Month: March 2021

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Civil Disobedience Growing Among OAPs

Cartoon by Bob Moran

This coming Monday, March 8th, is the first key date in Boris’s roadmap. It is the date schools across England will reopen and university students can return – albeit just those doing practical courses. It is the date when one person can visit someone else in a care home – albeit in PPE and clutching a recent negative test result. It is the date people will be permitted to meet outside in public spaces to socialise and not just to exercise – albeit only in pairs.

Unsurprisingly, however, the already vaccinated are beginning to ignore this glacial, excessively cautious reopening. They are already meeting up with people, even indoors, as Guido notes, commenting on a recent data release from the ONS.

Buried in the latest ONS data dump of Covid research is a remarkable – if logical – statistic. Just 33% of over 80s have not met with anyone indoors since having their jab, with 43% admitting to meeting with people other than their carers or support bubble after receiving the first dose. After two jabs, this explicit rule-breaking rises to 48%. Despite the widespread rule-breaking, hospitalisation and death rates amongst the age group are tumbling…

Cheeky octogenarians are not alone – spritely 72-year-old Lord Sumption yesterday made a splash by telling UnHerd that “sometimes the most public-spirited thing that you can do with despotic laws like these is to ignore them” – even claiming that a quiet campaign of “civil disobedience” has already begun. At least among the elderly, the data does seem to agree with him…

The ONS data release provides further details.

Of over 80s-who had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, a total of 67% reported that they had met somebody they do not live with, indoors, since being vaccinated.

More than a third (37%) had met with a member of their support bubble, indoors, since being vaccinated, and 23% had met with their child or children indoors.

It would appear that their perception of risk has altered fundamentally, as the ONS statistician comments:

The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination is, no doubt, a huge relief to many people aged over 80, as we can see that almost half of all them, when asked, considered COVID-19 to be a major or significant personal risk before receiving the vaccination – this decreases to just 5% having the same concern after hypothetically receiving both doses of the vaccine.

Boris has appealed for vaccinated octogenarians to abide by the rules, but it appears to have fallen on deaf ears.

More Than Half of Positive Test Results in Schools Likely to be False Positives

Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP

Children returning to school on Monday face being subjected to extensive rules and guidance designed to make the school ‘Covid-secure’. This includes frequent and regular testing of all students and staff. One mother, healthcare professional and reader of Lockdown Sceptics wrote in to tell us why her children will not be taking part.

Mass testing using lateral flow tests will be rolled out across all secondary schools across England from Monday March 8th as all pupils are [deep breath] going back to school. A test is required before each child is allowed to return followed by two further tests between three and five days apart in school. So, three tests in the first week. This is then followed by biweekly testing at home from thereon. “Testing remains voluntary but highly advised” (Department of Health, NHS Test and Trace). I have two children who attend a large comprehensive secondary school. There are just under 1,500 students in the school – if each child takes the three tests in the first week that amounts to 4,500 tests (plus the teachers). If my research tells me right there are just under 3.5 million pupils in state funded secondary schools in England so that is 10.5 million swabs in week one alone, plus the teachers (and plus all the other swabs that are being done elsewhere). Each lateral flow test is a single use disposable plastic swab. I am not sure how the swabs are disposed of but I can be certain they are not recycled – I expect they are incinerated as clinical waste.

My husband and I are both ‘front line’ health care professionals and have opted our children out of testing in key worker school and have indeed opted out for the next phase of testing starting next week. Indeed we have also opted ourselves out of testing at work (also not mandatory). This is because we have many concerns about the flaws of mass testing asymptomatic people. 

Bear with me here. The lateral flow tests have been reported to have a specificity of 99.6% (Preliminary report from the joint PHE Porton Down and University of Oxford SARS-CoV-2 LFD test development and validation cell, 2020). That is to say that if you use a lateral flow test on 1,000 people *known to definitely not have Covid* then it will test negative in 996 of them. Meanwhile the sensitivity of lateral flow is variable depending on the person administering it, ranging from 76% when trained healthcare staff are the operators but falling to 58% when used by self-trained members of the public. Put another way: if 100 people who are *known to definitely have Covid* are tested with lateral flow, the result will be positive in somewhere between 58 and 76 of them. However this is only half the story when it comes to screening a population that has no symptoms. To understand the value of lateral flow when it’s used in this way, we need to understand the idea of Positive Predictive Value (PPV) and Negative Predictive Value (NPV). These are the values that answer the questions “I’ve tested positive, so what are the chances I actually have Covid?” and “I’ve tested negative, so what are the chances I really don’t have Covid?”. The trouble is that the PPV and NPV vary depending on the prevalence of the condition you’re testing for – if the condition you’re hunting for (in this case Covid) by using a given screening test (in this case lateral flow) is rare, then the PPV of the test will drop while the NPV improves – in other words a positive test is less likely to mean you really do have the disease, while a negative test is more likely to mean you don’t have the disease. Conversely if the condition is common then a positive test is more likely to mean you really do have the disease (i.e., the PPV increases) whilst the NPV drops.

Take my children’s school as an example: approximately 1,450 pupils. Let’s say six of them have Covid (based on the current estimated national average of 1 infection per 230 people – although in fact the estimated prevalence in my local area is even lower). Let’s also say that 66% of those will test positive (as per the stated sensitivity of lateral flow). That’s four positive tests and two negative tests amongst the children with actual Covid. This leaves 1,444 without Covid. 99.6% of them (i.e., 1438 pupils) will correctly test negative, so six will test positive. Therefore there are ten positive tests amongst the whole school, of whom four actually have Covid and six actually don’t. Some rudimentary maths will show that this equates to a PPV of 40%. In other words any pupil receiving a positive test has a less than 50/50 chance of actually having Covid. The reassuring thing is that based on these numbers a negative test is 99.9% likely to mean a child truly doesn’t have Covid, but the price of this ‘reassurance’ is a few unlucky children being removed from school (again) and put through another unpleasant and invasive test, not to mention the possible risk of anxiety, the impact on their family having to isolate whilst the PCR test results are awaited, but also the environmental impact. This is one of my main concerns – the environmental impact of using millions of disposable plastic swabs each week (gov.uk has a daily/weekly count available – at the time of writing there were 4,513,953 tests carried out over the last 7 days. This is a combination of lateral flow and PCR tests). The number of tests is going to rise dramatically over the next week and this is of huge concern to us as a family. I have raised this as a concern in a recent medical webinar. I was not completely alone however I genuinely think not many people have thought about this issue (someone did raise concern related to the types of plastics used in the swabs). This is at complete odds with the environmental campaign against single use plastic and the effects on our planet. Even more ironically children are taught extensively at school about protection of the planet and individual responsibility. What are we teaching them now?… I will leave the PPE and wipes and disposable masks and plastic EVERYWHERE for now as I am starting to sweat … and the children want to watch David Attenborough A Life on Our Planet

Stop Press: Covid Testing in school has been recommended by the Government, but is not mandatory, as we have previously reported. Nevertheless, most schools are doing their best to test all their pupils and according to a survey conducted by ITV this is eating up huge amounts of time that will take away from teaching time in many schools. Only 9% of schools have consent for the tests from all parents, and a majority are struggling to get consent from more than half. Perhaps because it would have teachers lives easier, 80% of them believe that testing should have been made compulsory by the Government.

Stop Press 2: The other core component of the guidance is on mask-wearing in the classroom. The Telegraph reports on the UsForThem letter to Gavin Williamson asking him to publish the evidence showing that masks interrupt transmission or abandon the measure. Meanwhile, 32 Tory MPs have demanded that the measure be dropped after Easter.

Stop Press 3: A teacher has written in to describe an unanticipated difficulty with ‘remote learning’.

My head of department went AWOL the other day at one point because she fell victim to a sophisticated online scam while teaching online. The scammers purported to be from her internet service provider fixing an issue with her connection (which they simulated) and sneaked into her phone by the back door, emptying her bank account in the process. Had she not been trying to teach an online lesson at the time it wouldn’t have happened – she of course was desperate to get ‘the problem’ sorted as fast as possible. Luckily she got the money back from the bank but it’s a mark of how vulnerable relying on multiple internet access can be with all the distractions of trying to manage online teaching, to say nothing of the potential for far more sinister hacking impacting on the children involved. For this teacher going back to ‘real’ teaching can’t come soon enough.

Another Foreign Travel Ban

In case anyone is tempted to sneak off for an Easter break to one of the countries that have declared themselves open to vaccinated Brits, the Government has made it illegal to leave the country for non-work reasons from March 8th. In guidance published yesterday, it states:

From March 8th 2021, you must complete this form to declare the reason that you need to travel abroad.

You must complete this form if you are travelling outside the UK from England. Different rules apply for international travel from Northern IrelandScotland and Wales.

You don’t need to complete the form for travel within the UK, to Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

You should print a copy of the completed form or save it to a mobile phone or other device.

You may be asked to show this declaration form at the port of departure. You may carry evidence to support your reason for travel.

Entering a port of departure to travel internationally without a completed form is a criminal offence, for which you could be fined.

If you try to travel abroad without a legally permitted reason, you may also be fined for breaching the stay at home requirements

Writing in the Telegraph, Chris Leadbeater is not impressed.

There is a definite element of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to today’s announcement of a new “Declaration to Travel” – which will come into force on Monday (March 8th).

At first glance, it might seem as innovative and attractive – to that section of the electorate which wants even tougher restrictions, at all costs – as an Everlasting Gobstopper, or a stick of chewing gum which runs through the flavours of a three-course dinner, including the pudding.

But on closer inspection, it is revealed to be as pointless and impractical as, well, a piece of confectionery that turns the consumer into a big blueberry – or a Fizzy Lifting Drink where the imbiber has to burp to stay grounded.

As with much that has come out of Downing Street and the offices of state around it during the pandemic, the Declaration to Travel is fantasy thinking. But not in a good way.

Let us look, first of all, at what it is meant to do. Officially, it is designed to ensure that anyone attempting to leave the UK in the coming weeks has good reason to do so –and can demonstrate as such by typing their details into a three-page document that can be waved at the airport or ferry terminal, at anybody shoving their beak into your business.

But what will it actually achieve? Nothing – beyond scaring any lingering urge to go anywhere out of the citizens of a country who have been locked down, threatened with quarantine, and gaslit with the prospect of fines for all manner of minor offences for the best part of the last year.

Worth reading in full.

An Update From the Lockdown Sceptics Senior Doctor

Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA

We have an update today on the latest NHS data from the Senior Doctor who writes regularly for Lockdown Sceptics. Good news, but with a few oddities.

At the risk of testing readers patience for graphics, I’m firstly going to have a look at the regular hospital statistics to assess what has changed in the last couple of weeks and compare the information with where we were last year. Then I will raise a few issues that have been puzzling me for some time – essentially discrepancies between what I hear in the media and what I see in the data. I apologise in advance for having more questions than answers in this update. Much of the data I have looked at this week does not seem to fit together with official pronouncements and I don’t have ready explanations for why that might be.

Here is the chart for COVID-19 inpatients in English Hospitals (Graph 1). Readers will observe that the number of inpatients is now lower than at the beginning of December. In fact, the inpatient numbers are equivalent to where they were in October. Importantly, they continue to fall at an impressive rate – approximately 2,500 – 3,000 per week and the trend shows no sign of slowing down. To put it another way, the numbers of COVID-19 patients in English hospitals has fallen from about 30% of available beds to under 10% in six weeks. I will discuss possible reasons for this reduction later in the piece. Readers will also note that the trend is uniform across all geographic regions, with a slight lag between the curves for London and the South East and the rest of the country. This has been attributed to the transit of the so called ‘Kent variant’ strain. The same trends are seen in ICU numbers, albeit with a lag due to longer lengths of stay.

Graph 1

I find Graph 2 interesting. This is a comparison of the spring 2020 inpatient curve with the recent winter one. Readers should be aware that this chart is derivative. I have taken two time series by identifying the peak dates of COVID-19 inpatients, then worked back and forward for a few weeks either side of the peak to compare the curves. The graph shows that the peak number of COVID-19 inpatients was higher in the winter than the spring, but that the decline from the peak has been more rapid – the grey line is almost at the same level as the blue line on the right-hand side. ‘Day 70’ in the spring series represents May 31st, so in terms of COVID-19 inpatients we are already where we were at the beginning of summer last year. This observation fits with the community testing data which shows a significant reduction in positive cases in recent weeks.

There are several possibilities to explain the observable difference, and they may all be playing a part – one is the vaccination effect. Another is the intensity of testing – we may have been under recording COVID-19 patients in the spring and possibly over recording them in the winter. Advocates of ‘non-pharmaceutical interventions’ will probably attribute the difference to societal lockdown. Adherents to the other side of the argument may claim this is a consequence of ‘herd immunity’. It may even be that the virus recedes in warmer weather. Whatever the reason, the burden of COVID-19 in hospitals is falling faster now than in the spring last year.

Graph 2

Next, I examine admissions to hospital from the community in Graph 3. This looks a bit confusing as all the lines converge on the right-hand side, but it’s an important graphic because the downward trend of falling admissions implies that the number of inpatients is likely to continue to fall in the next few weeks. Simply put, if the number of patients coming into the funnel is lower than the numbers being discharged, then the overall hospital numbers will go down quite quickly. We don’t have access to rolling discharge figures as these are only released on a monthly basis, but I think it’s reasonable to infer that hospital discharges have increased substantially in the last few weeks and lengths of stay have fallen.

For a non-graphical comparison which might be easier to understand, the three-day average admissions in London have dropped from nearly 800 a day in London to about 70 per day now. Across the whole of England, one patient with COVID-19 is admitted from the community every 150 seconds, compared to one every 30 seconds in mid-January.  On March 3rd there were 478 COVID-19 patients admitted to English Hospitals – similar levels to the first part of October. I haven’t heard Simon Stevens updating the nation with those particular statistics, but then I don’t watch much TV and he’s a busy person. I also find it strange that my colleagues who were so keen to appear in the media emphasising how awful things were in January have been more reticent in informing the public that matters are now largely under control. Why is that?

Graph 3

I now want to look at some data on deaths, which I find puzzling for a variety of reasons. Graph 4 shows ONS recorded COVID-19 deaths in December and January. I have not included deaths in people under 60 years of age because they are so low as to be statistically irrelevant. Graph 4 is interesting because it clearly shows the age stratification of COVID deaths – the older you are, the more likely you are to die with the virus. This graphic contradicts much of what I have heard in the press about the new variant being more deadly in younger age groups. All the data I have seen from hospital admissions, ICU audits and death figures show that there is no difference in age-related mortality or disease severity between Spring 2020 and this Winter. I don’t understand why this is being reported differently in the media – am I missing something? Do the experts have access to information that I can’t see? If so, I would be grateful if this data could be made available because I find cognitive dissonance uncomfortable.

Graph 4

Graph 4 also shows that COVID-19 deaths peaked at the end of January and are on a clear declining trend. I observed in a previous piece that on January 26th at the Downing Street press conference, Professor Whitty said: “I think we have to be realistic that the rate of mortality, the number of people dying a day, will come down relatively slowly over the next two weeks – and will probably be flat for a while now.” Graph 4 clearly refutes that prediction. In fact, all the predictions around deaths have been wildly inaccurate. PHE predicted a peak of 4,070 COVID-19 deaths per day which would occur at the beginning of December. Imperial College said COVID-19 deaths would peak at 2,170 per day on 30th December. Warwick University were the closest predicting 1,700 deaths per day on 23rd December. The real daily peak of recorded COVID-19 deaths was 1,249 on January 19th.

Chart 1 shows all cause deaths recorded in England and Wales as a Nightingale plot. Readers can clearly see the peak excess deaths in the spring. Note that these figures are all-cause deaths, not just COVID-19 deaths. What puzzles me about this data is the lower number of overall deaths in the recent winter compared to last spring. Graph 5 below shows that the number of COVID-19 recorded deaths is much the same as the spring, so it appears that non COVID-19 deaths are considerably lower than usual. How can that be? Could it be due to the complete absence of influenza deaths this winter? Or did the 2020 epidemic burn through the ‘dry stubble’, killing people that would have died in the first two months of 2021 willy nilly?

Chart 1

In Graph 5 I have plotted weekly deaths recorded by the ONS where ‘COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate’ according to location of death. It suggests that COVID-19 related deaths were similar in number in the Winter compared to the Spring and that most COVID-19 deaths were recorded in hospitals. This observation begs several questions. We know from the hospital admissions data that there were approximately 75% more patients hospitalised with COVID-19 in the Winter compared to the Spring, but there were roughly the same number of deaths. Hence as a percentage, the in-hospital mortality was substantially lower in the Winter than in the Spring. If the new variant really is more deadly, how can this be? It is possible that the hospital admission criteria may have been lower in the winter, so there may have been more patients, but they were less ill (relatively speaking) than in the Spring. Or maybe they really were sicker, but treatment has improved very substantially. The vaccine effect might explain some of the reduced mortality in the last few weeks: SPI-M (one of the Government’s advisory bodies) has recently released data showing that the rate of COVID-19 deaths has fallen faster than its modelling from the beginning of February. However, I think it’s unlikely that vaccines alone can explain the lower overall peak deaths in January. Whatever the reason, it appears to me that the cohort of COVID-19 patients in the Winter were much less likely to die than those admitted in the Spring.

Graph 5

Graph 6 reinforces the point. It shows all-cause recorded deaths by week of the year and location of death. The care home spike in the Spring is visible (yellow bars in weeks 15 – 19). Overall, the proportions of deaths in hospital and at home are about the same and the total number of deaths is significantly lower this Winter than last Spring.

Graph 6

Finally, an article in the Financial Times caught my eye this morning – it was reported in detail in yesterday’s edition of Lockdown Sceptics, but I think it bears repetition. The World Obesity Federation has published a study purporting to show mortality rates from COVID-19 are 10 times higher in countries where 50% of the population are overweight (Chart 2). At first glance there are some problems with this study – correlation does not imply causation, and one is always suspicious of PR manipulation when a report on obesity deaths is released to coincide with ‘World Obesity Day’. The charts presented seem to have curious distinct separations of mortality rates without any intermediate grading – one obvious potential error could be that in developing countries the number of COVID-19 deaths may be under-recorded. Nevertheless, the basic conclusion does fit with multiple other reputable published sources.

Once again, I experience uncomfortable cognitive dissonance when the press, including the taxpayer-funded national broadcaster, repeatedly emphasise the uncommon tragedy of young healthy people dying from COVID-19, but omit reference to the far greater numbers of very old or very fat people falling victim to the disease. I am reminded of Mark Twain’s comment to the effect that: “If you don’t read the news you’re uninformed. If you do read the news you’re misinformed.”

