Health Secretary Matt Hancock led yesterday’s Covid press conference from Downing Street and struck a non-committal note regarding any timetable for exit from restrictions. Katy Balls in the Spectator has more.
As ministers voice their hope that the country can start to lift restrictions from early March, questions are being asked as to when restrictions can go altogether and normal life resume. Members of the Tory Covid Recovery Group have argued that most restrictions should go as soon as the vulnerable are protected. While officials remain tight-lipped on the issue, Matt Hancock did offer an insight in today’s press conference as to the key factors the Government will consider when making that decision. Announcing that over four million people have now been vaccinated in the UK, the Health Secretary urged the public not to blow it as the route out was clear. In the Q&A, he pointed to the factors that will decide when restrictions can go.
The first clue came when Josh from Newcastle asked how much it would matter if there were a high surge of cases among young people once the vulnerable were vaccinated. This gets to the crux of the matter: once the most vulnerable are protected (the 20% of the population who account for 90% of Covid deaths) will the government be OK with the virus passing at a fast rate among younger age groups for whom the disease is a lot less serious?
If the answer is no then social distancing policies are likely to remain until every adult has been vaccinated, which the Government aims to do by September. The first four groups (14 million people) are due to be vaccinated by the middle of next month.
The Health Secretary said that while this is a very important question, as of yet there is no clear answer. Instead, Hancock described it as a “very careful” calibration, which rests on to what extent the vaccine protects the most vulnerable groups from serious disease, as well as the fact that younger people can sometimes need hospital treatment from Covid, even if they are very unlikely to die from the illness.
If the Health Secretary’s sense of the costs and benefits of the restrictions is so out of whack that the small number of young people requiring hospitalisation from Covid outweighs the damage done by the lockdown, what hope is there?
Worth reading in full.
Stop Press: MailOnline reports on the Prime Minister’s even greater reluctance to commit to any escape route, amid a dropping infection rate:
Boris Johnson today defied fresh demands from Tory MPs for a ‘road map’ out of lockdown as coronavirus infections tumbled again.
The PM is under pressure to say how and when the brutal restrictions in England will ease after the UK recorded another 37,535 cases – down a fifth from last Monday.
Although deaths rose again to 599 there are increasing signs that the curve is flattening, as it lags weeks behind the new infections.
Conservatives this evening underlined calls from former Chief Whip Mark Harper, who heads the CRG group of lockdown sceptics, to say what will happen when the Government has vaccinated the four most vulnerable groups – meant to happen by mid-February. The number of people receiving their first jab topped four million today.
The Deputy Chair of the group, Steve Baker, said: “We locked down the country and shut down our schools on the basis of a forecast, so why can’t we open it up on the basis of one too? It is not sustainable to leave the public and British businesses languishing any longer.
“Businesses and individuals desperately need hope and the opportunity to plan our recovery, that’s why we need to know our road to recovery as soon as possible.”
Another Tory backbencher told MailOnline the Government should lay out its plans even if it is like “snakes and ladders” and the arrangements later have to change.
However, Mr Johnson poured cold water on the idea this afternoon, insisting that it will not be possible to set out the route for unwinding restrictions until February 15th.
Touring the Oxford Biomedica vaccine plant, the PM also warned when the loosening does come it will not be an “open sesame” moment.
“I understand completely that people want to get back to normal as fast as we possibly can. It does depend on things going well,” he said.
“It depends on the vaccination programme going well, it depends on there being no new variants that throw our plans out and we have to mitigate against, and it depends on everybody, all of us, remembering that we’re not out of the woods yet.”
He said: “We’re going as fast as we can but I stress we can do everything we can to open up but when we come to February 15th, and the moment when we have to take stock of what we’ve achieved, that’s the time to look at where the virus is, the extent of the infection and the success that we’ve had.
“It’s only really then that we can talk about the way ahead and what steps we can take to relax.
“I’m afraid I’ve got to warn people it will be gradual, you can’t just open up in a great open sesame, in a great bang, because I’m afraid the situation is still pretty precarious.”
Stop Press 2: The BBC reports that all travel corridors are confirmed as closed until February 15th at the earliest.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that Public Health England would be stepping up checks on travellers who must self-isolate.
