Pyser Testing

Month: October 2020

Latest News

Boris Panics and U-Turns – Again! Lockdown 2.0 “To Be Announced Monday”

“I’ve created a Monster!”: Bob’s Halloween cartoon for the Telegraph

It was reported late last night that The Prime Minister has met with ministers and aides and will announce a new national lockdown on Monday. The Telegraph has more.

Boris Johnson is expected to announce a new national lockdown next week after scientists warned COVID-19 was spreading faster than their worst predictions.

The Prime Minister spent Friday in crisis meetings with ministers and aides after being told deaths were tracking above the “worst case scenario” that suggested 85,000 in the second wave.

Mr Johnson is understood to have been persuaded that a national lockdown is the only way to save Christmas, and will spend the weekend contemplating exactly how severe it should be.

Senior government sources stressed that no final decision had been made and the measure would need to be put to the Cabinet before any announcement to the nation.

Mr Johnson is likely to summon ministers from his Cabinet coronavirus subcommittee over the next 48 hours and could hold a full meeting on Sunday if he decides he needs to act as soon as Monday. The alternative to a national lockdown would be a fourth tier of restrictions on top of the existing three tier system, but Government scientists now believe even Tier 3 is not enough to stop the spread of infections.

During the parliamentary rebellion last month the Government promised Parliament would vote on any new national lockdown measures “where possible”. Will the PM honour that? If he doesn’t, his party management problems, already considerable, will only get worse.

And what’s all this nonsense about Boris being persuaded that a second national lockdown is needed as it’s the only way to “save Christmas”? What good will it be to people who’ve been thrown on to the dole queue – or seen the businesses they’ve built up over decades go under – to sit around with their extended families on Christmas Day and pull a few crackers? Is Boris really so feeble-minded that SAGE scientists were able to persuade him to shut down the country, with catastrophic consequences for the economy, mental health and people suffering from any illness other than COVID-19, because doing so would “save Christmas”? Is he really such a sentimental buffoon?

The doom-mongering warnings come from a SAGE document dated October 14th but which appeared yesterday. It shows October is exceeding the modellers’ “reasonable worst case scenario”. Which is odd, given that daily cases haven’t exceeded the “projection” set out in the Graph of Doom. Was the Graph of Doom an unreasonable worst case scenario?

And let’s not forget that SAGE’s “reasonable worst-case scenario”, as set out by SPI-M-O in July, gets its 85,000 death total by assuming an IFR of 0.7%, more than double the latest WHO estimates. Nor should we forget that the WHO says lockdowns should only be considered as a “last resort“.

James Gallagher at the BBC has more on SAGE’s flawed reasoning.

A “reasonable worst-case scenario” is used by officials and the NHS to plan for the months ahead. It had estimated 85,000 deaths from Covid over the course of winter. But an official Sage document, dated October 14th  and published today, reveals we are in a worse position than expected.

Scientists crunching the numbers estimated that, by mid-October, there were between 43,000 and 74,000 people being infected with coronavirus every day in England. Their report said: “This is significantly above the profile of the reasonable worst-case scenario, where the number of daily infections in England remained between 12,000-13,000 throughout October.”

Gallagher, who appears to take SAGE’s line on this, acknowledges that “cases” are levelling off in the North East, but fails to mention this was happening before new restrictions were introduced. He notes that R has been falling nationally for the last two weeks, but is quick to point out it is still above one, so a big problem.

The current estimate of the R number in the UK – the number of people each infected person passes the virus on to on average – is between 1.1 and 1.3. This is lower than last week’s estimate of 1.2 to 1.4, and lower than the estimate of 1.3-1.5 two weeks ago. It suggests that restrictions and changes in people’s behaviour is having an impact. But anything above an R of 1.0 means cases are still growing.

He assumes, without evidence, that it is Government restrictions which reduce R: “The national R is not below one and there will be a constant argument for tighter restrictions, in whatever form, until it is.”

Then comes the most discreditable part: an absurd attempt to vindicate Sir Patrick Vallance’s Graph of Doom.

It comes as figures from the Office for National Statistics suggested an earlier warning on Covid case numbers, issued by the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, has turned out to be accurate.

Speaking alongside chief medical adviser, Prof Chris Whitty, at Downing Street in September, Sir Patrick said the UK could see 50,000 new coronavirus cases a day by mid-October.

The ONS estimated that there were about 52,000 new infections each day in homes in England alone in the week ending October 23rd.

Gallagher surely knows (and if he doesn’t then he should) that Vallance was referring to reported “cases” – the daily tally of positive tests from Government testing programmes, which reached only around 16,000 by October 13th, less than one third of the projected amount. He was not referring to the weekly ONS estimates of infections. Gallagher sneakily switching to the higher figure to supposedly vindicate the prediction reeks of fudging the numbers to save the reputation of the failed prophet.

The BBC also pull one of their notoriously biased “fact checks” on hotel owner and leading Recovery campaigner Sir Rocco Forte. It’s feeble, obviously. It attempts to “disprove” Forte’s correct claim that flu and pneumonia deaths are currently running above Covid deaths by quoting the ONS death statistics for the whole year rather than just the last few months. And to counter his correct claim that modellers wrongly predicted 500,000 UK Covid deaths without lockdown, it quotes a Dr Deepti Gurdasani, epidemiologist at Queen Mary University of London, saying the Imperial model is “widely accepted as an estimate of the likely death toll from unmitigated spread due to coronavirus, if no action was taken to control it. The Government didn’t overreact, but rather underreacted. Evidence suggests that waiting on lockdown in March cost tens of thousands of lives.” I must have missed the part where Dr Gurdasani was endowed with supreme knowledge, so whenever other experts such as Professor Sunetra Gupta disagree with her it is always them who are wrong.

However, in the process of spewing forth this guff, the BBC accidentally let through a diamond of a graph that reveals how the 2020 Covid death toll is below the flu and pneumonia death tolls of the eight years between 1993 and 2000. The introduction of the flu vaccine in 2000 is credited with sharply reducing winter deaths – arguably why there are now many more elderly people vulnerable to coronavirus – though that wouldn’t explain why the figures for 1990-1992 were also much lower.

Chart showing flu/pneumonia deaths and Covid-19 deaths compared

So is the Government really saying that an annual death toll that’s lower than the annual death toll between 1993 and 2000 is too high to let life continue even with the present restrictions in place? The Government is convinced the only reason the death toll wasn’t much worse was because of the lockdown – a view amply refuted by Sweden, South Dakota, Tanzania, Belarus, and so on, and by the fact that infections were falling in England in March before lockdown. But the belief will not budge and is impervious to evidence.

Stop Press: Scientists at King’s College have revealed that figures from their survey show a much less alarming picture, one in line with what we’ve been saying at Lockdown Sceptics. The Telegraph has the details.

COVID-19 rates are not surging, researchers at King’s College have said after results from its symptom tracker app showed a far less deadly virus trajectory than Imperial College findings.

Earlier in the week, Imperial released interim data from its React-1 study which showed there are now nearly 100,000 new coronavirus cases a day in England, with nearly one million people infected. The Imperial team said rates were doubling every nine days and it was a critical time for lowering the ‘R’ rate

However, King’s College – which has been monitoring the symptoms and test results of millions of people through its app – said it was not seeing such alarming numbers. The app found 43,569 daily new symptomatic cases on average, and calculated that doubling was happening every 28 days.

Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College, said: “While cases are still rising across the UK, we want to reassure people that cases have not spiralled out of control, as has been recently reported from other surveys. We are still seeing a steady rise nationally, doubling every four weeks – with the possible exception of Scotland, which may be showing signs of a slowdown.

“With a million people reporting weekly, we have the largest national survey and our estimates are in line with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey. We can’t rely simply on confirmed cases or daily deaths without putting them into context. Hospital admissions are rising as expected, but deaths are still average for the season.”

This survey is the largest of the Government’s surveys and chimes with the ONS data and daily testing data. The Government should be heeding Professor Spector (watch him here) and his team. But instead they appear yet again only to have ears for the doom-mongers at Imperial and on SAGE.

Three Facts SAGE Has Got Wrong

Graph putting the death toll of COVID-19 in context

Lockdown Sceptics contributor Dr Mike Yeadon has written a terrific piece in the Daily Mail today in which he reiterates the points he made on this site a couple of weeks ago. Readers will recall that the three things SAGE has got wrong are: that only 7% of the population have been infected by the virus, that 93% of the population is susceptible and that the IFR is 1%.

After running through these arguments, Mike then pleads with the Government to put the death toll from COVID-19 into context and to listen to some scientists outside the SAGE cabal.

It is also worth contextualising the UK death toll.

Ministers and some parts of the media present the pandemic as the biggest public health emergency in decades, when in fact mortality in 2020 so far ranks eighth out of the last 27 years.

The death rate at present is also normal for the time of year – the number of respiratory deaths is actually low for late October.

In other words, not only is the virus less dangerous than we are being led to believe, with almost three quarters of the population at no risk of infection, we’re actually very close to achieving herd immunity.

Which is why I am convinced this so-called second wave of rising infections and, sadly, deaths will fizzle out without overwhelming the NHS.

On that basis, the nation should immediately be allowed to resume normal life – at the very least we should be avoiding a second national lockdown at all costs.

I believe that Sage has been appallingly negligent and its incompetence has cost the lives of thousands of people from avoidable, non-coronavirus causes while simultaneously decimating our economy and today I implore ministers to start listening to a broader scientific view.

Worth reading in full.

Lord Sumption, Condensed

Roger Wright-Morris from Briefings for Freedom has neatly condensed Lord Sumption’s fiery lecture on Tuesday into a few hundred words. Perfect for those who prefer their constitutional theory bitesize.

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, especially when fear is created as people crave security so the state creates more fear and obtains greater control. Yet Parliament is not ready and willing to act and to stand for its high callings, rather it seems to have abrogated its responsibilities.

Fear is a potent instrument of the state. It promotes intolerant conformism and abuse. Fear was deliberately stoked up by the state and by selective use of statistics and modellers: these were not accidental matters but part of a strategy whose errors and failures assisted in success. Boris is sustained in power by appealing to the irrational and emotional in collective wisdom.

Boris is in power only with the consent of Parliament on behalf of the People, which he side-lines and avoids, thus diverging from our constitutional past, and acts unlawfully whilst instructing the police to do likewise and with political discrimination in their actions.

Appropriate powers were available in the Civil Contingency Act 2004 and the Coronavirus Act 2020 but were ignored as Parliament had powers of oversight.

Boris unlawfully used Part 2a of the Public Health and Disease Act 1984, as amended 2008. Such actions required Parliamentary scrutiny and approval which Boris wanted to avoid. Boris’s actions are totalitarian as they did not get Parliament’s approval. (See Lord Hoffman in House of Lords Ex Parte Simms 2000.)

Government by decree is not just constitutionally objectionable but bad government creating a delusion that authoritarian government gets things done. There is no detailed knowledge, no strategy, no wider thought, no research, no understanding of the all-round implications for the economy or health of the nation. The ministers act on the hoof, promote loyalty against wisdom, flattery against objective advice. These absences promote unfounded self-confidence, banish moderation and restraint. All these are vices seen in this Government.

The British Public must wake from its failures to understand how these matters are an assault on social interaction eroding the glue of social wellbeing of a once united country and engage actively in politics, join political parties, and connect with MPs.

Insurance Company: Being a Covid Contact Isn’t a Medical Condition

We know the compliance levels with test and trace and self-isolation are abysmal, as people have better things to do than sit around their house for 14 days because they recently had a chat with Linda down the road. But it turns out insurance companies are not helping matters. A reader received a letter from Nationwide about her travel insurance and it included this in the new T&Cs:

You’ll be covered unless you’re cancelling your trip because either you, a travelling companion or the person you’re planning to stay with during your trip has been advised to quarantine/self-isolate (either abroad or in the UK), and it’s not for medical reasons. For example, if you’re contacted by NHS Test and Trace but don’t have symptoms of or haven’t been diagnosed with COVID-19.

If even insurance companies have twigged that without symptoms or diagnosis it’s not a case and isn’t a medical matter, why is the Health Secretary still struggling to figure it out?

Is This Proof That Masks Are Useless?

Yinon Weiss in the Federalist has put together 12 graphs that show beyond any reasonable doubt that masks do not do anything to stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2. The UK one is above. The rest are here. Here’s what he says.

Masks have become a political tool and a talisman. When COVID-19 hit, governments panicked and created enormous fear. The Centers for Disease Control currently estimates a COVID-19 survival rate of 99.99 percent for people younger than 50, but the damage created by the panic was too great to undo.

It is likely that some politicians eventually realized their mistake and needed a way to back-pedal without admitting their lockdowns were a policy disaster. Their solution was for people to put any old piece of cloth across their face and magically believe that it’s okay to go out shopping again.

Masks are not merely a small inconvenience. They have inadvertently become a key impediment to returning to a more normal life, a desirable goal for those seeking to twist the pandemic for political and electoral purposes.

Masks dehumanize us, and ironically serve as a constant reminder that we should be afraid. People can now be spotted wearing masks while camping by themselves in the woods or on a solo sailing trip. They have become a cruel device on young children everywhere, kindergarten students covered by masks and isolated by Plexiglas, struggling to understand the social expressions of their peers. Face coverings are causing real harm to the American psyche, provide little to no medical benefit, and distract us from more important health policy issues.

Worth reading in full.

A Top NHS Doctor Writes…

Witless and Unbalanced wearing their reusable cloth face coverings – about as useless as their advice during this crisis

Toby’s friend, the top NHS Doctor, has sent us an email setting out the 10 things he doesn’t understand about the Government’s response to the pandemic. Only 10?

The excellent Dr John Lee writing in the Daily Telegraph has outlined his 10 reasons why Britain’s response to the Covid crisis is utterly mad – and they are all bang on the money. For some time I have felt that the response to the known facts made no rational sense, and that I must be missing a vital piece of information or insight which could explain everything… I have failed to find it – so here are 10 things I don’t understand and need some help with.

  1. At the heart of this problem is a fundamental inversion of the relationship between the NHS and the people it serves. The message that the public must ‘protect the NHS’ is completely the wrong way round. The NHS and Public Health England have a duty to inform the public of the relevant facts in an accurate and dispassionate way and look after the sick – not contribute to general hysteria, over reaction and advocate lockdowns. The Pharisees who control the system are confident in their ability to hide behind the carefully curated NHS brand and get away with anything they want. Has no-one else noticed this?
  2. Governmental decision making seems to have been taken over by monomaniacal and effectively unaccountable technocrats. What rational elected government permits this degree of ‘deformation professionelle’ without challenge? Is it just because the PM read classics and the Health Secretary PPE that they can’t see the obvious bias in the information they are being fed?
  3. There has clearly been state utilisation of psychological messaging to deliberately generate fear in the population. The rational approach would have been to reassure people that they were perfectly safe if they behaved in a sensible manner. The terror messaging about the ‘killer virus’ is straight out of a military psy-ops manual and requires a detailed explanation as to who authorised this deliberate misinformation campaign and why. The fact is that the COVID 19 virus is not very dangerous to more than 95% of the population… we are not all going to die from it… the vast majority of us aren’t even all going to be ill with it.
  4. The use of the police to enforce excessively harsh Fixed Penalty Notices out of proportion to the threat are completely at odds with British traditions of policing by consent. Threats by chief constables in the press to invade people’s homes at Christmas to prevent family gatherings – what the hell is going on? Who has allowed the police to act in such a manner and why are they doing it? We are used to incompetence in British public bodies – we are not accustomed to living in an authoritarian police state.
  5. The lack of preparedness of the NHS to meet a known risk. Since the spring, the NHS has had five months to get ready for the inevitable winter surge – and yet we are still bombarded with dramatic testimony and warnings of hospitals being ‘imminently overwhelmed’ and ‘close to collapse’. How can an organisation which consumes an annual £145 billion of taxpayers’ money have failed to prepare adequately for a known and entirely predictable event?
  6. The lack of balance in providing advice to ministers about known downside risks of lockdowns – missed cancers, heart disease and mental health, so that a balanced risk benefit analysis could be undertaken and communicated to the public. Not to mention the economic effects. The refusal to acknowledge there could be a range of opinion on these matters outside the SAGE bubble.
  7. Secrecy around data release to the public – open and honest communication to foster trust and confidence is essential in a public health crisis. The concealing of the rate of hospital acquired COVID cases – exposed by the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine yesterday – is a total scandal. Continual cover up, spinning of messages and attempts to ‘style it out’ damage public trust and confidence still further. Why is this happening and who will be held to account for it?
  8. Overt use of exaggeration and over extrapolation by SAGE – a litany of egregious errors: excess predictions on ICU bed requirements in the first wave, gross inflation of death rates, conflation of positive tests as ‘cases’, failure to engage with the false positive rate of PCR testing, dramatic over-prediction of case incidence (the Graph of Doom), miscounting of deaths as Covid-related, miscounting of patients having incidental in hospital positive Covid tests as suffering from Covid and on and on… Surely not all of these errors can have been innocent mistakes?
  9. Unelected officials being given a platform in the media to call for the restriction of civil liberties on the population at large, whilst being personally insulated from the consequences of such restrictions by being on the government payroll. Who authorises pompous non-entities employed by the public purse to go on national media with alarmist and inaccurate warnings of imminent collapse in health services or make threats to the nation’s Christmas celebrations – if a practising clinician did that, they would soon be suspended.
  10. And finally… where is the effective Parliamentary accountability? The Labour Party is incapable of holding the Government to account, so the de facto opposition is the Parliamentary Conservative Party. I would be banging daily on my MP’s door, but there is little point as she represents the Labour Party. It seems to me the only effective way of leveraging political opposition is for people in conservative seats to make their MPs’ ears bleed.

I’d be grateful for illumination on any of these points. When they are cleared up, I have 10 more to consider, starting with the lack of any significant coverage of the alternative view point by our national broadcaster…

We can help him with that last question. It’s because Ofcom issued ‘coronavirus guidance’ warning broadcasters to treat with extreme caution anyone questioning the health advice of the Government and the public health authorities. This is the guidance the Free Speech Union is trying to judicially review. But don’t take it from us. Annabel Fenwick Elliott in the Telegraph lays it out in a piece in today’s paper:

We really are in dangerous territory now, and there are two concerns that I just can’t shake off.

The first is our Government’s continued refusal to paint a balanced picture of the ongoing situation. Statistics which put into perspective the small number of deaths now compared to at the peak of the pandemic, and indeed to the normal number of deaths we can expect to see at this time of year, are available; but they are not presented at Professor Chris Whitty’s weekly addresses to the nation. They are buried in lengthy Public Health England reports which most ordinary people won’t seek out.

SAGE, meanwhile, has free licence to broadcast grandiose predictions across every TV and radio in Britain, based on models that have been proven wrong time and time again. This team has now had the best part of a year to prove itself worthy of such an influential platform. Enough.

Second, and arguably worse, is the near-censorship of dissenting scientific views as a result of regulatory body Ofcom’s ‘coronavirus guidelines’, which effectively blocks the media from publishing professional, accredited, expert analysis – debate even – that doesn’t toe SAGE’s party line.

Worth reading in full.

Postcard From Rhodes (Reprise)

Historian and Lockdown Sceptics regular Guy de la Bédoyère, who sent us a postcard from Rhodes last week, has a brilliant piece in the Telegraph where he writes from that sun-drenched Rhodes beach (not jealous at all).

I’m sitting on a Rhodes beach basking in the late October sun. Were I back home in Lincolnshire, I would be lurking in my living room, watching the rain teem down while the radio blithers away with a barrage of Covid-related gloom. Indeed, it is almost impossible to overstate the psychological benefits of being here, strolling the quiet streets of a Greek island under the pure autumn light, at an otherwise chaotic time like this. 

As far as I’m concerned Britain’s response to this virus is entirely overblown, given its low mortality rate compared to past epidemics. In September 1665, London alone was losing the proportionate equivalent today of 130,000 people per week.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that just 40 years ago Britain experienced, annually, around 50,000 more deaths than the current average annual rate, and had done since 1950. Before that it was even higher – the tragic paradox of COVID-19 is that it is, to a large extent, the result of modern medicine, diet and living conditions that have kept vulnerable people alive for far longer than ever before.  

Furthermore, as a historian, it goes to illustrate just how little we have progressed from the superstitious-driven medieval mentality of our past. Today’s ‘experts’ and their sketchy ‘science’ have replaced Rome’s soothsayers. Driven half-demented by the discovery they are not gods after all and thus unable to abolish death and sickness, the powers-that-be are resorting to ever more futile measures, only to blame the public when they don’t work. 

This piece is a delight, well worth reading in full.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Just one today: “Virtual Insanity” by Jamiroquai.

Love in the Time of Covid

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

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

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, we bring you the United Nations and their bizarre warning about humanity getting too close to nature.

Warning that there are up to 850,000 viruses which, like the novel coronavirus, exist in animals and may be able to infect people, the panel known as IPBES said pandemics represented an “existential threat” to humanity.

Authors of the special report on biodiversity and pandemics said that habitat destruction and insatiable consumption made animal-borne diseases far more likely to make the jump to people in the future. 

“There is no great mystery about the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic – or any modern pandemic,” said Peter Daszak, president of the Ecohealth Alliance and chair of the IPBES workshop that drafted the report.

“The same human activities that drive climate change and biodiversity loss also drive pandemic risk though their impacts on our agriculture.”

The panel said that COVID-19 was the sixth pandemic since the influenza outbreak of 1918 – all of which had been “entirely driven by human activities”. 

These include unsustainable exploitation of the environment through deforestation, agricultural expansion, wildlife trade and consumption – all of which put humans in increasingly close contact with wild and farmed animals and the diseases they harbour.

Humans are increasingly in contact with wild and farmed animals? In the 21st century? Nonsense, clearly. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go and milk the cow ahead of my daily bear hunt.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face masks in shops here.

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

And here’s an excellent piece about the ineffectiveness of masks by a Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry.

Mask Censorship: The Swiss Doctor has translated the article in a Danish newspaper about the suppressed Danish mask study. Largest RCT on the effectiveness of masks ever carried out. Rejected by three top scientific journals so far.

Stop Press: The residents of Waynesville in North Carolina have shown some gumption when threatened with a local mask mandate. From Health Impact News.

Waynesville leaders backed down from a proposed local mask mandate Tuesday night after nearly 100 people packed town hall to voice their opposition.

Tensions rose before the meeting ever began when the assembled crowd — who were being held in the lobby until the doors opened — learned there wasn’t going to be enough room for them all in the town board room.

Those wishing to speak were told to fill out forms and wait until their name was called. This didn’t sit well with many in the crowd, who demanded the meeting be moved to the sidewalk outside so that everyone could see and hear it — touching off a loud chant of “Take it outside.”

Town staff and police officers eventually quelled the crowd and convinced them that waiting for their turn to speak was the only option. Another uprising ensued after the waiting crowd was told they couldn’t come in without a mask when their turn rolled around.

The vast majority weren’t wearing a mask, given the whole reason they were there in the first place was to speak against the proposed mask mandate.

Some claimed exemptions for religious and health reasons, but others simply said they weren’t going to wear one and it would violate their rights to be denied entry to a public hearing on that grounds.

In the end, masks were offered but not compulsory.

Gives you hope.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Sunetra Gupta, Professor Martin Kulldorff and Professor Jay Bhattacharya

The Great Barrington Declaration, a petition started by Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya calling for a strategy of “Focused Protection” (protect the elderly and the vulnerable and let everyone else get on with life), was launched last week and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it. If you Googled it last week, the top hits were three smear pieces from the Guardian, including: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this hit job the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now tops the search results – and this Spectator piece about the attempt to suppress it is among the top hits – although discussion of it has been censored by Reddit. The reason the zealots hate it, of course, is that it gives the lie to their claim that “the science” only supports their strategy. These three scientists are every bit as eminent – more eminent – than the pro-lockdown fanatics so expect no let up in the attacks. (Wikipedia has also done a smear job.)

You can find it here. Please sign it. Now well over 600,000 signatures.

Update: The authors of the GDB have expanded the FAQs to deal with some of the arguments and smears that have been made against their proposal. Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Sunetra Gupta was on talkRADIO yesterday rebutting the nonsense that keeps coming out of official channels. And Jay Bhattacharya is on this week’s Spectator TV.

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

There are now so many JRs being brought against the Government and its ministers, we thought we’d include them all in one place down here.

First, there’s the Simon Dolan case. You can see all the latest updates and contribute to that cause here.

Then there’s the Robin Tilbrook case. You can read about that and contribute here.

Then there’s John’s Campaign which is focused specifically on care homes. Find out more about that here.

There’s the GoodLawProject’s Judicial Review of the Government’s award of lucrative PPE contracts to various private companies. You can find out more about that here and contribute to the crowdfunder here.

The Night Time Industries Association has instructed lawyers to JR any further restrictions on restaurants, pubs and bars.

Christian Concern is JR-ing the Welsh Government over its insistence on closing churches during the “circuit breaker”. See its letter-before-action here and an article about it here.

And last but not least there’s the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. You can read about that and make a donation here.

Stop Press: Simon Dolan finally makes it to court, and writes about it in the Telegraph.

Samaritans

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

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments.)

And Finally…

Latest News

What Has SAGE Got to Hide?

Fraser Nelson, the editor of the Spectator, has written a piece for the magazine explaining his decision to publish the leaked, classified projections from SAGE that appear to be driving Government policy and panic going into winter.

The secrecy is odd. In classic pandemic theory, governments are supposed to keep the public informed at every stage about what they know and don’t know. The risk is that a lack of transparency erodes confidence in ministers, and creates space for misinformation. The other risk is that if government is relying on modelling, much depends on the accuracy of the modelling. If it’s not scrutinised, mistakes are more likely to go uncorrected. More fundamentally, if people are being deprived of their liberty, they deserve to know why.

That’s why the Spectator is publishing a document which the government has not until now acknowledged the existence of: the ‘reasonable worst-case scenario’ for this coming winter. The document is on our website and makes for grim reading: 85,000 dead from a new Covid wave, about a third more than have died so far. It envisages 356,000 heading for hospital. Deaths are expected to peak at a lower rate than the first wave — but what is very different, this time, is the duration. The second wave is expected to get steadily worse until March.

The problem is that no one is challenging this thinking. The secrecy prevents scientists and other observers from checking the working. But even within Government there does not appear to be a culture of subjecting SAGE reports to robust scrutiny.

But some in the Department of Health are scarred by Sage advice from the first wave and think that any modelling that looks more than two weeks into the future has vast error margins. Health officials were told on March 1st that 90,000 ventilator beds could be needed for Covid patients — use peaked at 3,300 beds. Later advice — dated March 17th — suggested 138,000 beds, 40 times the peak figure. At one stage, the NHS was told to prepare for two million Covid patients needing hospital care — ten times more than the eventual figure.

The big question is whether these assumptions are, as Sage says, ‘reasonable’. And if not, who is likely to say so? The Sage scenario assumes 66% of people with Covid showing symptoms: the last UK sample put this figure at 33%. It assumes an ‘infection fatality ratio’ of 0.7%: a World Health Organisation paper recently put the average estimate at 0.3%. There is no ‘red team’ of experts in No. 10 challenging the assumptions; and there can be no debate about them in public when they are being kept secret.

Worth reading in full.

Britain’s Top GP: “Protect the NHS” Was Unhelpful

As Lockdown Sceptics and others have been pointing out since April, the infamous Government lockdown slogan that they’re still using today deterred people from seeking urgent and necessary medical attention. The Telegraph has more.

Professor Martin Marshall, the chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said family doctors are dealing with a 30% rise in referrals, such as for scans, after the Government’s messaging kept patients away from surgeries during the first wave of the pandemic.

Prof Martial said colleagues were increasingly likely to encounter patients with cancerous growths and warned of the risks of virtual consultations after face-to-face appointments fell from approximately 75% to just 10% at the start of the pandemic.

In July, Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said that in the future all consultations should be virtual unless there was a “compelling reason” for them not to be.

But Prof Martial said on Thursday that in many cases speaking to patients over the phone or by video hindered diagnosis and accused Mr Hancock of “overplaying his hand” when it came to the benefits of technology.

Face-to-face appointments have increased since the end of the first wave, recovering to 56% of all consultations in September, according to NHS figures released on Thursday. The data also showed that surgeries saw 1.5 million more same-day appointments in the month compared to September last year.

