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Matt Hancock Acted Unlawfully

Yesterday a court ruled that Matt Hancock acted unlawfully when his department failed to publish details of COVID-19 related contracts worth billions of pounds. The BBC has the full story.

Matt Hancock acted unlawfully when his department did not reveal details of contracts it had signed during the Covid pandemic, a court has ruled.

A judge said the Health Secretary had “breached his legal obligation” by not publishing details within 30 days of contracts being signed.

The public had a right to know where the “vast” amounts spent had gone and how contracts were awarded, he added…

In his ruling, Mr Justice Chamberlain said: “There is now no dispute that, in a substantial number of cases, the Secretary of State breached his legal obligation to publish contract award notices within 30 days of the award of contracts.

“There is also no dispute that the Secretary of State failed to publish redacted contracts in accordance with the transparency policy.”

The judge said the Health Secretary had spent “vast quantities” of public money on Covid-related goods and services during 2020.

“The public were entitled see [sic] who this money was going to, what it was being spent on and how the relevant contracts were awarded,” he added.

He said this was important so that competitors of those awarded contracts could understand whether the obligations had been breached.

The judge also said publishing the details allowed bodies such as the National Audit Office, as well as Parliament and the public, to “scrutinise and ask questions about this expenditure”.

Mr Justice Chamberlain acknowledged that the situation faced by the DHSC during the first few months of the pandemic had been “unprecedented”.

He said it was “understandable that attention was focused on procuring what was thought necessary to save lives”.

But he added that the DHSC’s “historic failure” to publish details of contracts awarded during the pandemic was “an excuse, not a justification”.

Worth reading in full.

The case illustrates one of the many issues with the response to COVID-19. Yes there was an emergency, but if rules relating to procurement, transparency and the such like matter, they should also matter when the pressure is on. The case was brought by the Good Law Project, which released a statement following the ruling:

Government’s behaviour came under criticism in the judgment. If it had admitted to being in breach of the law when we first raised our concerns, it would have never been necessary to take this judicial review to its conclusion. Instead, they chose a path of obfuscation, racking up over £200,000 of legal costs as a result.  

We shouldn’t be forced to rely on litigation to keep those in power honest, but in this case it’s clear that our challenge pushed Government to comply with its legal obligations. Judge Chamberlain stated that the admission of breach by Government was “secured as a result of this litigation and at a late stage of it” and “I have no doubt that this claim has speeded up compliance”. It begs the question, if we hadn’t brought this legal challenge, what other contract details would have remained hidden from view? …

This judgment, which can be found here, is a victory for all of us concerned with proper governance and proof of the power of litigation to hold Government to account. But there is still a long way to go before the Government’s house is in order. We have now written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care detailing what needs to be done to improve procurement processes and ensure value for British taxpayers.

The letter from the Good Law Project to Matt Hancock is here.

What Children are Really Being Taught at Home

Today we are publishing a new essay by Dr Sinéad Murphy, a Research Associate in Philosophy at Newcastle University and a Lockdown Sceptics regular. Here, following on from an article which appeared in the Conservative Woman earlier this month, Dr Murphy examines the realities of home schooling. For many, she argues, home schooling is not a pale imitation of normal school, but something quite different. Here are the opening paragraphs:

PLZ I DONT LIKE THIS – This message was typed by a nine-year-old child, over and over again. In capitals and with relentless economy. An unmistakable SOS.

Where was this child and what was happening to her?

She was at home. In her Geography class. On Microsoft Teams.

I saw her cry for help in an article published by Conservative Woman on February 5th. The article outlined what a day at school is now like for a nine year-old boy called Simon, who lives with his mother on the 12th floor of a council tower block.

Simon’s day is a cruel one – on that, most of us would agree. But do we see just how cruel? With neither video nor audio available for the Geography lesson, PLZ I DONT LIKE THIS, typed repeatedly into the chatbox by one of Simon’s classmates, is as close to a scream as this child had the tools for.

Members of our Government thoughtlessly describe the ‘challenges’ of remote learning: the difficulties of keeping children interested and active. But in this child’s scream, there is not the disengagement and inertia presumed by their careless acknowledgements. In this child’s scream, there is actual DISTRESS.

So-called ‘home-schooling,’ for many if not most of our children, is not a less effective version of normal schooling or a less fun version of normal schooling. It is another thing altogether – complete with its own curriculum. And it is driving our children to despair.

