Day: 2 April 2021

Pseudo-Epidemic in France and Sweden as Deaths Drop Below Average

Despite the clear evidence from America of states without restrictions experiencing no worse (and often better) outcomes than states with restrictions, the case for lockdowns continues to be pressed, with proponents pointing to the surges in France (which has just entered another lockdown) and across Europe, as well as in Brazil. But are things actually as bad as they’re claimed by the lockdown zealots?

Europe’s spring surge, which appears to be easing off now, has been driven in part by an increase in testing. France, for instance, has been spiking in positive cases.

But it is also ramping up testing.

The positive rate is therefore largely flat.

The Lockdown Library

Plenty of readers have written in with suggestions of books to add to David McGrogan’s Lockdown Sceptics’ Library. I’m not going to name them because they didn’t say whether they were happy to be identified or not (for the most part). If you have any additional suggestions, please email them to me at LockdownSceptics@gmail.com and put “Lockdown Library” in the subject header. I’ve added these books below David’s piece.

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay, 1841

Devil Take the Hindmost: A History of Financial Speculation by Edward Chancellor, 1999

The Black Death by Philip Ziegler, 1969

Scared to Death: From BSE to Coronavirus by Christopher Booker and Richard North, 2020

Live not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents by Rod Dreher, 2020

A Delusion of Satan: The full story of the Salem Witch Trials by Frances Hill, 1995

Religion and the Decline of Magic: Studies in Popular Beliefs in 16th and 17th Century England by Keith Thomas, 1971

The Captive Mind by Czeslaw Milosz, 1953

How Fear Works: Culture of Fear in the Twenty-First Century by Frank Furedi, 2018

The Rape of the Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing by Dr. Joost A. M. Meerloo, 1956

The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, 1973

Where Are We Now: The Epidemic as Politics by Giorgio Agamben, 2021

The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements by Eric Hoffer, 1951

The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies by Ryszard Legutko, 2018

Notes From the Bunderground: Culture in the Time of COVID-19 by Fred Attenborough, 2020

Frustrations of a Sceptic by Jonny Peppiatt, 2021

Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison by Michel Foucault, 1975

Panopticon: The Inspection House by Jeremy Bentham, 1791

R Rate Still Below One, Says SAGE

The reopening of England’s schools has reportedly had no effect on the national Covid R rate. The figure remains below one, according to SAGE. The Mail has the story.

England’s coronavirus R rate has not changed since last week, Number 10’s scientific advisers claimed today.

SAGE estimated the figure – the average number of people each infected person passes the virus on to – was still between 0.8 and 1.0. But the panel of top experts warned the rate may now be as high as one in every region because cases are “levelling off”.    

Advisers also said the measure – which is based on three-week-old data, as opposed to the current scenario – didn’t “fully reflect” schools reopening on March 8th or the easing of restrictions this week.

But scientists tracking the outbreak through other measures say it is clear letting children back into classrooms has had very little impact on the outbreak. An array of official data yesterday revealed cases have yet to spiral out of control since Number 10 took the first step back to normality.

Britain’s daily coronavirus cases have almost halved in a week to the lowest level in almost seven months, official figures also revealed today.

Department of Health bosses posted another 3,402 positive tests. It is the fewest infections reported in a 24-hour period since September 17th (3,395), before the second wave spiralled. Officials also saw 52 more deaths, down 26% on last Friday’s figure.

Data also showed the UK dished out 435,000 top-up vaccines yesterday, the most since the roll-out kicked off in December. Another 150,000 first doses were also administered, meaning 31.3million Brits have now been jabbed. 

The figures come as Boris Johnson today urged Britons not to meet up indoors or stay overnight at each others homes over the Easter weekend, as millions flocked to parks, beaches and beauty spots around the country to soak up the sun and kick off the bank holiday weekend.

In the week that children returned to school last month, only 0.06% of rapid Covid tests produced positive results. How many of these results were actually positive is another question.

