Official figures continue to show falling numbers of Covid cases and deaths. There were 333 Covid deaths announced yesterday, the lowest 24-hour toll since December 27th and a drop of 18% on the 406 last Monday. Any optimism, however, is to be kept firmly in check by the vaccine resistant South African variant. The Telegraph has more.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine may be only 10% effective against the new South African variant, it has emerged, as experts warn that 147 UK cases could be the “tip of the iceberg”.
The results of a new study in South Africa show that the jab offers virtually no protection against mild to moderate illness, meaning it is likely to allow the virus to spread.
However, scientists believe the Oxford-designed jab, currently shouldering the bulk of the rollout burden in the UK, should protect against hospitalisation and death from the variant…
The full details came to light as UK ministers sought to bolster public confidence in the vaccine programme.
Boris Johnson said the Oxford vaccine would remain a “massive benefit” to the national effort, adding that medicine “is slowly getting the upper hand over the disease”.
Matt Hancock hosted yet another Downing Street press conference, in which he was joined by Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, and by NHS England’s Medical Director for Primary Care Dr Nikki Kanani. While he offered a positive update on the rollout of vaccines and said “we’re turning a corner”, Hancock made it clear that the new variants mean this won’t be over any time soon.
“We mustn’t let a new variant undo all of the good work that the vaccine rollout is doing to protect people.
“Now, the first line of defence is to spot and suppress new variants aggressively wherever they’re found.
“Hence the tougher measures at the border and the firm action we’re taking in those small number of areas where variants of concern have been found in the community Including door-to-door communications, and enhanced testing and sequencing.
“At the same time, since the emergence of variants of concern late last year, we’ve been working on how vaccines can be used to tackle them.”
The Spectator‘s Katy Balls sums up the overall message of the conference as “Don’t Panic”.
With 147 confirmed cases of the South African variant so far identified in the UK, Van-Tam said the Kent variant remains the dominant threat and all vaccines are believed to be effective against the UK strain. He said there was “no reason to think that the South African variant will catch up or overtake our current virus in the next few months”.
The conference did not offer much in the way of substantial comment on the pathway out of lockdown restrictions, merely a warning against ambitious Summer holiday plans.
As for the future, neither Hancock nor Van-Tam was in the mood to offer specifics on the roadmap for easing the lockdown. The Health Secretary said it was too early to discuss relaxing exercise rules to allow for more people to exercise together. Meanwhile, JVT’s advice on summer holidays was simply the more ambitious the plan, the higher the chance of it being cancelled.
Naturally it was the danger presented by the new variant which dominated the reporting. Prompted by a BBC news report, one of our readers had this question:
In case you thought there might be cautious grounds for optimism that we might be gradually heaving our way towards the end of this crisis, the BBC was on hand yesterday to dash any hopes. The 1800 News on Radio 4 began with Boris Johnson’s optimism about vaccines but that mood couldn’t last.
The Science Correspondent, David Shukman, banged out a piece about the dangerous prospect of mutated variants racing ahead of vaccines, helped by countries that won’t be vaccinating until well into next year and by difficulties in getting other countries up to speed with genome analysis.
That’s all theoretically true of course, but it’s been true of all viruses since forever so it wasn’t exactly a revelation. However, the real purpose seems to have to been to inject a mood of complete pessimism and despair.
In the unlikely event any listeners were still holding onto some modicum of sanity after that, Shukman finished with the priceless: “And all the time the risk is that new variants will emerge that can evade the vaccines and cause harm before the drugs can be updated.”
It’s not clear why Shukman didn’t just say, “It’s all over people, you might as well give up now; everything you’ve done for the last year was a complete and utter waste of time because we’re sunk.”
In one sentence he’d managed to undermine completely the vaccine message by suggesting that they’re never going to catch up. Of course, he could have pointed out either that the vaccines might work, or that the virus might mutate into a contagious but relatively harmless form, which are equally possible. But that would be to miss the chance to be an apocalyptic doom-monger, wouldn’t it?
Good old BBC.
With ongoing nervousness about relaxing restrictions, exacerbated by concerns over the new variants, Adam Wagner, a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers and an authority on lockdown rules, has written an article for UnHerd warning against the danger of everlasting lockdown. He begins by reminding us just what a momentous thing lockdown is.
