Month: November 2020

Latest News

The PCR False Positive Pseudo-Epidemic

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance give a Coronavirus Data Briefing in 10 Downing Street on September 21st. Picture by Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street.

Today, we’re proud to be bringing you a new blockbuster piece by Dr Mike Yeadon in which he debunks the notion that we’re in the midst of a ‘second wave’ – he believes most parts of England reached herd immunity by June of this year – and systematically takes apart the PCR testing data that seems to show daily cases number tens of thousand a day. This is, as he and Dr Clare Craig have said before, a false positive pseudo-epidemic. But Dr Yeadon has never set out his case so clearly, and with such a wealth of evidence, as he has done in this new article. He’s particularly illuminating on the shortcomings of the super-labs set up to process hundreds of thousands of PCR tests every day, drawing on his own 29-year career conducting and supervising laboratory work in UK.

Here’s an extract in which he summarises his argument:

In brief: the pandemic was over by June and herd immunity was the main force which turned the pandemic and pressed it into retreat. In the autumn, the claimed “cases” are an artefact of a deranged testing system, which I explain in detail below. While there is some COVID-19 along the lines of the “secondary ripple” concept explained above, it has occurred primarily in regions, cities and districts that were less hard hit in the spring. Real COVID-19 is self-limiting and may already have peaked in some Northern towns. It will not return in force, and the example again is London. Even here, certain boroughs, e.g. Camden and Sutton, have had minimal positive test results. I’ve explained a number of times how this happened – the prominent role of prior immunity is often ignored or misunderstood. The extent of this was so large that, coupled with the uneven spread of infection, it needed only a low percentage of the population to be infected before herd immunity was reached.

That’s it. All the rest is a PCR false positive pseudo-epidemic. The cure, of course, as it has been in the past when PCR has replaced the pandemic itself as the menace in the land, is to stop PCR mass testing.

Dr Yeadon’s articles have been some of the most read things we’ve published on Lockdown Sceptics and this one will be no exception.

Put the kettle on, make yourself a cup of tea and settle down to read this essential piece. Easily the best 20 minutes you’ll spend today.

The Second Wave Peaked Before Lockdown 2.0

We have previously shared the findings of Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College, London. He is the founder of the ZOE app which over a million people use to report their symptoms every week and which has become a prime source of rapid, near real-time data about COVID-19. He received an OBE for this work, earlier this year. Writing in the Spectator, he explains what the ZOE data shows:

COVID-19 rates for the UK are now falling in nearly all major regions. The Government and the Opposition, who believe in lockdown, will say that the fall in the number of confirmed cases, deaths and hospitalisations proves lockdown 2.0 was a success, regardless of the extra health costs associated with lockdowns.

Looking at our data, I concluded last month that we had passed the peak of new COVID-19 cases before we went into the second English lockdown. Our data has since been backed up by the ONS survey and GP surveillance records that track new consultations. Hospital admissions, which lag new cases, also peaked shortly after the lockdown of November 5th.

This suggests the impact of the tiered system was being felt before the lockdown started. Chris Whitty has said that it takes two to three weeks for the effects of lockdown to appear. Were lockdown essential then we would have expected hospital admissions to peak far later, possibly around now. The below is what the ZOE data suggests:

Areas that were under relatively strict tiered restrictions in October are all seeing a continued drop in the number of new COVID-19 cases after peaking around the second half of October.

He goes on to provide some good news for the NHS.

The higher rates are still among 20 to 39 year-olds, who are probably the most exposed to the virus because they are more likely to be carrying on with their lives; and the lowest is among people over 60… The numbers are still relatively low among those in the older age group who are most likely to become seriously ill or die from the disease.

It is hard to disagree with his conclusion:

Any further restrictions should be based on encouraging voluntary behavioural changes. Persuasion is a far more effective long-term strategy than coercion… The public must be able to see exactly what is happening and be trusted to take the right actions for themselves.

Tim Spector’s analysis is worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Tim Spector gave an interview to Freddie Sayers for UnHerd‘s LockdownTV last week. A must watch.

Switzerland: No Lockdown, No Armageddon

We reported last Thursday that Switzerland is one of five places that seem to indicate that lockdowns are not necessary. Today, with thanks to the reader who flagged it in the comments, a report from Focus Online that bears this out:

Switzerland was, not long ago, considered one of biggest COVID-19 hotspots in Europe. Now, though, the curve is pointing sharply downwards, despite no major new measures being adopted. Even the experts are stumped.

Switzerland opted for a middle course in its COVID-19 policy, between Sweden’s laissez-faire model and a hard lockdown strategy. Up until the middle of November, it looked as though the policy would fail miserably.

But, since then, the curve has shown a clear downwards trend, dropping from 10,000 new infections per day at the beginning of the month to 4,500. And that is without any containment measures being implemented. The Swiss Federal Council has not tightened measures since October 29th.

The report continues:

Why did the numbers fall so rapidly, despite the open restaurants and shops and the loose contact restrictions? The experts don’t quite know. At the moment, “from a scientific point of view it is still too early to judge”, Swiss epidemiologist Marcel Salathé tells FOCUS Online. Antje Heise, an intensive care doctor and President of the Swiss Institute for Intensive Care added: “We can only speculate on what led to the turnaround in infection numbers.”

Whether it was the Swiss middle-course COVID-19 policy that led to the reduction in numbers is therefore unknown. The strategy was criticised by many. There were grave doubts as to whether the measures were sufficient to save the health system from collapse.

Worth reading in full (if you speak German). It goes on to note that the numbers are still very high and that the country has only recently seen its highest daily death toll, and says that caution is still required.

The Rush to Publish COVID-19 Research Saw Errors Triple

New research published today in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA)  has thrown some light on the compromises made in the publication processes of medical journals, a consequence of the rush for new research on COVID-19. 9 News has more:  

The research examined five medical journals considered to be the most critical to informing global health policy and clinical practices: the Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the British Medical Journal and the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The analysis compared 134 research papers published between January 1st and May 31st this year to 54 published during the same period in 2019.

The research found that:

  • One in five COVID-19 studies published by the journals during the first five months of the pandemic had corrections issued after publication. This compares to 7.4% of published during the same period last year
  • Three studies had to be retracted altogether, including a highly publicised hydroxychloroquine trial published in the Lancet. This led to a temporary cessation of the WHO trial into hydroxychloroquine. No such retractions were made in 2019.
  • Just 5% of the coronavirus trials were randomised controlled trials – considered the “gold standard” of medical research – compared to 35% of the 2019 trials.  
  • The timeframe given to review, approve and publish trials was drastically reduced. In the case of JAMA, the only journal to release data for this, the average timeframe from first submission to publication fell from 139 days to just 23.
  • Close to half of the COVID-19 studies did not explicitly state that consent was obtained from trial participants. A number of articles also stated that they were granted exemptions from the requirement for ethical review due to the nature of the pandemic.

The study’s lead author, Professor Michael Reade of the University of Queensland, said:

In the new information age, it’s a great thing that people can disseminate information really quickly. You can put a paper up online, you can read these things really quickly, but the other side of that is that by the time it gets into a journal, if journals are going to add anything to this process, it needs to be that they give the stamp of approval that it’s true.

Quite. And it is surely during such times as the last few months that the reliability of papers published in prestigious medical journals matters most. The 9 News article is worth reading in full.

The MJA article has a number of suggestions for facilitating the rapid dissemination of information, without compromising its quality, ethical standards or oversight, including:

A two-track review process for pandemic and non-pandemic research, rapid preliminary assessment of research methodology by skilled in-house reviewers before deciding whether to send for peer review, sharing of peer-reviews between reviewers and journals, and mentored peer reviewing by research trainees.

The MJA article is also worth reading in full.

Dear Commissioner…

Police academy: Cressida Dick at the Met’s specialist training centre in Gravesend, Kent, last month; Andrew Testa, the Sunday Times

A member of the Free Speech Union, Dominic Martin, has written to Cressida Dick the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, to complain about the heavy-handed policing of Saturday’s anti-lockdown protest in central London. Hard to disagree with anything he says.

I am writing to express my disgust at how your police force handled the anti-lockdown protest in central London, and indeed how it has handled several previous demonstrations. They have been suppressed in an overly zealous and excessively forceful manner which brings shame upon the force and is chillingly reminiscent of scenes we have scene in recent months in Belarus and Hong Kong. The right to challenge authority by peaceful protest is a centuries-old British liberty and, moreover, a liberty enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was signed by Britain in 1948 (Article 20(1): “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association“). It is a cornerstone of liberal democracy, and can only be rightfully suspended in the most extreme of circumstances, such as war, invasion, or social breakdown. A virus with a 99%+ survival rate – and of the 1% or less who sadly die the overwhelming majority are of a very advanced age with existing health conditions – is no justification for enacting such draconian measures and stripping citizens of their basic rights. It is a highly worrying development. As we saw with the anti-terror laws rushed through in the aftermath of the September 11th and July 7th attacks, powers once gained are rarely surrendered, and are often used in a manner which far exceeds their original remit and purpose.

As bad as the over-reaction is, it is made far worse by the complete inaction shown this summer in regards to other protests, such as when far larger crowds were allowed to gather under the banner of Black Lives Matter (BLM) at the height of the first lockdown. Not only were these demonstrations given sanction to go ahead, they were lightly policed and indeed several police officers were seen running away when provoked, with protestors given free rein to vandalise public statuary. Furthermore, several police officers were filmed “taking the knee”, which, given that BLM is at heart a political lobby group, was a clear violation of police neutrality. A later FOI response by your force (ref. 01.FOI.20.014886) states clearly that “Officers were briefed to use enforcement powers as a last resort”, and the protests were also enthusiastically endorsed by Mayor Sadiq Khan. The contrast with Saturday’s anti-lockdown protest could not be more stark; it was met with a huge police presence and ordered to disperse immediately, with protestors then being arrested seemingly at random and in large numbers. The organisers of such demonstrations in the past have also been issued with exorbitant fines (again, not issued against BLM organisers).

Having a police force that is seen to be fair and impartial is of fundamental importance if public trust and support for law enforcement is to be maintained. I suspect that the real reason for the selective policing this year is that your organisation is still reeling from the impact of the MacPherson Report, and prioritises being seen as “not racist” above enforcing the law in a fair and equitable manner. I for one have lost all faith in the Metropolitan Police as an unbiased and apolitical force, and I suspect that I am far from alone. The damage caused has been enormous and the repercussions will be felt for many years to come.

Stop Press: Sky New Australia has a great report on the protests. They call them “riots”.

Stop Press: It is also worth reading Matthew Scott’s piece in the Telegraph – “Lockdown is being policed in an entirely disproportionate way” and Dr Jade Norris’s article in the Spectator about why she has resigned as a Special Constable – “Why I can no longer police the coronavirus restrictions“.

A Festive Protest Suggestion

Would TSG goons thrown these three to the ground, kneel on their heads and then pepper spray them?

After reading the accounts of Saturday’s protests on the news and in yesterday’s update, a reader has got in touch with a suggestion for an alternative form of protest:

How about organising large gatherings to sing Christmas carols as a form of protest – and a nice way to spread some Christmas cheer.

The problem with the brave protests that have taken place so far is that the media spins it as a few conspiracy theorist nuts protesting against vaccinations, 5G and so on. Much of the population consequently has little sympathy for the victims of heavy-handed policing. I read the comments section on the article in the Sun about Saturday’s protest and although there were plenty of people on our side there were also lots of comments to the effect that the protesters deserved all they were getting. There was even one comment that suggested they be denied a vaccine, which seems an odd punishment.

The police would surely be more reluctant to start brutalising a large crowd of peaceful carol singers. Even our media would struggle to present that as a proportionate response. Perhaps the general public who saw these protests would be more likely to come over to our cause.

Not a bad idea.

“Back Me or Face Lockdown 3”

Morten Morland’s cartoon in yesterday’s Sunday Times

The MailOnline has the latest on the Prime Minister’s battle to squash the rebellion last night:

“The country will face another national lockdown if MPs reject new local limits,” Boris Johnson warned tonight. The Prime Minister was battling to quell a Tory revolt as he unveiled a series of concessions in a bid to persuade backbenchers to back a tougher tier system. But ahead of a critical vote Tuesday, the rebels tonight demanded “hard evidence” to convince them that the crackdown will save more lives than it costs.

Tomorrow Downing Street will publish an analysis of the health, economic and social impacts of COVID-19 and the measures taken to suppress it. The move is an attempt to limit the scale of a rebellion which has been growing since last week. The document will include forecasts from the Bank of England and the Office for Budget Responsibility. Mr Johnson yesterday dangled the prospect that some areas facing the harshest curbs in Tier 3 could see them eased as part of a review before Christmas.

Mr Johnson insisted “no Prime Minister wants to impose restrictions which cause such harm to society, the economy and people’s mental health”. He warned that the “tougher tiers” are needed “if we are to keep the virus under control and avoid either overwhelming the NHS or another national lockdown which is far more damaging and restrictive than these tiers”.

Parliament is due to vote on Lockdown 3.0 on Tuesday. There is no time like the present to join Peter Hitchens’ campaign for a mass write-in to MPs. Numbers count.

A Message from a Donor

We received a generous donation yesterday, and thought it worth sharing the message that came with it:

My part of the Civil Service all received a £100 bonus for adjusting well to working from home. This is possibly one of the most tone-deaf actions I have ever seen, given the state of the nation’s finances and the prospects of those working in the private sector – not to mention a complete waste of taxpayers’ money as there was not a single group of people who had easier during the lockdown. I donate it to a worthier cause.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Three today: “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy, “Kingdom of Madness” by Magnum and “Inject the Venom” by AC/DC.

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 so you can share it. To do that, click on the headline of a particular story and a link symbol will appear on the right-hand side of the headline. Click on the link and the URL of your page will switch to the URL of that particular story. You can then copy that URL and either email it to your friends or post it on social media. Please do share the stories.

Social Media Accounts

You can follow Lockdown Sceptics on our social media accounts which are updated throughout the day. To follow us on Facebook, click here; to follow us on Twitter, click here; to follow us on Instagram, click here; to follow us on Parler, click here; and to follow us on MeWe, click here.

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, we were intending to highlight the plight of Professor Dorian Abbot, a tenured faculty member in the Department of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago, who has recently come under attack from students and postdocs in his Department for a series of videos he posted to YouTube expressing his reservations about the way Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts have been discussed and implemented on campus.

In these videos, since taken down, Prof. Abbot raised several misgivings about DEI efforts and expressed concern that a climate of fear is “making it extremely difficult for people with dissenting viewpoints to voice their opinions”. The slides for each of Prof. Abbot’s videos can be found here, and his own account of events and his opinions can be found here. Nowhere in these materials does Prof. Abbot offer any opinion that a reasonable observer would consider to be hateful or otherwise offensive.

Shortly after uploading the videos, Abbot’s concerns were confirmed when 58 students and postdocs of the Department of Geophysical Sciences, and 71 other graduate students and postdocs from other University of Chicago departments, posted a letter containing the claim that Prof. Abbot’s opinions “threaten the safety and belonging of all underrepresented groups within the [Geophysical Sciences] department” and “represent an aggressive act” towards research and teaching communities.

The letter also issued 11 demands, many of which would serve to ostracize and shame Prof. Abbot, while stripping him of departmental titles, courses, and privileges. The signatories further demand that the Department of Geophysical Sciences formally and publicly denounce Prof. Abbot’s views, and change hiring and promotion procedures so as to prioritise DEI.

That’s what we were intending to highlight. Indeed, we were going to ask you to sign a Free Speech Union petition launched a few days ago urging the President of Chicago, Robert J. Zimmer, to issue a statement reiterating his support for the Chicago Principles and affirming that Prof. Abbot will not be reprimanded, will not be subject to any departmentally imposed punishments and humiliations, and will not be stripped of any departmental titles, courses, or privileges, or have his tenure put in jeopardy.

But there is no need because the petition has achieved its objective. Yesterday, just three days after the petition’s launch, President Zimmer issued a statement saying he had no intention of watering down the Chicago Principles and affirming the right of Chicago’s academic staff to express their views on controversial topics, however unorthodox, without fear of being penalised by their employer in any way:

From time to time, faculty members at the University share opinions and scholarship that provoke spirited debate and disagreement, and in some cases offend members of the University community.

As articulated in the Chicago Principles, the University of Chicago is deeply committed to the values of academic freedom and the free expression of ideas, and these values have been consistent throughout our history. We believe universities have an important role as places where novel and even controversial ideas can be proposed, tested and debated. For this reason, the University does not limit the comments of faculty members, mandate apologies, or impose other disciplinary consequences for such comments, unless there has been a violation of University policy or the law. Faculty are free to agree or disagree with any policy or approach of the University, its departments, schools or divisions without being subject to discipline, reprimand or other form of punishment.

This is exactly what the FSU was asking for and it is now confident that Prof Abbot is no longer in any danger from the outrage mob that targeted him for cancellation. Thanks to the actions of its President, the University of Chicago has confirmed its status as a beacon of academic free speech that universities around the world can look to for leadership on this critical issue.

But this is no time for complacency. Help the FSU secure more victories like this by joining today.

The enemies of free speech hunt in packs; its defenders must band together too.

“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.

If you’re a shop owner and you want to let your customers know you will not be insisting on face masks or asking them what their reasons for exemption are, you can download a friendly sign to stick in your window here.

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 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 month and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it ever since. If you Googled it a week after launch, 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 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 700,000 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.

Update 2: Many of the signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration are involved with new UK anti-lockdown campaign Recovery. Find out more and join here.

Update 3: You can watch Sunetra Gupta set out the case for “Focused Protection” here and Jay Bhattacharya make it here.

Update 4: The three GBD authors plus Prof Carl Heneghan of CEBM have launched a new website collateralglobal.org, “a global repository for research into the collateral effects of the COVID-19 lockdown measures”. Follow Collateral Global on Twitter here.

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.

Quotation Corner

It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.

Mark Twain

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.

Charles Mackay

They who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin

To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions…

Ideology – that is what gives the evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you never should trust experts. If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require to have their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.

Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury

Nothing would be more fatal than for the Government of States to get into the hands of experts. Expert knowledge is limited knowledge and the unlimited ignorance of the plain man, who knows where it hurts, is a safer guide than any rigorous direction of a specialist.

Sir Winston Churchill

If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science.

Richard Feynman

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

C.S. Lewis

The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants.

Albert Camus

We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.

Carl Sagan

Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

George Orwell

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

Marcus Aurelius

Necessity is the plea for every restriction of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

William Pitt the Younger

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…

Blower’s Cartoon in today’s Telegraph

Latest News

Protest Chaos in London

Police clashed with protesters in Central London yesterday, leading to chaotic scenes and over 150 arrests. More from the MailOnline:

Central London descended into anarchy as riot police arrested 155 angry anti-lockdown demonstrators as thousands took to the streets and booed officers while chanting “shame on you”.

Dozens of violent anti-lockdown activists clashed with police while thousands more gathered in the capital amid growing discontent with the Government’s new tier system to be introduced on December 2nd. 

Officers detained protesters led by Piers Corbyn who chanted “freedom” and carried placards reading “stop controlling us” and “no more lockdowns” at Marble Arch for flouting coronavirus restrictions. 

Tweets posted by Jeremy Corbyn’s brother indicate that grassroots group Save Our Rights UK marched from King’s Cross station through Angel to Hyde Park and along a road parallel to Oxford Street. 

Traffic was temporarily blocked on Regent Street as officers attempted to handcuff people on the ground in the middle of the road, while police apprehended demonstrators weaving through the capital.  

Videos show police cracking down on protesters, including a lone man who howled in apparent agony and burst into tears as he fell to the ground during an arrest outside King’s Cross St Pancras. 

The Metropolitan Police said officers had made more than 60 arrests by 3pm. 

Those arrests were for offences including breaching coronavirus regulations, assaulting a police officer and possession of drugs.

Officers made a number of early interventions to prevent people from gathering and to urge people to go home. Coaches transporting protestors into the capital were intercepted and those who did not turn back and go home were either arrested or issued with fixed penalty notices. Chief Superintendent Stuart Bell, policing commander for this event, said: “This was a challenging day for Met, City of London and British Transport Police officers and I would like to thank them for the professionalism they have shown throughout the day.

On Friday, we made it very clear how we would police this event, warning those looking to attend that they risked facing enforcement action if they attended a gathering in London. Today’s enforcement action is a direct result of those individuals deliberately breaking the law and at times, targeting our officers with aggression and causing disruption to the road network.”

The report is worth reading in full and, for a video account, try this by Charles Lampwick.

One of those arrested was, of course, Piers Corbyn. According to his Twitter account he was arrested at around 5pm, after giving a speech at Piccadilly Circus.

Also arrested was a Lockdown Sceptics reader. He sent us this report:

The plan was to meet at King’s Cross station at 12 noon. However, due to the huge police presence the location changed twice. Eventually people met at Speaker’s Corner at around 1 pm.

There were police vans everywhere; especially the Territorial Support Group (TSG). I have never seen so many police in London in my entire life. It was insane!

The march had a fantastic atmosphere. I’d say there were around 5,000 people on the main march. The problem was that the police were trying their best to break everyone up. It became a ridiculous game of cat and mouse. As soon as the march changed direction, another group of helmeted TSG goons would turn up and block off the road. We managed to make it down Oxford Street, Regent Street and several smaller back streets.

After about an hour of marching, I was standing at the back of the protest, casually chatting away to a new friend I’d made. Suddenly, out of nowhere a police officer grabbed my arm.

“What is your reason for being here?” he asked me.

“Just going for a walk. It’s my daily exercise.” I replied.

“Are you protesting? We have reason to believe you are protesting?” he said.

Next thing I know, he put my arms behind my back and cuffed me. The cuffs were so tight I asked him to loosen them as they were cutting off the blood supply to my fingers, on one of my hands. I was then searched on the spot and taken in a police van to a courtyard area, about five minutes’ drive away. This was a makeshift “prisoner” processing centre just off King Charles Street. There was a huge queue of us, all waiting to be processed. Apparently, they had run out of room in all the custody suites.

After an hour of waiting, I was taken to a tent where I was searched again, more thoroughly. I was then taken to a more senior police officer who asked me to confirm my name, date of birth and address, on camera. I was told I would be released and sent a £100 fine in the post. If I pay this within 28 days, I am told it will be reduced, or alternatively I can challenge it in court.

Overall, I found the police presence completely over the top. They seemed to be randomly picking off any individuals who had become separated from the main march; much like hungry lions preying on injured gazelles – easy, unwitting targets. Their approach was heavy-handed, unreasonable and not in keeping with common-sense, proportionate policing.

I no longer have any respect for the British police. They have made themselves enemies of the very people they are meant to be protecting. We officially live in a totalitarian, police state. People innocently exercising their democratic right to protest are being treated with contempt and violence.

Another reader sent us this:

I was listening to 5 Live where they said “hundreds” attended with 160 arrested. The Mail had thousands which was more accurate. I went to Kings Cross station to discover that the protest had been re-routed to Marble Arch. I met a few other “freedom fighters” on the tube. It was a pleasant experience sitting in a carriage with other unmuzzled passengers, a sadly rare occurrence.

After the obligatory arrest of Piers Corbyn, the crowd moved along Oxford Street, then to Piccadilly and back into Hyde Park. The police/TSG were constantly in close attendance. A “second wave” eventually returned along Oxford Street. I left at Oxford Circus shortly after the sad sight of the arrest of Louise from Save Our Rights. They seemed to be targeting organisers.

The TSG were out in force, as expected. I was fearful of arrest but I was lifted by the communal spirit and the fact that they could not apprehend us all. Just outside Hyde Park, where the police were trying to split up the protestors, some people moved some roadwork barriers into the road to block traffic which effectively prevented the TSG vans from getting to the scene. Some kids on bikes joined in somewhat enthusiastically, but there was also a lot of anger about the whole ridiculous situation, the biased policing, and this tyranny of a supposedly libertarian government.

It is one thing spending hours reading Lockdown Sceptics, etc. and watching some excellent videos on YouTube, but there is nothing quite like getting out there with like-minded people. It was just a shame that with the shops closed, not that many were there to witness it. Several bus/car drivers, however, despite being held up, offered their support to loud cheers of applause.

And from a third:

Saturday morning 11am: Get forwarded a video of a long line of police vans at Kings Cross including several of the Territorial Support Group, with the ironic voiceover asking: “What is going on to cause this amount of police response?!” Messages about last-minute changes in location come through social media and the protest moves to Marble Arch.

Saturday afternoon 1.15 pm. Arrive at Marble Arch to see a crowd of several thousand people walking, in good spirits, down Oxford Street and decide to walk with them. Passengers on buses that cannot move for the sheer volume of protesters wave, bystanders look on. Lots of filming on phones, tv cameras and handy cams. At the junction of Regent Street an arrest is made. People are chanting “Choose Your Side!” “Freedom!” and “We do not Consent!” As we move towards Piccadilly Circus the police show up in very large numbers. It doesn’t feel like a peaceful protest anymore.

1.45 pm. The protest is split up. I am in a smaller group that is blocked off by the police in Great Marlborough Street. There is not enough of a crowd to punch through the police line so many turn back up to Oxford Street where the message is passed along to go back to Marble Arch. More arrests are made as the police just keep coming. They work in packs of about 20-30, helmeted, masked and as disciplined as a standing army. It is quite intimidating. They separate out people who are by themselves, surround them and pin them to the pavement, then arrest them and take them away.