The Mail’s report is worth reading in full.

What Would a Focused Protection Strategy Have Looked Like?

We’re publishing a new piece by Dr Noah Carl today, this time one looking at ‘Focused Protection’, the strategy recommended in the Great Barrington Declaration. Noah thinks it would have resulted in fewer deaths than locking everybody down. Here’s an extract:

At any point during the pandemic, deciding which measures to implement represents a trade-off between their effects on the epidemic’s trajectory and their effects on society at large. Measures that substantially reduce cases or deaths, while having only a small impact on society, are worth putting in place. By contrast, those that barely reduce cases or deaths, while having a large impact on society, are best avoided. Mounting evidence indicates that measures like stay-at-home orders and closures of non-essential businesses are of the latter kind; they have large costs and relatively small benefits. In just the past week, two new studies casting doubt on the efficacy of lockdowns have been published. Vincent Chin and colleagues analysed data from 14 European countries, and found that “lockdown had no consistent impact”. Likewise, Christopher Berry and colleagues examined shelter-in-place orders in the United States, but did “not find detectable effects of these policies on disease spread or deaths”.

However, this is not to say there aren’t any restrictions worth implementing. One measure whose efficacy is supported by a number of studies, and which makes sense intuitively, is restricting large gatherings. For example, Vincent Chin and colleagues found in one of their analyses that “the simple banning of public events was beneficial”. Nicolas Banholzer and colleagues have reported a similar finding. In an unpublished study, they compared the impact of different non-pharmaceutical interventions, and found that “event bans were most effective… whereas stay-at-home orders and work bans were least effective”. Another measure that makes a great deal of sense is telling symptomatic individuals to self-isolate at home.

Worth reading in full.

Legal Action Launched Against Ban on Trips for Older Care Home Residents

A legal letter sent to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) says that the blanket ban on older care home residents going on trips to see family or friends violates human rights legislation. Campaigners say that residents are being treated like “a different species”. The Telegraph has the story.

A ban on care home residents taking trips is facing a legal challenge amid claims they are being treated like “a different species” and denied “simple freedoms”.

Government guidance, updated on March 9th, says trips to see family or friends “should only be considered” for under-65s while national Covid restrictions apply.

Visits out for residents, whatever their age, “should be supported in exceptional circumstances such as a visit to a friend or relative at the end of their life”, it adds – but on returning to the home, the resident must self-isolate for two weeks.

The Government said its current guidance provides a “range of opportunities” for visitors to spend time with loved ones, however, John’s Campaign, which represents those lobbying for extended visiting rights of family carers in hospitals and care homes, argue that the ban is unlawful.

Julia Jones, co-founder of the John’s Campaign, has said that care home residents have been “comprehensively ignored” over the past year of lockdowns.

The 440,000 people living in care homes include some who moved in through their own volition, with full mental capacity, never guessing that this simple freedom, enjoyed by everyone else in the population, apart from prisoners, could so easily be denied them.

Those who cannot make their own choices have relatives and friends who would normally be glad to take responsibility but have been excluded choices.

30 Blood Clot Cases Reported in UK After 18 Million AstraZeneca Jabs

The UK’s medicines regulator recorded 30 blood clot cases after the first 18 million doses of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine. The MHRA insists that the benefits of the jab still “far outweigh any known side effects”. Sky News has the story.

Thirty blood clotting cases were reported in the UK after the first 18 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the medicines regulator has said.

The figure is 25 more than previously reported.

The count was updated as part of a rolling review into Britain’s Covid vaccines, with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency stressing the benefits of the jab “far outweigh any known side effects”.

Concerns have been raised about blood clots after a tiny proportion of cases among the tens of millions who have received the AstraZeneca jab.

Some countries, such as Germany, have restricted its use to certain ages but the European medicines watchdog and the World Health Organisation both say it’s safe and effective.