The President of the British Paediatric Neurology Association has described a recent ‘explosion’ in tics and Tourette’s Syndrome among children in the UK. These tics are coping mechanisms, repeated behaviours to give familiar shape to experiences that are new and threatening. A tic says PLZ I DONT LIKE THIS, over and over again – just not, usually, in those words.

So, the nine-year-old in her Geography lesson who fashioned a typeface scream from out of her solitary distress did so on behalf of countless of her kind. Her great effort, on such a paltry forum as her tiny Teams chatbox, poorly overseen by a teacher with little time and bad tech, must surely be amplified by anyone who has the chance.

Conservative Woman, to its great credit, was the first to take up her cause. I would like to follow suit and try to understand what, exactly, is being taught to our children and why it is so many cannot bear it.

Worth reading in full.

Dr Murphy goes on to outline the process of ‘derealisation’ that can occur when children lose their ability to engage with what is real, as distinct from is virtual. It is not that they are not learning what they should be learning, but that they are learning that none of it matters.

Crunching the Data on Population Immunity

From Sky.com

Our next post comes from Jonny Peppiatt, a regular contributor to Lockdown Sceptics. Epidemiology enthusiast that he is, he has produced a parody of a SAGE paper, with a fun surprise at the end:

Here follows a SAGE-style paper.

Introduction and assumptions

The most important piece of information with regards to our position on the timeline of the pandemic is our proximity to the point defined as herd immunity – the point at which it is no longer possible for cases to rise exponentially.

In order to assess this, a number of factors need to be taken into consideration, and a number of assumptions need to be made.

For the purposes of this paper, it will be assumed that the Non Pharmaceutical Interventions have been 100% effective in protecting the elderly and vulnerable, and therefore, there will be no crossover between those who have had prior infection, and therefore obtained assumed immunity to the virus, and those who have received the vaccine, for which, it will be assumed, 80% immunity will be obtained upon receipt of the first dose and 90% immunity upon receipt of the second.

In order to better assess the data, it will be assumed that “80% immunity” will mean 100% immunity in 80% of those administered the first dose of the vaccine.

While the WHO and the Stanford paper (pdf) by John Ioannidis estimate the Infection Fatality Rate to be in the region of 0.23%, this paper will assume an IFR for the UK of 0.33% due to the higher rate of obesity than the global population, the UK population being more aged than the global population, and the lower levels of metabolic health found in the UK population compared to the global population.

Further, it will be assumed that the IFR in the spring wave of the pandemic was 0.67% due to the increased impact on the care home population.

Note: while this contradicts the initial assumption that the elderly and vulnerable have been protected up to this point, the crossover will be assumed to be insignificant as those who are aged and vulnerable and who were infected in the spring wave of the pandemic are unlikely to form a significant proportion of the population as at today’s date.

It will be assumed that the IFR in the winter wave of the pandemic was 0.33%, in line with the assumed UK population IFR.

It will also be assumed, as a result of the vaccine rollout, that deaths will continue to decline at a rate of 4.6% per day as that has been the average decline since the peak recorded on January 19th. The total number of cases required to reach these death figures will be extrapolated for three weeks and an IFR of 0.08% will be applied to these cases due to the efficacy of the vaccine. It will be assumed each of those deaths relates to a case that has been contracted as of today’s date.

It will be assumed that those aged 0-14 form the population who had prior immunity due to the statistically insignificant number of deaths from COVID-19 arising from this population.

Finally, it will be assumed that immunity is lasting.

Modelling

Vaccinations
1st dose: 16,423,082
2nd dose: 573,724
Immunity is calculated at (573,724 x 0.9) + ((16,423,082-573,724) x 0.8) = 13,203,038.

Spring cases leading to effective immunity
Deaths up to July 31st were recorded to be 41,294. Applying an IFR of 0.67% as assumed above gives the number of suspected cases, and therefore assumed immunity, of 6,163,284.

Autumn and Winter cases leading to effective immunity
Deaths from August 1st up to February 17th were recorded as 78,091. Applying an IFR of 0.33% as assumed above gives the number of suspected cases, and therefore assumed immunity, of 23,663,939.

