Here we go – brace positions. The UK’s “Rule of Six” ban on social gatherings over six people comes into force today, and the Government confirmed yesterday that it includes children in England (unlike in Wales and Scotland).
Denmark – the country once lauded for its coronavirus response – has been placed on England’s quarantine watch list due to rising cases (even though on most days since June it’s had no Covid deaths at all). Countries around Europe tighten restrictions. Israel locks down again.
SAGE scientist Professor Sir Mark Walport warns that the UK is “on the edge of losing control” while Professor Peter Openshaw (of, you’ve guessed it, Imperial College) intones that the public must “act fast” and fall into line or face a second lockdown. Panic is back.
“You’ve only got to look across the Channel to see what is happening in France and what’s happening in Spain,” says Professor Walport. “The only way to stop the spread of this infection is to reduce the number of people we all come into contact with.”
And what is happening in France and Spain? Let’s see.
A huge rise in
cases positive tests, and little else. Hospitals in some areas such as Madrid have seen a gentle rise in COVID-19 admissions, but nothing they can’t handle or to indicate runaway growth like in March. Sweden, meanwhile, is seeing an ongoing decline in deaths and cases and a strong economic recovery – the most likely explanation for which is the emergence of population immunity at lower than anticipated antibody levels, as Professor Sunetra Gupta has long argued.
Time to get a grip before we find ourselves plunged into a dismal and economically devastating winter. The facts are these. No country has yet seen more than 0.1% of its population die with COVID-19 – Peru is currently the worst hit with 925 deaths per million (even though it has the world’s most severe lockdown), while most others are well below that. Sweden’s death toll stands at 578 deaths per million, around 0.06% of its population, 75% of whom were residents of nursing homes or receiving at-home care. The average age of death in most countries is over 80 and in general countries are worse affected when their recent flu seasons have been mild, suggesting this epidemic is little different in form or scale to the annual seasonal round of flu.
Crucially, no country has yet seen anything that could be called a “second wave”. Florida and the southern United States experienced a delayed first wave in the summer along with South America but that now seems to be on its way out. Spain, France, Denmark and others are seeing an Autumn ripple, presumably as a result of having full herd immunity deferred by lockdown, and which we can assume will be larger or smaller depending on how far the country still has to go.
The fear is that these ripples will become new waves as winter sets in. But that is pure conjecture, and Sweden’s experience suggests it is baseless. We can’t keep wrecking economies, undermining livelihoods and stunting lives out of an abundance of caution when all the evidence suggests the fear is unwarranted.
Time for our political leaders to learn from Sweden and lead us out of this mess, not deeper in.
A rise in “cases” (positive tests) is not always down to a rise in infections. It could be a result of doing more tests or it could come through testing more people from higher risk groups. A nurse has got in touch to flag up a potential new source of such second wave “cases”.
I work as an acute medical nurse delivering care to patients in the community. Thought you might like to know that the trust I work for is now asking that we swab all care and nursing home patients on admission to our service. If this is being replicated across the country then I expect we’ll soon see a ‘second wave’ caused by false positive results. The moronic inferno continues.
Since the Government still appears to be basing policy on raw case numbers regardless of the number of tests and other key indicators, expect the idiocy to continue.
James Delingpole has written a great piece for Lockdown Sceptics about his recent trip to Greece and the absurdity of having to wear masks on planes – but only when you’re not eating or drinking.
I do feel half-sorry for the airlines, caught between a rock and hard place. They have to give the appearance of strictness in order stop Covid bedwetters like the woman in the above story bleating to the press. At the same time, though, they cannot be too strict because flying would simply become unbearable: how could you eat or drink if you had to wear your mask for the entire journey? So what you end up with is a ridiculous fudge. Or, if you prefer, a canny compromise. The bedwetters get to satisfy their Stasi urges by seeing the head steward tell people like me off for wearing their mask incorrectly as they board the plane. And people like me get their revenge by making one packet of crisps and one bottle of water last an entire three and a half hour flight, aware that if you’re visibly drinking or eating– or on the verge of doing so – no steward or stewardess is going to tell you to pull your mask up.