However, previous figures have indicated that the number of urgent two-week referrals – the crucial NHS pathway that should get patients suspected of having cancer to a specialist within a fortnight – was down by at least 70% during the height of the pandemic.

Worth reading in full.

Police Have No Power to Ruin Christmas

Retired police officer and Lockdown Sceptics reader Graham Low has written in to say that even in Covid Britain police have no lawful power to enter your home to spoil your Christmas.

Following West Midlands PCC David Jamieson’s ridiculous statement about family gatherings at Christmas, I’ve researched what power they actually have to enter private homes to enforce the “rule of six” or whatever ludicrous regulation will be in force on Christmas Day depending on your postcode and, guess what, as far as I can work out the answer is none.

The best I could find was on the College Of Policing website:

Entry into property
– Police need a warrant before they can enter and search premises.
– However, the Coronavirus Act 2020 has provisions within it to cover the power of entry in certain exceptional circumstances.
– Schedule 21 of the Coronavirus Act allows an officer to enter a property where they have reasonable grounds to suspect that a person within is potentially infectious, and they need to direct or remove the person for screening and assessment.
– Officers must be sure it is both necessary and proportionate to enter a property on these grounds. They must confer with a public health officer unless it is not practicable to do so due to exceptional circumstances. 

There are certainly no Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) powers which could conceivably apply. Police can’t possibly obtain warrants for every address they are called to by a Coronastasi snitch and, unless your guests are having major coughing fits, they can’t possibly have reasonable grounds under Schedule 21 either. So my advice is politely to stand your ground, provide your personal details such as name, address and date of birth and refuse to let them in. 

If Covid is Doubling Every Nine Days Why Are “Cases” Almost Flat?

Neil Ferguson appears to have lent his state-of-the-art modelling device to colleagues at Imperial

Scientists at Imperial College London have said that according to their survey the coronavirus epidemic is currently rising fast in the UK. The Medical Xpress has the details.

According to results from a large, ongoing study into the COVID-19 epidemic in England, scientists estimated that there are about 96,000 new cases every day and that the outbreak is doubling in size every nine days.

“The rate of growth we’re seeing is really quite rapid,” said Steven Riley, a professor of infectious disease dynamics at Imperial College London, one of the leaders of the study funded by the Department of Health.

Yet the reality on the ground is that daily positive tests by specimen date have not risen since October 19th, 11 days ago. Where is the “doubling”? The rolling average hasn’t doubled since the start of the month.

Positive tests by specimen date. Note the most recent days will be revised upwards.

Meanwhile, the Sun reports that the coronavirus is now spreading fastest in the south of England. Which mainly goes to show how much it has already slowed down in the north. In Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and other major cities it has dipped and plateaued, having slowed down before any of the new restrictions came in. Here’s the graph for Manchester:

Positive tests in Manchester by specimen date

And for Liverpool, another big city in the supposedly out-of-control North West:

Positive tests in Liverpool by specimen date

This is clearly not a runaway epidemic that demands an extreme response. It is in fact a pretty normal October.

Stop Press: The Mail asks what’s going on when Imperial can say there are 100,000 daily cases doubling every nine days and Cambridge can say it’s 55,000 doubling every 17 days. Which one is “The Science”? It’ll make Hancock’s head explode.

50,000 Excess Winter Deaths – Remember 2018? Thought Not

A reader has sent in a link to a newspaper report from 2018 when the NHS had a crisis that nobody remembers and there were almost as many excess deaths as in the past year (which is 55,092 as of October 16th, according to the ONS).

The flu vaccine’s failure to protect against some of the key strains of the infection contributed to more than 50,000 “extra” deaths in England and Wales last winter, according to data from the Office of National Statistics.

It was the worst winter on record for more than 40 years, with the 1975-76 season being the last time deaths climbed so high above the expected levels.

The NHS was rocked by a record winter crisis in early 2018, with a massive rise in flu cases and sub-zero temperatures triggered by the Beast from the East storm, which added further to death rates.

Despite protecting against the potentially serious “Aussie flu”, officials said in January that the vaccine which had been widely used was not effective against some of the more prevalent strains of the virus affecting the UK.

The impact on death rates was apparent as early as March, when experts warned the government must “urgently investigate” a spike of 10,000 deaths in the first weeks of 2018.

But the ONS data, spanning December to March, shows that this trend continued to rise.

It’s almost as though an epidemic of respiratory illness that kills tens of thousands of vulnerable people is a regular (if tragic) event. Note this occurred despite the existence of a vaccine. But since the public health officials running the show surely know all this, how are they getting away with their irresponsible alarmism?

Stop Press: Professor Carl Heneghan has retweeted an excellent graph from VoidSurf1 putting excess deaths in the US in 2020 into historical context.

Convergent Opportunism

After Toby’s conversion yesterday to the idea that lockdowns might be the result of an unconscious conspiracy, right on cue Time magazine runs a special on the “Great Reset”, apparently unaware that this phrase is much beloved by conspiracy theorists. This is the Davos World Economic Forum’s latest repackaging of its utopian statist ideas. The magazine explains:

The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a unique opportunity to think about the kind of future we want. TIME partnered with the World Economic Forum to ask leading thinkers to share ideas for how to transform the way we live and work.

The treasury of articles includes:

  • “A Better Economy Is Possible. But We Need to Reimagine Capitalism to Do It”
  • “Europe Has Big Plans for a Green New Deal. Poland’s Coal Country Isn’t So Sure”
  • “If Corporations Really Want to Address Racial Inequality, Here Are nine Things That Actually Make a Difference”
  • “Redesign Capitalism to Incorporate Social Value”
  • “‘It’s the Right Thing to Do.’ Walmart CEO Doug McMillon Says It’s Time to Reinvent Capitalism Post-Coronavirus”
  • “The Climate is Breaking Down. Architect Bjarke Ingels Has a Masterplan for That”
  • A quadruple helping of Harry and Meghan headed :“‘This Is a Global Crisis.’ Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Discuss the State of the Digital World” and including “Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Discuss Misinformation With Silicon Valley’s Biggest Critics”
  • And the inevitable slippery grinner himself: “Tony Blair: I’ve Always Been an Optimist. But for the First Time Ever I’m Troubled About the Future”

As one Lockdown Sceptics reader commented: “It’s not a conspiracy theory when they’re telling you what they’re doing.”

Seems to me there’s an awful lot of people out there with a little finger on some lever of power who have no intention of letting this crisis go to waste. They’re doing pretty well out of all this chaos, thank you very much. There is, as Dr Mike Yeadon puts it, a lot of convergent opportunism in evidence.

Stop Press: James Delingpole gives the Great Reset conspiracy theory a thorough airing on Sky News Australia here.

Jeremy Hunt: Little Evidence Having Covid Gives You Immunity

A reader has forwarded to us the scientifically dubious reply she received from Jeremy Hunt MP, who chairs the Health and Social Care Select Committee, after she drew his attention to Mike Yeadon’s podcast with James Delingpole.

Thank you for your reply. I am aware of Dr Yeaden’s [sic] views and I’m afraid it is not a case of them being suppressed but that the scientific consensus doesn’t agree with him. In actual fact we don’t know that having had COVID-19 gives you immunity, there is little evidence at the moment that it does. And so pursuing a herd immunity strategy, when we don’t know you get immunity, seems very dangerous to me. We would end up with many lives lost for no gain. 

You are right to highlight the issue with false positives although some of the numbers on this have been manipulated to appear far worse than they are. This issue can be overcome with a confirmatory test for those who are positive and the technology behind testing is getting better and better. Increasing testing to the whole community wouldn’t lead to more restrictions it would reduce the need for them. That is the whole point of a mass testing programme. Only those who have tested positive and had a confirmatory second test would need to isolate. The rest of us would be free to go about our lives in as normal a way as possible. 

Having been Health Secretary and now Chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee I have spent a great deal of time looking into these issues and therefore do know what is going on. In a democracy we are entitled to disagree with each other but we ought to do so on the basis of fact. The fact is we may never get a vaccine, and we may never develop herd immunity. I think we therefore need to prepare to deal with this virus, that has already killed more than 40,000 of our fellow citizens, through a programme of mass, community testing. I am though very happy to debate that point as we all still have much to learn about the virus itself. 

Best wishes, 

Jeremy

Little evidence having had Covid gives you immunity? Except for the almost complete absence of reinfection. Professor Sunetra Gutpta explains how immunity to coronaviruses works here. But Prof J Hunt FRCPath obviously knows better.

Hunt’s reply was forwarded to Dr Mike Yeaden Yeadon who discusses it in an interview with ex-BBC journalist Anna Brees here. Well worth a listen.

France’s Impending National Lockdown Causes Mass Exodus

Parisians flocked to the Gare de Lyon to avoid confining themselves to the French capital during the shutdown

There’s a lesson here for Boris. President Macron’s imposition of a national lockdown in France, beginning today, caused tens of thousands of Parisians to flee the city, preferring to spend their period under house arrest in the country. People crowded into railway stations and traffic out of the capital was backed up for hundreds of miles in scenes reminiscent of a disaster movie. The Mail has more.

Tens of thousands of Parisians last night caused massive traffic jams in a desperate attempt to flee the French capital ahead of the start of Emmanuel Macron’s new national shutdown.

Video posted to Twitter shows huge numbers of Parisians attempting a mass exodus out of the city in a bid to avoid the 9pm curfew and the start of the second lockdown from midnight.

The night air was filled with the sound of blaring car horns while social media users estimated that Parisians had created ‘hundreds of miles’ of gridlock to escape to their second homes in the country.

Revellers also seized the opportunity to spend one last night with friends and family last night before bars and restaurants are closed as the French government plunges the country back into lockdown.

Meanwhile French people emptied supermarkets in a repeat of the panic-buying that swept Europe in March as Parisians and other city dwellers prepared for a month in confinement.

Shoppers stocked up on pasta and toilet roll while people queued outside hairdressers for a final trim. Office workers in the capital’s business district hauled their equipment to cars and trains in preparation for WFH.

Emmanuel Macron’s draconian measures are due to be enforced until at least December 1, with people required to carry documents justifying their reason for leaving home that will be subject to police checks.

Worth reading in full.

Far From the Covid Crowd

The main sitting room at the sceptics’ retreat in Wales

A Lockdown Sceptics reader who owns a luxurious guest house in the Welsh hills is offering special deals to fellow sceptics. Here is her promotional blurb.

Fancy a few nights in a lockdown sceptics B&B? For those tired of fellow hotel guests leaping against corridor walls on passing, an early supporter and contributor to the site has created a sanctuary for those seeking a little fun and R n’ R among like-minded folk. The Far From the Covid Crowd B&B has been morphed from a holiday home to a luxurious bed and breakfast-come-boutique hotel as the Government continues to persecute owners of properties sleeping more than six. Guests can enjoy a house-party feel at the stylish Jacobean farmhouse in the rolling hills of the Welsh border with others who question the mindless and nonsensical ongoing narrative. Weekend breaks can be two and three nights from the Friday and cost around £250 per person, inclusive of a four-course dinner and cocktails on the Saturday evening. There’s great music on a Sonos system, a pool and snooker table, roaring fires, a jacuzzi suite, good eateries/boozers nearby (it’s one mile from English border!) and delightful walks. Visit the website here or find me on Twitter at Far From the Covid Crowd B&B. Bedwetters not welcome and some weekends will be aimed at singles (more info in the Love in a Covid Climate forum). Launch weekend is 13th November.

Round-Up

Love in the Time of Covid

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

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

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, it’s Scottish Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf declaring that yes, he really does want to criminalise private conversations in the home. Breitbart has the details.

Despite reports last month that the proposed law would be ‘watered down’, so that authorities would still require evidence of intent to offend in order to secure a conviction, Mr Yousaf, of the leftist separatist Scottish National Party (SNP) wants the law to have the power to invade people’s private homes, according to the Times.

Yousaf said there would not be a “dwelling defence” — such as in the 1986 Public Order Act which outlaws abusive, threatening, or insulting words if uttered in your own home — so that discussions at a dinner table could land a Scotsman in court for hate speech.

“Are we comfortable giving a defence to somebody whose behaviour is threatening or abusive, which is intentionally stirring up hatred against, for example, Muslims? Are we saying that that is justified because that is in the home?… If your intention was to stir up hatred against Jews… then I think that deserves criminal sanction,” Mr Yousaf told Members of the Scottish Parliament.

In reaction to Wednesday’s Times report, Mr Yousaf doubled down on his position, saying: “If you invite ten mates round and it can be proven beyond reasonable doubt that you intentionally stirred up hatred against Jews, why should this not be prosecuted? It would if you did so down the pub but not in your house?”

Head of the Free Speech Union Toby Young warned that this type of censorship might occur south of the border, saying on Wednesday in response to the report: “The Law Commission of England and Wales is proposing to change the law so exactly the same thing applies here.”

Concerns have been raised over the effect the Scottish law will have on freedom of speech, including on comedy, with Yousaf saying he wants the rules to be applicable the theatre directors and journalists, too.

The Free Speech Union has already submitted evidence to the Scottish Justice Committee and is planning on launching a campaign to prevent the proposed new Scottish hate crime laws – which look inevitable at this point – being extended to England and Wales.

Stop Press: If you want to signal your opposition to all this nonsense – as well as lockdown nonsense – you could do worse than buy a “Stay Sane” badge. You can get a pack of three for £3 at Itsy.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face masks in shops here.

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

And here’s an excellent piece about the ineffectiveness of masks by a Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry.

Stop Press: The Swiss Doctor has translated the article in a Danish newspaper about the suppressed Danish mask study. Largest RCT on the effectiveness of masks ever carried out. Rejected by three top scientific journals so far.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Sunetra Gupta, Professor Martin Kulldorff and Professor Jay Bhattacharya

The Great Barrington Declaration, a petition started by Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya calling for a strategy of “Focused Protection” (protect the elderly and the vulnerable and let everyone else get on with life), was launched last week and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it. If you Googled it last week, the top hits were three smear pieces from the Guardian, including: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this hit job the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now tops the search results – and this Spectator piece about the attempt to suppress it is among the top hits – although discussion of it has been censored by Reddit. The reason the zealots hate it, of course, is that it gives the lie to their claim that “the science” only supports their strategy. These three scientists are every bit as eminent – more eminent – than the pro-lockdown fanatics so expect no let up in the attacks. (Wikipedia has also done a smear job.)

You can find it here. Please sign it. Now well over 600,000 signatures.

Update: The authors of the GDB have expanded the FAQs to deal with some of the arguments and smears that have been made against their proposal. Worth reading in full.

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

There are now so many JRs being brought against the Government and its ministers, we thought we’d include them all in one place down here.

First, there’s the Simon Dolan case. You can see all the latest updates and contribute to that cause here.

Then there’s the Robin Tilbrook case. You can read about that and contribute here.

Then there’s John’s Campaign which is focused specifically on care homes. Find out more about that here.

There’s the GoodLawProject’s Judicial Review of the Government’s award of lucrative PPE contracts to various private companies. You can find out more about that here and contribute to the crowdfunder here.

The Night Time Industries Association has instructed lawyers to JR any further restrictions on restaurants, pubs and bars.

Christian Concern is JR-ing the Welsh Government over its insistence on closing churches during the “circuit breaker”. See its letter-before-action here and an article about it here.

And last but not least there’s the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. You can read about that and make a donation here.

Samaritans

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

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments.)

And Finally…

In Toby’s latest Spectator column he highlights the woeful lack of neutrality at the world’s largest encyclopaedia, Wikipedia. He should know. As he says, his own entry is a collection of smears that are kept in place by a ferocious phalanx of woke editors.

According to a recent article by two academics in the Critic, Wikipedia has a strong left-wing bias — which might explain why the page about me reads as if it’s been written by Owen Jones. In addition to referring to me as ‘far right’, it says I’m guilty of composing ‘misogynistic’ and ‘homophobic’ tweets, points out I’m in Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘little black book’, accuses me of being a drug dealer and says my unfavourable view of the government’s handling of the pandemic ‘contrasts with scientific recommendations for lockdown policy in the UK’. All of these claims are at least as contentious as the ‘eugenicist’ allegation, but I know from friends who have tried to set the record straight that they are immediately overruled by editors who then faithfully restore the smears.

Worth reading in full.

Latest News

‘Second Wave’ Has Claimed Lives of Just 17 People Under 40

Good story in the Mail. Official figures reveal fewer than 20 deaths in people under 40 in the supposedly even-more-deadly ‘second wave’.

The latest NHS update published yesterday showed that just one person under the age of 20, and another 13 under 40, have died with coronavirus in English hospitals since the start of September.

By contrast, 1,425 patients over 80 have died over the same period, along with another 1,093 aged between 60 and 79.

It means the elderly account for a staggering 94 per cent of hospital deaths this time round.

Wider figures from the Office for National Statistics covering all deaths across the UK tell the same story, with just 247 deaths among working-age people since the end of summer compared with 2,026 among pensioners.

They cover a slightly shorter period than the NHS figures.

It will put fresh pressure on ministers to avoid a new nationwide lockdown that could lead to other deadly diseases such as cancer and heart disease going untreated, and further damage young people’s mental health and job prospects.

Last night cancer consultant Prof Karol Sikora said: “On the whole, it is not a young person’s illness, healthy young people especially.

“But they are playing the societal price in terms of education, university and social activities, and they will be paying the bill one day because the old people won’t be there.

It’s a matter of balance and we’ve not got it right. It’s really important we don’t throw all the resources at Covid.”

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: There’s an excellent comment piece by Professor Angus Dalgleish below this story that’s also worth reading. It begins:

We are at a pivotal moment in this pandemic and for our Prime Minister – and indeed the country – the stakes could not be higher.

With rumours rampant about a new national lockdown and talk about the so-called ‘second wave’ of Covid-19 infections being deadlier than the first, there has never been a more important time for Boris Johnson to go with his instincts and stand firm against the doom-mongers at Sage.

That organisation’s full name – the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies – suggests a reassuringly well-informed and authoritative body whose guidance can be followed unquestioningly.

Yet their recommendations are often based on flawed evidence which is far from scientific, and that makes it all the more alarming to learn that they are attempting to bully the Prime Minister into imposing a second national lockdown.

This pressure is apparently based on projections showing that, while the number of Covid deaths will peak at a lower level than in the spring, they will remain at that level for weeks or even months, resulting in more deaths overall.

But I would urge the PM and his most senior advisers to take a closer look at the evidence on which their arguments are based – and the potentially disastrous consequences.

And Prof Carl Heneghan has very little time for the case for a second national lockdown. “What happened to learning to live with the virus?” he tells MailOnline. “People calling for lockdown need to realise that it is a blunt tool that will just kick the can down road, we need to get the message out now that this is not going away, it’s about managing COVID-19’s impact.”

Ross Clark is also on the money, as per, pointing out that if we’re heading for a ‘second wave’ that’s even deadlier than the first, that’s surely definitive proof that lockdowns are completely ineffective?

Flu-Like Illnesses Falling in the North-West and London

Some good news. A reader has been in touch to point out that the latest data from the Royal College of General Practitioners’ Research and Surveillance Centre shows that influenza-like illnesses, e.g. Covid, are falling in the North-West and London.

The latest, weekly updated RCGP RSC data has been released (unbeknown to almost all health journalists – well, when has even one ever questioned Whitty or Vallance about them? Never to my knowledge). The sample size is a massive seven million+. Are there any larger? I doubt it. The primary purpose of this data-collection exercise is to track the prevalence of respiratory illnesses (ILIs – influenza-like illnesses) in case they become so widespread that further measures need to be considered to counter them.

As you can read from the charts below, the last complete week’s figures (October 19th – 25th) show large falls in confirmed cases for both the locked-down North West (including Merseyside, Lancashire and Greater Manchester) AND relatively unlocked London. The percentage differences are minimal:

North West: 19.66/10,000 down to 9.89/10,000 (-49.7%)
London: 5.69/10,000 down to 3.30/10,000 (-47.3%)

So it would seem people are behaving more cautiously whether forced to do so or not – the lesson being that we don’t need to be compelled to.

Stop Press: A new study from Exeter University and published in Critical Care Magazine shows that death rates from COVID-19 are less than half what they were at the peak of the pandemic. The researchers found that death rates were highest in late March, at 26% among people admitted to high dependency units, and 41% among people admitted to intensive care. For June admissions, death rates had dropped to 7% among high dependency unit admissions, and to 21% among intensive care admissions.

Launch of Recovery

Recovery, a new anti-lockdown group, is launching today. (Website here.) It brings together a broad-based coalition of people from all walks of life, many different backgrounds and the spectrum of mainstream political views who are concerned about the effect the response to COVID-19 is having on all our lives. I’m a member of the Advisory Council. Here is the press release.

Recovery calls for balance and moderation in our response to COVID-19, backed by a proper public debate, and a comprehensive public inquiry which looks at the impact Government policies have had on: Covid-19 mortality; other killer diseases like cancer; mental health; the economy; and the future for children and young people.

The campaign is backed by a wide range of high profile people, including senior Doctors and NHS staff, leading authorities in epidemiology and infectious diseases, mental health experts, entrepreneurs and leaders of business, sporting stars and world champions, TV celebrities and chefs, stars of the performing arts, bands and musicians.

  • It has specialist groups led by leading experts and household names looking at specific areas of concern, including:
  • Health – members include concerned NHS and other health workers;
  • Mental health – psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, youth and charity workers, and leaders in education
  • Arts and hospitality – performers, business owners, chefs, and others whose lives are directly affected by current policies.
  • Sports and fitness – sports stars, players, athletes, coaches, club staff, and fitness businesses.
  • Small and medium size enterprises – entrepreneurs, business leaders, founders, and managers.

Speakers at the launch include:

  • Lord Sumption
  • Professor Karol Sikora
  • Harvey Goldsmith CBE
  • Emma Kenny MBPsS, MBACP

The launch will also hear messages from prominent supporters and its Advisory Council, which draws on perspectives from leaders from many different backgrounds and walks of life – people as diverse as Professor Sunetra Gupta, Sir Rocco Forte, Luke Johnson, Saira Khan, David Gower, Sue Cook, Trupti Patel (President of the Hindu Forum of Britain), Lady MC (Kerry O’Brien, CEO of the Youth Urban Arts Foundation), MC Creed, and DJ Danny Rampling.

The organisation is led by a group of co-founders from health, academia, business, youth work, sports, and the arts, who created it in response to the huge damage that the current policies are doing to our lives, jobs, culture, and the future of our young people.

Amongst the Recovery team, there are people who see the issues on a daily basis in their working lives. We hear the tragic stories of suicides from young people who couldn’t cope with lockdown. We wonder whether our own loved ones are amongst the thousands who should have been screened for cancer this year and now won’t find out they have it until it’s too late. Countless people are living a hell of fear and isolation that is destroying their mental health. Problem drinking has leapt from 4.3m people before lockdown to 8.4m million after it – and it’s still rising. Millions may now face an uncertain future of debt, struggle, unemployment and poverty.

It is becoming clear that the consequences of hysteria and rushed legislation can be worse than the virus itself. Recovery has set out Five Reasonable Demands to ensure good Government during Covid-19 and protect the lives and livelihoods of the people of the UK. These are the basis for the Recovery campaign.

Recovery is launching to argue for hope, for balance, in the fight against COVID-19. It will make the case for a more realistic assessment of the risk, an end to fearmongering, and a rational response to the threat.

Jon Dobinson, Co-Founder of Recovery, commented:

What raised the alarm bells for me was hearing world-leading experts on epidemiology like Professor Sunetra Gupta smeared as extremists when they questioned the idea of lockdowns. I had faced this kind of attack years ago when I was Secretary-General of the International Society of Human Rights in the UK and was receiving daily reports of terrible atrocities in the former Yugoslav Republics. No one else was talking about them, so I wrote a series of reports that made world headlines and were a catalyst for the deployment of UN Peacekeepers in Kosovo – subsequently described as saving countless lives. It’s forgotten now, but the Serbs had strong supporters in the UK and along with ISHR itself, I was vilified by them in a national newspaper. Today, it’s obvious to everyone that the smears weren’t true, but it was a deeply traumatic experience. I now see it as the most important campaign I’ve run in my life.

My mum survived COVID-19, so did my colleagues at work. It’s not fun. But when someone close to me died, it was because of the mental stress of lockdown rather than COVID-19: I saw in the most tragic way that harsh restrictions carry their own threat to life.”

Once again, lives are threatened by a mistaken belief and people want to silence those who speak up for a better approach by marginalising and smearing them. I know how that feels and how important it is to make sure they’re heard. This time, millions of lives in my own country are at stake. The future for all of us depends on a balanced response to COVID-19 and a proper public debate that ensures we pursue the best policies. That’s why I started Recovery.

Alan D. Miller, Honorary Trustee of the Night Time Industries Association, and Co-Founder of Recovery, commented:

It is an honour to be a Co-Founder of Recovery where we aim to engage with the public as well as transform both the narrative and the direction of current government policy to one of reasonable sensible measures. Joining forces for a broad alliance means we can draw upon a strong array of business leaders from many vital industry sectors beyond hospitality as well as prominent scientists, artists and citizens who want to see a full Recovery for all in Britain. This is an important moment for us all and I encourage everyone who has concerns with the current response to join us.

Recovery’s website is here, you can follow Recovery on Twitter here and donate to the GoFundMe page here.

Stop Press: UsForThem, the lobby group for children and parents, has launched an open letter from health professionals and scientists to the Prime Minister, reminding him that ‘First do no harm’ is a basic tenet of medical ethics and that a cure must never be worse than the disease. If you’re a scientist, a doctor or a nurse, please sign it.

Reasons Why Civil Servants Are All Covidarians

“Lockdown, Minister. The answer to every question is, ‘Lockdown.'”

A dissident civil servant has been in touch to explain why civil servants and public sector employees more generally are all full-on lockdown fanatics. Rings true.

  1. They have to follow the direction of the government. It is their duty as civil serpents. The civil service code requires loyalty to the elected government. However, that also provides an in built system to either support a dictatorship or a good democratic government.
  2. Senior Civil Serpents cannot speak out otherwise they break rule 1. Junior civil serpents are under the line management of the seniors, and will be punished for speaking out of turn, unless they are union reps, but then, trades unions are full-on Covidarians.
  3. 90% of civil serpents are socialists or collectivist thinkers. They grew up being trained by an education system that has been in the grip of Marxists since the 1970s and so only have that world view. The public sector also attracts weaker types; those who have limited entrepreneurial leanings and who are not risk takers. So the civil serpent scientists are unlikely to consider and advise any risky decisions at all regarding covidnonsense policy.
  4. Most civil serpents have never worked outside of the public sector. Money and funding appears by magic every year. Most joined the public sector directly from university so may have only worked in bars and restaurants part time, at best. There exposure to real world economics is limited.
  5. They are on full pay regardless of consequences. The public sector leeches off the productive sector and many public serpents don’t realise the consequences of that. If the productive sector goes under, or suffers a massive contraction, many of the leeches will die when the money machine runs low on readies. This has not sunk in yet. Their Keynesian economic brains think that government can keep printing money and all will be well.
  6. That said, there are public sector contrarians, me being one. And there are those who roll their eyes at the latest madness, but they work in what is, essentially, a Soviet system, so cannot speak out openly against the great leaders decisions. The public sector is also unable to accept alternative views and never engages in Red Team exercises on any policy. There are no teams set up to dismantle any idea being proposed.

The solution is for the tories to keep winkling out the obvious socialists and high levels and start compulsory economics and private sector awareness training on the lines of the bullshine Marxist-led equality and diversity training that we are forced to do.

They should also send civil serpents on exchanges with private companies, but those in the medium enterprise sector, not the big financial and computer companies because they are just Big Corporate Socialism.

Macron Bottles It

France is due to go into a second lockdown on Friday – bad news for the French, and bad news for us, too, given that one of the reasons Boris panicked and placed the UK under a full lockdown back in March is because he saw other European leaders putting their countries under lockdown and thought, “Cripes! If Mackers is doing it, maybe I should too.” Monkey see, monkey do. Indeed, the OECD published a paper on this, pointing out that 80% of developed countries imposed lockdowns in a two-week period in March despite having outbreaks at different stages. They didn’t have time to carry out cost benefit analyses – they just copied each other. It wasn’t “the science” that prompted Boris to do a U-turn on March 23rd. It was peer pressure.