Twelve months ago, the first two cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the UK. Fifty days later, on March 23rd, the Prime Minister announced that he would “give the British people a very simple instruction – you must stay at home”. Three days after that, the first set of emergency lockdown regulations arrived. These were undoubtedly the most severe restrictions on liberty imposed in peacetime, and Health Secretary Matt Hancock reportedly described them as “Napoleonic”. “In lockdown”, he told the Cabinet, in a reversal of the usual principle of English law that whatever is not explicitly prohibited is permitted: “people would be forbidden from doing anything unless the legislation said, in terms, that they could.”
It is extraordinary that restrictions which a judge described as “possibly the most restrictive regime on the public life of persons and businesses ever”, could be made without prior Parliamentary scrutiny. But it took just 11 pages of law and one signature for Matt Hancock to impose the March 24th lockdown, which came into effect the moment he put down the pen.
Those 11 pages closed all non-essential businesses, meaning that people could only leave their homes if they had a “reasonable excuse”, and largely banned gatherings between people not of the same household. Any breaches could be punished. The police were also given power to take “such action as is necessary” to break up gatherings or ensure business closed.
Wagner asks if lockdowns can be justified, and finds it hard to answer. Even if some of the restriction are proportionate, he says, they cannot become permanent, for three key reasons.
First, some lockdown measures work but they have serious knock-on effects including a shrinking economy (which itself causes higher mortality), delayed cancer treatment and surgery. The move to online education has most severely affected those from lower socio-economic groups. While this doesn’t negate the need for restrictions, it illustrates how damaging they can be and why they must only be used for as long as necessary and no longer.
Second, the method by which lockdown has been imposed in England borders on anti-democratic. There may have been justification in March for using emergency procedures to bypass Parliament but there has not been since. The most severe legal restrictions on liberty require the gold standard of democratic accountability, not a rushed procedure which side-lines Parliament. This has likely led to illiberal outcomes, for example the explicit allowance for protest being removed in early December, meaning that it is unclear whether socially-distanced outdoor protests are a criminal offence or not…
Third, the lockdown laws themselves have become overly-complex, poorly communicated and almost impossible for a non-lawyer (including the police) to digest. Guidance and law have become elided by both politicians and public, leading to wrongful enforcement and widespread confusion. Then there are the exceptions. On one level, it is positive that exceptions have been added to allow for the many vicissitudes of human life, but they have been at the expense of simplicity.
Hard questions will need to be asked as to what to do next, and it will require a rights-based approach to resolve. It is essential that we don’t enter a semi-permanent state of emergency laws and basic rights switched on and off by the Government at will and without democratic scrutiny. Lockdowns may have been necessary, but we cannot be locked down forever.
Worth reading in full.
The Conservative Woman has a must-read piece by writer Frederick Edward on the dramatic change that has taken place within the advertising industry over the past year. First, it tells of the shrinking trade that newspaper advertising it is getting from the companies that were its biggest customers.
According to reports, the industry-wide ad-spend for 2020 was down 14.5%: a decline of £3.6 billion. Some areas of advertising have witnessed complete destruction as the Government has clamped down on businesses’ ability to operate and has restricted civic freedoms.
The UK’s top advertisers, led by McDonald’s and Procter and Gamble, have slashed their budgets: why put adverts on the telly when your outlets are closed? A report from August 2020 states McDonald’s year-on-year advertising had already fallen by 97%. Even Amazon’s fell by 77% and Sky’s by 60%. Entertainment and leisure (-£207million) and travel and transport (-£138million), hit hardest by restrictions, saw the largest cuts.
Such reductions had a dramatic impact on companies reliant on them for their advertising revenue, namely newspapers.
Daily Mail and General Trust reported an advertising revenue fall of around 25% between September 2019 and September 2020; given that half this date range is pre-pandemic, the impact is likely greater still.
Fortunately for the industry there is one customer that has stepped in and kept the industry afloat.
Until 2020 the Government was not a major advertiser in newspapers. According to Newsworks, the marketing body for national newspapers, between February 1st, 2019 and January 31st, 2020, the Government was 30th on the list of UK’s spenders on newspaper advertising, shelling out £6.23 million over that one-year period (approximately 13% of HM Government’s advertising budget), a figure dwarfed by Amazon and Sky, which spent five times as much.
