Even hard core sceptics might have experienced a tremor of doubt yesterday on seeing the daily total of new cases: 22,961. Is Witless and Unbalanced’s graph of doom going to turn out to be accurate? Er, no. The reason Sunday’s figure were so high is because 15,841 additional cases were added to the “daily” total, which, without them, would have been 7,120, which is almost exactly what they were seven days ago on September 29th (7,143).
So where did these extra 15,841 cases come from? Apparently, they are positives spread out over a seven-day period between September 25th and October 2nd but which were omitted from the daily totals due to a technical glitch. The Guardian has more.
Boris Johnson said earlier on Sunday that there was “a failure in the counting system which has now been rectified”. He told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show it was a “computing issue” and all those who had a positive test had been notified.
While PHE said the technical issue did not affect people getting their test results, Test and Trace and PHE joint medical advisor Susan Hopkins, has said it resulted in a delay in cases being passed into the contact tracing system.
“All outstanding cases were immediately transferred to the contact tracing system by 1am on 3 October and a thorough public health risk assessment was undertaken to ensure outstanding cases were prioritised for contact tracing effectively.”
Michael Brodie, the interim chief executive at Public Health England, said the “technical issue” was identified overnight on Friday 2 October in the data load process that transfers COVID-19 positive lab results into reporting dashboards.
“After rapid investigation, we have identified that 15,841 cases between September 25th and October 2nd were not included in the reported daily COVID-19 cases. The majority of these cases occurred in most recent days. Every one of these cases received their Covid-19 test result as normal and all those who tested positive were advised to self-isolate. NHS Test and Trace and PHE have worked to quickly resolve the issue and transferred all outstanding cases immediately into the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing system.”
Just when you think you this Government’s handling of the crisis could not get any worse, Matt Hancock says, “Hold my beer.”
Stop Press: Robert Peston in the Spectator this morning has more on the cock-up:
The reason for the confidence-destroying lag was a glitch in two of Public Health England’s ‘legacy’ computer systems, which meant that data was not being transmitted properly. Or at least that is what a senior official tells me. The glitch has apparently now been fixed. But confusion has been sown and damage done.
Stop Reality: Lord Bethell, a Health Minister, has told the Conservative Party Conference that Britain will look back on the Government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis “with pride” and compared it to the 2012 London Olympics.
“Inhumane, degrading, inexplicable” – Amnesty International’s Verdict on Government’s Care Homes Policy
The Mail on Sunday ran a story yesterday about an Amnesty International report on the disastrous impact of the UK Government’s management of the coronavirus crisis on care homes. It could not be more damning.
It is an excoriating verdict that will, undoubtedly, give voice to the rage and anguish of thousands of families: the Government’s pandemic policies violated the fundamental human rights of vulnerable older people in care, a major report has concluded.
“Inexplicable” decisions were made that were “heedless at best”.
The measures exposed elderly residents to the virus and then, crucially, blocked them from receiving life-saving medical care. And ultimately this led to tens of thousands of deaths, according to the Amnesty International analysis, shared exclusively with the Mail on Sunday, ahead of publication.
The report will show, starkly, that Ministers “knew from the outset” that COVID-19 posed an exceptional danger to the 400,000 residents of UK care homes, many of whom are frail and live with multiple health conditions. But while claiming time and again that the need to protect them was at the very heart of policy, what actually happened was quite the opposite.
Homes were “overwhelmed” by infections and older people were subjected to “inhuman and degrading” treatment. The review paints the Government as “directly responsible” and lays bare a litany of failures and sinister edicts that resulted in tragedy.
The piece is worth reading in full.
One of the most interesting details in the report is that of the roughly 28,186 excess deaths recorded in care homes from March 2nd to June 12th, 18,562 were attributed to COVID-19, while the remaining 9,624 made no mention of “novel coronavirus” on the death certificate. Amnesty International says some of these deaths will have been due to undiagnosed Covid, but others will have been an indirect result of the Government’s attempts to “protect the NHS”.
