Search Results for: texas

Meanwhile in Texas…

While go-slow BoJo talks about keeping masks and social distancing in place for another year (at least) and bringing in vaccine passports for large events (just for starters), this was the scene in Texas today, tweeted by Sam Gannon, a sports reporter for KDFW Fox 4. A packed stadium for a baseball game, no vaccine passport required, not a mask in sight.

https://twitter.com/SamGannon87/status/1379164124232437761?s=20

Texas ended all restrictions and mask requirements at the beginning of March and since then has seen positive cases drop to their lowest level since last summer.

Doubtless Covid is still around and they will see it return at some point to a greater or lesser extent. But Texans no longer live in fear of it or allow their lives to be governed by often fruitless efforts to avoid it. Texas, like a number of other states, has decided that the risk as a society is manageable, and as individuals they have decided it is a risk worth taking to be free and live their lives. The land of the free and the home of the brave indeed.

How long will countries like the UK be able to keep up the draconian emergency measures when their people see Americans back to living normal lives and no medical catastrophe unfolding? When will we have a report from SAGE on the experience of states in America like Texas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Mississippi that have lifted restrictions? When will the Government’s modellers show us how accurately their models predicted the outcomes in those states?

How long until our Government ministers and MPs start questioning the self-serving advice they’re getting from scientific advisers up to their necks in lockdownism and start standing up for freedom?

Covid Numbers Continue to Fall in Texas More Than Two Weeks After State Returned to Normality

There is some great news from Texas today: Covid cases and hospitalisations continue to fall more than two weeks after the state lifted its mask mandate and allowed businesses to reopen to full capacity. President Joe Biden dismissed this return to normality as “Neanderthal thinking”, but it appears as though it has not been the “big mistake” he claimed it would be. Let’s hope that it stays this way. The Mail has the story.

On Saturday, Texas’ seven-day Covid positivity rate reached an all-time low of 5.27%, while hospitalisations fell to their lowest level since October, according to the latest state data.

The state recorded 2,292 new coronavirus cases, about 500 fewer on average from last week, and 107 new deaths.  

The number of people hospitalised with coronavirus, meanwhile, dipped to 3,308. 

The latest figure marks a significant decline in hospitalisations in the state which had seen levels soar past 14,000 for a couple of days in January. 

The drop comes 17 days after Republican Governor Greg Abbott ended the statewide mask mandate and other Covid safety measures.  

Abbott took to Twitter on Saturday to celebrate the state’s progress, saying: “Today Texas hit an all-time recorded low for the seven-day Covid positivity rate: 5.27%. It’s been below 6% for 5 days & below 10% for an entire month.

“Covid hospitalisations declined again – now at the lowest level since October 3rd. Vaccinations continue to increase rapidly.”

https://twitter.com/GregAbbott_TX/status/1375932174315225089

Our leaders could certainly learn some lessons from what is happening on the other side of the pond.

Worth reading in full.

“If You Were to Release at this Point in Time, it Would Lead to a Lot of Death.” Texas, Florida and Mississippi Would Beg to Differ, Professor

There follows a guest post by second year maths student and Lockdown Sceptics contributor Glen Bishop.

Having listened to an interview on talkRadio with Professor Jeremy Brown of the National Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which advises SAGE, I thought I would offer a critique of some of the points he made. 

Firstly, Professor Brown stated: “If you were to release at this point in time, that is a mistake, and it would lead to a lot of death and illness.” This has not been the experience elsewhere and so as far as I am concerned is an unscientific claim. Florida released all restrictions in September and still has a significantly lower death toll than the UK. Texas released all restrictions over three weeks ago and cases have continued to fall sharply. In Mississippi, all restrictions were lifted four weeks ago. In the subsequent four weeks, the seven-day average case numbers have more than halved. This is despite these states being behind the UK on vaccines and the Kent variant making up a significant proportion of cases. If it has not happened elsewhere in the world, in places with lower population immunity from prior infection and worse vaccine progress, what makes Professor Brown so sure it will happen here?  

What is happening in Europe now is not relevant to the UK as, judging from our death rate, we have built up more population immunity from prior infection than most of Europe and are miles ahead with inoculations. 