He said enforcement checks at borders would also be “ramped up” and added that asking all arrivals to self-isolate in hotels was a “potential measure” the Government was keeping under review.
However, the Daily Mail reports that the outgoing President Trump is lifting the blanket ban on non-American citizens travelling to the USA from January 26th onwards:
Donald Trump will lift travel bans for most non-U.S. citizens flying from the UK, Brazil and much of Europe starting on January 26th, two officials said on Monday.
The restrictions are set to end under a new proclamation from the President the same day that new COVID-19 test requirements take effect requiring all international visitors to have a negative result. The White House has not commented.
It remains to be seen whether Joe Biden will simply re-impose these restrictions or even adds more when he takes office on Wednesday.
Stop Press 3: Schools could be closed until after Easter, reports MailOnline.
Steve Chalke, head of the Oasis academy chain, which runs 48 schools, said: “I don’t think schools will reopen until post Easter. I think they will miss the second half of term as well.”
He said many teachers are very worried about catching Covid in school and that they will feel “safer” and “more confident” when the weather warms up and they can take children out of the classroom more.
Stop Press 4: Annabel Fenwick-Elliott has written a good piece in the Telegraph bemoaning the folly of needless further destruction of the travel industry, with a strong dose of lockdown scepticism thrown in for good measure.
It is January 2021. A virus which spares the vast majority of victims it infects has been endemic across the world for the best part of a year. There have been many attempts to contain it; almost none have been satisfactory. Most strategies have caused immeasurably more harm than good.
It is a disease that rips through hospitals and care homes, claiming the lives of the elderly and infirm, no matter how many masks or disinfectants we throw at the situation. We accept this as being unavoidable. Like every virus, new strains regularly emerge; crossing borders faster that we can chase them. Inexplicably, this we can not condone.
Despite the fact that much of the world is under national lockdown and international travel has dwindled to a trickle, the crusade on a largely innocent industry continues. Regardless of the fact that between March and October of 2020, the International Air Travel Association traced just 44 cases of potential coronavirus infections back to flying, out of the 1.2 billion people who boarded planes in the same time period, our assault on free movement only intensifies.
This week, Germany is plotting to repurpose refugee camps to detain quarantine flouters. In Bali, foreigners found to be strolling the beaches without wearing masks are being punished with push-ups. And here in Britain, there is talk of forcing new arrivals into expensive hotel sentences, and checking up on people using GPS data and facial-recognition software.
I wish all this was, as it sounds, the compelling but implausible plot of a big-budget sci-fi movie. I take comfort only in the fact that given our government has just today, after much delay, finally managed to get its act together on testing overseas visitors upon entry, it will likely be years before our geo-surveillance tactics enter the realm of China’s; by which time, hopefully, COVID-19 will be a distant memory, right?
Don’t bet on it. By mid-March of this year, according to the UK Government’s targets, all over-60s and those with underlying health conditions will have been vaccinated. Of the remaining population, more people died in road accidents last year than of coronavirus.
Worth reading in full.
Sarah Knapton, Science Editor of the Telegraph, has produced an in-depth analysis of the statistics around the ‘second wave’. It shows that misunderstood and misrepresented data are leading people to exaggerate the scale of the winter resurgence compared to the first peak last year.
On January 13th, Dr Yvonne Doyle, the Medical Director at Public Health England (PHE), issued an alarming statement claiming that Britain had reported the highest number of coronavirus deaths on a single day since the pandemic began.
She also alleged that there have now been more deaths in the second wave than the first.
Both these statements were “technically” true. On that day, 1,564 people were added to official mortality figures, the highest number ever, while the 44,198 “second wave” coronavirus deaths passed the 40,563 recorded up to August 31st.
Yet dig a little deeper and the narrative that the second wave is more deadly than the first begins to unravel.
I make an early caveat here that I firmly believe we are having a deadly second wave, and thousands more people are dying than would be expected ordinarily at this time of year. But it is not the tens of thousands more PHE would have you believe.
According to some figures, the second wave is five times less deadly than the first wave. This is in spite of the fact we have a new variant which is between 50% and 74% more infectious.