The exact causes have not been revealed – yet figures show vastly fewer patients being treated for heart attacks, cancer, strokes and diabetes since the pandemic began. Dementia deaths – unrelated to Covid – have also surged by more than 50%.
Could this be ‘collateral damage’ of the decision to divert all resources and attention to tackling the virus?
As this newspaper has reported over the past five weeks, while pandemic restrictions eased across the UK, care homes remained in lockdown – barring families from being with their loved ones. It means many residents have been effectively isolated for almost eight months now. Hundreds of families have written to us, almost all telling harrowing tales of watching a husband, wife or parent slowly waste away and “give up” – starved of any human contact.
Amnesty International has had similar reports – and recognises the devastating impact on health of prolonged isolation, which has been well documented in medical literature. They attempted to collaborate with the Government, NHS England and Public Health England on their report, requesting information that has, thus far, remained hidden.
This includes details about how and why decisions were made to restrict care home residents’ access to NHS services during the pandemic and implement blanket “do not resuscitate” orders.
Importantly, they also asked for data in order to compare the death rates of older people in hospital with those in care homes.
This would give clearer pictures as to how many – had they been allowed treatment – might have survived. But at time of going to press, the official bodies had failed to provide any of this.
Amnesty concludes by calling for an independent public inquiry to begin ASAP, with legal powers to compel officials to produce documents and records that, to date, they’ve kept secret. Ministers, including Matt Hancock, would also be summoned to give evidence under oath and forced to justify their actions.
Rishi Sunak has given an interview to Harry Cole and Matt Dathan in the Sun, confirming his reputation as the most sceptical member of the Cabinet when it comes to the lockdown.
[T]he Chancellor warned his boss, friend and neighbour he was not a robot and he would not be silenced in the fight against future economy-crippling lockdowns.
He said that the response to the virus must be viewed in the round and not merely on case numbers.
And he warned that a further lockdown would cripple not just the economy but society, too.
Cementing his position as the leading hawk in the Cabinet against tougher clampdowns, Mr Sunak pleaded for ministers to strive for a return to normality in the face of the virus.
And with Mr Johnson warning of a “bumpy road ahead” through to the New Year, Mr Sunak sounded caution at extreme measures for the sake of the long-term future of the country.
He continued: “Lockdowns obviously have a very strong economic impact, but they have an impact on many other things.
“We have to look at this all in the round and beating coronavirus is important and minimising the harm that it causes is important.
“But there are other things that are important. Kids not being in school for months… if university students’ learning is impacted that’s not a good thing.
“People not showing up for medical appointments because they’re worried is not a good thing.
“And obviously the economic impact on people’s jobs and incomes and security is not a good thing.
“Having a difficult economy has an impact on both our ability to fund public services like the NHS but also on individual people’s long-term health outcomes.”
Worth reading in full.
Stop Press: Let’s hope Rishi’s backbone doesn’t weaken as Government documents leaked to the Guardian reveal that a new three-tier lockdown system is being planned for England, paving the way for harsher restrictions including the closure of pubs and a ban on all social contact outside of household groups.
Called the “COVID-19 Proposed Social Distancing Framework” and dated September 30th, it has not yet been signed off by No 10 and measures could still be watered down.
Alert level 3 – the most serious – contains tougher measures than any seen so far in local lockdowns since the start of the pandemic. They include:
– Closure of hospitality and leisure businesses.
– No social contact outside your household in any setting.
– Restrictions on overnight stays away from home.
– No organised non-professional sports permitted or other communal hobby groups and activities, such as social clubs in community centres.
– Places of worship can remain open.
– Schools are not mentioned in the draft. A government source said this was because Boris Johnson had made clear that classroom closures would be a last resort and the reopening of schools was considered within Whitehall to have been a relative success.
Any attempts to impose more stringent measures are expected to provoke renewed anger among Conservative backbenchers, who are likely to demand a vote in parliament should they come into force.
Worth reading in full.