All that changed during the pandemic, when the Government became the nation’s largest advertiser across all media. Between March 23rd and June 30th, 2020, Public Health England’s advertising spend increased by 5,000 per cent (year-on-year), reaching £44 million in that three-month period.
Though less than a quarter of the Government’s total outlay for COVID-19 information and communication, the spending has proved significant enough for the newspaper industry to hail this continued Covid advice blitz as vital for its revival in 2021.
This market shift is not without consequences.
The Fourth Estate is supposed to hold the Government to account. It should be the newspapers’ responsibility to scrutinise the unprecedented state actions taken in response to the pandemic under the emergency powers of the Coronavirus Act, now twice extended, and bringing about the greatest loss of liberty in our country’s history.
When newspapers find themselves increasingly reliant on the largesse of the UK’s now-largest advertiser, can they be trusted to question robustly and independently the approach the Government has taken?
As Laura Perrins pointed out last week, the media rarely ask any tough questions. Pretty much every question they put is, why didn’t you lock down earlier, and why didn’t you lock down harder? Why didn’t you enact more draconian measures sooner?
Finally, the piece concludes:
It is nothing new that the media has a symbiotic relationship with Government. For journalists, it’s their need for access to information and promises of scoops; for the politicians, it’s their need for the platform to promote their policies or their personal profiles. But now the balance has changed. With the Government increasingly becoming the editors’ paymaster, paying to push their policies, where is the quid pro quo? What chance of these newspapers raising and ruthlessly pursuing the questions so urgently in need of asking, or indeed, of running a campaign against lockdown for example? A lot less likely is my guess.
Worth reading in full.
Cases are falling in the UK, which many will attribute to the beneficial effects of the Lockdown. It is timely then, that David Paton, a Professor of industrial economics at Nottingham University Business School and a member of HART, has written a piece in Spiked to remind us that the example of Sweden still shows that there might just have been a better way to respond to COVID-19. He opens with a crucial fact from the experience of Spring 2020.
The best way to trigger people on both sides of the lockdown debate is to mention Sweden. To some, it is a model of how to manage a pandemic without shutting down society for months on end. For others, refusing to implement lockdowns was a reckless strategy with deadly consequences.
When Sweden decided not to lockdown in March, we were told it would lead to nearly 100,000 deaths by July 1st. The actual total ended up being 5,490. Infections and deaths were falling from mid-April, pretty much at the same time as in most other European countries with strict lockdowns.
True, Sweden didn’t avoid a second wave, as many lockdown sceptics thought it would. But the restriction it imposed at the end of last year were far milder than those imposed in the UK and achieved similar results.
By December, death numbers were similar to those in April, leading to the Swedish Government finally deciding to impose more restrictions. These include limits on opening hours of bars and restaurants, closing upper-secondary schools (for pupils aged 16 and above), and recommending (but not mandating) masks on public transport.
The measures were still very modest in comparison with the restrictions and lockdowns imposed in most other European countries. Many were concerned that they would not be enough to stop the rise in infections. Indeed, governments across Europe assured their citizens that strict lockdowns were the only way to stop a surge in infections and to prevent health services being overwhelmed.
Yet from the end of December, Sweden has experienced the same steady decline in cases as elsewhere. Positive tests have decreased from a peak of 7,136 on 20 December (using the centred seven-day average) to the latest figure of 2,875. That’s a 60% decrease – almost exactly the same as we have seen in the UK.
Sweden did not get everything right. Much like the UK, the country failed to properly protect care home residents. But the fact that it is now in a similar situation is striking.
Sweden raises the possibility that had the UK relied more on guidelines and sensible safety measures, rather than enforced closures backed by criminal law, our hospitalisations and deaths would have peaked at a similar level, but without the terrible economic and social consequences of lockdowns. For some, that possibility is just too awful to contemplate.
Worth reading in full
Today we’re publishing a postcard from Greenville, South Carolina USA from a Professor of Classics and long-time reader of Lockdown Sceptics. South Carolina is one of the good states, with the luck to have a robustly sensible Governor who hasn’t issued any stay-at-home orders since last Spring. Here is an extract:
Our city (with its own rules) has a ‘mask mandate’ of sorts. It is widely disregarded.