Secondly, Professor Brown enlightened listeners with his thinking on the pandemic’s path, albeit conceding it is “a little simplistic”. He describes how the pandemic has hit in three waves, each causing 50,000 deaths and suggests another wave – a fourth wave – could lead to a similar death toll and scenes akin to the January wave. This is a poor representation of the epidemic to put it mildly, but I will run with this logic. Assume a fourth wave hits that, without vaccinations, would kill another 50,000 people. Around 95% of vulnerable people – the people who would be killed in Brown’s scenario – have actually had a vaccine, which trials show reduces deaths by 95%. That means a fourth wave would in theory claim, not 50,000, but 4,875 deaths. How do I get that figure? First, it would infect 5% of the vulnerable who haven’t been vaccinated and 5% of 50,000 is 2,500. Second, it would still kill 5% of the remaining 95% of the vulnerable population who would have died but have been vaccinated, since the vaccines only reduce death by 95% – so 0.05 x 0.95 x 50,000 = 2,375. 2,500 + 2,375 = 4,875.

So 2,375 will die in the fourth wave in spite of not being vaccinated – roughly 10% of the number of the 22,000 influenza deaths during the 2017 to 2018 winter. Certainly not a number worthy of any response beyond sensible advice. Anyone advocating anything other than sensible public health advice for this scale of viral death is just being hysterical and illogical. If they haven’t been advocating the same things for influenza every previous winter, what makes them do it now? Is it because they are caught up in the hysteria and groupthink gripping SAGE and the country? Why treat this differently just because the media enjoy talking about it? 

Of the other group in this hypothetical scenario of Professor Brown’s – the 2,500 unvaccinated deaths – it is their choice not to take a vaccine and they should accept the consequences.

Professor Brown should feel free to lock himself away for the rest of time if he wants to make sure he isn’t putting the ‘vaccine hesitant’ community at risk, but he shouldn’t advocate forcing the rest of sane society to do so. What next? A ban on car travel because some people refuse to wear seat belts and it puts them at risk of dying? A ban on ‘do not resuscitate’ wishes from patients? Do SAGE want to ban sex outside of committed relationships because some people do not use condoms and could spread STDs? What about “a circuit breaker on sex” whilst we do mass testing for STDs and make everyone get a “coitus passport”, so the plebs can only fornicate if they have tested negative for chlamydia, herpes, and HIV? If Professor Brown insists on advocating one set of restrictions, it is illogical not to advocate the others.  

If it is acceptable to restrict other people’s civil liberties because some people aren’t sensible with their own health, then I suppose Professor Brown will be getting to work advocating the banning of cigarettes, alcohol, chocolate, and junk food. Eradicating them from society may lead to a far greater increase in QALYs than eradicating Covid will, now that we have very effective vaccines. 78,000 die from smoking each year alone. Perhaps I ought not be giving Professor Brown these ideas. If you read this Professor, please don’t suggest them in your next JCVI meeting. You’ve done enough damage to civil liberties as it is. 

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

https://twitter.com/pwyowell/status/1366762650173136899?s=20

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.

The Land of the Free Shows it’s Time to Lose the Lockdowns

No surge as schools open in the UK, no surge as Texas throws off restrictions, free states like Florida and Georgia doing no worse than lockdown states – is anyone in Government watching the real world or are they too busy gawping at the curves of Neil Ferguson’s latest model?

Jeffrey A. Tucker at AIER has gathered together some of the alarmist predictions made about Texas that have, so far, not come to pass:

  • California Governor Gavin Newsom said that opening Texas was “absolutely reckless.”
  • Vanity Fair went over the top with this headline: “Republican Governors Celebrate COVID Anniversary With Bold Plan to Kill Another 500,000 Americans.”
  • There was the inevitable Dr. Fauci: “It just is inexplicable why you would want to pull back now.”
  • Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke of Texas revealed himself to be a full-blown lockdowner: It’s a “big mistake,” he said. “It’s hard to escape the conclusion that it’s also a cult of death.” He accused the Governor of “sacrificing the lives of our fellow Texans… for political gain.”
  • James Hamblin, a doctor and writer for the Atlanticsaid in a Tweet liked by 20K people: “Ending precautions now is like entering the last miles of a marathon and taking off your shoes and eating several hot dogs.”
  • Bestselling author Kurt Eichenwald flipped out: “Goddamn. Texas already has FIVE variants that have turned up: Britain, South Africa, Brazil, New York & CA. The NY and CA variants could weaken vaccine effectiveness. And now idiot @GregAbbott_TX throws open the state.” He further called the Government “murderous.” 
  • Epidemiologist Whitney Robinson wrote: “I feel genuinely sad. There are people who are going to get sick and die bc of avoidable infections they get in the next few weeks. It’s demoralising.”
  • Virus guru Michael Osterholm told CNN: “We’re walking into the mouth of the monster. We simply are.”
  • Joe Biden famously said that the Texas decision to open reflected “Neanderthal thinking”.
  • The chairman of the state’s Democratic Party said: “What Abbott is doing is extraordinarily dangerous. This will kill Texans. Our country’s infectious-disease specialists have warned that we should not put our guard down, even as we make progress towards vaccinations. Abbott doesn’t care.”
  • The CDC’s Rochelle Walensky didn’t mince words: “Please hear me clearly: At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained. I am really worried about reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from COVID-19.”

