguished scientists laying bare the Government’s lunacy. Entitled “How Likely is a Second Wave?”, it’s by Paul Kirkham, Professor of Cell Biology and Head of Respiratory Disease Research Group at Wolverhampton University, Dr Mike Yeadon, former CSO and VP, Allergy and Respiratory Research Head with Pfizer Global R&D and co-Founder of Ziarco Pharma Ltd, and Barry Thomas, one of only a handful of epidemiologist to work with the NHS.

Their thesis, in a nutshell, is that the virus has essentially run its course in the UK, as it has in several European countries and US states; the herd immunity threshold is much lower than was originally anticipated, thanks in large part to T-cell cross immunity; any talk of a ‘second wave’ is for the birds and the NHS will be more than capable of coping with the influx of Covid patients this winter without cancelling elective surgeries or turfing patients out of critical care beds; and any PCR test data apparently contradicting this analysis (like that of the last three days) should be taken with a large dose of salt because of the test’s tendency to produce false positives, as well as ‘cold positives’ (when someone who has had COVID-19 and made a complete recovery tests positive).

It’s very clearly written, with the argument set out in easy-to-understand steps, and mercifully free of technical jargon. If I was setting up an “independent SAGE” – as opposed to the rag bag of Labour-supporting has-beens that goes by the name of “independent SAGE” – these three men would be on it.

Here’s the section in which they pooh-pooh the idea that a second wave is imminent.

Daily deaths from and with COVID-19 have almost ceased, having fallen over 99% from peak. All the numbers monitored carefully fall like this, too: the numbers being hospitalised, numbers in hospital, number in intensive care – all are falling in synchrony from the April peak. Viral evidence historically tells us that you don’t generally get infected by the exact same virus twice, certainly not within a short period of time. It’d be a poor immune system which lets that happen and we’d probably not have made it as a species into the 21st century if that’s how it worked. So there’s an expectation of some duration of immunity. It needs studying, but our experience and evidence for coronaviruses (Le Bert et al, 2020) suggests that if you have memory T-cells, durability can be very long lasting. This study showed that people still had robust T-cell responses in 2020, 17 years after the first SARS outbreak back in 2003. The concerns people have expressed about falling antibody levels underscores a lack of knowledge about acquired immunity. It is not efficient nor required for immunity to maintain high levels of antibodies to everything to which you are immune. Instead, cellular memory enables very rapid re-generation of antibodies upon re-encounter with the antigen, if that is required to defend the host. Alternatively, innate and cellular memory responses can be sufficient.

The NHS currently remains ‘COVID-19 ready’ in preparation for an expected second wave, a highly unlikely scenario based upon an initial model with highly sensitive input variables that we already know to be inaccurate. The evidence we’ve presented leads us to believe there is unlikely to be a second wave and that while there have been apparent multi-‘wave’ respiratory viruses in the past, notably 1918-20, in many cases it became clear that this was either different populations being infected at different times or in some cases multiple different organisms involved. There is no biological principle that leads us to expect a second wave based on the accumulation of data over the past six months. Instead, it is likely there will be local, small and self-limiting mini-outbreaks as areas previously unexposed come into contact with the virus.

This is a proper, serious piece of work by three sober-minded scientists drawing on a large body of recent scientific research. Everyone should read it in full.

Unseemly Rant on TalkRadio

I was interviewed by Dan Wootton on TalkRadio yesterday evening and was so furious about the looming over-reaction to the rising case numbers I embarked on a seven-minute rant. Poor Dan could barely get a word in. Not for the faint-hearted.

Update on Maternity Madness

The reader who emailed us about the difficulty her daughter was having persuading the NHS to allow her husband to be present for their baby’s first scan has got back in touch with some good news.

An update on the maternity madness. My son and daughter-in-law have just booked a 20 week scan at a private clinic in Solihull which allows fathers to attend, all for a very reasonable charge of £49 which includes a 4D scan and two photographs. Shame on the NHS for their unnecessary restrictive rules. I think more and more people will be looking to go private when they discover that it isn’t prohibitively expensive, particularly as the NHS currently charges £10 per scan photograph.

Professor John Edmunds, a member of SAGE, made quite a splash when he appeared on Peston on Monday night and warned that cases were “increasing exponentially”.

Prof Edmunds, from the Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that although we are all still socially distancing far more than we were before the virus arrived, we have not “hit the sweet spot” that allows more normal economic activity and simultaneous control of the spread of the virus.

Prof Edmunds said that the autumn will be a challenge, because the rate of reproduction of the virus or R rate is above one – when schools and universities are re-opening.

He raised the prospect not just of more local lockdowns but also of renewed national curbs on our freedoms – because opening schools and universities would have “an epidemiological effect” everywhere.

“I didn’t want us to relax measures so much that we couldn’t open the schools safely without it tipping the reproduction number significantly above 1. And we are already above 1 and we’ve opened schools. So this is a risky period”.

He added: “The epidemic continues to increase and then we have Christmas. And that is very difficult. What is Christmas? Well it’s meeting with your family very close. Restaurants and pubs and stuff like that. And it’s all high risk. And it’s all indoors. Indoors makes a difference.”