Since May, my wife and I do our daily 3.5-mile walk in our neighbourhood, without masks, meeting and passing many of our neighbours in the process. They are not wearing masks, either. When we decide to go out on the town, which we do several times a week, we walk downtown (eight blocks) passing some people wearing masks on the sidewalk and others not wearing masks. I guess the ratio of masks to not-masks is 30:70.
We dine out several times a week. In 2020 our self-indulgence came to seem to be a virtuous civic duty, keeping our favourite places open while many potential customers cower at home.
The drill: We walk to the door of the “Swordfight Cocktail Club” (excellent!) or “Jianna” (also, excellent… get the oysters). We don our masks. We approach the host and are walked eight feet to our table. We take our masks off and never put them on again until it is time to make the 30-second walk to the door.
We are known to the servers, managers, and bartenders. They are required to be masked by local civic ordinance, but they will come chat with us in our unmasked state.
We attended a New Year’s Eve party at our favorite bar. My wife and I, sitting at the bar, struck up a conversation with a lovely young couple next to us. At the end of the evening we all embraced upon saying goodnight. That brief moment of contact with friendly strangers was like the most heady wine.
So that was nice, but passing human contact should not be so remarkable. It should be the normal diet of a sane society.
In a recent press conference, our Governor (may he live forever) said, “Some states are forcing restaurants to close, and they are even telling people that they can’t go to church, if you can believe that! South Carolina is open for business.”
Worth reading in full.
We have a new piece today from historian and Lockdown Sceptics regular Guy de la Bédoyère. He looks at the growing polarisation in the lockdown debate, the dispiriting assumption that one side is all right, and the other all wrong, and, looking back at history, makes a plea for balance, and for the value of cooperating, communicating and pooling resources. Here are the opening paragraphs:
One of the most unedifying developments in the whole debate about lockdowns has been the descent into ever more polarised positions, especially the vilification of anyone deemed to be a dissenter about the efficacy of lockdowns. But it cuts both ways. Some who dispute lockdowns have been as intolerant of the other point of view.
Why is this? I think because as the crisis has deepened and lengthened, it has proved to be beyond any easy resolution. Lockdowns have worked in certain ways, but they certainly haven’t exterminated the virus and they aren’t sustainable. We have had three lockdowns, but they haven’t stopped a chronically high death rate. Non-lockdowns haven’t worked either. We can pick and choose our data, but almost every country has paid a price of sorts.
Now you can see the ever-mounting recriminations. The most ardent proponents of lockdowns, including those who were ambivalent at the start, blame the Government for not being quick enough, sustained enough, or committed enough, and anyone else for somehow being complicit in the deaths of Covid victims. Those most opposed to lockdowns are beside themselves with frustration at the mounting cost in other areas.
In short, this was and is a very complex problem that no single solution was ever going to tackle. As time has gone on, the complications have become ever more apparent.
Human beings spend their lives trying to solve problems, individually and collectively. We have achieved enormous successes. But a Stoic philosopher would tell you that the sum total of good and bad never changes. Every solution we devise creates new problems or reveals new problems. Heated homes keep us warm and comfortable and help us to live longer and healthier lives. The act of heating homes contributes to global warming which we are constantly told is a crisis so deep that it threatens our very existence.
Now we are told we must march towards the promised land of zero-carbon – a utopian vision of having our cake and eating it. Given the hundreds of thousands of years of human existence to date, you’d have thought we might have realised the choices we face are a little more complex than that. The truth is there are many ways to skin a cat, but it’s very easy to refuse to believe, having chosen one method, that there might be another solution.
Worth reading in full.
Geoff Cox from Back to Normal has asked us to give the group another mention. He writes:
Back to Normal is a back to basics campaign which every lockdown sceptic can get involved with. Though we have a website and social media pages, our main target is to deliver one million postcards to households around the UK. We have already gone past 300,000 and now we need more postmen and women to boost deliveries. The postcards are free though we do appreciate a donation to our GoFundMe account. Door to door posting is a way to reach parts digital campaigns don’t. And we know the postcards are being read as we get a steady response from sympathisers (and critics). As a bonus, we are also able to put people in touch with other sceptics helping to keep our side sane! If you have contacted us before, please get in touch again and order another lot of postcards. If you are new, join in and make a difference.
