Latest News

YouTube Censors Think Tank For Disagreeing With WHO

Big Tech Removes a Video From Prominent Think Tank For Contradicting WHO on Coronavirus

YouTube, which is owned by Google, has removed a video by a leading think tank merely because it features views at odds with the current position of the World Health Organisation. Townhall has more:

The Hoover Institution at Stanford University is one of the most prominent think tanks in America, and its fellows are some the most accomplished in their respective fields. But that doesn’t matter to Big Tech. YouTube recently removed a June 23 interview its senior fellow Dr. Scott Atlas did with Hoover because it goes against the World Health Organisation’s position on the Wuhan coronavirus. …

Atlas has continued to be a much-needed voice against the prevailing coronavirus wisdom. In a recent op-ed, he reminded readers that “only 0.2% of U.S. deaths have been people younger than 25, and 80% have been in people over 65; the average fatality age is 78.” We’ve come a long way since Spring and yet the economy isn’t fully open, he said. 

“While the lockdown may have been justified at the start, when little data was known, we know far more about the virus today,” Atlas concluded. “It’s time we use all we have learned and all we have done to re-open our schools and our economy safely and get back to restoring America.”

It is perverse to ban anything that happens to be at odds with the WHO’s current position, not only because it is crucial to hear more than one point of view, but because the WHO can’t stop changing its mind. Let’s review the year so far:

  • On January 14th, Maria Van Kerkhove of WHO said: “It is possible that there is limited human-to-human transmission, potentially among families, but it is very clear right now that we have no sustained human-to-human transmission.” The same day, WHO’s Twitter account stated that: “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission.”
  • On March 3rd, the WHO Director-General stated that the death rate of the new coronavirus was 3.4%.
  • On March 17th, the WHO published a fact sheet that said of the new coronavirus: “Pre-symptomatic transmission… does not appear to be a major driver of transmission.”
  • On June 5th, the WHO dropped its previous opposition to general mask wearing, though it still stated that mask use by the general public is “not yet supported by high quality or direct scientific evidence”. Newsnight‘s Deborah Cohen later tweeted: “We have been told by various sources [that the] WHO committee reviewing the evidence had not backed masks but they recommended them due to political lobbying.” She said the BBC had then put this to the WHO, which did not deny it
  • On June 8th, Maria Van Kerkhove of WHO said spread from asymptomatic and presymptomatic people does occur but is “very rare” and recommended focusing on tracing and isolating symptomatic people to better attack the outbreak. That was later described as a “gaffe”, which fits Michael Kinsley’s famous definition: “A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth – some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.”

As we’ve noted before, the poor drudge employed by YouTube to keep track of the WHO’s daily U-turns so they can make sure nothing on the platform is at odds with the latest advice must be having a nervous breakdown.

Find the interview with Dr Scott Atlas that YouTube doesn’t want you to see here.

Dr Atlas can be added to the growing list of distinguished people YouTube has censored. We can add Michael Levitt (in discussion with Toby) and Lionel Shriver, winner of the Nobel Prize and Orange Prize respectively. Who can you add? Email us here and we will publish a list tomorrow.

Stop Press: Could the deletion have anything to do with the fact that Dr Scott Atlas is currently serving as an adviser to President Donald Trump on the White House Coronavirus Task Force? No, of course, not. It’s an entirely neutral decision. Google would never do anything so nakedly partisan

Local Lockdowns Where’s the Data?

Sir Graham Brady MP, Chairman of the 1922 Committee, and lockdown sceptic

Dr Helen Westwood, a GP in Trafford, has sent us a copy of the letter she sent on Friday to her MP, Sir Graham Brady, about the total lack of transparency she found when querying the lockdown measures imposed on her area.

I find it reassuring to know that you share many of my concerns and are working hard to ensure that there is proper Parliamentary scrutiny of the actions of this Government.

Sadly the good news regarding the lifting of Trafford’s local lockdown was short-lived to say the least. On Tuesday September 1st all Trafford GP practices were instructed to send out an SMS to all patients stating:

“COVID cases are increasing in Trafford and with schools going back it’s really important that everyone protects themselves and their families. Please remember to follow social distancing, wear face coverings in public places and on public transport, wash your hands regularly and if you have symptoms book a test on www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test.  Or ring 119. If your test is positive you need to self isolate for 10 and your close contacts for 14 days”

Later that same day the communications officer at Trafford CCG wrote to all practices with his regular “Clinicians’ Briefing”. In this he said that in Trafford our infection rates had dropped since mid-July and were currently stable.