Are any of these experts and commentators now reconsidering their fundamental assumptions and examining the data? What do you think?

The coronavirus has certainly surprised many of us in the past year, defying expectations by being more deadly in Europe and North and South America than it was in South East Asia, while in Africa and India it surprised by its mildness.

The lazy mainstream assumption that the differences between countries are explained primarily by their restrictions or interventions has not been borne out by any of the studies that have examined the real world data rather than relying on models that bake-in assumptions of lockdown efficacy.

One of those studies, by eminent Stanford scientists Jay Bhattacharya (co-author of the Great Barrington Declaration), John Ioannidis and colleagues, published in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation, has come under criticism since it was published at the start of January. The authors have now responded to that criticism, defending their paper in the journal.

It includes some great quotations from these two pillars of the sceptic movement.

Latest News

London’s Pseudo-epidemic

Kathy Gyngell has written a cracking piece in Conservative Woman responding to the threat of Tier 3 restrictions for London (a decision on which is expected next Wednesday, though it is being trailed as inevitable) on the basis that an “expert”, Professor John Ashton, said they were needed.

The growing body of evidence on the shortcomings of the super-labs set up to process hundreds of thousands of PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests every day must have passed him by. Even the BBC was forced to report ‘Hundreds get wrong results due to Covid test error’ in the week preceding this latest round of Covid scaremongering.

That report is but the tip of the PCR iceberg. A week ago, research published in Clinical Chemistry confirmed what Dr Mike Yeadon believes, that laboratory contamination is a major cause of false positive COVID-19 tests. 

Yet once again it is not wise scientists like Yeadon the government heeds but fanatics like Ashton.

You have only to stop and consider the number of people who’ve been told to self-isolate unnecessarily, to stay off work, avoid any human contact,  who’ve been taken away from their front line duties; you have only to consider the number of  hospital patients unnecessarily and dangerously placed on a COVID-19 ward (where they really run a risk of catching it) to marvel at the insouciance with which these ‘experts’ call for more closing down of society and the economy.

Kathy notes a new report on the mass testing of 9,453 Cambridge students that last week found just positives in 10 pools of students, 100% of which turned out on re-testing to be false.

https://twitter.com/pcrclaims/status/1336679025335545857

Undeterred, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced mass Covid testing for secondary schools in the worst-affected London boroughs to try to curb rising “cases” in the capital. To be fair, these are lateral flow tests (LFT) not PCR tests, which are more accurate, though will still give false positives and false negatives, particularly if handled incorrectly.

But is London really in the grip of a deadly second wave of coronavirus that would rage uncontrolled if we do not maintain and even tighten the ruinous restrictions? PCR testing might give you that impression.

But what do other data show? Here’s London ICU occupancy.

This shows that only about 80% of ventilation beds are occupied, which is below average for the time of year. While it’s true that absolute numbers of ICU patients are a little above average in London at the moment, as far as hospital capacity is concerned that is not the crucial issue as long as hospitals are within their surge capacity, which they are.

What about 111 calls for potential Covid?

Nothing troubling there. This graph is also a close match in shape to hospital attendances for respiratory illnesses (like Covid and flu), which are still trending below the baseline. So where is this epidemic hiding? It must be somewhere. Perhaps there’s a clue here. This is the UK PCR “cases” graph.

And this is the ZOE app graph of estimated UK symptomatic Covid (which relies on reported symptoms so avoids most of the PCR false positive problems).

Not exactly the same shape – where’s the recent rise in cases? The ZOE team estimate there are currently around 311,000 cases of symptomatic Covid across the UK, a figure that has been in continuous decline since November 4th, before the last lockdown began. Yet this is not the picture our “gold standard” PCR testing is giving us.

So I ask again – where is the runaway epidemic, or even the beginnings of one, that could justify the kinds of life-limiting, job-destroying restrictions we continue to be forced to live under? Nowhere that I can see.

Stop Press: Sweden’s PCR “cases” continue to rise, but its ICU admissions fell last week, according to new figures published yesterday.

Perhaps that’s why the no-lockdown country still has no excess mortality this autumn, and falling fast.

Stop Press 2: The Welsh Government is planning a second firebreak lockdown from December 28th. The inexorable lockdown logic strikes again.