2.30 pm. There is no way through to Piccadilly Circus so we go back to Oxford Street and walk back to Marble Arch. There is a very visible police presence and at least 25 police vans.

3.05 pm. In the park some members of Freedom Festival go and talk to the police who are waiting at the Marble Arch park entrance then suddenly they are walking back to the much smaller group at Speakers’ Corner followed by a group of at least 50 police, mostly TSG. Is it looking like it is going to kick off? Protesters climb the railings to go onto the street or scatter in the park.

3.10pm. Some of the TSG start moving towards onlookers and we are pushed gradually back and encouraged to disperse. A lady next to me talks to one of the TSG who takes off his mask. He has a northern accent. These police appear to have been mobilised from across the country. The groups disperse. Time to go home and watch the rest of the protest that has been streaming on social media.

Boris Fights to Quell Rebellion

The Prime Minister has written a piece for today’s Mail on Sunday pleading with his rebel backbenchers not to rebel on Tuesday when the new restrictions are put to a vote.

We can’t blow it now. We can’t just throw it all away – not when freedom is in sight. We have worked too hard, lost too many, sacrificed too much, just to see our efforts incinerated in another volcanic eruption of the virus.

Once again, the British people have come together to bring Covid under control. Once again, our collective efforts have paid off – and as I write the R rate is once again below one.

Across the country, the disease is no longer doubling in prevalence. It is halving. We did it before, in the spring, and now we have done it again.

But this time it is different. This time we know in our hearts that we are winning, and that we will inevitably win, because the armies of science are coming to our aid with all the morale-boosting, bugle-blasting excitement of Wellington’s Prussian allies coming through the woods on the afternoon of Waterloo.

In months, or even weeks, we will have a viable vaccine against coronavirus – giving elderly and vulnerable people the durable protection they need. And we are not just backing one vaccine, but seven.

We have secured 40 million doses of the highly promising Pfizer-Biontech treatment, with millions possibly available by the end of this year. We have obtained 100 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine that is now going for approval by the regulators at MHRA. And as of yesterday, the Government has bought a total of 7 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, which has proved 95% effective in clinical trials.

Pretty feeble stuff, not helped by the tortuous metaphors. Indeed, Boris’s verbal gymnastics at a moment of such gravity feel sophomoric and inappropriate – and the same side of his personality was on display at a meeting with seven ministers last week when the decision to replace the national lockdown with a tiered system was made. According to the Sunday Times:

Boris Johnson could not quite decide if his attempts to channel Winston Churchill in the fight against the coronavirus had reached the equivalent of the Battle of Britain, when national survival was secured, or El Alamein, when the slow advance to victory began.

It was 8.15pm on Wednesday when the prime minister began summing up the conclusions of a closely guarded meeting of eight ministers that decided tier levels across England and the fate of millions. Several times the prime minister conjured up his hero’s spirit: “Is this the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end?” he mused. After what one witness described as “several mixed metaphors”, Johnson settled on: “I think we’re at the beginning of the end of the second half.”

Yesterday, the Prime Minister responded to a letter from the 70-strong Covid Recovery Group, addressing some of their concerns. Among the concessions he offered were:

  • To take into account “local views” when reviewing the restrictions every fortnight, with a heavy hint that some areas would be moved to a lower tier on December 19th.
  • A full cost-benefit analysis of the restrictions in different areas to be published before Tuesday’s vote.
  • A “sunset clause” whereby the new restrictions will come to an end on February 3rd and won’t be renewed without a Parliamentary vote.

Steve Baker, the Vice-Chair of the CRG, welcomed this as “constructive”, but according to the Observer it’s unlikely to persuade many of the rebel MPs to change their minds because they were so incensed by Michael Gove’s piece in the Times yesterday telling them to “take responsibility for difficult decisions”.

Boris Johnson was facing a growing Tory mutiny over new COVID-19 restrictions last night as furious Conservative MPs accused the government of exaggerating capacity problems in the NHS in an attempt to win their support.

Ahead of a crucial Commons vote on the new three-tier system on Tuesday, an extraordinary row erupted over claims by Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove that the NHS, including the newly constructed Nightingale hospitals, could be “physically overwhelmed”.

Writing yesterday in the Times, Gove revealed that the earlier decision to impose a second national lockdown had been taken after ministers had been presented with a grim picture of rising COVID-19 cases and Nightingale hospitals at capacity.

“Every bed, every ward occupied,” Gove wrote. Attempting to force rebel Conservatives into line, he told elected members that they had “to take responsibility for difficult decisions” in the national interest.

In a desperate attempt to win potential rebels round, the prime minister wrote to all MPs spelling out that regulations putting areas in tiers would end on February 3rd and be reviewed every fortnight until then. He also promised the analysis demanded by many MPs of the health, economic and social impact of COVID-19 and the measures taken to tackle them.

But as Tory MPs objected to Gove’s tone, the argument was stoked further as other Conservatives revealed to the Observer that health minister Nadine Dorries had told a group of them last week that the Nightingale hospitals were in fact largely unfilled because people regarded them as “dark and dingy”, and that it was proving difficult to find the staff to run them. A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care denied she had used those words and said: “Each NHS Nightingale has been developing a clinical model that can be scaled up as and when additional capacity is required in the region. This model ensures that the right skill mix of staff will be available from NHS trusts in the region, NHS professionals and direct recruitment if required.”

A spokesperson for the NHS confirmed that just two of seven Nightingales – Manchester and Exeter – had begun to admit patients.

One senior Tory said: “Ministers like Gove cannot at one and the same time be saying we are on the brink of being overwhelmed unless we adopt far tougher measures, while admitting they are not using any but a tiny number of the emergency capacity beds we have, and that, anyway, they don’t have the staff. If it is as bad as he says, what have they been doing since March?”

Tobias Ellwood, one of the Tory MPs threatening to vote against the government on Tuesday, said Gove had been “completely disingenuous because every one of our Nightingales is underused – they are largely dormant”. On Twitter, he added: “Let’s not place areas in higher tiers, due to local bed pressure when other beds lie empty.”

Worth reading in full.

Gove’s argument was also attacked by Jonathan Sumption on Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday. The MailOnline has more:

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Lord Sumption said: “The problem is that there is a lack of rational thinking everywhere. 

There is, in this country, a particular problem which undermines Michael Gove’s article, which is the problem about the information that the Government puts out.

“Some of the statistics used to justify the lockdown have been extremely selective and tendentious. The most serious case recently, which was used to justify the current lockdown, resulted in criticism from the UK’s Statistics Authority.”

He added: “The fact is that the public has become increasingly unwilling to comply for reasons that to me are sound.

“Of course this is not enforceable. None of these things are enforceable, none of them are, without a strong measure of public willingness to comply.’

He added that “the fact that the Government cannot send policemen into every one to police it doesn’t seem to me to justify locking down ever large numbers of people’ who are ‘going to suffer no serious ill effects and certainly are not going to die”.

Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, we are encouraging Lockdown Sceptics readers to join in Peter Hitchens’s mass write-in to MPs. Read his appeal in the Mail on Sunday. The Conservative Woman has also given his campaign their full support.

Stop Press: Tory restlessness does not stop at the bank benches. The following is a message posted to a Facebook group for members of the Conservative Party in Kent, which is going into Tier 3 restrictions, despite several areas in the country being below the national average.

Around here in Tier 3, everyone I know is booking up dinners at pubs in Sussex or going to go up to London. This is a bit like the Delhi cobra cull during the British Raj when the authorities offered a bounty for every dead cobra. Initially it seemed to work, so they stopped paying. But it turned out that locals had been breeding cobras to get the cash and, when payments stopped, they let the snakes free. Misjudged incentives and restrictions lead to perverse or unintended outcomes. This stupid tier system means that rather than going to the pub down the road in an area with little Covid, lots of people will travel around instead. It won’t stop Covid but it will destroy business and livelihoods. Boris just has to go. Time up, cowboy.

Is the NHS Really on the Brink?

In the wake of Michael Gove’s claims that the NHS is on the brink of being overwhelmed, we asked the former NHS doctor who’s a regular contributor to Lockdown Sceptics to take a look at the latest data and ring round his friends to see if it was true. His answer won’t surprise you.

This morning Michael Gove asserted in the Times that all NHS hospitals including the super-surge Nightingale capacity could be overwhelmed by Covid patients if lockdown restrictions did not remain in force. Toby has kindly asked me to have a look at the latest hospital figures and comment on whether the available data supports this assertion with particular reference to London.

In May I was asked to write an opinion on what the coming months might bring. At the time I thought the primary issue was not medical, but socio-political. That remains my view today.

In answering the latest question, I will firstly look at the evidence that we are permitted to see by the NHS. I have reservations as to its veracity, but that’s all we have to go on. Then I will say what I think it means and finally draw some conclusions.

First, the data.

I prefer to look at ICU cases as a marker of Covid because the headline figures from the testing programmes are polluted by an unknown number of false positives and conflate asymptomatic and symptomatic cases. The ward-based inpatient data is too easily manipulated and doesn’t take account of the high turnover and relatively short stays for most patients. In addition, the burden of care for non-ICU patients is easier to manage in the event of a surge. Headline inpatient COVID figures are skewed by persistently high nosocomial (hospital acquired) infection, which Stevens, Vallance and Whitty expertly forget to mention in their dramatic public briefings.

Over the whole of England ICU cases have been relatively stable over the last two weeks – even falling off in the North West (Graph 1). With specific reference to London, there were 259 ICU patients counted as COVID positive on November 24th out of a current bedstock of approximately 1200 (21%).

The rate of admission is nothing like as steep as the spring and the picture across the capital is variable. In North East London, hospitals such as Barts and Barking have been under steady pressure for some weeks. In the last fortnight, South East London has seen an increase in numbers, consistent with outbreaks in Kent – localised to the Medway area. The West of London is quiet in Covid terms with very low numbers of ICU cases in South West and central London hospitals in particular.

Graph 2 shows the difference in the curves from April – May compared to Oct-Nov for the four worst affected central London teaching hospitals. Readers will notice some data drop out on the spring curves – because staff were too busy to report figures. A casual glance at this graph shows the disparity between the spring wave in blue and the autumn in brown– and these are the busiest hospitals in the capital in terms of Covid cases.

If we look at the ONS death statistics on Graph 3, there is nothing remarkable about this autumn compared to any of the last five years in terms of recorded deaths in London up to week 46 (November 13th). It is important to recognise that there is a lag between patients being ill with Covid and dying from it, and there is also a reporting lag – but the spring peak is clearly visible and coincides with peak hospital occupancy.

So, what’s all the fuss about?

The major difference between the spring and the autumn is that NHS hospitals are currently attempting to run a full load of routine work alongside usual winter pressures. Doctors often have to make decisions around prioritisation on the basis of medical need – if that means scaling back routine work to treat sicker patients, then we just have to live with it and catch up later. If Covid cases were to continue to rise and stress the system, scaling back routine work would be the logical thing to do. On the basis of the available evidence, there are no imminent signs of the situation getting out of hand in the way it did in the spring. In any event the capital has plenty of spare capacity in several large hospitals which are not currently particularly busy for this time of year.

The burden of patients with respiratory illness is not unusual for this time of year but protocols intended to limit the spread of COVID are creating added pressure. These have had the effect of removing large numbers of staff into self-isolation because they’ve been in contact with someone who’s tested positive using a PCR test. There’s no shortage of beds and equipment – but a shortage of people to staff them. During the spring, NHS Digital reported that 7.2% of NHS staff in London were off sick due to COVID related reasons – leaked information last month suggested that up to 30% of staff were absent in some Northern hospitals. These people are not necessarily ill themselves – just told to stay at home by NHS Test and Trace. Many of them will have been told to isolate as a result of false positive PCR test results.

In answer to a Parliamentary Question last week on the operational false positive rate of PCR testing, the best the Department of Health could produce was a short paper presented to SAGE on June 3rd – highlighting the fact that the NHS did not know what the false positive rate was. Estimates from previous work put it at between 0.8 and 4.0%. If we assume a median average of 2.3%, this implies the vast majority of NHS staff ordered to self-isolate have been in contact with false positives, given the relatively low prevalence of Covid. On June 3rd, SAGE was advised to urgently conduct external quality assessments to ascertain what the operational false positive rates were. I have searched the available minutes from SAGE since then and can find no further reference to this point – perhaps it is too embarrassing to be mentioned in public. False positives may be mitigated to a degree by the recent introduction of lateral flow tests, which I understand have a lower false positive rate. It is telling that Health Department officials have repeatedly denied there is a problem with false positives and the PCR tests – it has taken FOI requests and a Parliamentary Question to force an admission that SAGE has known about it for months.

SAGE minutes from Meeting 63 (Oct 25th) and Meeting 66 (Nov 5th) reveal an acknowledgement that nosocomial infections are also a significant problem. I note the committee avoided quantifying the issue – now running at about 20% from derived analysis of data in the public arena. Once again, the NHS has issued repeated denials that a significant percentage of Covid patients have been self-generated by failure of in-hospital infection control – only to be caught out when the evidence becomes overwhelmingly obvious.

From my reading of the available figures, there is no imminent cause for alarm in London – it is fear of a repetition of the spring which is driving senior NHS managers to agitate for further “non pharmaceutical interventions” (the euphemistic term for lockdown). I don’t understand why Michael Gove believes the NHS is at risk of being totally overwhelmed. If he has hard information to support that assertion, he should put it in the public domain for discussion. Failure to provide evidence justifying such breathless hysteria suggests he is shroud waving to influence his own backbench colleagues rather than making informed comment. Perhaps Gove is actually worried that the Government will lose the vote on Tuesday.

Within London, plans are in place for an expansion of ICU capacity, elective work can easily be scaled back and moving to a more reliable testing regime should reduce unnecessary staff absence. More tier-based restrictions appear to me to be a political choice, not a medical one. This sets a worrying precedent where medical bureaucrats advise the government to restrict civil liberties in order to conceal the consequences of their own poor preparation. My assessment is that we are currently in a lockdown of convenience, not of necessity.

Finally, I will test readers patience with another graphic – this time of an economic nature. Please note that the ‘y’ axis reads ‘billions of pounds’. That bill needs to be paid by private sector taxpayers, working in an economy which our current Government insists on vandalising with the active collusion of medical civil servants. There is moral hazard here, in that the officials advocating lockdown enjoy protected state-funded employment and pension rights. Would they be so keen on the idea if they had to suffer a 30% salary reduction until the middle of 2021?

Covid Tiers “Will Cost the Economy £900 Million a Day”

Analysis by the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) has estimated that the tiering system will cut GDP in the month of December by 13% compared to December last year, amounting to a cost of more than £20 billion. The Telegraph has more:

The CEBR worked out its forecast based on 31% of England’s economy being in Tier 3; 68% in Tier 2 and just 1% in Tier 1.

The forecaster estimated that the daily loss in GDP for Tier 3 is 20%, less than the lost output of 25% of GDP in April when schools and shops were closed. The loss in Tier 2 was estimated to be 10%.

Doug McWilliams, the CEBR’s Deputy Chairman. said: “It remains to be seen whether those costs, which of course can’t take account of the longer term damage done to so many pubs, restaurants, sports and entertainments venues, is justified by the reduced incidence of the disease. My suspicion is that the shutdowns imposed by Whitehall will end up doing more economic damage than can be justified on medical grounds.”

Julian Jessop of the Institute of Economic Affairs provided some grounds for cautious optimism:

“The tiered system is less of a drag than the England-wide lockdown. The package of restrictions currently in place – for example, non-essential shops are not allowed to open – is tighter than those in any of Tiers 1-3, so even moving from nationwide lockdown to Tier 3 is a marginal improvement – and will boost growth… The limited evidence so far suggests that the economic costs of lockdown 2 itself are less than feared, and certainly a lot less than lockdown 1.”

Worth reading in full.

Liam Halligan, writing for the Telegraph, is astonished that the Government still hasn’t commissioned its own analysis of the economic impact of the Covid restrictions it’s introduced.

While the rapid introduction of a two-week curfew was justifiable in March, lockdown extension during subsequent weeks and months should have been accompanied by exactly this sort of cost-benefit analysis.

Instead, Boris Johnson surrounded himself with a very narrow group of advisers – almost all medics, all with the same pro-lockdown views. No room was made for highly respected anti-lockdown epidemiologists (there are many), economists or others with a broader perspective.

The lack of such official cost-benefit analysis ahead of a policy that has already caused the deepest depression in three centuries, sent our national debt into orbit and destroyed thousands of businesses and millions of livelihoods, with much more to come, is simply astonishing.

Some highly respected independent economists have produced such studies – including former Monetary Policy Committee member David Miles and Professor Robert Rowthorn at Cambridge.

Their analysis suggests lockdowns can’t be justified. 

Worth reading in full.

SAGE Advice for Covid-safe Christmas

Santas have their temperature taken as they attend a socially distanced Santa school training at Southwark Cathedral in London, Monday, Aug 24th. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

The Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours has just released its “Insights on celebrations and observances during COVID-19“. It’s hard to imagine, as a reader commented, that it isn’t a little tongue in cheek. From the BBC:

The Government’s scientific advisory committee, SAGE, warns coronavirus could easily spread during the festive relaxation of the rules. They say people should still weigh up if an event could be postponed. If not, meeting online or outdoors where the risks of transmission are lower, could be a better option. But if you do go ahead, they say, it’s important to include everyone taking part in drawing up a plan for how to manage the event.

They highlight the particular importance of involving women in the decision-making. “Women carry the burden of creating and maintaining family traditions and activities at Christmas. Messaging should be supportive of women adapting traditions and encouraging those around them to share the burden and to be supportive of any alterations to adapt for COVID-19 restrictions.”

The Telegraph has provided a helpful summary of the advice:

May your Christmas be merry and bright!

Unlock Defensive Immunity With Vitamin D

A side of smoked salmon from Bleiker’s Smokehouse, a great source of Vitamin D

Three senior medics and a health researcher – David C Anderson MD MSc. FRCP FRCPath, David S Grimes MD FRCP, Parag Singhal MD FRCP and Chris Williams BSc – have written an open letter on Lockdown Sceptics imploring the Government to start issuing large doses of Vitamin D to the elderly and the vulnerable. Not the 10 micrograms (400 units) per day that the Government has just announced it will be giving away to 2.5 million people – which is “wholly inadequate”, according to these experts – but 100 micrograms per day.

Here’s an extract:

The phrase “following the science” has been used repeatedly, but this is inaccurate. Rather, we have been following the mathematicians, whose ignorance of biological science is dire.

To date, the disruptive and damaging attempts to control COVID-19 have been physical in nature. Lockdowns, ‘social distancing’, masks, etc. as if we are fighting a conventional war. Whereas. in reality, we are trying to defend ourselves against a virus, which is invisible and is transmitted through the air in its trillions. The virus will always be with us but we can develop immunity against it. Lockdown, masks, social distancing, closure of schools, universities, places of worship, shops, places of work, etc. may slow down the spread of the virus, but they will not cause it to go away. And people are still dying.

The answer lies in defensive immunity. We had a respite during the summer months when we had the benefit of the Vitamin D-producing sun with the production of vitamin D in our skin. Vitamin D is a hormone, the vital key that unlocks our complex, defensive process of immunity.

Worth reading in full.

Covid Hypocrite of the Week

Michael B. Hancock. Photo: David Zalubowski/Associated Press

More rank hypocrisy from the governing class. This time, the Mayor of Denver, flagged in the Wall Street Journal. Here is his statement of contrition:

I fully acknowledge that I have urged everyone to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel… What I did not share, but should have, is that my wife and my daughter have been in Mississippi, where my daughter recently took a job. As the holiday approached, I decided it would be safer for me to travel to see them than to have two family members travel back to Denver. I recognise that my decision has disappointed many who believe it would have been better to spend Thanksgiving alone… I made my decision as a husband and father and for those who are angry and disappointed, I humbly ask you to forgive decisions that are born of my heart and not my head.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Four today: “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by The Who, “Desolation Row” by Bob Dylan, “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, and “Oh What a Circus” by David Essex.

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 so you can share it. To do that, click on the headline of a particular story and a link symbol will appear on the right-hand side of the headline. Click on the link and the URL of your page will switch to the URL of that particular story. You can then copy that URL and either email it to your friends or post it on social media. Please do share the stories.

Social Media Accounts

You can follow Lockdown Sceptics on our social media accounts which are updated throughout the day. To follow us on Facebook, click here; to follow us on Twitter, click here; to follow us on Instagram, click here; to follow us on Parler, click here; and to follow us on MeWe, click here.

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, from MailOnline, another tale of language policing at the BBC.

Football pundit Steve ‘Tommo’ Thompson has been axed by the BBC for describing a clash between players as “handbags”. The 65 year-old was laid off until the end of the year for using the familiar match day phrase after listeners complained.

Thompson, who works as a freelancer, made the comment on BBC Radio Lincolnshire during Lincoln City’s 1-0 win at Swindon Town on Tuesday. Explaining its decision to suspend Thompson, the BBC said that the term “handbags” did not meet its standards. 

The BBC said: “After listeners raised concerns, Steve acknowledged some of his comments on air didn’t meet the standards we expect. He is taking a break but will be back in the New Year.” Thompson had previously received a written warning about his use of language in 2018 and also referred to a player as a “drama queen”.

But fans have reacted in outrage at the BBC’s decision, arguing that using the well-known phrase did not merit Thompson’s immediate suspension. Marcus Greatorex told the Sun: “It’s just an old term. The BBC should pay more attention to songs on their stations promoting knife crime and drug use”.

Lincoln fan Bernard O’Mahoney said: “As any football fan knows, ‘handbags’ is an incredibly well-known saying… I can’t begin to think who’d be offended by it”.

“Handbags” is such a common term in sports commentary that it appears in the Collins Dictionary. It is described as “an incident in which people, especially sportsmen, fight or threaten to fight, but without real intent to inflict harm”.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Sarah Oliver in the the Mail on Sunday has written a terrific piece about the scandal at Eton following the dismissal of an English teacher for encouraging his students to question the idea that there’s something fundamentally toxic about masculinity. Includes some extraordinary details about how woke the school has become, such as the fact that the boys were shown a film about a man who becomes pregnant and gives birth.

“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.

If you’re a shop owner and you want to let your customers know you want be insisting on face masks or asking them what their reasons for exemption are, you can download a friendly sign to stick in your window here.

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: Jenin Younes’s recent piece for the AIER blog on “The Strangely Unscientific Masking of America” describes how mask-wearing turned virtually overnight from something unheard of into a moral necessity. Well worth a read.

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 month and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it ever since. If you Googled it a week after launch, 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 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 700,000 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.

Update 2: Many of the signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration are involved with new UK anti-lockdown campaign Recovery. Find out more and join here.

Update 3: You can watch Sunetra Gupta set out the case for “Focused Protection” here and Jay Bhattacharya make it here.

Update 4: The three GBD authors plus Prof Carl Heneghan of CEBM have launched a new website collateralglobal.org, “a global repository for research into the collateral effects of the COVID-19 lockdown measures”. Follow Collateral Global on Twitter here.

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.

Quotation Corner

It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.

Mark Twain

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.

Charles Mackay

They who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin

To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions…

Ideology – that is what gives the evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you never should trust experts. If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require to have their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.

Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury

Nothing would be more fatal than for the Government of States to get into the hands of experts. Expert knowledge is limited knowledge and the unlimited ignorance of the plain man, who knows where it hurts, is a safer guide than any rigorous direction of a specialist.

Sir Winston Churchill

If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science.

Richard Feynman

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

C.S. Lewis

The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants.

Albert Camus

We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.

Carl Sagan

Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

George Orwell

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

Marcus Aurelius

Necessity is the plea for every restriction of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

William Pitt the Younger

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…

We think this is genuine. It’s a guide from the Workplace Mental Health Institute about how to tell if you’re in an abusive relationship, but it applies with extraordinary accuracy to the Government’s attitude towards the people of Britain. Perhaps it’s time to end that relationship…

Latest News

Government Proposes to Liberate Local Areas in Bid to Placate Rebellion

Bob in today’s Telegraph offers a suggestion as to who might be advising Boris Johnson

The Government has said that towns and villages will be able to go into lower tiers than neighbouring virus “hotspots” in an effort to see off a growing Commons rebellion against their new lockdown plans. The Telegraph has the exclusive.

MPs have been told that rural areas with low infection rates could be “decoupled” from cities that have “unfairly” dragged them into Tiers 2 and 3 under the Government’s regional approach.

It comes amid a major rift between ministers and scientific advisers, who say areas of England are more likely to go up a tier than down one.

Government scientists have said they expect few changes within the system in coming months, with Tier 2 areas far more likely to go up than down and almost nowhere likely to get to Tier 1 until March. Scientists are understood to have told Boris Johnson that he should consider moving Tier 2 areas to Tier 3.

The draconian advice comes despite new figures showing the reproduction or ‘R’ rate of the virus to have come down to between 0.9 and 1.0 – its lowest level since August – meaning Covid could already be in retreat.

Up to 100 Tory MPs are threatening the biggest rebellion of Mr Johnson’s premiership when the new tier system is put to a vote next week amid anger over a broad brush approach that has put low incidence areas into higher tiers because they are in the same county as a city with a high infection rate. 

Government ministers Nadhim Zahawi and Jesse Norman are among those who have publicly criticised the new tiers.

Labour has yet to decide whether it will vote for the tier system, meaning Mr Johnson could face defeat unless he can persuade enough of his own MPs to back down. The Prime Minister said on Friday that he understood the “frustration” of people who have ended up in Tier 2 or 3 despite low infection rates in their own town or village.