Future deaths leading to effective immunity
Extrapolating the deaths on the trend currently seen of a decline per day of 4.6% over the next three weeks gives a cumulative death toll of 5,736 up to March 9th. Applying the IFR of 0.08% as assumed above gives the number of suspected cases, and therefore assumed immunity of 7,170,538.

Prior immunity in the age group 0-14
The size of the population that is aged between 0-14 currently amounts to approximately 11,960,000. As stated above, this figure will be assumed to have full immunity.

Conclusion

This model anticipates that the proportion of the population currently immune stands at 62,160,799/66,650,000. This is equal to 93.3%. There is a possibility that this figure is lower due to crossover of groups identified above.

It should also be noted that applying the WHO IFR of 0.23% throughout the pandemic results in a population immunity figure of 119.4%. Therefore, we conclude that the population immunity figure stands at 93.3%, with a 95% confidence interval of 67.2% – 119.4%.

Stop Press: Dr Marty Makery, a Professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health, has written an interesting op-ed for the Wall Street Journal in which he argues that the USA could be well on its way to herd immunity. Estimating that about 55% of Americans have natural immunity, and that 150 million vaccine doses will have been administered by the end of March, he concludes that “Covid will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life”. Needless to say, his prediction hasn’t been welcomed by his colleagues in public health.

Some medical experts privately agreed with my prediction that there may be very little COVID-19 by April but suggested that I not talk publicly about herd immunity because people might become complacent and fail to take precautions or might decline the vaccine. But scientists shouldn’t try to manipulate the public by hiding the truth. As we encourage everyone to get a vaccine, we also need to reopen schools and society to limit the damage of closures and prolonged isolation. Contingency planning for an open economy by April can deliver hope to those in despair and to those who have made large personal sacrifices.

A Complaint to the General Medical Council

PenWin/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Earlier this year, Saga introduced the requirement that all guests on its cruises must be vaccinated against COVID-19. This rule prevents keen cruisers and retired general dental practitioners Dr Graeme Munro-Hall and Dr Lilian Munro-Hall from taking part in Saga cruises – a clear case of discrimination, according to them. The pair are seeking to challenge this and have written to the General Medical Council urging it to take action. We’re publishing an original essay by them today in which they explain their thinking. Here are the opening paragraphs:

We are retired general dental practitioners and former registrants of the GDC, Dr Graeme Munro-Hall (GDC 45121) and Dr Lilian Munro-Hall (82913). As avid cruisers and potential guests of Saga cruises, we have written to Saga Cruises about their mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for their guests. No reply has been received yet. We, who have declined these vaccines, are being discriminated against by Saga Cruises on the basis of not wanting to participate in a particular form of experimental medical treatment. The FDA describes these vaccines as “Investigational” and “experimental”.

Extracts of the letter are below.

We are seeking advice as to whether it will be an appropriate course of action to request that the General Medical Council take action against Saga Cruises, and specifically Nigel Blanks, the Chief Executive Officer of Saga Cruises, for, in effect, practicing medicine without a licence while being unqualified and unregistered to do so thereby potentially endangering the health and wellbeing of UK citizens.

The General Medical Council must take steps to instruct Saga Cruises and Nigel Blanks to cease and desist immediately from the Practice of Medicine.

We feel this is putting undue pressure on people to undergo an experimental medical treatment.

The Nuremberg Convention in article 1 states that:

any person involved in (medical treatment) must be able to exercise free power of choice and voluntary consent is absolutely essential and that this must be given without any element of duress. Experimental medical treatment requires that the subject know the nature, duration, purpose of the experiment, the method and means by which it is to be conducted, all inconveniences and hazards reasonably to be expected and the effects upon health or person which may possibly come from participation in the experiment.

On January 20th this year, Nigel Blanks, Chief Executive Officer for Saga Cruises, published a statement in which he, on behalf of Saga Cruises, announced the introduction of mandatory COVID-19 vaccination on all guests wishing to partake in a Saga Cruise.

This was followed by an extensive media advertising campaign announcing that all guests must be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to travel with Saga Cruises.