Chart 2

I remarked at the top of the article that I have many more questions than answers. My root cause for bewilderment is this. Reading the published data over the last 12 months leads me to believe that COVID-19 is mainly dangerous to specific segments of the population – principally the over-65s and the overweight. I have not seen any convincing evidence that people under 60 are seriously at risk unless they have pre-existing significant medical problems or are very unlucky – there is emerging evidence of specific underlying genetic susceptibilities to COVID-19 which might explain some of the deaths in younger age groups.

The latest figures show community cases falling, hospital occupancy dropping and vaccination rates soaring, particularly among the vulnerable older age groups.

Therefore, why is it necessary to deprive the vast majority of the population of their civil liberties until June 21st for an infection which poses minimal risk to their health?

The economic damage of lockdown has been starkly revealed by the Chancellor in his recent budget. The relationship between public health and national prosperity is widely accepted. Despite obvious collateral harms, no ‘cost-benefit’ analysis has been provided to justify unprecedented governmental actions implemented on the advice of unelected public health academics. Can anyone explain to me why this is a rational position for our parliamentary representatives to adopt?

Isle of Man Locks Down Again – So Much For Zero Covid!

Lockdown was lifted on the Isle of Man recently, with borders closures, tough rules backed by prison sentences and a supportive population all credited with bringing the infection rate down to zero. Today, the island is back in lockdown. Our regular contributor, Guy de la Bédoyère, is unimpressed.

The Isle of Man has announced a three-week lockdown and school closures. Chief Minister Howard Quayle has his finger on the pulse:

The virus spreads when people mix and so we need to do all we can to minimise that mixing … In the interests of children and broader society, we need to prevent children from mixing.

There you have it. It’s in the Isle of Man children’s best interests to be prevented from mixing. I thought we’d all begun to understand that the exact opposite is true, but in this Orwellian era Quayle’s pronouncement should occasion no surprise.

The tragedy for the Isle of Man’s politicians in the House of Keys is that just like the Land of St Jacinda they thought their lockdowns had the power to annihilate the disease. And still do. The island has reported 58 cases, most of which are linked to an infected ferry crew member. That’s unfortunate because the only option really then would be to ban ferries too. The culprit is the ‘Kent’ variant spreading rapidly among the island’s young people.

The most recent bout of restrictions had only been lifted as recently as the end of January, and last year there was a taste of normality with seven months of no restrictions.

The best quote of all comes once more from Howard Quayle:

I do believe though that if we get this right one more time – if we stamp out once and for all the transmission that has been sitting under the surface for some time now –and in parallel if we protect our vaccination programme – this could hopefully be the last time.

If all is well, as we progress over the next 21 days, I sincerely hope that we will not have to tighten up further. It has worked before. We know what to do.

He hopes to “get this right one more time” because “it has worked before”. Except that it obviously didn’t work before because if it had there’d be no need for another time. But he is confident that with this latest lockdown the virus will be stamped out for good. Yes, Mr Quayle, just like all the other viruses that human beings have stamped out ‘for good’ so easily.

I don’t know what’s more incredible: that politicians can continue to come out with these insane promises, or that so many people are continuing to believe them. How can it be that one of the most invasive, volatile, and contagious viruses ever to afflict mankind is also the one uniquely susceptible to permanent eradication with the simple measure of a lockdown – especially if two previous lockdowns demonstrably didn’t get rid of it?

The Isle of Man was already pioneering our local version of the New Zealand prison island model. Only residents and key workers were allowed in. But since it was one of the latter who brought Covid back, how long before even they are consigned to guarded compounds? Or just banned outright? Perhaps the island could be supplied by helicopter drops?

It’s at times like this you really do start to get a picture of the hideous rabbit hole this crisis is starting to go down. But there is one small glimmer of hope. Quayle seems to be intimating that the vaccines might be the way out. Let’s hope so, because right now there seems to be absolutely nothing else in sight that is going to stop this relentless march towards a lifetime of endless lockdowns, incarcerated communities, and a society where the only means of interaction is within a Zoom screen.

Follow The Politics, Not The Science

We must be “guided by the science” was an oft-repeated refrain in the early days of the Covid crisis – except we weren’t guided by the science, at least not after March 23rd, as we abandoned Pandemic Preparedness Plan and followed other countries around the world, not least the People’s Republic of China, into lockdown. Our Government was making political decisions, not scientific ones, as this superb original article that we’re publishing today makes clear. It’s an exhaustive analysis of the careful preparation that went into pandemic planning and why abandoning that approach had nothing to do with science and everything to do with political expediency. It also documents in meticulous detail how the political approach ended up causing more harm than good. It’s by an epidemiologist with a PhD from a Russel Group university and a retired Professor of Forensic Science and Biological Anthropology (whom Toby put in touch when they both contacted Lockdown Sceptics asking if he could introduce them to someone with the other’s expertise). Here is the executive summary:

This article contrasts the policies pursued by the UK Government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic with prior national and international preparedness guidelines. It begins with illustrative reference to Popper’s criteria defining the scientific method and to seven foundational ethical principles proposed for use in public health education. It then examines scientific evidence for the value of Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) in the mitigation of respiratory virus outbreaks.

It finds that, until mid-March 2020, the UK Government followed existing national and international guidelines recommending low stringency NPIs – such as hand hygiene, social distancing and isolating when sick – to slow the spread of infections. There was some scientific evidence these measures were beneficial and accompanying harms limited. Government advisers assessed SARS-CoV-2 disease characteristics and risks realistically, incorporating known behaviour of similar respiratory viruses.

However, on March 23rd, 2020, an unprecedented lockdown – involving travel bans, stay at home orders and mandatory business closures – was implemented in the absence of empirical evidence for their utility. As well as contravening the existing pandemic preparedness guidelines, this violated key principles of public health ethics and human rights.

Many scientific studies have since shown lockdowns cause considerable harm for minimal benefit and the error has been compounded by a failure to abandon these policies as confounding evidence has accumulated.

These harms could have been avoided if the UK Government had respected the pandemic preparedness guidelines and the scientific and ethical principles underpinning them, and resisted media pressure – or coercion – to behave like ‘many other Governments’. Instead, lockdowns have been extended and repeated, and vindictive suppression of scepticism has increased – including that based on accepted principles of law, ethics and scientific inquiry.

Politics – not the science – caused the UK to become a ‘lockdown autocracy’ with one of the worst pandemic outcomes in the world. An inept but unchallenged administration arose, funded by borrowing and fiscal easing, supported by an acquiescent public highly dependent on Government subsidies, and led by media fear mongering with the manufacturing of ‘heroes’ and ‘villains’, vilification of dissent and condemnation of rational and viable alternatives.

The article concludes that an absence of leadership in the UK allowed human rights law and the ethics and principles of evidence-based public health to be disregarded, precipitating economic and social devastation and excess mortality. If a future such occurrence is to be avoided, new legislation and formal censure of those responsible – whether from politics, media, medicine, science or the judiciary – will be necessary

It’s a long one, so grab a coffee, but very much worth reading in full.

COVID-1984

 Credit: JOEL SAGET/AFP

Party slogans continue to roll in:

LOCKDOWN ENDS WHEN THE CLOCK STRIKES 13
TODAY’S HISTORY WAS WRITTEN LAST WEEK
LOCKDOWN IS LIBERTY
VACCINATION IS VALIDATION
CONFINEMENT IS SAFETY
FEAR IS FREEDOM
LOGIC IS ILLOGICAL
TODAY’S LIES ARE TOMORROW’S TRUTHS
HATING OTHERS IS LOVING THE PARTY
ROOM 101 IS IN EVERY HOUSE
NHS ABOVE ALL

One reader spied Orwell’s pen in the name given to Israel’s tracking bracelets which permit new arrivals to isolate at home rather than in a quarantine hotel. These are known as ‘freedom bracelets‘.

Another offered a quote from the novel itself:

“YOU ARE THE DEAD. … REMAIN EXACTLY WHERE YOU ARE. MAKE NO MOVEMENT UNTIL YOU ARE ORDERED.”

Poetry Corner

Today’s poem is from a reader who calls herself Liberty Walker.

Lazy, Lardy, Lethal Lockdown

Britain’s getting fatter,
We’ve given up the gym,
We’re eating up our take-aways,
It’s harder to stay trim. 

Boris closed the swimming pools,
And told us ‘stay at home,
Don’t go out unless you must,
But you can pick up the phone.’ 

You can dial out for pizza,
The Chinese opens late,
If you’re looking for a change,
Get curry for your date.

You’ll have to date on Zoom,
And eat curry while you chat,
No one sees your bottom half,
They cannot see the fat.

This lockdown is quite deadly,
As we eat in great excess,
We’re storing up a crisis  
For our precious NHS. 

Round-up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Twelve today: “Columbia” by Oasis, “Hanging On” by Ellie Goulding, “Lie To Me” by Tom Waits, “How Long” by Ace, “The Future” by Leonard Cohen, “Reason Is Treason” by Kasabian, “The New Pollution” by Beck, “Alienated” by Urban Dance Squad, “It’s Not Funny Anymore” by Babybird, “I Don’t Worry About It” by the Meteors, “Rage Hard” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood and “Trouble Every Day” by Frank Zappa.

Love in the Time of Covid

Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty as Bonnie and Clyde

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.

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Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, we bring you the woke makeover of the military-industrial complex, where NATO, the CIA and the US Army are all bending over backwards to emphasis how diverse and inclusive they are while spending eye-watering sums of money on new and better ways to kill people. Paddy Hannam sums it up for Spiked.

This week, the world’s most powerful military alliance tweeted, “Diversity is our strength.” The tweet featured a video of employees of various ethnic backgrounds, including both men and women, telling viewers to “respect our needs” and “embrace our differences”. NATO encouraged Twitter users to share the tweet – which was in honour of #ZeroDiscriminationDay – “to join us in celebrating the differences that make us stronger”. The organisation which bombed Iraq and Libya back to the dark ages is diverse. How nice.

It’s not just NATO that has leapt on the woke bandwagon. Former CIA boss John Brennan – the ‘principal coordinator’ of a US anti-terror ‘kill list’, who also oversaw American drone strikes – revealed his white guilt this week. “I’m increasingly embarrassed to be a white male these days with what I see other white males say,” he told MSNBC.

The US Army is in on the fun, too. It has its own “Equity and Inclusion Agency”, which launched ‘Project Inclusion’ last year. This operation included “listening sessions with soldiers and civilians worldwide to converse on race, diversity, equity and inclusion”. General James C McConville, Chief of Staff of the US Army, said on the army’s website that it “must continue to put People First by fostering a culture of trust that accepts the experiences and backgrounds of every soldier and civilian”. I wonder what the citizens of the many countries the US has attacked in recent years would have to say about that.

The military is signed up to the environmentalist agenda, too. Both the US and British armies are pursuing ‘Net Zero’ emissions targets. The army needs to be “on the right side of the environmental argument, especially in the eyes of that next generation of recruits that increasingly make career decisions based on a prospective employer’s environmental credentials”, according to senior British general Sir Mark Carleton Smith. The military, with its gas-guzzling tanks and fighter jets, is a significant emitter of CO2. So apparently, in order to attract recruits for the next foreign war, we need eco-friendly death machines. …

Raytheon, a defence and intelligence company which makes, among other things, aircraft engines, missiles and drones for the US military, partnered with the Girl Scouts in 2019 in order to promote a feminist message. A company representative said on Raytheon’s website, “we are all about using innovation to make the world a safer place, and we need engineers, especially female engineers, to drive diversity and innovation for the future of our technology”. It seems Raytheon wants more diversity in its bomb-making department.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Soft Power is going woke too, writes Bruce Newsome in the Critic‘s Artillery Row, commenting on the recent Global Soft Power Summit 2021:

How do you turn “soft power” into an anti-racist, anti-Western, pro-China, neoliberal, anti-Brexit aspiration? You partner with the BBC to host a soft power conference. You invite Hillary Clinton to headline it. You introduce her as “the best President we never had”. You put David Miliband on one panel. On another panel, you put David Heymann (the Labour Government’s Chairman of what is now Public Health England). You invite Carl Bildt to represent continental progressives. You invite Tom Tugendhat as your sole “conservative”; a Remainer who won’t disagree with your handwringing about Brexit.

The nominal host of Thursday’s four-hour conference was Zeinab Badawi of BBC World News, who repeated her favourite self-identification as “someone who was born under the African sun”. Clearly unprepared, out of her depth, and star struck, she kept fluffing her lines and circling back to criticism of the West.

Joe Nye, the author of the term “soft power”, was there too, to remind us inadvertently that the wokeness of “soft power” begins with its vagueness

Worth reading in full.

“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 reports on a study which found that the growing trend for double-masking, practised by President Biden and many others, might well be pointless.

Double-masking is only slightly better at stopping the spread of coronavirus than wearing one face covering, a study has suggested.

Japanese researchers said wearing one surgical mask that is fitted correctly could stop up to 85% of viral particles from passing through.

Doubling up on surgical masks offers no benefit because air resistance builds up and causes leakage around the edges of the mask, they claimed.

The study found there was some benefit in wearing a tight-fitting reusable mask on top of a surgical one, but it was marginal, offering up to 89% protection.

The experts, who used a super-computer simulation to test different face covering combinations, said ‘the performance of double masking simply does not add up’.

Their findings contradict recent recommendations from health experts in the UK and US, who have claimed it’s ‘common sense’ two masks are better than one.

Stop Press 2: Those amusing folks at the Babylon Bee have written a spoof article about a progressive who’s pleasantly surprised to discover he can still double mask even when mask mandates have been lifted.

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.

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.

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

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments.)

And Finally…

Latest News

Is Obesity to Blame For the High Covid Death Toll?

A number of news outlets carried the story yesterday of the report by the World Obesity Federation which concludes that obesity is responsible for worsening Covid death rates around the world. The Times has more.

Britain’s dire COVID-19 death rate is partly the result of obesity, according to a report that the World Health Organisation says is a “wake-up call” to the overweight West.

Boris Johnson is considering giving out shopping vouchers for losing weight as he accepts the link between obesity and Covid and will promise today £100 million more for slimming schemes. The prime minister’s near-death experience with Covid caused him to reverse his opposition to anti-obesity policies and accept the need to act. This case is underlined in a report by the World Obesity Federation which concludes that thousands of deaths in Britain could have been avoided if “negligent” governments had a grip on the national weight problem.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the WHO, said that the link between obesity and Covid deaths was “compelling” as he urged countries to improve public health.

Analysis shows a “dramatic” increase in death rates once more than half a country’s population is overweight, which it says cannot be explained by age, wealth or health systems. In countries where less than half the population is overweight, the risk of death from Covid is a tenth of that in countries above this level, with almost nine in ten Covid deaths in countries with overweight rates above 50%.

No country where less than 40% of the population is overweight has Covid death rates above 10 per 100,000, while no country with death rates above 100 per 100,000 has overweight rates of less than 50%.

The last statement is certainly true – and is another way of saying that the top left of the chart above is empty (i.e., there are no high Covid mortality countries with low obesity). But is this the whole story? For reasons best known to themselves, the Times did not reproduce the full chart from the report, which is shown below.

With the bottom right now filled in with all the countries with high obesity but low Covid mortality, the result looks distinctly less impressive.

Notice in particular that among the countries above 50% obesity (right-hand side) there is no sign of a correlation at all, with more points at the bottom (low Covid mortality) than at the top and no upward slope to speak of. There is no indication of Covid mortality getting worse as a country gets fatter.

Neither is there much correlation in evidence in the bottom left of the chart, among the low obesity countries. As the obesity prevalence increases it remains basically flat. The countries with 20% obesity fare basically the same as those with 40%.

Then suddenly, wham! A tower of Covid appears at just over 50% obesity.

Thus it is a chart of two halves: a flat half below 50% and a strange tall blob above 50%, and no neat slopes upwards in either half or between them.

What explains this curious shape? It may be helpful to realise that the countries in the bottom left consist almost entirely of the African and South East Asian countries, which are already known (for reasons that remain somewhat mysterious) to have had a very different pandemic to the rest of the world.

Obesity is likely to be part of the story. But how big a part? On the evidence of this graph and report, it’s very hard to say.

The Emerging Totalitarian Dystopia: An Interview With Professor Mattias Desmet

Cartoon by Peter Poplaski

We’re publishing today an interview with Mattias Desmet, Psychotherapist and Professor of Clinical Psychology at Ghent University in Belgium, who is concerned about the emergence of totalitarian tendencies in the West. The interview was conducted by political philosopher and author Patrick Dewals and first published in Flemish here. It has been translated by a group of Lockdown Sceptics readers and appears here for the first time in English.

Here’s a taster.

Do you recognise totalitarian traits in the current crisis and the government response to it?

Definitely. When one steps away from the virus story, one discovers a totalitarian process par excellence. For example, according to Arendt, a pre-totalitarian state cuts through all social ties of the population. Simple dictatorships do that at the political level – they ensure that the opposition cannot unite – but totalitarian states also do this among the population, in the private sphere. Think of the children who – often unintentionally – reported their parents to the government in the totalitarian states of the twentieth century. Totalitarianism is so focused on total control that it automatically creates suspicion among the population, causing people to spy on and denounce each other. People no longer dare to speak out against the majority and are less able to organise themselves due to the restrictions. It is not difficult to recognise such phenomena in today’s situation, in addition to many other features of emerging totalitarianism.

What is it that this totalitarian state ultimately wants to achieve?

At first, it doesn‘t want anything. Its emergence is an automatic process coupled on the one hand with great anxiety on the part of the population and, on the other hand, a naive scientific thinking that considers total knowledge possible. Today there are those who believe that society should no longer be based on political narratives but on scientific facts and figures, thus rolling out the red carpet for rule by technocracy. Their ideal image is what the Dutch philosopher Ad Verbrugge calls “intensive human husbandry”. Within a biological-reductionist, virological ideology, continuous biometric monitoring is indicated and people are subjected to continuous preventive medical interventions, such as vaccination campaigns. All this to supposedly optimise public health. And a whole range of medical hygiene measures must be implemented; avoiding touch, wearing face masks, continuously disinfecting hands, vaccination, etc. For the supporters of this ideology, one can never do enough to achieve the ideal of the greatest possible ‘health’. A newspaper article appeared in which one could read that the population ought to be made even more afraid. Only then would they stick to the measures recommended by the virologists. In their view, stirring up fear will work to produce good. But when drawing up all these draconian measures, the policymakers forget that people cannot be healthy, either physically or mentally, without sufficient freedom, privacy and the right to self-determination, values that this technocratic totalitarian view totally ignores. Although the Government aspires to enormous health improvement for its society, its actions will ruin the health of society. By the way, this is a basic characteristic of totalitarian thinking according to Hannah Arendt: it ends in the exact opposite of what it originally pursued.