To get a real feel for how the waves compare, it is necessary to look at excess deaths rather than crude reported deaths.
According to the Continuous Mortality Investigation (CMI), set up by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, there have been 72,900 excess deaths from the start of the pandemic in March to the end of December.
Some 60,800 of those occurred in the first wave, but just 12,100 in the second. It means that, unlike the first wave, huge numbers of people included in the coronavirus death figures would have been expected to die of other causes in the past few months.
Look at Office for National Statistics (ONS) graphs showing deaths over time and this becomes startlingly clear. While there is a mountainous peak in April as deaths soared over the average, now we are trending a little above the five-year average line. On some days towards the end of December, we were actually below it.
Dr Jason Oke, of the Centre of Evidence Based Medicine (CEBM) at the University of Oxford, said it was difficult to understand the pandemic from the graphs published on the Government’s daily coronavirus dashboard.
While the “deaths within 28 days” graph appears to show that the second wave is as bad as the first, the “weekly deaths by date registered” shows no such correlation.
“If you look at the 28-day graph and the hospital data you could well believe it is as bad as the first wave,” Dr Oke said. “The first graph suggests we are now at the same place as the first wave (and due for worse) whereas the second graph tells a different story – half the first wave currently and no increase in December.”
The CMI also reported that during week 53, from December 28th to January 3rd, there were 19% fewer deaths registered in England and Wales than would have been expected if Standardised Mortality Rates had been the same as in week one of 2020.
These December figures will undoubtedly rise as more deaths are registered, and have suffered from the Christmas and New Year holidays when fewer deaths than normal were recorded. But they are not likely to rise so significantly as to take us back to the extraordinary excess deaths of April.
This week’s Monthly Mortality Analysis from the ONS also makes this point very well. The report states: “Although mortality rates due to COVID-19 have increased between October and December 2020, these remain significantly lower than in April 2020.”
In fact, in England, age-standardised mortality rates (ASMR) were 62.5% lower in December than April. They have fallen from 623.2 per 100,000 people in April to 233.6 per 100,000 in December.
The same is true in Wales, although to a lesser extent. In April the ASMR was 495.1 deaths per 100,000 people, and it was 374.4 per 100,000 in December, a 24.4% decrease.
Worth reading in full.
Lord Jonathan Sumption took to the airwaves to clarify and defend his comments made on the The Big Questions on Sunday, which we reported on yesterday.
He joined a panel on Good Morning Britain and, with considerable patience, faced a bellowing Piers Morgan who, along with co-presenter Susanna Reid, repeatedly refused to understand the perfectly plain meaning of his words even after several attempts to explain them, ending with Sumption declaring that he had said all he had to say on the matter and would either continue to speak on another topic or leave.
Worth watching in full.
Stop Press: The wilful misunderstanding continued in the Times yesterday courtesy of this piece by Melanie Phillips.
Stop Press 2: Michael Curzon, editor of Bournbrook Magazine and assistant editor of Conservative Woman, has penned this piece in defence of Sumption.
Stop Press 3: Julia Hartley-Brewer interviewed Lord Sumption on her talkRADIO show yesterday.
Adam Wagner, a legal expert and barrister focused on human rights, and a Visiting Professor at Goldsmiths University, was interviewed by Freddie Sayers for UnHerd‘s Lockdown TV. It’s a shame he joined in the mistaken pile-on against Lord Sumption, but if you can get past that he provided a wide-ranging expert perspective on the legal aspects of the lockdown debate.
Adam Wagner is one of the UK’s highest-profile legal experts on human rights, citing Shami Chakrabati as one of his main influences in the field. He strongly distances himself from “Covid deniers” whose attempt to minimise the threat of the virus he describes as “dangerous nonsense”, and expressed dismay at Lord Sumption’s insensitive phrasing about the value of lives on television yesterday. In other words, he’s about as far from an ideological right-winger as you’ll find in the British media.
So it was especially sobering to hear him set out some of the things he is worried about from a legal and human rights perspective since the pandemic started around 12 months ago. He wondered aloud on Twitter whether, had the virus not originated in China and had the response not been set by their invention of lockdowns, this approach would ever have become the accepted sensible response in liberal Western democracies?