According to reports, Mr Johnson has pencilled in Easter Monday as the day when the strict Covid tiers will be lifted.

Ministers and officials are trying to win round Tory MPs by offering them hope that their constituencies will be “decoupled” from hotspots when a review of the Tiers is carried out in mid-December.

It’s a start, but a very small one given the absurdity and destructiveness of the Government’s intention to keep the tier system in place until at least Easter.

The main reason being given for the extreme ongoing restrictions is the supposed need to “protect the NHS” from being overwhelmed. The Sun reports.

The PM is determined to put the NHS first – and believes he will have to wait until after Covid’s winter peak in February and March to ease his grip.

A senior government source told the Sun: “Boris will not countenance hospitals overflowing like they did in Italy. Nor can we get to the stage where we have to cancel operations and treatments. In all likelihood, the tiers have to stay.”

This must be the most expensive and repressive way to manage demand in a health service ever devised – and it’s dishonest to pretend elective surgeries aren’t being cancelled as it is. Why not simply increase surge capacity? It’s not as though hospitals have been overwhelmed so far, even in the spring. In fact, they’re currently running at below average occupancy rates across the country, while the surge capacity that has been created is not being used. As one reader writes to tells us:

Hot off the press from a friend who has spent the last six weeks getting the Nightingale Hospital in Harrogate up to speed at huge expense – they had a sign-off on Tuesday and yesterday were stood down – they may use it at some point for vaccinations. This is the emergency overspill for the Humber (Tier 3), Leeds (Tier 3) and Bradford (Tier 3).

There is nothing out of the ordinary about the mortality rate this autumn, as this explainer by Joel Smalley makes clear, and neither is there evidence that lockdowns are responsible for preventing a runaway epidemic. The R rate, after all, was below 1 before the current lockdown began, with daily deaths peaking on or around November 13th and infections three weeks or so before that. Oddly, the Government has only just announced that the R has fallen below 1, weeks after the surveys it relies on for this calculation – from Imperial College, King’s College and the ONS – announced it occurred. Could this have anything to do with the fact that, at three weeks into the lockdown, they are now in a position to credit it? Not that we can check their working, which remains as obscure and concealed as ever.

Lockdown 3.0 is SAGE’s “Pound of Flesh” For Christmas Freedom

Iain Duncan Smith writing in the Telegraph sums up perfectly the mood of MPs in the Covid Recovery Group ahead of the crucial vote next week.

The Chancellor laid bare the stark and painful economic reality for all to see this week. The economy has shrunk by 11.3%, the worst collapse in output in 300 years. Unemployment will reach 2.6 million and borrowing will reach an eye watering £394 billion.

The mood of sombre reflection and deep concern among MPs brought on by the Chancellor’s statement rapidly gave way to disbelief and anger as the full implications of the Government’s new tier system became apparent. In particular, many recalled the past use that has been made of dodgy figures to bounce us into lockdown.

The critical balance in decision making required to ensure that our response to the virus does not end up doing more damage than the disease still seems to elude the Government with the figures on coronavirus simply not justifying their ongoing desperate pessimism, particularly when set against the desperate damage to business, livelihoods and lives, beyond Covid.

SAGE predicted 4,000 daily deaths early next month. This rapidly turned out to be absurd. Four thousand deaths a day would be three times higher than the peak death rate in Brazil, which has a population three times greater than the UK.

Then, with a 16-day time lag, a mass of data showed that infection rates had flattened and were falling before the effect of the lockdown could be felt. That, however, hasn’t stopped Patrick Vallance and ministers rather brazenly claiming that the reductions were down to the lockdown. Liverpool is a good example. The fall there seemed to happen long before the nation-wide lockdown even started. Even the mass testing programme rolled out there, despite what the Government claims, didn’t change the rate of decline. Given that, perhaps the most trusted document produced by the Government was the one covered in scribbled and panicky question marks.

Yet despite the facts, instead of returning to the original tiers from before lockdown, we are effectively about to consign half of England to further lockdown after December 2nd. To put this in context, when the new rules come in the number of people in Tier 1, the lightest level of restrictions, will have fallen from 24.5 million pre-lockdown to just 700,000. Previously, nine million people were in Tier 3, post-lockdown that number will have risen to 23 million. Worse, the new set of tiers are far tougher than they were – even those whose tier hasn’t gone up will still find themselves subject to far tougher restrictions.

The announcement brought an outcry from MPs because so many of their areas have been shunted into Tier 3 on what appears to be contradictory and shallow evidence. Take, for example, the city of Bristol. Before lockdown, they had 292 infections per hundred thousand people and were in Tier 1. Now, after a minor increase in the rate to 309, they have been moved to Tier 3. Or Tunbridge Wells, in Tier 1 with a rate of 48.9 before lockdown and now in Tier 3 with a rate of 103, a figure much lower than other areas in Tier 2.

What was the point of the lockdown if, as we come out, we end up with tighter restrictions than before lockdown? We aren’t even waiting to learn what the effect of the lockdown has been before rushing into these changes.

IDS says there is growing concern among MPs that the draconian new tier system is the “pound of flesh SAGE demanded in return for the decision to have five days off over Christmas and that unless the Government stayed in a de facto lockdown for most of the country now then they would be demanding another lockdown in January”.

He repeats the call for proper cost-benefit analyses to be published to enable MPs to make informed decisions.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: IDS talks to JHB here, telling her the Government must stop listening to the advice of SAGE.

Metropolitan Police Issues Warning About Today’s Protest

For those going along to the protest today, be prepared for an unaccommodating police force. The Territorial Support Group is likely to be out in force. The following is from a statement issued by the Metropolitan Police:

Ahead of a planned protest on Saturday, November 28th, the Met is urgently reminding those looking to attend that protest is not currently a permitted exemption to the prohibition on gatherings under the current Coronavirus regulations.

Strict regulations have been introduced by the Government nationally to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus. This means that anyone gathering for protest risks enforcement action by officers. 

A robust policing plan is in place throughout the weekend and officers will take action if they witness breaches of the regulations. 

Chief Superintendent Stuart Bell, policing commander for this weekend, said: “The Met has a proud history of facilitating protest. However, our city is in a critical fight against COVID-19 and we cannot allow gatherings to jeopardise the progress and sacrifices our communities have made in fighting this virus. 

“That is why we will be taking action in relation to prohibited gatherings on the streets of London, including those related to protest across the capital this weekend. Our top priority is public safety and that is why we cannot allow individuals to break the law and put their health and the health of their friends, family and the wider community at risk. If you are planning on attending a gathering, I would urge you to reconsider and stay at home.”

They’re obviously expecting something big.

“If You Vote to Destroy the Jobs of Others, Don’t Expect to Keep Your Seat”

Peter Hitchens has asked if Lockdown Sceptics readers would care to join him in a campaign for a “mass write-in to MPs this weekend on the lines of ‘If you vote to destroy the jobs of others, don’t expect to keep your seat’”. Websites like Write To Them make it easy, as he points out.

Sounds like a great idea. Good readers, over to you.

Government Threat to Business Puts More Firms at Risk

Is the Government about to use its powers to pull the rug from under firms struggling under the Government’s lockdown measures? One reader is concerned.

On December 1st the Government is proposing to reinstate Crown Preference, a legal concept whereby HMRC gets priority over other creditors to recover unpaid taxes in the event of a company’s insolvency. In normal times this would not have been an especially significant change. However, right now many companies have racked up significant tax liabilities because the Government has been using this as a way of supporting businesses in difficulty. We are not talking about small amounts of money – if you think of VAT (20% of turnover) and PAYE bills since March, these have really added up.

When Crown Preference is reinstated on Tuesday, a company’s lenders, suppliers and credit insurers will need to reduce their exposure by the amount of taxes which are owed (as HMRC will now have priority over these debts). For struggling businesses this will probably mean their credit lines will be pulled from under them, and they will go out of business.

In the current circumstances it is difficult to see this move bringing in much revenue for the Exchequer – at the cost of pushing many businesses over the edge at the worst possible time. Why did we support these businesses in the first place, only now to throw them under a bus? It should be a no-brainer to defer this move, but the Chancellor didn’t announce such a deferral on Tuesday and it feels like the issue has been buried under the weight of other news. It shouldn’t be – it really matters.

Further reading on this is available from the law firm Addleshaws.

Care Homes Ban Christmas Decorations

Care homes are being banned from putting up Christmas trees and decorations by local authorities due to “infection control issues”. CareHome has the story.

Care Campaign for the Vulnerable (CCTV) has revealed it has received “distraught messages from care home managers” due to the ban.

One manager told CCTV: “I’m a manager of a residential nursing home. We are being told the local authority are trying to put a stop to homes decorating for Christmas!

“After everything that has been taken away from our residents this year, we’re now expected to take Christmas away from them too!! ‘Infection control’ issues. I had a visit from Infection Control and we’d started to decorate our reception area and she told us ‘I wouldn’t bother going any further, because you’ll be told to rip them all down’.

“I asked the direct question to the local authority bosses and they’ve told me there’s no published guidance as of yet but they won’t allow Christmas decorations.

“Our hearts are breaking for our beautiful residents. We’ve taken them down. It seems they’re intent on taking away any little thing that brings them joy. That in itself is more dangerous to their well-being than Covid would ever be! And we’ve been through an outbreak and I stand by that statement.”

The care home manager said she has heard similar stories from other care homes.

A spokeswoman for Care Campaign for the Vulnerable said: “’I find this downright appalling. As if residents haven’t lost enough this year already. Why deprive them of the joy of Christmas?”

Pitkerro Care Centre in Dundee is one of those making changes to the way it decorates its home due to the pandemic and is asking people to donate outdoor Christmas decorations and lights to put in the back garden.

Normally during the festive period the care home is covered in Christmas decorations and trees, but this year anything that cannot be wiped down daily is banned.

What this over-zealous, killjoy guidance forgets is that even if surfaces spread the disease they can only do so when they are touched. But no one touches Christmas decorations except to put them up or take them down. More to the point, no one has yet succeeded in culturing the virus from surface samples, suggesting surfaces are not a major route of transmission. As the Lancet reported in October: “During the initial stages of the pandemic there was concern about surface transmission. However, latest research suggests that this is unlikely to be a major route of transmission as although SARS-CoV-2 can persist for days on inanimate surfaces, attempts to culture the virus from these surfaces were unsuccessful.”

Woman Goes Blind After Lockdown Cancels Treatment

Helen Jeremy lost her sight during lockdown

A woman has lost her sight after she was left without her regular treatment for months during the lockdown. The BBC has the details.

A woman has become blind after her monthly eye injections were delayed for four months during lockdown. Helen Jeremy, 73, said everything she enjoyed doing has “gone out of the window” after losing her eyesight.

Thousands more people in Wales are at risk of “irreversible sight loss” because of treatment delays, RNIB Cymru warns. The Welsh Government said health boards are working to increase services.

Mrs Jeremy, from Bridgend, has glaucoma and was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration four years ago. Monthly injections controlled the condition and meant she could still drive and play the piano. However, her appointments were cancelled when the pandemic struck and her eyesight deteriorated.

“I was panicking. It was terrifying. Because I’m a widow I’m on my own and it was awful,” she said. “Suddenly my eyesight was basically gone. By the time of my next appointment I was told there was no point in going on with these injections because the damage had been done to the back of my eye. Everything I loved doing has gone out of the window and my life’s changed totally.”

The NHS said it was just one of those things, nothing to do with them.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said priority at the time was based on patient risk. “We are sorry that Mrs Jeremy sadly experienced deterioration in her eyesight a few weeks following her last treatment in July,” a spokesperson said. “Sadly, some eye conditions can become worse over time despite ongoing treatment.”

The reference to “treatment in July” is clearly misleading as it is the lack of treatment since March that is the problem, which they do not acknowledge. Mrs Jeremy was just not a “priority”. And now she is blind and can no longer do almost any of the things she loves.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Three today: “Tears of Rage” by The Band, “Ain’t Nobody’s Business if I do” by Billie Holiday and “Mad World” by Tears for Fears.

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 so you can share it. To do that, click on the headline of a particular story and a link symbol will appear on the right-hand side of the headline. Click on the link and the URL of your page will switch to the URL of that particular story. You can then copy that URL and either email it to your friends or post it on social media. Please do share the stories.

Social Media Accounts

You can follow Lockdown Sceptics on our social media accounts which are updated throughout the day. To follow us on Facebook, click here; to follow us on Twitter, click here; to follow us on Instagram, click here; to follow us on Parler, click here; and to follow us on MeWe, click here.

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, it’s the news that Eric Clapton has joined Van Morrison in his anti-lockdown “Save Live Music” campaign with a new collaborative song “Stand and Deliver” – and been called a “white supremacist” for his trouble. National File has the story.

Legendary rock-and-roll guitarist and vocalist Eric Clapton is collaborating with Van Morrison on a song called “Stand and Deliver” that is critical of United Kingdom’s laughably stringent Covid lockdowns and their effects on live music. Predictably, liberals on Twitter are seething uncontrollably over the news.

Clapton, the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, told Variety magazine that he chose to collaborate with Morrison on the song after finding the effect of lockdowns on musicians “deeply upsetting”.

“We must stand up and be counted because we need to find a way out of this mess. The alternative is not worth thinking about. Live music might never recover,” Clapton stated.

Morrison, who founded the Save Live Music campaign, said “Eric’s recording is fantastic and will clearly resonate with the many who share our frustrations,” adding, “It is heart-breaking to see so many talented musicians lack any meaningful support from the Government, but we want to reassure them that we are working hard every day to lobby for the return of live music, and to save our industry.”

The attacks on Clapton from unknown verified profiles on Twitter began almost immediately. Buzzwords such as “white supremacist,” stemming from Clapton’s collaboration with Morrison and off-the-cuff remarks he made onstage in support of British nationalism in 1976, appeared at the vanguard of the outrage machine.

“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.

If you’re a shop owner and you want to let your customers know you want be insisting on face masks or asking them what their reasons for exemption are, you can download a friendly sign to stick in your window here.

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: A maskless woman in a supermarket was issued by police with a fixed penalty notice even though she explained to them to them that she was exempt on health grounds. The Mail has the story.

Footage shows two officers from West Midlands Police handing the female customer a fixed penalty notice, saying that she has “broken a guideline”.

A policewoman explains that she can take the fine to court and show her “burden of proof” while the shopper claims that she is exempt from wearing a face covering.

Towards the start of the clip, the male police officer says: “What we’re going to do, we’re going to take this lady’s details.” The man filming asks “what for?” before the policeman urges him to listen to the other officer, who says: “If we give you a fixed penalty notice, what it then does, you take it to court and you show your burden of proof then to the court.”

The female customer says “I don’t need to”, before the policeman responds: “Yes you do.” The policewoman says that, as officers, they “do not have to ask for proof of her exemption” but that they can ask what it is “in a conversation”.

The customer then interjects: “Hold on, hold on. I’ve just shown you my card, I’ve explained my situation.” The policeman replies: “You showed me a card that you printed on the internet. That’s not valid”, to which the customer responds: “So?” He responds: “Because you haven’t got a certificate or a doctor’s note, the onus is on yourself.”

The shopper says: “I can prove to you here that my son’s girlfriend has ordered me a card, which I just said to you, I only texted the other day saying ‘has my card come yet?’ I can prove to you here that she’s put ‘yes, it does take a few weeks, I think my mum’s took a few weeks as well’.”

The camera operator questions whether she has broken the law, to which the policeman says she has “broken a guideline”.

It’s a funny kind of “guideline” that can land you a fine and in court.

The police officers are wrong of course. There is no requirement to produce a certificate or doctor’s note and there is nothing “invalid” about an exemption card. Government guidance explains: “If you have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering: you do not routinely need to show any written evidence of this; you do not need to show an exemption card. This means that you do not need to seek advice or request a letter from a medical professional about your reason for not wearing a face covering.” Furthermore, people are told to be “mindful and respectful” of the circumstances of people unable to wear a mask: “Some people are less able to wear face coverings, and the reasons for this may not be visible to others.”

Someone needs to tell the police officers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that West Midlands Police has any intention of doing so.

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 month and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it ever since. If you Googled it a week after launch, 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 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 700,000 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.

Update 2: Many of the signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration are involved with new UK anti-lockdown campaign Recovery. Find out more and join here.

Update 3: You can watch Sunetra Gupta set out the case for “Focused Protection” here and Jay Bhattacharya make it here.

Update 4: The three GBD authors plus Prof Carl Heneghan of CEBM have launched a new website collateralglobal.org, “a global repository for research into the collateral effects of the COVID-19 lockdown measures”. Follow Collateral Global on Twitter here.

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.

Stop Press: Simon Dolan has a piece in Conservative Woman on “Boris’s cruel Christmas joke” that is worth a read.

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.

Quotation Corner

It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.

Mark Twain

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.

Charles Mackay

They who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin

To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions…

Ideology – that is what gives the evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you never should trust experts. If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require to have their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.

Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury

Nothing would be more fatal than for the Government of States to get into the hands of experts. Expert knowledge is limited knowledge and the unlimited ignorance of the plain man, who knows where it hurts, is a safer guide than any rigorous direction of a specialist.

Sir Winston Churchill

If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science.

Richard Feynman

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

C.S. Lewis

The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants.

Albert Camus

We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.

Carl Sagan

Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

George Orwell

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

Marcus Aurelius

Necessity is the plea for every restriction of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

William Pitt the Younger

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…

Pubs may have found a loophole in the Government’s ill-defined requirement that customers in Tier 2 areas must have a “substantial meal” with their pint

Latest News

Lockdown Rebellion Returns

Bob’s cartoon in today’s Telegraph

Fraser Nelson in the Telegraph reports that the Covid Recovery Group of Conservative MPs is now as many as 100 strong and enjoying increasing clout with Number 10. The return to tiers was, he claims, a concession to the rebels, but that doesn’t mean they’re happy with the result.

It all sounds a bit ungrateful, given that it’s not even a year since Boris Johnson personally won an 80-strong majority for his otherwise-doomed party. But many Tories feel that a national collapse is underway, because the Government cannot think its way out of lockdown. Last week, the Chief Whip finally persuaded the Prime Minister of the seriousness of the situation: there are now about 100 MPs in the “Covid group” of rebels. They wanted a local lockdown system, judged on clear criteria and answerable to parliamentary scrutiny.

What they got yesterday was intended to quell the mutiny. No more Vallance and Whitty horror shows, with blood-curdling slides drawn from data which falls apart on further scrutiny. No more “illustrations” or “scenarios” showing 50,000 cases a day or 4,000 daily deaths. In its place, new criteria for judging local lockdowns: virus infection levels, especially among the elderly. The rate of virus growth (or decline). Pressure on the NHS.

In theory, it’s just what lockdown sceptics asked for: a transparent, evidence-based way of judging the new system. But the way the map has been drawn has led even pro-lockdown MPs into revolt as many find their constituency under tougher restrictions than before lockdown. They ask why their constituency has been lumped with others – and how they can justify voting it through. “This is like one of these old colonial maps where they draw a marker pen through territory they don’t recognise,” says one MP.

The new system is riddled with maddening inconsistencies.

Kent is regarded as one homogeneous lump and been placed into Tier 3, having had no special restrictions before lockdown. All of Buckinghamshire has ended up in Tier 2, in spite of places like the Chilterns being almost as Covid-light as Cornwall and the Isle of Wight. York, too, is back in Tier 2 – in spite of having less Covid than before lockdown. In the Commons yesterday, MPs queued up to ask: where is the logic?

It’s looking like MPs will get a cost-benefit analysis, but not the one they’ve been pressing for.

No 10 has made one final offering: to publish assessments of what local lockdowns do to the economy, society and wider public health. This is intended to persuade MPs that the Prime Minister will now look at things in the round and judge local lockdowns by more than simply the virus levels. This would do much to assuage those who argue that officials should talk about risk to cancer treatment, or the chances of furloughed small businesses making it to Easter. But those who have seen the ideas for the report predict that it will be underwhelming, and unlikely to win over any wavering MPs.

In a press release put out by the Covid Recovery Group, Harriett Baldwin MP, a former minister, said:

I voted for the current lockdown on the basis that it would give us a 28-day period to develop a new and enduring strategy for living with the virus that doesn’t require us to keep having to live under cycles of damaging lockdowns and severe restrictions, and to reform NHS Test & Trace so that only the infectious individuals and their close contacts have to isolate. 

Over 23 million of us were living under Tier 1 restrictions before the lockdown that figure will be under 1 million in December.  There is no logic whatsoever in having a month of lockdown only for people to have to live under an even more severe set of restrictions afterwards.

That’s why we must see the evidence, the data and the cost benefit analysis published in full and on time so that we can assess whether or not the current strategy is working, and make sure we know if we are being asked to vote for something with an end date and which will explicitly save more lives than it costs.

While Labour continues to support the Government’s Covid strategy no Tory rebellion can realistically succeed. However, relying on opposition MPs to bail you out is never a good look for a Prime Minister and often means his (or her) days are numbered. And what if Keir Starmer sniffs an opportunity and switches to opposing the measures? The new tier system, in which the majority of English citizens have been placed in a higher tier than they were before the four-week lockdown, looks to be a massive own-goal by Boris and is bound to poll badly. Starmer may conclude that opposing the measures – and calling for a continuing national lockdown instead – is a way to ingratiate himself with Labour’s traditional voters in the Midlands and the North who’ve been placed in Tier 3, particularly those that deserted the party for the Conservatives last December.

If Starmer does decide to abandon Boris the CRG will find itself in a strong position in the run-up to next week’s vote. Some realistic demands would be:

  • More granular differentiation between tiers, so, for instance, the whole of Kent doesn’t have to be plunged into Tier 3 because there are over 500 cases per 100,000 people in Swale, even though there are only 120/100,000 in Ashford. (See MailOnline for the fury this has unleashed.)
  • Meaningful reviews of the tiered restrictions every fortnight, followed by a Parliamentary vote, instead of asking MPs to approve the current arrangements until March of next year and place their faith in Matt Hancock to decide which areas to move in and out of different tiers.
  • A proper cost-benefit analysis of the impact of the tiered restrictions so MPs can make an informed choice about whether to support them every two weeks.
  • The replacement of Sir Patrick Vallance as Chief Scientific Officer with Prof Sunetra Gupta and Chris Whitty as Chief Medical Officer with Prof Carl Heneghan. Okay, maybe that would be too great a humiliation for the PM, but at the very least Gupta and Heneghan should be invited to join SAGE, alongside Dr Mike Yeadon, Dr Clare Craig, Prof Karol Sikora, Dr John Lee, Prof Ellen Townsend, Prof Allyson Pollock and Prof David Livermore.

If the stars align, we might just be looking at a turning point.

Stop Press: According to today’s Times, Boris faces a growing rebellion on his back benches and won’t be able to count on enough support to get his proposed measures through without Starmer’s help.

Tell Your MP How PCR Testing is Fooling the World

Today, Lockdown Sceptics is publishing a brilliant new briefing document for MPs that explains very clearly (with oodles of illuminating graphs) how the fatally flawed PCR test, which was never designed to be used on an industrial scale, has given the false appearance of a deadly autumn epidemic when in fact the underlying signals, such as GP respiratory consultations, hospital admissions and overall deaths, are normal.

It is authored by Dr Mike Yeadon, Dr Clare Craig, Jonathan Engler and Christian McNeill, and comes with all their expertise and experience as they set out in clear terms the issues and the evidence.

From the introduction:

Across Europe, including in the UK, we see the following:

1. Daily ‘cases’ sky-rocketed in Europe as Autumn arrived.

2. Daily deaths labelled as ‘Covid deaths’ rose in line with ‘cases’ – to levels apparently higher than at the Spring peak.

3. BUT: Total all-cause mortality does not reflect the above.

What is behind this conundrum?

The central thesis of this paper is that we have a major problem with PCR-testing.

This is distorting policy and creating the illusion that we are in a serious pandemic when in fact we are not.

This is causing:

Excess deaths due to restricted access to the NHS.

An NHS staffing crisis which is exacerbating matters.

Unprecedented assaults on civil liberties and the economy.

What we need to do about this:

Stop mass-testing using PCR in the UK and replace with Lateral Flow Tests where required.

Other recommendations as detailed later in this document.

We’ve given it a permanent home on the right-hand side. Find it here.

There is also a PDF version which you can download and this is the best one to use for attaching to an email and sending to your MP. Or you can use a website like Write To Them and include a link to the PDF.

Definitely worth reading in full.

Oxford Vaccine To Undergo Extra Trial

In what appears to be an admission of serious problems that need addressing, AstraZeneca has announced that it will run another trial for the Oxford vaccine. The Telegraph has more.

The drug company behind one of the UK’s leading coronavirus vaccines is set to run an extra trial amid growing questions about the jab’s performance.

On Monday, scientists from Oxford University and AstraZeneca revealed that their vaccine had achieved an overall efficacy rate of 70%  in Phase Three trials. However, this rose to 90% in a sub-group, a finding researchers said was “intriguing“.

It was then revealed that this had stemmed from an error when some of those in the study were given just half a dose for the first jab when a full dose had been intended. Those given the intended dose saw efficacy rates of just 62%.

The company has said it will run extra trials to satisfy regulators after US health officials revealed that nobody in the group with 90% efficacy rates was above the age of 55.

Lockdown Sceptics contributor Barry Norris is not impressed by the spin coming out of AstraZeneca as they manage the PR of their disappointing (and botched) trial results.