Worth reading in full.

COVID-19 Testing and the Workplace

There follows a post from our legal eagle Dr John Fanning, Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Liverpool, responding to a question posed by a Lockdown Sceptics reader about whether employers can require their employees to be tested for Covid.

For those fed up with working from home or the tedium of life on furlough, the UK Government’s “roadmap” for the easing of lockdown raises the prospect of a welcome (though gradual) return to the workplace over the coming months. Of course, many people – including NHS staff; the police; fire brigade; workers in essential retail, construction and manufacturing; and so on – never left it in the first place. Nevertheless, employers will most likely have to continue to ensure that workplaces are “COVID-secure” for the foreseeable future – with an expanded programme of asymptomatic testing playing a key part in this endeavour. With that comes another interesting question: can your boss demand that you take a test?

This is a tricky one to answer because so much depends on what is “reasonable” in the circumstances. The manager of a nursing home might reasonably require her/his employees to undergo mandatory testing in order to protect its residents from coronavirus disease. In those circumstances, an employee’s failure to comply with such a reasonable instruction might be grounds for disciplinary action. By contrast, it would seem much less reasonable to order an employee who ordinarily works alone in a single-occupancy office, or a warehouse yards away from anyone else, to take a test which she/he has declined. Between these two examples is a broad spectrum of circumstances in which employers’ instructions may, or may not, be reasonable. The context is key.

One thing about which we can be sure is that an employer cannot force an employee to undergo a COVID-19 test without consent. To do so would constitute battery – i.e., “the infliction of unlawful force on another person” (Lord Justice Goff in Collins v Wilcock [1984] 1 WLR 1172) – and a criminal offence. I have written elsewhere that the Coronavirus Act 2020 does contain powers which authorise compulsory testing of potentially infectious persons, but they have remained in reserve up to now and, in any case, they are not for employers to deploy. In its recent guidance on this subject, the Department of Health described the expansion of workplace testing as “crucial” in “breaking chains of COVID-19 transmission”. Yet in the very next paragraph, the guidance states that it is “a voluntary decision for employers to run testing programmes for their staff”. As is often the case where COVID-19 testing is concerned, the sabre-rattling rhetoric is an imperfect reflection of legal reality.

As with many of the measures taken to “stop the spread” of COVID-19 (e.g. face masks, plastic screens, one-way systems, 2-metre (6ft 6ins) social distancing, and so on), asymptomatic workplace testing may have more value as a performative ritual – a reassuring sign for returning staff that something is being done ­– rather than as a necessary condition of the restoration of normality. What remains to be seen is whether any court will find that an employer’s failure to offer workplace COVID-19 testing is negligent. If an employer fails to offer Covid testing and one of its employees contracts the disease and suffers serious complications or dies, could that employee (or her/his estate) claim compensation from her/his bosses?

This is another tricky one. It is true that employers owe a non-delegable duty to provide their employees with a safe place of work (Wilson and Clyde Coal Co v English [1938] AC 57). But whether a failure to offer COVID-19 testing would breach that duty would, again, depend on what was reasonable. My hunch is that an employer’s failure to comply with Government guidelines by not running an inexpensive workplace testing scheme to tackle a foreseeable risk probably would breach her/his duty to her/his staff in some circumstances. This does not mean that employers everywhere are now on the hook for big compensation pay-outs – there is still an obvious causation problem; i.e., can it even be said that an employer’s negligent failure to offer testing caused an employee to fall ill? That employee could just as easily have been exposed to the virus on the bus, in a supermarket, or by another member of her/his household. However, even the potential for liability might prompt many employers to offer testing out of an abundance of caution; indeed, their insurers may insist upon it. Whether an employee would actually have to take a test would depend on that vexed question of reasonableness.

Zero Covid Cultists Target Scotland

A Lockdown Sceptics reader forwarded to us the email he received from the Zero Covid campaign inviting him to the “Launch conference for Zero Covid Scotland”.

Join us on Saturday March 13th for the Zero Covid Scotland launch conference.

There’s a door ajar in Scotland, a door to Zero Covid.

The Scottish Government has been handed a report, by their own Scottish Parliament’s COVID-19 Committee, telling them to pursue a virus elimination strategy. With the Scottish elections coming up on May 6th, let’s push that door wide open.

Speakers include:

Science

Dr Philippa Whitford MP, member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus that recommended a Zero Covid strategy.
Dr Jeremy Rossman, expert on the international elimination of Covid, University of Kent.
Professor Andrew Watterson, public health expert, Stirling University.
Dr Deepti Gurdasani, epidemiologist and medical statistician, Queen Mary University of London.

Activism

Yvonne Blake, Migrants Organising for Rights and Empowerment (MORE) 
Tracy Edwards, Public and Commercial Services (PCS) trade union.
Allan Crosbie, Educational Institute of Scotland (personal capacity)
Kathy Jenkins, Scottish Hazards – aiming to reduce injury, ill health and death caused by work/workplaces in Scotland.

Others to be confirmed

The campaign to eliminate the virus – Informed by science – Led by activists

The frightening thing is, they know the Scottish government is open to their barmy ideas.

Why is the Government Ignoring the Evidence on Harms to Schoolchildren of Wearing Masks?

As schools prepare to return for all children on Monday for the first time since December, Government guidance is that masks should be worn by all children in class, though confusion has been created by the Government also stressing they are optional.

Molly Kinglsey from UsForThem has an excellent piece in the Telegraph outlining the dangers for schoolchildren of wearing masks all day and asking why the Government is not, as per WHO guidance, monitoring and evaluating the impact on their health and education.

There are clear and negative implications for teaching; only a few short months ago DfE advice was that “face coverings can have a negative impact on learning and teaching so their use in the classroom should be avoided”; it’s yet again another intervention forced on children to protect adults; and worst of all it appears to be entirely unevaluated for its potential to cause harm and yet capable of causing great harm in a great many cases.

The Covid legislation makes no secret of this fact that harms have not been assessed – each of the Government’s regulations concerning coronavirus restrictions states “No impact assessment has been prepared for these Regulations”.  Perhaps this is okay for adults.  Is it for children?  

The WHO certainly don’t think so: they say that when authorities recommend masks for children those authorities should monitor and evaluate the impact on their health and education from the outset.  Under a FOI seen in October, both DfE and the Department of Health confirmed they were not collecting this information. 

We are apparently flying blind; and we are doing so in the face of what looks to be potentially serious harm to our children.  In Germany a study  of over 25,000 children wearing masks throughout the school day reports headaches (53%), difficulty concentrating (50%), malaise (42%), impaired learning (38%) and drowsiness or fatigue (37%); in France social media is awash with reports of parents measuring children’s oxygen levels at the end of the school day and finding them to be dangerously low.  

There are lists of studies, many now peer reviewed, identifying other proven harms which are extensive and serious – communication issueseye issues and difficulty breathing.  If these aren’t clear red flags, what are? 

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Judith Woods, also in the Telegraph, evidently does not agree – and felt no restraint in expressing that disagreement, calling parents opposed to their child wearing a mask “brainwashed”, “cretinous Covid-deniers”, “selfish nutters”, “criminally loopy” and implying their child will kill their teacher. Of course, no self-respecting newspaper would publish a sceptic writing in this rude and inflammatory way about lockdowners or mask-lovers. But as so often, it’s the double standards that show you who’s currently in charge.

Masks are horrible, unnatural and reduce communication, which is crucial in any classroom. I hate them. Everybody hates them.

But that doesn’t alter the fact that we must wear the wretched things now in order to eventually never wear them ever again in the future.

If a school asks students to wear masks in class, then so be it. Unless there is a bona fide medical reason not to cover their face, there’s no valid reason to refuse, other than truculence or terror instilled in them by bloody-minded parents who should be ashamed of themselves for putting my child and other children at risk.

The brainwashed anti-vax brigade and the cretinous Covid-deniers can do one, as far as I’m concerned. No jab, no job? Fine by me. Even the Queen thinks you’re selfish nutters (I paraphrase, Ma’am).

Classroom apartheid, with masks refuseniks made to sit at the back, and kids segregated at lunchtime? If that’s what it takes, Mr Chips. Knock yourself out, Miss Jean Brodie.

I gather some parents have been bleating on about the outrage of this “coercion” and cavilling at the stigma their child will suffer. It will be a far bigger stigma if Milo kills Miss.

Maybe you can tell, but I’m bone-weary of exceptionalism. Yes, every child is a special poppet (particularly mine), but learning to conform is a life skill too. In this case, a life-or-death skill.

Kids have more than enough on their plates come Monday without being inculcated with criminally loopy theories about protective facemasks being a vector of disease.

Really not worth reading in full, unless you like to enrage yourself by being exposed to the intemperate rantings of people who think the findings of infectious disease specialists are “criminally loopy”.

Now Granny is Safe, Are We Killing Our Children?

Today we’re publishing an original piece by Emma Hine, who asks whether we have considered the enormity of what we have imposed on our children in the name of preventing a disease that barely affects them.

By keeping our teens out of school for almost a whole year, we have already deprived them of one of their fundamental, instinctive needs and now, when they can finally feel hope at restoring these connections, we are asking them not only to continue not to physically connect with their peers but also to hide half of their face, in effect removing every tool they have in their communicative toolbox. A Gallup Youth Survey in 2001 found that, unlike Maslow’s hierarchy of basic human needs that places food and water at the base of its triangle and self-fulfilment at the pinnacle, 13-17 year olds responded with their most important needs being “need to be trusted” (78%), “need to be understood and loved” (77%) and “need to feel safe and secure where I live and go to school” (77%). I don’t believe there is a single psychologist who would agree that a sea of masked faces, devoid of expression gives the feeling of either safety or security.

When you consider that 46% of suicides occur in people with mental health conditions, these increases in mental health disorders in adolescents are alarming. If we do not start giving young people back their lives, then we have lost our fundamental instinct as parents. We are no longer prepared to die for our children. We are literally asking our children to die for us.

Worth reading in full.

What is Happening With Mortality in Israel?

Dr Hervé Seligmann of Aix-Marseille University’s Faculty of Medicine Emerging Infectious and Tropical Diseases Unit

A story has been doing the rounds in the past few weeks that the mainstream media are understandably nervous to touch. At Lockdown Sceptics we have been keeping an eye on it to see how it develops. It began with an article published on February 11th (with an update on March 2nd) that asks why mortality in Israel appears, on official data, to be so much higher among the vaccinated than the unvaccinated in the first few weeks after the first vaccine dose.

Israel National News explains further.

A front-page article appeared in the FranceSoir newspaper about findings on the Nakim website regarding what some experts are calling “the high mortality caused by the vaccine.”

The paper interviews Aix-Marseille University Faculty of Medicine Emerging Infectious and Tropical Diseases Unit’s Dr. Hervé Seligmann and engineer Haim Yativ about their research and data analysis. They claim that Pfizer’s shot causes “mortality hundreds of times greater in young people compared to mortality from coronavirus without the vaccine, and dozens of times more in the elderly, when the documented mortality from coronavirus is in the vicinity of the vaccine dose, thus adding greater mortality from heart attack, stroke, etc.”

Dr Hervé Seligmann works at the Emerging Infectious and Tropical Diseases Research Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Aix-Marseille University, Marseille, France. He is of Israeli-Luxembourg nationality. He has a B.Sc. In Biology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and has written over 100 scientific publications.

Dr Niall McCrae has written about the story in Unity News Network.

More evidence of iatrogenic harm came from Israel, which started vaccinating on December 19th. As reported by former New York Times journalist Alex Berenson, while COVID-19 mortality escalated among Israelis throughout January, in Palestine it declined steeply after a surge in December. Yet the Palestinians had no vaccine. 

This correlation is more than coincidental. Analysis of Israeli health ministry data by Hervé Seligmann at Aix-Marseilles University indicates that about 40 times more elderly people died of COVID-19 in the three weeks between their first and second doses than among those who were not vaccinated. … Deaths in Israel are now falling, which politicians and media attribute to the vaccine, although there is a global trend of the virus becoming less deadly.

There has not yet been any official response to this analysis from the Israeli Government or Health Ministry, though they were contacted by FranceSoir.

Why is SAGE Still Advising Government?

The 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland

There follows a guest post by Lockdown Sceptics contributor and former parliamentary researcher Dr James Moreton Wakeley, questioning why SAGE, contrary to its original design, seems to have become a permanent fixture in political life.

SAGE is designed to be an ad hoc, temporary body summoned when emergency circumstances persuade government that they need particular expertise. It has been called eight times since 2009, for events like Swine Flu, floods and the 2010 Icelandic volcano eruption. Its formation and role guiding government policy for almost a year is entirely unprecedented, and entirely contrary to how it has been used in the past.

SAGE’s mandate is interesting. It emphasises timeliness and consensus: even though the Enhanced SAGE Guidance does note that SAGE representatives should tell ministers the degrees of consensus around the issues they consider, other guidance explicitly states that SAGE’s key sub-committees, like NERVTAG, “provide (their) consensus conclusions to SAGE”, strongly implying that the system risks supplying ministers with too small a degree of perspective. This risk of course increases when those looking at the evidence do not change, and become professionally invested in maintaining a certain set of conclusions or more interested in certain types of data.

The need for government to receive clear, unified scientific advice is perhaps understandable in a short-term, emergency situation when information is slight and uncertain.  Almost a year into the Covid pandemic, however, when so much more is known, and when it is clear that equally qualified experts have entirely different perspectives on the issue, why is a temporary, emergency committee – comprised of the same 20 leading figures who now have public reputations to defend – still advising government? SAGE was not designed to monopolise or replace normal governmental decision-making, but to be one source of advice among others in exceptional circumstances. Yet it seems to have morphed into some kind of dominant Committee of Public Safety, with ironic and deleterious consequences recalling its namesake in the darkest days of the French Revolution.

“Every Crisis Becomes a Religion If it Lasts Long Enough”

Journalist John Hayward has a Twitter thread on the cultic enchantment of the Covid crisis that we thought was so good we would reproduce it here in full.

Every crisis becomes a religion if it lasts long enough.

One factor in that transformation is the Beautiful Theory phenomenon: the power elite insists its remedies are logical and politically correct so they MUST work, even if the actual evidence shows they obviously don’t.

When Beautiful Theories crash into hard, cold reality and shatter, faith is the glue used by the elites to put their precious ideas back together. They need MILITANT faith to get the job done: true believers eager to crush doubt and compel obedience by making war on the infidels.

Some are swept into the faith because they desperately crave a sense of control over the crisis. They need to believe Something Can Be Done, and they’d rather invest their faith in debunked Beautiful Theories than have no faith at all. Faith is a coin that demands to be spent.

Some crave social approval, and the purveyors of Beautiful Theories have immense political, economic, and cultural power to make their faith seem fashionable. Virtue signalling is such a plague in modern society because the signals are pre-packaged and made very easy to send.

Some aren’t even hoping they can assert control over a crisis by converting to its religion. They’ll settle for just having some MEANING, some simplicity, a sense that the righteous will fare better than the unbelievers, that virtue will be rewarded while sin is punished.

That’s a very common impulse with the Church of Covid, since the Beautiful Theories were so very obviously wrong. There isn’t much left of the faith except the visceral communal satisfaction of hoping unbelievers will be punished for their blasphemies with sickness and death.

That sort of thing happens with all of the crisis religions, although not usually as quickly and obviously as with the Church of Covid. Look at the endless stream of movies about how the world became an apocalyptic hellscape because people didn’t believe in global warming.

The last resort of every crisis religion, the last thing that puts asses in the pews, is that addiction to misery porn, the collective hope that unbelievers will suffer someday, and everyone will admit the True Faith was right all along as Judgement Day crashes down upon them.

The elite will never have the humility to admit they were wrong, and they’ll never give up on politically or financially profitable “solutions” even when they obviously don’t solve the problem. Founding a crisis religion means they never have to say they’re sorry.

That applies to some very longstanding crises, like the War on Poverty, whose nostrums long ago transformed into fantastically expensive articles of religious faith even as mountains of data accumulated that proved they were utter failures, and often made the problems WORSE.

You can look for some telltale signs of a crisis transforming into a religion. The most obvious one is when the high priests tell you the “war” you’ve been drafted into will never end. They become very angry when asked to define success or failure, or lay out exit strategies.

Watch for the moment when you’re told “science” means not asking questions, defying dogma, or challenging “consensus.” That is the literal definition of faith, not science.

Always keep an eye out for Moving Goalposts, which are the signature miracle of crisis religions, their version of parting the waters or loaves and fishes. Crisis religions work very hard to make their faith unfalsifiable by constantly changing the standards of evidence.

Check to see if certain people are accumulating huge amounts of money and power from a crisis. That’s a pretty good sign it’s turning into a religion. A crisis should be solved as quickly and efficiently as possible. Don’t let it fester long enough to become a special interest.

Above all, look for the whiff of ARROGANCE to develop around a crisis. Wise religions and effective crisis managers have something in common: a sense of humility. Crisis religions are militant faiths that quickly become arrogant, smug, and totalitarian.

Dedicated people who truly want to solve a problem will look for evidence their analysis is wrong, or their policies aren’t working, and make adjustments as quickly as possible, no matter the cost or embarrassment to themselves. This is humility.

Crisis religions are arrogant. They reject criticism, insist their Beautiful Theories MUST be right because they’re ideologically pure – they fit snugly into a worldview that must not be challenged. Their plans only fail because their commands were disobeyed or sabotaged.

The high priests of a crisis religion see devils everywhere, leering at them from the rubble of every failure. Only sin can explain why their Beautiful Theories are tarnished. Failure never THEIR fault, so it must be YOURS. They find your lack of faith disturbing.

And you know what? A LOT of people want to see the world that way, including a great many self-described atheists. They hunger for the comfort of faith and the vibrant energy of militancy. They want to be right, and they want the wrong to suffer for their folly.

Conservatives think religious faith in the State is terrifying and wonder why so many embrace it. It’s because uncertainty is much more frightening. A simple false story is better than a complex true one, and with enough faith, maybe we can force the simple story to be true. 

Poetry Corner

Diary of a (Vaccine) Church Mouse
by Kate Williams

Imagine being a church mouse hauled in for vaccine trials whilst you’re busy munching through the Book of Revelation

The Antichrist and Armageddon
formed my fulsome bite,
When upon me swiftly whished a swoop
And knocked me into flight. 