The Telegraph has the story on its front page today.

The French president ordered the closure of non-essential shops, along with bars and restaurants, and people must stay at home unless they have documentation showing why they need to go to work or make other journeys.

Britons will be banned from entering the country unless they have a signed certificate saying why they need to travel.

“The virus is circulating at a speed that not even the most pessimistic forecasts had anticipated,” Mr Macron said. “Like all our neighbours, we are submerged by the sudden acceleration of the virus. We are all in the same position.”

Germany also announced a new national lockdown despite both it and France recording fewer daily Covid deaths than Britain.

The FTSE 100 Index plunged 2.6% on Wednesday amid news of the new lockdowns, wiping £37.3 billion off the value of Britain’s biggest companies, as European stock markets slumped to their lowest levels since May.

Stop Press: Macron claims that 400,000 people will die in the ‘do nothing’ scenario. Has Neil Ferguson been moonlighting for the French Government?

Simon Dolan’s Appeal Hearing Starts Today

Simon Dolan, who is trying to get permission to hold a Judicial Review of the Government’s lockdown measures, is appealing the decision by the High Court to deny permission in the Court of Appeal today. The appeal is expected to last two days. If he’s successful, the Judicial Review will go ahead.

The key challenge from Dolan’s lawyers is that the original lockdown measures were ‘ultra vires’ – that is, outside the scope of the 1984 Public Health act which was used to implement them.

Dolan’s legal team are arguing that the Government misused legislation to bring in the new regulations and, in that way, avoided proper Parliamentary scrutiny of those regulations. The Government introduced the new measures through the Public Health (Control of Infectious Disease) Act 1984 by certifying the legislation as ‘urgent’. That loophole allows Ministers to make the laws effective immediately without having to secure prior approval in Parliament.

Simon Dolan says:

We are continuing our legal fight in the High Court against these absurd lockdown restrictions ruining the British public’s daily lives. We are asking the Court of Appeal to rule on whether the initial lockdown measures were brought in ‘ultra vires’ – outside the scope of the law they relied on in the Public Health Act.

Hopefully a High Court judge will hear all our arguments in court and determine that we do have a strong case

When we started there was criticism of our initiative but as the government has taken more and more control over our lives and personal freedoms, the public support has been overwhelming.

Since we started the legal fight against the Government’s lockdown in May people have listened to our arguments and determined they have merit. It is now widely accepted that the harm from lockdown is greater than the risk to public health from COVID-19.

The answer to coronavirus is not a circuit breaker or a three-tier system. It is to let people get on with their lives and their livelihoods.

To date, Dolan’s fundraiser has raised more than £381,725, with over 12,000 pledges made, many of them from Lockdown Sceptics readers. If anyone would like to watch the proceedings via a live link, there are instructions on how to do that here.

An Unconscious Conspiracy

Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory (1997)

I often get emails from readers telling me I’ve been too quick to dismiss various conspiracy theories about the apparent mishandling of the coronavirus crisis by governments around the world. But I got a particularly good one yesterday from Dr Sinéad Murphy, a Lecturer in Philosophy at Newcastle University. She and a Newcastle colleague of hers, Michael Lewis, have written for Lockdown Sceptics once before – a piece about why it wasn’t a good idea to insist on university students wearing masks in face-to-face meetings with their teachers. Here is the kernel of her argument.

Until the events of this year, I have allied myself, for the most part, with the political Left; I have been a member of the Labour Party, and a Guardian watcher, if not quite reader. I have no compunction now in expressing my total abhorrence at the near-orgasmic enthusiasm for authoritarian control that has come to dominate the Left, and my gratitude for the reason and humanity that have, by contrast, characterised many on the political Right.

But there is a blind spot on the Right, which threatens the reason if not the humanity of its analyses of the Covid-response. It is the insistence that there is no ‘conspiracy’ afoot and that this whole unfortunate affair is attributable to the blunders of those in power.

It seems to me that there is something in this repeated denial of ‘conspiracy theory’ that is akin to our Government’s repeated refusal to ‘let the virus rip.’ It mischaracterises as silly that which it rejects, and then rejects it because it is silly. Those who argue for the acknowledgement of herd immunity are not, for that reason, arguing for ‘letting the virus rip’ – they suggest many and nuanced possibilities for the management of the virus as it tracks through the population. Similarly, those who suggest that there is more to the Covid restrictions than mountains of blunders by politicians and their advisers are not, for that reason, ‘conspiracy theorists’ – they do not, if they are at all rational, imagine that some bunker somewhere is filled with evil geniuses conducting the whole sorry affair.

I am moved to write this now because I have been listening to the excellent podcast featuring James Delingpole and Mike Yeadon, who, in their discussion, actually admit and articulate well the very thing that almost all so-called ‘conspiracy theorists’ are trying to point out. Yeadon contributes the phrase ‘convergent opportunism,’ and argues that, while there are no bunkered geniuses inventing all of this, there are plenty who have availed themselves of the opportunities it has presented and whose doing so has contributed to the escalation and continuation of the mess. Delingpole responds by contributing his own phrase – ‘the concatenation of interests’ – to describe what he too sees as a contingent but coherent coming together of opportunities for interested parties, whose actions then, we presume, exacerbate and extend the conditions which have emerged as so beneficial to them.

‘Convergent opportunism’ and ‘the concatenation of interests’ are sufficiently abstract descriptors that I am emboldened to contribute another – it is not of my inventing, being one of the most important insights of a philosopher who seems unfortunately and erroneously to be regarded as entirely the property of the Left: Michel Foucault.

In the first volume of his The History of Sexuality, Foucault sets out the way in which events can, and mostly do, unfold as ‘intentional but not subjective.’ That is, we are able, if we look carefully, to discern a design or a pattern in events, even if, as is almost always the case, there is no one person or group at the helm. There is no ‘headquarters,’ as Foucault says – no bunker of geniuses. In fact, as with many of those who reject ‘conspiracy theories,’ Foucault is of the view that those who insist on finding the subject of intentional developments will inevitably misunderstand the meaning of events.

This is an excellent article and one that’s forced me to reconsider my position.

Cui Bono?

In keeping with my conversion (see above), I’m going to ask the question that’s beloved of all conspiracy theorists, “Who benefits?” The answer is simple: the manufacturers and distributors of testing kits. See graph👆.

And the Chinese, obviously.

Stop Press: The Guardian has a front page story today saying plans are afoot to test 10% of the population of England every week. Apparently, Government officials have asked local health chiefs to deploy 30-minute saliva kits in an acceleration of Boris Johnson’s controversial “Operation Moonshot” mass screening plan. Operation Moonshot? More like Operation Line-The-Pockets-of-Testing-Manufacturers-and-Distributors. Somebody’s getting rich…

Dear Mr Kwarteng…

A reader has sent me an email he sent to his MP, Kwasi Kwarteng, at 4.33am yesterday, being unable to sleep because he was so angry about the lockdown and the ongoing restrictions and all the damage they have wrought – particularly to his own family.

Dear Mr Kwarteng,

You politicians think that you can distil power from fear.

You will find that all you will gain is a bitter harvest of contempt and deep, enduring hatred.

Read the Great Barrington Declaration. And then do all in your power to make the implementation of the Great Barrington Declaration the central aim of Government. End the cruel pantomime of lockdowns. They don’t work to ‘control the virus’. They destroy people’s lives.

On Monday 9 March 2020, my eldest sister was admitted (finally) to the Royal United Hospital, Bath, after being failed repeatedly since late January 2020 by the NHS (her GP and paramedics) who did nothing to investigate the cause of her excruciating back pain. On admission to the RUH, X-rays showed that she had 2 fractured vertebrae. Subsequent MRI scans led to the diagnosis of the cause – cancer – on Friday March 13th. On Saturday March 28th she, along with many other patients, was swept out of the Royal United Hospital to make way for the expected tsunami of Covid patients. Which never arrived. My eldest sister was discharged before she was ready, when she had clear medical needs, to make way for an anticipated problem that didn’t occur. The ‘support’ that she received from the NHS after discharge was appalling. It has fallen to another sister, who is a retired nurse, to administer her chemotherapy injections.

On Thursday March 12th, the care home in which my 99 year-old mother, who is very deaf and virtually blind, was ‘locked down’ by PHE. Since then she has been kept in what is effectively solitary confinement. The family has been allowed a total of THREE visits. If we kept prisoners in such conditions the Government would be taken to court for breach of human rights. Yes, of course, I get it. We have to protect those most at risk. And initially it made sense to ‘lock down’ the care homes to protect the most vulnerable. Sadly, it seems that this was not fully understood by the medical-political establishment, which proceeded to discharge elderly patients from NHS hospitals (‘Protect the NHS, Save Lives’) directly to care homes, without testing them for Covid.

Last night, I took a phone call from my youngest sister, who is now in the Green Lane Hospital in Devizes. She sounded like a frightened, lost child, although she is a 53 year-old woman. She has suffered for many years from mental health issues. Her life revolved around my mother. They lived together until my mother became too frail to live at home, and was admitted to her current care home in 2016. Since then, my sister’s life has revolved around visiting my mother. All of which stopped abruptly on Thursday March 12th. My sister’s life has become increasingly hard as Government policy has done its deadly work. First, all contact with her work colleagues ceased – she was told to work at home. So no social contact with work colleagues.

We rallied around as a family, and did all that we could to help her. Then the rules about household mixing kicked in.

My brother broke the rules by going to visit my vulnerable, isolated, mentally ill sister, often staying overnight to support her. Read that sentence again.

We thought that my sister was going to make it. The dark clouds lifted (a bit) and she was able to visit my mother twice. But the visits took place under conditions that would shame a high security prison. Then – because of the increase in ‘cases’ during the dreaded (and much hyped) ‘second wave’ – all visits halted. It was the final straw for my sister. The day after I sent you the email below, she went into Green Lane Hospital, on Thursday October 22nd.

Do you and your fellow politicians still not get it?

The Covid virus is not greatly more dangerous than the seasonal flu. The average age of death from Covid is 82.3. Lockdowns don’t work. At least, they don’t work to control the virus. Lockdowns work very well at destroying lives and liberties.

I can’t believe that you are stupid. And I know that you are not ill-informed, because I have sent you quite a lot of scientifically sound information that makes the case for ending these stupid, cruel lockdowns.

So what is going on here?

Why is the entire establishment – you politicians, the medical establishment, the judicial system, the media – so dead set against listening to knowledgeable critics? Why was the very existence of the Great Barrington Declaration censored and suppressed by the tech companies? Why are the usual remedies being so ruthlessly blocked? Why are so many legal challenges being delayed and then refused? Simon Dolan’s challenge was delayed because one of the NINE Government barristers was on holiday. Last week the Speaker of the House of Commons intervened to halt the challenge – citing Article 9 of the Bill of Rights, of all things. Toby Young’s case, challenging Ofcom’s very sinister ruling that prevents broadcasters from criticising Government advice, was stopped dead without any examination of the fundamental right of free speech.

The establishment has so far been doing well to distil power from fear.

But history has shown that when you oppress people with manifest cruelty and injustice, when you take away their liberties and then turn a deaf eye and a blind eye to their legitimate and well-founded grievances, and frustrate all attempts at relief – the people will eventually speak in ways that you will find difficult to control.

Yours in despair,

XXXXX XXXXXXX

Transcript of Professor Gupta’s Interview on talkRADIO

Yesterday, Will asked if a reader would transcribe Professor Sunetra Gupta’s interview with Ian Collins on talkRADIO on Tuesday – and, lo and behold, a very kind person has done that for us. Thank you.

Ian Collins: [Excerpt played from interview with Dr Gurdsani from Queen Mary University three weeks ago stating that there is no evidence that herd immunity exists.] Professor Gupta, could you just respond to one of your peers there on that point?

Sunetra Gupta: Well, the main thing to address is this issue of immunity declining over time. We’ve known for a while now that antibodies decline quite rapidly with time but it’s misleading to say that it implies that immune protection is lost with time. It is also nonsensical to say that there is no herd immunity, or that it is not possible to build up herd immunity, to this virus. All other coronaviruses build up herd immunity by which we mean a level of immunity in the population that ensures that the risks to the vulnerable are low. So that’s endemic equilibrium, herd immunity, that’s how we’re using it. I think Miss Gurdasani (Queen Mary University) may well have been using it in a different context but that’s not really what it means. Herd immunity is just a level of community immunity that protects the vulnerable and keeps the risk of infection low. There’s no reason to believe that won’t happen.

Ian Collins: I understand that but the point that, I think, this group of scientists were making from this study was that, yes, it might be true, but you have to have 60-70% of people in that place for it to work and that would be unachievable.

Sunetra Gupta: Well first, that is not true. There are several studies now showing that the level of infection that is necessary in the population may well be below that. It’s impossible to say what the level, threshold, equilibrium threshold of herd immunity is because we simply don’t know how many people are already protected by virtue of exposure to other corona viruses or due to their immune systems being able to deal with the virus without developing antibodies. So, this idea that the herd immunity threshold as it were has to be 60/70% is not something that is set in stone. Furthermore the seroprevalence, the level of anti-bodies you measure in a community doesn’t give you a very good idea of what the true exposure is for the very reasons, as I said which are already all known (although it’s nice to have it confirmed by this bigger study) that anti-bodies decay very rapidly upon establishment. It’s also known that a lot of people don’t make antibodies at all upon exposure because there are other arms of the immune system that deal with this virus, such as T-Cell immunity. So the picture is more complex: we have anti-bodies, we have immunity that is derived from antibodies, the loss of anti-body in the blood does not mean that we have lost this anti-body mediated protection because that is really stored as memory – that’s how it operates.

Ian Collins: [Interrupting]: And it re-manifests when under attack again?

Sunetra Gupta: That doesn’t imply that protection is being lost. But furthermore there are all these other arms of the immune system which we know now, through careful studies, to be very important in conferring immunity, I would say, as a baseline, we could assume that this virus behaves like any other coronavirus where you do get herd immunity, that is to say, a level of protection in the population that allows us to resume a normal life. It is true, I think that the baseline assumption for the duration of immunity to this coronavirus will the same as to other coronaviruses, which is not lifelong like measles, but it does not impact upon the building up and maintenance of a level of immunity that allows us to function normally.

Ian Collins: Give us an example if you would, to explain further when you say we have herd immunity to other corona viruses, explain where that has happened and how we know that we have?

Sunetra Gupta: So we know that that these other four seasonal coronaviruses co-circulate. We have data on that. And we know from certain studies that 1-2% of the population will typically be carrying one of these corona viruses. We also know that people are not dying of these corona viruses to the, I mean they are dying but we don’t see the kind of levels of death that we’ve just seen with this novel corona virus. So taken together what we expect; we know that by the time a child is aged 5 they have had exposure to all of these corona viruses, so if you look at the epidemiology of these other corona viruses, what best fits this data is the idea that each of these corona viruses gives you immunity for about, you know, five years shall we say. You get reinfected but you are now immune to severe disease and this process continues through life until you hit a point of immune senescence at which point you again become vulnerable to severe disease and death from these corona viruses. Because overall through this process of becoming immune, losing protection, becoming re-infected you maintain, in the population, a level of immunity that keeps the risk low. The risk of infection depends, not surprisingly, on how many people in the population are immune to the virus and that can be kept at the requisite level even if you lose immunity because, I keep saying, it’s a bit like a cistern… you have a level that is maintained, and even if the cistern leaks you have an in-pouring of water which maintains the level that you need so you can maintain a level of population immunity even though there is a leakage which, as I said you’d expect, the baseline expectation would be that it would be like any other coronavirus.

Ian Collins: So you stand by, despite this study…

Sunetra Gupta: The study has got no new, I mean we’ve known this for a very long time

Ian Collins: So you know about this study, you don’t think it tells the full story perhaps, but you stand by everything you’ve previously said in the Great Barrington Declaration that herd immunity, shielding the elderly, is the way. This hasn’t changed your mind at all?

Sunetra Gupta: No.

Ian Collins: So what do you say to your peers then and, the world of science, like any other profession does divide. When we’ve spoken to some of those others, we played a clip of one, I’m sure you wouldn’t want it to get personal, but she was absolutely incandescent when we spoke to her before that anyone would have the kind of view that you have. She questioned people’s politics, she questioned whether people were being funded, and fundamentally she wanted to know where the peer-reviewed evidence was on the kind of contention that you are putting forward here?

Sunetra Gupta: So it is very unfortunate indeed that people have been resorting to ad hominem attacks on us for having the view that herd immunity can develop to this virus. It’s an unusual state of affairs and I do think that universities should actually come up with a set of regulations and recommendations for how people should behave on platforms such as twitter or indeed in shows like this. So I think that ad hominem attacks are very unfortunate. I do think that there is sufficient scientific evidence that herd immunity builds up against coronaviruses. There have been statements saying that herd immunity never builds up at all which can be easily contradicted, for example, by the Zika virus experience. So, Zika virus: immunity was very low in Brazil when it came in, it caused an epidemic, saw a spate of encephalies and then the epidemic settled down to an endemic state as epidemics typically do, through the build up of natural immunity and now we don’t see the same problem because there is herd immunity in the population. There is this idea that herd immunity is a level of immunity that actually causes the virus or any other pathogen to be eradicated but that’s not what we’re talking about here, that’s something that only one vaccine has ever been able to do.

Ian Collins: Sure. It seems to be, Professor, that this business of the peer-reviewed element, it’s that missing component from the argument that you and other colleagues are putting forward that seems to have upset many people in the world of science. I’m sure you’ve had a torrid time on social media, how do you specifically respond to the lack of peer-reviewed evidence?

Sunetra Gupta: Well, first of all, Miss Gurdasani is incorrect in saying that we have no peer-reviewed papers. We have two peer-reviewed papers on actually the methodology because our lab, Craig Thompson from my lab, was the first to get the neutralising antibody assay up and running and he has had a very busy year really, hardly slept I think, and has had many demands to test samples, so we’ve got two peer-reviewed papers which have been, are out there. We have another paper which is in the process of peer review. As to some of out other very basic papers, like the one in March, we haven’t even tried to publish that because it’s out there. It’s a very simple model, it’s already been replicated. It’s really straight-forward. It’s just a set of simple epidemiological principles which show that a variety of scenarios can fit these data including one where a substantial number of people would have been infected in February or even in January, which ties in also quite nicely with the findings of this ‘React’ study, for example, you’d see anti-body levels of 20% in London in May could well be the result of a decay from 60% in February to 20% in May. So essentially we have some papers that are already peer-reviewed, some that are in the process of peer review, some which have been rejected by journals but on the basis that they are not of sufficient general interest…

Ian Collins: You’re confident that you could stand up for your findings and that of your colleagues in this respect?

Sunetra Gupta: They are in the public domain, they are on MedArchive, they are available for scrutiny. They are very simple models that anybody who has any kind of training in that area can replicate and we would welcome criticism of those results.

Ian Collins: Professor Gupta, it’s great to have you on again

And here’s a graph which suggests Professor Gupta knows what she’s talking about. One of these countries is not like the other…

Stop Press: The marvellous Ms Hartley-Brewer had a bit of a dust up with Professor Paul Elliott, he of the REACT survey report showing antibodies fading, on her talkRADIO show yesterday. This was then followed by an interview with occasional Lockdown Sceptics contributor Professor Anthony Brooks. A reader describes the fun and games.

Julia got into a heated debate with Prof. Elliott in which he kept on refusing to answer her question with regards to falling antibody levels and if he were right why the Swedes aren’t dying on a large scale at the moment. What it is all about can be listened to here.

But the best moment comes when Prof. Brooks reads a passage from Prof. Elliott’s own research report, two lines of which are actually the answer to Julia’s question to Prof. Elliott (the one he refused to answer)! This is the start of that particular segment.

And then it gets even better! She then wonders aloud the one question we all have: “Why would he [Prof. Elliott] not make that point to me? Why are people so intent on telling us this is, uh, that we’re all going to die, basically?” Prof. Brooks gives a start of an answer to it, using terms such as “groupthink” and “hysteria” and researchers being too deep into the subject to be able to step out of it and look at it from a distance.

Really worth your time this stuff, if only for the faces she pulled while she got all this information from Prof. Brooks!

A Massage Postponed…

A reader has emailed us to let us know about a massage she hoped to get, but has had to postpone due to the masseur being a bit of a chin-wobbler.

A while ago, I decided a Close Contact Service (a massage in old money) would not go amiss – all that tension induced by our Dear Leaders required some sorting out. But the person recommended to me was closed due to Covid. Imagine my delight when yesterday I received an email telling me she was opening up again next week. I really should know by now not to get so excited about the prospect of doing Something New.

Her Covid T&Cs have made it impossible for me to go and see her. Perhaps I was an idiot to expect a relaxing, pampering session. These T&Cs are dictated by the rules for Close Contact Services. The conditions are:

* I must wait outside and can only be allowed into the building when she collects me (there is no shelter outside this building)
* I must wear a mask throughout my time with her and can only take it off again when I leave the building
* She will be in full PPE and will do the massage wearing plastic gloves (not my idea of fun)
* I must not touch any surfaces and will be given a plastic container to put my possessions into but it would be best if I brought nothing with me
* I must wash my hands (why is this necessary as I’m not allowed to touch anything?)
* A window will be kept open throughout the treatment (to make sure I freeze to death if Covid doesn’t get me first)
* I must scan the NHS Test and Trace QR code when I enter the room (fat chance, as the app is not on my phone, nor will it ever be)
* All stair bannisters, door handles and bathroom surfaces will be disinfected before I arrive (no light switches? Oh dear)
* A 30-minute gap is left between appointments to clean and ventilate the room (marvellous – more people Following The Science)

So, there you go. Another treat which will have to wait. And this might be a while, as I see that the Sodom And Gomorrah Enterprises (SAGE) are threatening again that the Second Wave will kill me. One good thing about this is that it will make a massage superfluous to requirements.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Two today: “Madness” by Madness and “History Repeating” by Shirley Bassey.

Love in the Time of Covid

Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as Bonnie and Clyde

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

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

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today it’s the turn of the Labour Party, which has just published it’s “review” of why Covid deaths include a disproportionately large number of BAME people. Apparently, it’s because children aren’t taught enough black history in schools. Odd, because I thought October was Black History Month. Here is Recommendation 19 in the report:

The Government, working with the Devolved Administrations, should launch a review into the diversity of the school curriculum to ensure it includes Black British history, colonialism and Britain’s role in the transatlantic slave trade. The school curriculum should include and inspire all young people.

Needless to say, children are taught about little else in schools these days. Not sure being taught even more about “Britain’s role in the transatlantic slave trade” will “inspire all young people”.

Rabik Ehsan has written a scathing review of Labour’s “Review” in Spiked.

Stop Press: A bunch of privileged woke students at Clare College, Cambridge, have turned their ire on a college porter for being insufficiently enthusiastic about the proposition that “transwomen are women”. Sounds like a job for the Free Speech Union

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face masks in shops here.

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

And here’s an excellent piece about the ineffectiveness of masks by a Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry.

Stop Press: The Swiss Doctor has translated the article in a Danish newspaper about the suppressed Danish mask study. Largest RCT on the effectiveness of masks ever carried out. Rejected by three top scientific journals so far. And how about this – “New CDC Study Finds Majority of Those Infected with COVID-19 ‘Always’ Wore Masks“.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Sunetra Gupta, Professor Martin Kulldorff and Professor Jay Bhattacharya

The Great Barrington Declaration, a petition started by Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya calling for a strategy of “Focused Protection” (protect the elderly and the vulnerable and let everyone else get on with life), was launched last week and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it. If you Googled it last week, the top hits were three smear pieces from the Guardian, including: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this hit job the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now tops the search results – and my Spectator piece about the attempt to suppress it is among the top hits – although discussion of it has been censored by Reddit. The reason the zealots hate it, of course, is that it gives the lie to their claim that “the science” only supports their strategy. These three scientists are every bit as eminent – more eminent – than the pro-lockdown fanatics so expect no let up in the attacks. (Wikipedia has also done a smear job.)

You can find it here. Please sign it. Now well over 600,000 signatures.

Stop Press: The authors of the GDB have expanded the FAQs to deal with some of the arguments and smears that have been made against their proposal. Worth reading in full.

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

There are now so many JRs being brought against the Government and its ministers, we thought we’d include them all in one place down here.

First, there’s the Simon Dolan case. You can see all the latest updates and contribute to that cause here.

Then there’s the Robin Tilbrook case. You can read about that and contribute here.

Then there’s John’s Campaign which is focused specifically on care homes. Find out more about that here.

There’s the GoodLawProject’s Judicial Review of the Government’s award of lucrative PPE contracts to various private companies. You can find out more about that here and contribute to the crowdfunder here.

The Night Time Industries Association has instructed lawyers to JR any further restrictions on restaurants, pubs and bars.

Christian Concern is JR-ing the Welsh Government over its insistence on closing churches during the “circuit breaker”. See its letter-before-action here and an article about it here.

And last but not least there’s the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. You can read about that and make a donation here.

Samaritans

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

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments.)

And Finally…

JP’s latest video is another must-watch. One of the few rays of light in the gloom.

Latest News

SAGE Predicts Second Wave Will Be Worse Than First

Chris Whitty stares at his latest Graph of Doom

The Government has been caught using secret, non-peer-reviewed SAGE modelling again. When’s it going to learn? The Telegraph has the exclusive.

An internal analysis of the projected course of the second wave is understood to show deaths peaking at a lower level than in the spring but remaining at that level for weeks or even months.

It is understood that the projection – provided by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies – has led to intense lobbying from Sir Patrick Vallance and other Government advisers for Boris Johnson to take more drastic action.

“It’s going to be worse this time, more deaths,” said one well-placed source. “That is the projection that has been put in front of the Prime Minister, and he is now being put under a lot of pressure to lock down again.”

The report continues (though fails to mention that the 367 deaths reported yesterday followed two days of 102 and 151 so that the average has not risen by much).

Details of the UK projection emerged as the Government announced that a further 367 people had died with Covid – the highest daily figure since May, bringing the UK total to 43,365.

Dr Yvonne Doyle, the medical director of Public Health England, said: “We continue to see the trend in deaths rising, and it is likely this will continue for some time. Each day we see more people testing positive and hospital admissions increasing.

“Being seriously ill enough from the infection to need hospital admission can sadly lead to more Covid-related deaths.”

Health officials expect the death toll to reach 500 a day within weeks.

Meanwhile, SAGE finally admits that lockdowns don’t work.

Professor Wendy Barclay, a SAGE member and scientist from Imperial College London, on Tuesday said none of the current restrictions appeared to be having a significant impact on the spread of the virus.

“The total lockdown that we had back in late March was enough to turn the tide and get the virus back under control,” she told Times Radio. “So far, none of the other restrictions that we’ve seen, and none of the other actions, seem to have done that.”

Ok, so she actually said nothing short of full lockdown works – wholly ignoring the fact, admitted by Chris Whitty in July, that infections in the spring were falling well before the lockdown began. And are daily positive tests currently rising? Here’s the graph by specimen date:

UK Covid positive tests by specimen date

They went up around October 19th but there’s no sign of further growth in over a week now, even allowing for reporting delays. What about hospital admissions in England? The latest data shows them flat since October 21st:

Covid hospital admissions in England

This level of admissions is not unusual for the autumn. As noted on Lockdown Sceptics last week, admissions with respiratory infections always rise through October and November and go crazy in December. October 2016 had 24,500 such admissions in England. Up to October 24th there have been 16,260 Covid admissions, with seven days to go, so very similar. And as the ONS pointed out yesterday, “The numbers of deaths in hospitals remained below the five-year average in Week 42.” (Week ending October 16th.) While it may be that winter 2020-21 turns out to be somewhat worse than previous winters, given that some parts of the country were likely prevented by the spring lockdown from reaching herd immunity before summer arrived, it would hardly be surprising. But none of this amounts to a devastating “second wave” that justifies ongoing ruinous, totalitarian restrictions.

As for deaths at “500 a day within weeks”, why is Spain still only seeing around 130?

Thank goodness Boris seems so far to be resisting the siren calls of the prophets of doom. But with these whispers in his ears, neither is he likely to be doing an about turn and embracing a liberal, focused protection approach any time soon.

How We Know Immunity Lasts – Whatever Imperial Says

One of the big stories yesterday was the latest data from Imperial’s REACT antibody survey showing that SARS-CoV-2 antibody levels in England have dropped by over a quarter in three months. The Telegraph has the details.