Tell me, any epidemiologists or virologists reading this: is it true that coronavirus never infects people who are removing their masks for the purposes of eating or drinking, only those who have removed their masks just to be obstreperous, disobedient sods? I’m no scientist, but my gut feeling is that viruses make no such distinction and that therefore the whole exercise in enforcing masks on aeroplanes is utterly fraudulent. Even more absurd was the announcement after the plane landed ordering us to make sure that as we disembarked we should be sure to maintain two metres social distancing in the aisles. R-i-g-h-t. So the cunning virus lies dormant when you’re sitting for three and a half hours six inches away from the passengers either side of you – biding its time ready to strike as you leave, the moment you are foolish enough to close the two metre gap between you and the person leaving ahead of you? Truly we are living in Clownworld. But the really scary thing is, most people don’t seem to know we’re living in Clownworld. They’ve accepted the insanity as normal and think that people like you and me are the weird ones.
We’ve given it pride of place on the right-hand side under “Masks: How Effective Are They?”.
Worth reading in full.
Stop Press: Listen to James Delingpole interviewing Douglas Murray for the Delingpod.
Lockdown protests in Melbourne, capital city of the People’s Democratic Republic of Victoria, ended in 74 arrests and nearly 200 fines yesterday. News.com.au has the story and footage.
Riot police were seen holding shields, attempting to separate the “hostile crowd” chanting “freedom”. Several people were arrested and issued with fines, with police escorting more protesters away as they contained the demonstration. Peel St where the protesters marched was completely blocked off. In its statement, police said they were disappointed that many protesters were aggressive and threatened violence towards officers. However, there were no injuries to police identified so far.
Police say they expect to issue further fines once they confirm the identity of other individuals. “Anyone thinking of attending a protest can expect the same swift and firm response from police as has consistently occurred in relation to such behaviour,” the police statement said. “We again urge people not to leave home to protest.”
Hundreds of protesters showed up but they struggled to gather and were overwhelmed by the police. The organisers say they hope to have larger numbers in the coming days and put the police on the “back foot”.
Shocking to see such hard-line and disproportionate treatment of people merely for exercising their democratic rights in the face of the most extreme curbs on liberty the Western world has ever seen (including during wartime). Depressing how quickly democratic Governments can turn monstrous.
Gordon Hughes, a former Professor of Economics at Edinburgh, has emailed to say how good he thought yesterday’s analysis by James Ferguson of the false positive rate of the PCR test was.
I am glad that you have published the piece by James Ferguson as it covers almost exactly what I had thought of writing up when the Boris plan of testing everyone daily was first mooted – not so much moonshot as moonshine!
Since anyone with some undergraduate training in probability or statistics should be able to spot the consequences of mass testing when prevalence rates are lower than test error rates, it is astonishing – and sad – that the whole of the UK’s official establishment gets stuck on an approach that is simple statistical nonsense. In part this reflects the absence of serious consequences for failure. The NBA in the US realised that false positives might jeopardise their TV revenues from the current play-offs and rapidly introduced a two-test procedure (using different labs) before excluding participants who tested positive.
There are two points that might interest you – the first ironic, the second important.
A. Matt Hancock has an M.Sc in Economics from Cambridge which includes compulsory course in statistics, etc. He was at Christ’s College, where I taught maths and statistics for economics for 15 years, though I moved on before his time. It is often argued that more mathematical or scientific education would ensure that policymakers have a better grasp of scientific and technical issues. What this example shows is that both politicians and senior civil servants are the archetypal victims of group-think, displaying a complete incapacity to apply independent judgement even when they are in a deep hole.
B. It seems possible – even likely – that local or regional clusters of new covid “cases” are no more than artefacts of differences in testing procedures across different labs leading to differences in false positive rates. Any competent and responsible body managing a decentralised program of mass testing should carry out and publish cross-validation tests – this is elementary quality control. Differences in Ct values is one example but there are other potential sources of spurious differences. In current circumstances any public health body should publish aggregate statistics for each lab on a daily basis – differentiated by date of swab and date of test.