He towered over, giving chase,
A small cage in his grab,
“Come ‘ere you wretched long tailed squeak!”
“You’re wanted in the lab!” 

I skidded through curled edges,
Of Apocalypse Horsemen Four,
He hurled the cage in front to catch
Me heading for the door.

Three squeaks abound, I lay there flat
Wedged underneath the pew,
Then came a pencil, lead end first
At Matthew Twenty Two.

A hobnail boot, a sighing captor
Shuffling to and fro,
It’s death by jab or hunger lest  
I took my chance he’d go.

A chink of light through vestry door
Showed fair chance to a dash
I scrambled over Ephesus
And just escaped his lash. 

The cage came down, a crash! A clink!
But narrowly I fled,
“Test your vaccine on your kind! 
And leave me be!” I said. 

“Damn your eyes ya pesky brute!
I’ll ‘ave ya next time, look!”
And off he went, with empty cage,
And I back to my book.

Rising From the Ashes

Lockdown Sceptics reader Scott Fennell has written to tell us about his new business venture after lockdown cost him his job.

I normally work on a cruise ship, but this industry has been really hard hit as you can imagine. With no help from the Government, I decided to set up my own supplement company without the nasty ingredients you see in nearly all other companies.

It’s only small at the moment with just one product, Vitamin C 1000mg, but I’m hoping to add some more soon. LS readers can get a 15% discount using code LSVITC15.

I don’t have a website at the moment, but you can order from Amazon UK here.

If you have a similar story to share then email us here and we’ll try to give your new venture a boost.

COVID-1984

Bob Moran’s cartoon in the Telegraph on September 24th

Three more Party slogans today:

BANALITY IS REALITY
PANIC IS PEACE
OUR MODEL IS YOUR MASTER, YOUR FREEDOM OUR DISASTER

Round-up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Eight today: “You Are Killing Me” by The Dandy Warhols, “No More Lies” by Cardboard Foxes, “No Justice” by Jimmy Cliff, “Strange Times Are Coming” by the Meteors, “I Can’t Be With You” by the Cranberries, “Lonely Day” by System Of A Down, “Life Worth Living” by The Spitfires and “My Resistance Is Low” by Robin Sarstedt.

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, Joshua T. Katz, Professor of Humanities at Princeton University, writes in the New Criterion on the sheer madness of cancelling Dr Seuss.

Just last week, a wonderful cabinetmaker spent two days at my house installing shelves in a room where I have long intended to display my collection of alphabet books. Once he’d left, I put them up one by one—alphabetically, of course—stopping now and again to leaf through some I particularly like. One of these was Dr. Seuss’s On Beyond Zebra!, first published in 1955, in which Conrad Cornelius o’Donald o’Dell draws letters

            he never had dreamed of before!
And I said, “You can stop, if you want, with the Z
“Because most people stop with the Z
But not me!

I did not imagine then that on the 117th birthday of Theodor Geisel, Dr. Seuss Enterprises would announce that six of his books, including On Beyond Zebra!, would no longer be published or licensed because “they portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.” Or that President Biden in his proclamation for Read Across America Day (which takes place on March 2 specifically in honour of Dr. Seuss) would, unlike his predecessors Presidents Obama and Trump, fail to mention one of the country’s best-loved children’s authors.

This is madness.

When the morning news broke, I took On Beyond Zebra! back off its new shelf and tried to discern the problem. It is true that there is mention of a man Americans (still) celebrate with a federal holiday:

So, on beyond Zebra!
Explore!
Like Columbus!
Discover new letters!

A friend more attuned to the zeitgeist than I am suggests, however, that at issue are the orientalizing depictions of one Nazzim of Bazzim, who rides a camel-like beast called a Spazzim (spelled with the Seussian letter spazz), and possibly also of Flunnel (spelled with flunn), a “softish nice fellow who hides in a tunnel.”

Let me repeat: this is madness.

That Dr Seuss, a man of the Left, can be cancelled shows that no one is safe from the woke revolutionaries, Katz writes.

It is true that Theodor Geisel was an imperfect man. For example, he supported the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. That said, he was a liberal Democrat who despised Richard Nixon and whose widow gave money from his estate to Planned Parenthood. If Seuss is canceled, anyone can be canceled—as, indeed, we are seeing day after day in this year of mayhem.

Worth reading in full.

“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: Paul E. Alexander and colleagues have written a detailed debunking of the CDC’s “Mask Mandate Study” for AIER. Read it here.

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.

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.

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

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments.)

And Finally…

The easing of lockdown, Boris style

Latest News

How the Left Flunked the Lockdown Challenge

Lockdown Sceptics contributor and (as he puts it) working class revolutionary socialist Phil Shannon has a terrific piece in Left Lockdown Sceptics looking at how and why the Left failed so badly when Covid hit. Phil wrote for Lockdown Sceptics back in June on a similar theme and it’s great to have an update.

As a four-decade, veteran revolutionary working class socialist, it has dismayed me to see how the contemporary Left, whether in Government, in ‘Opposition’, in the trade unions, on the activist fringes or simply as liberal Guardian-reading, BBC-listening individuals, has almost uniformly become a noisy outpost of knee-trembling Covid Hysterics who have embraced, with disturbing relish, the mania for lockdown. The Left has become an auxiliary arm of the capitalist state and its distinguishing feature has been to spruik [publicly promote – Ed] for tougher, earlier and longer lockdowns. Through its love of a lockdown which devastates the working class, lays waste to civil liberties and disrespects science, the contemporary ‘Left’ well deserves to have quotation masks attached to it.

How the ‘Left’ has Flunked the Virus/Lockdown Challenge

Threat Inflation of the virus

The Left got off on the wrong foot by misrepresenting Covid as much more scary than what it actually is i.e. a bad-to-ordinary flu season. The Left has joined the lockdown establishment elite in inflating the risk posed by the SARS-CoV-2 virus by (1) lumping together deaths ‘with’ and deaths ‘from’ Covid; (2) conflating positive virus test results – including false positives – with actual clinical cases; (3) ignoring Covid’s fatal attraction almost solely for the already-ill elderly whilst being fairly innocuous to everyone else; (4) portraying the virus as a constant menace despite its cyclic behaviour as just another recurring, seasonal, warmth-shunning, mutating respiratory virus which naturally peters out during its summer recess; (5) deep-sixing the fear-quelling concept of naturally-acquired herd-immunity including pre-existing cross-immunity from other coronaviruses, both cornerstones of immunological and virological science; and (6) ignoring the fact that Covid was the plague that never was because it had been circulating globally, courtesy of the vast international Chinese tourist trade, since as early as September-October 2019, with nobody noticing anything statistically out of the ordinary in overall death rates prior to the March Madness triggered by panicky politicians in 2020.

Lockdown policy panic

From this failure of data and basic science, it has been a logical shimmy for the Left to join the policy panic by endorsing the disproportionate, and damaging, government response of economic lockdown. The Left does so under the time-honoured and politically-resonant banner of placing ‘lives before commerce’ but, in this instance, the sterling socialist catchphrase of ‘people before profit’ is mere rote dogma because it seeks to crack the nut of a mostly humdrum virus with the sledgehammer of deep economic contraction resulting in massive job losses and a decline in working class living standards, whilst recklessly embracing a giant Ponzi scheme of stellar government debt and deficit which will inevitably be paid for by austerity, increased taxes and lost opportunity costs which will fall most heavily, as they always do, on the current and future working class.

‘New Normal’ pseudoscience

Lockdown is the central dogma of ‘social distancing’ pseudoscience, a voodoo religion which comes with a host of ineffective, superstitious, magical-thinking, placebo-like, demonstratively ostentatious ‘New Normal’ rituals, all of which the Left has uncritically subscribed to – school closures, quarantining the healthy, smart-phone QR sign-in, Perspex checkout shields, masks, the 1.5 metre rule, test-test-test, track-and-trace, elbow-bumps and fist-pumps, the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder of hand sanitiser use, high-rotation North Korean style ‘public safety announcements’, Stand-Here/Don’t-Sit-There decals, ‘support bubbles’, Covid Marshals, Hallelujah vaccines, immunity-passports, limits on public gatherings, curfews, travel restrictions, border closures …. all of these pointless political and cultural theatrics predicated on a wildly exaggerated fear of a not terribly lethal virus. By also recycling vacuous slogans – ‘flatten the curve’, ‘do the right thing’, ‘save lives’, ‘slow the spread’, ‘stop the spread, ‘stay safe’ – the Covid-deranged Left has abrogated critical thinking for simplistic advertising copy.

Phil goes on to diagnose the “political pathologies afflicting the Left from lockdown” and explores the root causes.

Worth reading in full.

Lockdown Bills Begin to Arrive

In his budget yesterday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak brought the beginnings of realism to bear on the public finances after a year of make-believe economics, though there was still plenty of that. Kate Andrews has the details in the Spectator.

Last March’s £30bn spending splurge was just the start of hundreds of billions of pounds spent in the fight against COVID-19. Today Sunak pledged another £65bn: furlough and the Universal Credit uplift were both extended; incentive payments for businesses to take on apprentices were doubled; and ‘restart grants’ worth £5bn to help businesses get back on their feet were unveiled.

But this Budget wasn’t all giveaways. The Tory Chancellor announced a new, tiered system for corporation tax, which hikes the rate from 19% to 25% in 2023 for the most profitable businesses. He has also frozen personal income tax thresholds: dubbed a ‘stealth tax’, this will bump workers into higher tax brackets as wages rise while the thresholds don’t.

What does this mixed bag of policies mean for the UK’s economic recovery? The good news out of today’s Budget was an update from the Office for Budget Responsibility, which has moved forward its most recent forecast for GDP to return to pre-pandemic levels. This is now expected to happen in the middle of next year.

After contracting an astonishing 9.9% in 2020, growth is forecast to be 4% this year (reflecting a winter dominated by lockdown, and a summer in which restrictions are expected to be lifted), followed by a specular 7.3% boom in 2022.

The more problematic news, however, is that after 2022, growth rates are expected to fall back down to business as usual: hovering around a fine, but by no means impressive, 1.6% rate.  

As we continue to struggle through severe hits to the economy (another dip is predicted by the OBR this winter to account for the current lockdown), any positive growth figures might seem like good news. But if Sunak has plans to address the UK’s £2.8 trillion debt and sky-high deficits in the coming years without raising taxes further, it’s going to require a pro-growth agenda. 

Kate explains that the tax hikes are not to try to pay off the mountainous debt – a political aspiration that has receded into the far distance – but merely to tread water and service it.

The bills are finally falling due and it’s not pretty. The unemployment bomb has been deferred once again with the extension of the Universal Basic Income furlough scheme to the autumn. That’s a nettle no Government wants to grasp and it will be interesting to see what happens as we get closer to September.

Worth reading Kate’s piece in full.

The HCQ Saga

We’re publishing today an original piece by Rick Bradford, an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Bristol Department of Engineering, who asks if much of the world has failed to benefit from an effective, early-stage treatment for COVID-19, hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), because of misleading early trial results. He writes:

Hydroxychloroquine is not an exotic new drug with which doctors and medical authorities have little experience. On the contrary, it has been used widely for decades to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. It came to public attention as a potential treatment for COVID-19 early in 2020, not least because of President Trump’s espousal of it.

In the period March – July 2020, attention focused on the WHO-led multinational Solidarity Trial and the UK’s own Recovery Trial which addressed the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19.

The Chief Investigators of the Recovery project released a press statement on June 5th 2020 which stated simply, “no clinical benefit from use of hydroxychloroquine in hospitalised patients with COVID-19”.

On July 4th 2020 the Solidarity project discontinued the hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir trials. The interim trial results showed that hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir produced little or no reduction in the mortality of hospitalized COVID-19 patients when compared to standard of care. The Solidarity Trial found that all four treatments evaluated (remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon) had little or no effect on overall mortality, initiation of ventilation and duration of hospital stay in hospitalised patients.

The Recovery and Solidarity trials were exclusively carried out on seriously ill patients in hospital, rather than the early-stage patients for which there was existing evidence that hydroxychloroquine might be effective. A drug which acts against the pathogen is most relevant when the pathogen is multiplying. In the later stages of COVID-19, the illness becomes an immune-system-driven inflammatory condition, and by that time the original pathogen has already done its damage. Could it be that the negative results of the Recovery and Solidarity trials were due to their deployment to patients in an inappropriate phase of the disease? Certainly, Professor Didier Raoult from IHU-Marseille, and an early leading proponent of hydroxychloroquine, was not impressed with the Recovery trial, accusing it of being “the Marx Brothers doing science”.

In passing I note that a further multinational trial, REMAP-CAP, was also deployed only to seriously ill patients with severe pneumonia admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU). I have found no results from this study. On June 3rd 2020 it was suspended following the scare from a now infamous Lancet paper by Mehra et al which claimed the use of hydroxychloroquine increased death rates (the paper was retracted a few days later). I presume that trial was never restarted.

Another criticism of the Recovery and Solidarity trials which has been made is of the dosage regime, with the doses appearing to be substantially greater than standard practice when the drug is used against malaria, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis (see, for example, “Killing the cure: The strange war against hydroxychloroquine“).

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: A paper on another cheap drug that has shown early strong signs of effectiveness, ivermectin, was removed this week by the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology, despite being provisionally accepted, leading to questions of fair treatment. The Scientist has more details.

The paper’s removal has drawn anger from members of the FLCCC [Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance] and its followers. In comments on Twitter and in an interview with The Scientist, the organization’s president, Pierre Kory, describes the move as “censorship.” He adds in the interview that the paper had already successfully passed through multiple rounds of review. In reversing the paper’s acceptance, the journal is “allowing some sort of external peer reviewer to comment on our paper,” he says. “I find that very abnormal.”

Ivermectin is widely used in tropical medicine to treat parasitic infections, but its use as a COVID-19 drug has been controversial since the beginning of the pandemic, with major health organizations consistently stating that there is insufficient evidence for its efficacy in prevention or treatment of the disease.

The FLCCC’s paper (also posted on the organisation’s website) reviewed epidemiological and clinical evidence on ivermectin’s use in people infected with and exposed to SARS-CoV-2. In it, the authors argued that health agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) should update their recommendations to include the drug.

Frontiers takes no position on the efficacy of ivermectin as a treatment of patients with COVID-19, however, we do take a very firm stance against unbalanced or unsupported scientific conclusions.—Frederick Fenter, Frontiers

After being contacted by The Scientist, the journal posted a statement from Frontiers’s chief executive editor, Frederick Fenter, saying that “Frontiers takes no position on the efficacy of ivermectin as a treatment of patients with COVID-19, however, we do take a very firm stance against unbalanced or unsupported scientific conclusions.”

During review of the article in what the journal refers to as “the provisional acceptance phase,” Fenter says in the statement, members of Frontiers’s research integrity team identified “a series of strong, unsupported claims based on studies with insufficient statistical significance, and at times, without the use of control groups.”

The statement continues: “Further, the authors promoted their own specific ivermectin-based treatment which is inappropriate for a review article and against our editorial policies. In our view, this paper does not offer an objective nor balanced scientific contribution to the evaluation of ivermectin as a potential treatment for COVID-19.”

The statement provided no information about why these concerns had been raised and acted on now, rather than earlier in the publication process.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press 2: The British Ivermectin Recommendation Development (BIRD) panel has issued its recommendation on the use of ivermectin for COVID-19. It explains:

The antiparasitic medicine ivermectin, which is widely available in LMICs, has been tested in numerous clinical trials of prevention and treatment of COVID-19 with promising results. A large body of evidence on ivermectin use in COVID-19 had thus accumulated, which required urgent review by health professionals and other stakeholders to determine whether it could inform clinical practice in the UK and elsewhere. More specifically, answers were needed to the following priority questions: (i) For people with COVID-19 infection, does ivermectin compared with placebo or no ivermectin improve health outcomes?, and (ii) for people at higher risk of COVID-19 infection, does ivermectin compared with placebo or no ivermectin improve health outcomes?

On February 20th 2021, the British Ivermectin Recommendation Development (BIRD) meeting was convened in Bath, United Kingdom, to evaluate the evidence on ivermectin use for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Evidence to address the priority questions was evaluated by a panel of clinical experts and other stakeholders in the form of a DECIDE evidence-to-decision framework, the gold standard tool for developing clinical practice guidelines.

Find it here.

A School That’s Following Government Guidance

This is not Government guidance

A Lockdown Sceptics reader has got in touch to tell us that, in line with Government guidance, his son’s school is not insisting on tests and masks, and has responded well to his emails querying their initial statements.

I just wanted to write, following the Daily Telegraph reporting that schools are banning pupils who do not have the tests, that my son’s school is not like that. I wrote an email to the school last week highlighting all the points (see below). The headmaster wrote to all parents on Tuesday confirming this and their position on masks.

In line with Government direction, I would also wish to highlight that, whilst testing is strongly encouraged, it remains voluntary and, in those instances where parents do not wish their children to be tested (or, indeed, where the students are of an age (16 or above) when they can decide themselves not to be tested) they are still able to return to School as normal. In a similar fashion, the Government direction we are following as a School is that the wearing of masks inside buildings (for example, in classrooms and communal spaces) is recommended but not compulsory. As we gain a greater understanding of how many pupils choose not to wear a mask, we may adapt our systems to enable greater social distancing or to further reduce risk in other ways”. 

I have been writing to them quite a lot and got my son excused from wearing a mask last term, highlighting that a GP letter was not required and pointing them towards the Government website. Their position seems to become more relaxed following my emails (for example, “must have completed their first test” became “should have been offered Test 1 before they return”). Maybe my emails have opened their eyes a little. I hope so.

Here is my original email.

Dear Mr XXXXX,

Good morning. I am writing in relation to the testing programme as part of the return of pupils to face to face tuition. I want to understand what the school’s position is in relation to being tested or not and the reasons behind those rules, bearing in mind the legality of any such decision.

You state in your letter dated February 25th 2021 that, “before students start face to face teaching, they must have completed their first test (Test 1)”. This is not the Government’s position. You later state that, “testing of course remains completely voluntary, although strongly encouraged.” It hasn’t been made clear what will happen if pupils do not have the tests, but I should point out what it says on the relevant government website here.

It says, “From March 8th, all children and students should return to school and college. All primary pupils should attend school from this date. All secondary pupils and college students will be offered testing from March 8th, and those who consent to testing should return to face-to-face education following their first negative test result. If you or your child (if they are aged over 18) do not consent, they will not be stopped from going back and will return in line with their school or college’s arrangements.” (emphasis added)

It is therefore perfectly clear that the tests are voluntary and children are not to be excluded if they do not have the tests. All it is saying is that if you do have the tests, you need to have a negative result before returning. This is the Government’s position and the legal position. What are the arrangements at the school for those who do not have the tests, bearing in mind what I have brought to your attention, i.e., you cannot exclude those who do not have the tests?