He argues that, while he absolutely accepts that the virus constitutes a threat that justifies emergency action:
– Lockdowns have become a “received wisdom” and that, in due course, a proper inquiry into which components actually were effective, and whether each component passed the proportionality test, is essential.
– The emergency powers taken by the Government have been abused – they were not designed to be used over such a long period of time. He deplores the lack of oversight and due process for these measures that change everybody’s lives.
– The “Napoleonic” principle that everything is illegal unless you are explicitly allowed it is an inversion of the way the law has worked in this country throughout modern times. If you had told a human rights expert or public lawyer this would be the situation 12 months ago they would never have believed you.
– From a Human Rights perspective, balancing the right to life with the right to associate, and the right to a family life, is a precarious act and it is right to scrutinise every measure in that context and be sceptical of them to make sure they are not going too far
– Once restrictions are taken for temporary emergencies, a look at history shows that they tend to become permanent (he cites the terrorism measures in response to 9/11 as an example).
“I think with Covid, the danger is that if it never leaves us, or it mutates or a different virus arrives with a similar dynamic, we’ll be in a semi-permanent state of ‘this is what we do’ – when this happens, we have lockdowns, we have emergency laws, we take away parliamentary niceties like scrutiny, debates, votes, that sort of thing… And I think that is a danger that doesn’t come out of the fringes of the lockdown sceptic movement. That’s the real deal as a worry.”
Worth watching in full.
WHO Inspector Discussed Coronavirus Research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology Weeks Before Outbreak
Further to our headline piece in Lockdown Sceptics on January 17th on the U.S. State Department’s fact sheet about the possible origins of the virus, Taiwan News reports that a WHO Inspector discussed the research of modified coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in a video podcast called “This Week In Virology” shortly before the first cases of COVID-19 were declared in Wuhan.
In a video that was originally taken on December 9th, 2019, three weeks before the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission announced an outbreak of a new form of pneumonia, virologist Vincent Racaniello interviewed British zoologist and president of EcoHealth Alliance Peter Daszak about his work at the nonprofit to protect the world from the emergence of new diseases and predict pandemics. Since 2014, Daszak’s organization has received millions of dollars of funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), which it has funneled to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) to carry out research on bat coronaviruses.
In the first phase of research, which took place from 2014 to 2019, Daszak coordinated with Shi Zhengli, also known as “Bat Woman”, at the WIV on investigating and cataloging bat coronaviruses across China. EcoHealth Alliance received US$3.7 million in funding from the NIH for this research and 10% was channeled to the WIV, reported NPR.
The second, more dangerous phase, which started in 2019, involved gain-of-function (GoF) research on coronaviruses and chimeras in humanized mice from the lab of Ralph S. Baric of the University of North Carolina. Funding for the program was withdrawn by the NIH under the Trump administration on April 27th amid the pandemic.
At the 28:10 mark of the podcast interview, Daszak states that researchers found that SARS likely originated from bats and then set out to find more SARS-related coronaviruses, eventually finding over 100. He observed that some coronaviruses can “get into human cells in the lab,” and others can cause SARS disease in “humanized mouse models”.
He ominously warned that such coronaviruses are “untreatable with therapeutic monoclonals (antibodies) and you can’t vaccinate against them with a vaccine”. Ironically, he claims that his team’s goal was trying to find the next “spillover event” that could cause the next pandemic, mere weeks before cases of COVID-19 were beginning to be reported in Wuhan.
When Racaniello asks what can be done to deal with coronavirus given that there is no vaccine or therapeutic for them, Daszak at the 29:54 mark appears to reveal that the goal of the GoF experiments was to develop a pan-coronavirus vaccine for many different types of coronaviruses.
Based on his response, it is evident that just before the start of the pandemic, the WIV was modifying coronaviruses in the lab: “You can manipulate them in the lab pretty easily.” What he then mentioned has become the telltale trait of SARS-CoV-2, its spike protein: “Spike protein drives a lot of what happens with the coronavirus, zoonotic risk.”
Worth reading in full.