You can follow us on Facebook here, on MeWe here, or get in touch through our website or by email. We now have a GoFundMe page to help with the cost of our campaign. We spend about 35p on each postcard and happily we have been overwhelmed with orders.
- “Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics: Manufacturing the Crisis” – Very thorough deep dive into the Covid death stats by Simon Elmer at Architects for Social Housing
- “NHS spends £30 million on preparing staff for inquests” – A Telegraph investigation into the extraordinary sums of money that the NHS spends on legal advice
- “GCSE pupils have suffered the most during lockdown says report that warns of a ‘lost generation’” – The Daily Mail reports on the findings of the largest review to date of school children in the COVID-19 era. They reveal increased anxiety levels, lower wellbeing, and lower learning scores
- “Vaccine hesitancy among UK minorities forces COVID-19 inoculation centre to close early three days last week” – RT reports that that John Scott Vaccination Centre in Hackney, which caters for patients at 40 doctors’ surgeries, reduced its hours due to “really low patient uptake”
- “More PPE that can’t be used by the NHS” – The Good Law Project has details of another load of Government money spent on PPE for the NHS which in the end could not be used
- “Shot in the arm – Can leisure and hospitality require a vaccine to access services?” – An explainer from Lexology on the law regarding leisure establishments requiring customers or staff to be vaccinated
- “If we can’t afford lockdown, what chance have the world’s poor?” – The UK has been able to engage in costly measures to mitigate the economic fallout from the pandemic, but there is no such intervention for the worlds poorest, writes Sonia Elijah in the Conservative Woman
- “Have my friends been taken over by aliens?” – Keith Joyce, writing for the Conservative Woman, wonders how it is all that all his friends have been “suckered into fearing a virus which is dangerous only to a tiny minority, and into believing that they must have a novel type of vaccine in an early experimental stage”
- “America’s two largest states are fighting COVID-19 differently” – The Economist puzzles over the cases of Texas and California. America’s two most populous states have been quite different in their responses to COVID-19 but not so much in their ‘results’
- “How a virus was used to transform a free country” – Writing on the AIER blog, Sandy Szwarc examins how COVID-19, or rather the response to it, is leading the US down a dangerous path
- “I can’t stop wondering about COVID-19” – Donald J Boudreaux, on the AIER blog, wonders what is it about COVID-19 that causes sensible and rational people to lose their judgement
- “Letter from Victoria, capital of authoritarian Australia” – A letter to UnHerd from Melbourne-based writer Edward Cranswick, warning the UK against looking to Victoria for guidance in its response to COVID-19
- “Maximum Collaboration” – A deepl translation of the Welt report on the collusion between scientists and the federal Ministry of the Interior over dramatized ‘worst case scenario’. See also, this summary on twitter
- “The Myth of St Jacinda” – Excellent piece by Oliver Hartwich in the Spectator about the toothy tyrant’s feet of clay
- “Boris Johnson wants to free the long-suffering British public… SAGE won’t let him” – Trevor Kavanagh in the Sun with a flattering analysis of the Prime Minister’s hesitancy
- “Books to cheer you up: from P.G. Wodehouse to Kingsley Amis” – Some great recommendations from Alexander Larman in the Spectator if you’re looking for a bit of light lockdown reading
- A dog-walker in Canada sums up the absurdity of the ongoing restrictions in a two-minute clip
Nine today: “The Needle and the Damage Done” by Neil Young, “Madness” by Madness, “Running Out of Hope” by Simon Brown, “Tomorrow Never Knows” by the Beatles, “Liberty Song” by the Levellers, “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will be Next” by Manic Street Preachers, “Citizen Erased” by Muse, “Bullets” by Editors and “Oh To Be Young” (geddit?) by Logan Alexandra.
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 Lockdown Sceptics here.
Stop Press: Are you being ‘coronazoned’, or have you just been ‘lockblocked’? Language learning app Babbel has found that Covid and lockdown restrictions have given rise to a whole new vocabulary of dating, according to FoxNews.
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 decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, we bring you the Teach for All Network Equity Book Discussion Group in the U.S. There are in fact two discussion groups.
How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
This group is open to everyone in the network. There are two groups, and each meets seven times. We ask that you join this club only if you can commit to at least six sessions in a group.