I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely

Stop Press: The Guardian asks: “Should primary schoolchildren be made to wear masks?” Communist Party and SAGE member Susan Michie says the benefits are that whatever small degree of transmission is occurring in these age groups could be limited, and it could help normalise the practice, meaning young children wearing masks may make their families more likely to accept masks. And that’s where the debate is in the Guardian.

May be an image of text that says "LAWYERS for LIBERTY"

Jo Rogers from Lawyers for Liberty is offering a useful service on Facebook for the parents of children who don’t wear masks or consent to tests.

If you don’t want conflict with the school, but want your concerns noted, click this button to provide your details.

The email below will then be sent anonymously within 48 hours from Lawyers for Liberty.

The email will not reference your child or you.

Here is the email.

Find it on Facebook here.

Poetry Corner

A Complex Post-traumatic in Covid Times

When I walk into the shop
All you see is a selfish being
Not wearing a mask as provision
But my trauma is not for your seeing

The mask represents oppression
Not only in my life, but historically
Despite now loose from their clutches
I still do not feel free

My trauma is not palatable
To the staunch covid followers
Though they do not know the abuse
Inflicted on me as child by monsters

They say, “I’m doing it to save lives”
But when I’m triggered I die daily
The manipulation ever rife
Gas lighting is not a maybe

Being under house arrest is the same
As when I was locked in my room at 3
Banging on the door with my cries
Till I was let out temporarily.

Being forced fed my food
Like the propaganda machine and their lies
If you really were humane
Why not look into my eyes

Tell me my pain doesnt matter
Or that of my fellow spirits
We are just humans coping best we can
But being pushed to our outer limits

I had too much forced upon me
So forgive me for declining the coercion
I will not be poisoned by their prick
So go ahead, cast your aspersion

Rising From the Ashes

Four readers today have written to tell us about their new business ventures since lockdown disrupted their previous employment.

Herts Pasta:

My husband is a chef who lost his job as a result of the Government restrictions (not as a result of Covid). He has now set up a business in Hertfordshire making and delivering fresh pasta meal kits www.hertspasta.com

Simpkin & Roses:

Simpkin & Roses was a successful catering and events business, owned and run by me and my wife, and our sole source of income. We had a good reputation and were really beginning to see the rewards from 10 years of work, during which we also got married and had two children.

This all came to an abrupt end a little under a year ago when our business effectively became illegal. Due to various technicalities we have only qualified for around £6k of grants. I won’t get started on this as it’s counterproductive!

We have just launched a nationwide delivery service of really delicious frozen ready meals, all made by hand in small batches. All packaging is recyclable and compostable. We will have children’s meals available very soon but at the moment we have a selection of meals and soups, all double portions. We launched on Monday at long last, having taken until July to really come to terms with the fact that the “three weeks” was the long haul. We had our third child in November which was another complication but finally we have done it and are very excited about the future!

Anyway the website is www.simpkinandroses.com and we would love to serve any like-minded sceptics. We are running a promotion at the moment and if you use the coupon WELCOME21 at the checkout you will get 15% off.

Alison Cotton:

I have been running my own bookkeeping business in the Salisbury area for 13 years but, with many of my clients forced by this wretched lockdown into closure or vastly reduced operations, I am now earning less than half of my income a year ago.

I’m simply not ready to throw in the towel so if any businesses or individuals out there would like some assistance with their bookkeeping or general office admin I’d be delighted to help – and would offer my services free of charge initially if someone is really struggling. I’d hate to see the entrepreneurial spirit crushed in small businesses who have quite enough to deal with in complying with the outrageous barriers put in their way by this government.

Please email me here.

Huckleberry:

Since losing my position at the start of Lockdown 1, I then spent much time sitting around waiting for it all to get back to normal, however as we all know things didn’t. My wife then lost her job in October and we then decided to start a new venture. I have been in the kitchen and bespoke furniture industry before, but www.huckleberryhome.co.uk started up around the kitchen table in November and I am pleased to report is now firing on all cylinders after a three month start time. It’s been a lot of hard work, has literally been done for nothing as we are still both on Universal Credit but I am delighted that it is working and hope you can share the good news.

If you have a story to share then email us here and we’ll see if we can give your new venture a boost.

COVID-1984

A few more Party slogans from readers:

CRUELTY IS COMPASSION
INFORMED CONSENT IS CONFORMED CONSENT
PROTECT THE NHS – DIE AT HOME

WE ARE NO LONGER AT WAR WITH THE SOUTH AFRICAN VARIANT; WE ARE NOW AT WAR WITH THE BRAZILIAN VARIANT. WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN AT WAR WITH THE BRAZILIAN VARIANT

Round-up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Five today: “The Fear” by Travis, “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, “My City Was Gone” by Pretenders,  “Line Up” by Elastica and “Where’s the Freedom” by Subhumans.

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, it’s racist babies. Christopher Rufo tweets that “the Arizona Department of Education has created an ‘equity’ toolkit claiming that babies show the first signs of racism at three months old and that white children ‘remain strongly biased in favour of whiteness’ by age five”. Spiked has the details.

Have you ever wondered if your baby is racist? You should, according to the Arizona Department of Education.

Journalist Christopher Rufo’s investigations have revealed how far critical race theory has spread in America’s institutions – including, most alarmingly, in schools.

His latest discovery is that the Arizona Department of Education has released a new “equity” toolkit intended to help families and teachers tackle racism among children. It advises that even babies as young as three months old can show racial prejudice. The evidence? They “look more at faces which match the race of their caregivers”.

According to the toolkit, by the age of two and a half kids use race to determine who their playmates should be. “Expressions of racial prejudice often peak at ages four and five”, it says. “By kindergarten, children show many of the same racial attitudes that adults in our culture hold – they have already learned to associate some groups with higher status than others.”

So what should we do about this? The toolkit says that children must be made aware that “the reality in which they are embedded ascribes unearned privileges to their whiteness”.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: With The Muppet Show now available on Disney+, the company has slapped a woke warning on it: “This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of peoples or cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together.”

Paul du Quenoy in the Critic can see why.

White and class privilege also rear their ugly heads throughout the series. The otherwise innocuous-looking Scooter, a bespectacled novice who seems so nice and inoffensive in his casually preppy mien, sure does know how to get his way in the theatre in which the show is set. All he has to do is issue implicit threats at Kermit the Frog, who manages the acts, by mentioning his unseen uncle, who owns the theatre and will presumably wield all the inequitable power of finance capital if Scooter’s whims and dictates are ignored. The hateful structures of power in the Muppet universe are all too obvious, even if their fetters are invisible.

And who could ignore Statler and Waldorf, the greatest villains of them all, a pair of old white males in black tie who survey the action from the elevated comfort of their exclusive box? Named for prominent hotels that are perhaps the source of their wealth, their main function is to cast down sarcastic comments upon the poor defenceless performers while they also, to add insult to injury, mock each other for their various disabilities. At the very least, we should have a separate warning to guard us against the ugly and retrograde notion, so blatantly reinforced by The Muppet Show, that the arts only exist for the amusement and approval of rich white men.

Worth reading in full.

“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: Joggers have been told by scientists they should wear face masks when running outside near others. The Derbyshire Times has more.

Experts have warned there can be a “danger” for pedestrians when a “puffing, panting” jogger passes by them, but stressed it is safe for people to “run freely” when in wide open spaces.

The warning comes amid fears that pedestrians could inhale the air from passing joggers, putting them at possible risk of catching Covid-19.

Trish Greenhalgh, professor in primary care health sciences at the University of Oxford, told Good Morning Britain: “There is no doubt the virus is in the air, there is no doubt that you can catch it if you inhale, and that someone else has exhaled.

“The exercising jogger – the puffing and panting jogger – you can feel their breath come and you can sometimes actually feel yourself inhale it, so there’s no doubt that there is a danger there.

“40% of Covid cases happen by catching it from people who have no symptoms.

“So you’re jogging along, you think you’re fine, and then the next day you develop symptoms of Covid, but you’ve actually breathed that Covid onto someone perhaps you know, an old lady walking a dog, or something like that.”

“40% of Covid cases happen by catching it from people who have no symptoms” that’s even higher than the Government’s mantra of one in three. In fact the studies show asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission accounts for only around 0.7% of transmission, not 40%.

Stop Press 2: A new study by D. G. Rancourt reviewing the harms of mask-wearing has been published on ResearchGate. Find it here.

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.

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.

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

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments.)

And Finally…

Blower’s cartoon in yesterday’s Telegraph

Latest News

Go-Slow BoJo Says Dates Will Not Change, However Good the Data Gets

Despite saying last month that the Government’s lockdown easing strategy will be driven by data not dates, it seems for Boris this only goes one way, and there is no question of better-than-expected data bringing easing forward.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock was out yesterday reiterating the Government’s line and underlining that there would be no faster easing even for areas with almost no Covid at all. The Times has more.

Matt Hancock has rejected calls to ease restrictions early for low-infection areas, citing the failure of last year’s tier system to prevent lockdowns.

Local variations in infection rates are becoming an increasing concern in Government, with cases rising in a fifth of areas while elsewhere they have fallen to extremely low numbers.

Millions of people in England are living in neighbourhoods where there are close to no cases of COVID-19, official figures show.

While areas such as Peterborough, Leicester and Sandwell in the West Midlands have rates of more than 200 per 100,000 people, rates have fallen below 50 per 100,000 in places ranging from Islington in north London to the Isle of Wight.

In very local areas Public Health England does not publish data with fewer than three cases “to protect individuals’ identities”. The latest figures show that 971 of 6,791 “Middle-layer Super Output Areas” (MSOAs) fall into that category.

Ben Bradshaw, MP for Exeter in Devon where rates are 49 per 100,000, asked the Health Secretary: “What will be the justification for keeping my constituents locked down and local businesses closed through Easter and beyond because rates somewhere else happened to be higher?”

Hancock replied: “We obviously had a tiered system over the autumn — one of the challenges we found was people travelling from a part of the country where rates are higher to those where they are lower.”

While the Government may take “a localised approach to outbreaks”, he insisted: “We are going to move down the road map, as a nation, across England.”

Boris Johnson has also insisted that restrictions will not be eased earlier than planned in last week’s road map despite increasingly positive news on vaccination, infections and deaths. But Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, added to pressure on the prime minister when she said that in Scotland “we will be considering if it might be possible to accelerate the exit from lockdown” because of the encouraging data. “I have always said if we can go further and faster, then we will not hesitate to do so,” she said.

It comes to something when Nic Sturge-On is outflanking you on the pace of re-opening.

But is it just political opportunism? That seems likely when you read the extreme measures the First Minister has in store for Scotland. The BBC reports.

The Scottish government hopes to return to the levels system from late April. But if an area is to see restrictions lifted, the number of positive cases will need to be far lower than when the system operated last year. The Government said the more stringent approach was needed because of the new faster-spreading variant of the virus…

The Scottish government’s updated approach is outlined in the its latest strategic framework.

Under the new system, local authorities which have a case rate of more than 150 cases per 100,000 are likely to end up in level four – when only essential shops can open and hospitality must close. The previous threshold for level four was 300 cases per 100,000. Cases will also need to drop to below 50 per 100,000 in a local authority before it will be considered for level two, much lower than the previous rate of 150 per 100,000. That is the level where non-essential journeys outside the authority boundary are allowed and pubs can serve alcohol.

This sounds worryingly like a Zero Covid approach.

Justifying its strategy, the Scottish Government says it is “drawing on World Health Organisation (WHO) advice” from the November 2020 interim guidance document “Considerations for implementing and adjusting public health and social measures in the context of COVID-19“.

Indeed it is. A hitherto under-appreciated document, this interim guidance (which, notably, predates the authorisation of vaccines) is a Zero Covid charter which envisages restrictions continuing until such time as there is “No known transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in the preceding 28 days”. Even then it says “robust surveillance” (i.e., test and trace) should continue (forever, apparently) and suggests individuals continue “voluntary physical distancing”. Here are its lowest three “Situational Levels”.

The Scottish Government summarises the WHO’s criteria for easing restrictions as follows:

  1. Evidence shows that COVID-19 transmission is controlled.
  2. Sufficient public health and health system capacities are in place to identify, isolate, test and treat all cases, and to trace and quarantine contacts.
  3. Outbreak risks are minimised in high vulnerability settings, such as long-term care facilities (i.e., nursing homes, rehabilitative and mental health centres) and congregate settings.
  4. Preventive measures are established in workplaces, with physical distancing, handwashing facilities and respiratory etiquette in place, and potentially thermal monitoring.
  5. Manage the risk of exporting and importing cases from communities with high-risks of transmission.
  6. Communities have a voice, are informed, engaged and participatory in the transition.

That’s right – the criteria for easing restrictions include physical distancing in workplaces, the minimisation of outbreak risk in gathering settings, and ongoing invasive surveillance. But hang on a minute – those are the restrictions. When the criteria for easing restrictions are themselves part of the restrictions, you know you’re well and truly ensnared in the circles of hell. Nowhere does the strategic framework specify the criteria for ending all restrictions and surveillance.

The final phase of the framework is: “COVID no longer a significant threat to public health. Maximum vaccine roll out” and “COVID-19 ceases to be a serious threat to public health”. But even then it says: “Some ongoing public health measures likely to remain in place.”

No endpoint is envisaged by the strategic framework or the WHO’s interim guidance when all restrictions will cease and the normality of 2019 will resume.

Stop Press: The Telegraph reports that the fall in Covid deaths in England is running around three weeks ahead of modelling estimates and that some Government advisers are calling for lockdown to be eased more quickly. 

Texas Ends All COVID-19 Restrictions

Texas Governor Greg Abbott

In a move that will boost the hopes of the millions around the world who want and need a return to normality sooner rather than later, the Governor of Texas Greg Abbott yesterday issued an Executive Order lifting the mask mandate in the state and increasing capacity of all businesses and facilities to 100%. The Governor said:

With the medical advancements of vaccines and antibody therapeutic drugs, Texas now has the tools to protect Texans from the virus. We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans by opening Texas 100%. Make no mistake, COVID-19 has not disappeared, but it is clear from the recoveries, vaccinations, reduced hospitalisations, and safe practices that Texans are using that state mandates are no longer needed. Today’s announcement does not abandon safe practices that Texans have mastered over the past year. Instead, it is a reminder that each person has a role to play in their own personal safety and the safety of others. With this executive order, we are ensuring that all businesses and families in Texas have the freedom to determine their own destiny.

Worth reading in full.

This is a return to normal as far as state mandates and guidance are concerned. A provision for local restrictions by county judges (should Covid hospital occupancy hit a certain level locally) remains in force. But other than that this is Texas returning to normality.

Will it become an international movement as the evidence that such an unwinding does not precipitate mass deaths becomes clear? Let’s hope so, and let’s hope Boris and his advisers are watching.

Test and Trace Finds Almost No Covid in Schools

Professor Jon Deeks thinks mass testing in schools is a harmful waste of resources

Biostatistics Professor Jon Deeks, a Senior Researcher in the Institute of Applied Health Research at Birmingham University, has a good Twitter thread on how mass testing in schools appears to be finding no Covid and is a harmful waste of time. We reproduce it here in full.

Testing in schools has been finding close to zilch! Just located the Test and Trace figures for testing in schools. They are on this webpage.

To interpret these results remember all tests give false positives (FP). For Innova, DHSC says about three per 1,000 (0.3%) were FP; in Liverpool it was about one per 1,000 (0.1%). So only event rates above these figures indicate that a test is usefully detecting real cases.

First, primary schools (presume teachers and staff): 2,031,296 tests; 4,232 positives that is 0.21% stable for the past month. This is below the 0.3% false positive rate stated for Innova so many will be false positives.

Now secondary schools: 1,918,823 tests; 2,986 positives that is 0.16% over two months and has been below 0.1% for the past fortnight. Well below the 0.3% false positive rate stated for Innova so many will be false positives.

These data make clear (1) all LFT positives MUST be verified by PCR the Government is risking wrongly putting staff and students unnecessarily in isolation for 10 days. (2) The case that doing this at all will make a difference to cases and spread is less than wafer thin.

think about the cost (~£10K-£30K per case detected)
think about the time and effort
think about children who get stressed by tests and swabs think about what else we could provide to schools
many harms, unlikely there are going to be benefits

Why are we doing this?

Stop Press: The Telegraph reports that schools have been telling parents that their children will be banned from class if they do not consent to the tests. Val Mason, headteacher at Hornchurch High School in Havering, wrote to parents saying: “If you do not provide consent your child will not be permitted to return to face-to-face lessons. They will instead be required to complete their work remotely whilst being accommodated on the school site in a separate space.”

Does Vaccination Make You More Susceptible to Covid in the Week After the Jab?

A data analyst sent us the following comments on recent data that suggests Covid vaccines may increase susceptibility to the disease in the days immediately following the jab.

Matt Hancock referenced a Public Health England study on Monday that suggested an 80% reduction in hospitalisations after a single dose of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines. 

Unlike the recent Scotland study (which found around 90% efficacy but excluded the first seven days post-vaccination), the PHE study included data for the week immediately after vaccination.

Significantly, the authors noted a 48% increase in risk of infection 4-9 days after vaccination in the over-80s group treated with the Pfizer mRNA vaccine before January 4th. This is similar to the outcome reported in the FDA Emergency Use Authorisation for the Pfizer vaccine, which found 40% higher “suspected COVID” in the first week after vaccination compared to the control group. The authors of the PHE study explain the increase is likely to reflect the higher risk of exposure in these patients, either in hospital or in care homes. An alternative explanation – that the vaccine itself increased susceptibility – has not been adequately considered. Notable in this regard is that in trials the Pfizer vaccine was found to suppress lymphocyte count in the first few days after treatment (see chart above), potentially increasing susceptibility.

The PHE study employed a “test-negative (TN) case control” design that has become popular in assessing the efficacy of influenza vaccines in recent years. This design has been criticised as being not so much a “trial” as an observational retrospective study with a biased design. In this study, Pillar 2 data from unvaccinated patients is taken from December 8th. In contrast, vaccinated subjects appear to get nine days’ grace in the run up to January 4th. According to symptom trackers and Pillar 2 testing, the majority of vaccinated patients will have started reporting after infections in the community collapsed. The extent to which vaccine efficacy in the over-70s (from January 4th) is assisted by the natural waning of the epidemic after the turn of the year is uncertain.  