This goes against the recommendations with regard to mandatory vaccination of:

The UK Government
The Council of Europe

It also involves:

Unquantifiable health risks by putting undue pressure on some people to participate in the largest medical experiment in human history;
Breaches of human rights and the tenets of Informed Consent and is a violation of article one of the Nuremberg Code;
Discrimination on philosophical, religious, medical and age grounds;

What Saga Cruises are doing is practising medicine.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: A column by Richard Littlejohn in yesterdays Daily Mail made the case as for no jab, no job and was a disappointing read:

Our boiler went on the blink this week. Frankly, who would you want to come and repair it – someone who’s had the vaccine or Typhoid Mary’s spotty kid brother, runny nose in full flow?

The Infamous Ferguson Model and its Role in the UK’s Pandemic Response

It’s a cornucopia of original essays today! The last one we’re publishing is a new analysis of the critical role played of Imperial College’s epidemiological modelling in the UK’s response to COVID-19. The author, Derek Winton, is a coder and a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Reform UK Scotland running on an anti-lockdown platform. Here, he examines the Imperial model and its manifold failings from the perspective of future historians, who are bound, he says, to shake their heads and wonder: ‘What were they thinking?’

Historians are sure to pore over this ‘unprecedented’ period for centuries to come. It is my belief that in the fullness of time, they will come to regard our response to the Sars-CoV-2 virus as monumental folly. In particular, they will be bewildered by the role of deeply flawed computer modelling in triggering a chain of events that fundamentally, and perhaps catastrophically, damaged Western society.

I should outline my own credentials on this subject:

I have an MA in Philosophy and Mathematics and a MSc in Computational Intelligence. I have been developing software professionally for more than 10 years and also have experience working with the code produced by academic institutions. In this particular instance I am a contributor to the official online software repository for the Imperial Model. I have submitted hundreds of lines of comments that explain the functioning of the model and these comments were accepted by the Imperial team.

Background

To put the role of the Imperial Model in the proper context, it’s worth reminding ourselves of the situation as it stood in February 2020.

There had been rumours for a few months of a new virus in China. Footage of Chinese citizens being forcibly dragged from their homes by Government agents in hazmat suits and locked in hermetically sealed vans. Tales of doctors who, after sounding the alarm, mysteriously disappeared.

Viruses had emerged in the recent past though and their impact had been relatively small outside of Asia. Many in the West watched with interest more than deep concern.

Then the virus arrived in Italy and events took a darker turn. Footage of overflowing ICU units, ventilator shortages, exhausted doctors. People were dying horribly, in the West, and in large numbers. Then Italy did something unprecedented in a western democracy. It locked down.

Soon the rest of Europe started to implement lockdown measures of their own. Ireland then Denmark then Bulgaria. In a few days, almost every country in Europe and many more around the world had started to implement a policy that until that year had never been used to deal with a pandemic.

Two countries chose a different path. In line with the plans they had in place to deal with pandemics, they chose to build capacity and mitigate the effects of the pandemic while building ‘herd immunity’. Those countries were Britain and Sweden.

The UK’s Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Officer, Chris Whitty and Patrick Valance chose, with the apparent full backing of the Government, not to panic and proceeded in line with our well-developed pandemic strategy based on hundreds of years of clinical experience.

Then one of the members of SAGE, Neil Ferguson of Imperial College, published a paper on March 16th predicting up to half a million deaths. That paper was then picked up by the media and the conclusions were duly published.

Public pressure mounted and just a week later the UK Government took the unprecedented step of issuing a stay-at-home order for the entire nation, describing the Imperial College model as the ‘gold standard’. Indeed from the report itself: “Results in this paper have informed policymaking in the UK and other countries in the last weeks” (Page 1 – Summary).

Some eyebrows were raised. Decisions of this magnitude should surely be subject to the highest level of scrutiny. People started to ask for more details on the model.

Worth reading in full.

Follow Derek Winton and his campaign on twitter at @derekwinton.

The Franklin Tests and the Moran Doctrine – A Reader’s Thoughts on Lockdown

Bob Moran’s cartoon in the Telegraph on May 29th, 2020

Can lockdown ever be justified? If so, how? A Lockdown Sceptics reader has written in with some thoughts prompted by the latest episode of Irreverend:

I’m a new convert (see what I did there?) to the Irreverend podcast, which I believe has had the occasional shout-out on Lockdown Sceptics. The podcast features two engaging and articulate men of the cloth, the Reverend Dr Jamie Franklin and the Reverend Thomas Pelham, talking about the news of the day – usually about the lockdown, which they are firmly against, and sometimes about more niche ecclesiastical matters. I’m not a Christian myself, but like many people who are dismayed by the direction society has taken of late I find myself increasingly turning for some degree of solace towards the spiritual and moral traditions of our country that have been steadily eroded in recent decades, and find this podcast to be a comforting and enjoyable listen.