The full video podcast can be viewed here.
Readers can either reply to Julia on Twitter or email us here if they want us to pass on their stories and contact details.
Frieda Vizel, a reader who is a member of the Hasidic community in Brooklyn, New York City, has sent us a description of life there at the moment:
I thought I would share my report of a day in the Jewish Hasidic community of Brooklyn, New York, where everything is completely open and no one is wearing masks. It has been interesting to see that the community can pull this off with the power of the collective. They are able to operate busy weddings and mass celebration of holidays because they have each other’s back. Whenever the media or government gets on their case, they form a network of sorts, sharing information on how to get around inspectors and when journalists are around. And although there have been two or so episodes of intense obsession with them (once in April and once in October), they have held on through it. Months go by where they mostly forget about Covid. By any measure, their death rate is no worse than the general death rate. They had higher case rate in October but the overall highest tallies of New York City deaths were not in the Orthodox sections. The worst affected areas were in the Bronx and Queens. The most interesting thing about all this is that the media here pays no attention to their success story, but the moment they have a blip in rates, they descend on the neighbourhood and twist it all into a tale of primitive idiots committing mass suicide. What a shame!
Frieda also has a longer piece about life in the city on her site here.
- “The New Normal Documentary” – We linked to this on YouTube yesterday, but it has since been removed so here’s another link, this time to BitChute. It’s a documentary by happen.network setting out the Great Reset conspiracy theory in a way that doesn’t make it sound like a conspiracy theory
- “I’m not a Covid denier, but it’s time to end the lockdowns” – Excellent piece by Brian Monteith in the Scotsman
- “Lockdown is a luxury few can afford” – J.J. Charlesworth in spiked on the relative ease of lockdown for the laptop-wielding middle class worker
- “Arbitrarily detained in Danandrewstan” – An anonymous writer from the state of Victoria in Australia recounts the unpleasant experience of flying home from New South Wales
- “Nashville school board chair enjoyed St Lucia before closing schools” – One for the map of hypocritical American officials we linked to recently
- “California warns against using a batch of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines after allergic reactions” – Laura J. Nelson in the Los Angeles Times on more reports of allergic reactions
- “Hacked emails allegedly detail how EU drug regulator was pressured to approve Pfizer jab despite ‘problems’ with the vaccine” – RT‘s report won’t allay fears that the approval process has been rushed
- “US man hid in airport for three months due to Covid pandemic fear” – A strange story from the USA
- “Woman ‘ejected from Sainsbury’s by police for refusing to wear a face mask‘” – Heavy-handed policing in Kent after supermarkets upped the ante on mask enforcement. Is this legal?
- “Australian Open: Tennis stars hit out at Covid isolation measures as controversy mounts” – Euronews reports that tennis players are actually having to train within the confines of their hotel rooms
- “COVID-19: Basingstoke partygoers ‘hadn’t heard about pandemic‘” – A bold excuse to give to police officers with a straight face
- “Test and trace consultants are earning average of £1,000 a DAY as it emerges 3,000 have been hired at a cost to the taxpayer of at least £375m” – Nice work if you can get it, as reported in the Daily Mail
- “Police to drop most COVID-19 fines and hand out cautions” – Backtracking on swingeing fines in the Australian state with one of the most draconian Covid regimes in the Anglosphere
- “Germany to repurpose refugee camps to detain people who repeatedly flout Covid rules by going out when they should be quarantining” – No potential for disobliging historical comparisons here…
- “COVID-19: A realistic approach to community management” – A good technical piece by the Australian Emeritus Professor of Pathology, Robert Clancy
- Sucharit Bhakdi Interview on Planet Lockdown – Full-length interview on Vimeo with the dissenting Thai-German microbiologist
- Peter Hitchens’ weekly conversation with Mike Graham at talkRADIO
Seven today: “Beat the Bastards” by The Exploited, “Keeping Two Chevrons Apart” by Half Man Half Biscuit, “The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum)” by Fun Boy Three, “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next” by Manic Street Preachers, “What a Waste” by Ian Dury and the Blockheads, “One Day I’ll Fly Away” by Randy Crawford, “Count Me Out” by New Edition, and “It’s All Too Much” by The Beatles.