Given the numerous anecdotal reports of care home outbreaks (see the report from the UK Medical Freedom Alliance) shortly after vaccination across the world, I suggest this data needs further independent scrutiny.

I Think I’m In An Abusive Relationship – With the Government!

We’re publishing an original piece today by Ashton Warhurst, pointing out the disturbing fact that, by the Government’s own definition, “the people of Britain have been trapped in an abusive relationship with its own Government for almost a year, and the only end in sight is the vague suggestion of a maybe”. Ashton begins:

I think I am in an abusive relationship, and I don’t know how to escape. My abuser is too powerful and is intent on turning everyone I know against me, relentlessly trying to convince me that it’s all my fault, that somehow I’m to blame. It seems they’re the ‘good guy’ and I’m just a naïve nobody who doesn’t understand what’s best for me.

The realisation that I might be in an abusive relationship dawned on me when I read the Government’s statutory guidance framework for Controlling or Coercive Behaviour in an Intimate or Family Relationship. This framework, introduced in 2015, presents a list of control behaviours that help lawmakers recognise when a person, such as myself, is in an abusive relationship.

As I read through the list, it’s obvious that my own abuser ticks a disquietingly large majority of these boxes. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, it is my own abuser who wrote the framework.

Worth reading in full.

Lockdown Scepticism Was Never a ‘Fringe’ Viewpoint

Fruitcakes. Not to be confused with lockdown sceptics

Noah Carl has written an excellent piece in Quillette defending scepticism from the charge of being the preserve of extremists and fruitcakes. Here’s the opening:

Whether or not lockdowns are justifiable on public-health grounds, they certainly represent the greatest infringement on civil liberties in modern history. In the UK, lockdowns have contributed to the largest economic contraction in more than 300 years, as well as countless bankruptcies, and a dramatic rise in public borrowing.

This does not mean that lockdowns were the wrong policy, since they might have been necessary to prevent the National Health Service from being overwhelmed with COVID-19 critical-care patients. (And such measures are justified, proponents argue, on the grounds that they prevent infected individuals from harming others by inadvertently transmitting a deadly disease.) But as I will argue below, there’s plenty of evidence that supports those on the other side of this issue, notwithstanding the efforts of politicians, experts, and social-media companies to paint such dissent as marginal or even dangerous.

Worth reading in full.

Government Admits it Has No Evidence For Restrictions

Sceptic stalwart Sir Graham Brady MP

Sir Graham Brady MP asked the Health Secretary to publish the Government’s evidence on transmission risks in the different settings that are affected by lockdown restrictions. The Government’s answer has now been published – and basically admits it currently has no evidence and won’t have any until the summer. By which point all restrictions are envisaged to be gone!

Question:
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of September 2nd 2020 to Question 75983, on Coronavirus: Shops, if he will publish (a) the studies and (b) other research reports that his Department holds on the presence of viable COVID-19 virus in the air in (i) supermarkets, (ii) other large retail settings and (iii) other non-clinical settings. (154773)

Tabled on: February 19th 2021

Answer:
Edward Argar

The National Institute for Health Research and UK Research and Innovation jointly awarded over £5.3million for a programme of research of eight projects to understand the routes of transmission of COVID-19 in different environments and groups of people. These projects are 12-15 months in duration and are expected to report findings in the summer of 2021.

The answer was submitted on March 2nd 2021.

So much for being led by “the science”.

Rising From the Ashes

A Lockdown Sceptics reader who lost his job during lockdown has set up a London-based gardening business: Pruners & Shapers. We thought we’d give it a mention. And in case you’re wondering, yes, gardeners are allowed to continue working under the current restrictions in England.

If any other entrepreneurial readers have found themselves in a similar position and would like us to give a boost to their new enterprise, email us here.

COVID-1984

Some more great Party slogans from readers:

IF YOU DON’T HAVE COVID YOU DON’T MATTER
WE’RE DESTROYING YOUR LIFE TO SAVE IT
KISSING KILLS
COMPANY WILL KILL
FRIENDS ARE THE ENEMY
FRONT DOOR IS FAR ENOUGH
SCEPTICISM IS SEDITION
MODELLING IS REALITY
SHAMING IS LOVING
TESTS ARE TRUTH

One from the Theresa May playbook:

LOCKDOWN MEANS LOCKDOWN

And one from ANIMALFARM-19:

ALL CITIZENS ARE EQUAL. BUT IMMUNISED CITIZENS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.

Round-up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Ten today: “Numbers Don’t Lie” by Popcaan, “I Surrender” by Rainbow, “Dead Cities” by The Exploited, “Twisted (Everyday Hurts)” by Skunk Anansie, “How Many More Years” by Howlin’ Wolf, “I Predict A Riot” by Kaiser Chiefs, “Things Can Only Get Better” by Howard Jones, “Tell Me The Truth” by Bonnie Tyler, “Open Up” by Leftfield and Lydon and the latest from Media Bear: “Stick Me Baby 1 More Time“.

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, it’s the news that Dr Seuss has been cancelled by Joe Biden for alleged racism. The Spectator USA looks at how the woke fanatics reached that peculiar conclusion.

The children’s author Theodore Seuss Geisel lived his entire life not just as a staunch progressive, but even as the rather grating variety. To Geisel, the Cold War clash with totalitarian communism was a dispute as flimsy as a debate over how to butter bread. Horton Hears A Who! may declare that “a person’s a person, no matter how small”, but Seuss threatened to sue a pro-life group that took that statement to its logical conclusion. If Bartholomew Cubbins and his 500 hats were around today, at least one of the hats would be a Pussy Hat.

But Seuss’s books were still phenomenally popular. Thousands of schools celebrate March 2nd as Read Across America Day. The date was chosen to mark Geisel’s birth date. But now President Biden has reportedly omitted Seuss from the official list after educational authorities in Loudoun County, Virginia decided the author is, er, problematic.

Seuss drew anti-Japanese caricatures during World War Two. His characters are mostly the colour of the paper they are printed on. His later anti-racism works promote equality and colour-blindness rather than equity and ‘reckoning’. So of course, he probably should be cancelled or at least denounced.

Loudoun County was once the great redoubt of conservatism in Northern Virginia, populated by the refugees of Fairfax, Arlington and DC itself. But the Big Blue Blob fully consumed Loudoun in 2016, and now parents get to enjoy the consequences, like denunciations of beloved children’s authors.

And so, out went a statement from Loudoun’s educators: “As we become more culturally responsive and racially conscious, all building leaders should know that in recent years there has been research revealing racial undertones in the books written and the illustrations drawn by Dr Seuss.”

Research like this on Horton Hears a Who! by two critical race theorists:

Regardless of the intention of the book, the impact is that it reinforces themes of White supremacy, Orientalism, and White saviourism. It positions the Whos in a deficit-based framework as the dominant, paternalistic Horton enacts the White Saviour Industrial Complex… Not only does a White saviour narrative play out within Horton Hears a Who!, Seuss himself is positioned as a White saviour for writing it.

Worth reading in full.

“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.

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.

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.

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

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments.)

And Finally…

In a sign of how small the relative impact of Covid is on annual mortality, Lockdown Sceptics reader Mark Ellse has drawn up this chart showing that a woman’s probability of dying in 2020 was still way below that of a man in a normal year. Which can only mean one thing: men need to start living in permanent lockdown to keep them safe from the nasty world out there.

Latest News

Health Secretary Matt Hancock struck an upbeat tone at the daily press conference yesterday where he announced that a single dose of either the AstraZenica or Pfizer jab reduces risk of hospitalisation in the over-80s by 80%. He continued:

The effectiveness of the vaccine on protecting people, and on reducing transmission, is critical to the roadmap [for lifting lockdown restrictions]… The data that we’ve published today shows that the roadmap is achievable, because it shows that we will be able to break the link from cases through to hospitalisations and to deaths, and until now in the pandemic that link from cases through to hospitalisations and deaths has been unbreakable. And we have demonstrated with the data today that the vaccines can break that link, and that is down to the power of science. So it’s good news for everybody.

Good, but given that all the over-80s and all the over-70s have now been offered at least one dose – and more than 90% have taken that offer – why is there so little urgency in when it comes to lifting of restrictions, considering what a whopping chunk of Covid hospitalisations and deaths these people account for?

Meanwhile, a ‘manhunt’ is underway for a missing case of the so-called Brazilian variant. Prime Minister Boris Johnson downplayed fears about the variant though, saying:

We have no reason not to think our vaccines are effective against these variants of concern. People should take that as some evidence of confidence.

Health Correspondent Nick Triggle at the BBC had this analysis.

It is tempting to think that if officials can identify the one missing case, the UK will be able to stamp out the Brazil variant. 

But it’s unlikely this will be possible. There will no doubt be more cases either of this variant or others circulating with the E484 mutation that allows the virus to escape some of the effect of the vaccines. 

That’s because not all positive cases can be checked for variants. The UK carries out nearly half of the genomic sequencing in the world and can check around 25,000 positive tests a week for variants. 

That means about a quarter of positive cases were checked last week, but a month ago – with infection rates higher – it was under one in 10. 

What is more, not everyone who is positive comes forward for a test in the first place. We are seeing just the top of the iceberg.

We received this intriguing comment about the variants from a well-connected reader who cannot be named lest he endanger his source.

I have good reason to believe that Hancock is desperate for variants, and that experts think it a waste of time to hunt for them and think vaccinations are fine to keep things going well, including coping with variants. He wants twice daily briefings on any possible variants.

Stop Press: How to spot the Brazilian variant.

Battle-Weary Peter Hitchens Takes Flak for Jab Decision

Peter Hitchens, one of the earliest of the UK’s small band of sceptical journalists, used his weekly conversation with Mike Graham on talkRADIO to discuss the mixed reaction to his Mail on Sunday column in which he revealed he had had his first Covid jab. He wrote:

Of course my selfish injection didn’t hurt. I’m a blood donor (so also please don’t call me selfish), used to far bigger needles in my arm, for a lot longer. I did feel a pang of regret and loss. For me, the vaccination was a gloomy submission to a new world of excessive safety and regulation. I’d tried to fight against it but I lost.

The New Jerusalem, in which we allow the state to boss us around even more, in the name of our own good, is now coming into being.

And so we are just going to be under surveillance a lot more, recorded a lot more and bossed about a lot more.

He had weighed up the pros and cons and concluded that, nearing 70 and with part of his family abroad who he had been prevented from seeing for over a year, resisting the coming vaccine passport system was un-winnable. In response, he was deluged with accusations of capitulation on social media yesterday. Anyone who has listened much to Hitchens for the last year will know that he has said very little about the vaccine and certainly never said whether he would or wouldn’t take it, nor discouraged anyone else from taking it. On talkRADIO, he underlined the point that the battle was over as far as he was concerned.

You can’t lead when there’s nothing much behind you. I’ve worked day and night, before breakfast, before lunch, before supper, into the evening day after day after day trying to make the case against this folly for 11 long months, sometimes very nearly totally alone in my trade. I resent very much anyone who suggests that I didn’t put my all into it or that I didn’t believe in it. But I don’t think that there has been sufficient resistance at a time when it could have been any use. People wake up now and say, “Oh gosh, this is all a terrible mistake!” – Where were they?! – Particularly in my own trade, but in general, where were they in the months of March, April and June? Where were they in Parliament, in the Law, when some difference could have been made and this could have been stopped? They weren’t anywhere to be seen. It’s no good turning on me now and saying ,”Actually, we have failed.” I didn’t fail! I kept on, but I’m just not going to pretend you can carry on and on fighting a battle with nobody behind you against an enormously powerful, immensely rich enemy who simply turns a steamroller on you. I’ve been steamrollered. It’s an experience I’m horribly used to.

He turned his exasperation on would-be members of the ‘resistance’ who remained silent.

There are people in this country not like me, a lot of people I just don’t appeal to, but commentators who instantly, if they take up a cause, attract a powerful following, and I’d name two of those among them. Douglas Murray and Charles (now Lord) Moore. These were voices which in my view, if they’d spoken out against this, could have changed the whole tendency of things. But among so many others, they looked on it as spectators. They didn’t see it as their cause.

Perhaps it is a sign that Hitchens is going to hang up his fiddle, but we certainly hope not.

Worth watching in full.

Hypocrite of the Week

The militant campaigner against reopening public schools drop his own daughter off at a private school

We thought our teaching unions were bad, but America’s are worse. The President of a teaching federation in California, who’s been campaigning against re-opening public schools, was spotted dropping his own child off at a private school. Fox News has more.

A group known as Guerilla Momz is calling Berkeley Federation of Teachers president Matt Meyer a hypocrite after spotting him dropping his two-year-old daughter off for in-person instruction at a private pre-school.

“Meet Matt Meyer. White man with dreads and president of the local teachers’ union,” the group wrote in a tweet on Saturday along with video footage of Meyer. “He’s been saying it is unsafe for *your kid* to be back at school, all the while dropping his kid off at private school.”

Meyer told Fox News in a statement that the video, which blurred out his child’s face, was “very inappropriate” and an intrusion of his child’s privacy. He added that there were “no public options for kids her age”.

As ever, it’s one rule for me and another for thee.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press 2: An editorial has been published in the British Medical Journal by Sarah J. Lewis, Alasdair P.S. Munro, George Davey Smith, and Allyson M. Pollock entitled “Closing schools is not evidence-based and harms children“.

Keeping schools open should be the UK’s top priority 

Some 8.8 million schoolchildren in the UK have experienced severe disruption to their education, with prolonged school closures and national exams cancelled for two consecutive years. School closures have been implemented internationally with insufficient evidence for their role in minimising COVID-19 transmission and insufficient consideration of the harms to children.

For some children education is their only way out of poverty; for others school offers a safe haven away from a dangerous or chaotic home life. Learning loss, reduced social interaction, isolation, reduced physical activity, increased mental health problems, and potential for increased abuse, exploitation, and neglect have all been associated with school closures. Reduced future income and life expectancy are associated with less education. Children with special educational needs or who are already disadvantaged are at increased risk of harm. The 2019 report of the Children’s Commissioner for England estimated that 2.3 million children in England were living in unsafe home environments with domestic violence, drug or alcohol abuse, or severe mental problems among parents. These long term harms are likely to be magnified by further school closures.

The overall risk to children and young people from COVID-19 is very small, and hyperinflammatory syndrome is extremely rare. Studies are under way to gauge the effect of post-Covid syndrome among children.

Although school closures reduce the number of contacts children have, and may decrease transmission, a study of 12 million adults in the UK found no difference in the risk of death from COVID-19 in households with or without children. Only 3% of people aged over-65 live with children.

In-person learning increases teachers’ exposure and might be expected to increase their risk of becoming infected, but accumulating evidence shows that teachers and school staff are not at higher risk of hospital admission or death from COVID-19 compared with other workers. Teacher absence because of confirmed COVID-19 in England was similar in primary and secondary schools in the autumn term, despite secondary schoolchildren having much higher rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Moreover teacher absence decreased in Tier 3 regions during the November lockdown despite schools remaining open.

Worth reading in full.

Hans Rosling’s Ten Instincts

A reader has got in touch with a summary of the 10 faulty human instincts described in Hans Rosling’s book Factfulness, lifted from a review of the book on Amazon. The question is: How many of these faults has the Government exhibited in its thinking about the pandemic?

1. The Gap Instinct – We tend to divide the things into two distinct groups and imagine a gap between them. To control gap instinct, look for the majority. Beware of the averages, if you look at the spread, the majority will overlap. Beware comparisons of extremes (the media loves to do it).

2. The Negativity Instinct – We tend to instinctively notice the bad more than the good. We need to learn to acknowledge the fact that things can be both ‘better’ and ‘bad’ at the same time. Example, education levels have improved over time, but still, 10% of the children don’t get any education, that’s bad. We also need to know that good news is never reported, media would hype the bad stuff always. Subsequently, gradual improvement isn’t reported either. Countries, government, media often try to glorify the past, so we need to be beware of these rosy pasts.

3. The Straight Line Instinct – When we see a line going up steadily, we tend to assume the line will continue to go up in the foreseeable future. To control this instinct, remember that curves come in different shapes. Finally, don’t assume straight lines if data doesn’t show it.

4. The Fear Instinct – We tend to perceive the world to be scarier than it really is. We overestimate the risks associated with violence, captivity, contamination, etc. The world seems scarier because what you hear has been carefully selected to be told. Remember, Risk = Danger x Exposure, and act accordingly. Make decisions only when you’re calm, not when you are afraid.

5. The Size Instinct – We tend to see things out of proportion, over-estimating the importance of a single event/person that’s visible to us, and the scale of an issue based on a standalone number. A lonely number may seem impressive in isolation, but can be trivial in comparison to something else. Hence, always look for comparisons. Use the 80/20 rule. When comparing countries, look for rates per person.

6. The Generalisation Instinct – We tend to wrongly assume that everything or everyone in a category is similar. Hence, we must look for differences within a group, look for similarities across groups and look for differences across groups. We should beware of the term ‘Majority’ – it can mean 51% or 99% or anything in between. Beware of vivid images, which are easier to recall but can be exceptions to the general norm.

7. The Destiny Instinct – We tend to assume that the destinies of people, cultures, countries, etc. are predetermined by certain factors, and such factors are fixed and unchanging, i.e., their destinies are fixed. To control this, we must keep track of gradual changes and improvements. We should update our knowledge on different subjects, and look for examples of cultural changes.

8. The Single Perspective Instinct – We tend to focus on single causes or solutions, which are easier to grasp and make our problems seem easier to solve. It is better to look at problems from multiple perspectives. To control this, always test your ideas and allow people to find weaknesses. Don’t claim to be an expert at all times, be humble about your limited expertise in different areas.

9. The Blame Instinct – When something goes wrong, we instinctively blame it on someone or something. To control this, resist finding a scapegoat. Look for causes, not villains. Finally, look for systems and processes, not heroes.

10. The Urgency Instinct – We tend to rush into a problem or opportunity for fear that there’s no time and we may be too late. To control this, take small steps. Always insist on data rather than making hunch based hasty decisions. Always be aware of the side effects of your hasty decision to avoid making the same.

The Mortality Risk of COVID-19 is Dying Out

We are publishing an original paper today by Howard Greene that looks at the diminishing risk of dying from COVID-19 and argues that it’s now within the normal range Americans are typically prepared to live with and, for that reasons, restrictions should be lifted. Howard‘s credentials cover 40 years of working in the medical technology field, for both large and small companies. He is the co-inventor of the monoclonal antibody sandwich assay which is today the standard clinical chemistry method for measuring proteins, including the test for SARS-CoV-2 antigen. Here is an extract:

Governments have imposed extreme policies to contain COVID-19 infections because of public perceptions that the mortality risk is high. As the collateral damage to education, careers, routine health care, and economies grows, and as infection rates decline, it is reasonable to assess to what degree the COVID-19 mortality risk justifies continued Government intervention in normal life.