A reader has written to clarify some things about Professor Neil Ferguson’s previous barmy predictions. It seems I understated his alarmism.
“Worth reminding people again that Professor Ferguson’s estimates of the impact of previous viral outbreaks have been almost comically inaccurate. In 2001, he predicted that foot and mouth disease could kill up to 50,000 people. It ended up killing less than 200. In 2005, he told the Guardian that up to 200 million people could die from bird flu. The final death toll from avian flu strain A/H5N1 was 440. And in 2009, a Government estimate based on one of Ferguson’s models estimated the likely death toll from swine flu at 65,000. In fact, it was 457.”
In 2001, Ferguson was involved in “modelling” for Foot and Mouth disease. Because of that some extra seven million sheep and cattle were slaughtered that needn’t have been.
In 2002, Ferguson predicted that up to 50,000 people would die from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, better known as “mad cow disease”, increasing to 150,000 if the epidemic expanded to include sheep. The reality is: “Since 1990, 178 people in the United Kingdom have died from vCJD, according to the National CJD Research & Surveillance Unit at the University of Edinburgh.” (2017)
In 2005, Ferguson claimed that up to 200 million people would be killed by bird-flu or H5N1. By early 2006, the WHO had only linked 78 deaths to the virus, out of 147 reported cases.
In 2009, Ferguson and his team at Imperial College advised the Government that swine flu or H1N1 would probably kill 65,000 people in the UK. In the end, swine flu claimed the lives of 457 people in the UK.
In 2020… well, the rest is hysteria.
A reader took a screen grab of the above ONS chart in the most recent episode of Andrew Neil’s show on Spectator TV comparing deaths from flu and pneumonia in 2020 with the five-year average. They were fractionally below at the beginning of the year and they’re fractionally below now, but have tracked the five-year average pretty consistently since January 1st. This begs the question: if the Government’s non-pharmaceutical interventions did little to stop transmission of flu and pneumonia, why should we think they’ve done anything to prevent the transmission of SARS-CoV-2?
The same point is illustrated by this graph, taken from a September 29th post on the Centre For Evidence-Based Medicine’s blog. It shows respiratory disease deaths continuing to trend under the previous 10 years.
Stop Press: A reader has calculated the daily hospital discharges of Covid patients and compiled a chart to illustrate this. There’s a caveat:
It’s not perfect, I had to take the deaths data from NHS England as the coronavirus.data.gov.uk deaths include deaths outside hospitals, and even then the results jumped around a bit – hence I’ve only plotted the 7-day averages on the graph, to smooth this out a bit.
But as I often see people saying why don’t the govt publish the recoveries figures, this might be the next best thing. Especially as on every single day I have data for, the average discharges figure has always been above the average deaths figure – in the current “second wave” you’re 6x as likely to be discharged as you are to die in hospital!
There’s an interesting, if unsurprising, piece of statistical analysis in the National Review that concludes the “shut downs” in US states had no effect on transmission of the virus. Here’s the kernel of the argument.
If lockdowns really altered the course of this pandemic, then coronavirus case counts should have clearly dropped whenever and wherever lockdowns took place. The effect should have been obvious, though with a time lag. It takes time for new coronavirus infections to be officially counted, so we would expect the numbers to plummet as soon as the waiting time was over.
How long? New infections should drop on day one and be noticed about ten or eleven days from the beginning of the lockdown. By day six, the number of people with first symptoms of infection should plummet (six days is the average time for symptoms to appear). By day nine or ten, far fewer people would be heading to doctors with worsening symptoms. If COVID-19 tests were performed right away, we would expect the positives to drop clearly on day ten or eleven (assuming quick turnarounds on tests).
To judge from the evidence, the answer is clear: Mandated lockdowns had little effect on the spread of the coronavirus. The charts below show the daily case curves for the United States as a whole and for thirteen U.S. states. As in almost every country, we consistently see a steep climb as the virus spreads, followed by a transition (marked by the gray circles) to a flatter curve. At some point, the curves always slope downward, though this wasn’t obvious for all states until the summer.