The mass research indicated that, by last month, fewer than one in 20 people had developed antibodies to Covid. Commissioned by the Department of Health, it is part of the largest piece of a research programme informing Government policies.

Its findings showed that by June, after the first wave of the pandemic, just 6% of the population had developed antibodies, which suggest some level of protection against the virus. Three months later, that figure had dropped to 4.4%, with most of the decline happening within just six weeks. 

The sharpest fall was seen in those most in need of protection, with antibody levels among the over-75s reducing by close to 40% between June and September.

Scientists said the findings showed Britain is “miles off” achieving herd immunity, which they warned might never be reached without a vaccine. 

However, the research did not examine the role played by other forms of immunity. Some scientists believe the part played by T-cells – a type of white blood cell that helps the immune system fight off viruses and is linked with prior infections by common colds – could be more crucial in fighting the virus.

Scientists analysed home fingerprick test samples from hundreds of thousands of adults to establish “detectable antibody levels” over a period of three months, and found levels fell by 26.5% overall. 

The largest fall was among those most vulnerable to serious illness from Covid. Among those aged 75 and over, antibody levels fell by 39%, while a drop of only 15% was seen in those aged between 18 and 24.

The lead researcher is Helen Ward, a professor of public health at Imperial. She says:

I think what we are showing is that there is a really big challenge to that, which is that immunity is waning quite rapidly. After three months, we’ve already shown a 26% decline in antibodies. When you think that 95 out of 100 people are unlikely to be immune, and therefore likely to be susceptible, then we are a long, long way, from anything resembling a population level protection against transmission.

It is staggering that it is October and Prof Ward can still assert, largely unchallenged by journalists and politicians, that 95% of the country are susceptible. How is it that the lead researcher of a key Government antibody survey is still in the dark about long-lasting and pre-existing T-cell immunity, as Dr Mike Yeadon explains here, Peter Doshi in the BMJ explains here, and the CEBM explain here? There has been close to zero reinfection so far, and almost all the tiny number of documented cases of reinfection are mild, which as these immunologists explain, is exactly what we would expect, antibodies or not. Besides, when it comes to coronaviruses, “immunity” doesn’t necessarily mean never-get-it-again, it means the immune system is primed so even if a virus does breach some defences it is much less likely to breach all of them and cause serious illness.

Yet Professor Wendy Barclay, head of the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial, agrees with her colleague, saying Britain is “miles off” herd immunity:

Seasonal coronaviruses that circulate every winter and cause common colds can reinfect people after six to 12 months – and we suspect that the way that the body reacts to infection with this new coronavirus is rather similar to that. We don’t yet know what level of antibody is needed in a person’s blood to protect them from infection or reinfection from SARS-CoV-2, but of course that level is a crucial thing to begin to understand. Most of the vaccine strategies are aiming to produce that level, and that level will feed into whether or not a population becomes immune or has any level of immunity.

It is odd that Prof Barclay claims that most of the vaccines are aiming to produce enough antibodies to protect from infection, as the trial protocols state otherwise. As Peter Doshi explains in the BMJ: “None of the trials currently under way are designed to detect a reduction in any serious outcome such as hospital admissions, use of intensive care, or deaths. Nor are the vaccines being studied to determine whether they can interrupt transmission of the virus.” All they are doing is testing to see whether mild symptoms become milder. That’s primarily because serious symptoms are so rare trials can’t detect enough of them to obtain reliable results. Yet the scientists at the heart of advising the Government appear to be unaware of this fact. What hope then for the politicians?

But back with declining antibodies, and Harry de Quetteville has written an extraordinarily misleading piece in the Telegraph, a classic of the genre. To keep it brief:

  • “With the four other coronaviruses that just cause us colds, antibodies generated by natural infection can be short-lived and we can suffer again as soon as six months later… Of course, the fact we repeatedly suffer from those four other coronaviruses suggests that natural T-cell response is unlikely to confer long-lasting immunity.” No, first because there is a huge variety of viruses which cause colds, not just coronaviruses, which is the main reason we keep getting them. And second, reinfection with the same virus is often mild because of immunity.
  • “Vaccines prompt our bodies to work in ways they wouldn’t do normally – that’s the point.” It really isn’t. Vaccines stimulate natural immune responses by simulating infection. Anything a vaccine can do will typically be done more effectively (if more riskily) by natural infection.
  • “The very prospect of declining natural immunity is devastating to those who want to ‘let the virus rip’. What if we did, thousands died, and yet a few months later there was no benefit, in terms of immunity?” Leaving aside the “let rip” slur – who’s Harry supposed to be quoting here, given that not a single advocate of focused protection has used that phrase? – declining antibodies are not necessarily declining immunity, and places like Sweden, London and New York are the elephants in the room for the supposedly unanswerable “what ifs”.
  • “This study is a reminder of what has been true about coping pre-vaccine from the beginning: to control transmission without draconian lockdowns, tests must be combined with effective contact tracing.” Yet no European country has run a successful test and trace programme. This is because, as the GBD FAQ explains, contact tracing “does not work for widely spread diseases such as annual influenza, pre-vaccine measles, COVID-19, or, by definition, against any pandemic”. Is Harry just reproducing a press release from Matt Hancock’s officer verbatim?
  • “We cannot be sure about durability, but even if it does not confer eternal immunity, a vaccine could still provide long enough immunity essentially to eliminate transmission, with breakout infections being rare, and, hopefully, as is often the case, less severe.” Then, suddenly, an acknowledgement that less than perfect immunity provides a decent level of personal and community resistance. But, oddly, only if it’s conferred by a vaccine rather than natural infection. Huh?

Stop Press: Prof Sunetra Gupta was on talkRADIO yesterday defending focused protection, herd immunity and the GBD in the light of the new panic around fading immunity. Watch it here. If anyone has time to rustle up a transcript for us we’ll publish it in a future update.

How Covid Deaths Are Over-Counted

Today we’re publishing a new piece by pathologist and longstanding Lockdown Sceptics contributor Dr Clare Craig on how the data shows there is something seriously wrong with how we are counting both cases and deaths. From the introduction:

The system for counting deaths from Covid is not working properly and we are over-counting Covid deaths. This can be fixed, easily, by improving cross-checking and retesting all alleged positive PCR test results. Accurate data is a basic prerequisite for good policy choices. The remedial steps needed are simple and relatively inexpensive. Central government should mandate them to be done immediately.

When trying to understand the impact of increased testing on case numbers we look to the percentage of tests reported as positive. In a similar way, it is important to double check other data points against each other, as percentages, to truly understand how the epidemic is progressing. Using this approach, it appears that we are over-counting deaths because there are not enough severely sick people from Covid to account for them. In other words, there are proportionately more Covid deaths per case and per hospital admission since the Summer. This paper explains this phenomenon and calls for proper scientific cross-checking to be instituted before a Covid outbreak is declared.

This is a long but important article and rewards reading in full.

Normal Annual Mortality Predicts COVID-19 Death Toll

Source: COVID-19 deaths – Worldometer; Annual mortality – Eurostat

Here is a neat graph showing how a heavy Covid death toll is largely a problem for countries with low overall annual mortality. Those six countries with Covid deaths over 50 per 100,000 are (from left to right) France, Sweden, Italy, the United Kingdom, Spain and Belgium. Low mortality countries have more people in the older, more vulnerable age brackets. The big white space in the top right of the graph shows that no European country with high annual mortality has yet suffered a high Covid death toll.

The semi-outlier with a Covid tally of 33.7 per 100,000 is Romania, which is currently experiencing something of an autumn surge after coming off lightly in spring. It’s worth knowing though that January to May 2020 saw 4,905 fewer deaths in Romania than in the same period in 2019, despite the country suffering around 1,200 Covid deaths in that time. This might be why it is being hit harder by Covid now – the dry tinder wasn’t ignited earlier in the year.

While there are a number of countries that have both low annual mortality and low Covid mortality (the 10 or so in the bottom left), the data suggest normal annual mortality is a significant predictor of Covid deaths.

Deaths Above Average – But It’s Not Just Covid

Deaths in England and Wales were significantly above average for the first time since the late spring, with 669 deaths or 6.8% above the five-year average in the week ending October 16th, according to the latest ONS figures. With Covid deaths also on the rise in October it would be easy to put this all down to the so-called ‘second wave’. However, a closer analysis tells a different story. For one thing, despite rising hospital admissions, hospital deaths are still below average (by 184), while deaths in homes continue well above average (by 776), and deaths in care homes are now above average as well (by 90). While some of this will be transfer of people who would normally die in hospital dying at home and in care homes, not all of them would necessarily have died if they’d received hospital care (which of course is why we have hospitals). What’s more, a regional analysis shows overall deaths rising in the South West, the West Midlands and the East Midlands despite no corresponding rise in Covid deaths, and overall deaths declining in Yorkshire despite Covid deaths rising. This suggests it is other causes, many of them likely lockdown related given the absence of flu this year, that is driving the increase in excess deaths.

BBC Runs Advertorial For Chairman Dan

Police in Melbourne help a misguided citizen realise the error of his ways

We received an email from Freddie Attenborough, the author of the some of the strongest pieces we’ve published on Lockdown Sceptics, such as this one on the infantilisation of dissent, drawing our attention to a BBC article portraying the lockdown in the state of Victoria – one of the most draconian in the world – as a huge success. We’ve decided to run it as a guest post…

It appears that The Office for the Premier of Victoria bought some advertorial space with the BBC yesterday. Great to see them celebrating their success (and great too to see the BBC finally embracing a private-sector funding model)! Apparently, Victoria’s lockdown has been an absolute blast from start to finish. Everyone’s happy and the good people of Melbourne, in particular, have been left feeling like theirs is the best of all possible worlds (“Who needs a job, anyway?” “I never liked running a business!” “Money only burns a hole in your pocket!” “I like a man in uniform to treat me nice and rough every now and then!” “The tumour will probably go away if I give it time,” and so on). Did you know that? I didn’t know that. We must get out more. I completely get why Victoria feel the need to shout from the rooftops about this. True, people in that state haven’t been allowed to come out from under their beds yet. But lockdowns so obviously work that it seems a little churlish to ask them to wait before cracking open the bubbly. It’ll be over before Christmas! “I have here, from Herr Coronavirus, a piece of paper!” It’s peace for our time! Etc.

In describing the piece as an advertorial, I was perhaps being a little unfair. After all, the BBC do appear to have insisted on the values of objectivity and impartiality being upheld throughout. Towards the end of the piece, for instance, “serious mistakes” are identified within Victoria’s response to the coronavirus. Obviously, having the police beat up and strangle a young woman on the streets of Melbourne for not wearing a mask isn’t one of them. I know that fuddy-duddy conservatives like yourselves, with your rule of law, constitutionality and checks and balances and what not (yawn) continue to labour under the misapprehension that it was. But the BBC have got a Royal Charter. They provide “trusted world and UK news”, which must be true, because it says so on their trusted world and UK news website. Indeed unlike some journalists I could mention, what they don’t do is rabble-rouse for white supremacist organisations like the Spectator or – worse – the micro-aggressive Free Speech Union. Facts – that’s their currency. Strangling women to stop a virus from spreading? Fine. Eggs and omelettes. Nothing to see here. Just ordinary police work. No need to mention it. Move along. No, the “serious mistakes” identified by the BBC appear to centre on the way the authorities didn’t actually have enough power during lockdown. That’s right, not enough power. Sadly, it seems that those irritating “disease-vectors” we once whimsically – and perhaps, as it turns out, a little too carelessly – used to refer to as “citizens” proved frustratingly recalcitrant and didn’t do what they were told often enough.

It’s in these little glimpses of what the lockdown zealots view as “mistakes” that you can guess at one possible future for us all. One way or another, lockdown is going to be a success in Victoria. Heads they win, tails you lose. That’s why we can all start to celebrate before the lockdown’s over. The lockdown, as a system, is efficacious. We know that already. Yay! Woop! Three cheers for Professor Pantsdown! Etc. It follows therefore that if it hasn’t worked, it’s not the lockdown system itself but the disease-vectors within the system that are to blame. And the next step in the event of the lockdown system being failed by the vectors? Do it all over again, but this time with greater powers arrogated to the state. All disease vectors must be protected from themselves and each other. Lockdown everything. “Silence! Stand back! Look at the floor, you cur! Declare your pathogens! Confess to your exposures! Breathe intermittently and then only in a shallow manner! Excessive diaphragmatic movements will be monitored from above by drones! Thoracic cavities are to be strip searched every hour on the hour! Strangling is too good for maskless libertarian tarts who can only be out walking the streets of Melbourne in order to solicit; what they need and what they will get under THIS lockdown is a good, hard, socially distanced shoot-to-kill policy.” And so on.

The socio-legal trajectory here is pretty clear. The political scientist Robert Michels once wrote about an “iron law of oligarchy,” where all complex organizations, regardless of how democratic they were when started, eventually developed into oligarchies. He was of course referring specifically to political parties, but for me he also inadvertently identified a general tendency towards “intensification” in modernity; that is, a tendency for more and more power to be dragged towards fewer and fewer people, particularly when those people see themselves as having to operate in the presence of an internal enemy – and what could be more “internal” than a virus? At least those Commie Bastards during the Cold War had the decency to stay out of our free-market lungs.

Representative democracy was a pretty effective western, liberal attempt to halt, or at least pause, that process of intensification: we voted on the basis of their manifesto, they led on the basis of that manifesto, we then voted them out on the basis of how well or how badly their actions aligned to their manifesto. It wasn’t perfect, but at least you could say that the oligarchies got switched around every five or so years. But in Australia and also in the UK (with our own Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations and the Coronavirus Act) we’re starting to regard the basic principles and tenets of representative democracy as annoyances, irritations, things that get in the way of a small group of people quickly and efficiently doing “the right thing” in order to protect everyone else. Indeed, if the coronavirus has taught us anything it’s just how disturbingly easy it is for a certain type of personality to switch from seeing people as citizens to seeing them as disease-vectors. This is truly the Age of the Passive-Aggressive Fusspot. (Watching Little Matty Hancock (Private, Second Class) counting off the regulations in the Government’s catechism of neurotic epidemiological obsessions as he struts around Bojo’s tin-pot war-gaming bunker in a skin-tight Flash Gordon cosplay outfit, you get the sense that his personality has finally, at long last, found its métier.) The result is that we’re in danger of ending up with our own “iron law of lockdown”, namely, that all lockdowns – limited, temporary arrogations of power by the state – regardless of how well intentioned they are when begun, have the tendency to develop into totalitarian nightmares – limitless, quasi-permanent arrogations of power by the state. Or, in more detail: lockdowns work except when they’re failed by the people; and when they’re failed by the people they haven’t been enforced adequately by the state; and if they haven’t been enforced adequately by the state then they need to be reintroduced, but only now where the state has arrogated to itself even greater power of enforcement.

And the logical endpoint for this, the “iron law of lockdown”? If you look up the relevant statistical datasets online, you’ll find that the infection fatality rate for corpses is 0.0000%.

Round-Up

Love in the Time of Covid

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

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

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, it’s Rupert Murdoch’s turn to drink the Kool-Aid. Yup, that’s right, the Dirty Digger himself has been captured by the woke cult – or, rather, the HR department of News UK has and he hasn’t noticed. Guido Fawkes has the story.

Rupert Murdoch’s News UK is undergoing a major woke shakeup in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests, with the company’s human resources department aiming to exert influence on editorial content and decisions across all titles; as well as requiring all journalists and presenters to sign up to diversity and inclusion objectives and training. A leaked Zoom chat on the subject reveals that the media giant has appointed Shelley Bishton as their new “Head of Creative Diversity” to oversee the transformation…

As part of the sweeping changes across the News UK empire titles will be forced to:

* Appoint “diversity specialists” on each outlet
* Agree a process for internal and external content review to track sentiment and coverage
* Introduce a new politically-correct “style guide” so journalists can speak with authority on stories about diversity

The human resources team privately described the readerships and audiences of the Sun, the Times, the Sunday Times, Talk Radio and Times Radio as a “predominantly anti-diversity and inclusion” audience, with “newsrooms… more white and they tend to be more male”. Go woke, go broke…

If the HR team know that the consumers of News UK’s journalism don’t sign up to all this woke nonsense, why try and “train” the staff to churn it out? Because it’s the right thing to do, obviously…

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face masks in shops here.

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

And here’s an excellent piece about the ineffectiveness of masks by a Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry.

The Swiss Doctor has translated the article in a Danish newspaper about the suppressed Danish mask study. Largest RCT on the effectiveness of masks ever carried out. Rejected by three top scientific journals so far.

Stop Press: Now they’re trying to say we’re mad and bad. From the Independent.

Scientists in Brazil have linked resistance to COVID-19 safety measures, such as wearing a mask, with antisocial personality traits.

Their study was the first of its kind in Latin America and surveyed over 1,500 people aged 18-73.

Using a questionnaire, the scientists sought to identify the participants’ affective resonance – their impulse to act on feelings stirred by another person – and asked a series of personality questions about how well certain statements represented their behaviour on a scale.

The survey also asked about compliance with COVID-19 containment measures over time, such as mask wearing.

When profiles were analysed, two were identified: an antisocial pattern profile who were resistant to COVID-19 safety measures and an empathy pattern profile who were compliant.

Since the “antisocial” traits include “risk-taking” and “impulsivity”, perhaps this may all be just a teensy bit subjective and biased.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Sunetra Gupta, Professor Martin Kulldorff and Professor Jay Bhattacharya

The Great Barrington Declaration, a petition started by Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya calling for a strategy of “Focused Protection” (protect the elderly and the vulnerable and let everyone else get on with life), was launched last week and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it. If you Googled it last week, the top hits were three smear pieces from the Guardian, including: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this hit job the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now tops the search results – and this Spectator piece about the attempt to suppress it is among the top hits – although discussion of it has been censored by Reddit. The reason the zealots hate it, of course, is that it gives the lie to their claim that “the science” only supports their strategy. These three scientists are every bit as eminent – more eminent – than the pro-lockdown fanatics so expect no let up in the attacks. (Wikipedia has also done a smear job.)

You can find it here. Please sign it. Now well over 600,000 signatures.

Stop Press: The authors of the GDB have expanded the FAQs to deal with some of the arguments and smears that have been made against their proposal. Worth reading in full.

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

There are now so many JRs being brought against the Government and its ministers, we thought we’d include them all in one place down here.

First, there’s the Simon Dolan case. You can see all the latest updates and contribute to that cause here.

Then there’s the Robin Tilbrook case. You can read about that and contribute here.

Then there’s John’s Campaign which is focused specifically on care homes. Find out more about that here.

There’s the GoodLawProject’s Judicial Review of the Government’s award of lucrative PPE contracts to various private companies. You can find out more about that here and contribute to the crowdfunder here.

The Night Time Industries Association has instructed lawyers to JR any further restrictions on restaurants, pubs and bars.

And last but not least there’s the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. You can read about that and make a donation here.

Samaritans

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

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments.)

And Finally…

Watch Lord Sumption’s evisceration of the Government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis here.

Latest News

Is the NHS in Danger of Being Overwhelmed?

Morten Moreland in yesterday’s Times

Just how great a risk is there of the NHS being overwhelmed? We’re constantly being told by Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock and others that unless we observe the traffic light restrictions in our area, we will witness the kind of scenes we saw in Lombardy back in March, with Covid patients dying in hospital corridors. But is that true? Not according to my friend who’s worked as an NHS doctor for the past 30 years. Here is his guest post for today’s Lockdown Sceptics.

The last three weeks have seen much speculation about the numbers of COVID patients in intensive care units, particularly in the North West and London. Further local lockdowns have been enforced by the Government in the North West, London and yesterday in the Midlands on the grounds that the NHS risks being overwhelmed. But how close is the system to being swamped, and what can we reasonably conclude from publicly available information?

NHS data released to the public to date is incomplete and usually a week in arrears. Carl Heneghan and Tom Jefferson point out in their recent Spectator article that this crisis has been characterised by sequential data inadequacy from the Government’s scientific advisors, Public Health England and the NHS. As they say “a look back at the figures issued shows that the track record, eventually validated against the facts, is abysmal. This is important because major decisions continue to be taken on the strength of such data”.

Some of these mistakes relate to crass errors of basic management, others more disturbing over-exaggeration or over-extrapolation of the size of the threats to public health. It is known that more granular data exist – for instance around the cause of death statistics and in-hospital Covid infection rates. But these figures are not being released to the public by the NHS despite requests for more transparency – seemingly at odds with Freedom of Information obligations.

The data we do have throw up some interesting patterns.

Firstly, the rate of change of numbers of patients in ICU appears to be levelling off in all regions other than the North West up to October 20th (Graph 1). What happened after that we are not permitted to know.

In comparison with the spring surge of Covid, the curves seem very different, especially in London (Graphs 2 and 3). It is clear that the rate of increase in the autumn is nowhere near as steep as in the spring. Further, the number of patients in London ICU beds is not out of proportion to what one would generally expect from respiratory infections at this time of year.

The data curves from the North West look different to London (Graphs 4 and 5). Again, the ICU patients track the ward inpatients, but the slope of the graphs is steeper in the autumn. Why the difference? Broadly, there are two schools of thought. The first maintains that the London population has a higher immunity or resistance to COVID-19 after having been hit harder in the spring. The North West had a surge in the spring too, but national lockdown occurred before the Northern surge was fully mature, hence there may currently be more susceptible people in the North West for the virus to infect than there are in London. Serology data on antibody levels suggests that London has a significantly higher proportion of people with antibodies than the rest of the UK (approx. 15 – 20%). It is reasonable to assume that London also has a higher level of people with T-cell immunity on the basis of greater previous viral exposure.

The other school of thought holds that there is no difference in the resistance profiles between the London and North Western populations, and that the difference in hospitalisation rates is due to poor social distancing habits in the North West and more working from home in the London population. This view inclines to the belief that eventually the ‘second wave’ will travel from the North to London with a lag time of about two weeks.

A deeper analysis of the data suggests this is unlikely to be the case. There is a clear inflection point in the North West where ICU cases of Covid start to rise on or around September 22nd (Graph 6). ICU data by individual hospital can be difficult to interpret as intensive care units usually operate as a network involving several hospitals. In a surge crisis, the larger inner-city hospitals usually receive patients from smaller peripheral units, increasing their apparent numbers accordingly. In the North West, almost all the hospitals saw a sudden increase in ICU cases after September 22nd.

The inflection point in the London figures is different and the distribution of cases between trusts is also very different (Graph 7). Overall numbers are substantially lower than in the North West – a region of roughly comparable population. In London, ICU cases started to rise on September 20th – so, rather than being two weeks behind the North West, London may be seeing a ‘second wave’ at roughly the same time. Unlike the North West, where cases were spread equally between hospitals, cases in London were concentrated in the East of the City, with Barking and St Barts seeing the majority of cases. Hospitals which had been seriously stretched in April, such as Lewisham, Guys and St Thomas’s, the Whittington, St Georges and Northwick Park, have so far not seen many Covid patients, lending support to the enhanced resistance theory.

So what does all this mean? The fact that respiratory infections increase in autumn is not a surprise – the annual winter beds crisis has been a constant feature of my three decades in medicine and cancellation of routine surgical work due to winter pressures is commonplace. Certainly, it is very difficult at the moment for hospital staff in the North West – having been in the eye of the storm last time round, I have the utmost sympathy for them. However, the Mayor of Manchester and the head of the regional ICU network in the North West have both stated on the record that the healthcare system can cope with the surge. Meanwhile in London, Covid patients occupy 10% of ICU beds – completely in line with normal winter pressures at this time of year.

An objective reading of the available data does not currently support the hypothesis that the NHS is in imminent danger of being over-run. The argument from ‘circuit breaker’ advocates is that winter pressures may increase in the coming weeks and create further stress on the system – and that may come to pass, but should Covid admissions or influenza cases increase, there are several measures hospitals can take to manage the problem, such as cancellation of elective work, and use of overspill facilities constructed in haste and at substantial expense in the spring, before resorting to mass incarceration of the public and destruction of viable businesses.

So why the Tier 3 lockdowns in the North and now the Midlands?

Governmental restrictions of civil liberties must be a last resort in a democratic society. To justify such radical measures, both the Government, their scientific advisors and the NHS must be more honest and transparent with the public in respect of the data driving lockdown decisions. Simply asking the population to trust the experts is insufficient, particularly when the experts have clearly been so seriously in error in recent months.

Failure to provide sufficient evidence to justify unprecedented curbs on citizens’ rights suggests arbitrary deprivations of civil liberty are being enforced for political reasons rather than medical necessity.

Trust and confidence are essential for the operation of a modern liberal democracy. Our current leadership is rapidly running out of both.

50 Northern Tory MPs Demand Roadmap Out of Lockdown

Witless and Unbalanced’s Graph of Doom

Fifty Northern MPs have demanded a roadmap out of lockdown as a further million people have been told they’ll be placed under the most severe restrictions from Thursday, with the addition of Nottingham, Broxtowe and Warrington to Tier 3. The Mail has more.

A letter to Boris Johnson from the Northern Research Group – a newly-launched alliance of Tory MPs led by ex-Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry – outlines the group’s demands, which include a tailored economic recovery plan for the north.

Mr Berry says that the virus could widen the North-South divide and “send the North into reverse”. His group is now calling for Mr Johnson to “level-up the North”, something the PM claimed he would do following sweeping Conservative gains in the region in the General Election.

It comes as around eight million people in England face living under the toughest COVID-19 restrictions by the end of the week after officials confirmed four separate parts of Nottinghamshire will be thrust into a Tier 3 lockdown from midnight on Wednesday, following three days of crunch talks with the Government.

Officials have agreed to adopt the draconian measures in Nottingham City, Gedling, Broxtowe and Rushcliffe in an attempt to drive down transmission. It will mean all pubs and bars have to close unless they serve meals, while people are banned from mixing with anyone they don’t live with indoors or in private gardens and beer gardens.

MPs from the Northern Research Group describe how the region has been hit with harsh local restrictions and local economies will continue to suffer, with many losing their jobs and facing the prospect of closing down their businesses.

MP for Rossendale and Darwen, Mr Berry, said: “The virus has exposed in sharp relief the deep structural and systemic disadvantage faced by our communities and it threatens to continue to increase the disparity between the North and South still further.

“Our constituents have been some of the hardest hit by this virus with many losing jobs, businesses, and livelihoods. Never has there been a more pertinent and urgent political and economic case to support people living in the North.

“However, instead of moving forwards on our shared ambitions, the cost of Covid and the virus itself threatens to send the North into reverse.”

Ironically, Nottingham has been placed in Tier 3 in spite of the fact that daily new cases are falling. Department of Health statistics show that the number of COVID-19 cases diagnosed in Nottingham each day has been dropping since the start of the month.

Over the weekend, South Yorkshire became the latest region to fall under the highest tier of controls, following Liverpool City Region, Greater Manchester and Lancashire. If you add the areas announced yesterday, a total of eight million people will be living in a Tier 3 area, which means no household mixing – indoors or out – pubs closing unless they serve food, and locals advised only to leave their areas for essential travel such as work, education or health, and they must return before the end of the day.

Stop Press: ITV reports that drive-by testing facilities across the UK’s hotspot areas are well below capacity, with very few people showing up for tests.

Generation Covid

Rasheed Graham, a 23 year-old who’s fully-funded pilot’s training course has been suspended

Panorama on the BBC last night documented the damage the lockdown and ongoing restrictions are doing to young people. An accompanying article on BBC News summarised the main points.

Young people, particularly those from deprived backgrounds, have had their earnings and job prospects hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, adding to fears for the long-term impact on their futures.

BBC Panorama found people aged 16-25 were more than twice as likely as older workers to have lost their job, while six in 10 saw their earnings fall, according to new research.

It also highlighted the impact of school closures on young people and added to growing evidence that students from poorer backgrounds have fallen behind their more privileged peers.

A quarter of pupils – some 2.5 million children – had no schooling or tutoring during lockdown, the survey by the London School of Economics (LSE) suggests.
But, the study adds, nearly three quarters of private school pupils had full days of teaching (74%) – almost twice the proportion of state school pupils (38%).

The study’s authors warn it could lead to poorer pupils suffering “permanent ‘educational scarring'” when it comes to key academic milestones such as exams and securing a university place.