It goes without saying that any unnatural death is a tragedy to be avoided. Nevertheless, in a free society, individuals make decisions every day that come with mortality risk: driving at high speeds on crowded interstate highways, or rock climbing, or ignoring the onset of serious obesity. In America, Government policy should reflect  population mortality costs without trying to protect every citizen from the inevitability of death. Individuals should make decisions about risky behavior based on knowledge about their personal exposure to mortality risks.

Unfortunately, bad news sells better than good news, and politicians are driven to ‘do something’. As a result, the actual population cost and individual risk of dying from COVID-19 have been lost in a fog of tragic stories and fear mongering. This paper aims to cut through that fog by answering some basic questions:

  • What is the individual risk of being infected with SARS-CoV-2?
  • If an individual contracts COVID-19, what is his risk of dying?
  • How does this mortality risk compare to the normal risks of modern living?


Average Individual Risk of Contracting COVID-19 Within the Next Year Is Less Than 5%

The average American’s risk of contracting COVID-19 during the period March 1st 2020 through February 16th 2021 was about 18%, i.e., one-in-five. This estimate is based on data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an independent global health research center at the University of Washington.

The CDC tabulates Daily New COVID-19 Cases (DNCC), but they do not capture infections which were not serious enough to require medical care. Daily New COVID-19 Infections (DNCI) estimates include both diagnosed and undiagnosed infections, and they are generated by epidemiological models using data from seroprevalence studies that test for antibodies to the virus and/or tracing programs that test for live virus in people who contacted infected individuals. IHME has developed such a model, and Figure 1 compares the CDC case numbers against IHME’s infection estimates.

During the period March 1st 2020 to February 16th 2021, IHME estimates that slightly less than half (47%) of SARS-CoV-2 infected Americans were diagnosed as COVID-19 cases. Their estimate of cumulative total infections during that period is 27.6 million people, which is about 18% of the 328 million people living in America.

Dividing DNCI by the total population produces the average, population probability of having been infected in a 1-day time period. This Daily COVID-19 Infection Rate (DCIR) can be annualized using this formula: RA = 1 – (1 – RD)^365, where RA = Annual Rate and RD = Daily Rate. The Annual COVID-19 Infection Rate (ACIR) measures the probability of the average American contracting COVID-19 during the next 12 months, if the epidemiological parameters of the day in question were to remain constant for one year.

Figure 2 shows the daily ACIR for the period March 1st 2020 to February 16th 2021, along with IHME’s projection of ACIR to June 1st 2021. As the chart indicates, the ACIR varied, with high points in April, August, and January, and low points in May and September.

The implication of the IHME projection is that, by May 2021, the ACIR will drop below 5%. Thanks to the end of the virus season and the onset of herd immunity, the average American will face an annual risk of contracting COVID-19 of less than one-in-twenty. An individual American will be at higher or lower risk depending upon his relative exposure to infected subjects.

Nevertheless, COVID-19 will remain dangerous for people susceptible to the severe acute respiratory syndrome which can result in hospitalization and death. This danger is reflected in the COVID-19 Infection Fatality Rate (CIFR), which is a measure of the percentage of subjects infected with SARS-CoV-2 who die because of the infection.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Eleanor Hayward in the Daily Mail has reported the startling statistic that one in four of the deaths attributed to Covid were of people with dementia, highlighting the huge skew towards those in care homes, as well as the devastating toll of isolation.

More than 34,000 dementia sufferers have died from COVID-19, research published today shows.

One in four of all virus deaths have been among those with the illness – but care home visiting bans have denied families the chance to say goodbye.

Today’s study lays bare the devastating toll of lockdown on the nation’s 850,000 care home residents living with dementia.

Nine in 10 families said the pandemic had accelerated their loved one’s symptoms, the Alzheimer’s Society found.

Seven in 10 care home residents have dementia, but most have not had meaningful visits for almost a year.

Almost a quarter of family members have not been able to see their relative with dementia at all for over six months, the survey reveals. This isolation and loneliness has caused some residents to lose the ability to eat, drink and speak.

More than a quarter of family members who care for someone with dementia said they witnessed an “unmanageable decline” in the health of their relative.

Of the 124,978 COVID-19 deaths registered up to February 12th, an estimated 27.5% had dementia.

Worth reading in full.

Government’s Notorious ‘1 in 3’ Propaganda Line Doesn’t Square With ONS Data

Wrong!

Norman Fenton, a Professor of Risk Information Management at Queen Mary University has analysed the data from a study of ‘asymptomatic cases’ in Cambridge and published his conclusions in a blog post:

The Cambridge study testing asymptomatics is the gift that keeps on giving

This makes interesting reading for anybody who still believes the Government ‘case’ data and the claim that just because you don’t have any COVID-19 symptoms it doesn’t mean you aren’t an danger.

This data also means that if the Government claim that “1 in 3 people with the virus has no symptoms” is correct then the ONS estimated infection rate is massively inflated – the currently reported ‘case’ numbers must be at least 8 times greater than the true number of cases. On the other hand, if the Government estimates of case numbers are correct then at most 1 in 26 people with the virus has no symptoms. Here’s an informal explanation why (formal proof is below):

Cambridge has a population of 129,000.

If the ONS infection estimates for Cambridge (0.71%) are accurate, then during an average week in this period about 916 people had the virus and 128,084 did not. 

But if the “1 in 3” claim is correct about 305 people in Cambridge had the virus but no symptoms. 

So at most 128,389 people in Cambridge had no symptoms and that means at least 305/128389 people with no symptoms had the virus. That is at least 0.24% (i.e. at least around 1 in 421). 

But the study shows on average only 1 in 4867 (0.028%) with no symptoms had the virus. So there should only have been about 36. 

That means the “1 in 3” claim and the ONS estimates cannot both be correct. 

If the “1 in 3” claim is correct, then the maximum possible value for the infection rate is 0.084% and not 0.71% as claimed (with 0.084% we would have 108 with the virus of whom 36 have no symptoms). So the ONS estimated infection rate is over eight times greater than the true rate. 

If the 0.71% infection rate is correct, then the maximum possible value for the proportion of people with the virus who have no symptoms is 3.9% (as this would mean 36 of the 916 people with the virus have no symptoms as predicted by the Cambridge data).

Worth reading Professor Fenton’s conclusions and workings out in full.

“Why I am Not a Lockdown Sceptic”

The Trolley Problem.

We are publishing on original piece today by Alastair Cavendish, a former professor of English Literature, explaining why technically speaking he is not a sceptic. Below is an extract:

In times of stress, which occur with increasing frequency these days, I find myself turning to Lockdown Sceptics almost as a guilty pleasure. One ought, of course, to challenge oneself with news sources that do not simply reflect one’s own views. The echo chamber and the hall of mirrors have become characteristic metaphors to describe the news media, which produce sounds and images as distorted as they are familiar. On Lockdown Sceptics, however, I can at least be certain of finding sanity, courtesy, and commitment to evidence, qualities which are in short supply elsewhere. The alternatives are to retreat even further from human society, or to listen to a smug voice on the BBC wondering out loud how people like Toby Young can sleep at night with all the blood on their hands.

All the same, I am not a lockdown sceptic myself, any more than I am a racism sceptic or a rape sceptic. Lockdown, like racism and rape, is an evil thing, and I am unequivocally against it. If this seems like an extremist position, consider the question as a variant of the trolley problem, which has been a staple of philosophy classrooms since Judith Jarvis Thompson and Philippa Foot wrote about it in the 1970s. The student is asked to imagine that s/he is a bystander who is watching a trolley speeding along a track, on which there are five people tied up ahead. There is no way to stop the trolley, but it is possible to pull a lever which will divert it onto another track, on which there is one person tied up.

Many people say that they would pull the lever and murder the person on the other track. However, they are apt to change their mind when presented with an alternative problem in which the bystander is on a bridge, standing beside a large, heavy man. The trolley is about to run under the bridge, but the man is large enough to stop the trolley if he is pushed onto the track, though it will kill him in the process. Very few people say that they would push the man onto the track, killing him in order to save the five people tied up ahead.

The parallel with lockdown is clear. Lockdowns kill people, and the people who will suffer most from them are reasonably foreseeable. Those who live alone, and whose mental health is fragile, are clearly suicide risks. So are people who have lost their businesses and livelihoods, or jobs that gave their life meaning. Many others are at risk from untreated conditions less fashionable than COVID-19. To be in favour of lockdown is to say that these people are less valuable than others, the type of people one might as well shove off a bridge to stop a speeding trolley.

Worth reading in full.

A Change in Nomenclature

A hideous creature, pictured alongside two morlocks.

A reader has written in with a suggestion, along with a doctored photo to illustrate his point.

‘Pro-lockdowner’ is a bit of a mouthful. Why not ‘Morlock’, after the sinister underground creatures of HG Wells’s Time Machine?

COVID-1984

We have a particularly good crop of ‘Party Slogans’ submitted by readers today:

REASON IS TREASON

‘THE SCIENCE’ IS SCIENCE

DATASET IS TRUTH

TRUTH IS LOCKDOWN

SOCIALISING IS SELFISH

INACTIVITY IS HEALTH

FRESH AIR IS CONTAGION

EXERCISE IS UNHEALTHY

HUGGING IS VIOLENCE

SICKNESS IS SELFISH: HEALTHCARE MUST BE LIBERATED FROM SELFISHNESS

and…

VARIANTS BYPASS COMMUNITY IMMUNITY WITH IMPUNITY

Do keep them coming – send them to us here.

Poetry Corner

A reader, a man of the cloth, has sent us a ‘Covid-Tide Hymn for Supine Clergy’ to be sung to the tune of “All to Jesus” by Winfield Scott Weeden:

1.

All to Boris I surrender,

All to SAGE I freely give,

I will ever live and trust them

In their presence daily live.

Chorus:

I surrender all, 

I surrender all,

All to thee my glorious leaders,

I surrender all. 

2. 

All to Boris I surrender,

Humbly at his feet I bow,

Worldly pleasures all got taken; 

Lock me, Boris, lock me down.

(Chorus)

3. 

All to Boris I surrender, 

Take my freedom, it’s all thine; 

Let me have thy saving vaccine, 

Truly know that this is fine.

(Chorus

4. 

All to Boris I surrender, 

Now I feel the sacred jab. 

Oh, the joy of full salvation! 

Glory, I can use a cab!

(Chorus)

Round-up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Eight today: “Life is for Living” by the Malopoets, “Chaos is my Life” by The Exploited, “Do Nothing” by The Specials, “Take Back the Land” by Oi Polloi, “You’ve Got a Lot to Answer For” by Catatonia, “Shake the Disease” by Depeche Mode, “Clock is Running ” by Seasick Steve and “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” by Gill Scott Heron.

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 have an extract from “There is No Such Thing as White Math”, in which Princeton mathematics Professor Sergiu Klainerman laments how even STEM subjects have begun to succumb to woke gobbledegook.

Like children all over the world, I was attracted to mathematics because of its formal beauty, the elegance and precision of its arguments, and the unique sense of achievement I was able to get by finding the right answer to a difficult problem. Mathematics also granted me an escape from the intoxicating daily drum of party propaganda – a refuge from the crushing atmosphere of political and ideological conformity. 

The woke ideology, on the other hand, treats both science and mathematics as social constructs and condemns the way they are practiced, in research and teaching, as manifestations of white supremacy, euro-centrism, and post-colonialism.

Take for example the recent educational program called “A pathway to equitable math instruction”. The program is backed financially by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; it counts among its partners the Lawrence Hall of Science at U.C. Berkeley, the California Math project, the Association of California School Administrators, and the Los Angeles County Office of Education, among others; and it was recently sent to Oregon teachers by the state’s Department of Education. 

The program argues that “white supremacy culture shows up in the classroom when the focus is on getting the ‘right’ answer” or when students are required to show their work, while stipulating that the very “concept of mathematics being purely objective is unequivocally false”. The main goal of the program is “to dismantle racism in mathematics instruction” with the expressly political aim of engaging “the sociopolitical turn in all aspects of education, including mathematics”.

In the past, I would have said that such statements should be ignored as too radical and absurd to merit refutation. But recent trends across the country suggest that we no longer have that luxury.

So let me state the following for the record: Nothing in the history and current practice of mathematics justifies the notion that it is in any way different or dependent on the particular race or ethnic group engaged in it.

For historical reasons, we often discuss contributions to the field of mathematics from the Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Chinese, Indians and Arabs and refer to them as distinct entities. They have all contributed through a unique cultural dialogue to the creation of a truly magnificent edifice accessible today to every man and woman on the planet. Though we pay tribute to great historical figures who inform the practice of mathematics, the subject can be taught – and often is – with no reference to the individuals who have contributed to it. In that sense it is uniquely universal. 

Schools throughout the world teach the same basic body of mathematics. They differ only by the methodology and intensity with which they instruct students. 

It is precisely this universality of math – together with the extraordinary ability of American universities to reward hard work and talent – that allowed me, and so many other young scientists and mathematicians, to come to this country and achieve success beyond our wildest dreams. 

The idea that focusing on getting the “right answer” is now considered among some self-described progressives a form of bias or racism is offensive and extraordinarily dangerous. The entire study of mathematics is based on clearly formulated definitions and statements of fact. If this were not so, bridges would collapse, planes would fall from the sky, and bank transactions would be impossible.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Sir Kazuo Ishiguro says that young writers may be self-censoring to avoid the ire of woke mobs. The BBC has more.

Sir Kazuo, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2017, warned that a “climate of fear” was preventing some people from writing what they want.

He said they may be concerned that an “anonymous lynch mob will turn up online and make their lives a misery”.

He told the BBC: “I very much fear for the younger generation of writers.”

The 66-year-old said he was worried that less established authors were self-censoring by avoiding writing from certain viewpoints or including characters outside their immediate experiences.

“I think that is a dangerous state of affairs,” added the acclaimed author, whose works include The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go.

He said he was particularly troubled about young writers “who rightly perhaps feel that their careers are more fragile, their reputations are more fragile and they don’t want to take risks”.

His comments come after a number of freedom of speech disputes, with writers being “cancelled” or facing threats to boycott their work. High-profile targets have included J.K. Rowling, Julie Burchill and Jeanine Cummins.

Sir Kazuo, however, who received a knighthood in 2019, said he was not worried about being “cancelled”.

“I think I’m in a privileged and relatively protected position because I’m a very established author,” he said. “I’m the age I am. I have a reputation. Perhaps it’s an illusion but I think I’m protected.”

Worth reading in full.

“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.

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.

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.

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

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments.)

And Finally…

Toby and James Delingpole have recorded their weekly episode of London Calling. In this edition, they discuss Peter Hitchens’s decision to have the jab – he and James were going at it like rats in a sack on Twitter yesterday – as well as Harry and Meghan’s upcoming moan fest, Toby’s career advice to James Corden (delivered in person at the GQ Man of the Year awards) and the novels of Bernard Cornwell.

You can listen to the episode here and subscribe to the podcast here.

Latest News

Arrival of the Brazilian Variant

Cristo Redentor, Rio de Janeiro

Despite newly toughened entry requirements to the UK, a ‘variant of concern’ first detected in Brazil has made its way onto our shores, as the BBC reports.

Three cases have been detected in England and separately three in Scotland.

In England, officials are still trying to track down one of those who tested positive for the new variant.

The three Scottish residents had flown to north-east Scotland from Brazil via Paris and London, the Scottish government said.

Experts believe this variant (P1) – first detected in travellers to Japan from Manaus in northern Brazil in January – could be more contagious. 

There are also concerns vaccines may not be as effective against it – but NHS England’s Prof Stephen Powis said vaccines could be “rapidly adapted”.

Dr Susan Hopkins, from Public Health England (PHE), said the UK was more advanced than many other countries in identifying the variants and mutations and therefore able to act quickly.

On-again, off-again sceptic Alistair Haimes greeted the news with a tongue-in-cheek Tweet:

Advocates of Zero Covid have been having a tricky week too, as the supposedly Covid-free island fortresses of New Zealand and the Isle of Man have hurtled back into various shutdowns and restrictions after, inevitably, finding cases again. The BBC reports on the Manx situation:

Nine new cases of coronavirus have been detected on the Isle of Man, including two that cannot be linked to a known chain of transmission, the government has said.

People have been urged to stay at home, avoid mixing with other households and postpone events as a “precaution”.

Chief Minister Howard Quayle said it was now “possible that the virus is circulating in the community” again.

A clearer picture would be known “within 24 hours”, he added.

Mr Quayle said while the government had “stopped short” of making the measures a legal requirement, the “clear advice” was for people to stay at home where possible as a “precautionary measure for now”.

“As we are unable at this stage to link either of these cases to a known transmission chain – or to each other – we must conclude that it is possible that the virus is circulating in the community,” Mr Quayle said.

The island has on two previous occasions celebrated lifting all its restrictions after stints with no known new infections, most recently on February 1st. It comes just after the news, which we included in yesterday’s round up, that Auckland was imposing a seven-day lockdown after detecting just one case. At least both offer an example of what the reality of life would be like under a ‘Zero Covid’ regime.

Police Giving Up On Outdoor Gatherings

British Bobbies

In a departure from some of the recent fighting talk from police officials, and some reports of officious behaviour by cops, the Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation has said that the police are neither willing nor able to patrol outdoor gatherings. The Telegraph has more.

Police no longer wish to enforce Covid rules to break up groups gathering outdoors in the month before the restrictions are eased, rank and file officers said on Sunday night.

Huge crowds took advantage of unseasonably warm weather to meet in large numbers in parks and on beaches this weekend, but anecdotal evidence suggested only some police forces were still trying to enforce the existing rules.

The relaxation of Covid regulations only begins next Monday when, for the first time since the lockdown began, two people can meet in an “outdoor public space” for recreational purposes that include a coffee, drink or picnic. 

Only by March 29th will six people – or two households – be allowed to meet outdoors, including in back gardens.

On Sunday night Ken Marsh, the Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers in the UK’s biggest force, said his members had no desire to carry out the law to the letter.

“Police don’t want to police this,” he said. “We have had enough of this. It is not policeable. It is not manageable.”

UK Orders 30 Million Doses of Single-Shot Johnson & Johnson Jab

Whether it’s because the Prime Minister likes the name, or because the USA has just authorised emergency use of the jab, the UK has committed to purchasing 30 million doses of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine before it has been approved by the MHRA, as the Telegraph reports.

single-shot vaccine to combat Covid in Britain could be just weeks away, with regulators set to begin the approval process this week.