“I’ve Literally Kept My Parents Locked Up Since March” – Conservative MP

Caroline Nokes MP. Not a lockdown sceptic

Speaking on the BBC’s Politics Live on Monday, Conservative MP and former minister Caroline Nokes said:

I’ve kept my parents locked up since March. Literally locked up. I’ve done all of their shopping for them, run every errand, and at one point parked my car over their driveway so they couldn’t get out, because I am absolutely determined they are not going to increase the burden on our brilliant health service. Our brilliant frontline workers have been working incredibly hard over months and are exhausted, so to take unnecessary risks with the NHS now strikes me as being extremely foolhardy. That’s why I supported the measures last week. I’ve seen my area go into Tier 2, where there are still restrictions on the way people can go about their lives.

She later claimed her remarks were “lighthearted”. But there’s nothing lighthearted about the thousands of surgeries cancelled, cancers missed and lives lost through people trying not to burden our “brilliant” health service.

Read the full report in the Mail.

Hospital Hotspot

The Telegraph reports on the shocking case of Tameside hospital in Greater Manchester, where emergency patients were not tested on admission and Covid and non-Covid patients were routinely mixed.

Tameside hospital in Greater Manchester admitted Jean Hale, 79, as an emergency patient in June and put her on a ward with COVID-19 sufferers without swabbing her first.

By that point in the pandemic, NHS hospitals had been instructed to give coronavirus tests to all “non-elective” patients that required an overnight stay.

Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust accounted for a third of the 52 COVID-19 deaths in England’s hospitals in the week to September 10th. It reported 18 deaths at the hospital, up from six a week earlier.

Meanwhile, Telegraph analysis this week found that at least 100 of its 453 coronavirus patients since the start of August (equivalent to 22%) caught the disease whilst they were in hospital.

Sources have blamed the high number of deaths at the hospital on high rates of COVID-19 infections, as well as demographic factors, and have insisted that the hospital has rigorous infection controls in place.

However, it seems not all the rules were followed.

Where are the fever hospitals when you need them?

Stop Press: Another Telegraph exclusive from its sterling investigative work. The newspaper counted more than 10,000 patients who caught COVID-19 while being treated in hospital. Since August more than 16% of people treated for COVID-19 in hospital caught it whilst there, rising to nearly 40% in Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

A Cockupspiracy

Political theorist James Alexander has penned some “sceptical theses” on the Covid crisis for Lockdown Sceptics, in which he elegantly summarises the development of the sceptical standpoint over the course of the year. Here’s a flavour from the introduction.

I think we have to distinguish COVID-19 from Polis20. COVID-19 is a disease caused by a novel coronavirus, which emerged in 2019. Polis-20 is the universal political response by governments, aided and abetted by the information, opinion and speculation establishments of various media, medical and scientific institutions in the year 2020 to perpetuate a triple policy which deliberately seeks to dehumanise and desocialise us through the use of masksdistancing and lockdown and has the unintended but certainly well understood triple consequence of damaging the economy as a wholeruining our lives by constraining our economic and social activities and causing us to suffer more from deaths for other reasons (whether the reasons are economic, social or indeed medical). Polis-20 is also novel: indeed, entirely unprecedented. It is also foolish and evil: foolish because of its triple unintended consequence, and evil because of the nature of the triple policy itself.

It has a permanent place on the right-hand menu.

Worth reading in full.

A Postcard From the Maldives

Lockdown Sceptics readers Millicent and Nigel have written us a postcard from their terrifying trip to the Maldives, where everyone just wasn’t doing enough to keep them Covid safe.

Our journey to the Maldives began with sufficient Covid safe measures in place. Heathrow was a Covid friendly delight with strict social distancing and mask wearing enforced. We were comforted by our airline mandating full face visors over our masks, alongside gloves for all passengers. Prior to boarding all passengers temperature was taken causing me a great deal of anxiety being in the midst of menopause. Mercifully I passed and was relieved to see all stewards sensibly dressed in outfits suitable for a modern operating theatre.

However I did nearly withdraw my carbon offset payment when I noticed a fellow passenger removing his visor mid flight. He may have been inside his own cubicle in business class, but Nigel and I felt it reckless in the midst of a global pandemic.

Very funny. Worth reading in full.

Santa’s Got Covid! New Low For NHS Project Fear

That’s right, children, no presents this year because Santa’s on life support

The NHS has released a spectacularly distasteful Christmas charity ad that portrays Father Christmas catching Covid and being given oxygen before being nursed back to health. The Mail has given it a syrupy write-up, which seems to miss the mood of its readers if the comments below the line are any indication.

It’s the stuff of nightmares for children, as Father Christmas is rushed into hospital and nursed back to health in an emotional new appeal advert from NHS Charities Together.