One of the most moving stories featured on the programme was that of Rasheed Graham, a 23 year-old from north-west London who’d secured a place on a fully-funded pilot’s training course before the coronavirus outbreak brought it to a halt.

Rasheed was told the flying school was closing and the airline could not afford to fund the training anymore.

In order to continue, he needs to find £60,000 to cover the costs.

“This is why the cadetship is worth its weight in gold, because if you don’t come from wealth or money, it gives you the opportunity to pursue a career as a pilot if you didn’t have the means before,” he told Panorama.

Rasheed is trying to crowd fund the money to pay for his course and has raised almost £22,000 so far.

“This could work out or it couldn’t. I’ve actually accepted both eventualities,” he says. “But I’d rather look back and realise that I’d tried to do something to return to flight training than sit back, and let the opportunity go by.”

You can contribute to Rasheed’s GoFundMe here – although it looks like he’s already raised the £60,000 he needs.

You can watch the programme here.

Lionel Shriver Speaks Truth to Power

I interviewed arch-sceptic Lionel Shriver for the Quillette podcast on Friday. She was predictably marvellous. As she said in the course of the interview, this crisis has sorted out the men from the boys when it comes to distinguished scientists, celebrated intellectuals and literary celebrities – with the vast majority proving bitterly disappointing. But a handful of independent-minded giants have emerged and Shriver is among the most impressive. Definitely worth listening to.

Stop Press: Stacey Rudin has written another terrific post for the American Institute For Economic Research, this time arguing that where you stand on the lockdowns is a test of character. She says the sceptics deserve the public’s trust because they have the least to gain from their position.

If COVID-19 is Not a High Consequence Infectious Disease, Why Lockdown?

Martin Neil, Professor of Computer Science and Statistics, School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Queen Mary University of London, has done a twitter thread posing an interesting question. Reprinted below.

  1. On 19th March the UK 4 nations public health HCID group made a decision that COVID-19 is NOT a high consequence infectious disease (HCID):
    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/high-consequence-infectious-diseases-hcid
  2. Note this important statement: “The Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens (ACDP) is also of the opinion that COVID-19 should no longer be classified as an HCID.”
  3. In the UK an HCID is defined as an acute infectious disease, with high case-fatality rate requires an enhanced individual, population and system response.
  4. Professor Neil Ferguson is a member of The Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens (ACDP).
    https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/advisory-committee-on-dangerous-pathogens
  5. I understand the committee reached the UNANIMOUS view, that COVID-19 is NOT a HCID, at a meeting on 13th March 2020.
  6. Despite this the UK SAGE group published a document on 14th March recommending enhanced individual, population and system responses to COVID-19:
    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/update-from-sage-delay-phase-modelling
  7. The SAGE group, Whitty and Vallance made this decision on 14th March – the day after the ACDP committee decision and five days before the HCID group’s decision.
  8. They therefore made this decision despite, and in contradiction to, official scientific advice.
  9. What happened between 13th and 14th March? Why did Ferguson, Vallance and Whitty change direction before the 4 nations HCID group made their decision on 19th March?
  10. Professor Neil Ferguson is a member of SAGE and a member of the ACDP. How can he make a decision one day and then contradict it the next?

Prof Neil has written for Lockdown Sceptics before about how most ‘positive’ cases are either asymptomatic carriers or false positives.

C.S. Lewis Could See Into the Future

C.S. Lewis, “Willing Slaves of the Welfare State“, published in the Observer on July 20th 1958

The Price of Panic

Great new website collating the collateral damage of the lockdown under five different headings: Hunger and Poverty, Deaths from Other Diseases, Harm to Children, Anxiety, Depression and Suicides, and Oppression. Here’s an extract from the preamble:

The negative effects of lockdown are too often dismissed as small sacrifices, necessary to keep a highly deadly disease from spreading. These sacrifices are, in fact, neither necessary nor small, and the disease is only a threat to a minority of the population that can be protected without lockdowns. Sometimes, where major harms become hard to ignore, they are lamented as further damage caused by Covid, even though your panic-driven measures are to blame. This is an effort to bring focus to the magnitude of suffering taking place around us because of lockdowns.

Worth bookmarking.

Poetry Corner

A reader – Dylan Lovelock – has sent us a poem. I know how he feels.

No New Normal

I do not accept the new normal, I do not want a new normal thank you very much,

I’m quite happy with the old normal, I’m not a rabbit in a rabbit hutch

There is not a fox lurking around the corner, I’m not hiding in a chicken pen

I’m not masking my smile through fear or phobia, I will shake the hand of my good friend

I will walk freely wherever I choose to, that is why I bought these shoes new

I’m not residing in a prison cell, nor have I committed any crime

So do not expect that any time soon I’ll be doing any time

Please turn off the loathly TV and do not read the news

Unless of course you want to be misinformed and served up sour mistruths

Do not give up on your freedom, do not hand it to the machine

Do not let them take away your cash, this insidious agenda is entirely obscene

Liberty is a precious right for each and everyone

We must protect our way of life for our daughters and our sons

I am a human being, born free to live and breathe

This is not my new normal, I simply will not believe.

Spooky Parallels With Mad Cow Disease

Neil Ferguson predicted 50,000 deaths from Mad Cow Disease. The actual number was 178.

We’re publishing an original piece today by Dr Janie Axelrad, a retired academic who wrote a book about Mad Cow Disease (BSE: A Disaster of Biblical Proportions Or a Disaster of British Science?). She sees uncanny similarities between that crisis and this. During that panic, the equivalent of SAGE was SEAC – the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee. And, predictably, it massively over-reacted, got drunk on its own power and caused an enormous amount of needless economic damage. Here is an extract.

Once a course of action is established, original predictions become untestable, and mitigating actions can always explain the discrepancies between predicted and actual figures. The BSE crisis continued for years, and although it became increasingly clear that the dire predictions would not materialise, SEAC maintained enormous power over the narrative, the funding and the media. However, all good things must come to an end: case numbers refused to rise and the funding started drying up. In the midst of the BSE crisis I was asked to write a book for the Institute of Economic Affairs, in which I predicted that fewer than 200 CJD cases would be recorded. Later, in 2002, Neil Ferguson’s Imperial College team proclaimed that the 50,000 predicted deaths could be an underestimate. To date, the number of CJD cases is 178.

The course of that crisis has obvious parallels with the current COVID-19 pandemic response. The impression is that we are following the same handbook, albeit with a copy that is a little dog-eared. So when Ferguson predicts 500,000 deaths from COVID-19 if we ignore his advice, I suggest we should be a little sceptical. So far the UK mortality is around 45,000. Despite a total lockdown and numerous local restrictions, our death rate per million is still higher than that of Sweden, that has no such restrictions. Ten or 20 years in the future, the scientists and politicians responsible will be retired in the comfort of knowing that most people have forgotten their roles, just as happened with the BSE crisis.

We’ve added this piece to the right-hand menu in the section “How Have We Responded to Previous Pandemics?”, one of the strongest group of articles on Lockdown Sceptics.

Worth reading in full.

Our Finest Hour

A reader has adapted Churchill’s famous ‘finest hour’ speech so it applies to our current predicament. It required surprisingly few changes.

My fellow sceptics and I know that the Battle for Britain has now begun. Upon this battle depends the survival of civilisation and democracy. Upon it depends our own British way of life, and the long continuity of our culture, our institutions and our freedom. The whole fury and might of the enemy will soon be turned on us. He knows that he will have to break us and our spirit or lose his agenda. If we can stand up to him, we will be free, and all Europe may be free, and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole free world, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age, made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, remove this tinpot despot and his puppet master, and so bear ourselves that for the next thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”

Et Tu, New Scientist?

A reader points out that it isn’t just Nature that has abandoned scientific rigour for woke dogma. New Scientist has also been captured.

The most recent issue highlights on the front cover – “The Herd Immunity Myth – why let it rip arguments are fatally flawed” . This article is totally unconvincing and describes herd immunity as “unscientific and irresponsible”. In addition, the leader calls herd immunity “bad science”. This approach is typical of many items published of late.

It is disappointing that a once interesting topical magazine is now so superficial and lacks balance.

A Retired Police Sergeant Writes…

A middle-aged woman is pushed to the ground by TSG officers in Trafalgar Square

I’ve had a lot of emails in response to my query about whether the Territorial Support Group has been recruiting EU nationals to duff up anti-lockdown protestors. Most have been a bit too speculative or conspiratorial to publish, but this one struck me as reliable.

I am a retired police sergeant and can confirm that the police have been recruiting EU nationals for quite a while. I was a Cheshire officer and, towards my retirement, came across a number of Polish officers which, to be fair, made a lot of sense given the significant Polish population in the county and, in my experience, their spoken English was perfectly acceptable although I can imagine quite a lot would have been lost in translation with our usual customers. The main problem was their written English which was, to be frank, incomprehensible. My last role in the police was to assess evidential files before they were sent to the CPS for authority to bring prosecutions and I found myself trying to decode witness statements and frequently having to request that that they were retaken by officers who could actually write in English. This was further complicated by the fact that a significant number of the British nationals were incapable of stringing a sentence together due to the lack of standards in recruitment.

So it’s perfectly possible that some members of the TSG are non-British passport holders if the police routinely recruit EU nationals to fill their ranks. Could that be why our correspondent who wrote about last Saturday’s demo found that many of the TSG officers spoke only very halting English?

Postcard From Argentina

We’ve been sent an excellent postcard form a social science professor in Argentina. He describes his country’s lockdown as the longest and most irrational quarantine on the planet. It sounds like a complete shitshow – even more bizarre and inexplicable than our own festival of incompetence. Here is an extract.

At one point, the city Government of Buenos Aires attempted to require elderly folks to call a hotline to get permission to leave their own house for any non-essential task, the idea being that some poor Government call centre employee would patronisingly explain to them all the risks (as if they had been living in some bubble or under a rock) and attempt to persuade them to stay at home. The most ridiculous thing? The elderly were expected to call and request permission to leave their home every time they needed to go out! And if they left their home without permission, they were threatened with – community service! (Presumably outside the home? One can only guess). The resulting outrage, not least from the elderly themselves, forced the city Government to backtrack rather quickly, not least because was no practical way to enforce this policy anyway.

Since I qualify as an “exempted worker” (which means I did not have to lock down, but I am not allowed to use public transport), I have been able to travel through the interior of the country for work-related reasons. In the countryside the picture looks different to the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area. Local mayors have often reacted to the pandemic like medieval peasants, blocking most access roads to their towns with earth or concrete barriers, and instituting nonsensical additional measures to try to keep the virus out of their communities.

The only consistent criterion for policy adoption and implementation seems to be “monkey see, monkey do”, with local leaders copying each others dumbest ideas without regard to any actual science or cost-benefit analysis. In most places I have been to, whenever you want to enter a town, you have to drive through a disinfection area that will spray the outside of your vehicle as you come in. I have repeatedly argued how ridiculous this is – after all, if someone were sick, the virus would be inside the car, and not stuck on the outside surfaces. Makes as much sense (none) as disinfecting shoe soles, or spraying disinfectant on outdoor sidewalks.

Worth reading in full.

Round-Up

Love in the Time of Covid

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

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

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face masks in shops here.

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

And here’s an excellent piece about the ineffectiveness of masks by a Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry.

Stop Press: The Swiss Doctor has translated the article in a Danish newspaper about the suppressed Danish mask study. Largest RCT on the effectiveness of masks ever carried out. Rejected by three top scientific journals so far.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya

The Great Barrington Declaration, a petition started by Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya calling for a strategy of “Focused Protection” (protect the elderly and the vulnerable and let everyone else get on with life), was launched last week and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it. If you Googled it on Tuesday, the top hits were three smear pieces from the Guardian, including: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this hit job the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now tops the search results – and my Spectator piece about the attempt to suppress it is among the top hits – although discussion of it has been censored by Reddit. The reason the zealots hate it, of course, is that it gives the lie to their claim that “the science” only supports their strategy. These three scientists are every bit as eminent – more eminent – than the pro-lockdown fanatics so expect no let up in the attacks. (Wikipedia has also done a smear job.)

You can find it here. Please sign it. Now over 600,000 signatures.

Stop Press: The authors of the GDB have expanded the FAQs to deal with some of the arguments and smears that have been made against their proposal. Worth reading in full.

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

There are now so many JRs being brought against the Government and its ministers, we thought we’d include them all in one place down here.

First, there’s the Simon Dolan case. You can see all the latest updates and contribute to that cause here.

Then there’s the Robin Tilbrook case. You can read about that and contribute here.

Then there’s John’s Campaign which is focused specifically on care homes. Find out more about that here.

There’s the GoodLawProject’s Judicial Review of the Government’s award of lucrative PPE contracts to various private companies. You can find out more about that here and contribute to the crowdfunder here.

The Night Time Industries Association has instructed lawyers to JR any further restrictions on restaurants, pubs and bars.

And last but not least there’s the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. You can read about that and make a donation here.

Samaritans

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

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments.)

Special thanks to graphic designer and Lockdown Sceptics reader Claire Whitten for designing our new logo. We think it’s ace. Find her work here.

And Finally…

In the latest episode of London Calling, James Delingpole and I talk about James’s confrontation with a pro-masking fanatic on a train (which he wrote about yesterday for Lockdown Sceptics), the fiasco that is NHS Test and Trace and my new favourite TV show – Barbarians. Worth listening to on your daily walk and don’t forget to subscribe.

Latest News

NHS Test and Trace Whistleblower: “It’s a Complete Shit Show.”

“Is this Humpty Dumpty? We’ve been given your name by someone who tested positive for COVID-19. DO NOT FALL OFF THAT WALL. YOU MUST REMAIN ON THAT WALL FOR 14 DAYS.”

I’ve been contacted by a track-and-tracer who works for one of Serco’s sub-contractors. She’s a Tier 3 tracer (nothing to do with lockdown ‘Tiers’), which means her job is to call people who’ve been named as contacts by confirmed cases and advise them to self-isolate for 14 days.

Sounds straightforward, right? Wrong. I’ll let her take up the story.

One of the most significant problems is the level of calls people are getting. People regularly say they feel harassed and bullied by us. I often call someone who says that they have just put the phone down on another contract tracer and while I’m on the line more calls are coming in.

I’ll give some examples to explain why this happens.

Tier 2 call handlers are tasked with speaking to someone when they test positive to take the details of everyone they’ve been in contact with two days prior to the onset of their symptoms, up to the time they began their 10-day isolation.

Tier 3 operatives (me) then call all these contacts to tell them to isolate for 14 days.

BUT this is an example of how it typically goes down. A household of six students have all tested positive. All six then name their other five flatmates to the Tier 2 operative as contacts and each time an operative is given a name they have to log it as a separate contact. That means this particular household generates 30 contacts, all of which are logged in the system and passed on to 30 different Tier 3 tracers. Each student then gets five calls from five different tracers, all telling them the same thing. And they can’t say, “I want to stop you there. I’ve just been called by one of your colleagues.” No, you begin the call by telling them it’s being recorded and they can’t hang up until you’ve got to the end of your stupid little script. So they have no choice. The truly absurd part is, I have to tell them to self-isolate for 14 days even though they’ve just been told by a Tier 2 operative that they only have to isolate for 10 days because they’re a confirmed case. They then ask, “Which is it? 14 days or 10 days?” The answer is 10, but plenty of my colleagues don’t know that so confirmed cases who’ve been named as contacts end up having to isolate for four days longer than they have to. Typically, they’re told they only have to isolate for 10 days by me, but then one of my colleagues calls them up and tells them they have to isolate for 14 days. And then we end the call by telling them that if they don’t self-isolate for the required number of days they will be fined a hundred pounds.

Luckily, the students are an understanding bunch. Much trickier is when you have adults in this situation who live in intergenerational households and are looking after elderly parents and children and feeling a bit ill because they’ve got Covid.

One lady I spoke to tested positive and had spent nearly an hour on the phone to a Tier 2 call handler the day before providing the details of her partner and her four underage children – who all now need to isolate for 14 days. The next day her husband receives a call with the 14-day isolation advice and she also receives four more calls from Tier 3 operatives, one for each of her children. She is given the self-isolation advice four times – for each child individually – despite having gone into it at length with the Tier 2 caller the day before. And each time she’s called – remember, this poor woman has been called five times – she has to give her children’s ages, her email address, her postcode – all of that before the track-and-tracer starts droning on with the advice she has heard multiple times already.

If someone doesn’t pick up the phone, we’re allowed to call them 15 times over two days if a child is involved, and 10 times – maximum four calls a day – for an adult contact. So this woman could get, say, eight missed calls about her husband and 16 missed calls about her children – a total of 24 missed calls in a day. People are being hounded. And you’re obliged to leave a voicemail. Not surprisingly, people’s voicemail boxes are nearly always full because me and my colleagues have been relentlessly spamming them with messages.

Why can’t the advice for a single household be done in one call? Where there are children involved and where the parent who’s tested positive is the one who’s already given all her children’s details to a Tier 2 track-and-tracer, why do they have to hear the advice over and over again for each child from a Tier 3 caller? It’s insane.

But it gets worse. Let’s say, using this mother of four as an example, that 10 days into her husband’s 14 day isolation he also tests positive. He now has to go through the same ridiculous rigmarole, listing all the people he’s been in contact with. His wife – who’s recovered by now and is no longer infectious – gets a call from a Tier 2 operative telling her she has to self-isolate for 14 days as a contact of a confirmed case and she’ll be fined £100 if she ignores this advice. And then the calls for the kids start again. Except now the goal posts have shifted and the children are being advised to isolate from the date their father tested positive. So the poor buggers have to miss another two weeks of school!

This, by the way, is wrong advice. If you’re a contact and not a confirmed case, you’re only supposed to isolate for 14 days from when the first person in your household tested positive, so in the case of these four children their isolation start dates should tally with that of their mother’s illness. Luckily, I know this and I can tell them to ignore the new date they’ve been given by the Tier 2 tracer, but most of my colleagues don’t and give them the wrong advice. Basically, the Tier 2 callers have got a date on their screen that’s been generated by ‘the system’ – 14 days from the date the most recent member of the household tested positive – and they just trot it out like automatons. The calls are being recorded and you don’t want to get into trouble with your manager for going off script so you’ve got to be pretty confident to ignore the date ‘the system’ is flashing up, even if you know it’s wrong. Nothing about ‘the system’ is joined up. It’s not a ‘system’. It’s a shit show.

I sometimes wonder whether it’s been designed this way so Matt Hancock can stand up in the House of Commons and say, ‘X number of contacts of confirmed cases were successfully reached in the last seven days’, glossing over the fact that most are duplicates or are people who’ve tested positive themselves and are being given the wrong advice.

This woman was a gold mine of stories about the staggering incompetence that characterises NHS Test and Trace, from Dido Harding on down. Most of the the stories fall into the category we journalists call, ‘You couldn’t make it up.’

For instance, she said that if a contact of a confirmed case lives alone, they’re not allowed to receive visitors, presumably because of the risk that the visitor could catch Covid from them if they’ve been unlucky enough to catch it. But if they live in a household of, say, six, the other five members of the household are allowed to come and go as they please. She recounted having to tell one elderly woman who lived alone that daily visits from her grandchild on his way home from school would have to cease, even though if they lived in the same household they could spend as much time together as they liked. “There’s no rhyme or reason to it,” she said. “It might as well have been designed by Lewis Carroll.”

Mainly I am struck by how patently fine everyone with the virus is. I call it the ‘Covid-cold’ because it really isn’t much worse than that for the majority of people. Some old people are still hit fairly hard but even they aren’t ending up in hospital. Is it worth f**king the economy and forcing people to stay indoors for two weeks to effectively try and stop the spread of a relatively mild flu-like illness? Let’s all crack on and get some herd immunity going!

I may be bringing you some more stories from this lady.

The Top 10 Covid Failures

There was a terrific piece on Spectator‘s Coffee House blog yesterday by Carl Heneghan and Tom Jefferson entitled “The ten worst Covid data failures“. Here are the first three:

1) Overstating of the number of people who are going to die

This starts with the now-infamous Imperial College London (ICL) ‘Report 9’ that modelled 500,000 deaths if no action was taken at all, and 250,000 deaths if restrictions were not tightened. This set the train of lockdown restrictions in motion. Some argue that Imperial’s modelling may have come true had it not been for lockdown. But this does not explain Sweden. Academics there said its assumptions would mean 85,000 deaths if Sweden did not lock down. It did not – and deaths are just under 6,000.

2) Leaked SAGE papers

Next came a print paper written by SAGE members to support a two-week ‘circuit breaker’, leaked to the press. The reports were striking.

“With no social distancing measures in place from now until January, the virus could potentially spiral out of control and kill 217,000 people, hospitalise 316,000 and infect 20.7 million. But with a strict two-week lockdown the number of deaths could be reduced by 100,000, admissions by 139,000 and infections by six million.”

Understandably, this made headlines. But when the lead author was interviewed by the BBC, he said that he wished he “hadn’t put these numbers in the study” because it was an extreme scenario only included “for illustration”.

3) Miscategorisation of ‘Covid death’

Under the original system, someone run over by a bus would be counted as a ‘Covid death’ if he or she had tested positive for Covid but later recovered. When this anomaly was pointed out by the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, it turned out even the Health Secretary was unaware what the Covid death data referred to. He ordered an immediate inquiry. This illustrates how poor-quality data from Public Health England was misleading the Government itself. A new system was eventually set up: counting deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test. This removed 4,149 deaths from the July 15th death count.

Click here for the other seven.

Should We be Preparing For Tier 4?

According to the i, the Government has drawn up plans for additional restrictions if its three-tier traffic light system hasn’t made a difference by November.

Discussions are underway in Whitehall and local authorities for a Plan B to tackle the second wave of COVID-19 if the three-tier system in England has not made a difference by mid-November, it has emerged

Options being discussed include dialling up the already tough tier three restrictions to “tier three-plus” or tier four, as well as the possibility of short-term local circuit breaker lockdowns to bring the R value of transmission below 1.

Boris Johnson made clear in his latest Downing Street press conference on Thursday that he was wedded to the local and regional approach and that a full lockdown “from John O’Groats to Land’s End” was not an option, due to the impact on the economy, society and mental health – particularly in areas with low levels of infection.

But there is concern that the top tier three of restrictions, now in place in several regions of England, will not be enough to bring R below 1 before Christmas.

Good luck selling that to the British people, Boris. As Dan Hodges tweeted yesterday, “If Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 lockdowns don’t do the trick a Tier 4 lockdown is bound to work isn’t it. Makes perfect sense…”

Matt Hancock’s Cut-and-Paste Reply to Dr Ellie Cannon

Dr Ellie Cannon wrote a scathing piece for yesterday’s Mail on Sunday about the reply she got from the Health Secretary when she wrote to him to express her concern about the collateral damage of the ongoing restrictions the Government is imposing, particularly to public health. The letter wasn’t just from her, but from 65 of her medical colleagues as well, so they were expecting a considered reply. Instead, they got a boilerplate response.

On Monday, I got my reply, signed not by Mr Hancock himself but one of his advisers on his behalf. Or perhaps it was someone on work experience – I’m not sure. Disheartening doesn’t even begin to cover it. In fact, I’m still seething.

For starters, sections of the response had been cut and pasted.

“The coronavirus outbreak is the biggest public health emergency in a generation,” began one paragraph. “It calls for dramatic action, at home and abroad, of the kind not normally seen in peacetime.”

I recognised the grandiose turn of phrase immediately – it had been lifted from an article written by Mr Hancock back in March.

Needless to say, the overall gist of the reply was dismissive.

It blathered on: “Ministers understand these are difficult times and the measures people are being asked to take are very disruptive to normal life.

“However, it is vital those who are most vulnerable be protected, and people are therefore being asked to act in the interests of everyone in society.”

This, I discovered, was actually a statement previously attributed to Junior Health Minister Nadine Dorries, which was printed in a local newspaper article on October 6th. Word for word.

How belittling. What contempt, and lack of regard or respect that Mr Hancock clearly has for his own GPs, to allow such a response.

But, beside this, it also says something chilling. Confronted with proof that his Covid plan is actually hurting, even killing, he clearly feels he is unanswerable and can simply carry on with impunity.

How devoid of human empathy must the man responsible for all of our healthcare be?

More cut and paste lines, this time from a parliamentary speech he made on May 22nd. I was told funding has been increased to mental health charities, presumably in response to our concerns about suicides.

Day in, day out, I speak to patients anxious and depressed due to job loss, bereavement and fear – because they’ve been scared witless of leaving the house by daily death bulletins, doom-laden predictions and horrific Government adverts depicting the virus as terrifying green slime covering our faces.

Mr Hancock’s letter claimed that “understandable worries about the virus, combined with not wanting to be a burden on NHS staff, has meant that some people have not come forward for care”. So it’s all the patients’ fault?

Absolutely not. For instance, ECGs, which are vital for diagnosing heart disease, chest X-rays that can pick up lung cancer and even children’s blood tests should all be easy to offer at hospital clinics, but they have been suspended in my area of London.

In one hospital nearby, the paediatric emergency department has closed down due to Covid “until further notice”. If these services are not available, how can people come forward for help?

Predictably, they wheeled out a slogan – one that they were circulating back in April: “The NHS is open for business.” This simply shows the Government has completely broken with reality.

I daresay it was unrealistic to expect a more personal reply from the Health Secretary, given that Dr Cannon had already made her letter public. But you’d think Hancock and his team would have taken a bit more trouble, given the profile of the letter’s signatories. What a shower.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Sir Rocco Forte, a lifelong Conservative and a donor to the party, has called for Matt Hancock to be sacked.

James Delingpole Refuses to Wear a Mask

The leader of the Anti-Mask Resistance

James Delingpole has written a terrific piece for Lockdown Sceptics on why he refuses to wear a mask, even though it means he ends up getting into endless fights with Covid Marshal types who think it’s their moral duty to enforce the rules. Here’s the opening section:

“It’s rude to stare!”, most of us were told as kids. Just how rude you only realise when you’re sitting in a near empty train carriage, minding your own business, when a man in a face mask gets on, takes his seat, swivels in your direction and fixes you with a long, long, cold, hard, death look.

Culturally we’re all so unused to this kind of behaviour that it comes as quite a shock to be on the receiving end. It’s also a bit confusing – like being subjected to physical assault but only in the form of mime. That’s why my immediate response was to mime back disbelievingly, mouthing and gesticulating the message: “Are you staring at me?”

“Yes I am staring at you. You’re not wearing a mask. Everyone else is wearing a mask. But not you. Why aren’t you wearing a mask? I don’t want to wear a mask either but I’m wearing a mask because we’ve all been told to,” he shouted – or rather mumble-yelled from being his mouth-muffler.

My biggest regret about this whole incident was my failure to put him in his place more crushingly and goadingly. But it’s very hard to keep a cool, rational, calculating head when you’re under attack. Even if the person attacking you is at least as slightly built as you, probably a bit older, and quivering with so much adrenalin you’d likely beat him hands down if push came to girlie shove.

I forget exactly how the row went or when it ended. Definitely the strangest part was when he called me a “bloody lefty”, which interested me for two reasons. First, no one has ever, ever called me that before, so it had the charm of novelty. Second, it confirmed my long held suspicion that a lot of the people supporting the draconian (and, in my view, entirely unnecessary) Coronavirus measures being pushed by the Government are people that till recently I would have considered my natural allies: Conservatives, as this man clearly was; Brexiteers, as he likely was too.

Very much worth reading in full.

And if you enjoyed reading this, please show your appreciation by bunging James a few bob on Patreon or Subscribestar.