I emailed him that evening to ask him to clarify whether cases were rising or had been falling and were currently stable as I did not want to be sending out misleading information to my patients. He replied saying that there is a lag between the official published figures referred to in the Clinicians’ Briefing and unverified data available to the public health team who had asked for the SMS to be sent out. 

This caused me some concern as it was not made clear to the Trafford GP practices that the data were unverified. I therefore asked if I could see the data. Someone in Public Health in Trafford, has helpfully sent me a link to the Trafford data lab dashboard but unfortunately this does not have any information regarding whether the positive test results relate to people with symptoms or not. This is essential to know to interpret the results. It has been widely reported, in both the medical and lay press, that there is a significant concern about false positives at low prevalence levels. I have asked for information regarding symptoms in those tested as well what cycle threshold our labs are using and whether this is being reported. I have also queried whether positive tests are being repeated as per the latest guidance from the Government. I have been asking for this information for a week now and have been passed through various individuals at the council and the CCG. I am still waiting for the information. It is alarming that the local lockdown is still in force in Trafford and yet the people advising on this policy are not able to provide the information when asked for it.

I am dismayed by the latest announcement from No. 10 that as of Monday September 14th it will be illegal to meet in groups of more than six people. The people of this country voted in a Conservative Government allegedly led by a libertarian. I cannot imagine a more authoritarian regime (although I am thankful I don’t live in Australia). Now a family of five cannot legally meet up with two grandparents. A family of six can meet no-one. How can this benefit society? What sort of risk assessment was undertaken before imposing such restrictions? Has any regard been given to child development, mental health or the loneliness of our elderly? Furthermore, given that these arbitrary restrictions vary so much from country to country within the UK, does this Government believe that people will adhere to these impositions?

I feel there has been definite “mission creep” in our country’s response to this Covid situation. Initially we were asked to stay home to “flatten the curve” and avoid overwhelming the NHS. Now we no longer concern ourselves with hospital admissions or deaths. We are only interested in “cases” which are detected using flawed methods. We have used case data to implement mandatory masks on public transport, shops and schools with a complete absence of evidence for their effectiveness. Now we are no longer allowed to socialise in groups larger than six. Where is this all going to end? What is our aim with these policies?

What sort of risk assessment was undertaken before imposing such restrictions?

We know the answer to that question. Zip, zilch, nada.

Sir Graham is something of a sceptic himself, describing the Trafford lockdown as “a massive infringement of normal civil liberties” which “should be lifted as soon as possible“. Here’s hoping he will be part of a big push for freedom among Conservative and other MPs in Parliament.

BBC Propaganda

We received an email from John Church, a former oil and gas engineer.

I don’t know if you have seen the recent news article from the BBC about a new record for global infections, “WHO reports record daily rise in new infections“.

The British people are in a lot of trouble with this COVID-19 situation right now. Not the virus itself, of course, but our ongoing fear and inability to free ourselves. A large part of the blame for that can be laid at the foot of the door of the BBC. The above story is a great example. It is truly egregious that they can publish something which is quite simply naked propaganda. A trivially true fact – “The World Health Organisation has recorded a record one-day rise in the number of new coronavirus infections, with 307,930 reported over 24 hours” – is totally bastardised into a story of catastrophe when the truth is the very opposite of what they say. And it is so blatant. The third sentence in their piece states that the biggest rises are in India, the USA and Brazil. Again, that may be trivially true if they compared September 11th with September 10th, but it is wrong to state this without providing the context that the positive case numbers in the USA and Brazil have almost halved in the last month or so, in spite of all the testing. The real story here is that the epidemic is all but over in those big countries. Global deaths are down 15% in the last month with hardly any countries left showing both rising deaths and cases. India and possibly Indonesia being large population exceptions, but they will also turn, unless there is some reason why the disease behaves differently there. And at 930k deaths the current global survival rate is around 99.99%. This isn’t even an epidemic.

Cafe Without Customers

A reader wonders whether Costa Coffee in Poole has really thought through its business model.

Finding ourselves with a few hours free on a Saturday afternoon and with five and nine-year-old boys in need of exercise we hit upon the idea of scooting from Upton Country park round Holes Bay to the Costa Coffee at Lifeboat Quay in Poole. It’s a mistake we won’t make again.