The touching film, entitled The Gift, which celebrates NHS staff and volunteers, features a dramatic opening, with a very poorly Santa wheeled into a medical ward by paramedics and given oxygen.

It appears to be touch and go, with machines beeping and staff in full PPE as they do their best to resuscitate the elderly gentleman.

Thankfully he pulls through and over the coming days is nursed back to health by the caring ward staff. …

NHS Charities Together is a collective experience [you what?] representing, supporting and championing the work of the NHS’ official charities. 

The advert, set to the track People Help The People by British singer Birdy, was posted as part of the Gifts That Give Back Campaign, where people are asked to send gifts to NHS staff after such a challenging year.  

In a social media post, the charity said: “We’re delighted to share our Christmas campaign and video, which has been made possible thanks to generous brand partners. We adore the ad and dedicate it to all NHS workers who’ve given everything to care and keep us safe.”

Many people admitted the advert brought them to tears, with one social media user tweeting: “I absolutely love this Christmas film! Thank you to everyone involved.”

Another wrote on Facebook: “Made me cry in a good way! So beautiful.”

The comments BTL in MailOnline were not so complimentary. There were over 1,000 upvotes for “Disgusting manipulative nonsense” and nearly 800 for “How horrible to show Santa unwell, like kids aren’t worried enough.” “This is disgusting,” came in third with nearly 700, and fourth place continued the theme with “NHS Propaganda nonsense. Disgusting.”

Quite.

If you’d like to complain about the ad to the Advertising Standards Authority, click here.

Round-up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Three today: “Will You” by Hazel O’Connor, “Count me out” by Lil Tecca and “Evil is going on” by Willie Dixon.

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, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons 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.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face masks in shops here.

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

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.

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. 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 GDB 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.

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

There are now so many JRs being brought against the Government and its ministers, we thought we’d include them all in one place down here.

First, there’s the Simon Dolan case. You can see all the latest updates and contribute to that cause here.

Then there’s the Robin Tilbrook case. You can read about that and contribute here.

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

There’s the GoodLawProject’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.

The Night Time Industries Association has instructed lawyers to JR any further restrictions on restaurants, pubs and bars.

And last but not least there’s the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. A High Court judge refused permission for the FSU’s judicial review yesterday, but the FSU may appeal the decision. Check here for updates.

Stop Press: Update from Simon Dolan in Conservative Woman: “Our lockdown fight goes on“.

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.

Quotation Corner

We know they are lying. They know they are lying, They know that we know they are lying. We know that they know that we know they are lying. And still they continue to lie.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.

Mark Twain

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.

Charles Mackay

They who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin

To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions…

Ideology – that is what gives the evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you never should trust experts. If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require to have their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.

Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury

Nothing would be more fatal than for the Government of States to get into the hands of experts. Expert knowledge is limited knowledge and the unlimited ignorance of the plain man, who knows where it hurts, is a safer guide than any rigorous direction of a specialist.

Sir Winston Churchill

If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science.

Richard Feynman

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

C.S. Lewis

The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants.

Albert Camus

We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.

Carl Sagan

Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

George Orwell

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

Marcus Aurelius

Necessity is the plea for every restriction of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

William Pitt the Younger

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.

Joseph Goebbels (attributed)

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.

Thomas Paine

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 satirical news site Babylon Bee has run a story about the new “cowboy hat mandate” in Texas.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott was heard yelling, “Yee-haw!” while firing two revolvers in the air – the traditional way to announce a new Texas law. This law is a new public safety mandate requiring all citizens to wear a cowboy hat when leaving their homes.

“This bill has been a long time coming,” said Abbott. “We need to flatten the curve of people being a bunch of Californians. That means everyone needs to wear a proper hat at all times and be a true Texan. Yee-haw!”

With this bill, anyone seen out in public without a cowboy hat will be approached by a Texas Ranger, who will say, “You ain’t from around here, are ya?” before tossing the offender across the state line.

The bill was mainly met with wide support. “Anytime you see someone near you without a cowboy hat, you feel unsafe,” said Tex Brewer, a Texan. “You wonder what that guy is up to. Is he going to raise my taxes or take my AR-15? I don’t cotton to that.”

The bill did receive some pushback, though. “Hat’s itchy,” said one man.

There will be some exceptions to the cowboy hat mandate, such as if your hat was just shot off your head in a showdown. There is also a mask mandate, but that only applies when you are robbing a train.