There’s been no proper scientific release of the data; it’s all just been leaked out selectively and they breached trial protocol over the doses and switching to give the placebo group saline rather than meningitis vaccine, which was the original plan. I also suspect and this is also true of the mRNA trials that the antibody response fades from the data presented as we develop antibodies against the vaccine.

Things will start to get very interesting when and if the Astra vaccine is rolled out. People will realise that the vaccine hurts and comes with side effects which in most people will be worse than getting COVID. When people who have taken the vaccine still get COVID (as the response fades) there will be complaints and what if it heightens the risk for otherwise healthy adults through inhibiting the natural response? If it wasn’t for COVID the trial would already have been called a failure.

Astra now saying they will do more trials. Normally this is an admission that the first trial failed and isn’t enough to get the vaccine approved. Coincidentally, this was announced at 4.30pm on Thursday, just after the UK market shuts and with US markets shut for Thanksgiving and not even a proper press release, again.

They are claiming that this will not affect UK authorisation but I think it will. If they haven’t done enough for the American FDA of which this is a tacit admission then are we saying in the UK we have lower safety standards?

Stop Press: A poll has found that almost half of doctors would not take a rushed Covid vaccine. A poll of readers of Medscape UK found that of 308 UK doctors, 4 in 10 would not get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one is approved by the MHRA. Medscape has the details.

Online polling took place 18th-23rd November after the positive Pfizer/BioNTech results but with most responses received before the positive news about the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

Of those who wouldn’t have the jab at this stage:

– 56% cited safety concerns
– 27% would rather wait
– 7% mentioned personal health reasons
– 14% had other reasons

Overall, 59% said vaccination for healthcare staff should not be compulsory. Among those who wouldn’t have the jab at this stage, nine out of 10 were against compulsory staff vaccination.

Are We Over-Counting Excess Deaths?

How many more have died in England and Wales in 2020 than in a normal year? To calculate the number of “excess” deaths, most of us follow the ONS in comparing this year’s figure with the average of the previous five years. But is this a fair representation of how many deaths are above what would be expected? Not when the population is ageing, explains Ross Clark in the Spectator.

Not only is the population of England and Wales growing; it is also ageing. The population of over-70s, for example, has grown over the past decade by an average of 2% a year. Therefore, year on year, we should expect deaths to rise – simply comparing this year’s mortality rate with the five-year average does not give us a like for like picture. A more enlightening view is provided by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, which publishes a weekly ‘mortality monitor’ in which it compares this year’s mortality rate with last year’s, adjusting for the change in population profile over the past 12 months. 

Its analysis shows that deaths in week 46 were 1,442 — or 13% — higher than they would have been had 2020 had the same mortality rate as last year. Compare it with the standardised mortality rate for the years 2015 to 2019, on the other hand, and excess deaths for week 46 of 2020 fall to 1,388.

By this way of counting 2020 was only running at 6% above average mortality by mid-November (see graph above). Many of those extra deaths are the result of lockdown, not the virus, of course.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: An article in the Johns Hopkins Newsletter published on November 22nd summarised the findings of Genevieve Briand, Assistant Program Director of the Applied Economics Master’s Degree Program at Hopkins. She analysed all-cause mortality in the US in 2020, comparing the data to deaths in previous years, and found, to her surprise, that 2020 was less exceptional than it seemed at first blush.

After retrieving data on the CDC website, Briand compiled a graph representing percentages of total deaths per age category from early February to early September, which includes the period from before COVID-19 was detected in the U.S. to after infection rates soared.

Surprisingly, the deaths of older people stayed the same before and after COVID-19. Since COVID-19 mainly affects the elderly, experts expected an increase in the percentage of deaths in older age groups. However, this increase is not seen from the CDC data. In fact, the percentages of deaths among all age groups remain relatively the same.

“The reason we have a higher number of reported COVID-19 deaths among older individuals than younger individuals is simply because every day in the U.S. older individuals die in higher numbers than younger individuals,” Briand said.

Briand also noted that 50,000 to 70,000 deaths are seen both before and after COVID-19, indicating that this number of deaths was normal long before COVID-19 emerged. Therefore, according to Briand, not only has COVID-19 had no effect on the percentage of deaths of older people, but it has also not increased the total number of deaths.

These data analyses suggest that in contrast to most people’s assumptions, the number of deaths by COVID-19 is not alarming. In fact, it has relatively no effect on deaths in the United States.

But how is this possible? After all, hasn’t COVID-19 killed over 250,000 Americans this year?

When Briand looked at the 2020 data during that seasonal period, COVID-19-related deaths exceeded deaths from heart diseases. This was highly unusual since heart disease has always prevailed as the leading cause of deaths. However, when taking a closer look at the death numbers, she noted something strange. As Briand compared the number of deaths per cause during that period in 2020 to 2018, she noticed that instead of the expected drastic increase across all causes, there was a significant decrease in deaths due to heart disease. Even more surprising this sudden decline in deaths is observed for all other causes.

This trend is completely contrary to the pattern observed in all previous years. Interestingly, as depicted in the table below, the total decrease in deaths by other causes almost exactly equals the increase in deaths by COVID-19. This suggests, according to Briand, that the COVID-19 death toll is misleading. Briand believes that deaths due to heart diseases, respiratory diseases, influenza and pneumonia may instead be recategorized as being due to COVID-19.

Needless to say, the article no longer appears on the website of the Johns Hopkins Newsletter – far too heretical. But you can read an archived version here. We’ve made a copy in case the enforcers of Covid orthodoxy remove that too. If it’s gone by the time you read this, email us and we’ll send it to you.

Update: AIER have published an analysis of the article here.

Hospitals That Kill

After yesterday’s story about Covid spreading around hospitals, a reader writes to tell us how this happened to people he knew.

How your story yesterday about hospitals not protecting people from Covid rang true. Two days ago our neighbour died at home after coming out of hospital from 15 months’ unsuccessful treatment for leukaemia. Half that time was spent recovering from the stroke caused by the first bout of chemo. The second bout of treatment ended recently when he gave up on it all and was discharged to come home to die. Guess what? He’d also just caught Covid in hospital, having spent months and months in virtual isolation to protect him, after an infected person was brought into the ward so naturally he’ll go down as a Covid statistic. He was 60.

Last week a close friend’s father-in-law died too. He was in his 90s and had acute renal failure. He was whipped into hospital where he tested negative for Covid twice. By the third test he’d caught Covid too after another infected person was brought in and successfully infected everyone in the ward. Of course, he’s gone down as a Covid statistic too.

Now, both these men had terminal conditions and would have died anyway, probably at the time they did. But nothing can alter the fact that we have been suffocated by precautions to protect people like them from Covid only for the health service we are supposed to be protecting actually to allow them and the people in adjacent beds to catch the wretched disease. In this incredible bizarro world we are being exhorted to save the NHS from being crushed by a disease it’s actively spreading.

Covid spreading in hospitals both increases the true Covid death toll and inflates the number of those who die “with Covid”. We need to get much better at separating those with highly infectious disease in the healthcare system.

Dear Deirdre…

A reader has decided to write to Deirdre, the Sun‘s agony aunt, about a relationship that’s gone south.

Dear Deirdre,

I’m starting to suspect that there might be a problem with my relationship. Please tell me I’m not going crazy.

At the start of this year I started going out with a new man, Boris. He was charming and seemed very clever – he’d been to Oxford and could read Latin. He’d “been around the block” a bit, if you know what I mean, and he was a bit overweight. But he was good fun and very decisive. He liked to “get things done”, which was a big appeal.

Anyway, in March he started to change. He went down the pub one evening with his friend, Neil, who’s a bit of a weirdo to be honest, and Neil told him all about this “Chinese bat flu” that was going to wipe out the human race. Neil showed him all this stuff on his phone that he’d got off Wikipedia and he did some calculations on the back of a beer mat showing that the population of the UK would basically be wiped out in six month’s time unless we completely changed our way of life.

When Boris told me about Neil’s predictions I thought he was having a laugh. Sadly not. The next morning he went to the corner shop and bought all the loo roll and Pot Noodles then he insisted that we stay at home completely, no going to work or socialising, and only going out to buy absolute essentials.

He’s a clever guy, so although I had my doubts I assumed he knew what he was talking about, and creepy Neil was good at maths and had once been on Countdown. Anyway, Boris said it only needed to be for three weeks – to “flatten the sombrero” or something (don’t ask me!) so I thought I’d play along, maybe it was a mid-life crisis or something.

Anyway, three weeks came and went, and still Boris wouldn’t let me go out and see anyone or go back to work. I didn’t complain though. It’s hard to explain – he’d spooked me so much I kind of stopped thinking critically about what he was saying. And it wasn’t too bad at first. I was a bit worried about the financial impact of not working, but Boris said he had lots of money in the bank. And it was quite nice to have a bit of time off. We watched Tiger King on Netflix and I bought a lot of stuff off Amazon to take my mind off things.

After several months things got ever so slightly more normal. Boris said that we could go out again and go to the shops and talk to people, but we still had to “stay safe” at all times and stay two metres apart from other people. I could even go back to work for a bit. I kind of played along with it, thinking he was about to lose enthusiasm for the whole bat flu situation. Then, in the middle of summer, out of nowhere he suddenly announced that we had to wear masks whenever we went to the shops! This was when things started to get really weird. He even wanted to wear a mask when we made love, but I drew the line there.

Then he got angry with me one day and said I hadn’t been taking the rules seriously enough. I should say at this point that Neil and these other creepy blokes from the quiz team down the pub, Chris and Pat, were obsessed with this thing called the “R number”. This had something to do with how much bat flu there was going around. Every day they would call Boris up and tell him that the “R number” wasn’t coming down enough and there was too much bat flu, and Boris would go white and say how sorry he was. Then he would take it out on me and give me these long lectures. One day Chris and Pat sent him this really scary chart, showing how we were all going to die again unless we acted straight away. I remember Boris asking if this was a prediction, and for some reason this made them furious, and they kept screaming over and over “it’s a projection!”, which really confused him.

Boris sat me down and said the “R number” was still too high, and it was all my fault for not following “the rules”. I must have been forgetting about the two metres, or not wearing the mask, or not singing Happy Birthday while I washed my hands or something. He said that he had no choice but to introduce a “Three Tier” system. Tier 1 meant things were bad, Tier 2 meant that they were very bad, and Tier 3 meant that they were catastrophic. We were only allowed to do certain things depending on what Tier we were in. This was the only way we could “save Christmas”. I asked if there could ever be anything lower than Tier 1 and he just shook his head and said that was obviously impossible. He called up Chris and Pat and they said that we could start off in Tier 2. This meant I had to wear a mask even when I was driving in my car and no-one else was around.

We went on like this for a while, until one day Chris and Pat called Boris and gave him a stern talking to. Another “projection” – the R number was going to get high again! Boris then started shouting at me, and accused me of having taken my mask off in Lidl. It was back to “lockdown”. This meant no meeting anyone at all, no going to work, nothing. This went on for a month. I started getting very anxious and worried about everything. Plus I had a really nasty shock one day when I happened to see Boris’s credit card statement. He was tens of thousands of pounds in debt! I started crying and shaking and having some very dark thoughts.

I think Boris realised how upset I was and he sat me down and said he knew that it was tough but it was all for my own good. He didn’t like locking me up like this but I had given him no choice. Then his tone changed and he said that there was some good news – the “lockdown” would end in December! I was overjoyed, until he revealed that the “lockdown” would be replaced by the return of the “Tiers”. Only this time it was even more serious. I could forget about Tier 1. It was just Tier 2 or 3 from now on. To be honest, I couldn’t even understand what the difference between these Tiers was. It was something to do with eating a “substantial meal” and “the rule of 6” – total gibberish, really. Boris did say that we could have five days off “the rules” at Christmas so that I could see my mum, but we would have to sit two metres apart with the windows open and not use the same serving spoons.

I asked him if the more serious “Tier system” meant that the bat flu had got worse. And here’s the weird thing – he said that there was actually less bat flu than before. This made no sense, and I tried to get him to explain, but he started muttering “hands face space” over and over again and talking about the toot of the distant bugle. I used to find that stuff quite charming but to be honest it’s got really annoying and I’m not convinced that he’s in his right mind.

I just don’t know when all of this is going to end. It’s unbearable – the bizarre rules that change every second of the day, the uncertainty, the endless control over my every action, the lack of freedom, the fear and anxiety. I think the mask is starting to make me ill. I just can’t see any hope for the future.

And here’s the thing. I’ve got a friend who works in a hospital. She says that the bat flu was actually real, and it was quite nasty, but it wasn’t anything particularly out of the ordinary. They coped with it without much difficulty and it seems to be going away now. They are having a pretty normal winter in her hospital – certainly no busier than usual. So why the Tiers and the masks and the rwo metres and the massive credit card bill? It doesn’t make any sense to me any more.

I’m at the end of my tether. What should I do?

Yous sincerely,

Anonymous

He hasn’t yet received a reply, but he imagines it might go something like this.

Dear Anonymous,

You asked me what you should do. I’ll tell you. Pack your bags and leave this man, right now. This is not normal behaviour.

The constant control, the limiting of your freedoms, the psychological manipulation, the false hope, the small rewards for good behaviour, the forced financial dependency – these are all the hallmarks of an abusive relationship.

Perhaps he can’t help himself. He seems to be a deeply deluded man. He probably wants this to end as much as you do.

This is not your fault. But it needs to stop – now.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Three today: “I wasn’t born to follow” by The Byrds, “Living in hope” by The Rutles and “I Think I’m Gonna Kill Myself” by Elton John.

Stop Press: “Safetyland“, the latest tune from lockdown sceptic rockers MediaBear, is out now.

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 so you can share it. To do that, click on the headline of a particular story and a link symbol will appear on the right-hand side of the headline. Click on the link and the URL of your page will switch to the URL of that particular story. You can then copy that URL and either email it to your friends or post it on social media. Please do share the stories.

Social Media Accounts

You can follow Lockdown Sceptics on our social media accounts which are updated throughout the day. To follow us on Facebook, click here; to follow us on Twitter, click here; to follow us on Instagram, click here; to follow us on Parler, click here; and to follow us on MeWe, click here.

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, McDonald’s has been accused of the weird woke crime of “cultural appropriation” because it introduced a sandwich based on a Jamaican recipe. The Mail has the story.

Fast food giant McDonald’s has been accused of “cultural appropriation at its finest” over one of its new Christmas menu items.

The chain announced a new Jerk Chicken Sandwich for its festive menu, which also features a double Big Mac and a Celebrations McFlurry. But it is the Jerk Chicken Sandwich which has caused the biggest stir – and not all for the right reasons. While some have taken to social media to praise the burger, others have hit out at McDonald’s accusing them of “cultural appropriation”.

Cultural appropriation is the adoption of an element or elements of one culture or identity by members of another culture or identity. It is particularly controversial when members of a dominant culture appropriate from disadvantaged minority cultures.

Jerk chicken originates from Jamaica and is believed by historians to come from indigenous Taino people and Maroons – descendants of Africans who were enslaved in the Caribbean islands.

One person tweeted: “The more I think about it the more I’m bothered by the McDonald’s ‘jerk chicken’ attempt. It shows me one of two things: 1) They don’t care to respect the culture or 2) They have zero diversity on their team.”

Another said: “Jerk Chicken Sandwich, yet there is not one McDonald’s in Jamaica.”

One person tweeted: “Who approved McDonald’s Jerk Chicken Sandwich?”

Another added: “Disrespect to the fullest. McDonald’s slapped a dead sauce on top of a crispy chicken and called it Jerk Chicken Sandwich, unreal.”

By this twisted logic there should surely be a ban on the sale of all Jamaican jerk products to non-Jamaicans, and on all non-Jamaicans enjoying them.

Stop Press: FSU Legal Advisory Council member Andrew Tettenborn has written in CapX on the Universities UK Critical Race Theory capitulation that we flagged up in yesterday’s Woke G.

“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.

If you’re a shop owner and you want to let your customers know you want be insisting on face masks or asking them what their reasons for exemption are, you can download a friendly sign to stick in your window here.

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 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 month and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it ever since. If you Googled it a week after launch, 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 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 700,000 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.

Update 2: Many of the signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration are involved with new UK anti-lockdown campaign Recovery. Find out more and join here.

Update 3: You can watch Sunetra Gupta set out the case for “Focused Protection” here and Jay Bhattacharya make it here.

Update 4: The three GBD authors plus Prof Carl Heneghan of CEBM have launched a new website collateralglobal.org, “a global repository for research into the collateral effects of the COVID-19 lockdown measures”. Follow Collateral Global on Twitter here.

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.

Quotation Corner

It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.

Mark Twain

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.

Charles Mackay

They who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin

To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions…

Ideology – that is what gives the evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you never should trust experts. If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require to have their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.

Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury

Nothing would be more fatal than for the Government of States to get into the hands of experts. Expert knowledge is limited knowledge and the unlimited ignorance of the plain man, who knows where it hurts, is a safer guide than any rigorous direction of a specialist.

Sir Winston Churchill

If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science.

Richard Feynman

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

C.S. Lewis

The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants.

Albert Camus

We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.

Carl Sagan

Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

George Orwell

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

Marcus Aurelius

Necessity is the plea for every restriction of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

William Pitt the Younger

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 his Spectator column this week, Toby lets on about the unusual sleeping arrangements that writing Lockdown Sceptics – and having the house rewired – have created in his home.

I’ve moved out of my home. No, Caroline and I haven’t broken up. It’s just that we’re having the house rewired, which means we have to be out of our bedroom by 8am Ordinarily, that wouldn’t matter but about eight months ago I started a blog about lockdown and I’m usually up until 4am working on it. We have almost 7,000 subscribers to our daily newsletter and I want it to be waiting for them when they wake up. And superhuman though I am, I can’t survive on four hours’ sleep a night.

I haven’t gone very far. I’ve stuck a blow-up mattress in the garden shed that doubles as my office. But, weirdly, the children seem to think this is a prelude to divorce. Given how many of their friends’ parents have separated — the divorce rate in England and Wales is 42% — they’ve become experts in the telltale signs, and apparently Mum and Dad sleeping in different bedrooms is one of them. My efforts to reassure them have been in vain. Earlier this week, I explained to 13-year-old Freddie that it was only a temporary measure, but he just stared at me anxiously. “Don’t you and Mum love each other any more?” he asked.

And it’s not just the kids.

Even my mother-in-law has become a bit suspicious. She came to lunch last Saturday – she’s in our support bubble – and because she’s an expert on everything to do with home improvement I asked her if she thought it would be possible to add an extension to my shed and get a lavatory plumbed in. The idea would be to create a separate bedroom with an en suite bathroom. “That way, we could Airbnb it,” I said, rather unconvincingly. She arched her eyebrows and adopted an ironic tone: “I thought it was supposed to be a man cave, not a self-contained flat?”

Needless to say, Caroline has no objections to my sleeping in the shed – she says she sleeps better because I don’t disturb her when I come to bed in the middle of the night – but is slightly irritated that after supper, when the children are refusing to do their homework or are fighting with each other, I just slip out of the back door clutching a bottle of wine and a bowl of nuts. In the past, Caroline has complained that I’m more like a fifth child than a parent, but at least I would occasionally play the role of a more experienced older sibling – helping the others with their ties, walking them to the bus stop, telling them what to do if they got into a fight: “Hit first, hit hard and hit often.” But now I’ve been transformed into a kind of lodger. I smile at the children across the kitchen table, flirt with their mother a little and then retire to my room for the evening.

So now we know the secret of how Lockdown Sceptics gets published at 4am each morning.

Worth reading in full – very funny.

Latest News

Lockdown 3.0 Set to Continue to Summer 2021

Despite all the vaccine optimism and the promise of a relaxation of the rules over Christmas, the dreadful financial forecasts by the OBR yesterday came with some underlying assumptions that appear to foresee restrictions continuing until summer 2021. Guido Fawkes has done the digging.

The Chancellor, in his statement today, used the forecasts from the OBR’s “central scenario” when it comes to Covid complications. So Guido took a look at those underlying assumptions. The OBR assumes, presumably with good reason given how closely it works with the Treasury, widespread deployment of a vaccine by the middle of 2021, not by the Spring, with a high to medium level of restrictions until then. The differences in implied borrowing, growth, and scarring are stark.

The “upside” scenario the Government is clearly not confident of taking place, involves restrictions “broadly equivalent” to October 2020’s tiers 1 and 2. The Government’s modelled upside is the previous tiered system. Meanwhile the “central scenario” expects the whole country to be between tiers 2 and 3 right through until “mid 2021“. No household mixing until June…

As Boris stated earlier this week, his post-lockdown plan is for a “new, stronger and more sustainable tiers framework on December 2nd”, styled as “tougher than in October” – reinforcing the Government’s view that we will find ourselves in the OBR’s “central scenario” where things “may vary regionally and temporally”, however are still predominantly repressive, until the start of summer. Guido can only hope the forecasters are once again wrong.

Read it here.

Hospitals Still Not Protecting Patients From Covid

Professor Carl Heneghan from the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine has warned that UK hospitals are still failing to prevent the spread of the virus among patients. It comes after outbreaks in cancer wards in Edinburgh’s Western General and Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital left a number of patients dead. The Scottish Sun has the story.

The Oxford University expert spoke out as he said levels of ward-acquired infections in Scotland during the ongoing second wave were a “really serious issue”.

It came as it emerged planned ops, including cancer surgery, have had to be axed in Greater Glasgow and Clyde due to pandemic pressures – and more than 100,000 Scots are waiting on key diagnostic tests.

Prof Heneghan said: “Community admissions are coming down but we are seeing this ongoing problem of hospital- acquired infections. It is a big issue now, as it was in the first wave. Staff are becoming infected and then go back and forward betw­een areas in hospitals. We urgently need to get on top. It’s particularly important as we go into winter, where we’ll have Covid hospital-acquired infections, and potentially other infections like respiratory syncytial virus and influenza in hospitals.

“Where we’ve seen problems, it’s often mixing non-Covid patients and Covid patients, and staff taking the virus between areas. What we need is completely separate entrances, separate staff working on these wards, and the staff need to be quarantined when they’ve been working. No mixing. The PPE reduces your risk but not to zero. The more times you see patients who are symptomatic, the more you are at risk.”

Prof Heneghan said old-style community  hospitals – many of which have shut – could have been used for Covid patients to stop disruption at larger health facilities.

He added: “If we look to places like Germany, they have nearly three times as many beds as we’ve got, and they have many more smaller facilities in the community. That allows Covid patients to be put in those facilities and centralised hospitals to keep running.”

In a nod to the Louisa Jordan field hospital at Glasgow’s SEC campus – which hasn’t treated any Covid patients – he said: “If it was a problem to use Nightingale hospitals or staff them, why  procure and pay for them when you could have been thinking about smaller facilities to separate patients?”

The newspaper notes that the number of patients catching Covid in Scottish hospitals doubled in a week during October to 189 as the virus spread to non-Covid wards.

How tragic that we have spent so much money and imposed so many restrictions on the healthy in experimental and often vain efforts to contain this virus, yet have failed to take the basic steps necessary to protect the vulnerable, such as keeping infectious patients separate from other vulnerable patients.

Worth reading in full.

Oxford Vaccine Red Flags

Hilda Bastian in Wired has looked in detail at the AstraZeneca trial and is extremely unimpressed, arguing the vaccine “isn’t up to snuff”.

Presumably, neither of the two trials from which they combined data could have provided a clear answer on the vaccine’s efficacy on its own. To make things worse, Oxford-AstraZeneca reported only the results for certain subgroups of people within each one. (For perspective on this: The two subgroups chosen leave out perhaps half the people in the Brazilian trial.) Meanwhile, one of their key claims is that giving half a dose of the vaccine on the first injection, followed by a standard dose on the second one, led to better outcomes – but neither of these trials had been designed to test this hypothesis. In fact, it’s since emerged that the half-dose/full-dose option started out as a mistake, and one that was only caught when some people in the study didn’t have the usual high rate of adverse effects.

The problems are legion.

There are other problems, too. In the press release, Oxford-AstraZeneca reports that two of the dosing regimens “demonstrated efficacy.” Presumably, none of the others did, but they didn’t give specifics. Of the only two regimens they reported, one (the mistaken first half-dose, followed by a full dose at least a month later) came in at 90%, and the other (two standard doses at least a month apart) achieved only 62% efficacy. You’ll see reports that the vaccine had 70% efficacy, on average; but that’s un-knowable, because we only have numbers on these two regimens, as opposed to everyone in the trials – and how they arrived at those percentages isn’t explained. As far as we know, some of this analysis could hinge on data from just a few sick people. That means the findings could be a coincidence, or they could be biased by other factors. For example, it has since been revealed that the people who received an initial half-dose – and for whom the vaccine was said to have 90% efficacy – included no one over the age of 55. That was not the case for the standard-dosing group, however, where the reported efficacy was 62%. This demographic difference could be more important than the change to the size of the first dose.

That’s not the end of the problems. Overall, the Oxford-AstraZeneca trials appear to include relatively few participants over the age of 55, even though this group is especially vulnerable to COVID-19. (People over 55 were not originally eligible to join the Brazilian trial at all.) Compare that to BNT-Pfizer’s trial, where 41% of the volunteers were over 55. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine also seems to produce relatively high rates of adverse events. If you want to dig further into this vaccine’s story and issues, I’ve laid out a more detailed rundown of the Oxford-AstraZeneca trials and sources here.