The lockdowns can’t be the cause of these transitions. In the first place, the transition happened even in places without lockdown orders (see Iowa and Arkansas). And where there were lockdowns, the transitions tended to occur well before the lockdowns could have had any serious effect. The only possible exceptions are California, which on March 19 became the first state to officially lock down, and Connecticut, which followed four days later.
Even in these places, though, the downward transitions probably started before the lockdowns could have altered the curves. The reason is that a one-day turnaround for COVID-19 test results probably wasn’t met in either state. On March 30, the Los Angeles Times reported the turnaround time to be eight days. That would make the delay from infection to confirmation not the 10 we assumed, but more like 17 days (6 for symptoms to appear, 3 for them to develop, and 8 for test processing). In early April, the Hartford Courant reported similar problems with delayed test results in Connecticut.
What’s more, there’s no decisive drop on the dates when lockdowns should have changed the course of the curves. Instead, the curves gradually bend downward for reasons that predate the lockdowns, with no clear changes ten days later.
Lockdown partisans might say that the curves would have been higher after the ten-day mark without the lockdown. While we can’t redo history to prove them wrong, the point is that the sudden and dramatic changes we should see if they were right aren’t there. If we showed people these curves without any markings, they would not be able to discern when or even if lockdowns went into effect.
The evidence suggests, then, that the sweeping, mandated lockdowns that followed voluntary responses exacted a great cost, with little effect on transmission.
Worth reading in full.
Stop Press: The WHO has just released data showing the last three pandemics were worse than the present one. Jim Hoft has the full story in the Gateway Pundit. Bottom line: The WHO estimates that 750,000,000 people have had the coronavirus. With one million global deaths, that puts the mortality rate at 0.13%, the same as seasonal flu.
Downing Street has threatened to fine parents of trick-or-treating children if they gather in groups of more than six. The Evening Standard has more.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister told a briefing of Westminster journalists that the rule of six was “clear” and that it applied to children as well as adults.
He also said they were asking children not to meet in groups of six or more when trick or treating. It means parents face fines of up to £200 if their children are caught in large groups going door-to-door on Halloween.
However, millions of people across the UK are already under – or coming under – tighter lockdown rules including bans on different households mixing.
Asked who would be fined if groups of more than six children met in the street, he said: “We’ve set out the enforcement around the restrictions. We set that out clearly.
“We are asking the public to abide by the rule of six and it’s a matter for the police to enforce the rules.
“It’s correct, parents will be fined if children meet in more than groups of six children.”
Once again, Boris sounds like he’s reading from a script written by his enemies. What happened to the fun-loving libertarian Tory I used to know? As Julie Burchill writes in the Telegraph: “It’s like Falstaff tried to become Henry V and ended up as Hamlet, bumbling about on the battlements, trying to keep everybody happy and thus getting on the wick of one and all.”