Ministers are expecting the Johnson & Johnson  jab – which has been authorised in the US for emergency use – to start formal regulatory approval in the coming days. The UK has ordered 30 million doses, the US 100 million and Canada 38 million.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which must carry out the checks for the UK, did not respond to a request for a comment.

The development came as reports emerged that just one shot of the Pfizer or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine reduced the risk of being admitted to hospital by more than 90%.

Public health officials have briefed ministers on the new results, according to a report in the Mail on Sunday.

Health sources said the jab, developed by Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines division Janssen, was not yet being considered by the MHRA for formal approval – a process that normally takes less than two weeks, based on the timelines for Pfizer and AstraZeneca’s jabs.

A senior Government source said the MHRA formal process was “very likely” to start this week. The Department of Health and Social Care declined to comment.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: The BBC reports that Rishi Sunak is committing a whopping £1.65 billion extra to the UK’s vaccination programme in the upcoming budget in a bid to ensure all adults are offered a jab by July 31st.

Trust Me, I’m a Doctor

Following on from Chris Whitty and the General Medical Council’s comments regarding vaccine uptake in the medical profession, which Will Jones reported in Lockdown Sceptics a few days ago, a reader has expressed his worries about the implications for the trust between doctors and patients. This dawned on him after a conversation with his goddaughter, a medical student.

My goddaughter is a medical student in her final year. She has recently received the Pfizer vaccine not entirely willingly. Her experience is consistent with reports of doctors facing pressure and even disciplinary action if they refuse a Covid vaccine.

Doctors who don’t want to receive this new vaccine treatment but are finally coerced into it are doing so presumably to protect their jobs and their careers. This should be a very frightening prospect for patients. What it essentially does is cast doubt on how much we can trust those doctors. If they are willing to risk harm to themselves for the benefit of their careers, who is to say they won’t risk harm to us for the same reasons? They might prescribe what is best for us or they might prescribe whatever best serves their careers.

The same can be said for healthcare workers as a whole. Following reports that about half of care home workers were refusing to be vaccinated, two major care home operators have announced a ‘No Jab, No Job’ policy. The message for anyone who has a relative in a care home the message is clear. You have no guarantee that those caring for your relatives will do what they think is best for your relative. If they are willing to risk harm to themselves (at least in their minds) to save their jobs, then the chances are they will be prepared to risk harm to your relative for the very same reason. 

Codes of ethics in professions are important. They give us confidence by elevating our interests over those of the professionals serving us. This is particularly important in the medical profession because our lives are often literally at stake. This might be why a code of ethics in medicine goes back thousands of years to the hippocratic ideal of not causing intentional harm.

Doctors may reasonably argue that things aren’t that simple any more. Long gone are the days of the independent doctor serving a community and exercising personal judgment. Most doctors these days carry out their work within sophisticated, gargantuan healthcare systems. Best practice is heavily prescribed by organisations such as NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) or the WHO (World Health Organisation) which in practice leaves doctors little leeway to exercise personal judgment. Even at the individual level, difficult decisions are often made by multidisciplinary teams with shared responsibility.

Doctors and healthcare workers who are averse to receiving a new, little-tested vaccination may find it easy to persuade themselves that they are ultimately submitting to the better judgment and wisdom created by the system. If the NHS says it’s best, well, maybe it is, even if I personally doubt it, a doctor could easily say. 

The problem is, does a juggernaut like the NHS seek to do what is best for me as an individual or what is best for the public collectively? (We might be tempted to think that in fact, like many doctors, it is serving itself first and foremost. What does “Protect the NHS” otherwise mean, if not that?)

Most if not all NHS trusts have codes of ethics that safeguard the individual interests of patients. But the reality of course is that a hospital or a clinic ends up considering the interests of several people at the same time and when those interests are in conflict, it is often physical and financial constraints rather than ethical considerations that guide decisions. Medical systems or corporations tend to aim at maximising collective rather than individual well-being. So in the end it is people who we end up relying on to behave ethically. 

Where does that leave us patients? Now that we know that doctors can be coerced, whenever a doctor advises or prescribes some treatment, we will have no guarantee that the treatment is the best thing for us. It might be, but it might not. It could be what is best for the doctor or what is best for the hospital or the system at large. We have always assumed that doctors will tell us what they believe is best for us. No longer. That’s yet another pillar of our free and liberal society that is being destroyed in this crisis.

Stop Press: The Telegraph reports that in London vaccine uptake among NHS staff is only at about three-quarters, with the greatest hesitancy among BAME staff.

Almost a quarter of NHS staff in some parts of the country are refusing Covid jabs, with official statistics showing more than 200,000 health and care workers putting patients at risk.

NHS figures show that 91% of front line healthcare staff across the country have taken up the offer of a vaccine, but that dips to 76% in London – the worst refusal rate. 

In total, more than 41,000 front line healthcare workers in the capital, including medics, hospital porters, cleaners and laboratory staff, have not had the jab.

The national picture among care home staff is even worse, with uptake of less than 73%.

The statistics show that around 106,000 front line healthcare staff and more than 121,000 care workers have yet to take up the vaccine. 

Last week, Prof Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, said NHS and care home staff had a “professional responsibility” to get vaccinated, while the Queen said those who refuse the vaccine “ought to think about other people rather than themselves”.

Scientists and ministers are concerned that vaccination hesitancy, particularly in deprived areas, could create “pockets of infection” which continue to fuel transmission and slow down the efforts to ease lockdown.

There is particular concern about low levels of uptake among those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, including healthcare workers. But ministers are reluctant to make vaccination mandatory amid worres that the move could make those with doubts about the jabs more fearful.

It emerged last month that while 80% of staff overall at Guy’s and St Thomas’s hospitals in London had been vaccinated, the rate was around a quarter among black workers and lower still for Filipino staff.

What Happened to T-Cell Tests?

A reader has written in wondering what has become of T-Cell immunity tests, some of which were mooted last year but seem to have been forgotten about.

I wanted to tell you/ask about the idea of T-Cell immunity and the ability to test for it. As you will know, immunity to SARS-CoV-2 through T-Cells is a known thing, with there being reports that those exposed to the original SARS-CoV 17 years ago displaying immunity to the current scourge of the world.

Last Autumn there were a few articles published on companies developing a test to determine immunity:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-53764640

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/09/22/uk-trial-effectiveness-t-cell-immunity-test-kits/

https://www.geekwire.com/2020/adaptive-plans-fall-launch-t-cell-test-past-covid-19-detection-alternative-antibody-tests/

The first, on the BBC, was a company in Cardiff. I have exchanged emails with them and their test is ready but held up in the regulatory process. The second, mentioned in the Telegraph article, is a company whose product is, again, ready, but held up in regulatory process, although it is not a home consumption product but one for health professionals and trained labs.

Nevertheless, there appear to be tests designed to do the job. Implementing them would therefore uncover those in the UK, indeed worldwide, who have natural immunity and/or immunity after catching COVID-19. The impact of these being made available now would be immense:

1.  UK Govt could target only those who were not immune, rather than blanket jab everyone.

2.  Those who were nervous of the jabs could find out if they were at risk or fine as-is.

3.  The Covid certificates (AKA health passports), if inevitable (I hope not), could incorporate those who have natural immunity, so reducing the prospective ‘apartheid’ such a device would bring in.

So why are they being held up and why is no-one talking about them? It wouldn’t be because the authorities and those who drive the pharma industry want to make the world vaccine junkies would it?  Surely cockup not conspiracy?

Perhaps worthy of your attention/investigation.

Readers with any knowledge of what’s happened to the T-Cell tests can email us here.

Masks in Schools: A Template Letter for Concerned Parents

A lawyer who would prefer not to be named has alerted us to a template letter which he has produced for the website Law or Fiction, run by a group of concerned lawyers in order to provide clarity on lockdown laws and regulations. It is free to use, although donations to the site are encouraged. It is aimed at parents who do not wish their children to be made to wear masks at school, and it includes detailed reference to all the relevant sections of law which back up the case. A great time-saver for anyone who can’t sift through the rules and regulations themselves.

Law or Fiction commented:

Health and safety law did not change with the arrival of Covid (SARS-CoV-2). We are providing free to parents to download for personal use (though we have a donate button) a draft letter to use to send to your child’s school and your local authority. It asserts the right of yours and all children at the school not to wear any mask and demands immediate action from the school.

Get a cup of tea. The letter sets out all you, the school and its lawyers need to know about the law and school policies regarding masks. Share it with everyone you know.

The letter is drafted for local authority schools in England but the substance of it will apply equally in other parts of the United Kingdom and to private schools and academies.

The letter is also a formal and detailed ‘letter before action’ of the sort solicitors would send before starting court proceedings. Using the letter does not oblige you to take any further action. However, if schools and authorities do not respond as demanded, it may allow proceedings to be started quickly. This is important since mask policies are being introduced quickly.

Legal advice on your circumstances and yours or your child’s claim should be obtained before commencing proceedings.

Download the letter here.

Stop Press: The Daily Mail reports that a teaching union activist is calling for teachers to go on strike to disrupt the return of pupils on March 8th, such is the danger that he thinks they will face:

Union activist Martin Powell-Davies has said school chiefs will be “failing in their responsibilities” of health and safety measures if they “recklessly” open their doors. 

He has urged the National Education Union, which represents 450,000 employees, to join his plans for a strike the day before children are due to return to the classroom.

Mr Powell-Davies argues that schools should be reopened in phases and that class sizes should be dropped by 50%. 

Their future is in safe hands…

Stop Press 2: By way of contrast, Freddie Sayers at UnHerd has interviewed David Perks, a headteacher in East London who will not be implementing the face mask guidance at his school:

“I just felt it was completely upside down,” he tells [Freddie] on LockdownTV. “If you’re going to bring the kids back, we want face to face teaching. Unless you do that, what are we actually doing?”

“We’ve just been doing months of Zoom lessons where the big problem you have with children is they won’t turn their cameras on. To then bring them into school, and instead of getting on with what you normally do, you put a face mask on – it’s like being back at home in a Zoom lesson. It’s just completely antithetical to what we’re trying to do.”

Worth watching in full.

Dispatch from HMP Quarantine Hotel

No social distancing in those days…

We’re publishing an original article today by a reader describing the abysmal standards in the hotel his stepson has been forced to quarantine in following a work trip to the UAE. His stepson has taken some pictures to illustrate the point (not recommended viewing for clean-freaks).

My stepson is a race engineer with an elite sports team employed by a major player in the motorsport industry. To protect his identity, I’ll call him ‘the Stiglet’. The team returned last Monday February 22nd having been to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to compete in a series of events held in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. They were all aware before leaving the UK that because the UAE is on the Government’s ‘red list’, that they’d have to go to a Government-designated hotel and isolate for 10 days upon their return. A group of about 24 of them (circa half the team) were taken to their appointed hotel by bus; none of them were allowed to drive their own vehicles there, presumably for fear they’d do a runner. HMP Covid has four stars, is part of a major group and, as the team’s employer very generously agreed to pay the £1,750.00 bill per person, you might think – as did the Stiglet – that for that amount of money it couldn’t be all bad. Well, think again…

The room given to the Stiglet was disgustingly dirty. As you can see from the photo below, it’s covered in a layer of dust so thick that it’s obviously not been cleaned for many weeks, if not months.

The second picture appears to be showing flaky paintwork in the bathroom, something one wouldn’t expect to find in a four star hotel. But it’s not the poor standard of decoration that caught the Stiglet’s eye, it’s the little black curly things on the floor! (Look closely and you’ll see them: please bear in mind that the Stiglet isn’t a photographer.)

Needless to say, he complained to the hotel manager, who told him that all rooms are deep cleaned and sanitised according to Government guidelines. Yeah, right! What about cleaning products provided by the hotel so the Stiglet could do his own cleaning, you ask? You can be excused for assuming that in a Government-designated hotel used to quarantine people who may have contracted the virus, there would be any amount of cloths, mops, detergent, disinfectant and sanitiser etc.? Four sachets of wet wipes are the only cleaning materials in the room.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Pandemonium erupted amongst angry ‘inmates’ at Canadian quarantine hotels after meals failed to arrive. CTV National News has the story.

Postcard from the Sinai Desert

The Red Sea coast, in Dahab, south-east Sinai

I’m compiling today’s update on Lockdown Sceptics from Dahab, in the southern part of the Sinai desert in Egypt. Some ‘work that can’t be done from home’ brought me here at the end of January (my day job is, or was, as a full-time professional musician). Amusingly enough, I made it from my London flat to the taxi rank outside Cairo airport without having to explain myself to a single official. On arrival, I discovered an exhilarating normality which put my worries about getting trapped out of the country, or facing possible hotel quarantine, to the back of my mind. I decided not to hurry home after our performance as I had planned.

I spent a week or so nervously eyeing the worsening border restrictions in the UK, but eventually it all started to seem so blissfully remote and irrelevant that I began to ignore it. I girded myself to the possibility of an extortionate stay in a one-star hotel by the M25 and got on with things. As it turned out, Egypt has remained off the red list so far, so the inconvenience upon my return looks to be limited to the standard 10-day spell at home, during which two extra mandatory PCR self-test kits must be completed, at a cost of £210.

Our travels took us to Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, and Dahab. In the traffic-choked capital, there appear to be no real Covid restrictions at all, other than a few confusingly arbitrary opening hours at certain museums and other tourist attractions, and a blanket closing time of midnight for all hospitality. It is possible to wander into any bar or restaurant without a mask, and sit down without registering details or being quizzed about households. Masks outdoors are a reasonably common sight (especially among western tourists), although they do not appear to be mandatory. Neither over-zealous members of the public nor any of the numerous armed policemen in the city attempted enforcement, in any case. Taxi drivers don their masks (or not) depending on what their passengers choose to do, perhaps in a bid to please more cautious foreigners.

Standing amid the deafening chaos of an enormous street market in downtown Cairo, I looked around, imagining the sheer impossibility of attempting a lockdown in a place like this, and laughed out loud. There may well be a wealthier class of Egyptian ‘knowledge worker’ who can work from home on a laptop, but they are far from the majority. Many people in this city, the biggest on the African continent, live hand-to-mouth, and the economy is hugely cash-based. Lockdown would simply mean starvation for most. Robert Jackman, who joined me for a week in Cairo for other work purposes, made a similar observation in his subsequent piece in the Telegraph. In a country where on average 50,000 children die per year from diarrhoea at the best of times, and where the official Covid death toll has yet to scrape 10,000, perhaps many feel that it is a little hard to take this risk quite as seriously as those in the relatively cosseted West.

The further away from the capital we found ourselves, firstly on the Nile Express train south to Luxor and Aswan (the locations of some jaw-dropping Ancient Egyptian historical sites) and afterwards by domestic flight to our current location in Sinai, the fewer masks there were to be seen. Dahab itself, though, has proved the ultimate escape from ‘Covid World’. Part of the difference could be that although we are in Egypt, this is a Bedouin region. The Bedouins do not strictly consider themselves Egyptian and therefore government edicts may have less truck with local leaders. Though visitor numbers are undoubtedly low by normal standards, there is a healthy cohort of so-called ‘Covid refugees’ here. Aside from the few scraggly looking hippies who appear to have turned up decades ago and forgotten to go home, there are plenty of Russians, Egyptians, various continental Europeans, and even Brits, enjoying the ‘Old Normal’. We have befriended many of them at the local beach bar, where it is possible to order a drink shoulder to shoulder with a stranger, and strike up conversation with them. You can even sneeze in public and no one will dart away from you in terror (this would have seemed an especially strange thing to write a year ago). One person we met remarked that during a recent trip to the local surgery, the doctor had told her that despite all the comings and goings of foreigners, he was not aware of a single case of Covid in the area…

I’ll soon have to brace myself for my return flight, arriving smack dab into the middle of Britain’s glacial re-opening schedule. All things considered, I’m not particularly looking forward to it…

COVID-1984

A Scottish anti-lockdown protester

We have had some more suggestions for Orwellian ‘Party Slogans’ from readers. These were my favourites:

INFECTIONS ARE CASES

WITH IS FROM

BIOLOGY IS BUNK

SCIENCE IS DEFINITIVE

COMPLIANCE IS WILLPOWER

DEFIANCE IS DRUDGERY

DELUSION IS REALITY

And one reader added, rather chillingly:

LOCKDOWN IS HOW WE DEAL WITH INFECTIOUS DISEASES. LOCKDOWN HAS ALWAYS BEEN HOW WE DEAL WITH INFECTIOUS DISEASES

Keep emailing us your suggestions here!

Round-up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Nine today: “Us Against The World” by GBH, “Industrial Disease” by Dire Straits, “I Don’t Believe A Word” by Motörhead, “Realize” by AC/DC, “False Flags” by Massive Attack, “The End of the World” by The Carpenters, “In the Cage” by Genesis, “Try to Hang On” by Pavlov’s Dog and “How Long Has This Been Going On” by Ace.

Love in the Time of Covid

Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz

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 have the news that a selective programme for high-achieving students in the public school system of Boston in the USA has been suspended because too many of those taking part were white. GBH News has more.

A selective programme for high-performing fourth, fifth and sixth graders in Boston has suspended enrolment due to the pandemic and concerns about equity in the program, GBH News has learned.

Superintendent Brenda Cassellius recommended the one-year hiatus for the program, known as Advanced Work Classes, saying the district would not proceed with the programme for new students next year. 

“There’s been a lot of inequities that have been brought to the light in the pandemic that we have to address,” Cassellius told GBH News. “There’s a lot of work we have to do in the district to be anti-racist and have policies where all of our students have a fair shot at an equitable and excellent education.”

New students will be admitted in the fourth grade by standards to be determined at the school level, according to a BPS spokesman.

There will be no new students admitted in the fifth or sixth grades, the spokesman said, but those already in advanced work will be allowed to continue.

A district analysis of the program found that more than 70% of students enrolled in the program were white and Asian, even though nearly 80% of all Boston public school students are Hispanic and Black.

School Committee member Lorna Rivera said at a January meeting that she was disturbed by the findings, noting that nearly 60% of fourth graders in the program at the Ohrenberger school in West Roxbury are white even though most third graders enrolled at the school are Black and Hispanic. 

“This is just not acceptable,” Rivera said at a recent school committee meeting. “I’ve never heard these statistics before, and I’m very very disturbed by them.”

Worth reading in full.

“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.

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.

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.

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

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments.)

And Finally…

Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota, the state that shunned business closures and lockdowns, gave a barnstorming address at last weekend’s CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference), taking aim at everyone from Andrew Cuomo to Dr Anthony Fauci.