The Oxford vaccine is a more traditional type of vaccine so the lower efficacy and stronger side-effects are more in line with what was originally expected. The concerns do call into question though how political any UK decision to approve the vaccine will be, as well as how many will agree to have it and how far the Government will deem it sufficiently protective to bring the emergency to a close. The Pfizer and Moderna RNA vaccines appear to be more effective (if more expensive and logistically challenging), but we don’t yet know for how long or if they will prevent serious illness or transmission. There are also questions of long-term safety.

Even if a vaccine does enable this crisis to come to an end in the next six months, there is still the problem of what happens next time. We can’t go through this every time a new flu-like pandemic gets going.

Stop Press: A new peer-reviewed article has appeared in Annals of Internal Medicine, “Ethical and Scientific Considerations Regarding the Early Approval and Deployment of a COVID-19 Vaccine“, questioning the ethical basis of the current Covid vaccine trials. Is this the kind of anti-vaxx messaging that Keir Starmer wants banned?

FIVE Places That Prove Lockdowns Aren’t Needed

UK positive tests reported

The foundational myth of 2020’s dangerous new cult of lockdownism is that without severe restrictions on the freedom and movement of the general population COVID-19 will afflict and kill hundreds of thousands of people. That is the only claim that could plausibly justify such extreme infringements of our liberty with all the extraordinary costs and harms that come with them. Disturbingly, its sole basis appears to be a belief in the epidemiological modelling by Imperial College and others which purports to show that this calamity is likely, or at least a reasonable worst case scenario.

Many have pointed out that the Government’s own surveys show that the UK R rate fell below 1 before the recent national lockdown, though this hasn’t stopped the Government claiming it was the lockdown wot done it.

This is far from the only evidence that lockdowns are not necessary for COVID-19 epidemics to slow and decline. Below are the latest graphs from Worldometer for five places (two countries and three US states) which have not imposed a lockdown or many restrictions at all on a national, state or local level this autumn. While most of them have seen a busy autumn in intensive care, hospitals have not been overwhelmed and are operating within normal seasonal bounds. In all of them the epidemic is now (in terms of positive test results) either in decline or plateauing.

Assuming these slowing and declining trends continue, these data will become solid proof that lockdowns and other extreme restrictions on the general population are not necessary to “control” COVID-19 outbreaks, even in winter, and therefore cannot be justified as a matter of proportionate public health policy.

Stop Press: Prof Carl Heneghan has warned that as “cases” plummet, the data the Government will use as the base of its announcement today about which areas will be in which tiers will be out of date by December 2nd.

Scientist Demands Retraction of Original PCR Study

Dr Pieter Borger

A reader writes with news about a challenge being issued by a Dutch scientist to the original paper which underpins the supposed scientific validity of the Covid PCR test.

Today, Dutch scientist sceptic Pieter Borger has issued a paper to journals for publication demanding retraction of the paper with the origin of our PCR test. The original paper was submitted January 21st, and published  January 23rd – the fastest peer review ever! Keep in mind that the virus was only DNA sequenced on January 7th. That paper apparently is the origin of all PCR tests in Europe. Borger says it is dodgy science and should be retracted.

These are his charges from an earlier unofficial publication (translation courtesy of Google translate):

1. Use is made of non-specific primers and probes. This can be established because the letters with which the primer is indicated are not fully stated. This gives the researcher the opportunity to further specify which primer he will eventually use. The researcher may enter the letters left blank himself.

2. The probes must be specific to detect the gene. In the January 2020 article, one probe is said to be specific for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The other probe is common to SARS-CoV viruses. With the group of scientists I work with, we have determined that in reality those probes are the same. Whether those probes are both specific for SARS-CoV-2 or whether they are both more general for SARS-CoV viruses, I don’t know. This test is bad design for this reason alone.

3. I have explained the importance of a correct primer concentration above. We have found that these concentrations are in many cases four to five times too high.

4. There are six primers in total. We found that the GC content was significantly too low for three primers; the correct GC content should be, as I have explained above, between 40% and 60%. Two of the six primers tested were found to have a GC content of 28% and a 34%. This also means that the PCR test is a bad design.

5. Based on the article from January 2020, I investigated which annealing temperature is used in this PCR test. I have explained to you that within a primer pair the temperature difference may be one or at most two degrees. In this test, the temperature difference in one of the important genes turns out to be about 10 degrees in reality.

I have the impression that RIVM itself has also established that something is wrong here and that this was the reason for RIVM to change the protocol and for that reason removed one gene from the test, namely this gene.

6. Insufficient parts of the virus are detected to determine whether one is indeed dealing with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (corona). I am referring to my imagery from above with regard to the auto parts. With the SARS-CoV-2 virus (corona) it is important to examine the entire RNA strand. Otherwise you will not know whether you are dealing with the whole strand or just some fragments.

7. The coronavirus PCR test has no negative control. The aim is therefore not to rule out the possibility that other coronaviruses have been detected.

8. In the PCR test described in the January 2020 protocol, a number of cycles of 45 is assumed. However, it is not indicated at which number of cycles the test should be read as positive or negative. I would like to point out that at 35 cycles you detect almost no infectious virus anymore. Then you will understand that increasing by more than 35 makes no sense anymore. The test does not indicate when you should start reading and that is a major defect in the test. RIVM first used 30 multiplications as a starting point. You cannot just increase the number of cycles to 35 as the RIVM has done. Then you change the rules during the game. Cycles of between 30 and 35 are also a grey area. Again, after 35 cycles, there is no more infectious virus. This applies to 97% of the cases. This has been scientifically proven.

9. The aforementioned January 2020 publication also shows that the test also gives false positive results. Because the result was negative with retesting. This means that you should always re-test if the test is positive. I do not know if this also happens in practice. I do know, for example, that top athletes in case of a positive test often have themselves re-tested and the test then regularly turns out negative. If I tested positive myself, I would insist that I be retested. If that re-test also turned out positive, I would demand a third test. Only if that third test also turned out positive, then I would like to assume that I have indeed tested positive (aside: that does not mean that I am infected with the virus). Only then will you have reduced the uncertainty about the reliability of the result to minimal proportions.

10. My last but by no means least point of criticism is that the article describing the PCR COVID-19 test is not peer reviewed. Why I think this I have explained above. I find that very bad because the test is used for diagnostics.

He adds: “Incidentally, I also notice that two of the authors of this article are also part of the editorial board. In itself there is nothing wrong with that, but it is an extra reason to be careful with the placement of the article.

I presume the actual scientific retraction demand, when we see it, will be more precisely formulated.

This seems like an important developing story, that no doubt will be ignored/censored elsewhere.

“China Is Trolling Us”

Lockdown Sceptics regular contributor Dr Clare Craig has written a scathing Twitter thread about the peer-reviewed study in Nature purporting to show that Wuhan had no infectious virus left at all in May. She calls foul on this highly implausible finding, placing the study alongside the earlier ones from China from which came the asymptomatic transmission myth that has been so effective at shutting down Western societies.

China is trolling us with this and Nature should be embarrassed at having published it. It claims 10 million people were tested in the last two weeks of May in Wuhan. That’s over 700k tests a day. I do not believe that – do you? It then claims that not a single Covid case was found, i.e., Covid disease with symptoms capable of spread – weeks after all the drama. I do not believe that – do you? The ultimate trolling is that what they are claiming to report is a 0.003% false positive rate (all their ‘cases’ were asymptomatic, no viral culture and no transmission). I do not even believe that. It is a total fabrication. What’s the point of peer review if it lets something like this into Nature? Scientists have to start looking more critically at the politics. The studies showing asymptomatic spread were almost all Chinese too with non-Chinese studies observing no spread.

Read it here.

A Vivisection of the Idiocy

We are publishing today Part 3 of Dr Roger Hodkinson’s analysis of the Covid lunacy, written back in the summer but published for the first time on Lockdown Sceptics. Find Part 1 here and Part 2 here. From the introduction:

In this Part Three I intend to dismember limb-by-limb virtually every intervention that has been so forcibly foisted on us, using a combination of (largely) common sense and (some) medical knowledge. If my rant seems excessive to sensitive eyes, I urge you to hold your venom until the end, and then compare the utterly indefensible arbitrary measures with the untimely and unnecessary deaths for so many of our loved ones, and the totally unwarranted devastation of the global economy with hundreds of millions (that’s MILLIONS by the way) of people now out of work and facing a highly uncertain future. The manipulated scale of the threat and the inestimable consequences of the so-called ‘control’ measures begs for a vivisection as the beast is still alive. So here it is.

Well worth reading in full.

We hope to publish Part 4 – “The Autopsy” – in a couple of weeks.

Wanted: National Alliance Against Lockdown

The National Alliance Against Lockdown

Kathy Gyngell, editor of the Conservative Woman, has penned an impassioned plea for some properly financed, concerted opposition to the increasingly totalitarian approach of the Government to the pandemic.

It’s crazy. There are several anti-lockdown groups and many brilliantly outspoken critics of lockdown – scientists, businessmen, lawyers and commentators – out there. They include Lord Sumption, Peter Hitchens, Karol Sikora, Carl Heneghan, Luke Johnson, Toby Young and Simon Dolan, to name but a few.

Add to them the 70 MPs of the Covid Recovery Group, led by Graham Brady, Mark Harper and Steve Baker. And also the millions, some 30% of the public, that successive polls show haven’t been roped into the Save Our NHS lockdown mantras.   

Yet despite this evidence of potential dissent, the case against lockdown has had no traction politically – none. Despite the Daily Mail alone of the MSM taking up the cause.

Why? Because beyond following each other on Twitter, publishing and endorsing each other in a new online industry, there’s been no serious or adequately financed, co-ordinated opposition to the Government’s authoritarian diktats. Not that I can see, anyway.

Is it then surprising that however cogent – legally, scientifically and morally – their case is, that these disparate and fragmented groups and individuals have failed to change the conforming mainstream media’s reporting narrative?

Or that, eight months after Britain was turned to the dark side, they’ve failed to prevent a seemingly beleaguered Boris Johnson from entrenching himself in his bunker as the nation’s Big Brother, against whom there is no rising up?

Or, indeed, that we now find ourselves listening to the Prime Minister’s latest and (in true Orwellian style) ever-changing social rules, which he tells us we must endure in the name of this spectral disease through to next October? With every newspaper co-operatively giving its columns over to dutiful explanations of ‘what they mean’ to an already subjugated and compliant public.

Is it surprising that we watch helplessly as Covid-free normality recedes further across the horizon? Or to find that, in this period of restriction, our ‘liberty’ and economic activity is to be conditional on following whatever the latest set of arbitrary rules and/or compliance with vaccination or testing, is chosen for us? 

Kathy goes on to outline nine key points that need to be pressed home to policymakers by this hoped-for alliance, including “how the public have been frightened and misled into supporting lockdown in the deliberate fostering of a climate of fear and hysteria” and “how the populist ‘Save our NHS’ Covid priority policy was misjudged and mismanaged, leaving millions of patients untreated and at risk of illness and death from all other conditions and diseases”.

Worth reading in full.

And any public-spirited philanthropists feeling moved to come to their country’s aid at this time of Government-induced peril, do get in touch.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Just one today: “Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be” by Max Bygraves.

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 so you can share it. To do that, click on the headline of a particular story and a link symbol will appear on the right-hand side of the headline. Click on the link and the URL of your page will switch to the URL of that particular story. You can then copy that URL and either email it to your friends or post it on social media. Please do share the stories.

Social Media Accounts

You can follow Lockdown Sceptics on our social media accounts which are updated throughout the day. To follow us on Facebook, click here; to follow us on Twitter, click here; to follow us on Instagram, click here; to follow us on Parler, click here; and to follow us on MeWe, click here.

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, new guidance from Universities UK stating that vice-chancellors and other senior university leaders “should be given anti-racist training on ‘white privilege'”. From the Telegraph:

Institutions must “go beyond” unconscious bias training when it comes to tackling racial harassment on campus, according to new advice from Universities UK (UUK).

University chiefs, staff and students all need to be taught about “racism, racial harassment and microaggressions and white privilege” through training that is drawn up specially form an anti-racism perspective, the guidance says.

UUK, an organisation which represents vice-chancellors, has published recommendations for senior leaders to eradicate racial harassment at universities.

It comes after a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission last year found that there was an “alarmingly high rate” of racial harassment on university campuses.

Nearly a quarter of ethnic minority students said they had experienced racial harassment at UK universities, according to the watchdog’s report which concluded that many universities are unaware of the scale of the problem and are overconfident in their ability to respond to it.

The guidance, from the advisory group set up by UUK, calls on senior leaders and governing bodies to acknowledge issues that exist in their universities and acknowledge that higher education “perpetuates institutional racism”.

Universities are also told to review their curricula to ensure that they are teaching students in a way that is “diverse and inclusive”.

The guidance notes that “curricula that are based on Eurocentric, typically white voices will perpetuate existing inequalities”. It adds that teaching courses from such a perspective is “unlikely to reflect the experience or viewpoints of many members of the student and staff body”.

UUK cited a report published last year by the National Union of Students which claimed that a lack of a “sense of belonging” may contribute to the black, Asian and minority ethnic students performing less well academically.

Perhaps UUK would like to explain why “white” children in UK state schools are the least likely racial group to go to university? Where’s the “white privilege” there? And one would have thought that European universities would be entitled to teach their own academic and literary traditions. Are European institutions no longer to be allowed to sustain a distinctive intellectual culture? Is that not why people from all over the world come to study in them?

Stop Press: Seems like a good time to recap this excellent piece from Quillette back in February: “The Misguided Moral Panic About Racism in British Universities” by Wanjiru Njoya and Doug Stokes. As they point out, the notion that British unis are hotbeds of racism is completely bonkers. They are among the least racist institutions in the world.

“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.

If you’re a shop owner and you want to let your customers know you want be insisting on face masks or asking them what their reasons for exemption are, you can download a friendly sign to stick in your window here.

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: A famous doctor who demanded a mandatory mask law has been snapped partying maskless on a boat surrounded by bikini-clad women in the latest instance of hypocrisy from one of our self-appointed moral guardians. Mikhail Varshavski (pictured in the blue cap below), known as “Dr Mike” online and dubbed the world’s “hottest doctor”, was celebrating his 31st birthday in flagrant breach of the very rules he has been insisting on for everyone else.

Read the full story in Summit News.

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 month and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it ever since. If you Googled it a week after launch, 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 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 700,000 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.

Update 2: Many of the signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration are involved with new UK anti-lockdown campaign Recovery. Find out more and join here.

Update 3: You can watch Sunetra Gupta set out the case for “Focused Protection” here and Jay Bhattacharya make it here.

Update 4: The three GBD authors plus Prof Carl Heneghan of CEBM have launched a new website collateralglobal.org, “a global repository for research into the collateral effects of the COVID-19 lockdown measures”.

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.

Quotation Corner

It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.

Mark Twain

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.

Charles Mackay

They who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin

To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions…

Ideology – that is what gives the evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you never should trust experts. If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require to have their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.

Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury

Nothing would be more fatal than for the Government of States to get into the hands of experts. Expert knowledge is limited knowledge and the unlimited ignorance of the plain man, who knows where it hurts, is a safer guide than any rigorous direction of a specialist.

Sir Winston Churchill

If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science.

Richard Feynman

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

C.S. Lewis

The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants.

Albert Camus

We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.

Carl Sagan

Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

George Orwell

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

Marcus Aurelius

Necessity is the plea for every restriction of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

William Pitt the Younger

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…

Bob’s cartoon in today’s Telegraph

Latest News

Government Agrees Plan to ‘Save Christmas’

Unpublished sketch by Telegraph cartoonist Bob Moran

At a COBR meeting yesterday afternoon chaired by Michael Gove, the UK Government agreed plans with the First Ministers of the devolved nations to allow up to three households to gather over the five-day period between the 23rd and 27th of December. People will be able to travel freely across all areas of the UK, with an extra day of leeway at either end afforded to anyone wishing to travel in and out of Northern Ireland, to allow for the added journey time. The announcement comes after days of speculation in the media about the fate of the Christmas festivities.

The temporary relaxation of restrictions came with several caveats, as the Times reports:

Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, agreed the exemption with the First Ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland at a COBR meeting this afternoon, saying the Christmas rules “will offer hope for families and friends who have made many sacrifices over this difficult year”.

Mr Gove conceded that “the Christmas period this year will not be normal” but said that “families and friends will now have the option to meet up in a limited and cautious way across the UK should they wish”.

Family meetings will be limited to private homes and outdoor spaces, with people still expected to be banned from seeing others in pubs and restaurants across most of England.

The move means that people will effectively be forming a temporary ‘support bubble’ in which social distancing is not required, meaning that relatives will legally be allowed to hug each other. The easing of measures does not extend to the New Year, a particular disappointment for residents of Scotland where Hogmanay can be a more significant celebration than Christmas.

The Guardian has more from the leaders of the four devolved nations:

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned that there was a risk inherent in any relaxation of the restrictions and asked everyone to consider very carefully whether the opportunity to mix for a few days is necessary.

She said: “We know that for some, contact with friends and family is crucial during this time as isolation and loneliness can hit people especially hard over the Christmas period. The ‘bubble’ approach aims to reduce this impact.”

Sturgeon’s comments seemed to tacitly admit of the mental health toll her restrictions had wrought. The Welsh Premier also remarked on the new plans:

The Plaid Cymru leader, Adam Price, said the plans were “sensible”, adding: “However, it’s crucial we don’t lose the hard-gotten gains of the last few months for the sake of a few days. Flexibility shouldn’t mean a free for all. Sadly, this will not be Christmas as normal and people must know that any relaxation also comes with risks.”

Not exactly tidings of comfort and joy.

The announcement comes as the Prime Minister faces a significant rebellion from his back benchers over the new restrictions. The Telegraph has more:

Boris Johnson’s new “toughened” tier system risks reigniting the North-South divide, Tory MPs have warned, amid a mounting rebellion over the latest lockdown measures.

Conservative WhatsApp groups have been lighting up with “fury” and “anger” over the post-lockdown plan, according to one senior Tory who said: “The idea seems to be to move everybody up, Tier 2 becomes a shady Tier 3, Tier 3 is lockdown. Tier 1 is all but abolished. 

“There’s fury and anger at Boris Johnson on the backbenches about this. He doesn’t seem to care about the economic impact all of this is having. There’s going to be a major revolt.”

London MPs are pushing for the capital to be placed into Tier 1 because of the city’s economic significance but this risks angering Conservatives in “Red Wall” seats facing an “inevitable” return to Tier 2 and 3.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith was among those calling to spare the capital city the worst of the constraints, on account of the city’s huge economic importance.

Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith is calling for London to be placed in Tier 1 along with fellow London MPs including Bob Blackman. 

Sir Iain, the MP for Chingford and Woodford Green, said: “London is critical to the UK’s economy. Just the West End represents 4% of GDP and it is completely dead. 

“The cavalier way we are treating the capital city is astonishing.”

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: The Wall Street Journal details how other European countries are intending to navigate the Christmas minefield.

No End to Social Distancing Until Over-50s Get Jab

Boris Johnson volunteers to… pretend he’s getting vaccinated

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in a joint session with the Health and Social Care Committee and the Science and Technology Committee yesterday that social distancing measures will not end until either everyone over 50 has been ‘offered’ a COVID-19 vaccination, or enough have taken it to bring the ‘R’ number below one, and predicted that normality might begin to resume by Easter. Laura Donnelly, Health Editor at The Telegraph has more:

The Health Secretary said he hoped the most damaging restrictions could be lifted by Easter, but said that depended on everyone on the first 10 groups of the vaccine priority list having been offered the jab by then.

He told a joint session of the Health and Social Care Committee and the Science and Technology Committee: “After Easter, we think we will be getting back to normal.

“But those damaging social distancing interventions that have down sides, whether economic or social in terms of our well-being. I should hope that we can lift those after Easter if these two vaccines are approved by the regulator, which of course is an independent decision for the MHRA [Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency].”

While speculation has run rampant on social media about whether Covid vaccinations would be mandatory, whether explicitly or implicitly, and the implications of that for civil liberties, Hancock’s comments appeared to suggest he is charting another course:

The Health Secretary said there would be a shift to an emphasis on “personal responsibility” rather than social distancing after Easter once vaccines have reached the most vulnerable people.

He said the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised that this meant reaching point 10 on its 11 point list – which would mean everyone over 50 would have been offered the jab, and added: “Once you have protected, or given the opportunity to protect older people, then obviously the public health rationale, particularly for strict and damaging measures, is reduced.”

This subtle change in tone might prove a small consolation for ardent anti-vaxxers, though only those without travel ambitions. As we reported in yesterday’s Lockdown Sceptics, Qantas has already declared a vaccination certificate will be a necessary condition of international travel and other airlines will likely follow suit.

Another concern is that Matt Hancock also told the same Committee that he anticipated mass testing to remain in place after the pandemic’s over. The Mail has more.

He told MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee that he would like to see an “if in doubt, get a test” approach become the norm for anyone with flu-like symptoms.

For too long Britons’ natural instincts have been to ‘soldier on’ and go to the office even when they are unwell, which doesn’t happen in other countries, he suggested.

But Mr Hancock claimed the COVID-19 crisis had highlighted how problematic this behaviour can be for older, vulnerable employees, adding that it was “going to have to change”.

He said: “Why in Britain do we think it’s acceptable to soldier on and go into work if you have flu symptoms or a runny nose, thus making your colleagues ill? I think that’s something that is going to have to change.”

He added: “I want to have a change in the British way of doing things where “if in doubt, get a test” doesn’t just refer to coronavirus but refers to any illness that you might have.

“If you have, in future, flu-like symptoms, you should get a test for it and find out what’s wrong with you, and if you need to stay at home to protect others, then you should stay at home.”

Alarming.

Stop Press: Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed while speaking on LBC that Matt Hancock overruled officials and bought more than three times the planned number of doses of the Oxford AstraZenica vaccine. Could be embarrassing if it turns out to be a dud. Laura Donnelly in The Telegraph has more.

Stop Press 2: Parliamentary Sketchwriter Michael Deacon offers Matt Hancock a crumb of sympathy in The Telegraph, observing that the Health Secretary is beginning to show a few signs of wear and tear after having spent so long answering questions recently. The heart bleeds!

20 Questions to Ask Your MP

Regular Lockdown Sceptics contributor Dr Claire Craig FRCPath, along with Dr Jonathan Engler, has kindly written this list of killer questions for readers to send to their MPs:

  1. Why are SARS-CoV-2 antibody levels flat or dropping across all age groups since May if the pandemic is still going?
  2. What percentage of the population is assumed to have had prior immunity to SARS-CoV-2 in the SAGE forecasting models?
  3. Why do 50% of household members not catch SARS-CoV-2 from infected persons with whom they live? 
  4. Why have Japan and South Korea not had any serious outbreak if the human species has no prior immunity to SARS-CoV-2?
  5. What percentage of the population of the UK is assumed to be immune to COVID-19 (including prior immunity) as of this date?
  6. What percentage of those diagnosed with COVID-19 since July have developed antibodies to COVID-19, confirming the diagnosis? 
  7. If 90%+ (SAGE Minutes: 21/09/20) of the population is still susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, why did the virus case numbers and deaths not double every 3-4 days throughout June, July and August, and indeed throughout the Autumn?
  8. Why have positive test results rocketed while numbers of symptomatic patients in the community and NHS triage data show they have flatlined since mid-September?
  9. Why are acute respiratory admissions through Accident & Emergency significantly below the normal for the time of year if the pandemic is still raging?
  10. Why are total hospital admissions, ITU occupancy and hospital oxygen consumption at or below normal levels for the time of year? 
  11. What percentage of deaths labelled as being due to COVID-19 have had the diagnosis confirmed at post-mortem since July?
  12. Why are the regions of the country that have had excess deaths not the same regions that have supposed COVID-19 deaths, unlike in spring? 
  13. Why has Liverpool testing by the Army failed to find COVID-19 in the community when they are supposedly at the centre of the alleged “second wave”?
  14. How is a 0.22% rate of diagnosed infection in the public in Liverpool to be reconciled with the ONS prediction of 2.3% infection rates in Liverpool on 11th November based on PCR testing?
  15. Why are much quicker lateral flow tests not being prioritised for hospital admissions to prevent the standard 24-48 hour delay with PCR results and ensure that those who are positive can be isolated to prevent hospital spread?
  16. Why aren’t all staff being tested by the lateral flow test to prevent the staffing crisis being caused by false positive PCR results?
  17. Do positive PCR tests for asymptomatic and symptomatic NHS staff, or anyone else, which result in them being required to self-isolate have confirmatory re-tests performed?
  18. Why is the country in lockdown when there are no excess hospital admissions, no excess intensive care bed use and no excess death rates (by date of occurrence) in the midst of an allegedly out of control, raging pandemic?
  19. Why are we in lockdown when the Government’s own Operation Cygnus pandemic plan stated that lockdown could only delay deaths by a few weeks at most? 
  20. What evidence is there that lockdown has prevented more deaths than it has caused?

Dr Craig adds:

SAGE believes over 90% of the UK population are still susceptible to COVID-19 (Sage Minutes: September 21st). There is now a large body of evidence (eg BMJ: September 17th) that 30-50% of the population had prior immunity to the SARS-CoV-2 virus because of its similarities to some types of common cold.

Rishi Sunak’s New Deal

Rishi Sunak finds even more money down the back of the Treasury sofa.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is due to reveal a New Deal-like package later today worth an eye-watering total of £4.3 billion in an attempt to fend off predictions by the Office for Budget Responsibility of unemployment almost doubling by next summer. The OBR also suggests that by the end of the year the economy will have endured a 10% contraction, the worst in 300 years. The Telegraph reports:

Mr Sunak’s decision to find billions of pounds for jobs support in Wednesday’s Spending Review will be seen as an acknowledgement that the unemployment crisis has a long way to go.