The MHRA said on Thursday there had been “22 reports of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) and eight reports of other thrombosis events with low platelets”.

The figures cover December 9th 2020 to March 21st this year, when 15.8 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine had been administered, and around 2.2 million second doses.

The regulator stressed that all medicines have potential side effects and that the benefits of both Covd jabs means people should not hesitate to get vaccinated.

“The number and nature of suspected adverse reactions reported so far are not unusual in comparison to other types of routinely used vaccines,” said the MHRA report.

CVST is a rare condition and is potentially fatal. A number of countries have reported such cases in relation to the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine. The Financial Times reports:

In Norway, health officials have reported at least six such cases among 120,000 recipients of the jab, four of whom died. In Germany, 31 cases have been reported after 2.7 million vaccinations, including 29 women aged between 20 and 63, and two men aged 36 and 57. Nine of them have died.

Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has said that the risk of blood clots is greatest for women aged under 55. Both Canada and Germany have now limited their AZ vaccine rollouts to those over 55 and 60, respectively.

The Sky News report is worth reading in full.

Asbo-Style Bans Imposed to Give Police Powers to Break up Easter Gatherings

Police chiefs across the UK have imposed Asbo-style bans in city and town centres giving officers additional powers to break up Easter gatherings. This includes the power to confiscate items such as alcohol. Those who breach certain orders can be jailed for up to three months or fined up to £2,500. The Telegraph has the story.

Police chiefs have imposed Asbo-style bans in city and town centres across the UK giving officers extra powers to break up groups of Easter revellers.

The dispersal orders allow officers to require anyone aged over 10 engaged in or likely to participate in “anti-social behaviour” to be banned from an area for up to 48 hours.

They also get powers to confiscate items such as alcohol and anyone in breach of the order by refusing to leave or returning within 48 hours can be jailed for up to three months and/or fined up to £2,500.

The move follows large groups of people gathering in city centres this week to celebrate the easing of lockdown and enjoy the warm Spring weather, leaving police struggling to break them up and huge mounds of litter that council officers have had to clear up.

Manchester has issued a 48-hour disposal order for the entire city centre until Saturday 3pm after a rave saw major breaches of Covid regulations and social distancing being disregarded by hundreds of young people.

Warm weather, coupled with lockdown fatigue, has drawn people out of their homes this week, much to the disappointment of the Government which has urged people not to “blow it“.

Inspector Jonathan Shilvock, of Greater Manchester police’s city division, says:

This week we have seen an increase in antisocial behaviour as people gather in large groups and are hostile towards our officers who attempt to engage with them and explain the coronavirus legislation which remains firmly in place even with some of the restrictions now being lifted.

This type of irresponsible behaviour causes concern for local residents and has a negative impact within the community. 

I would like to reassure the public that you will see an increased police presence in the area and our officers will be enforcing the dispersal order where appropriate and issuing fixed penalty notices for breaches of Covid legislation.

Dispersal orders have been imposed in many other areas across the country, including Leeds, Shrewsbury town centre and Nottingham.

Earlier this week, police chiefs warned that the “Rule of Six” is almost unenforceable, but today’s news contradicts reports that, because of this difficulty, officers will take a more “permissive” approach than in lockdown.

The Telegraph’s report is worth reading in full.

More Than 70 MPs Warn Against Vaccine Passports

Opposition to domestic vaccine passports appears to be growing in the Commons. More than 70 MPs – from differing political parties – have voiced their concern over the introduction of “discriminatory” Covid IDs. Katy Balls in the Spectator has the story.

As Boris Johnson prepares to deliver an update on Monday on Government plans for immunity passports and international travel, the Prime Minister is already facing a parliamentary backlash. More than 70 MPs have voiced their concern over the use of “divisive and discriminatory” immunity IDs in England. The cross-party group opposing ranges from Iain Duncan Smith and Steve Baker to Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott. 