In any area where a positive test – e.g. drug testing – may imply large personal or social costs it is a fundamental principle that a single positive test may be suspicious but consequences only follow if it is confirmed by a separate test carried out at a different lab. The concern to minimise transmission means that it may be reasonable to ask people to self-isolate on getting an initial positive result but it should be the obligation of testers to organise a second test within 48 hours (easily manageable for a few thousand daily positives). No-one should be asked to put up with a 14-day quarantine period unless an initial positive test has been confirmed by a second positive test at a different lab.
It will please Professor Hughes to learn that James Ferguson has a degree in Economics from Edinburgh.
Following our story on Saturday about the LinkedIn user whose account was summarily shut down merely for posting a link to a mainstream lockdown sceptic, the reader has been in touch to say his account is back – but with a heavy price.
Holy s***. LinkedIn just responded and said they would restore my account only if I agree not to post content which may “interfere in or improperly influence an election” or “directly contradicts guidance from leading global health organisations and public health authorities”.
In these hysterical and censorious times social media censorship is one of the big challenges Western civilisation faces. When free speech dies, so does truth. Tolerance of dissent is at a low ebb right now and the public health “emergency” has only supercharged the efforts of the thought police.
Sunderland University have invited its new intake to get their avatar ready for “Virtual Freshers Welcome Week“. I’m sure they can’t wait.
It is always encouraging when readers send us copies of the letters they’ve sent to their MPs explaining why the Government’s Covid suppression strategy in all its lamentable manifestations is so misguided. Writing to MPs is great way of doing something to make sure our political representatives are aware of the facts and counter-arguments and that not all their constituents have been brainwashed by Project Fear on Steroids.
We can’t publish them all, though they are all a delight to read. Here’s one we received today, which is worth quoting at length.
My feelings towards the policy the Government has taken over COVID-19 are the same as they were in March. I am totally against Lockdown and the effect it has on the population, and especially the younger generations.
I am a fit retiree of 65 years, and Lockdown has not affected my life particularly, as indeed it hasn’t with many other retirees I know. However, I would like to illustrate some close personal cases:
– My cousin of 68 years, who lives on her own, was due a double hip replacement in May. It was delayed because the hospitals in her area (Midlands) were closed to all elective surgery in preparation for Covid. She is in pain, and can barely walk despite using crutches. She still has no date for her much needed surgery.
– My daughter, aged 34, a lawyer with a charity in London, has recently been made redundant because of redundancies within the organisation. She and her husband, who also has job insecurities as he is a Theatre Manager in London, have been working from their small home in London since March. Their plans to move, with mortgage now impossible, have put their lives on hold.
– My father in law’s funeral is taking place tomorrow in north Norfolk. Many of us, in the 20 strong group, are travelling 100s of miles for the ceremony, and yet because of the ridiculous and arbitrary rule of six are not able to have a reception afterwards.
– An elderly friend of mine, in her 80s, living on her own, is suffering with isolation. She does not have family living nearby and relies on the game of bridge for her connection with others. This is not possible now because so many of her friends are terrified of socialising over cards etc. The successful online bridge is not easy for many elderly folk, and they are suffering.
– Yesterday I met with a young single friend in her 40s who is in despair as she says it feels like her life is imploding. She works in the finance sector in London, and her job is insecure and now she is unable to proceed with the mortgage for the purchase of her first home, which she had set her heart on.
– Last week, my husband and I were up in London. We caught a rush hour train from Surrey, which was all but empty, and it was utterly dispiriting, in walking from Leicester Square to Piccadilly, to see the empty restaurants and tourist shops open, but with the staff pleading with us to come in. London life is totally unsustainable in its current state.
And yet the Government persists in this collision course. What don’t you get? Why don’t you listen to the increasing evidence that says that Lockdowns don’t work?