In the latest episode, Rev Franklin made a moral argument against the lockdown, which I thought might be worth setting out for the benefit of your readers. It’s nothing any of us haven’t heard before, but as a formulation I found it particularly clear and helpful in organising my own thinking on the topic. I’m paraphrasing somewhat, and perhaps not using his exact words, but the argument was more or less the following.

Rev. Franklin argued that for a lockdown to be justified, it would have to meet all four of the following conditions. Let’s call them the Franklin Tests:

a) The threat that the lockdown is introduced to counter (in this case Covid) must represent an extremely grave, even “existential” societal threat, in terms of the death toll and the wider knock-on effect (e.g. the effect of the NHS being “overrun”). That is, we should only lock down if the situation is very, very serious indeed.

b) The lockdown measures themselves must have demonstrable efficacy in countering the threat. We should only lock down if it actually works, and can be shown to work.

c) There must be no other measures available, less intrusive and disruptive to our civil liberties, that would achieve an equivalent or comparable effect in countering the threat. We should only lock down if it really is the only option.

d) The harms caused by the lockdown measures must be shown beyond reasonable doubt not to outweigh the benefits. We should only lock down if definitely doesn’t do more harm than good.

Readers of Lockdown Sceptics will, of course, take little persuading that the Government has failed to make a persuasive case that the lockdown measures pass each of these tests. Some might accept (although many would not) that a case could, just maybe, have been made in March 2020, based on the information available at the time. But does that case really still stand up in February 2021, given everything we now know about Covid itself, the discovery of effective treatments, the availability of a vaccine, and the huge amount of data that calls into question the efficacy of lockdowns and demonstrates the harms that they cause?

Of course, we need to interrogate the detail, and to have an open and honest debate. For Franklin Test (a) we need to look at things such as the Infection Fatality Rate, which is a scientific/medical matter, and also consider what level of deaths from a seasonal respiratory virus we consider, as a society, to be acceptable without needing to resort to extraordinary preventative measures, which is essentially a moral and political question. For Test (b) we need to look at evidence relating to the efficacy of non-pharmaceutical interventions: mask studies, comparisons of different territories (Florida vs California, Brazil vs Peru, Sweden vs the UK) and so on. For Test (c) we need to consider the merits of less intrusive measures – Sweden again, where the public was encouraged to take certain sensible measures but were not locked down by law, as well as alternative options such as the enhanced shielding approach advocated by the Great Barrington Declaration. For Test (d) we need to conduct a cost-benefit analysis, weighing the evidence showing the definite harms that lockdowns cause (missed cancer diagnoses, suicides and other deaths of despair, the impact of the economic damage caused, etc.) against the claimed benefits of lockdown.

We should also consider another position which I believe has been put forward forcefully by the cartoonist Bob Moran, so I shall call this the Moran Doctrine. This is, simply, that the Government should not have the power to impose lockdowns under any circumstances: even if each of the four Franklin Tests were met, a lockdown would not represent a legitimate measure. Just as the state should never torture anybody, under any circumstances, the Government should not have the ability to “lock down” its citizens. We should be given accurate information and clear advice, but we should never have our human rights and civil liberties curtailed by law to this dramatic extent.

Stop Press: Listen to the latest episode of Irreverend, in which Rev. Franklin sets out his ‘tests’, here. It includes a review of the news, of the Hitchens v Hodges debate and an instalment of one listener’s rewrite of the New Testament for the age of Covidianism.

An Impossible-to-Follow SMS from NHS Test and Trace

One reader has had a bossy text from the Test and Tracers, but is a little unsure how he is supposed to comply:

I had the pleasure of the following text message from NHS Test and Trace (presumably someone in my circle gave them my number): “You have been identified as a contact of someone who has recently tested positive for COVID-19. You must now stay at home and self-isolate for 10 days from the date of your last contact with them.”

Obvious to anyone that the command makes zero sense from a logical point of view. You are not telling me who this someone is so therefore how do I know when I last had contact with them?

Also of course there is no right of appeal. A bad actor may have given out my number. 