The Chancellor will pledge to “create and support” hundreds of thousands of jobs through tens of billions of pounds of investment in infrastructure, including roads, houses, railways and cycle lanes.

A £2.9 billion Restart scheme will help the long-term unemployed to find jobs by giving them “intensive, tailored” support to meet their individual circumstances. Another £1.4 billion will be allocated to Job Centres, helping the short-term unemployed back into work.

Mr Sunak will also extend the apprenticeship hiring incentive — which pays employers £2,000 for every new apprentice they hire – to the end of March, when the new tier system of Covid restrictions will end. The jobs schemes will effectively replace the furlough scheme, which finishes on March 31st.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Douglas Murray has written a piece in The Daily Mail taking a very dim view of the Government’s reckless attitude to the public finances.

SAGE: PCR False Positive and Negative Rates Unknown in June

A reader has drawn our attention to a paper by the Government Office for Science (GOS), released by Minister for Social Care Helen Whately in response to a question on November 18th, entitled “Impact of false-positives and false-negatives in the UK’s COVID-19 RT-PCR testing programme” by Carl Mayers and Kate Baker on June 3rd. He writes:

It shows:
1. They didn’t know the false positive/negative rate on June 3rd.
2. Estimates from previous studies on similar tests put it at 0.8% to 4%.
3. Yet when they discuss tests on May 31st they use an assumed false positive rate of 0.4%. (Why should they assume half of the lowest figure on the previous study range?) Assuming a false positive rate of 0.8%, over half of the 1,570 tests on May 31st were false positives. If one assumes a median rate of 2.3% they may all have been
4. They recommend (reasonably) that external quality assessments be carried out – this begs a follow up question in Parliament as to what the results of these have been.

The paper is worth reading in full.

Part 2 of Dr Roger Hodkinson’s Analysis of the Crisis

Yesterday, we published the first part of Dr Roger Hodkinson’s coruscating analysis of the pandemic, entitled “Who Failed and Why?“. Today we’re publishing the second part, entitled “How to Prepare for the Next Big One“. Here’s an extract from the section called “the Experts”:

The current heads of the CDC, FDA, and NIAID should also be removed from office and replaced by non-partisan experts approved by the US Congress. Pragmatism should be the prime quality for the appointments, and there is still lots of that around. Academic/medical credentials are required of course, but should not be the only factor in the search.

Dr. Fauci in particular has vacillated on matters of substance with his nightly hand-wringing in the media. He also insisted on a formal double-blind trial for hydroxychloroquine (a drug with initial successes in France and an outstanding safety record) while thousands of people were dying! That opinion was classic for an academic, but in this crisis he was totally out of his league – or gone “wobbly” as Maggie Thatcher would have said. He also dressed up absurd modelling predictions by saying that they “could happen”, which of course the general public read as likely to happen – significantly ratcheting up public anxiety.

The FDA was similarly culpable for denying immediate use of hydroxychloroquine, actually intimidating very capable infectious disease specialists until they boldly decided to ignore the edict en masse.

Worth reading in full.

Conversation With a Nurse

A reader has written in to describe her recent experience in an English hospital. NHS staff are prohibited from speaking to the press or posting on social media so we’ve omitted mention of the location in case the staff member in question could be identified.

I got damaged by a horse late yesterday afternoon and had to be driven to A&E. I was wearing my mask-exempt hidden disabilities lanyard (which I am genuinely entitled to) but the receptionists asked if I wouldn’t like to wear a mask anyway to protect myself in the hospital environment. There were three receptionists in close proximity, no distance between their chairs and the middle one, who was talking to me, only had hers over her mouth not her nose.

In the waiting area, I was the only non-masked person. They seemed to be quite busy. There was a prisoner there, handcuffed and chained to an officer, both bearded with token efforts at mask wearing but neither were challenged about their ill-fitting efforts.

When I got to triage, I had a most interesting conversation with the nurse. She said they still were not particularly busy and she was very concerned about the increases in certain types of cases. Domestic abuse was the example she gave, and subsequently when I was waiting for X-ray, an extremely distressed and beaten-up woman appeared, who was telling the paramedic how frightened she was that the “guy who did this might have decided to finish the job” if the emergency services had not been so quick.

The triage nurse went on to tell me that the first lockdown had been “lovely from a work point of view, nothing to do and lots of free food”. Apparently, if they were on shift and rang for a pizza, the companies just delivered to the hospital for free. She particularly mentioned Domino’s. The nurse said that this region had never been in any danger of being overwhelmed, and was now beginning to worry that there would be a backlash against ‘Protecting the NHS’ when they could clearly cope and the lockdowns continue to lose people their jobs, etc.

This hospital did appear to be letting companions in to wait with elderly patients, which I believe is better than many other places.

Stop Press: Fiona Hamilton has a piece in The Times describing how the court system is so overwhelmed that domestic abuse victims are being advised to take civil action rather than make criminal prosecutions, while court delays are growing so long that some complainants are attempting suicide.

Have We Been Given a Day Off Lockdown by Mistake?

“Are you sure you mean December 2nd and not December 3rd? … Of course, I’m not questioning your numeracy, Health Secretary… Yes, I am aware you have a degree in Economics. I think you may have mentioned that before, Health Secretary.”

A retired statistician has written in to say that he thinks the Government may have got its sums wrong.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No 4) Regulations 2020 at paragraph 1(2) state: “These Regulations come into force on 5th November 2020” and the accompanying information box says “Reg. 1 in force at 5.11.2020.”

Paragraph 23 (1) says: “These Regulations expire at the end of the period of 28 days beginning with the day on which they come into force”, with the same accompanying information box.”

Now, you may recall that we were told at the time that the new lockdown came into force at 00.01 GMT on Thursday 5th November.

So one would therefore assume that the end of the period of 28 days would be midnight on Wednesday 2nd December so the new rules would come into force at 00.01 GMT on Thursday 3rd December after 28 complete days have elapsed.

Yet the guidance published on Gov.uk regarding the new “Tiers” system states: “The new rules will come into effect from the beginning of Wednesday 2nd December.” Boris Johnson’s statement to the House of Commons said the same thing.
So, either we are being given a day off for good behaviour or somebody in Whitehall can’t count!

Defiant Yorkshire Salon Racks Up £27k Fine

Sinead Quinn of Quinn Blakey hairdressers near Bradford.

An heroic hairdresser in Oakenshaw near Bradford in West Yorkshire – Sinead Quinn – has defied orders to close her salon by the local council and racked up a series of fines amounting to an eye-popping £27,000. BBC News has more.

Sinead Quinn was working at Quinn Blakey Hairdressers in Oakenshaw, Bradford, on Saturday when Kirklees Council officers issued a £4,000 fine.

The council found the salon open again on Monday and Tuesday and issued two further £10,000 fines. It had £1,000 and £2,000 fines for previous breaches.

Ms Quinn said on Instagram she did not consent to or accept the fines.

The salon owner posted videos on the social networking site which show her talking to council officials and police, saying she had not broken any laws.

On the video, she is heard saying: “I don’t consent to any fines, so it will just be returned to sender.”

She had also displayed a poster on the salon door which refers to Magna Carta, and says the shop is “under the jurisdiction of common law”.

At the time of writing we have not been able to locate a crowdfunding page for the freedom-loving Yorkshire woman, but we will link to one in a subsequent update if such a thing exists. If anyone knows of one, please contact us here.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Two today: “I Shall Be Released” by Bob Dylan and “Tiers [sic] of a Clown” by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles.

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 so you can share it. To do that, click on the headline of a particular story and a link symbol will appear on the right-hand side of the headline. Click on the link and the URL of your page will switch to the URL of that particular story. You can then copy that URL and either email it to your friends or post it on social media. Please do share the stories.

Social Media Accounts

You can follow Lockdown Sceptics on our social media accounts which are updated throughout the day. To follow us on Facebook, click here; to follow us on Twitter, click here; to follow us on Instagram, click here; to follow us on Parler, click here; and to follow us on MeWe, click here.

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today we have the news that staff at the publisher Penguin Random House held an “emotional” meeting to express their dismay at the decision of the company to publish Canadian Professor Jordan Peterson’s upcoming book Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life.

VICE reports:

Four Penguin Random House Canada employees, who did not want to be named due to concerns over their employment, said the company held a town hall meeting about the book Monday, during which executives defended the decision to publish Peterson while employees cited their concerns about platforming someone who is popular in far-right circles. 

“He is an icon of hate speech and transphobia and the fact that he’s an icon of white supremacy, regardless of the content of his book, I’m not proud to work for a company that publishes him,” a junior employee who is a member of the LGBTQ community and who attended the town hall told VICE World News. 

Another employee said “people were crying in the meeting about how Jordan Peterson has affected their lives”. They said one co-worker discussed how Peterson had radicalized their father and another talked about how publishing the book will negatively affect their non-binary friend.

Douglas Murray took to Twitter and commented:

Any such ‘tearful’ staff should be fired immediately and their jobs advertised the next day. If you don’t understand free speech you’ve no right pretending to work in a publishing house. Penguin Random House Canada should “Reagan airport worker” the lot of them.

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.

If you’re a shop owner and you want to let your customers know you want be insisting on face masks or asking them what their reasons for exemption are, you can download a friendly sign to stick in your window here.

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 Welsh Government has instructed schoolchildren to wear masks at all times, even outdoors.

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 month and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it ever since. If you Googled it a week after launch, 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 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 approaching 700,000 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.

Update 2: Many of the signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration are involved with new UK anti-lockdown campaign Recovery. Find out more and join here.

Update 3: You can watch Sunetra Gupta set out the case for “Focused Protection” here and Jay Bhattacharya make it here.

Update 4: The three GBD authors plus Prof Carl Heneghan of CEBM have launched a new website collateralglobal.org, “a global repository for research into the collateral effects of the COVID-19 lockdown measures”.

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.

Quotation Corner

It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.

Mark Twain

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.

Charles Mackay

They who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin

To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions…

Ideology – that is what gives the evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you never should trust experts. If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require to have their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.

Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury

Nothing would be more fatal than for the Government of States to get into the hands of experts. Expert knowledge is limited knowledge and the unlimited ignorance of the plain man, who knows where it hurts, is a safer guide than any rigorous direction of a specialist.

Sir Winston Churchill

If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science.

Richard Feynman

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

C.S. Lewis

The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants.

Albert Camus

We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.

Carl Sagan

Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

George Orwell

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

Marcus Aurelius

Necessity is the plea for every restriction of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

William Pitt the Younger

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…

Excellent YouTube video from the comedian and satirist WhatsHerFace. This one’s called: “Welcome to THE GREAT RESET.”

Latest News

Lockdown 3.0

Bob’s cartoon in the Telegraph on November 1st

Yesterday evening Boris rang in from self-isolation to give his much-awaited briefing on the winter Covid plan. The MailOnline has the details:

Boris Johnson tonight warned against “over-optimism” as he said many areas face going into tougher Tiers after December 2nd than they were in before the blanket lockdown… He braced the public in England for difficult months before the ‘cavalry’ of science comes to the rescue and finally ends the crisis. And he said that although the national lockdown will finish next Wednesday, large sections of the country will still be under harsher measures than before it began on November 5th. Mr Johnson said “things will look and feel very different after Easter, with a vaccine and mass testing”. But he cautioned that the months ahead “will be hard, they will be cold, they include January and February when the NHS is under its greatest pressure”. He added: “Tis the season to be jolly, but it is also the season to be jolly careful, especially with elderly relatives.”

The new tier system is jolly careful indeed. The Telegraph as more on its implications for pubs, shops and services.

For church services

The Prime Minister confirmed on Monday that church services including Christingles and midnight mass will be able to take place in all three tiers. The number of people permitted to attend church together is also set to be determined by the level of restrictions on household mixing.

For hospitality

Pubs and restaurants in tier three areas will be limited to takeaway and delivery services only from next month as part of a tightening of regional restrictions… Diners and pub-goers will be given more time to finish their meals and drinks under the new system. Venues in tiers one and two will have to abide by a new closing time of 11pm, with last orders called at 10pm.

For sport  

Outdoor sports such as golf and tennis will restart in all tiers, as will amateur team sports such as Sunday-league football…  

For non-essential retail

Christmas shopping will be given the greenlight this year as the Government attempts to give hard-up highstreets across the country a major boost. Non-essential retail, including fashion, toys and gadget stores will reopen their doors when the second lockdown ends on December 2nd. 

For socialising

Restrictions on household mixing will stay largely the same. Under the original tiered system, people living in tier one areas were required to comply with the rule of six both indoors and outdoors. However, Government sources suggested last week that tier one could be brought closer in line with tiers two and three due to concerns among scientists that measures in the lowest level are proving ineffective.

Worth reading in full.

The Telegraph has also helpfully whittled it all down to a handy graphic.

It is hard not to refer back Ross Clark’s piece which we flagged in yesteday’s round-up. This is…

a rebadged lockdown. While it will be described as a return to tiers, those tiers will be made tougher and more of us will find ourselves shunted into the top tiers. The result is that most people will be forbidden from mixing with family and friends until Easter – save for a brief truce over Christmas.

It is exactly, in other words, as I predicted. A semi-free Christmas is being used as the thin, dangling carrot which is supposedly going to help us resign ourselves to many months of isolation. 

As always, Ross Clark is worth reading in full, if you haven’t already.

Stop Press: The Government is still working with devolved administrations on the plans for a “semi-free Christmas”, but we learnt from Nicola Sturgeon’s daily press conference yesterday that they will not in Scotland include Hogmany. Who would have thought we’d see an SNP First Minister axing a Scottish tradition? Best pass over to Alan Cochrane on this in the Telegraph.

Stop Press 2: MailOnline reports that fans may soon be able to return to stadiums, albeit in limited numbers. Manchester United v PSG will likely be the first match to welcome them back but there could still be rules to be followed on singing, shouting and drinking

Stop Press 3: Worth taking a look at how total deaths in England and Wales in 2020 compare with previous years. Second wave struggling to gather any momentum.

Florence Nightingale Diagram of UK Deaths, from the
Centre of Evidence-Based Medicine

Lockdowns and Government Restrictions Make no Difference to Mortality Outcomes.

Geographic distribution of 14-day cumulative number of reported COVID-19 cases per 100 000 population, worldwide. Source: ecdc

It is timely that in the run-up to the next gear change in the Government’s endless drive to “defeat the virus”, Frontiers in Public Health has published a peer-reviewed study of Covid mortality outcomes.  

First the Context

We aimed at characterizing the non-viral parameters that were most associated with death rate.

The Methods

We tested major indices from five domains (demography, public health, economy, politics, environment) and their potential associations with COVID-19 mortality during the first eight months of 2020, through a Principal Component Analysis and a correlation matrix with a Pearson correlation test. Data of all countries, or states in federal countries, showing at least 10 fatality cases, were retrieved from official public sites. For countries that have not yet finished the first epidemic phase, a prospective model has been computed to provide options of death rates evolution.

The Studied Countries

From the 188 countries that have declared at least one case, only those counting a minimum of 10 deaths due to COVID-19 up to the study end point (August 31st 2020) were included. China and the United States were also analysed by states or regions, when each of them reached the 10 deaths threshold.

And the Conclusion (our emphasis)

Countries that already experienced a stagnation or regression of life expectancy, with high income and NCD rates, had the highest price to pay. This burden was not alleviated by more stringent public decisions. Inherent factors have predetermined the COVID-19 mortality: understanding them may improve prevention strategies by increasing population resilience through better physical fitness and immunity.

Worth reading in full.

This study focused on the first eight months of 2020. We doubt that anything from the later months of the year, which saw the rule of six, lockdown 2.0, the first and now the second tier system in the UK alone, will substantially challenge the analysis.  

Barry Norris Unimpressed by AstraZeneca Announcement

“I don’t care if everyone else has Adidas… these are just as good.”

The fund manager Barry Norris, who’s been tracking the vaccine trials very closely, wasn’t impressed by yesterday’s announcement by AstraZeneca. This is the note he sent to his clients.

We are amazed at the spin on the Astra vaccine. This was always designed as a two equal dose trial – 0.5 followed by 0.5 – and this population group has only achieved 62% efficacy (compared to a claim of 95% for the mRNA vaccines).

Now in breach of trial protocol they tell us there’s an improved “90% efficacy” in a small initial 0.25 dose followed by a bigger 0.5 dose, in an unofficial population sub-set which is probably so small as to be statistically insignificant. Moreover, they claim to have stumbled across this better recipe purely by accident, and somewhat embarrassingly claim this sub-set consisted of the volunteers who were systematically but “accidentally” given a smaller than intended dose, as reported here. (The Guardian has more details on this “accident” here.)

So riddle me this: the main dose trial shows only 62% efficacy in healthy adults (almost certainly less in the old and already sick) but a smaller sub-set shows efficacy with a lower dose? Lower doses usually lower side effects but they don’t usually result in higher efficacy. So there’s something bogus going on.

Moreover, if the vaccine really does work better with a smaller first dose then what does that say about the antibody response? Is the immune system producing antibodies to the second dose after a similarly-sized first dose? Is this why counterintuitively it works better on a small first dose? Does the volunteer develop immunity to the second vaccine after a bigger first dose?

If so, at best this is a one shot and one season vaccine.

At worst, if the first full dose does raise antibodies to the second full dose then you have the potential for auto-immune side effects, meaning that the vaccine ultimately inhibits the natural antibody response to the virus which would be disastrous in otherwise healthy adults.

Based on this data, the FDA is unlikely to approve the Astra vaccine (though undoubtedly the UK Government will) as:

* The trial protocol has been violated to data mine a more positive outcome.

* The duration of the efficacy is questionable.

* The overall efficacy is much lower than peers and it likely won’t work at all in the vulnerable (82 year-olds with comorbidities.) The US has mRNA.

* There’s no claim that it prevents virus transmission.

* They will want to monitor possible auto-immune side effects.

Could it be that UK Government has backed the wrong horse? To date, it has ordered 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine at a cost of £3 to £4 per dose.

Stop Press: AstraZeneca’s share price has fallen in the US following doubts about the likelihood of it receiving FDA approval.

Stop Press 2: Ross Clark in the Telegraph notes that “A vaccine exit strategy is curiously absent from the PM’s baffling Covid Winter Plan

Dr Roger Hodkinson Was a Lockdown Sceptic Back in April

Readers will recall the marvellous speech delivered by Dr Roger Hodkinson, ex-Chairman of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Examination Committee in General Pathology in Ottawa and a former Assistant Professor, to some health officials working for the Government of Alberta last week, telling them their strategy was all wrong. It’s now gone from YouTube, of course, but you can still catch it at Bitchute. Worth listening to again (it’s short and punchy).

Some speculated about whether the speech was real or a hoax, but we can confirm it was 100% genuine. Indeed, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons has seen fit to issue a statement disassociating itself from Dr Hodkinson in light of his remarks and, for the record, has slavishly regurgitated Covid orthodoxy.

Lockdown Sceptics has made contact with Dr Hodkinson and we are publishing a four-part series by him on the pandemic, with the first part published today. The first three were originally written for the University of Regina School of Public Policy in April and May, but he was told they couldn’t be published unless he toned them down which, naturally, he wasn’t prepared to do. Consequently, they are being published on Lockdown Sceptics for the first time. We will publish parts two and three on Wednesday and Thursday and part four when he’s completed it, which should be in a couple of weeks.

Part one is a scene-setter called “Who Failed and Why?” in which Dr Hodkinson discusses the origins of the virus in China and the disastrous initial reaction by public health authorities. Here is an extract in which he homes in on the WHO:

Statistically speaking, given the probable origin of SARS and COVID-19 in China, the next pandemic is likely to originate there also. That’s a problem. China was secretive about the start of its local COVID-19 epidemic (and still is), wasting valuable weeks before alerting the WHO of its existence which then downplayed its significance for the rest of the world. An early warning system is a vital starting point for effective international response to future pandemics. Clearly, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the WHO cannot be trusted to act any differently in the future.

Furthermore, the (current) head of the WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, is not a physician as have been all his predecessors, and has questionable credentials to effectively lead such a vital international resource at a critical moment in world history. He has, at times, acted as China’s apologist in this whole fiasco, compounding the problem by disseminating China’s misinformation under the imprimatur of the WHO early in the pandemic.

A senior WHO official responsible for the global response to this pandemic, Dr. Michael Ryan, has actually stated that “we may have to enter homes and remove family members” if they are COVID-19 positive – but in a “dignified manner”. It would seem he thinks COVID-19 is as lethal as ebola or smallpox, which it most emphatically is not. Do we want ‘officials’ knocking at our doors in the middle of the night taking away our kids to control future pandemics? I think not, and to attempt such an assault on personal liberty would cause civil revolt. But that was exactly what the WHO recommended!

I believe a personal anecdote is also relevant here. Right in the middle of the SARS epidemic in 2003, I met with the team of WHO officials ‘managing’ the outbreak right in their war room at WHO headquarters in Geneva. There wasn’t a virologist in the room, and of the eight or so people present about half were nurses from obscure African countries doing an obligatory WHO secondment. To say it was a gong show is an understatement. The world was left to its own devices, and so it was initially with COVID-19.

The most rational explanation for the origin of the epidemic in China is not the Wuhan wet food market as the WHO immediately and confidently stated, but rather one of the virology labs in Wuhan doing environmental surveillance of bat corona viruses. There was almost certainly an accidental escape due to poor compliance with laboratory bio-safety procedures for which there have been many examples in China in recent years. COVID-19 was not a genetically engineered virus for use in biological warfare – the corona virus isn’t anywhere near lethal enough for that nefarious use, judging from the number who’ve died in China, unless the entire Chinese population had already been vaccinated against it!

I believe I have made my case that the WHO cannot be trusted, is politically compromised, and is actually incompetent in the discharge of its expected leadership role. But more importantly, the WHO is advocating extreme containment policies that cut to the very heart of personal freedom.

The article continues in the same trenchant, take-no-prisoners tone and is very much worth reading in full.

Vaccination Before Travel

It is happening! Qantas, Australia’s largest airline, is planning to make proof of having had vaccination a condition of travel. From ABC:

Speaking on Channel Nine’s A Current Affair on Monday night, Qantas boss Alan Joyce said he believed it would be a necessity for passengers to be vaccinated once a vaccine is available. And he said the company was looking into the possibility of requiring passengers to have a vaccination passport which would allow them to travel.

“We are looking at changing our terms and conditions, to say for international, that we will ask people to have a vaccination before getting on the aircraft,” Mr Joyce confirmed.

“We think for international visitors coming out, and people leaving the country, we think that’s a necessity.” The Qantas CEO said the company would consider the same requirements for domestic flights.

He said he had talked to the chief executives of other international carriers who were also considering making vaccination mandatory for travel.

A vaccination passport is being touted as a method of proving passengers have been vaccinated.

“What we’re looking at is how you can have a vaccination passport, an electronic version of it that certifies what the vaccine is,” Mr Joyce said.

“There’s a lot of logistics, a lot of technology to make this happen, but the airlines and the government are working on this as we speak.”

Worth reading in full.

Isn’t this is a little rash of Qantas? The big pharmaceutical companies are exempt from liability if a vaccine turns out to have harmful side effects, but not airlines. What if someone only gets vaccinated in order to fly on Qantas and then suffers serious harm? Won’t they be able to sue Qantas? Perhaps the Australian Government, which had to bail out the airline back in April and has probably ordered the CEO to make this announcement, has indemnified it.

They’ve Deprived Us of Our Freedom

A rave on Primrose Hill two weeks ago

A letter printed in the Camden New Journal on the real reason young people go to illegal raves is worth reproducing here in full. Hard to argue with.

Further to your report in March this year various governments decided to close the world down!

Nothing like this had ever happened before, although there had been lots of different viruses over the years. Anyone would think there was a deadly plague.

According to the BBC website, recently there had been 51,766 deaths from COVID-19 in the United Kingdom. But people die all the time.

An alternative heading for your story could have been: “Police drive clubbers to desperation.”

What has actually happened is that in March all venues were closed down and haven’t been allowed to reopen except under lots of restrictions, including social distancing.

Now they’re all closed again. This means there have been no clubs or gigs that people could go to. This is the real reason for the raves in Primrose Hill and on Hampstead Heath.

The police have been rigorously enforcing these regulations by telling venues that they must stay closed and that they will be fined if they open and run proper nights out, but the police ignore any laws they don’t like.

I’m very pleased to hear that there aren’t enough police to do much about these raves. I now plan to go there as soon as possible and join in.

It’s a pity that residents in Primrose Hill claim that they can’t get to sleep. But there are some simple things they can do about this. The obvious solution is just to wear earplugs or earmuffs.

If that doesn’t work then they could just sleep at a different time of the day because it probably doesn’t matter what time of day they sleep, due to the lockdown.

Another solution would be for the police to claim that it’s not their responsibility to stop venues from opening; it’s “a civil matter”, or to use their famous “discretionary powers” to get out of doing it.

As for people like Councillor Pat Callaghan, Holborn and St Pancras MP Sir Keir Starmer, and the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, I think they should all be locked up and deprived of their freedom, because that’s what they’ve been doing to the rest of us.

The first lockdown didn’t achieve anything except depriving people of their normal way of life and this one won’t either.