British Variant Fails to Live Up to the Hype Again

This morning I wrote that despite the British Covid variant – supposedly much more deadly and contagious – being dominant in the UK since December, positive cases peaked 10 days before the January lockdown, and instead of a Christmas surge, infections plummeted in January and also failed to spike in schools when they reopened in March. In Denmark, too, the dominance of the British variant in January and February was marked not by a new surge in positive cases but precipitous decline, confounding predictions.

Now we have two more places that show the Kent variant is failing to live up to the hype. The table below from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control shows that as of February 27th, Florida was the state with the highest prevalence of the British variant (B.1.1.7) at 13.2%, and Texas comes in third at 7.1%.

Source: CDC

These are also two of the most open states. Florida ended its restrictions in September and did not reimpose them in the winter, while Texas removed its remaining ones back at the start of March. So, for the past month neither has had any restrictions at all, let alone a lockdown “tough enough” to hold back the British variant. And what do we see? No new surge at all. The reopening in Texas even saw positive cases decline to their lowest level since last spring.

This isn’t modelling or prediction. It is cold, hard data on what happens when a state opens up or stays open for the winter. It is therefore also solid proof that restrictions are not needed to “control” the coronavirus. We already knew that from Sweden in the spring. Now we know it from Florida in the winter, and Texas, which is near the bottom of the pack when it comes to vaccinations, shows us what we can expect when we open up, British variant or no British variant.

Of course, there will still be new outbreaks of COVID-19, as some countries in Europe are currently experiencing. But how much more proof do governments and their scientists need that the threat is manifestly manageable without unprecedented restrictions on liberty, the efficacy of which is anyway unproven?

Kent Covid – not so much a tiger as a pussycat.

News Round Up

https://twitter.com/talkRADIO/status/1375397113912299523

Lockdown Sceptics

An American meme, hence the misspelling of “cancelled”

Apologies for the lateness of today’s update. I’ve been busy setting up a GoFundMe page for the Free Speech Union’s new litigation fund.

In the current climate of Maoist intolerance, the Free Speech Union is being deluged with requests for help from people all over the country. As I’ve been documenting in this twitter thread, dozens of people have suffered catastrophic career damage for criticising the activities of the Black Lives Matter movement, or because they haven’t genuflected before it with sufficient piety, or because they’re linked to someone who’s criticised it.

But it isn’t just BLM.

The public shaming of people who challenged the official Covid narrative in the first three months of the pandemic has now been extended to anyone who expresses the slightest dissent from progressive dogma – and people on the Left are as vulnerable as people on the Right, as we’ve seen with the recent mobbing of JK Rowling. It’s as if the line you’re expected to remain on the right side of has suddenly lurched violently to the left, with people finding themselves being cancelled for saying something that would have been perfectly fine two weeks ago.

We need to put a stop to this madness.

Freedom of expression is legally protected in Britain, but that’s often forgotten by private companies and public organisations when they come under pressure to get rid of someone who’s said something people don’t want to hear. Faced with an angry mob on social media, the directors and trustees nearly always cave in, firing the heretic in question or forcing them to resign. Due process is forgotten and people’s careers and reputations are destroyed.

One of the best ways to protect people from mob justice is to let their bosses know that there is an organisation out there that will stand up for people’s speech rights in the courts. That’s where the FSU litigation fund comes in.

We are currently engaged in legal battles on a number of fronts:

  • We’ve sent a Letter Before Action to Ofcom, telling the broadcast watchdog we will apply for a Judicial Review of its coronavirus guidance unless it withdraws it. That was the document it invoked when it reprimanded ITV and London Live for broadcasting comments by Eamonn Holmes and David Icke that challenged the Government’s official narrative about COVID-19. This is a particularly egregious violation of free speech, given that the official narrative has often proved to be wrong, such as the advice issued to hospitals by Public Health England on February 25 that it was safe to discharge elderly patients into care homes without testing them first to make sure they didn’t have COVID-19. According to the latest report, hospitals discharged 25,000 patients to care homes without testing them for COVID-19 at the peak of Britain’s epidemic in March and April.
  • We’ve written to  the Isle of Man’s Communications Commission demanding it drops its investigation of Stu Peters, a Manx Radio host who was suspended when a local advertiser pulled its sponsorship after he challenged the concept of “White Privilege”.
  • We’ve said to Change.org that unless it reinstates a petition by the feminist campaigner Posie Parker, urging the Oxford English Dictionary not to change its definition of “Woman”, we will take it to court.

That’s just a handful of the cases we are fighting and over the coming weeks and months we expect to be involved in many more. The FSU has a Legal Advisory Council that includes many prominent barristers who donate their time for free, but going to court is expensive and we can’t afford to continue entering the fray without additional funds.