As far as I can see, this Government’s only success has been in scaring much of the British population witless. I am appalled at the way the Government and the BBC revel in figures of pending doom.
I quote Professor Carl Heneghan from the Spectator, in today’s online version: “Admissions for Covid, critical care bed occupancies and deaths are now at an all-time low. There are currently 600 patients in hospital with Covid compared to over 17,000 at the height of the epidemic. An average of ten patients a day die with Covid registered on their death certificate, compared to over 1,000 at the peak.”
At the start of Lockdown in March, I registered as an NHS volunteer responder. Like many in our area, I logged on every day for 2 months, and was never called. I also joined a local Scrubs sewing group to “help”, and it was farcical (pattern drafting, fabric selection etc… and was akin to “Dad’s army”) and this has since closed, as the demand for scrubs and gowns is not required.
I quickly became a very disillusioned but caring and concerned citizen of Elmbridge.
When I received a recent email from NHS volunteer “ we urgently need your help Louise “ I despair. Who is funding this campaign and how much is it costing the taxpayer?
Given the personal cases I have noted and the misery this Government’s policy is causing you should be ashamed of yourselves.
I joined the Conservative Party under Theresa May, and whilst not a Brexiteer wanted to help and supported you. I met you briefly at a local function a few years ago and liked what you said. Like many, I wanted things to work for you and for the country.
However, I can never support this Government who appear intent on complete destruction of the fabric of our society. I suspect I am not alone.
Indeed you are not.
If you haven’t responded to this Government consultation on the roll out of a Covid vaccine, you probably should, particularly if you’re a scientist. It begins: “COVID-19 is the biggest threat this country has faced in peacetime history…” and it’s all downhill from there.
To give you a taste of what it is the Government is “consulting” about doing, read the section on liability.
The current legal framework already recognises that if manufacturers or healthcare professionals are asked to supply an unlicensed medicine in response to a public health threat, it is unfair also to ask them to take responsibility for the consequences of the use of that medicine in the way that they normally would.
The deadline for responding is September 18th.
- “Millions at greatest risk from coronavirus may be told to stay at home again” – Government prepares to advise the vulnerable to stay at home for the entire winter and not see anyone. What could possibly go wrong, except thousands dying for want of medical attention, and from loneliness and despair?
- “No ‘rule of six’, please, we’re British. We can make our own decisions” – Lord Justice Gumption on the money again in the Times. Make that man Prime Minister
- “Chris Whitty’s science says, ‘Stay indoors and hide.’ Jeremy Clarkson says, ‘What a load of tripe’” – Some clear-headed sense in the Times from the outspoken petrolhead
- “Past generations would have toughed this out” – Luke Johnson in the Times sees in this a crisis born of our generation’s sentimentality, hypochondria and decadence. He’s not wrong
- “The Omnibus Party” – Hugh Willborn has an intriguing idea for a new party
- “Evidence shows that transmission by schoolchildren is low” – New myth-busting analysis by Nic Lewis. Excellent as always
- “A way to control COVID-19 (for now)” – Dr Malcolm Kendrick proposes protecting the vulnerable by letting the virus spread widely through the low risk population. Good idea – though I suspect Sunetra Gupta would say he overestimates how far we have to go to herd immunity
- “Britons ignore warnings to enjoy last ‘blowout’ before new rule of six comes into force” – Gives you hope
- “‘We’re going to have to learn to live with virus,’ says EU health boss” – Not, though, by going back to normal (fat chance), but by making social distancing permanent. Give me strength
One today: “You Failed” by We Are Scientists.
When sending in a theme tune don’t forget to include a link to the video so we don’t have to go searching for it. Thanks!
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.
Stop Press: Nice piece in the Telegraph by Anna Moore about the difficulties of dating in the current climate. Love in a Covid Climate gets a mention.
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 will have had to close again thanks to the Rule of Six. 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.
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 14th to Oct 23rd). 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 32,000).
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 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.