Liberal Democrats in Breach of Trade Descriptions Act

Ed Davey and Layla Moran: Neither liberal nor democratic

A member of the South East Liberal Democrats and a reader of Lockdown Sceptics was outraged yesterday when he received an invitation to the SE Region Conference and AGM on November 21st. This was his reply:

I am surprised that these MPs listed below have the bare-faced effrontery to show their faces in front of members after they have unilaterally committed our supposedly LIBERAL party to demanding that the government impose full-scale martial law on the British people. I joined the party all those years ago (from its inception, in point of fact) because it was a liberal party that believed in fundamental human rights. It is difficult to think of human rights more fundamental than freedom of movement, freedom of association and the right to protest, but now, as a consequences of the Parliamentary Party’s unilateral action, it seems that we have been transformed into a party that opposes those most fundamental of fundamental human rights and is committed to the imposition of tyranny and the enslavement of the human race by the global elite. I, as a member, was never at any point consulted about this, so I think that the word “democratic” can be removed from the party’s title as well as the word “liberal”. What has been done is an act of infamy and betrayal that makes the propping up of Cameron’s Tory government from 2010-2015 seem trivial by comparison. How does it make you feel, as a liberal, to see fascist police stop people crossing the border into Wales, break up private parties, beat up peaceful demonstrators and impose illegal fines on innocent members of the public in the manner of the Tontons Macoutes of Papa Doc Duvalier? How can you defend the culling of care home residents and the denial of vital treatment to cancer and heart patients? How can you defend the destruction of peoples’ livelihoods, the further impoverishment of the world’s poor, and the unsustainable accumulation of public debt? Martial law is evil. Its purpose is the imposition of serfdom. The Parliamentary Party must know this. The Parliamentary Party must also know that COVID-19 has an infection fatality ratio of 0.26%, which is almost identical to the more severe variants of seasonal flu. More than 97% of the population has nothing to fear from it. I cannot believe that any of our MPs is gullible enough to believe the lies pumped out by the Government, the mainstream media and the prostitute scientists bankrolled by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and big pharma. Their actions must be motivated by one of three things: wickedness, extreme stupidity or cowardice, or perhaps by a combination of all three. Utter and everlasting shame on them.

Something tells me he won’t be renewing his membership.

The Politicisation of Nature

One of the things that’s become clear in the last six months is that science has become politicised, with catastrophic consequences for public trust in science. One illustration of this has been the politicisation of Nature, the well-known scientific journal, which has just endorsed Biden for President. In days gone by, publication in Nature was a guarantee of quality, but that’s no longer the case. Political alignment with woke orthodoxy is now more important. A reader has drawn our attention to this disturbing development.

I am a subscriber to Nature magazine and a regular reader of your blog – make of that what you will. I want to draw your attention to a substantial change in the remit of scientific publishing that has happened over the last month. Nature magazine has published an editorial explaining to us that they are going to become more overtly political. Other journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine and Science seem to have unprecedentedly done the same, and are endorsing a presidential candidate (yamn). The issue is that ‘published in Nature’ is often a shorthand used by the public to stand in for ‘this is quality work’. In my opinion these declarations mean they have traded away their reputation for some inexplicable reason and their output now has to be seen through a potential bias filter. I think their editorial teams have made a pretty bad decision just as public trust in science is reaching new lows.

I had been noticing quite a large decline in the quality of Nature since a recent layout revamp and was planning on giving up my subscription silently anyway. Lower quality articles at the front on various subjects, less in depth coverage from across other journals and an obsession across the magazine in activism. After the political declaration with my bias filter now on, this week we have an news article called “The false promise of herd immunity” and in the last edition “Face masks: what the data say” that contains the line: “To be clear, the science supports using masks, with recent studies suggesting that they could save lives in different ways.” These assertions may or not be true and in the past I would have given Nature the benefit of the doubt to look at these issues from a scientific perspective, but not anymore as by their own admission they are a political magazine now. I would suggest others view them in the same way.

Who Put These Numpties in Charge of Traffic?

I get about one email a day on average from readers complaining about the complete horlicks their local council has made of managing traffic during the pandemic, what with the metastasising cycle lanes, the new one-way systems, the socially-distanced bus stops, and God knows what else. Here’s one from a reader in Guildford (who took the above photo).

I thought you’d be interested in the latest Covid council insanity. Like all councils, Guildford is run by the worst people in the least efficient way possible. The latest flagrant misuse of public funds is ‘socially distanced pavements’. Bus stops have had their lay-bys reduced considerably so that when they stop the traffic backs up. All of the bus stops I know have been converted and there seem to be roadworks springing up all over town. The three-lane rotary in town is now two lanes, with one now reserved for pedestrians. If there was one benefit of the insane rules it was less gridlock. No longer – the town centre is like a car park.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Just one today, but it’s a doozy: “FCK 2020” by Scooter.

Love in the Time of Covid

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

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

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, I bring you a story from yesterday’s Sunday Times about how once-great publishing houses have succumbed to the woke cult.

While finishing her latest book, the novelist Lionel Shriver says she was advised to remove some passages about identity politics, “supposedly out of a desire to protect me from my critics”. Another successful author, who writes for the young adult market, is currently transposing the setting of her novel across continents after a “sensitivity reader” rejected the idea that she, a white woman, could portray the Asian adolescent experience.

Even the bonkbuster queen Jilly Cooper was told by her publisher not to call a character “fat” any more; they now must be deemed “large”.

Every author, agent and publisher in the literary establishment seems to have their own anecdote about censorship, cultural appropriation or “cancel culture”. An industry that was once a bastion of free speech appears to be under siege. Fears are growing that many within it are forsaking a fundamental principle: you should not print the work only of those with whom you agree.

Publishing has been hit by a series of rows in recent months, from the toxic fight over J.K. Rowling’s comments about trans rights to debates about whether authors should be “allowed” to create characters who aren’t like themselves.

Within publishing houses, the split is largely along generational lines, with many younger staff placing a desire not to offend above a devotion to free speech.

Worth reading in full.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face masks in shops here.

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

And here’s an excellent piece about the ineffectiveness of masks by a Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Sunetra Gupta, Professor Martin Kulldorff and Professor Jay Bhattacharya

The Great Barrington Declaration, a petition started by Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya calling for a strategy of “Focused Protection” (protect the elderly and the vulnerable and let everyone else get on with life), was launched last week and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it. If you Googled it on Tuesday, the top hits were three smear pieces from the Guardian, including: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this hit job the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now tops the search results – and my Spectator piece about the attempt to suppress it is among the top hits – although discussion of it has been censored by Reddit. The reason the zealots hate it, of course, is that it gives the lie to their claim that “the science” only supports their strategy. These three scientists are every bit as eminent – more eminent – than the pro-lockdown fanatics so expect no let up in the attacks. (Wikipedia has also done a smear job.)

You can find it here. Please sign it. Now over 600,000 signatures.

Stop Press: The authors of the GDB have expanded the FAQs to deal with some of the arguments and smears that have been made against their proposal. Worth reading in full.

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

There are now so many JRs being brought against the Government and its ministers, we thought we’d include them all in one place down here.

First, there’s the Simon Dolan case. You can see all the latest updates and contribute to that cause here.

Then there’s the Robin Tilbrook case. You can read about that and contribute here.

Then there’s John’s Campaign which is focused specifically on care homes. Find out more about that here.

There’s the GoodLawProject’s Judicial Review of the Government’s award of lucrative PPE contracts to various private companies. You can find out more about that here and contribute to the crowdfunder here.

The Night Time Industries Association has instructed lawyers to JR any further restrictions on restaurants, pubs and bars.

And last but not least there’s the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. You can read about that and make a donation here.

Samaritans

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

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments.)

Special thanks to graphic designer and Lockdown Sceptics reader Claire Whitten for designing our new logo. We think it’s ace. Find her work here.

And Finally…

Tony Husband’s cartoon in the Sunday Times

Latest News

NHS Refused to Treat Elderly Patients During Lockdown

A Sunday Times Insight investigation has revealed the extent to which the elderly were neglected by the NHS during the full lockdown.

As part of a three-month investigation into the Government’s handling of the crisis during the lockdown weeks, we have spoken to more than 50 witnesses, including doctors, paramedics, bereaved families, charities, care home workers, politicians and advisers to the government. Our inquiries have unearthed new documents and previously unpublished hospital data. Together, they show what happened while most of the country stayed at home.

There were 59,000 extra deaths in England and Wales compared with previous years during the first six months of the pandemic. This consisted of 26,000 excess fatalities in care homes and another 25,000 in people’s own homes.

Surprisingly, only 8,000 of those excess deaths were in hospital, even though 30,000 people died from the virus on the wards. This shows that many deaths that would normally have taken place in hospital had been displaced to people’s homes and the care homes.

This huge increase of deaths outside hospitals was a mixture of coronavirus cases – many of whom were never tested – and people who were not given treatment for other conditions that they would have had access to in normal times. Ambulance and admission teams were told to be more selective about who should be taken into hospital, with specific instructions to exclude many elderly people. GPs were asked to identify frail patients who were to be left at home even if they were seriously ill with the virus.

In some regions, care home residents dying of COVID-19 were denied access to hospitals even though their families believed their lives could have been saved.

The sheer scale of the resulting body count that piled up in the nation’s homes meant special body retrieval teams had to be formed by police and fire brigade to transfer corpses from houses to mortuaries. Some are said to have run out of body bags.

NHS data obtained by Insight shows that access to potentially life-saving intensive care was not made available to the vast majority of people who died with the virus. Only one in six COVID-19 patients who lost their lives in hospital during the first wave had been given intensive care. This suggests that of the 47,000 people who died of the virus inside and outside hospitals, just an estimated 5,000 – one in nine – received the highest critical care, despite the government claiming that intensive care capacity was never breached.

The Sunday Times points the finger at Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, as the architect of this policy.

The chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, commissioned an age-based frailty score system that was circulated for consultation in the health service as a potential “triage tool” at the beginning of the crisis. It was never formally published.

It gave instructions that in the event of the NHS being overwhelmed, patients over the age of 80 should be denied access to intensive care and in effect excluded many people over the age of 60 from life-saving treatment. Testimony by doctors has confirmed that the tool was used by medics to prevent elderly patients blocking up intensive care beds.

Indeed, new data from the NHS shows that the proportion of over-60s with the coronavirus who received intensive care halved between the middle of March and the end of April as the pressure weighed heavily on hospitals during the height of the pandemic. The proportion of the elderly being admitted then increased again when the pressure was lifted off the NHS as COVID-19 cases fell in the summer months.

Is this the Government’s version of “Focused Protection”? Instead of using our national health service to shield the elderly, it shielded the NHS from the elderly.

Worth reading in full.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Professor Ferguson steals Christmas baubles from a tree

Professor Lockdown appeared on the Today Programme yesterday morning and was full of his usual good cheer. The MailOnline has more.

Professor Ferguson, whose modelling led to the original lockdown in March, said earlier today that schools may have to be closed to older pupils if restrictions on households mixing fail to stem the rise of infections, and that it will be a “political judgement” as to whether regulations are relaxed over the festive season.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “It risks some transmission and there will be consequences of that. Some people will die because of getting infected on that day.

“But if it is only one or two days the impact is likely to be limited. So that is really a political judgment about the cost versus the benefits.”

It follows the prospects for a family Christmas descending into further confusion yesterday, as Downing Street insisted that relatives should be able to gather – but a minister warned it will not be “normal”.

Professor Ferguson added: “That (banning households mixing) should have a significant effect but as yet we have been unable to see it definitively.

“If we go beyond that there is a limit to what we can do in terms of reducing contacts, short of starting to target, for instance, the older years in schools and sixth form colleges where we know older teenagers are able to transmit as adults.

“Of course nobody wants to start moving to virtual education and closing schools even partially. The challenge may be that we are not able to get on top of the transmission otherwise.”

So Christmas is cancelled and schools will have to close again if we want to “get on top” of transmission.

I guess no one has told Professor Ferguson that infections fell in almost half of England’s local authorities last week.

Meanwhile, Professor John Edmunds – the SAGE member who was passionately advocating for herd immunity back in March – has backed up Professor Lockdown.

The idea that “we can carry on as we are” and have a normal Christmas “is wishful thinking in the extreme”, a Government scientific adviser has said.

Professor John Edmunds, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said “radical action” would be needed to stem the rise in coronavirus cases, particularly in regions with high incidence of the virus.

Prof Edmunds, who told MPs on Wednesday that tens of thousands of deaths could occur during this wave of the pandemic, said further measures are needed to bring cases down.

He said that a circuit-breaker is needed across the whole country or at least in areas where incidence is high.

“The only way that we can have a relatively safe and normal Christmas is if we take radical action now to reduce incidence – at the very least in high incidence areas – and keep the incidence low across the country by implementing a package of measures to reduce social contacts,” he said.

“The notion that we can carry on as we are and have a Christmas that we can celebrate normally with friends and family is wishful thinking in the extreme.”

Edmunds conforms to George Santayana’s definition of fanaticism – “redoubling your effort after you’ve forgotten your aim”.

Stop Press: Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell says it’s fine to make arrangements for Christmas celebrations with close family now that restrictions for the over-70s have been lifted. Answering a question on Swedish TV about recommendations for Christmas, he said: “A small family party with your children and grandchildren, especially if you can keep your distance from each other, won’t mean you’re taking much of a risk.”

Vaccine Guinea Pigs Revealed

According to the Mail on Sunday, NHS staff are due to start receiving a coronavirus vaccine within weeks.

An email sent by an NHS Trust chief to his staff, seen by the Mail on Sunday, reveals the Health Service is preparing for a national vaccination programme before Christmas.

It can also be disclosed that the Government has introduced new laws that would allow the UK to bypass the EU approval process if a safe and effective jab is ready before the end of the post-Brexit transition period on December 31st.

The move will boost optimism that a ‘game-changing’ vaccine will soon allow Boris Johnson to relax the social restrictions which have crippled the country since March.

In his memo to staff earlier this month, Glen Burley, chief executive of George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust in Warwickshire, wrote: “Our Trust, alongside NHS organisations nationally, has been told to be prepared to start a COVID-19 staff vaccine programme in early December.

“The latest intelligence states a coronavirus vaccine should be available this year with NHS staff prioritised prior to Christmas.”

So NHS staff will be given a vaccine that has bypassed the EU approval process and whose manufacturers will be exempt from any liability should there be any unforeseen side effects.

Let’s hope it’s not mandatory.

Riot Police Crush Anti-Lockdown Protest

The Territorial Support Group – the paramilitary wing of the Metropolitan Police – brutally dispersed a group of peaceful anti-lockdown protestors yesterday, much like they did in Trafalgar Square on September 26th. The MailOnline has more.

Armed police officers have dispersed large crowds of anti-lockdown protesters at Trafalgar Square following a march through central London on Saturday, which saw thousands gather against coronavirus restrictions.

Demonstrators called for an end to the ‘tyranny’ of pandemic restrictions and voiced their opposition to vaccines and paedophilia, playing Michael Jackson’s greatest hits via a PA system as they marched.

At least 10 people were led away in handcuffs by officers at Trafalgar Square, and Piers Corbyn, brother of former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, also attended the protest who once again joined demonstrators after appearing at court charged with flouting coronavirus rules.

Protesters refused to wear masks and wielded signs demanding an end to restrictions on personal freedom imposed as part of efforts to control COVID-19.

One banner being wielded by a protester on Oxford Street read: “Martial law coming, think it’s still about health?” while another depicted a mask with a cross through it alongside words which read, “love not fear” and “unite not divide”.

The anti-lockdown demonstrators also marched down Northumberland Avenue, while large crowds also gathered outside Buckingham Palace, prompting police to be deployed.

They should have worn BLM T-shirts.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: A reader has provided an eye-witness account of her encounter with TSG officers in Trafalgar Square yesterday.

At about 4.10 pm the Square was nearly empty of protestors, they having set off on another circuit of the streets about 15 minutes previously. The centre of the Square began to fill with uniformed people (all of them masked, not remotely social distancing) and I overheard a single voice set up a chant against the police – so I moved towards them but by the time I arrived the voice had already stopped.

Everything seemed very calm so I gently patted one of the flat capped men on the arm and said, “Hello.” He turned to me and I said, “I’m just saying a friendly hello.” Incomprehension on his face so I repeated myself. A couple of others were equally mystified by my words. The first drew over one of the others and we set up a conversation, but he spoke in very halting English, very heavily accented. I don’t remember what I said next but he didn’t understand me and in turn attracted the attention of a burly English policeman. He replied: “This isn’t the time for friendly hellos there’s an extremely dangerous global pandemic on and I can arrest you for not social distancing.” I replied: “That’s not true, there’s no dangerous pandemic.” He was thrusting his head towards me and repeating himself and I replied, “Please move further away from me. I don’t want your filthy air from your dirty disgusting mask all over me.” He said no he’s not moving away, and continued to threaten to arrest me for not social distancing and I continued to ask him to move further away until a calm bystander intervened.

I then surveyed the general scene, looking round at the uniformed people and realised that quite a few of the flat capped people were non-British. In Trafalgar Square. Against me. My head started to spin and I must have looked bad because I suddenly had three very concerned voices (proper British bobbies) all asking me if I was okay. I said I was having a panic attack, one of them asked if I’d like to be helped out of the square, so I thanked him and he gave me his arm and led me to safety in the most gentle and helpful way possible.

On the way, I tried to talk to him about the Common Law to no response – so then I said that if the British bobby and the British people find themselves on opposite sides then we are done for. At which point he looked round at me, eye to eye, and agreed.

Interesting about the TSG officers not being able to speak or understand English very well. Is the Met importing riot police from other countries? If anyone knows more about this, contact us here.

Two-Week ‘Circuit Breakers’ Don’t Work

Hugh Pennington, Emeritus Professor of Microbiology at Aberdeen University, says Scotland’s two-week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown hasn’t worked, as is clear from Nicola Sturgeon’s plan to keep most of the ‘circuit breaker’ restrictions in place for the foreseeable future. The Telegraph has more.

Earlier this month Nicola Sturgeon promised her mini-circuit breaker would be a “short, sharp” shutdown of Scottish pubs and restaurants to bring coronavirus under control.

For only 16 days, the First Minister said, bars and restaurants would be restricted from serving alcohol inside and closed altogether across the country’s central belt, which includes Glasgow and Edinburgh and is home to 3.4 million people.

Little more than two weeks later, Ms Sturgeon announced a change of plan.

To the anger of the hospitality industry, she extended the restrictions for a further week. And on Thursday, she announced the measures would be replaced – rather than relaxed – with a new five-tier lockdown system under which thousands of pubs and restaurants face damaging restrictions for the foreseeable future.

The news was devastating for Scotland’s struggling pubs, already on their knees.

Emma McClarkin of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, said: “We were told that these measures were to be ‘short’ and ‘sharp’ but now the Scottish Government have gone back on that, leaving operators feeling betrayed.

“Scotland’s pubs and bars have repeatedly been subject to some of the most penalising restrictions in the world, but without the evidence to back it up. The situation cannot continue.”

According to industry calculations, two-thirds of hospitality businesses could be mothballed or go under in the coming months, with more than 50 per cent of jobs lost…

Hugh Pennington, Emeritus Professor of Microbiology at Aberdeen University, said: “There’s the old argument that if we hadn’t done (the mini-circuit breaker), cases would have gone up faster. But that’s a guess, and the figures haven’t come tumbling down.

“They were always going to have difficulty in knowing how effective it was because the figures wouldn’t have come through to really give them an indication as to whether it was having any effect at all.”

Prof Pennington criticised Ms Sturgeon for claiming the restrictions would be in place for only 16 days, given the time-lag in recording positive cases, adding he suspected it had been cast as a short-term measure to avoid a major backlash from businesses.

“It’s got to be statistically significant, it’s the figures coming down that they’re looking for. To expect that would happen within 16 days was unrealistic. At a guess, I’d say her reason for saying that was so she could say ‘I’m going to make things tough, but it’s only for 16 days’, to get people to buy into it.

“If you close the pubs, you’re going to stop pub outbreaks. You’re addressing little bits of the transmission route, but not really getting at the fundamentals, which is making sure people who have the virus, and their contacts, are kept away from everybody else by self-isolating.

“They said it will be a couple of weeks and we’ll turn the corner. But many people have doubts about that, because as soon as you release from it, you go back to square one. There’s too much virus about for the effect to be so big that you really start driving the numbers down.”

Worth reading in full.

Public Confidence in Government at All Time Low

26% of the public approve of Hancock’s performance through the crisis, while 48% disapprove

According to Opinium, approval of the Government’s handling of the pandemic has fallen to its lowest level since March. Half (50%) of UK adults now disapprove of the Government, while only 29% approve. The pollster went into more detail in an email:

The public are divided on the clarity of the new tier system. Only 50% think the system is clear and 44% think the measures are unclear. More significantly, a third (34%) of the UK aren’t confident that they know what the rules are in their area…

Half (50%) of those living in Greater Manchester approve of the way Andy Burnham is handling his job as Mayor. His net approval rating of +25% is significantly higher than Boris Johnson’s nationally at -14%.

Looking at how the various leaders have handled the crisis, 32% approve of how Boris Johnson has handled his role, 47% disapprove. Chancellor Rishi Sunak is seen more positively (46% approve, 26% disapprove) while Labour leader Keir Starmer is narrowly net positive with 35% approving and 29% disapproving. The worst marks are reserved for Health Secretary Matt Hancock, with only 26% approving of his performance through the crisis and 48% disapproving.

Hancock with an approval rating of -22%?

Who would have thunk it?

Dr John Lee Wins Lockdown Debate

Ivor Cummins has posted a video on his YouTube channel of Dr John Lee debating Dan O’Brien, an Irish journalist, and Tomas Ryan, a Professor of Neuroscience and advocate of ‘Covid Zero’, on RTE. Needless to say, Lee wins hands down. Cummins has provided some amusing subtitles when the neuroscientist is speaking.

Worth watching in full.

Stop Press: Another hero of lockdown, Dr Clare Craig, was on Julie Hartley-Brewer’s show on TalkRADIO on Friday. Also worth watching.

Postcard From Rhodes

Guy de la Bédoyère, a long-time contributor to Lockdown Sceptics, has sent us a “Postcard From Rhodes“, where he’s managed to get away for a week’s break. Sounds like a lot of fun.

Our hotel, picked at random from the tour company website, turned out to be largely filled with high-risk overweight Brits aged mainly 60 plus. Judging by their accents, I’d say most of them are Tier 2 and Tier 3 refugees who’ve clearly had enough of Covid misery. If they are going to die imminently as the tabloid apocalyptic-headline-competing members of SAGE keep telling us, they’re determined to expire in the sun, stuffed by the all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast and dinner. Loafing by the pool in 28 Celsius heat under a blazing sun, the sweat poured off them in rivulets. Three growing-old-disgracefully ladies in their late sixties went for a spot of topless sunbathing which must make quite a difference from the opportunities currently available in Liverpool or Cardiff.

Worth reading in full.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Four today: “The Penny Has Dropped” by Wim Oudijk, “Open Your Eyes” by Goldfinger, “I Saw the Light” by Tod Rundgren and “I Aint Gonna Stand For It” by Stevie Wonder.

Love in the Time of Covid

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

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

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today we thought we’d highlight Simon Heffer’s column in today’s Sunday Telegraph, which is about the capture of the National Trust by the woke cult.

It has seemed for some years as though the National Trust has a death wish, as it dumbs down its properties and uses them more and more for publicity-seeking stunts. The fact that it has compiled a dossier of properties linked to “colonialism and slavery” appears to confirm my fear.

Apparently, the Trust’s “experts” – few of whom, on the basis of what this says about their expertise, would deserve even the lowest class of history degree from the worst imaginable university – say that around a third of its properties are associated with the “sometimes-uncomfortable role that Britain, and Britons, have played in global history”.

Yes, the good old National Trust – once the haven of well-preserved stately homes, woodland walks, and tea, jam and scones – is now determined to become part of that noisy elite minority that can’t let a day go by without engaging in an act of self-flagellation, and reminding us what a shocking country, and people, we supposedly are.

The Trust seems not to understand that its role is to conserve our historic houses, artefacts and landscapes: it is not the administrator of some nationwide re-education programme. The “list of shame” about slavery and colonialism is a typical example of the ignorance of those in charge. First, there seems to be some confusion of the two terms. Most British colonies, and almost all of those in Africa, were established after slavery was abolished. Once definitions of iniquity become so loose, it is easy to shovel the reputations of almost any historical figure you like into them.

So visitors to Bateman’s, Rudyard Kipling’s house in Sussex, will need to brace themselves for a description of the wickedness of the man who gave us the phrase “the White Man’s Burden”. One would never have thought that a man who was the most popular writer of his age, revered by millions in this country and around the world – and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature – would have to be placed at a bargepole’s length from the present generation.

But, inevitably, the focus of the outrage has been Chartwell, Winston Churchill’s country house in north Kent. Churchill, whose minor achievement of managing our victory in the Second World War seems to count for nothing today, is condemned because while he was trying to stop Hitler’s programme of genocide and near-apocalyptic destruction, he failed to respond adequately to the Bengal famine.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: The headmistress of Benenden has apologised for using an “offensive” word in a school assembly. That word was “negro” and she used it when explaining that Black History Month began life in 1926 as Negro History Month. Did she really need to apologise for that?

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face masks in shops here.

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

And here’s an excellent piece about the ineffectiveness of masks by a Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Sunetra Gupta, Professor Martin Kulldorff and Professor Jay Bhattacharya – actual scientists, unlike Devi Sridhar

The Great Barrington Declaration, a petition started by Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya calling for a strategy of “Focused Protection” (protect the elderly and the vulnerable and let everyone else get on with life), was launched last week and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it. If you Googled it on Tuesday, the top hits were three smear pieces from the Guardian, including: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this hit job the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now tops the search results – and my Spectator piece about the attempt to suppress it is among the top hits – although discussion of it has been censored by Reddit. The reason the zealots hate it, of course, is that it gives the lie to their claim that “the science” only supports their strategy. These three scientists are every bit as eminent – more eminent – than the pro-lockdown fanatics so expect no let up in the attacks. (Wikipedia has also done a smear job.)

You can find it here. Please sign it. Now over 600,000 signatures.

Stop Press: A piece in the Science and Technology section of the Economist tries to summarise the debate between the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration and the John Snow Memorandum. It’s biased towards the latter, of course, but less so than most pieces in the mainstream media. Worth a read.

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

There are now so many JRs being brought against the Government and its ministers, we thought we’d include them all in one place down here.

First, there’s the Simon Dolan case. You can see all the latest updates and contribute to that cause here.

Then there’s the Robin Tilbrook case. You can read about that and contribute here.

Then there’s John’s Campaign which is focused specifically on care homes. Find out more about that here.

There’s the GoodLawProject’s Judicial Review of the Government’s award of lucrative PPE contracts to various private companies. You can find out more about that here and contribute to the crowdfunder here.

The Night Time Industries Association has instructed lawyers to JR any further restrictions on restaurants, pubs and bars.

And last but not least there’s the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. You can read about that and make a donation here.

Samaritans

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

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments.)

Special thanks to graphic designer and Lockdown Sceptics reader Claire Whitten for designing our new logo. We think it’s ace. Find her work here.

And Finally…

Got a cracker for you today: Cassetteboy’s latest, a mash-up of Boris’s Covid nonsense set to the tune of “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick”. Must be a huge amount of work to put these together, but, boy, is it worth it. Cheered me up no end.

Latest News

Gyms Are Essential Services

A group of 100 gym owners from across Wales have got together to tell the Welsh Government that it is wrong and harmful to shut gyms during the so-called “fire break” lockdown. They told Lockdown Sceptics:

As of 18.00 Friday we enter a 17 day “fire break” period where all but non-essential businesses will close across the entire country.

As a collective, we strongly believe that gyms are an essential service, and scientific evidence shows that active participation in exercise through establishments such as gyms relieves the strain on the NHS through the promotion of physical and mental wellbeing.  In forcing the closure of gyms, the Welsh Government will be harming a large proportion of the Welsh population and we cannot stand by and allow that to happen.

Just as the Liverpudlian gym community fought (and won) against gym closures in its city, we are now going to do the same for our country. However, we want to take it a step further in getting gyms officially recognised as an essential service by the Government, as they have in other countries across Europe.

– According to ukactive, there were 22 million gym visits in England between July 25th and September 13th and they resulted in just 78 confirmed Covid cases
– The number of cases per 100,000 gym visits in this period was 0.34

It is widely accepted that suicide rates amongst gym-aged males increased during the first lockdown and subsequently. Although we are awaiting official Government data on this, some reports suggest a 40% increase, which if true is a national tragedy. Gyms are not only important for the physical wellbeing of their members but also their mental wellbeing which is just as important given the well-publicised (and significant) lack of funding in the NHS for mental health issues.   

Finally, on top of the multiple billions in savings the fitness industry provides the NHS, gyms provide employment to tens of thousands of people. 

The first lockdown put a great strain on gyms. When we were allowed to reopen, we each had to spend thousands on measures to make gyms “Covid safe”.  The low transmission rates reported from gyms mentioned above are testament to the incredible job that gym owners have done.