Costa Coffee appears to have employed someone with the sole mission of making the whole process as difficult and rule-bound as possible.

Approaching the door we were pleased to see two tables outside at which we could sit and enjoy the sunshine.  But no, each table had only two chairs and stern notices that chairs warned us they were “NOT to be moved”. Our attention was then drawn to the profusion of notices by the door, so many that we missed the sign that the door was now the exit and made our first mistake by entering the empty shop! After being warned by staff it was the exit we then wandered around the complex trying to work out where the entrance was.

Upon finding the entrance we were met with a prominent sign stating only one person from each group was to enter the (empty) coffee shop to order unless we were drinking and eating in. As we intended to sit down in the shop I went to order (masked up, as instructed) with our two boys whilst my wife made the mistake of sitting down at a table. Before I had a chance to order, shouting through my mask into the sealed perspex case the baristas now occupy, I was asked where we were sitting. When I pointed that out I was told that, no that would not be possible, as my wife had selected a two-person table. This puzzled me as there was a bench seat that the boys could have happily occupied barely two feet away. They could not have disturbed others or broken any social distancing as we were the only people in the café. When I  pointed out the bench the barista told me she would have to get the permission of the regional manager. She then disappeared leaving me in stunned silence. (The regional manager? Really?)

She returned a few seconds later to inform me that only chairs could be used, not benches. This was in spite of the fact that half the tables and chairs were already marked with do not use signs and the café was empty. (I was beginning to understand why.)

The pre-order arrangements weren’t over yet. Before we could order we would have to find a table. As the only four-person table was covered in debris from its last occupants that would have to be prepared before we could order and we would have to wait.

As we only went in for a quick drink and biscuit and the dirty four-person table was in a dingy corner I then decided we would get takeout and sit on the grass outside.

Of course, this was also wrong, as by switching to take out we were then breaking not only the rule of sitting at the wrong capacity table but only one of us should have been inside placing the orders and the other three should not be in the shop.

Did I mention the café was empty? 

More Cases, More Testing

The unprecedented new restrictions on our freedoms this week were justified largely by the “surge” in “cases” in the week before, as pictured. But testing also “surged” that week. Here’s what the positive rate graph looks like.

A rise, certainly. But relatively small. And deaths are still almost zero and trending downwards, and there is only a gentle rise in hospital admissions in some areas. Yet for some reason the Government continues to refer primarily to the raw case data. It’s not because they’re trying to frighten us is it?

The Plague in 1834

A reader has been leafing through Great Cities Through Travellers’ Eyes edited by Peter Furtado and found an entry by Alexander Kinglake who encountered the plague in Istanbul in 1834.

All the while that I stayed at Constantinople the plague was prevailing, but not with any degree of violence…. The Europeans during the prevalence of the plague, if they are forced to venture into the streets, will carefully avoid the touch of every human being whom they pass. Their conduct in the respect shows them strongly in contrast with the ‘true believers’: the Moslem stalks on serenely, as though he were under the eye of his God, and were ‘equal to either fate’; the Franks go crouching and slinking from death, and some (those chiefly of French extraction) will strongly strive to fence out destiny with shining capes of oilskin!…

As for me, I soon got ‘compromised’… Faithfully promising to shun the touch of all imaginable substances, however enticing, I set off very cautiously, and held my way uncompromised till I reached the water’s edge; but before my caique was quite ready some rueful-looking fellows came rapidly shambling down the steps with a plague-stricken corpse, which they were going to bury among the faithful on the other side of the water. I contrived to be so much in the way of this brisk funeral, that I was not only touched by the men bearing the body, but also, I believe, by the foot of the dead man, as it hung lolling out of the bier. This accident gave me such a strong interest in denying the soundness of the contagion theory, acting upon my own convenient view of the matter, I went wherever I chose, without taking any serious pains to avoid a touch…

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Three today: “Long Way From Freedom” by The Trews, “Hysteria” by Def Leppard, and “Enough is enough” by Donna Summer.

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.

There’s a problem with new user registrations on the site for those trying to register so they can comment. We’re working to fix it and we’ll let you know as soon as we’ve done that. Shouldn’t be long.

“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 16th to Oct 26th, so not terribly helpful). 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 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).

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 (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 a link).

And Finally…

Does Blower read Lockdown Sceptics?