For me (as a man of numbers, logic and reason!) It just sums up the absurdity of it all. 

Round-up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Twenty-nine today: “Love Removal Machine” by the Cult, “Psychotic Reaction” by the Count Five, “Some Play Dirty” by Cockney Rejects, “Power To All Our Friends” by Cliff Richard,  “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)” by Cinderella, “The More Things Change” by Cinderella, “No Particular Place To Go” by Chuck Berry, “Nothing to Fear” by Chris Rea, “Maybe Tomorrow” by the Chords, “The Future Is Past” by Chicory Tip, “Bad Days” by the Charlatans, “I’m Not Afraid of You” by Carmel, “Panic Station” by Muse, “Freedom” by Rages Against the Machine, “I Just Don’t Like This Kind Of Living” by Hank Williams, “Look Out Here Comes Tomorrow” by the Monkees, “Year Of The Rat” by Badly Drawn Boy, “There’s Got To Be A Better Way” by Hugo Montenegro, “Nothing Lasts Forever” by Echo and The Bunnymen, “Is That All There Is?” by John Parish and PJ Harvey, “Like Humans Do” by David Byrne, “Power To The People” by John Lennon & the Plastic Ono Band, “Get Up, Stand Up” by Bob Marley, “What Do I Get?” by Buzzcocks, “How Do You Think It Feels” by Lou Reed, “Sadness” by RDF, “Alive And Kicking” by Simple Minds, “So Lonely” by the Police and “Sheep” by Pink Floyd.

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 as well as post comments below the line, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email Lockdown Sceptics 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 Coca-Cola, and the white fragility workshops to which some of their are employees are being subjected. The PostMillenial has the details:

Outspoken critic of critical race theory and knitting community dissident Karlyn Borysenko shared an alleged whistleblower account from inside the Coca-Cola company. In a series of screenshots, she reveals that employees within the company are being required to “try to be less white”.

The images show an online employee training course called “Confronting Racism with Robin DiAngelo”, which is a 49-minute webinar. The first slide Borysenko shared, on “confronting racism”, reads: “Understanding What it Means to Be White, Challenging What it Means to Be Racist.”

The next instructs that “To be less white is to” “be less oppressive”, “be less arrogant”, “be less certain”, “be less defensive”, “be less ignorant”, “be more humble”, “listen”, “believe”, “break with apathy” and finally to “break with white solidarity”.

The lesson continues, saying: “In the U.S. and other Western nations, white people are socialised to feel that they are inherently superior because they are white. Research shows that by age three to four, children understand that it is better to be white.”

The final slide that Borysenko shares reads simply: “Try to be less white.”

Worth reading in full.

The anti-whiteness course is available on LinkedIn.

Stop Press: More than 120 charities give staff unconscious bias training, reports the Telegraph. The lists includes Parkinson’s UK, the Alzheimer’s society, the Red Cross and the International Rescue Committee. Just 120?

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

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: MailOnline has a story about a delivery driver who is thought to be the first worker sacked for refusing to wear a mask. He was inside his lorry, and during a delivery to a Tate and Lyle sugar refinery he ignored requests that he should put on a mask in the cab. Bosses at the site were concerned he could pass on the virus while speaking out of the window.

Stop Press 2: The devolved administration in Scotland have shelved the idea of requiring residents to wear medical grade masks, according to Herald Scotland, as clinical advice has indicated that there isn’t much evidence to back it up.

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 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. In February, Facebook deleted the GBD’s page because it “goes against our community standards”. 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 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. Sign up to the newsletter here.

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

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, although that case, too, has been refused permission to proceed. There’s still one more thing that can be tried. You can read about that and contribute here.

The GoodLawProject and three MPs – Debbie Abrahams, Caroline Lucas and Layla Moran – brought a Judicial Review against Matt Hancock for failing to publish details of lucrative contracts awarded by his department and it was upheld. The Court ruled Hancock had acted unlawfully.

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

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.

Samaritans

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

Shameless Begging Bit

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And Finally…

The good folks at the Babylon Bee have produced a make-believe video in which they imagine what life might have been like in 2020 if we’d flattened the curve in two weeks and hadn’t all been imprisoned in our homes for the best part of 12 months. Among the highlights: Zoom goes bust, people who still wear masks are seen as deranged conspiracy theorists and toilet paper does not run out. Worth watching in full.