It is no exaggeration to say that this further “fire-break” will put the Welsh gym industry in the most perilous position it has ever been in, threatening the employment of thousands of staff and self-employed personal trainers.

We are an industry that relies on our customers becoming members, and member confidence is at an all-time low as they are reluctant to join a gym when it may be forced to close at any point. We need certainty for ourselves and for our members, and being classed as an essential service will go a long way towards that.

Snap surveys across Welsh gyms have shown that gym members also fully support our request to remain open as an essential service and have given us their full backing.

We have a Welsh Assembly Member, Neil McEvoy, who is willing to fight alongside us and as a collective we directly represent tens of thousands of members.

Please consider supporting their campaign through their funding page.

Churches Are Essential Too

Church leaders have written to the Welsh Assembly seeking urgent review of the ‘firebreak’ lockdown measures introduced last night that will ban churches in Wales from opening for three Sundays. Christian Concern has the details.

The pre-action letter argues that blanket restrictions imposed on Welsh churches which began on Friday October 23rd at 6pm will be both unlawful and unnecessary.

Furthermore, the letter states that: “The forced closure of churches by the state is an extreme interference with Article 9 rights. Such a far-reaching and large-scale intervention may only be justified by the most compelling scientific evidence of a resulting benefit to public health.”

The church leaders, who work in some of the most deprived areas of Wales and are from a range of denominations, acknowledge the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic, but argue that the imposition of appropriate anti-pandemic measures should be a matter for church rather than secular authorities.

The group state that they are genuinely open to a constructive dialogue with the Welsh Assembly, but warn that if matters are not addressed urgently they will seek a judicial review of the ban.

Leaders of English churches have also signed the letter, concerned that the forced closure of churches in Wales would set a precedent that England would follow.

On October 19th, Wales’s First Minister, Mark Drakeford, announced, without any parliamentary debate or scrutiny, that Wales would enter a two-week ‘firebreak’ Covid lockdown.

He said the measures were needed to relieve pressure on the health service and slow the spread of the virus in the country.

As part of the measures, he announced church doors will close for public worship other than for funerals or wedding ceremonies for three Sundays, although wedding receptions will not be allowed.

The measures follow a similar blanket ban on church services from the UK Government during the first wave of the pandemic, which saw a series of claims brought to the High Court against the Government.

UK churches faced tough restrictions, which even involved closing for private prayer.

Courts repeatedly warned that the limitations imposed by the secular Government upon the ancient liberties of the Church were potentially unlawful.

In response, the Secretary of State amended the Regulations in July to lift the legally enforceable ‘lockdown’ on the places of worship, which rendered the claims obsolete.

Mr Justice Swift observed at the time that the claims against the Government decision to close churches “raises significant issues”.

In May, a French court ruled that the French Government’s closure of churches was unlawful and a “seriously and manifestly illegal infringement” of religious rights, and ordered the ban to be lifted.

Read more here.

Stop Press: The Critic has a piece by Revd Matthew Roberts on “Why we’re fighting the Welsh lockdown“.

The Sanity of Crowds

Christian minister and Lockdown Sceptics reader Jamie Franklin (who runs the Irreverend podcast) has penned a moving reflection on the many losses of lockdown and the miserable new normal.

I remember as a boy going to watch Spurs at the old White Hart Lane. The feeling of walking up the concrete steps and into the open, the atmosphere tangible, tens of thousands with me, anticipating, hoping, smiling, united. I remember the strange smell of cigarette smoke, the unknown, elaborate obscenities, the sudden silence of the crowd as a chance opened up, the sound of myriad upon myriad plastic seats flapping shut as the faithful arose, eyes focused, breath stopped… the eruption, the euphoria when the ball hit the back of the net. I jumped for joy.

I remember fireworks upon the River Thames at the Millennium. I remember travelling back to my grandparents’ house on the tube and strangers playing charades together.

I remember going to watch musicals and pantomimes with my family, lots of Andrew Lloyd Webber: Cats, Joseph, Whistle Down the Wind to name some.

I remember school assemblies and chapel, singing the hymns in a funny way, making up different words, laughing with my friends when the chaplain spoke of “coveting thy neighbour’s ass”.

I remember Christmas at my grandparents’ house, not being able to sleep Christmas Eve, waiting to go home for lunch and presents as I sat through church on the special morning.

I remember going to Greece with a close friend. Teenagers, we went with his mum who couldn’t control us. We stalked around the island with another couple of lads we met there. On the last night I accidentally got paralytic on Ouzo.

I remember going to Earl’s Court to see Metallica and Iron Maiden. Amazing.

I remember going to university for the first time, the uncertainty and enjoyment of meeting so many new people, the struggle to understand myself in this new environment.

I remember going to church by my own choice as an adult. I remember the feeling of joy as I sang God’s praises with a few hundred other people and really meant it

I’m told that this is all over now. I’m told that none of it is safe. I’m told that the kindest thing to do is for us all to stay in our houses forever. In order for my children to be safe, they must never hug their grandparents. Old folks in hospital mustn’t see their kids before they die. I’m told by Tobias Ellwood MP that I will need to be vaccinated before I can return to normal life, and, even then, that I must carry a passport in order to go anywhere. I’m told by the Prime Minister that I will need to test myself for a virus every morning before I go outside. I’m told that I must allow the government to track my every movement and interaction.

Let’s hope they don’t make this stunted existence last too long. Worth reading in full.

New Study Claims Lockdowns Work

The Lancet has published a new study by Dr You Li and colleagues purporting to show that various non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) have a significant impact on reducing infections. From the conclusion:

To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to assess the temporal association between changing the status of a range of NPIs and the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, as measured by R, for all countries for which data were available. On the basis of the empirical data from 131 countries, we found that individual NPIs, including school closure, workplace closure, public events bans, requirements to stay at home, and internal movement limits, were associated with reductions in R of 3–24% on day 28 after their introduction, compared with the day before their introduction. Reopening schools, lifting bans on public events, lifting bans on public gatherings of more than 10 people, lifting requirements to stay at home, and lifting internal movement limits were associated with increases in R of 11–25% on day 28 after the relaxation. The effects of introducing and lifting NPIs were not immediate; it took around one week following the introduction of an NPI to observe 60% of the maximum reduction in R and even longer (almost three weeks) following the relaxation of an NPI to observe 60% of the maximum increase in R.

Our analysis suggests that, in the context of a resurgence of SARS-CoV-2, a control strategy of banning public events and public gatherings of more than 10 people would be associated with a reduction in R of 6% on day seven, 13% on day 14, and 29% on day 28; if this strategy also included closing workplaces, the overall reduction in R would be 16% on day seven, 22% on day 14, and 38% on day 28. These findings provide additional evidence that can inform policy makers’ decisions on the timing of introducing and lifting different NPIs.

The study has numerous problems, many of which the authors themselves list in the discussion. They claim, for instance, that closing schools and banning public events have the largest impact on infection rates. But they acknowledge that these were usually the first interventions brought in and that the large impact may just reflect that earliness. In terms of increases in infection after lifting restrictions, they acknowledge that they don’t allow for increases in testing, yet the early summer (when most of the restrictions were being lifted) was when testing was being ramped up worldwide, so much of the increase must be attributed to that. They admit they don’t take the seasonality of the virus into account, and appear to defend this by citing a model that claims to show that temperature and humidity don’t make any difference to transmission, despite it now being clear that the virus faded in many places partly due to the onset of summer and is seeing a seasonal resurgence in the autumn. They also claim schools are major drivers of infection, citing one study about the high viral load in five year-olds, but ignoring all the studies that show closing schools made little or no difference.

They acknowledge that there were varying delays in the interventions having an effect, with a median of eight days to reach 60% of the effect, which seems a very long delay for an impact that should really be immediate (their methodology takes into account the lag between infection and reporting tests results). They argue this is likely to be a result of behavioural inertia, which they say is backed up by Google mobility data, but don’t go into detail. It’s hard to see how behavioural inertia could explain a delay in the impact of the closure of schools, which is by nature an immediate and universal behavioural change. Likewise, if public events are banned then they are banned. Why then the delay and variation?

Crucially, there is no sign they have considered how much of the decline in R would have happened anyway, due to natural epidemic decline (herd immunity). As often happens with these studies, one gets a sense that they are assuming their conclusion (that NPIs work) and thus don’t give proper consideration to the possibility that the reduction in R is unrelated to the interventions.

In some ways, though, this study is welcome to sceptics because it concedes that most interventions have no clear impact, and even for those that do the effect is very limited. If lockdowns don’t really prevent transmission, and vaccines likewise, then what argument is left against the strategy of protecting vulnerable people as best we can while otherwise getting back to normal? None that I can see.

Is Public Opinion Turning?

Revellers in Sheffield out on the town last night

There’s an encouraging piece in the Daily Mail today suggesting public opinion is beginning to shift.

Dramatic evidence of a growing revolt against the coronavirus lockdowns emerged last night.

The public think the rules won’t work, they will break the law if necessary to see their loved ones and believe it is time to “get Britain back to normal”.

These are among the key findings from focus groups that suggest traditional opinion polls have failed to spot a decisive change in attitudes toward the pandemic.

One leading pollster believes Britain could be witnessing a repeat of what happened in the 2015 election and the EU referendum.

Opinion polls forecast Labour’s Ed Miliband would be prime minister and that Brexit would be rejected: focus groups indicated the opposite and were proved right each time.

Since the start of the pandemic most polls have suggested voters support lockdowns and, if anything, want the Government to impose even more stringent curbs.

Some have argued this is because furloughed workers have been able to stay at home on 80 per cent of their normal wages thanks to taxpayer funds.

Many Tory MPs opposed to Boris Johnson’s three-tier lockdown system claim their stance is backed by many of their constituents.

The Daily Mail listened in to one of the focus groups, typical of several that have been conducted recently, and it echoed the MPs’ views.

Carried out last Friday, and comprising a cross-section of society, both Tory and Labour, in London, Birmingham and Liverpool, it appears to show voters have lost faith in lockdowns and are no longer prepared to obey all the rules.

They also think the second wave of the virus will be less dangerous, are increasingly worried about the damage to jobs and the economy.

Meanwhile many will refuse a coronavirus vaccine for fear of side effects and there is continuing fury over rule breakers such as the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Dominic Cummings.

The pollster who conducted these focus groups, James Johnson, has written up his findings for the paper.

Stop Press: Only one in 10 told to self-isolate remain at home for two weeks, according to SAGE document.

Lockdown Logic

We’re publishing today a piece by a philosopher who analyses the so-called logic of the lockdown zealots and finds it wanting. Here’s an excerpt.

What, then, is the status of SAGE’s (or the BBC’s, or the general public’s) conviction that a second COVID-19 wave is imminent or already under way? The belief that the NHS is under threat; the conviction that in the absence of further restrictions on personal liberties and economic activity, we risk hundreds of thousands of excess deaths? Clearly, it’s a blik: these are expressions of an unshakeable faith in the most pessimistic outcomes – one that is retained and allowed to govern argument, attitudes in social life, and decision-making, regardless of (almost) no matter what evidence to the contrary. The virus is out to get us; and any evidence that suggests otherwise just shows how cunning it is, and how cautious we need to be to protect ourselves against its malevolence. These articles of faith are ‘meaningful’ to those committed to them, in that they affect the way they live their lives; and they are retained regardless of all rational considerations that count against them. 

Some may be inclined to the view that it is no real accident that belief in the ‘second wave’ (or, perhaps, second coming)’should resemble religious belief. They may suggest that it accords frighteningly well with certain other aspects of the phenomenon as we experience it: the cult of supposed experts – the scientifically-informed ‘priesthood’ controlling and interpreting the models, whose identities were kept secret for so long (as a guard, presumably, against some form of jealous magic that might undermine, them were their identities publicised). For me, that’s going a bit too far: my view is simply that these people can’t think straight. 

Worth reading in full.

Maureen From Barnsley on Good Morning Britain

An 83 year-old woman from Barnsley has done more to rally support for the sceptics’ cause than six months of unrelenting toil on Lockdown Sceptics. But we love her. Here she is socking it to Dr Sarah Jarvis on Good Morning Britain.

Postcard From Albania

Lifestyle writer and Lockdown Sceptics reader Robert Jackman has sent us a postcard from Albania. Sounds like they’ve got the right idea.

There’s a depressing rule of thumb at the moment in Europe that it’s typically the countries on the other side of the Berlin Wall that are the freer ones these days. And a visit to Albania – once the last Communist dictatorship in Europe – proves no different.

Of course, Albania does have some coronavirus restrictions. Masks are compulsory in most indoor spaces (restaurants and bars excluded), but the take-up is far patchier than in Britain. The collective mentality seems to be that, whatever the law might say, masks remain a matter of personal choice.

In a short weekend break, I spot the occasional social distancing sign in a window but nothing more than that. There are no restrictions on how many people can enter a shop or sit on a bus. No martials policing the streets. No irritating one-way systems or taped-over seating.

I suspect there are several factors that contribute to the lack of suffocating restrictions we’ve become used to. As with most poorer countries in Europe, customer-facing businesses in Albania tend to be small and independent, often run directly by owners. 

From serving customers to sweeping the floors at closing time, the average Alabanian coffee shop owner has enough to worry about without fussing about whether customers are wearing masks. They’re also much less likely to want to chase away custom. Nor do they receive orders from a nervous head office intent on minimising potential liability. 

You get the sense that – even putting the virus aside – rules and regulations carry less weight here than they do in the more litigious and bureaucratic West. Cigarettes, for example, are available virtually everywhere and restaurants seem to have the automatic right to let customers smoke – even in a shopping mall. That lack of oversight might not always be a good thing, but I’d happily take it over armed-police shutting down gyms. 

When chatting to a bar owner later, I find out there are some other rules in place. It’s just as well he mentions them, as I’d have never noticed otherwise. One of the new rules, he says, is that pubs and bars are banned from playing music after 8pm. Does he follow the rule I ask? Of course not, he laughs. In three months, he’s received the occasional ticking off from passing police officers, but even then probably only to cover their own backs. The idea that he could be fined or shut down seems alien to him. 

Come midnight, the music is louder than when I arrived. At one point, I even hear the sweary refrains of Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing in the Name Of (‘F**k you I won’t do what you tell me!‘)”. I suspect it isn’t a deliberate act of defiance, but it’s music to the ears of a slightly tipsy lockdown sceptic. 

So how is it all working out for Albania? Their daily coronavirus deaths are still in the single figures but have been steadily ticking away for months now. In typically Balkan style, they have effectively arrived at the Swedish model (well, plus masks) by default rather than design. If this is what ‘letting the virus rip’ looks like, we probably shouldn’t be too worried.

There is one final factor that I imagine contributes to the country’s aloofness in the face of the virus. As anyone who’s been to the Balkans knows, it’s common to see death notices printed on A4 paper and posted on special notice boards around town. While the aim is to let people know about upcoming funerals, seeing those black and white photos also reminds you that death is always out there. Perhaps it helps maintain perspective – and keep away the paralysing fear that has gripped so much of western Europe?

After all, I can’t help notice that, even in the grip of a pandemic, the wall of remembrance is hardly overcrowded. If Neil Ferguson was right, there would be paper blowing everywhere.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Wales themed today: “Fear Of A Welsh Planet” by Goldie Lookin Chain and “This Sullen Welsh Heart” by Manic Street Preachers.

Love in the Time of Covid

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

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

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face masks in shops here.

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

And here’s an excellent piece about the ineffectiveness of masks by a Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Sunetra Gupta, Professor Martin Kulldorff and Professor Jay Bhattacharya – actual scientists, unlike Devi Sridhar

The Great Barrington Declaration, a petition started by Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya calling for a strategy of “Focused Protection” (protect the elderly and the vulnerable and let everyone else get on with life), was launched last week and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it. If you Googled it on Tuesday, the top hits were three smear pieces from the Guardian, including: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this hit job the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now tops the search results – and Toby’s Spectator piece about the attempt to suppress it is among the top hits – although discussion of it has been censored by Reddit. The reason the zealots hate it, of course, is that it gives the lie to their claim that “the science” only supports their strategy. These three scientists are every bit as eminent – more eminent – than the pro-lockdown fanatics so expect no let up in the attacks. (Wikipedia has also done a smear job.)

You can find it here. Please sign it. Now over 600,000 signatures.

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

There are now so many JRs being brought against the Government and its ministers, we thought we’d include them all in one place down here.

First, there’s the Simon Dolan case. You can see all the latest updates and contribute to that cause here.

Then there’s the Robin Tilbrook case. You can read about that and contribute here.

Then there’s John’s Campaign which is focused specifically on care homes. Find out more about that here.

There’s the GoodLawProject’s Judicial Review of the Government’s award of lucrative PPE contracts to various private companies. You can find out more about that here and contribute to the crowdfunder here.

The Night Time Industries Association has instructed lawyers to JR any further restrictions on restaurants, pubs and bars.

And last but not least there’s the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. You can read about that and make a donation here.

Samaritans

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

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments.)

Special thanks to graphic designer and Lockdown Sceptics reader Claire Whitten for designing our new logo. We think it’s ace. Find her work here.

And Finally…

This video about the Asch Conformity Experiment shows how easily people can be induced to go along with a group rather than trusting the evidence they can see with their own eyes, especially when the group is unanimous. Sometimes it is because they become convinced the group must be right because it sees or knows something they don’t. Sometimes it is because they don’t want to stand out or rock the boat. But the more people stand up against the consensus, the more others are willing to look again and decide for themselves. Highly recommended (and only four minutes long).

Latest News

Medical Journals Refuse To Publish Landmark Danish Mask Study

Three leading medical journals have refused to publish the results of the first major scientific investigation into the effects of wearing masks on the spread of COVID-19. The authors of the long-awaited “gold-standard” randomised controlled trial have admitted their findings are “controversial” and are keeping them secret until their paper has been peer-reviewed and published. The Danish newspaper Berlingske has the details.

Professor: Large Danish mask study rejected by three top journals

The researchers behind a large and unique Danish study on the effect of wearing a mask are having great difficulty in getting their research results published. One of the participating professors in the study admits that the still secret research result could be perceived as ‘controversial’.

For weeks, the media and researchers around the world have been waiting with increasing impatience for the publication of a large Danish study on the effect – or lack thereof – of wearing a mask in a public space during the corona pandemic.

Now one of the researchers who has been involved in the study has said that the finished research result has been rejected by at least three of the world’s leading medical journals.

These include the Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine and the American Medical Association’s journal JAMA.

“They all said no,” says the Chief Physician in the Research Department at North Zealand Hospital, Professor Christian Torp-Pedersen.

However, the Professor does not wish to disclose the journals’ reasoning.

“We cannot start discussing what they are dissatisfied with, because in that case we must also explain what the study showed – and we do not want to discuss that until it is published,” explains Christian Torp-Pedersen.

The study was initiated at the end of April, following a grant of DKK 5m [£600,000] from the Salling Foundations [owner of the Salling Group, Denmark’s largest retailer]. It involved as many as 6,000 Danes, half of whom had to wear face masks in public over a long period of time. The other half was selected as the control group.

A large proportion of the test participants were employees of the Salling Group’s supermarkets: Bilka, Føtex and Netto.

The study and its size are unique, and the purpose was once and for all to try to clarify the extent to which the use of face masks in public spaces provides protection against coronavirus infections.

One of the co-authors, Henrik Ullum, tweeted yesterday they are “very unhappy”.

It wouldn’t be the first time politics has trumped science amongst those who are supposed to be its guardians. Professor Sunetra Gupta said in September that she was having unusual difficulty getting anything on herd immunity published, and Dr Gabriela Gomes has said the same thing.

I think we can be fairly confident that this mask study – the largest ever carried out – doesn’t say what the pro-maskers would like. On October 18th, Alex Berenson revealed on Twitter that one of the study’s lead investigators, Professor Thomas Benfield, had said the study would be published “as soon as a journal is brave enough to accept the paper”.

No courage would be required if the study confirmed Covid orthodoxy. Watch this space.

Mask Creep

Molly Kingsley, one of the three founders of UsForThem, has written a piece for Lockdown Sceptics today about the harm mandatory masking is doing to schools – particularly in those schools that over-interpret the Government’s advice and insist that children wear masks in the classroom – and the strange absent of any public debate about this. The Government didn’t allow the House of Commons to debate mandatory masking before ramming it through with a Statutory Instrument, and the House of Lords has failed to step into the breach.

I am increasingly despondent. Many who believe there should have been more rigorous analysis of this, the most intrusive non-pharmaceutical public health intervention of our times, speak as if the argument has been lost, or believe there are more important battles to fight. Alas, there are many battles ahead. But for children, this is a critical one, particularly for children with special needs. It is a debate we must have even when those around us tell us we should be ashamed to do so.

This is an excellent piece by a mother of two young children who has been red-pilled by the transformation of our democratic Government into a public health dictatorship.

Worth reading in full.

Case Counting: Government Quietly Starts Double Counting Positives

“Case” numbers are all over the place at the moment. After hitting a high on Wednesday of 26,688 reported, they were back down to 21,242 yesterday. By specimen date there still appears to be no overall growing trend since October 12th, except for a bizarre tower on October 19th. As ever with “cases”, what these positive test results actually mean and how they relate to clinical cases of the disease COVID-19 is difficult to unravel.

One issue is whether “cases” now include repeat positive tests for the same individual, conducted for example as they await the all-clear. Previously they did not, but it was revealed this week that as of Thursday October 15th the Government has begun to include duplicates as long as they are from different survey weeks. This means that each person who tests positive and is then tested again each week will continue to add new “cases” to the counter for as long as the test (at what sensitivity they don’t say) continues to find some virus fragments to trigger it. Here’s the relevant part of the revised methodology statement.

People tested and people testing positive

For both pillars 1 and 2, data for England is provided by the NHS and PHE and the number of confirmed cases are collated to give the total number of confirmed cases over the reporting period. More details about the data sources and methodology for pillar 1 and pillar 2 can be found in the section Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing in the UK.

From October 15th, the methodology for people tested and people testing positive has changed.

Previously, the number of people newly tested and newly testing positive was reported, where the figures were de-duplicated over the entirety of the pandemic so an individual would only appear once. This meant someone tested in March and again in September would only be counted in the March counts. This was progressively becoming less meaningful the longer the duration of the pandemic and meant that it was not appropriate to calculate a positivity rate from this data.

Figures are now reported as people tested and people testing positive at least once in the reporting week. People tested or testing positive are only counted once over the 7-day reporting period (Thursday to Wednesday), with a positive test being prioritised over a negative test. A person can be counted within more than one 7-day reporting period. If someone was tested more than once in different reporting weeks, they would be included in the count for all reporting weeks they were tested in.

For example, if a person was tested on Thursday and Friday of the same week, they would only be counted once in the reporting week. However, if someone was tested on Tuesday and Friday of the same week, that individual would be counted in 2 reporting periods, as the 2 tests fall into different 7-day reporting periods. If a person is tested under both pillar 1 and pillar 2 in the same reporting week, then only the pillar they were first tested under is counted, unless they were tested in both pillars on the same day, in which case, they are counted under pillar 2.

Is this what lies behind the increase in week beginning October 15th? It’s unclear whether this change will affect daily case data, as reported on the Government’s coronavirus dashboard, or just the weekly statistics released by NHS Test and Trace. The way the Government introduced this major change without proper announcement or explanation is very poor and doesn’t exactly help us understand the course of the epidemic. As far as we are aware, this is the third methodological change the Government has made when it comes to calculating cases and the positivity rate since July 2nd.

To be fair to NHS Test and Trace, this change may be intended to eliminate the problem in calculating the positivity rate that Dr Clare Craig spotted in tab 5 of the dataset in the press release that accompanied Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance’s presentation on September 30th. A note in tab 5 stated: “The number of people tested in a given week will exclude some people who have been tested in a previous week, so may not be an accurate denominator to use. For example, someone testing negative for the first time in week 1 will be counted in the ‘people tested’ figure for that week. If that same person tests negative again in week 4, they will not be counted in the ‘people tested’ figure for week 4.” As Clare pointed out, if NHS Test and Trace wasn’t including repeat negative testers in the weekly test results – people who’ve tested negative before – that meant the denominator was being artificially deflated and the positivity rate artificially inflated. So what this new change may mean is that repeat testers who’ve tested negative in the previous week are now included in the denominator when it comes to calculating the positivity rate. But when NHS Test and Trace made this change it also decided to include repeat testers who’ve tested positive in the previous week when it comes to calculating “cases”, thereby increasing the number of positive “cases” in the weekly releases. We’ve asked Clare about this and she confirmed this reading. As she said, the most honest way of reporting this would be to only include first positives in the daily and weekly testing data and to keep all the negatives in the denominator when calculating the positivity rate.

Meanwhile, the latest update from the Royal College of General Practitioners shows that patients under investigation for COVID-19 dropped considerably in the North West in the week ending October 18th. This is yet another indication that the autumn epidemic in and around Manchester peaked well ahead of its Tier 3 restrictions coming into effect.

Needless to say, these are not the figures of an epidemic “increasing exponentially ” and in need of authoritarian intervention.

Stop Press: Check out this Facebook video by Luke Pompey. He gets a Covid test in the post, breaks the swab stick in half without taking any swabs, posts it back to the NHS then gets a positive result in the mail a few days later.

Sweden Liberates its Elderly and Takes Another Step Back to Normality

Faced with a small rise in Covid cases, what does Sweden do? Not clamp down hard, as we have, but abolish all remaining restrictions on the elderly, declaring they’ve suffered enough. Fraser Nelson in the Telegraph has more.

Sweden has rejected lockdown and face masks, but infections there are on the rise again. Yesterday, its public health agency published a report noting this – and pointing out that the elderly are at the gravest risk. In any other country, you could guess what would come next: a crackdown or curfew, a ban on socialising, a “rule of six”, no more seeing grandchildren. But what the officials had to say next was – to British ears – astonishing.

The elderly, they said, have suffered enough. They have spent months being advised to avoid public transport, shopping malls and other parts of everyday life. And the result? Loneliness. Misery. This is more than unpleasant: it quickly translates into depression, mental health issues and mortality. “We cannot only think about infection control,” said Lena Hallengren, Sweden’s health minister, “we also need to think about public health.” An important distinction: focus on Covid to the exclusion of other conditions and you risk lives.

Sweden is perhaps the first country in the world to make this case so clearly: isolation kills too. We now know much more about the virus, said Ms Hallengren, but we also know more about the side effects of lockdown – and even in Sweden’s case (where restrictions were voluntary) these effects are severe. Her 21-page report found a “decline in mental health” that was “likely to worsen the longer the recommendations remain in place”. So restrictions for the over-70s have been abolished forthwith, even with Covid rising (albeit slowly). And all this in the name of public health, not the economy. 

This may sound at odds with the Great Barrington Declaration strategy of focused protection of the vulnerable. But in fact it’s the endpoint of it: to reach a level of population immunity in a relatively short space of time that allows restrictions on the high-risk to be lifted. Sweden may well still see the usual rise in respiratory disease this winter, but its public health officials have evidently concluded it is unlikely to include a large new deadly wave of Covid. The evidence to date suggests they’re right. Once again, Sweden pioneers a different way. Let’s hope this time we learn from them.

Stop Press: Sweden is also allowing large gatherings to take place, provided the total number is 300 or below.

Vaccines Unlikely to Prevent Infection

Seasoned sceptic Barry Norris on the Argonautica blog has written an incisive and well-researched piece on the widespread misconceptions of what the Covid vaccines are likely to achieve. Surprisingly, it’s not to prevent infection or reduce the risk of death or serious illness.

It is a common misconception that an approved vaccine will provide “silver bullet” immunity, a scenario based more on a Hollywood film narrative than reality5 because no Covid vaccine trial protocol6 defines its “success” as:

– Providing immunity from infection from the SARS-COV-2 virus
– Reducing mortality risk from the COVID-19 disease7
– Providing immunity from COVID-19 disease symptoms

Instead trial “success” is defined as an amelioration of COVID-19 symptoms in 50-60% of volunteers, who are healthy adults likely to be at risk only from a mild or asymptomatic infection and thus not even a population group facing significant mortality risk from COVID-19.8 These dud Covid vaccines aspire to be buckshot not silver bullets: if they are the answer, what was the question?