- “It’s Grim Up North” – Mine and James Delingpole’s latest London Calling podcast
- “Following the evidence for hospital admissions” – Piece for the Spectator by Carl Heneghan and Tom Jefferson putting rising hospital admissions into context
- “NPHET recommends Level 5 restrictions for entire country” – Ireland’s National Health Public Emergency Team has recommended that “Level 5” restrictions are imposed for four weeks, the most severe level there is, following 364 more cases yesterday (and no new deaths)
- “Dr Martin Feeley and Professor Samuel McConkey in studio” – Watch two Irish public health experts debate the effectiveness of the lockdown and further restrictions
- “More than 1,000 UK pubs plead for government help after dire Friday trading following 10pm curfew” – More than 1,000 UK pubs have signed an open letter to Rishi Sunak pleading for a rethink of the 10pm curfew
- “Planet Normal” – In the latest Telegraph podcast, Allison Pearson and Liam Halligan talk to a whistleblowing doctor about the revolving door between NHS executives and influential consulting and outsourcing firms who are doing very well out of the ‘crisis’
- “Military will help distribute Covid-19 vaccine, says Hancock” – Let’s hope the word “distribute” in that headline isn’t a euphemism
- “URGENT UPDATE: Societal Damage from Bad Science, not the Virus? Why are they doing this?” – Latest YouTube video by Ivor Cummins
- “Beat Covid Without a Vaccine” – The Wall St Journal says home testing and Covid passports could contain any further outbreaks
- “Corona False Alarm?” – Review of the new book by Dr Karina Reiss and Dr Sucharit Bakdi. You can order it on Kindle here
- “G-A-Y nightclub owner launches legal challenge against 10pm COVID-19 curfew” – Best of luck to him
- “Spectator Out Loud: Douglas Murray, Sam Leith, Melissa Kite and Toby Young” – Listen to me and others reading out our latest Spectator pieces
- “We can’t work from home forever” – Good piece by Kevin McCullagh in Spiked. Without face-to-face interactions, productivity, innovation and workplace culture will wither away
- “How To “Talk Covid” and the End of the Pandemic?” – Omar S. Khan’s latest blog post
- “Next year should spell new leader for the Tories” – Clare Foges in the Times says that every PM runs out of steam and for Boris that moment has almost arrived
- “Lockdown sceptic Richard Madeley: Covid-19 press conferences are ‘naked media manipulation’” – Another good rant from Richard Madeley on Kevin O’Sullivan’s show on TalkRADIO yesterday
- “COVID-19 emergency measures and the impending authoritarian pandemic” – Academic paper warning that the authoritarian measures introduced to control the spread of the virus could last for a long time
- “This BBC interview showed just how much Boris Johnson has changed” – Michael Deacon, the Telegraph‘s sketch writer, is unconvinced by Boris’s claim to be firing on all cylinders on the Andrew Marr Show yesterday
- “The greatest power we have is to refuse to vote for people who insult us – so save democracy and vote for my None Of The Below Party” – Peter Hitchens’s column in yesterday’s Mail on Sunday
- “Life as a Uni fresher in lockdown – it’s like living in ‘UK’s most expensive prison’” – Anonymous student writes in the Telegraph
- “A Saturday night out in Newcastle” – Encouraging signs of a rebellion brewing in the North East
- “Undetected breast cancer warning for thousands of women” – According to BBC News, 30,000 women missed out on mammograms between March and July
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.
Update: 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.
We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook – and pay tribute to those who are doing their best to expose the woke cult as a barmy, authoritarian, hard Left movement with its roots in Marxism.
Yesterday brought news of an unlikely ally in this fight – actor Rupert Everett. He launched into a tirade against the wokesters at the Cheltenham Literary Festival yesterday, comparing them to the Stasi. The Mail has more.
Everett, 61, who found fame playing a gay public school pupil in the 1984 drama Another Country, said: “We’re in such a weird new world, a kind of Stasi it feels like to me, and if you don’t reflect exactly the right attitude, you risk everything just being destroyed for you by this judgmental, sanctimonious, intransigent, intractable, invisible cauldron of hags around in the virtual world.”
A useful reminder that not all luvvies have been captured by the cult. Could Everett be a potential recruit for Laurence Fox’s Reclaim Party?
Stop Press: Douglas Murray urges us to fight back against Critical Race Theory in his latest Telegraph column.
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 nappies in shops here.
A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.
And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).
Stop Press: A reader has written to us praising her “amazing” grandson.
My amazing almost-12 year-old grandson is the only child who will not wear a mask at his new primary school, pleading exemption for his mild asthma! Hats off to him for his courage and conviction and I’m at least grateful that the school are allowing him to be exempt – although in the first two weeks of term they had four assemblies on the importance of mask-wearing!
If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email email@example.com 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.
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.
Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the geniuses behind South Park, have produced a “Pandemic Special” that was broadcast last week. Sixty minutes of eviscerating cynicism about the massive over-reaction to the virus, from the government on down. You can watch the trailer here and Eric Cartman’s social distancing song here. No news at present about how to watch it in the UK.