Very worrying, right? Well, no, not really. John Edmunds is the same “expert” who told Channel 4 News back on March 13th that the most effective strategy for dealing with the epidemic was “herd immunity”. Tomas Pueyo was the other interviewee in the segment – picked, presumably, because he was a passionate lockdown advocate, unlike Edmunds at the time. You can read a transcript of the exchange here, but the critical section went as follows:

Presenter: John Edmunds, should we be declaring a state of national emergency here – something as dramatic as that?

Edmunds: No.

Presenter: No?

Edmunds: For what gain? What gain would we get from that? So we’re going to get people up into a panic and stuff? We need people to come with us in a stepwise way. This epidemic is not going to be over in a week or a month, this epidemic is going to last for most of this year, and so if we’re going to ask people to change their behaviour quite radically, it’s going to be very difficult for them to do, it’s going to have major economic and social impacts, on them, then we’re going to have to limit the amount that we’re going to ask them to do, yeah?

Presenter: Limit the amount that we’re going to ask people to do.

Edmunds: So we stop the epidemic, or we slow the epidemic right down, so that the NHS doesn’t become overwhelmed, hospitals don’t become overwhelmed, that’s the idea. The only way to stop this epidemic is indeed to achieve herd immunity.

You were right then, John, wrong now.

How “experts” like Edmunds continue to be taken seriously is beyond me.

£35,532 a Year to Play Netball in Masks

An aunt has written to us with some disturbing news about her niece who is at Sedburgh School (annual fees for boarders: £35,532).

Have just spoken to my sister whose four children went back to Sedbergh School yesterday (up in the middle of absolutely nowhere on the Yorks/Lancs/Cumbria border, surrounded by hills) and my niece aged 13 had to play a netball match yesterday in a mask. To my mind this is nothing short of criminal. What the actual?

Forget Dystopialand. Try Center Parcs

The Paradise Pool in Center Parcs, Woburn

A woman has been in touch to tell us about her trip to Center Parcs in Woburn with her four boys. Sounds a lot better than Disneyland Paris!

There are some positives that I have enjoyed from the experience and some basically absurd rules.

Firstly, when you are ordering food and drink in the bars and restaurants you scan in a QR code and get up the menu to place your food and drink orders. So no waiting for ages at the bar to get served, plus while bowling I could ensure a steady flow of porn star martinis without interrupting the game! The bowling seemed to improve too.

On the subject of the bowling another plus we didnt have to wear hideous bowling shoes. Every other lane closed for social distancing though and absolutely no ball sharing with other lanes!

Now to the tropical swimming paradise. Anyone who has ever been knows it’s not paradise, but due to Covid the numbers on how many can go in the pool area are severely restricted. Now it is more like paradise! You had a temperature check on entering the changing rooms but once through that the changing rooms were spotless, it was wonderful. You only had two hours in the pool – back to coloured wrist bands – but two hours is more than enough. You are restricted to two visits to the pool over your whole stay which have to be booked in advance – again more than enough for me – there were very little queues for flumes, cyclone, typhoon ride, but queuing for the rapids was longer, though again not too bad. The real plus was that once you were on the rapids it’s just you and your family – fantastic!

The absurdest of it all is when you enter The Plaza where we went to play badminton, among other activities. You are informed by the Gestapo on the door that you HAVE to wear a mask. But it really is a miracle, because soon as you get to your badminton court or other activity you can’t catch Covid anymore so you don’t have to wear a mask! The Government should look into this technology for shops as I’m sure it would go down well and get more people out spending money.

The time here so far has felt at times wonderfully normal and at times infuriated at the madness of it all. How sustainable it is for the park in the long term I don’t know. The supermarket staff said they are only at 65% capacity and that’s a big increase on previous weeks in school holidays, which surprised me. The restaurants/bars are quieter than normal and all food menus seem greatly reduced but overall it has been a lovely break. Some changes I hope they keep and some I hope disappear very soon. On to Cornwall for a week after this.

Allison Pearson Lets Hancock Have It

Pearson is always worth reading – one of the Telegraph’s best columnists. But her column in today’s paper, laying into Handy Cock, among others, is a joy. Here are the opening few paragraphs.

I despair I really do. The powers of the wretched Coronabeast are waning fast. “It has burnt through the dry grass, mainly those who would have died anyway in the next few months, and now it is infecting younger age groups but not harming them,” says a scientist friend. Admissions are only a fraction of the level compared to peak of the pandemic despite warnings of a second wave rolling across Europe. “Covid has gone from our wards, has been for weeks” reports the head nurse at one of the UK’s largest hospitals, “I can’t understand what the Government are going on about.”

Boy, are they going on. And on. England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van Tam – a Chieftain tank in human form – was deployed this week to warn that the public has “relaxed too much”. Relaxed? How much generalised anxiety, cyclists wearing masks, children instructed not to turn around in classrooms, empty trains, cancelled holidays, people solemnly washing groceries in Covid-free areas and all the other pointless pantomime of panic would be sufficient for the Professor? The nation’s a complete basket case and he wants us to keep weaving.