Early stage trials have generally demonstrated an antibody response to inoculation with uncomfortable but so far generally tolerable side-effects in healthy adults (although both Astra9 and J&J10 trials were on hold whilst safety data was investigated).11 But the duration of the antibody responses is (as yet) unknown and it has not yet been proven whether the antibodies will offer any protection from the SARS-CoV-2 virus infection or the onset of the COVID-19 disease.12 Moderna recently admitted in the recent rehash of their Phase 1 data “no correlate of protection for SARS-COV-2 has been established”.13 In fact, no vaccine trial has yet presented any data providing any evidence of sterilising immunity which would be considered the gold standard for any vaccine. In a rare interview where senior management has been asked what constituted “success”, the Head of Biopharmaceutical R&D at Astra Zeneca Mene Pangalos confirmed that the vaccine “doesn’t need to cure you of SARS-COV-2”.14

You might think that “success” in all vaccine trials would involve a primary endpoint of a statistically significant reduction in infection from the specific SARS-COV-2 virus amongst the inoculated group versus the placebo group. This is not the case. The primary endpoints are focused on safety and the efficacy of the vaccine in ameliorating the onset of the COVID-19 disease as measured by the severity of symptoms (asymptomatic infections are not even counted toward the primary endpoint but only towards secondary, more speculative endpoints). The vaccines are therefore primarily measuring their effectiveness as a treatment of the COVID-19 disease rather than immunising the inoculated against infection from the SARS-COV-2 virus. This is a subtle but extremely important nuance. An analogy would be a vaccine that delays or mitigates the onset of the AIDS disease but does nothing to protect from being infected by the HIV virus. Hence the stated clinical aim of the vaccines is not to prevent transmission of the virus.

One question this raises is should the vaccines actually be called “vaccines”? Google’s Oxford Languages definition of vaccine is “a substance used to stimulate the production of antibodies and provide immunity against one or several diseases, prepared from the causative agent of a disease, its products, or a synthetic substitute, treated to act as an antigen without inducing the disease”. If the Covid “vaccines” aren’t going to “provide immunity” they’re not really vaccines, are they? More like prophylactics – the leaky condom variety.

Worth reading in full.

Freshers’ Covid

A reader writes to tell us about what life is like for her daughter in her second year of university in the north of England, where there is an outbreak of SARS-CoV-2.

Going to the campus testing centre for a test is becoming a virtual rite of passage at the first sign of a sore throat or a sniffle, along with the obligatory posting of the test result on Snapchat. In my daughter’s house of four occupants, three of them developed flu-like symptoms over the course of last week and by Saturday all three of them had been for tests. (The fourth thinks she had “the virus” earlier this year.) All three tests came back positive so all four of them have had to self-isolate for 10 days. One felt ill enough to spend last weekend in bed but is now much better. The other two, including my daughter, felt a bit headachy and grotty for a few days but are now fine, except that all three of them lost their sense of taste and smell – oddly, this only happened after they had the test. They’re complaining bitterly about this as they can’t taste their food, as well as panicking in case it’s permanent (since there’s so much fear porn about this on the internet). I agree it’s a vexing symptom and I hope they recover from it soon, but it isn’t life-threatening. They seem to have forgotten how ill they were with “freshers’ flu” last year – it persisted for weeks and nobody escaped it, along with viral conjunctivitis, chest and sinus infections, even a case of glandular fever in my daughter’s hall. And yet the university’s student “cases” are rising steadily as the vogue for getting tested intensifies, and most of them seem to be fine except for many of them having this loss of taste and smell.

James Delingpole Interviews Dr Mike Yeadon

James Delingpole has interviewed Lockdown Sceptics contributor Dr Mike Yeadon for the latest episode of the Delingpod. This is a must listen. You can either listen to it on YouTube here or on Podbean here.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Just one today: “World of Tiers” by Hawkwind.

Love in the Time of Covid

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

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

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, it’s the plans of the Scottish Government to force all teachers to subscribe to the radical Left notion of “intersectionality” or be out on their ear. Steerpike, the Spectator‘s gossip columnist, has the details.

This year, the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) has been consulting on new ‘Professional Standards’ for teachers, which will come into force in August 2021. In June, the GTCS approved a final draft of the new standards, which it has now published online and asked for feedback.

As part of its powers, the GTCS is able to strike off teachers who do not meet its professional standards, and they are a benchmark of competence for all new teachers joining the profession. In other words, any teachers who do not subscribe to them will not be teaching for very long.

Rather worryingly then, Mr S has spotted that the teaching body has decided to adopt a left-wing political framework for its new standards.

The GTCS lists three professional values that all teachers will be expected to have in Scotland in 2021: ‘trust and respect’, ‘integrity’, and ‘social justice’.

Some of the qualities the GTCS describes as belonging to social justice are innocuous enough. It is hard to object to the idea, for example, that teachers should promote the health and wellbeing of students in their care.

Other qualities are more controversial. If the standards are enacted, it will become compulsory for teachers in 2021 to be: “Committing to social justice through fair, transparent, inclusive, and sustainable policies and practices in relation to protected characteristics… and intersectionality.”

Exactly how teachers are meant to demonstrate their commitment to ‘intersectionality’ (a rather nebulous strand of identity politics that stresses the importance of competing levels of privilege) in their day to day practice, as the standards command, is beyond Mr Steerpike’s imagination.

Thinking of becoming a teacher in Scotland? Forget about the three Rs. You need to read Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, the inventor of this dotty theory.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face masks in shops here.

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

And here’s an excellent piece about the ineffectiveness of masks by a Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Sunetra Gupta, Professor Martin Kulldorff and Professor Jay Bhattacharya – actual scientists, unlike Devi Sridhar

The Great Barrington Declaration, a petition started by Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya calling for a strategy of “Focused Protection” (protect the elderly and the vulnerable and let everyone else get on with life), was launched last week and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it. If you Googled it on Tuesday, the top hits were three smear pieces from the Guardian, including: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this hit job the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now tops the search results – and Toby’s Spectator piece about the attempt to suppress it is among the top hits – although discussion of it has been censored by Reddit. The reason the zealots hate it, of course, is that it gives the lie to their claim that “the science” only supports their strategy. These three scientists are every bit as eminent – more eminent – than the pro-lockdown fanatics so expect no let up in the attacks. (Wikipedia has also done a smear job.)

You can find it here. Please sign it. Now over 600,000 signatures.

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

There are now so many JRs being brought against the Government and its ministers, we thought we’d include them all in one place down here.

First, there’s the Simon Dolan case. You can see all the latest updates and contribute to that cause here.

Then there’s the Robin Tilbrook case. You can read about that and contribute here.

Then there’s John’s Campaign which is focused specifically on care homes. Find out more about that here.

There’s the GoodLawProject’s Judicial Review of the Government’s award of lucrative PPE contracts to various private companies. You can find out more about that here and contribute to the crowdfunder here.

The Night Time Industries Association has instructed lawyers to JR any further restrictions on restaurants, pubs and bars.

And last but not least there’s the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. You can read about that and make a donation here.

Samaritans

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

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments.)

Special thanks to graphic designer and Lockdown Sceptics reader Claire Whitten for designing our new logo. We think it’s ace. Find her work here.

And Finally…

Toby in his Spectator column this week has had enough of the profligacy and politicking of the devolved administrations during this pandemic as they have indulged in heavily subsidised lockdowns which seem designed to make the Westminster Government look bad.

The actions of Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford are scarcely any more explicable. His decision had nothing to do with rising case numbers, hospital admissions or deaths. Daily cases by specimen date plateaued in Wales last week, as have the number of COVID-19 patients in critical care. Daily deaths from Covid peaked at 11 on October 7th and haven’t climbed above single digits since. The cumulative death toll in Wales is 1,722, which is about 4% of the total in England.

No, the reason the Welsh Labour leader has imposed these draconian restrictions is to ratchet up the pressure on Boris and make it more difficult for him to avoid imposing a two-week ‘circuit breaker’, thereby enhancing the standing of Keir Starmer, who called for one last week. Drakeford can afford to play politics with his own people’s livelihoods because he knows that Boris — the man he’s doing his best to embarrass — will have to pick up the pieces.

Toby says he hasn’t “quite given up on unionism” and still thinks “we’re better off together”, though worries “what will become of Scotland and Wales if we were to part”. Indeed. Personally I find it bizarre to think we’d no longer be Great Britain or the United Kingdom. Talk about a shock to the system! I’m more inclined to say we should be strict with our separatists in the time-honoured tradition of America and Spain and not even countenance secession. But Toby is more charitable and thinks we should give them an ultimatum: “The English can’t continue bankrolling you if you’re just going to set fire to the money in a misguided effort to make yourselves look better than us. Either you abandon this sophomoric pretence of independence and throw in your lot with us or you become separate sovereign states, entirely responsible for your own affairs.”

Worth reading in full.

Latest News

Record Rise in “Cases” – But October Still Normal For Respiratory Disease

Yesterday saw the biggest daily rise yet in positive tests reported: 26,688. The last three days have each seen significant increases, though it’s worth noting that by date of specimen there is still no major upward trend since the start of the month. That may change in the coming days (the column for October 19th admittedly looks high already) but relying on reporting date can give a false impression of trends.

What’s really missing in these numbers though is context. Were more tests done on October 19th than 18th, so the apparent rise is just an artefact of the increase in testing? And how many of these “cases” are false positives? As Sir Patrick Vallance said on Tuesday, SARS-CoV-2 is now likely to be an endemic virus that comes back in some form each flu season. Infections are rising now because it’s autumn and many respiratory viruses spread in autumn, plus the spring lockdowns will have left some areas with lower levels of immunity. It’s notable that London, where infections were falling before lockdown as Chris Whitty admitted to MPs, has yet to see any major increase in hospital admissions or deaths.

But if Covid infections, hospital admissions and deaths do keep rising throughout the winter there would be nothing unusual about that. Herd immunity doesn’t mean no one gets infected anymore, especially in the colder months. It means enough people have enough resistance to prevent a repeat of the spring and keep it within normal bounds.

COVID-19 isn’t the only respiratory disease around of course. But this year the rest are being strangely timid. Flu and pneumonia hospital admissions and deaths have been trending well below average since May with no sign of change yet, leaving Covid largely having the field to itself. That’s one reason the rise in Covid hospital admissions isn’t likely to overwhelm the NHS – there’s been a corresponding fall in admissions for flu and pneumonia.

If winter 2020 is a typical year then it’s likely to get a lot worse than this – not because we’re in the midst of a “second wave” but because it’s winter. If those panicking and calling for lockdowns think October’s bad, wait till they see a typical December. While the few journalists who have been asking the right questions haven’t been able to get the data from the NHS that would let us properly compare 2020 with a normal year (what are they hiding?), Carl Heneghan and co have tracked down this graph released in 2017 in response to an MP’s request.

It shows that England typically experiences a sharp increase in emergency admissions for respiratory conditions from September through November, followed by an even bigger spike in December, before beginning to drop off again in the new year. How does 2020 compare with this?

October 2016 had around 24,500 admissions, which is an average of 790 per day. Covid admissions this month up to the 18th are 10,503 with 13 days to go. The month started at around 370 per day and reached about 800 as of October 18th, so is currently running about average.

In other words, so far as we can tell from data in the public domain there is nothing unusual about the current October rise in respiratory disease-related hospital admissions. We can expect them to keep on rising and then to peak in December, although we don’t yet know if COVID-19 will fizzle out during the winter, to be replaced by other viruses. The lack so far of a big rise in Covid admissions and deaths in Sweden, London and New York suggests the emergence of herd immunity could lead to it receding. But even if it doesn’t, there is no evidence so far that Covid’s second ripple will exceed the usual bounds of a seasonal virus now that population immunity is moving upwards.

What Western countries have really lost sight of here is perspective. As Philip Johnston points out, in 1999-2000 – the last really bad flu season before this one, when a greater proportion of the UK population died – hospitals would leave people dying in waiting rooms. Yet it never occurred to anyone that this unfortunate situation meant we should shut down society for months on end – an intervention which kills and harms people in numerous ways.

As Professor Karol Sikora says: if lockdown was a drug or a vaccine, the authorities would have to take into account the side effects. Given that it causes so much harm to healthy people for so little demonstrable benefit it is unlikely it would even make it through the first hoop – a point also made by Dr Matt Strauss in the Spectator. Why then should we have different standards for drugs than for other public health interventions? Somewhere along the line, Western nations have lost sight of the key ethical principle that we are not responsible for viruses and illnesses, we are only responsible for our actions. And governments, like doctors, should aim to do more good than harm and not contravene important ethical principles such as consent. Even vaccinations of nasty diseases like measles and TB are not compulsory. Yet lockdown is imposed on all by force of law. How is that ethical? Covid has turned our principles upside down.

Stop Press: The CEBM has a new study explaining T-Cell immunity and reviewing the mounting evidence for longer-term immunity from SARS-CoV-2.

Why Were Democratic Citizens So Willing to Surrender Their Liberty?

Emperor Nero declares war on Neptune and orders his soldiers to attack the sea

Stacey Rudin has written an excellent piece for the American Institute for Economic Research exploring the question of why citizens of liberal democracies around the world complied so readily with draconian government diktats.

One has to wonder, how did this come about? Why weren’t we behaving this way before, when seasonal influenza is known to kill up to 650,000 people globally every single year? Why didn’t anyone ever care about saving all of those millions of people? If we really can stop infections, we murdered all of them!

Fortunately for our collective conscience, none of our pre-COVID public health guidelines so much as suggests that human behaviour can eliminate infections as necessary to stop deaths. We have always understood that we have limited control over invisible biological agents, which is why we do not opt to incur the gigantic costs of “lockdowns” and similar: we realize the effort to save every life, while noble, is unfortunately futile. We cannot stop death, so we accept it, and balance it with many other human interests. We know that pandemics causing upwards of two million deaths can and do occur, yet our CDC does not EVER recommend isolating healthy people outside of the household of the sick, closing “nonessential” businesses, or closing schools for longer than 12 weeks.

So why did we adopt all of these extreme, harmful, and deadly measures in 2020 for COVID-19, a pandemic that has not even caused statistically significant excess deaths in nations with short lockdowns and no lockdowns. Why did we depart so completely from our regulations? Did new science develop? I can’t find any. All pre-Covid epidemiological and public health literature unanimously acknowledges that it is impossible to stop infectious diseases with isolation and quarantine.

Good question and one that most lockdown sceptics have been puzzling over. Why isn’t everyone more like us? As Lionel Shriver said:

The supine capitulation to a de facto police state in a country long regarded as a cradle of liberty has been one of the most depressing spectacles I’ve ever witnessed. In a matter of days, busybodies are ratting out neighbours for going for a run twice; these people would be pigs in muck in the GDR.

Rudin’s answer is that politicians succeeded in persuading the public that they could prevent death – something the public, who’d already been terrified out of their wits by the politicians and their handmaidens in the media, wanted to hear.

To the calm (rational) mind, it is clear that “suppression” is a set of “brakes” that should only be imposed to the minimum extent necessary to manage hospital capacity. Any “extra” suppression just saves infections for later — when you may or may not have a vaccine or improved treatment — at extraordinary cost. To scared (irrational) people, however, suppression provides at least some “hope” of avoiding a horrific early death. You cannot blame terrified people for their feelings, but you can and should blame the media and government for misrepresenting personal risk during a pandemic. No cost is too high to keep open the possibility of staying alive. People focused on that will not comprehend any second- or third-tier consequences of their self-preservation efforts.

This is a terrific piece, written in a punchy, accessible style. Worth reading in full.

Impact of Lockdowns on the Developing World

There’s a good piece in Quillette by Joel Kotkin and Hügo Krüger called “The Coming Post-Covid Global Order“. It makes for grim reading, predicting the further decline of Western liberal democracies and the ascendancy of authoritarian China. The opening, in which the authors document the devastating impact of the lockdowns on the developing world, is particularly sobering.

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated economics in the West, but the harshest impacts may yet be felt in the developing world. After decades of improvement in poorer countries, a regression threatens that could usher in, both economically and politically, a neo-feudal future, leaving billions stranded permanently in poverty. If this threat is not addressed, these conditions could threaten not just the world economy, but prospects for democracy worldwide.

In its most recent analysis, the World Bank predicted that the global economy will shrink by 5.2% in 2020, with developing countries overall seeing their incomes fall for the first time in 60 years. The United Nations predicts that the pandemic recession could plunge as many as 420 million people into extreme poverty, defined as earning less than $2 a day. The disruption will be particularly notable in the poorest countries. The UN has forecast that Africa could have 30 million more people in poverty. A study by the International Growth Centre spoke of “staggering” implications with 9.1% of the population descending into extreme poverty as savings are drained, with two-thirds of this due to lockdown. The loss of remittances has cost developing economies billions more income.

Latin America had seen its poverty rate drop from 45 to 30% over the past two decades, but now nearly 45 million, according to the UN, are being plunged into destitution as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic. In Mexico alone, COVID-19 has caused at least 16 million more people to fall into extreme poverty, according to a study by the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

These trends undermine the appeal of neoliberal globalization across the developing world. The pandemic has forced people to stay in their countries, and has closed off the ability to move to wealthier places. With Western countries themselves in disarray, there’s been a growing temptation to adopt authoritarian controls modeled by China, which appears to have emerged from the pandemic and economic collapse quicker than the rest of the world. The pandemic could boost China’s great ambition to replace the West, and notably America, as the heart of global civilization.

Worth reading in full.

The Official Government Line?

A Lockdown Sceptics reader got a reply this week from their MP, Kelly Tolhurst. I’m reproducing it here because it reads to me like the official line provided pre-packaged from central command, albeit with some personal touches. (Although the bizarre, run-on sentences suggest it isn’t just being copied verbatim by Kelly’s researcher). Did anyone else receive something with words like these from their MP? Full of holes, obviously – I’ll leave it to readers to take it apart below the line.

I am terribly sorry to hear that your mother recently passed away, I can only imagine how difficult it was for you to say goodbye in that way and how hard it is to be around loved ones and not be able to kiss or touch them.

It is also very upsetting to hear about your business having to close after all the hard work you put into building it up through a tough period. Without knowing the extent and details of your financial situation it is hard for me to offer specific advice, however I have noted that this blog by Money Saving Expert has been very helpful for constituents with financial difficulties over recent months and hope it provides you with some useful information: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/03/uk-coronavirus-help-and-your-rights/

Regarding our approach to tackling the coronavirus, I understand your frustration with the current restrictions on our normal lives, this is an incredibly difficult situation for everyone. Coronavirus is deadly and, unfortunately, it is now spreading exponentially in the UK. It is our responsibility to act to prevent more hospitalisations, more deaths and more economic damage. We know from recent history that when this virus keeps growing, unless we act together to get it under control, this is the result.

To be clear, our strategy is to suppress the virus, supporting the economy, education and the NHS. Local action is at the centre of our response. The virus is currently not spread evenly, and the situation is particularly severe in some parts of the country. Through the Joint Biosecurity Centre and NHS Test and Trace, we have built up a detailed picture of where and how the virus is spreading. NHS Test and Trace statistics show that testing capacity is up, testing turnaround times are down, and the distance travelled for tests is down too. Thanks to this capacity and analysis, we have been able to take a more targeted approach, keeping a close eye on the situation in local areas, bearing down hard through restrictions on a local level where they are necessary.

I believe that we must take firm and balanced decisions to keep this virus under control. This is the only way to protect lives and livelihoods, and we must act now. Delayed action means more deaths from covid, it means more non-covid deaths, and it means more economic pain later, because the virus comes down slower than it goes up. We should stop it going up in the first place. Unless we suppress the virus, we cannot return to the economy we had; unless we suppress the virus, we cannot keep non-covid NHS services going; and unless we suppress the virus, we cannot keep the elderly and the vulnerable safe and secure.

You also mentioned the range of scientific advice the Government is receiving, and I should point out that the Prime Minister, the Chief Medical Officer and other advisers have been talking to their Swedish counterparts regularly in order to learn lessons from there. They have also been talking to other European countries such as Belgium, which have taken measures, in order to learn internationally. We are all learning the best way to deal with this virus. We are trying to restore the NHS services that were suspended while we dealt with the initial impact of Covid. NHS England has issued guidance for the return of non-Covid health services to near normal levels, making use of the available capacity while protecting the most vulnerable from Covid. The way to minimise disruption to other treatments is to deal with this virus as effectively as we can, so that we do not have a huge spike of people with Covid being admitted to hospital.

“Breathing is Dangerous”

At least in Airstrip One you could still get closer than six feet

An Oxford University student and Lockdown Sceptics reader has written a powerful reflection on the loss of freedom. Here’s an excerpt.

Anyone who ventures out onto the high street will see long queues of masked and muted figures. They probably cannot breathe but, we are told, breathing is dangerous. So we hold our breath. These flimsy shields have become the marks of subservience to a policy that, no one can deny, is bewilderingly inconsistent. The Government has stated on numerous occasions how ineffective face-coverings are; in one document, published on June 23rd, it stated: “The evidence of the benefit of using a face covering to protect others is weak and the effect is likely to be small.” And yet, after only a few months, this symbol of conformity is now normalised and unquestionable. We have become literally silenced and distanced from one another. Why? Because scepticism spreads through communication and scepticism is contagious. According to one official within my university: “If you are comfortable talking to someone, then it is likely that you are not socially distanced.” Our statistical language cannot and does not speak to the sanity of human interaction.

This piece conveys the inhuman weirdness of being a university student at present. Worth reading in full.

First Do No Harm

Professor Ramesh Thakur, former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Professor at the Crawford School of Public Policy in Australia, has written a cracking piece in Spectator Australia on the real harms and dubious ethics of lockdowns.

We now know the fear-mongers were disastrously wrong, but persist with their heartless cruelty nonetheless. In April, the UN Economic Commission for Africa said “between 300,000 and 3.3 million African people could lose their lives as a direct result of COVID-19”. In February, Bill Gates warned of 10 million corona virus deaths in Africa. On October 15th, the real number was 38,977. Gates is a genius as a tech entrepreneur but his grasp of epidemiology is near the other end of the scale. Mind you, the tech sector is one of the very few to have done well financially from the lockdown.

The unbearable cruelty imposed by health bureaucrats without a distinguished medical research record has sucked the very humanity out of society: delaying interstate visits until too late to see a dying father or save one of the twins in the womb in need of urgent attention. As British MP Charles Walker said in a BBC radio interview on October 12th, for many elderly people, “being told that you’ve got to spend the next six or 12 months without human contact, without seeing the people that you love, without embracing your grandchildren, is a price too high”.

Millions will be pushed into extreme poverty.

Of course, the biggest tragedy will be across the developing world over the next decade, with over 100 million more people pushed into extreme poverty, 10s of millions of additional dead from increased infant and maternal mortality, hunger and starvation with more poverty and disrupted crop production and food distribution networks, sharp cutbacks in immunisation and schooling, and destruction of the informal sectors of the economy in which daily wage earners earn a pitiful living. Most countries will also need to prepare for potential spikes in mental health problems and suicides from the fear generated by exaggerated alarmism as well as the loneliness, isolation, financial ruin and despair caused by the lockdowns.

Read it in full here.

Unlikely Hero Emerges – 83 year-old Herd Immunity Advocate

Is this a sign that public opinion is beginning to shift? Last night, the BBC News included a lone voice of scepticism in the form of an 83 year-old Barnsley resident commenting on the Government’s decision to plunge 1.4 million people in South Yorkshire into a Tier 3 lockdown. In what must have been a nasty shock to the BBC team on the ground, the elderly shopper turned out to be a well-informed advocate of “Focused Protection”. The Mail has more.

The outspoken shopper told the broadcaster: “I think it’s all ridiculous, we should never have been in lockdown. All the people who were vulnerable should have been helped and kept home safe.

“And all the rest of us, I’m 83, I don’t give a sod.

“I look at it this way, I’ve not got all that many years left of me and I’m not going to be fastened in a house when the Government have got it all wrong.

“We need… how can we get the country on its feet? Money-wise? Where’s all the money?

“By the end of this year there’s going to be millions of people unemployed and you know who’s going to pay for it? All the young ones. Not me because I’m going to be dead.”

Can we put this woman on SAGE please? She seems to have a much better grasp of the situation than Sir Patrick Vallance.

Worth reading in full.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Lots today: “Everything Seems Bad” by Abbie and The Sawyers, “Bad As They Seem” by Hayden, “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive, “It’ll be Lonely this Christmas” by Mud, “Clampdown” by Bruce Springsteen and “Tiers” by Dusky.

Love in the Time of Covid

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

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

Woke Gobbledegook

Toby featured Calvin Robinson’s tweet yesterday about equalities minister Kemi Badenoch’s response to a Labour question in Parliament telling schools in no uncertain terms that teaching Critical Race Theory and “white privilege” as fact is against the law. Today we bring you Calvin’s excellent piece in the Spectator.

Why, then, have schools been getting away with teaching highly contested political ideas as if they are accepted facts? The idea of ‘white privilege’, for example, is the principal element of Critical Race Theory, which teaches that white people are at a natural advantage and that black people are oppressed, based on nothing but the colour of their skin. CRT encourages a victimhood mentality among young black people, perpetuating the myth of white supremacy, and aligning blame for all societal problems on the white man.

CRT tells white people they are not only privileged but racist, either overtly or unconsciously. Under these rules, a white person can either admit their racist tendencies and be labelled with ‘white guilt’, or they can deny their unconscious bias and be accused of ‘white fragility’. It is a lazy Kafkaesque trap, completely closed off from challenge and criticism by design.

That is why it was so encouraging to see yesterday that Kemi Badenoch MP, the Equalities Minister, make a rousing address to Parliament during a Black History Month debate, in which she made clear that this is no longer to be tolerated. She said the government are avidly and actively against Critical Race Theory, and it has no place in our schools; any school politicising the curriculum is breaking the law.

Worth reading in full. He’s also written on the same subject in the Telegraph.

Little Known Fact: Calvin used to work as a Computer Science teacher at the West London Free School, the school co-founded by Toby.

Stop Press: In their lead article this week, the Spectator highlights how the recently published ONS figures on ethnic pay disparity put paid to any idea of “white privilege”. The article notes: “The ethnic group called ‘White British’ came only fifth in the pay rankings, with a median hourly pay that is 7% lower than ‘White and Asian’, 16% below ‘Indian’, 23% below ‘Chinese’ and a whacking 41% below ‘White Irish’. Among the under-30s, the ‘White British’ come out even worse: they are fifth from bottom, earning 2% less than ‘Bangladeshi’, 3% less than ‘Black Caribbean’, 13% less than ‘Black African’, 15% less than ‘Indian’ and 46% less than ‘Chinese’.”

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face masks in shops here.

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

And here’s an excellent piece about the ineffectiveness of masks by a Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Sunetra Gupta, Professor Martin Kulldorff and Professor Jay Bhattacharya – actual scientists, unlike Devi Sridhar

The Great Barrington Declaration, a petition started by Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya calling for a strategy of “Focused Protection” (protect the elderly and the vulnerable and let everyone else get on with life), was launched last week and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it. If you Googled it on Tuesday, the top hits were three smear pieces from the Guardian, including: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this hit job the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now tops the search results – and Toby’s Spectator piece about the attempt to suppress it is among the top hits – although discussion of it has been censored by Reddit. The reason the zealots hate it, of course, is that it gives the lie to their claim that “the science” only supports their strategy. These three scientists are every bit as eminent – more eminent – than the pro-lockdown fanatics so expect no let up in the attacks. (Wikipedia has also done a smear job).

You can find it here. Please sign it. Now over 600,000 signatures.

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

There are now so many JRs being brought against the Government and its ministers, we thought we’d include them all in one place down here.

First, there’s the Simon Dolan case. You can see all the latest updates and contribute to that cause here.

Then there’s the Robin Tilbrook case. You can read about that and contribute here.

Then there’s John’s Campaign which is focused specifically on care homes. Find out more about that here.

There’s the GoodLawProject’s Judicial Review of the Government’s award of lucrative PPE contracts to various private companies. You can find out more about that here and contribute to the crowdfunder here.

The Night Time Industries Association has instructed lawyers to JR any further restrictions on restaurants, pubs and bars.

And last but not least there’s the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. You can read about that and make a donation here.

Samaritans

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

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments).

Special thanks to graphic designer and Lockdown Sceptics reader Claire Whitten for designing our new logo. We think it’s ace. Find her work here.

And Finally…