While the Government insists no final decision has been taken, the expectation in Government is that immunity IDs are coming. MPs on the various “listening exercises” Michael Gove has hosted this week, came away thinking immunity passports are a done deal – no matter what they make of them. There’s also a sense that they could underpin any easing. MPs interested in the social distancing review are being directed to the immunity certificate review. This suggests ministers view the way to ending social distancing as showing one’s Covid status.

The cross-party group of politicians has signed a pledge not to support the introduction of domestic Covid passports. Sky News has more details on the pledge’s signatories.

The signatories to the pledge include leading Tory Covid rebels such as Mark Harper and Steve Baker, who run the Covid Recovery Group (CRG) of Conservative MPs, ex-Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith and former cabinet ministers Esther McVey, Andrew Mitchell and Sir John Redwood.

Another of the Conservative signatories, Sir Graham Brady, who chairs the influential 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, said: “Covid-status certification would be divisive and discriminatory.

“With high levels of vaccination protecting the vulnerable and making transmission less likely, we should aim to return to normal life, not to put permanent restrictions in place.”

A 20-strong group of Labour MPs has signed the pledge, including former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott and ex-shadow chancellor John McDonnell.

Labour peer Baroness Shami Chakrabarti and ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who now sits as an independent MP, have also joined the campaign.

“International travel is a luxury but participating in your own community is a fundamental right,” said Baroness Chakrabarti, who used to run civil liberties and human rights group Liberty.

“So internal Covid passports are an authoritarian step too far.”

Almost all Liberal Democrat MPs have signed the pledge, with their party leader Sir Ed Davey having this week branded the use of Covid passports within the UK as “illiberal” and “unworkable”.

“As we start to get this virus properly under control we should start getting our freedoms back, vaccine passports – essentially Covid ID cards – take us in the other direction,” he said.

The Spectator’s report is worth reading in full.

When NHS Test and Trace Goes Wrong

A Lockdown Sceptics reader has written to tell us about an unfortunate experience she had with NHS Test and Trace when her deceased husband tested positive for Covid.

On March 17th, my partner died suddenly and unexpectedly. We are still waiting to find out the cause of death, but early indications are some sort of heart problem which no one knew about. Naturally this has been a shock to all of us.

A few days after the event, I received a phone call from a young lady representing NHS Test and Trace who told me that I had been identified as a contact of someone who had tested positive for COVID-19 and that I needed to self-isolate for 10 days. She named my partner as the contact. When I asked where the information had come from, she didn’t know how his name had got onto the database and when I explained that he had died, she didn’t know that either. I know that he had never had a COVID-19 test as he worked from home, so I can only assume that the test was carried out post mortem.

The young lady was very apologetic and embarrassed and, to her credit, didn’t press me further about matters. I really don’t want to blame her for doing her job, but you’d think a bit of context might be helpful for people doing this job.

Inevitably, COVID-19 has been mentioned as a contributing factor on the preliminary report. We won’t know any more now until after Easter, but we owe it to him to find out what took him from us. Whatever it was, he didn’t die of COVID-19 and I find it highly unlikely that he even had it, given that I have to be tested when I go to work (only occasional work and no positive tests to date) and he hadn’t been anywhere. Despite our scepticism, we have kept to the guidance, mainly because all of our hobbies which took us out of the house to meet others have been on pause for the past year. He was a lockdown sceptic from the get-go, and I know he would be incandescent that his death would be recorded as a COVID-19 statistic. I do, however, regard his death as a casualty of lockdown. Perhaps the post mortem will tell us that he had a condition which would have taken him from us sooner than expected, but this wicked and pointless lockdown policy stole the last year of his life and deprived him of the things which gave him so much pleasure in life.

I am beyond angry about how our media and political classes have treated us and so disappointed by the way the people of this country have colluded with them through complacency. Thank you for all the work you do in exposing this dreadful state of affairs.

News Round Up