It’s sad when people die, but the rest of us must get on with our lives. I’m violently opposed to the COVID-19 propaganda and lockdown. I plan to help smash the lockdown by breaking all the restrictions.

I demand my life back. I want it back now!

Paul Brown

The CNJ‘s reports on the rave is available here. (Includes footage.)

More on Protest Pots and Pans

Facts about the pots and pans protest in Denmark and the change in the proposed epidemic law remain hard to verify, as one reader notes:

It is so strange that there is hardly any coverage on main stream news regarding the protests in Denmark. In the Twitter stream there are a few people saying it is not true. Hardly anyone backs up their story with a link to anything official, it all comes back to Twitter and The Local

He has found a story on a local news site, Jyllands-Posten, which does suggest that the story might be true and that the law may be redrafted: (Extracts courtesy of Google Translate)

There has been widespread criticism of the Government’s draft of a new and very far-reaching epidemic law that gives the incumbent Health Minister extensive powers… Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen promised that the Government will look at the bill together with the parliamentary parties. “We will look at the epidemic law again, we take the criticism seriously and a better balance must be found,” she said to the North Jutland radio channel ANR and thus warns of changes in the bill.

Since November 4th, a group of protesters has filled the square in front of Christiansborg with the noise of pots in an attempt to get the politicians’ attention. They want to stop the passage of the epidemic law because they fear that far-reaching powers will be implemented.

The article is available here.

Meanwhile, the idea of a pots-and-pans protest continues to capture our readers’ imagination. We had this in from one yesterday:

Why not go for this on Thursday at 7pm. Get people to flood social media with this protest. Maybe they might sit up and listen like in Denmark

And from another, suggesting an alternative target:

Maybe the pots and pans protest would work better staged outside local and national media stations and offices. Parked vehicles which then sound their horns for two minutes at a designated time would highlight to the purveyors of the scare stories that they cannot have everything their own way. Six o’clock every weekday evening say?

Lockdown: The Right Side of History

YouTuber Kate Wand’s latest video is on the morality of lockdowns, the suffering they cause and the price paid by those who oppose them. It is a reading/visualisation of Stacy Rudin’s article on the American Institute of Economic Research blog.

In the Covid debate, there is a mainstream, “popular” narrative, and a competing, “unpopular” narrative – a “fringe”. The former exploits the common, mediocre desire to be “popular”. Joining the movement is easy. It results in back-pats, validation, and requires no uncomfortable confrontations. This narrative states that it is impossible for humanity to survive the COVID-19 pandemic without a vaccine, lockdowns, and masks, some combination of which will be required into the indefinite future. The narrative supports blaming others for “infecting you” with diseases, rather than encouraging personal responsibility for immune and general health.

Proponents of the competing narrative, on the other hand, must stand up to massive social forces simply to make their arguments, which are not radical: they support a return to classic pandemic management tools, the same ones used by Sweden and other states and countries which did not lock down for COVID-19, which resulted in average mortality for 2020. They do not believe this pandemic warrants a complete overhaul of the economic, social, and educational systems. They believe that every human being should be empowered with truthful information about risk and how to best care for personal health, and to make his or her own choices.

Faced with these competing narratives, we must consider motives and costs. The force of social pressure to conform with the mainstream narrative is large, so we know from the outset that the people willing to argue against it are either insane, or extremely driven, courageous, and strong. It is easy to eliminate the possibility that they are crazy many of them, such as Elon Musk and the scientists who drafted the Great Barrington Declaration are giants in their fields. They risk everything, weathering exhausting personal attacks from all sides, in order to battle the crowd.

Both the article and the video are great and very much worth reading in full or watching in full.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Two today: “No More Tears (Enough is Enough)” by Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand and “The Great Escape – Main Title Music” by Elmer Bernstein.

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 so you can share it. To do that, click on the headline of a particular story and a link symbol will appear on the right-hand side of the headline. Click on the link and the URL of your page will switch to the URL of that particular story. You can then copy that URL and either email it to your friends or post it on social media. Please do share the stories.

Social Media Accounts

You can follow Lockdown Sceptics on our social media accounts which are updated throughout the day. To follow us on Facebook, click here; to follow us on Twitter, click here; to follow us on Instagram, click here; to follow us on Parler, click here; and to follow us on MeWe, click here.

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today we bring you an angsty piece from Teen Vogue, written in the aftermath of the elections across the pond: “Biden’s Call for ‘Unity’ doesn’t square with United States History“.

While it might seem that the country is uniquely divided right now, the United Sates is rooted in contradiction and divisiveness. It was founded through the genocide of Indigenous peoples and flourished through the enslavement of Africans. At its core, America’s values are white supremacy and capitalism. That is true no matter who has been in office.

Biden’s call for a “united America” boils down to nationalist propaganda. Americans have never been united and have been kept apart and pitted against one another by the state. From geographic segregation to immigration bans and racist policing, the United States has privileged the lives and security of some residents at the expense of others. Why should people who have been systematically oppressed, and who have struggled against the government for true freedom, be asked to hold hands with their oppressors?

When it looked for a moment on election night that Trump might take crucial swing states, I sunk into despair and fell asleep. When I woke up and it had become clearer that Biden was going to pull through, I didn’t feel excitement or even safety. I felt exhausted. The next four years will be very different from the Trump era, but they will still be a battle.

Read in full here, or if woke gobbledegook leaves you too exhausted to carry on, read this summary in Breitbart.

Stop Press: It is also worth reading about Senator Tom Cotton’s comments on the erasing of the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s arrival at Cape Cod. From MEAWW.

“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.

If you’re a shop owner and you want to let your customers know that you will not be insisting on face masks or asking them what their reasons for exemption are, you can download a friendly sign to stick in your window here.

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: Telegraph cartoonist Bob Moran has produced an illustrated thread on masks. It’s a must-read

Stop Press: Shakespeare was an anti-masker! A literary reader has sent us this verse from Venus and Adonis:

Long may they kiss each other, for this cure!
O, never let their crimson liveries wear!
And as they last, their verdure still endure,
To drive infection from the dangerous year!
That the star-gazers, having writ on death,
May say, the plague is banish’d by thy breath.

Venus and Adonis, 526 – 31

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 month and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it ever since. If you Googled it a week after launch, 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 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 approaching 700,000 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.

Update 2: Many of the signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration are involved with new UK anti-lockdown campaign Recovery. Find out more and join here.

Update 3: You can watch Sunetra Gupta set out the case for “Focused Protection” here and Jay Bhattacharya make it here.

Update 4: The three GBD authors plus Prof Carl Heneghan of CEBM have launched a new website collateralglobal.org, “a global repository for research into the collateral effects of the COVID-19 lockdown measures”.

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.

Stop Press: The GoodLawProject has announced that it is filing for Judicial Review over the Government’s recruitment of friends and acquaintances to lead key public health bodies. Read more 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.

Quotation Corner

It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.

Mark Twain

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.

Charles Mackay

They who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin

To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions…

Ideology – that is what gives the evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you never should trust experts. If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require to have their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.

Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury

Nothing would be more fatal than for the Government of States to get into the hands of experts. Expert knowledge is limited knowledge and the unlimited ignorance of the plain man, who knows where it hurts, is a safer guide than any rigorous direction of a specialist.

Sir Winston Churchill

If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science.

Richard Feynman

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

C.S. Lewis

The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants.

Albert Camus

We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.

Carl Sagan

Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

George Orwell

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

Marcus Aurelius

Necessity is the plea for every restriction of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

William Pitt the Younger

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 the latest episode of London Calling, Toby’s weekly podcast with James Delingpole, the two old friends get into quite a heated discussion about the recent US Presidential election result. James still insists that Trump won, while Toby is a little more sceptical. It’s one thing to take the views of CNN and MSNBC with a pinch of salt, but Trump’s legal team haven’t made any headway in the courts either. James gets so cross he calls Toby a “cuck” and says he wouldn’t want to be in a foxhole with him. The podcast was recorded before Trump effectively conceded yesterday, but Toby promises not to gloat next week.

You can listen to the podcast here and subscribe to it on iTunes here. Please recommend it to your friends – last week’s podcast was downloaded 13,052 times, the highest seven-day download the podcast has ever had.

Latest News

A “Careful and Limited” Christmas

Christmas decorations covered by tape in a Cardiff Home Bargains, from Wales Online Image: Matthew Horwood

Ministers from all the UK nations met yesterday to agree plans for the festive period. According to the Cabinet Office, they haven’t yet reached an agreement, although it tried to spin this as “progress”:

Welcoming the good progress made by all administrations over the past few days to design a single set of arrangements that can apply across the UK, Ministers reiterated the importance of allowing families and friends to meet in a careful and limited way, while recognising that this will not be a normal festive period and the risks of transmission remain very real.

As such, Ministers endorsed a shared objective of facilitating some limited additional household bubbling for a small number of days, but also emphasised that the public will be advised to remain cautious, and that wherever possible people should avoid travelling and minimise social contact. 

The Sun was one of several papers briefed on the plans under discussion:

What Brits can do this Christmas:

It is believed a limited number of households will be able to meet up indoors including at the pub

This effectively scraps the rule of six over the five-day period

The relaxed rules will likely come in on Christmas Eve through to the Bank Holiday on December 28

All four UK governments are working on a plan that will allow Brits to travel to meet family

Social bubbles will have to be announced in advance and social distancing is still in place – so hugs are still banned

Assuming the four nations can agree this ‘Christmas bonus’, are we supposed to be grateful? As the Mail on Sunday‘s political columnist Dan Hodges pointed out on Twitter, 12 months ago the idea that the Government would be “allowing” us to spend Christmas with our families and loved ones would have been unthinkable. Have we really been so cowed by the Government’s lurch into authoritarianism that this is good news?

Pubs and Restaurants Bear the Brunt Again

Bob’s Telegraph cartoon on April 3rd

Once again, the hospitality industry is to bear the brunt of Covid restrictions after the national lockdown ends on Dec 2nd. The Telegraph has the story:

Hospitality businesses in Tier 3 will only be allowed to offer takeaways, while those in Tier 2 will only be able to serve alcohol with “substantial meals”.

The measures – which are significantly tougher than under the previous tier system – were described as “catastrophic” by pub chiefs on Sunday night, with a warning that one million jobs are now on the line. While there is bad news for pubs, other restrictions will be lighter than under the old tier system. All shops will be allowed to open in all tiers, together with gyms and places of worship, while recreational sport, including golf, tennis and organised team sports can resume. Cinemas will be allowed to reopen in Tiers 1 and 2, and the advice to “work from home if you can” will remain across the country

What’s particularly cruel about this decision is that there’s no evidence that pubs and restaurants are a major source of infection. According to PHE’s own data, only 4% of COVID-19 outbreaks can be traced back to the venues. On what basis, therefore, is the Government decreeing that non-essential shops, cinemas and gyms can reopen, but pubs and restaurants in Tier 2 and Tier 3 areas have to remain closed?

Opposition is mounting on the Tory back-benches, with the 70-strong Covid Reform Group set to oppose the measures (see round-up below). But that will be small comfort to the affected businesses, particularly as Labour has said it will vote with the Government to get the new restrictions through.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, said the news was “far worse than anyone could have anticipated”.

She said: “This a cruel decision and it just feels as if the whole sector is being thrown to the wolves.

“If the tiers had stayed as they were until March, we were already expecting 94% of businesses in Tier 3 and 74% of businesses in Tier 2 to go to the wall. Now we have restrictions that are even worse.

“We make 25% of our profits in the run-up to Christmas and the Government is taking that away.

“This will have a catastrophic effect on a large number of businesses and all those jobs that were furloughed will now be lost. You are talking about the prospect of a million job losses and 30 to 40,000 premises closing their doors for good.”

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Iain Duncan Smith has written an excellent comment piece in today’s Daily Mail about the catastrophic impact the lockdown-in-all-but-name will have on the economy.

Papiere Bitte!

Several readers have drawn our attention to a new Government scheme which enjoys the backing of the former Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt. Details in the Mailonline:

Britons are set to be given Covid ‘freedom passes’ as long as they test negative for the virus twice in a week, it has been suggested. The details of the scheme are still being ironed out by officials in Whitehall, who hope it will allow the country to get back to normal next year.   

To earn the freedom pass, people will need to be tested regularly and, provided the results come back negative, they will then be given a letter, card or document they can show to people as they move around. 

The certificate would be stored on a phone, according to sources, and would allow people to live a relatively normal life until the Government’s vaccination programme gets up to the speed.  It would even allow Britons to get away without wearing a mask, it is thought, and visit family and friends without the need to socially distance. 

A source told the Telegraph: “They will allow someone to wander down the streets, and if someone else asks why they are not wearing a mask, they can show the card, letter or an App.” 

The connotations of such a scheme are of course, pretty grisly. Aren’t we supposed to be freeborn citizens living in a liberal democracy? Why should we have to earn our freedom every two days? It is worth remembering that Brits were carrying their wartime ID cards until 1952.

The Telegraph reports on talks between the Government and De La Rue, the passport manufacturers, to produce Covid travel certificates for those who’ve recently tested negative and who want to travel abroad:

Ministers have asked passport makers to provide Britons with secure certificates to prove they are not carrying coronavirus and help pave the way for a return to normality next year. City sources said companies including De La Rue are discussing certificates guaranteeing travellers have taken tests for the disease and are not infected. However, talks are at an early stage and could come to nothing, with uncertainty among officials about how to navigate an exit from the pandemic.

Worth reading in full.

We’re not convinced these certificates would only be necessary until a mass vaccination programme gets underway. If they’re put in place, what’s the betting that in six months time you won’t be able to go to the pub or go on holiday without a vaccination certificate?

Churches go Underground

Regular church-goers are following the example of religious people in Communist China and holding clandestine services. The Guardian has more:

Minimal information – time, directions – is quietly given with pleas for discretion. Once everyone is assembled in a barn on a remote farm – “away from prying eyes,” says the organiser – it begins.

This is no rave, but an English church service under lockdown, and the organiser is a Protestant pastor. The Christians who will gather illegally in the west of England on Sunday morning – as they have for the past two Sundays – will pray, read from the scriptures, sing hymns and listen to a sermon.

“We’ve been holding clandestine services since this lockdown began,” the pastor told the Observer, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It feels weird for us to act this way. People have said it feels more like an underground church in China.”

“I never thought I’d say this in Britain, but churches are going underground. These are not isolated cases – and the longer it goes on, more churches will join the movement,” said Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, a conservative evangelical group, and a member of the Church of England’s ruling body, the General Synod.

Andrew, a minister at a London church, said: “We’ve carried on as normal [during the current lockdown]. We’re holding a couple of services each Sunday, with about 160 people attending in total.

“We’ve asked people to be discreet. This is not a stunt we’re pulling, we’re not seeking publicity. It was a big decision – I’ve never practised civil disobedience before.”

Worth reading in full.

The story comes hot on the heels of the closure of bookshop and tearoom – The Mustard Seed – in Gedling which cited the Magna Carta in its bid to stay open. From the BBC:

The owner of the Mustard Seed in Gedling, Nottinghamshire, had already been fined a total of £17,000 for breaching coronavirus rules, the Council said.

She had argued she had a right under the Magna Carta and “common law” to remain open.

On Friday magistrates in Mansfield granted a closure order.

This means the business has to close immediately. Failure to do so could lead to imprisonment, a fine, or both, according to Gedling Borough Council.

Anyone visiting could face the same punishment

Stop Press: A hasidic syngogue in Brooklyn pulled off quite the coup in hosting a maskless wedding for the chief rabbi’s grandson. Details in the New York Post.

A Pots and Pans Protest

Pots and Pans – Protest essentials

It’s hard to come by news of the Danish Government’s reverse ferret on its new, draconian epidemic law – there’s been nothing in the mainstream media – but Lifesite seems to think it’s definitely true.

Nine days of public protest and criticism from medical and professional sources have reportedly forced the Danish Government to back down from its plan to impose a special law regarding diseases that are considered to be “socially critical”.

The draft “epidemilov”, or “epidemic law”, had provisions allowing the use of police to force vaccinations on certain groups defined by the state. While the ruling Social Democrat coalition Government intends to come back with a new or an amended draft law, public outrage has already ensured that it will be under intense scrutiny, especially since all parties except the Social Democrats have voiced their opposition.

This important news turned out to be hard to pin down and is still being presented as fake by Danish commentators on social media, with a number of users claiming to live in Denmark saying they had heard of no demonstrations or change of mind on the part of the Government. Indeed, mainstream international media, including MSN, were silent about the event, which would have gone unnoticed if it were not for local social media users who posted videos of the “pots and pans protest” that put pressure on Danish authorities.

The story has prompted several of our readers to suggest similar action here. We got this yesterday, for instance:

Bash pans for freedom every Thursday

The Danish overturned a mandatory vaccine law by crowds standing outside their Parliament for two weeks apparently though it’s difficult to confirm.

Nevertheless, every Thursday the whole country could come out and bash saucepans for freedom from government tyranny by safety-ism. When was it? 7pm?

No consent to covid-pass. No consent to mass testing. No consent to mandatory vaccination. No consent to Big Pharma given a free pass on financial responsibility for dangerous vaccines. No consent to fascistic policing. No consent to petty fines. No consent to their divide and rule of people with woke policies. No consent to draconian regulations or Acts of Parliament. No consent to rule by dictat

And from another reader:

I read with interest the idea of a pots and pans protest action. What about a service station protest? Where people meet at their nearest service stations, stay in their individual cars and honk their horns/display messages of freedom? I do think people need to be in the same space physically for it to have any impact and I suspect any ban on protesting will remain after lockdown

Even in Japan

A reader has been in touch with more on the Japanese protest outside Shinjuku station in Tokyo that we flagged up a few days ago.

Thought you might be interested to know that resistance is building even among the super polite, face mask-fetishising Japanese. I chanced upon a protest today outside Shinjuku station in Tokyo. There are minimal restrictions here, but the participants are still angry about the pressure to wear face masks at all times, social distancing requirements, Zoom-only university classes, and the constant Corona ‘case numbers’ updates. “We know it’s all bullshit and we’ve had enough,” said one of the organisers I spoke to. There are apparently three separate sceptic groups here but they collaborate closely. There were 800 gathered outside the Japanese Diet building last week, and there was a ‘no mask excursion’ on one of the train lines recently. Interestingly, this protest was extremely good natured, jolly even, and there were zero police in attendance.

Oh, and the sign reads “Corona is a farce”.

Clarification

Yesterday’s item on asymptomatic spread suggested that the results of the Wuhan study were at variance with new guidance from the CDC. This was to misread the CDC’s guidance which was in fact talking about the risk of presymptomatic and asymptomatic spread combined, not just warning of the risk of asymptomatic transmission. Consequently, the CDC’s advice is compatible with the results from Wuhan – at a pinch.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Five Today: “Year of the Plague” by Steven Wilson, “Here Come Those Tears Again” by Jackson Browne, “Tears of A Clown” by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, “My Life” by Billy Joel and “Take Back The Power” by The Interrupters

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. To do that, click on the headline of a particular story and a link symbol will appear on the right-hand side of the headline. Click on the link and the URL of your page will switch to the URL of that particular story. You can then copy that URL and either email it to your friends or post it on social media. Please do share the stories.

Social Media Accounts

You can follow Lockdown Sceptics on our social media accounts which are updated throughout the day. To follow us on Facebook, click here; to follow us on Twitter, click here; to follow us on Instagram, click here; to follow us on Parler, click here; and to follow us on MeWe, click here.

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today we bring you a multi-coloured mural of Winston Churchill in Cannon place in Brighton, which attracted complaints – but not for the reason you think. The Telegraph has more.

A mural of Winston Churchill wearing stockings and suspenders and giving the V sign (pictured) has attracted complaints from locals who claim the hand gesture is 'offensive'

A multi-coloured mural of Winston Churchill wearing stockings and suspenders was bound to raise eyebrows when it appeared on a wall in one of Brighton’s busiest streets.

However, it is not the former Prime Minister’s suggestive lingerie which has attracted complaints from locals – but the trademark “V” sign he is making with his right hand.

The owner of the property next to where the mural is painted, in Cannon Place, was shocked when he received a call from the Council to say a passer-by had found the gesture offensive. They seemingly believed that Churchill was swearing.

Mr Phillips, who runs the Sandpiper guest house, told the Telegraph he was flabbergasted it was not Churchill’s near-naked bottom half which had prompted criticism, but perhaps the most iconic symbol of Britain’s victory in the Second World War.

“The mural was painted a month ago and a week later the Council contacted me. I thought the complaints were going to be about the stockings – and people told me politicians do a lot of strange things! But people take pictures in front of it all the time. This is Brighton after all, and it’s better than having graffiti on the wall.

“The Council said someone would come over to paint over the hands, which would look really bad. They called me half an hour later and apologised and said it was going to stay.”

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.

If you’re a shop owner and you want to let your customers know you will not be insisting on face masks or asking them what their reasons for exemption are, you can download a friendly sign to stick in your window here.

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 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 month and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it ever since. If you Googled it a week after launch, 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 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 approaching 700,000 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.

Update 2: Many of the signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration are involved with new UK anti-lockdown campaign Recovery. Find out more and join here.

Update 3: You can watch Sunetra Gupta set out the case for “Focused Protection” here and Jay Bhattacharya make it here.

Update 4: The three GBD authors plus Prof Carl Heneghan of CEBM have launched a new website collateralglobal.org, “a global repository for research into the collateral effects of the COVID-19 lockdown measures”.

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 and over 100 church leaders are JR-ing the Government over its insistence on closing churches during the lockdowns. Read 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.

Quotation Corner

It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.

Mark Twain

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.

Charles Mackay

They who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin

To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions…

Ideology – that is what gives the evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you never should trust experts. If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require to have their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.

Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury

Nothing would be more fatal than for the Government of States to get into the hands of experts. Expert knowledge is limited knowledge and the unlimited ignorance of the plain man, who knows where it hurts, is a safer guide than any rigorous direction of a specialist.

Sir Winston Churchill

If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science.

Richard Feynman

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

C.S. Lewis

The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants.

Albert Camus

We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.

Carl Sagan

Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

George Orwell

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

Marcus Aurelius

Necessity is the plea for every restriction of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

William Pitt the Younger

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

Lockdown 2.0 to End in Tiers

Boris is expected to announce his post-lockdown Covid plans on Monday. The Telegraph has the details.

England’s national lockdown will end on Dec 2nd but be replaced by a new harsher three-tier system, Boris Johnson will announce on Monday.

More areas will be placed into the higher tiers than before the lockdown after warnings from SAGE scientists that the previous levels of restrictions were not strong enough and a tougher regional approach was needed.

The Telegraph can also reveal that everywhere from factories and offices to towns and cities will be blitzed with mass testing if cases start to rise, under plans to be set out this week.

The Prime Minister’s “Covid winter plan” is expected to place more areas into the higher tiers to ensure further restrictions are not needed.

While some local measures will be similar to those in the previous system, some tiers will be strengthened to safeguard the gains made during the national lockdown.

Last night it emerged that the 10pm curfew for restaurants and pubs – which has been severely criticised by Tory MPs – is likely to be extended to 11pm when the tiers are published on Monday.   

Final details will be signed off at a meeting of the Cabinet today. Details of the new tougher tiers system, which comes into force on Dec 3rd, will be announced on Monday, with the final decision on which areas are in which tiers on Thursday. The plan will set out how people will be able to spend their Christmas, but ministers have made clear that the ­festive season will be different to ­normal, with some restrictions expected to remain in place.

This is sad news indeed, not least as it suggests the lockdown logic of the likes of Professor Ferguson is still dominating Downing Street thinking, with small relief to be taken from the curfew on bars being moved to 11pm. Happily it looks like Boris can expect stiff resistance from the Conservative back benches.

Boris Johnson’s plans for a new toughened three-tiered system to replace the national lockdown next week is under threat after 70 Conservative MPs threatened to veto the plans in Parliament. The Tory MPs on Saturday wrote to the Prime Minister saying they could not support further new restrictions if the Government does not publish an economic analysis of the impact of the restrictions… The number of signatories to the letter is more than enough than the 43 Tory MPs to defeat the Government’s 85-strong working majority in the Commons if Labour votes against the plans when they are put to MPs next week.

Referring to the previous tiered system of restrictions, which were not as onerous as the ones set to be proposed this week, the Conservative MPs told Mr Johnson: “The tiered restrictions approach in principle attempts to link virus prevalence with measures to tackle it, but it’s vital we remember always that even the tiered system of restrictions infringes deeply upon people’s lives with huge health and economic costs.”

It is also worth listening to the Planet Normal podcast interview with Steve Baker, Vice-Char of the Covid Recovery group, on the prospects of a back bench rebellion.

Stop Press: A Telegraph survey has found that one in four will break the rules at Christmas.

There is No Asymptomatic Spread

A new paper in Nature has struck a blow against the Covid orthodoxy of asymptomatic spread. Following the lockdown, the city government of Wuhan conducted a city-wide nucleic acid screening for SARS-CoV-2. It was carried out on an impressive scale:

There were 10,652,513 eligible people aged ≥6 years in Wuhan (94.1% of the total population). The nucleic acid screening was completed in 19 days (from May 14th, 2020 to Jun 1st, 2020), and tested a total of 9,899,828 persons from the 10,652,513 eligible people (participation rate, 92.9%). Of the 9899,828 participants, 9,865,404 had no previous diagnosis of COVID-19, and 34,424 were recovered COVID-19 patients.

The results make good reading for lockdown sceptics.