And then there’s Matt Hancock. Like Private Frazer in Dad’s Army, our Secretary of State for Health has a lip-smacking relish for doom. As children settle back in the classroom after almost six months without friends or lessons and young people prepare for university, Matt had a few uplifting words to give them the confidence they so desperately need: “Don’t kill your gran!”

I can’t believe he actually said that. Either Hancock doesn’t understand the science or he is wilfully misinterpreting the data to keep the population as terrified as possible. Yes, there were almost 3,000 new “cases” on two successive days this week. But PCR tests, like all medical tests, are not perfect and can be unreliable. Covid “cases” sound alarming, but a case can be anyone with a few remnants of virus on a swab test who presents zero risk. ICUs are still, in the main, eerie ghost towns. Corona deaths are down to a handful a day out of a population of 66 million. Basically, I have more chance of marrying Brad Pitt than you have of dying from COVID-19.

At their best, newspaper columnists give voice to the feelings of millions of ordinary people and that’s what Allison Pearson does in this piece. Something is stirring in Middle England and when it fully awakes it will be a sight to behold. Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Allison Pearson and Liam Halligan have interviewed Lord Sumption for their latest ‘Planet Normal’ podcast.

Postcard From Angola

A young girl walks through the Buracos market in the Angolan region of Cabinda, on April 9th, 2019 in Cabinda, Angola. Photo by Daniel GARELO PENSADOR/AFP via Getty Images.

We got a fantastic postcard yesterday from a resident of Luanda in Angola. Nice to know there are sceptics in every port! The author draws attention to the way in which the lockdowns have been amplified in African states, with corrupt governments using them as excuses to entrench their authoritarian rule and ride roughshod over human rights. We think we’ve got it bad in Western cities like London and New York, but the people of Angola and other African countries have it far, far worse. A sobering read.

Here’s an extract.

I thought it would be worth it to stress the immense, gargantuan damage that the COVID-19 global reaction is causing to most African countries. I’m not here referring only to the obvious economic chaos, misery and hunger that will be spread over years to come, in which deaths will surely be measured in millions. Rather, I’d like to point out that what is happening right now in countries like Angola. It far outreaches, by orders of magnitude, what in the West is perceived as eroding personal liberties and growing authoritarianism. It brings dystopian perceptions to new unthinkable levels.

Angola is a country in tropical Africa of roughly 30 million people, has of the youngest and fastest-growing populations in the world, and ranks quite high when it comes to corruption, child mortality and lack of access to health care, even by African standards. And, of course, it is plagued by all sorts of diseases, in which malaria and diarrhea account for most of the annual mortality. It is also one of the last countries on earth still battling to eradicate polio, and even a few years back experienced an outbreak of Marburg virus, an Ebola-related disease. You would think that a country with this record and problems would have better things to worry about than COVID-19. And, of course, given its young population, with no care homes, the few that reach old age cannot afford to carry lasting and chronic co-morbidities (so, of course, they die of those co-morbidities before even having the chance of contracting flu, let alone Covid). Living in a tropical setting subject to warm and moist weather, the population should be pretty unaffected by COVID-19. And not to mention that Angolans, and possibly most Africans, have likely much stronger cross-immunity developed from being constantly exposed to all sorts of viruses on a daily basis!

Against this background you would hope that Angolan decision makers would take the global hysteria with a pinch of salt, and decide go on with their lives and possibly even try to recover some of the development lag towards the rest of the world, right? Well, no. Instead, we bought into this world madness with a zeal that would make proud some of your most fervent bedwetting western politicians. Maybe it is not so surprising if one considers that this is a free ticket to increased authoritarian measures and a tighter grip on a police state. So Angola quickly went into a strict lockdown in March, suppressing people’s movements and liberties etc., and has remained locked down since.

Worth reading in full.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Five today: “Life’s A Risky Business” by Honey B and The T-Bones, “It’s Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door” by Underoath, “Don’t Risk It” by Saturn Will Survive and “We’re All Gonna Die” by Slash.

Love in the Time of Covid

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.

Small Businesses That Have Re-Opened

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) and some of them will have to close again on September 14th. 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.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’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 10th to Oct 20th). 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.

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).

Stop Press: Check out this ghastly video by a troupe of bedwetting Broadway singers in which they sing a version of “Masquerade”, but shoe-horn in some pro-mask propaganda. Don’t they realise that the longer they promote Coronaphobia, the less likely musical theatre is to survive?

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 a lot of work. 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 us to link to something, don’t forget to include a link).

And Finally…

In the latest episode of London Calling, the weekly podcast I do with James Delingpole, we rant about the Government’s panicky reaction to the rising case numbers, complain about the double standard whereby anti-lockdown protestors are fined £10,000 but XR and BLM protestors can do whatever they like and sing the praises of Cobra Kai and The Boys Season 2, which is even more politically incorrect and violent than Season 1. Listen to it here and don’t forget to subscribe!