Our work ranges from defending individuals who have been hung out to dry after expressing a controversial opinion, to scrutinising state institutions that disregard their own rules and their duty to the public. Any donations we receive will be ring-fenced for the sole purpose of paying our legal costs.

As George Orwell said, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people things they do not want to hear.”

It’s more important now than ever to stand up for that right. If you’d like to donate, you can do so by clicking here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usBvwUm6ezA&feature=emb_logo

The Government responded to Simon Dolan’s Judicial Review of its decision to lock the country down on March 23rd with a 58-page defence today.

The government has instructed their top lawyer to fight this tooth and nail in the courts – Sir James Eadie QC – who helped the Government in its fight against ISIS bride Shamima Begum. He is joined in this fight by some of the finest young lawyers in the UK.

Simon Dolan says:

The Government’s response is to call the claims we are making absurd claims. It has taken the instruction of one of the top QCs in the land and three barristers to come up with this response.

It says it is nonsensical for us to say that schools were closed, because they remained open for key workers and there had only been a “request” that schools should shut their doors to other pupils, yet the PM and Williamson both announced on March 18th that “schools will remain closed until further notice”.

They have also tried to convince themselves that closing schools is not a breach of the human right to education. They should try telling that to the families left high and dry and the pupils who won’t have seen a teacher for at least six months by the time they return next year.

Boris Johnson and his blundering bunch are firmly locked into this mode that it has been a success and done everything right.

As always, you can donate to Simon Dolan’s crowdfunder here. Now up to around £175,000. And check out Dolan’s embryonic political campaign organisation, Keep Britain Free. Looks promising…

Staggers In-House Doctor On the Money

Interesting piece in the latest New Statesman by its resident doctor, Phil Whitaker. It discusses the emerging evidence for pre-existing immunity to COVID-19 thanks to past exposure to other coronavirus infections (e.g. colds). Of course, like any self-respecting Staggers writer he manages to end on a gloomy note, despite the fact that he’s hit on one of SAGE’s fallacious assumptions, viz. that there was “no immunity in the population”. Worth remembering that around 1,200 of those on the Diamond Princess were infected but only a sixth were symptomatic.

Here’s a key quote from the article:

Initially, modelling of the pandemic assumed no immunity in the population: were that to be the case, the tens of millions of infections needed to achieve herd immunity would be unconscionable given an infection fatality rate (IFR) of 0.5 to 1%. But if a substantial bulk of the public has cross-immunity, we may already be near the point at which COVID-19 will lose its sting.

Okay, he’s over-estimated the IFR – it’s 0.25%, doc – but worth reading in full nevertheless.

Magical Thinking

I got an email from an economist making a good point:

The lockdown zealots’ lack of causal logic drives me nuts. The world is doomed so we must lock down; the only reason the world didn’t end was because we locked down; so therefore we must lock down forever. Magic without causal inference.

One of the reasons that modern medicine began to pull away from magic and superstition was because it came to understand the importance of establishing causality. Just because Y happens after X does not mean that X causes Y.

Why Mass Gatherings Won’t Spread the Virus – if the Cause is Progressive

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=72&v=xpbrvWe3xFk&feature=emb_logo

This spoof YouTube video featuring “global scientist” Mark Diamond, explaining why he was shaming people for leaving their homes last month but is now chastising people for not participating in mass protests, is very funny.

Incidentally, the arguments Diamond makes sound exaggerated, but some of them are uncannily similar to the arguments made by these woke epidemiologists and public health experts in the Guardian.

New Passport? Forget About It

I got an email from a reader yesterday about the difficulties of applying for a passport in contemporary Britain. Forget about getting a nice new blue one. You just can’t get one.

Anyone whose passport is about to expire, has expired recently, or one of their children’s, is trying to get a first passport or needs their existing details changed will have noticed the plethora of exhortations on the HM Passport Office website not to apply. It says:

Do not apply unless you need a passport urgently for compassionate reasons, for example if a family member has died, or for government business.*

The reason is that the passport offices are operating on skeleton staffing. Mine didn’t expire till Easter 2021 but would have been useless for many destinations from September on. We have family stuck in Vietnam and a grandson there we’ve never met so we hope to go by the end of the year to help them pack up and leave. I decided to send it off, a passport officer on their advice line saying plenty of people were applying anyway but it would take ages. Since no-one’s going anywhere for the moment it didn’t matter. After entering limbo for over 5 weeks, my new passport was suddenly approved, printed and sent, and it arrived just under 6 weeks after applying.