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 as well as post comments below the line, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.
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.
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.
We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to obtain a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card – because wearing a mask causes them “severe distress”, for instance. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and the Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. And 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. Another reader has created an Android app which displays “I am exempt from wearing a face mask” on your phone. Only 99p.
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. See also the Swiss Doctor’s thorough review of the scientific evidence here and Prof Carl Heneghan and Dr Tom Jefferson’s Spectator article about the Danish mask study here.
Stop Press: A reader has sent us the letter he has written to his local MP Geoffrey Cox, describing the daily ordeal he endures as a mask-exempt person due to his autism.
Dear Mr Cox,
I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing in the hope that you can help put an end to the madness and division caused by the Government’s un-nuanced public message and the ignorance of a sizeable portion of the public with regard to the face covering guidelines. The guidelines clearly state that there are “face covering exemptions”, and yet whenever I am in a shop unmasked (I am autistic and can experience severe anxiety) I am stared at by a good number of utterly ignorant shoppers, and indeed some staff members.
Why is this happening? Well, it seems to me that it is because the Government, while consistently emphasing the ‘need’ to wear face coverings, has utterly neglected to consistently stress the need to be mindful of those who for disability/health reasons cannot wear face coverings. The contrast between the message on the Government website – where it is clear about exemptions and on the public’s need “to be mindful of people who are exempt from wearing a face covering” – and the Government’s message in public: on the news, in briefings, etc. is striking. Does the Government, which constantly infantilises the public with its stupid slogans, expect this same public to read the website? This is not acceptable, and it is causing tensions between citizens.
This brings me to my latest visit to Tesco, Barnstaple. As I approached the store I was greeted by a big sign declaring :”No Mask, No Entry.” I’m a big man, and I am not easily intimidated, but I found this somewhat intimidating. Imagine how others will feel when facing this threatening sign knowing they are legally exempt and have done nothing wrong. Tucked away underneath the large, intimidating/threatening “No Mask, No Entry” sign, in very small letters, were words to the effect of: “See Government website for details on exemptions.” Astonishing. As soon as I walked in I was treated to the usual stares from a large and ignorant portion of shoppers and one or two staff members.
I have spoken to Tesco Customer Servive on the phone and suggested similar sized letters on the same sign or on a separate, equally ‘in your face’ sign asking people to be mindful of those with a disability/health issues who cannot wear a face covering. He seemed to be in agreement and said he will forward the message on, and hopefully Tesco stores everywhere will make this clear from now on. One truly hopes they do.
That’s Tesco. What about all the other shops? What about the inconsistency concerning the Government’s message on its website and its message in public, on the news, in briefings? Surely Government does not want citizens to be suspicious of other citizens. Surely Government does not want an atmosphere of open, self-righteous discrimination where ignorant, bone-idle citizens discriminate against their fellow citizens.
I hope you can see how dangerous this is, and the evil historical parallels it brings to mind.
I ask and urge you to do something about this, Mr Cox.
Stop Press 2: This is a recent notice sent out by the Royal Courts of Justice – a case of masks for thee, but not for me.
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 in October 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 three quarters of a million signatures.
Update: The authors of the GBD 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 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. Sign up to the newsletter here.
There are now so many legal cases being brought against the Government and its ministers we thought we’d include them all in one place down here.
The Simon Dolan case has now reached the end of the road. The current lead case is the Robin Tilbrook case which challenges whether the Lockdown Regulations are constitutional. 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 and Runnymede Trust’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.
And last but not least there was the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. A High Court judge refused permission for the FSU’s judicial review on December 9th and the FSU has decided not to appeal the decision because Ofcom has conceded most of the points it was making. Check here for details.
If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email firstname.lastname@example.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.
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.)
In the latest episode of London Calling, James Delingpole asks Toby how he copes with all the attacks on him on Twitter. “I try not to look,” he says. In addition, they defend Lord Sumption, discuss the other attacks on lockdown sceptics, argue about whether they’re coordinated (James thinks they are, Toby doesn’t) and sing the praises of the novelist Bernard Cornwell.