The detection rate of asymptomatic positive cases was very low, and there was no evidence of transmission from asymptomatic positive persons to traced close contacts. There were no asymptomatic positive cases in 96.4% of the residential communities.

Previous studies have shown that asymptomatic individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus were infectious, and might subsequently become symptomatic. Compared with symptomatic patients, asymptomatic infected persons generally have low quantity of viral loads and a short duration of viral shedding, which decrease the transmission risk of SARS-CoV-2. In the present study, virus culture was carried out on samples from asymptomatic positive cases, and found no viable SARS-CoV-2 virus. All close contacts of the asymptomatic positive cases tested negative, indicating that the asymptomatic positive cases detected in this study were unlikely to be infectious.

The report in Nature is a bit technical, but very much worth reading in full.

Lockdown Sceptics readers will recall that Dr Maria van Kerkhove, the technical lead of COVID-19 response and the head of the emerging diseases and zoonosis unit at the World Health Organisation, said the same thing about asymptomatic transmission at a WHO press conference on June 8th:

Question: It’s a question about asymptomatic transmission, if I may. I know the WHO’s previously said there are no documented cases of this. We had a story out of Singapore saying that at least half of the new cases they are seeing have no symptoms and I’m wondering whether its possible this has a bigger role than the WHO initially thought in propagating the pandemic.

Dr Maria Van Kerkhove: We have a number of reports from countries who are doing very detailed contact tracing. They are following asymptomatic cases, they are following contacts and they are not finding secondary transmission onward. It’s very rare and much of that is not published in the literature.

The comment drew sharp criticism at the time, and the WHO swiftly explained that there had been a “misunderstanding”. We will look out for a further update.

Stop Press: The Centre for Disease Control might also want to take a look at these results. They have just released new guidance saying that “Most SARS-CoV-2 infections are spread by people without symptoms“. Not in Wuhan they weren’t.

Covid Immunity is for the Long Haul

Another good news study. This time on the long-term immune responses to Covid. Details in Nature:

The immune system’s memory of the new coronavirus lingers for at least six months in most people. Sporadic accounts of coronavirus reinfection and reports of rapidly declining antibody levels have raised concerns that immunity to SARS-CoV-2 could dwindle within weeks of recovery from infection. Shane Crotty at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology in California and his colleagues analysed markers of the immune response in blood samples from 185 people who had a range of COVID-19 symptoms; 41 study participants were followed for at least 6 months. The team found that participants’ immune responses varied widely. But several components of immune memory of SARS-CoV-2 tended to persist for at least 6 months. 

The study has not been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal but it is the most comprehensive long-range study on immune memory to the coronavirus to date. The New York Times has further details.

Eight months after infection, most people who have recovered still have enough immune cells to fend off the virus and prevent illness, the new data show. A slow rate of decline in the short term suggests, happily, that these cells may persist in the body for a very, very long time to come.

“That amount of memory would likely prevent the vast majority of people from getting hospitalized disease, severe disease, for many years,” said Shane Crotty, a virologist at the La Jolla Institute of Immunology who co-led the new study.

The research squares with findings from elsewhere.

The findings are consistent with encouraging evidence emerging from other labs. Researchers at the University of Washington, led by the immunologist Marion Pepper, had earlier shown that certain “memory” cells that were produced following infection with the coronavirus persist for at least three months in the body.

A study published last week also found that people who have recovered from COVID-19 have powerful and protective killer immune cells even when antibodies are not detectable.

This is happy news, but it came as no surprise to Dr Yeadon, commenting on the NYT article:

Genuinely good news, but not a surprise. Per the article, those recovered from SARS still have vigorous T-cell responses 17y later. Humans are good at becoming immune to this virus. That’s great. That’s why vaccines work yet will be needed by so few.

Twitter, @MichaelYeadon3 17 Nov 8.47 pm

The NYT article is worth reading in full.

You can read the study here.

Protests Spreading Faster than the Virus

A protestor holds aloft a quote from Dr Mike Yeadon at a rally in Bournemouth

Hundreds came out to march against the lockdown yesterday in Bournemouth, Liverpool, Basildon and Hyde Park. The Daily Mail has a full report.

At least 22 people have today been arrested after anti-lockdown protesters clashed with police when hundreds took to the streets in an ongoing fight against coronavirus restrictions.   

Rallies were held in Bournemouth, London and Liverpool, where a growing crowd chanted “freedom” as they marched through the city centre in the rain this afternoon.

The group in Merseyside were shepherded by police, who later moved in to make arrests, with some demonstrators seen being pepper sprayed as they grappled with officers on the ground. It is thought that the protest began at 1pm and started with around 100 people gathered on Church Street before the group grew significantly in size.

At least 13 people were arrested during the demonstration in Liverpool, Merseyside Police confirmed. Among those detained was a 36 year-old man from Kirkby, who was arrested on suspicion of assault of an emergency worker after an officer was pushed to the chest on Church Street.   

Rallies were also held in London, where the Metropolitan Police confirmed four were arrested for breach of COVID-19 regulations after gathering at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park.

Officers confirmed those detained remained in custody this afternoon while the “remainder of the crowd have been dispersed”.     

Michael Walsh, of the Central West Command Unit, said: “We take reports of breaches of COVID-19 restrictions seriously. We are still in a pandemic and it is extremely selfish of a small minority of people to carry on without regard for the regulations.”

There were similar scenes on the south coast, with social distancing nowhere to be seen as activists marched through the seaside town of Bournemouth, holding placards reading “freedom” and “the pandemic is over”.

As street protests are repeatedly being met with arrests and dispersal orders, here’s an idea from a reader, previously posted in the comments, but worth flagging here following yesterday’s item.

Shall we set in motion “unarrestable” protests?

Say, on 1/12/20, i.e. before they renew lockdown from December 2nd, an en masse sit in in cars outside of parliament hooting horns.

Or in the queues caused by extra London cycle lanes.

Or on motorways (a go-slow, like when they tried to increase fuel duty).

Or even everyone, everywhere in the country wherever they are but at a given time (will have to be co-ordinated) all hooting their horns.

A bit like the gilets jaune protests but no-one is breaking the law

On the subject of protests, another reader has asked an interesting question.

Just curious in light of all the news about retailers going into administration. Why do you think they are not taking out full-page adverts in the major newspapers to complain about the lockdown?

Locally, various retail-park retailers including the Range, Poundland and B&M are still open and crammed to the gunwales with COVID-19-transmitting (ahem) people bringing their kids for a trip out, while TK Maxx, Debenhams and Ikea are closed.

Why have clothes and shoes shops been closed? Are they not selling essential items? All it’s done is force people who need ‘essential’ coats and shoes into the food retailers. It feels like the major non-food retailers are somehow benefitting from the enforced lockdown. How? Why? And why are the other retailers not complaining loudly?

Your comments welcomed! Sending this to my MP who will ignore it.

If anyone has thoughts on this, and feels like stepping in for the MP, do please get in touch here.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Just one song today: “Don’t fence me in” by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters.

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’re flagging up an item from the Society books section of the Guardian: “How ‘woke’ became the word of our era.”

But what is ‘woke’? Most online dictionaries define it as a perceived awareness of inequality and other forms of injustice that are normally racial in nature. A few describe the term as characterising people who are merely ‘with it’– as in, every cool kid you knew at uni. And increasingly, these days, many use it as a pejorative term to describe someone who is a slave to identity politics. How can all three possibly be the same? It’s a sensibility, a quality, a state of being, a feeling backed up by a set of actions, sometimes all these things at once.

I can’t think of a word that reflects the era as well as ‘woke’ does. There is its relative newness (it was born and grew up alongside social media), its popularity as a hashtag and its political implications and activist leanings. There’s also its journey from black culture to the internet and mainstream news. All theses qualities are extremely particular to this moment.

Confession: I dislike the word (especially since 2016, when MTV declared the term the new “on fleek”.) Ironic, considering I am textbook woke. I identified with what it was but cringe at what it has come to mean, and bristle at the way the word is now weaponised. The disparity compels me to interrogate the term and its evolution. As Susan Sontag writes in Notes on ‘Camp’, which inspired this essay, “no one who wholeheartedly shares in a given sensibility can analyse it; he can only, whatever his intention, exhibit it. To name a sensibility, to draw its contours and to recount its history, requires a deep sympathy modified by revulsion.” So let’s consider what woke is, and what it isn’t…

If woke gobbledegook is the sort of thing you enjoy, this article is most definitely worth reading in full.

Alternatively, read John Redwood’s latest post on his blog: “Politically correct speaking.”

Stop Press: Another literary giant has fallen foul of woke standards. This time its Ted Hughes. The British Library has flagged the poet as implicated in the slave trade thanks to the actions of a distant ancestor.

“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.

If you’re a shop owner and you want to let your customers know you want be insisting on face masks or asking them what their reasons for exemption are, you can download a friendly sign to stick in your window here.

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 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 month and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it ever since. If you Googled it a week after launch, 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 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 approaching 700,000 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.

Update 2: Many of the signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration are involved with new UK anti-lockdown campaign Recovery. Find out more and join here.

Update 3: You can watch Sunetra Gupta set out the case for “Focused Protection” here and Jay Bhattacharya make it here.

Update 4: The three GBD authors plus Prof Carl Heneghan of CEBM have launched a new website collateralglobal.org, “a global repository for research into the collateral effects of the COVID-19 lockdown measures”.

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 and over 100 church leaders are JR-ing the Government over its insistence on closing churches during the lockdowns. Read 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.

Quotation Corner

It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.

Mark Twain

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.

Charles Mackay

They who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin

To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions…

Ideology – that is what gives the evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you never should trust experts. If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require to have their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.

Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury

Nothing would be more fatal than for the Government of States to get into the hands of experts. Expert knowledge is limited knowledge and the unlimited ignorance of the plain man, who knows where it hurts, is a safer guide than any rigorous direction of a specialist.

Sir Winston Churchill

If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science.

Richard Feynman

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

C.S. Lewis

The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants.

Albert Camus

We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.

Carl Sagan

Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

George Orwell

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

Marcus Aurelius

Necessity is the plea for every restriction of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

William Pitt the Younger, House of Commons 18 November 1783

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…

Check out this bit from Simon Evans’s set at Comedy Unleashed. He performed the same set at the Free Speech Union’s comedy night, but this was the following day – on November 4th, our last day of freedom. Should raise a smile.

Latest News

If Lockdown Was a Drug, Would We Use It?

On Thursday I asked why lockdowns aren’t subject to the same rigorous safety and efficacy protocols as drugs and vaccines despite their huge collateral harms for questionable pay-offs. Today we’re publishing an original piece by three scientific researchers that looks at exactly this question.

The authors are Dr Kerry Nield, Dr Juergen Dobmeyer and Dr David Cook, who between them have over 60 years’ experience in the field of drug development and clinical research. So they know what they’re talking about when they say: if Lockdown was a drug, we would not use it. From the introduction:

One of the central tenets of healthcare provision is that all patients have the right to expect equal treatment. Unfortunately, much as we might wish to offer the best treatments to all, there are only finite resources available and so it is necessary to balance the needs of different patients to ensure their fairest distribution. This is a difficult balancing act, but over the years we have developed approaches to ensure such judgements are as objective and as equitable as possible. In the UK, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is responsible for doing this, but the approaches taken by NICE are not unique and similar methods are used by healthcare systems around the world.

Non-pharmaceutical interventions such as the imposition of societal restrictions, ‘lockdowns’, aim to have clinical outcomes i.e., a reduction in COVID-19 cases and deaths. However, unlike almost all other medical inventions these have not been subjected to the normal assessments used to test their effectiveness and worth.

So, what if lockdowns were a new treatment, ‘Lockdown™’, would we use it?

Three important areas are considered by authorities before a new therapeutic is recommended for use:

1. Efficacy and cost effectiveness
2. Safety and the Benefit/Risk profile
3. Lost opportunity cost

This is a thorough, professional analysis of the question by specialists in the field and is not to be missed. We’ve given it a permanent home on the right-hand menu and you can read it in full here.

Covid Crazy: How One Man’s White Lie Locked Down a State

What follows is a guest post by Lockdown Sceptics regular Guy de la Bédoyère on the farce going on down-under.

I can’t be alone in feeling a mild sense of panic that we are being engulfed in a form of lockdown madness. It’s everywhere now. Northern Ireland gets out of one lockdown and throws itself straight back into another. SAGE ‘experts’ have even dreamed up a bizarre form of punitive transactional lockdowns for England: one day off, five days of flagellation back in the clink as retribution for “giving Granny Covid for Xmas”. Christ, it’s like some dystopian vision of public schools.

It seems a thousand years since Imperial College’s infamous 500,000-deaths report from March conceded that it was ‘not at all certain suppression will succeed long-term’ and that attempting measures with such disruptive consequences had never been tried before. Looking back now, Neil Ferguson and his Hole in the Wall Gang sound like lockdown sceptics. Almost.

But now lockdown has become a way of life and government policy. Indeed, in some places it’s the only government policy (apart from not accepting responsibility for anything). In an astonishing development, it turns out South Australia’s instant overnight lockdown was triggered by a lie. A pizza restaurant worker claimed to have caught the virus after a single visit to the pizzeria, not mentioning that he worked there. State officials knew that another employee had tested positive and assumed the strain in question must be incredibly virulent if this young man had become infected after one visit. In a moment of frantic overreaction, the government of South Australia ordered an instant shutdown, throwing businesses back into turmoil and ensuring the masses would immediately pile into their cars to buy life-saving toilet paper in industrial quantities. That’s how a nuclear war could get started.

It’s our version of the 1518 dancing mania that broke out in Strasbourg, a mass psychogenic illness, triggered by a young woman who started spontaneously dancing in public. Sounds familiar? With nerves frayed to the bare bone, people crippled with anxiety provoked by razor brains like Professor Andrew Hayward of SAGE the other day, and stress afflicting everyone from politicians to the residents suffering from dementia in care homes, the conditions are ripe for panic-stricken lockdowns ranging from state sponsored hysteria to individual self-imposed gibbering behind locked front doors.

Even though the vaccine has hoved into view on the horizon, I rather think we’d better grit our teeth and prepare for more of this mania in the last few weeks and months of Lockdown World. South Australia won’t be the last place to go bonkers.

To define true madness, what is’t but to be nothing else but mad? (Hamlet 2.2)

Stop Press: Guy has a piece in the Telegraph reflecting on how “our ancestors would be baffled by our hysterical response to this modern plague“.

Covid Infections Continue to Drop

The latest ONS infection survey published yesterday shows new infections in England continuing to fall. Matt Hancock predictably tried to claim it was the lockdown wot dunnit, despite the ONS concurring with ICL’s REACT study and KCL’s ZOE App that infections were falling before lockdown began on November 5th.

Professor Neil Ferguson was at large again yesterday warning that we now must keep lockdowns in place to avoid a third wave.

We now have clear evidence that Tier 3 measures were working to bring down infection rates in some areas. Tier 2 was also having an impact, but a smaller one. The decision is a political one, but if we don’t want to see infection levels rebound from December 3rd my assessment is that measures between Tier 2 and Tier 3 will be necessary in the great majority of locations.

Clear evidence Tier 3 works? Right, let’s have a look shall we. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of places where positive “cases” peaked and began to fall before Tier 3 (or in some cases Tier 2) was imposed:

  • Liverpool was placed in Tier 3 on October 14th but positive cases had been declining since October 8th, six days earlier.
  • West Lancashire was placed in Tier 3 on October 17th but positive cases had been declining since October 13th, four days earlier
  • Manchester was placed in Tier 3 on October 23rd but positive cases had been declining since October 1st, 22 days earlier.
  • Sheffield was placed in Tier 3 on October 24th but positive cases had been declining since October 8th, 16 days earlier
  • Warrington was placed in Tier 3 on October 29th but positive cases had been declining since October 27th, two days earlier
  • Nottingham was placed in Tier 3 on October 29th but positive cases had been declining since October 9th, 20 days earlier
  • Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire was placed in Tier 3 on October 30th but positive cases had been declining since October 20th, 10 days earlier.

It’s that pernicious myth again, put about by Ferguson and the SAGE modellers, that COVID-19 epidemics only peak and decline once restrictions they’ve recommended are introduced. Yet in Sweden infections declined in April without any new restrictions, and in Switzerland infections are currently declining despite no new restrictions being imposed.

WHO Europe director Hans Kluge has warned that Europe faces a “tough six months” waiting for a vaccine, noting that Switzerland in particular has intensive care units operating at 95% capacity. However, the “Swiss Doctor” Covid fact site has pointed out that this doesn’t take into account all Swiss intensive care beds, and that the high occupancy level is not unusual for winter.

Recently, a lot has been reported internationally about the utilization of Swiss intensive care units. The fact is: the certified intensive care beds are used to almost 100%, the currently available intensive care beds to 79% , and the maximum available intensive care beds to approx. 56%.

Occupancy rates between 85-100% are the norm in winter, and overloads in Swiss intensive care units, including postponing operations and moving patients, are also common during strong flu waves. In 2015, the price watchdog criticized the fact that Swiss hospitals were underutilised with an average of 80% occupancy.

Switzerland’s spring wave never produced above average mortality so the strength of this autumn surge is likely to be in part a delay of the first wave. And in any case, the epidemic appears already to be on the decline with no lockdown necessary.

In England we see from ONS data that regions have tended to go into decline before they reach 2.5% infection rate, sometimes well before. This appears to be independent of the varied restrictions imposed on them, and in many local areas (Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, etc.) occurred prior to new restrictions coming in.

These are not the patterns of a viral epidemic being kept under control primarily by lockdowns but rather by natural limitations such as the availability of susceptible hosts. The evidence is clear that local restrictions are no more necessary to cause a COVID-19 epidemic to peak and decline than national restrictions are, whatever Hancock and Ferguson may say.

Stop Press: Camilla Tominey has put together a great short video in the Telegraph rubbishing the government’s data for Lockdown II and showing all the ways it was wrong. Unfortunately, she then argues the tier system was working, but don’t let that put you off because the skewering of Witless and Unbalanced’s dodgy dossier is beautiful.

Bang Pots and Pans to Protest Lockdown

Two Lockdown Sceptics readers emailed us today independently with the same idea. Maybe there’s something in it.

The first reader pointed out that in Denmark during the nine-day protests that overturned the law mandating the vaccine for some groups they banged pots and pans. “If everyone came out of their front door, say, every Friday at 7pm and banged pots and pans to show we don’t consent might it catch on?”

The second reader wrote:

I am trying to get something off the ground for those like me disabled and not able to get to protests, plus everybody around the country. The plan would be on Sunday December 27th and Sunday January 3rd everyone should get out on their doorsteps with a saucepan and bang for an end to this Covid nonsense and freedom. The police could do nothing to stop it and if it was publicised by all those supporting getting out of what the Government is doing to us now it really could be big. Maybe I am dreaming but who knows.

Friday or Sunday, weekly or one off? Time to put it out there on social media and see if it flies: #PotsPansProtest.

Escape YouTube Censorship

An executive from odysee.com got in touch to say there is an alternative to the petty censors at Google.

With the Anna Brees situation I figured I’d check-in. All anyone needs to do is sign up at odysee.com and we can copy an entire YouTube channel over, on an ongoing basis. It takes just a minute.

What’s going on is absolutely awful and we’re extremely committed to keeping this content safe and available. Anything you can do to spread the word would be greatly appreciated. 

Stop Press: Maybe Unlocked – the anti-lockdown embryonic TV channel – should move its YouTube channel to odysee, following the social media company’s decision to censor its interview with Dr Mike Yeadon yesterday. Happily, Facebook hasn’t yet followed suit and you can watch the video here.

Devil’s Dictionary

More entries have come in for the Covid version of the Devil’s Dictionary. (You can see the first set here, the second set here and the third set here.)

Contrarian, n. Someone who disagrees with one’s opinion. (qv controversialist).

Libertarian, n. A selfish person who cares more about themselves than others (qv Granny killer)

Free speech, n. Hate speech; misinformation; fake news.

Civil liberties, n. Antiquated “freedoms” beloved of granny-killing libertarians, based on rose-tinted and historically illiterate misinterpretations of English historical events such as the signing of the Magna Carta, the glorious revolution of 1688, etc.

Protest, n. (1) Pejorative: The propagation of misinformation and conspiracy theories, sometimes accompanied by the defiance of social distancing by granny-killing libertarians and believers in the old normal. (2) Complimentary: The courageous and laudable advocacy of certain approved causes related to environmentalism and anti-racism.

Fact check, n. The replacement of an inconvenient set of contested statements and opinions with a convenient set of contested statements and opinions.

Expert, n. Credentialled scientist/researcher/academic whose opinion one agrees with. (qv “The science”).

Pseudo-expert, n. Credentialled scientist/researcher/academic whose opinion one does not agree with. (qv charlatan/outlier/controversialist).

Death with covid, n. Unacceptable, tragic, entirely avoidable cessation of life which must be be prevented at absolutely any cost whatsoever.

Death from other cause, n. The human condition.

Flatten the curve, v. Archaic. The original meaning of this phrase has been lost to history (qv squash the sombrero).

Herd immunity, n. (1) Scientific myth peddled by pseudo-experts and charlatans, based on the discredited notion that the human immune system can, without unprecedented societal transformation and the advent of a vaccine, cope with a virus without suffering a calamitous collapse. (2) Genocidal strategy proposed by granny-killing libertarians in order to kill as many grannies as possible.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Four today: “Freedom come freedom go” by the Fortunes, “C*nts are still running the world” by Jarvis Cocker, “We’re All Criminals” by Right Said Fred and “Can’t Stop Christmas” by Robbie Williams.

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, the BBC’s diversity drive. From the Times.

The views of white men must not be allowed to dominate decisions about the BBC’s news coverage, according to a senior executive.

Jonathan Munro, head of newsgathering, said that the corporation’s diversity drive was necessary because too many senior editorial positions had been held by Caucasian males.

Mr Munro also admitted that the national broadcaster and other news organisations were blindsided by the failings that led to the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 because so few journalists had grown up on housing estates.

Tim Davie, the new BBC director-general, has made diversity one of his priorities, promising to transform the corporation into a “50/20/12 organisation” – with a workforce that is 50% female, at least 20% black, Asian and minority ethnic, and 12% disabled. Recruitment policies are also being rewritten so that bosses hire fewer people with private-school educations and Oxbridge degrees to address perceptions that it is dominated by upper middle-class graduates.

Mr Munro said that when he joined from ITN in 2014 every editor in BBC newsgathering was a white man. The only woman at that level, Stephanie Flanders, the economics editor, had just left to join JP Morgan. “I don’t think anybody can possibly think that that’s right [or] justifiable,” said Mr Munro, who is white.

Creating a “pipeline” of diverse young staff who could be trained to take leadership roles had “changed the complexion of what we do on air for the better. We don’t want all our editorial meetings to be dominated by what white people think. We don’t want any single group in society to dominate our editorial thinking, because we are not being diverse in our thought process.”

Racial stereotypes and pigeon-holing, obsession with people having the right skin colour, patronising, anti-meritocratic recruitment policies, and an underlying hostility and delegitimising of one racial group because of their skin colour. What century is this again? And one thing the BBC can hardly be accused of is not going on about race enough.

You can listen to the Media Masters podcast in which Jonathan Munro made these remarks here. Funnily enough, he didn’t end his interview by announcing he would stand aside in favour of a woman of colour.

“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.

If you’re a shop owner and you want to let your customers know you want be insisting on face masks or asking them what their reasons for exemption are, you can download a friendly sign to stick in your window here.

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 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 month and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it ever since. If you Googled it a week after launch, 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 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 approaching 700,000 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.

Update 2: Many of the signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration are involved with new UK anti-lockdown campaign Recovery. Find out more and join here.

Update 3: You can watch Sunetra Gupta set out the case for “Focused Protection” here and Jay Bhattacharya make it here.

Update 4: The three GBD authors plus Prof Carl Heneghan of CEBM have launched a new website collateralglobal.org, “a global repository for research into the collateral effects of the COVID-19 lockdown measures”.

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 and over 100 church leaders are JR-ing the Government over its insistence on closing churches during the lockdowns. Read 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.

Quotation Corner

It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.

Mark Twain

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.

Charles Mackay

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin

To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions…

Ideology – that is what gives the evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you never should trust experts. If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require to have their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.

Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury

Nothing would be more fatal than for the Government of States to get into the hands of experts. Expert knowledge is limited knowledge and the unlimited ignorance of the plain man, who knows where it hurts, is a safer guide than any rigorous direction of a specialist.

Sir Winston Churchill

If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science.

Richard Feynman

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

C.S. Lewis

The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants.

Albert Camus

We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.

Carl Sagan

Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

George Orwell

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

Marcus Aurelius

Necessity is the plea for every restriction of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

William Pitt the Younger, House of Commons 18 November 1783

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…

Toby appeared on talkRADIO yesterday to talk about the extreme Covid censorship being perpetrated by technology companies online and now the Labour Party is joining in. Watch him here.

Stop Press: Professor Carl Heneghan and Tom Jefferson’s Spectator piece summarising the findings of the Danish mask study was censored by Facebook yesterday because it was supposedly “false information”. Carl tweeted: “Here’s what happened when I posted our latest @spectator article to Facebook – I’m aware this is happening to others – what has happened to academic freedom and freedom of speech? There is nothing in this article that is ‘false'”. This is extraordinary overreach on the part of Facebook, presuming to tell an Oxford professor writing in a mainstream magazine about a peer-reviewed study that he is wrong and may not write about it on their site. Who do they think they are?