Joining the second group, however, appears to be for whites only – all in the name of anti-racism, you understand.
Me & White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
This group is open to anyone in the network who holds white privilege, is visually identifiable as white, or who passes for white, in order to allow for white people to engage in a set of work specific to their identity. By Saad’s definition and recommendation, this can include “persons who are biracial, multiracial, or white-passing People of Colour who benefit under systems of white supremacy from having lighter skin color than visibly Brown, Black, or Indigenous people.
Register here if you fancy a crash course in woke gobbledegook.
Stop Press: Over on Spiked, Tim Black has written a review of David Baddiel’s new book Jews Don’t Count. It is, he says a “short sharp attack on ‘progressive’ attitudes towards anti-Semitism” and a “compelling polemic“.
Stop Press 2: There are some good stories in the latest Wokeyleaks column from Spectator U.S.A., but none more surprising than the leak from an aerospace and defence company.
Of all the Wokeyleaks we’ve received, perhaps the most jaw-dropping is from an employee at one of the largest arms companies in the world – Northrop Grumman. Northrop has made billions supplying much of the hardware for America’s invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan; it also supplies training to Saudi Arabian forces that, according to the UN, have been perpetrating war crimes in Yemen. But don’t worry about any of that because apparently Northrop Grumman has created an internal social justice portal for its employees, training them in how to avoid “microaggressions in the workplace” and “unconscious bias and microinequities”.
Stop Press 3: Our favourite American comedian, Ryan Long, has a new video out about the Church of Woke.
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.
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 story in the Dunfermline Press about a Rosyth litter pick provides evidence of the continuing impact of disposable masks on the environment.
Environmental champions have raised fears over heath and safety after a face mask was found every 60 metres on a litter pick in Rosyth.
Volunteers from the Fife Street Champions group have revealed the scale of discarded face masks in our communities and in December alone have picked up more than 3,400 in total.
Nicola Donald, from Camdean, joined the group last year and highlighted there were particular problems around the Sainsbury’s at Unwin Avenue.
She told the Press: “I collected 51 masks just in a couple of hours on December 28th and counted one every 60 metres.”
Stop Press 2: Executive traveller reports some good news for airline passengers, provided they can pay premium prices.
Now there’s at least one more reason to fly in business class or first class, especially with Cathay Pacific: the airline will exempt passengers in those premium cabins from wearing a face mask when they recline their seat to a fully-flat position.
Cathay Pacific’s reasoning is that the high enclosures surrounding its business class seats and first class suites, along with the greater degree of personal space and thus the distance between travellers, helps combat the airborne spread of coronavirus between passengers…
Qatar Airways also permits its business class passengers to wear a mask “onboard at their own discretion, as they enjoy more space and privacy”, especially in the airline’s Qsuites, whereas economy passengers “are required to wear their face shield visor in addition to their face mask or covering throughout the flight, except when they are served their meals or drinks”.
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.
Scottish Church leaders from a range of Christian denominations have launched legal action, supported by the Christian Legal Centre against the Scottish Government’s attempt to close churches in Scotland for the first time since the the Stuart kings in the 17th century. The church leaders emphasised it is a disproportionate step, and one which has serious implications for freedom of religion.” Further information available here.
There’s the class action lawsuit being brought by Dr Reiner Fuellmich and his team in various countries against “the manufacturers and sellers of the defective product, PCR tests”. Dr Fuellmich explains the lawsuit in this video. Dr Fuellmich has also served cease and desist papers on Professor Christian Drosten, co-author of the Corman-Drosten paper which was the first and WHO-recommended PCR protocol for detection of SARS-CoV-2. That paper, which was pivotal to the roll out of mass PCR testing, was submitted to the journal Eurosurveillance on January 21st and accepted following peer review on January 22nd. The paper has been critically reviewed here by Pieter Borger and colleagues, who also submitted a retraction request, which was rejected in February. UPDATE: The retraction request has been rejected.
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.
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In this week’s episode of London Calling, Toby compares James Delingpole to an angry drunk picking fights with all his mates in the pub after last orders have been called. Inevitably, he calls Toby a “cuck”. After the usual jousting, they discuss the new variants, the zero-Covid cult, the Dig, News of the World, Losing Alice and, of course, Bernard Cornwell’s Grail quartet.