Turns out there’s been a sudden resumption in the online renewals service, with a dramatic acceleration in turn-around, presumably because staff have started to go back to work and facing a mounting backlog of applications no doubt as a result of frustrated would-be travellers determined to have up to date documents in place.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that it seems anyone applying for a first passport for themselves, or a child, or any renewal that requires human intervention is still much slower or even not happening at all. The same goes for anyone stuck abroad with an expiring passport – all the visa application centres that process UK passport applications abroad are all closed. People with expiring passports and working abroad who need to renew work permits and the like may find the UK government has made an arrangement with the country concerned to accept expired passports up to the end of 2021 as acceptable evidence of identity.

As for my grandson in Vietnam, his first passport application was suspended in March. The Passport Office has all his birth evidence documents which have been gathering dust since then. Thanks to the lockdown there must be thousands of other UK citizen children abroad like him without travel documents or any immediate prospect at the moment of getting them.

No “Second Wave” in the US

Visitors use the wave pool at the Legoland theme park in Winter Haven, Florida, June 10th.
PHOTO: EVE EDELHEIT/BLOOMBERG NEWS

There’s a good piece in the Wall St Journal about why stock market anxiety over a “second wave” in the United States is misplaced.

Democrats cite a spike in cases in Florida, Arizona and Texas as evidence of a virus resurgence. But more testing, especially in vulnerable communities, is naturally turning up more cases. Cases in Texas have increased by about a third in the last two weeks, but so have tests. About a quarter of the new cases are in counties with large prisons and meatpacking plants that were never forced to shut down.

Tests have increased by about 37% in Florida in two weeks, but confirmed cases have risen 28%. Cases were rising at a faster clip during the last two weeks of April (47%) when much of the state remained locked down. Now restaurants, malls, barbershops and gyms are open if they follow social-distancing guidelines.

In Arizona, cases have increased by 73% in the last two weeks though tests have increased by just 53%. But a quarter of all cases in the state are on Indian reservations, which have especially high-risk populations. The rate of diabetes is twice as high among Native Americans as whites and the rate of obesity is 50% higher.

The Journal points out that a better metric is the number of new hospital admissions for COVID-19, as well as the weekly death toll. And these data tell a different story:

  • In Arizona the weekly rolling average for new COVID-19 hospitalisations has been flat for a month.
  • In Texas, COVID-19 hospitalisations are up about 20% since the state began to reopen, but Gov. Greg Abbott says hospitals aren’t overwhelmed and much of the increase is tied to nursing homes. Texas has recorded 151 deaths this past week versus 221 in the last week of April.
  • Florida has reported 239 deaths in the past week, 72 fewer than in the last week of April.

The Journal concludes:

More infections are inevitable as states reopen, and there will be much trial and error. States need to be vigilant for outbreaks and protect high-risk areas and the vulnerable. But the costs of shutting down the economy are so great, in damage to lives and livelihoods, that there is no alternative to opening for the broader public good.

Open Letter From Academics Calling For Schools to Reopen

Professor Ellen Townsend, who runs the self-harm research group at Nottingham University, has written an “open letter” to the Government demanding that schools reopen and is currently trying to attract as many signatures as possible before she sends it. Some media coverage is expected, so it’s important that it should attract hundreds of signatories to keep the pressure up. If you are an academic or a teacher or an educationalist, please contact her at Ellen.Townsend@nottingham.ac.uk.

The Cultural Revolution

Matt Lucas, David Walliams and John Cleese do penance in the BBC canteen

An anonymous reader sent me a poem which I’m betting the Poetry Foundation of America won’t be publishing in its in-house magazine. It’s called “Viral (or Defund the Thought Police)”.

Don’t call me till your lips are blue
I can’t breathe, I can’t hear you

Lives before economy, home is where your safest
Statues are not history, Churchill is a racist
White Boris is a wasteman
School is just a waste of time

Take the knee, show solidarity
Bend your knee, bend your mind, dismantle the family
Submit

Wear the mask, think of your elders
Don’t argue, don’t speak, don’t smile
Silence

Wuhan, Lombardy, Madrid, New York, London
Minneapolis, Berlin, Paris and back to bloody London
Viruses travel economy class by air
Twitter sneezes ideas faster, share, share, share

Take the knee, submit to the BBC
Bend your knee, bend your mind, lose your impartiality
Submit

Wear the mask, think of the vulnerable
Don’t argue, don’t speak, don’t smile
Silence

Police on the streets are overrated
Police your thoughts or you’ll be hated
Educate yourself, don’t like the wrong tweet
Don’t laugh at little jokes, Britain

Take the knee, submit to ideology
Bend your knee, bend your mind, ignore your morality
Submit

Wear the mask, think of the f***ing fines
Don’t argue, don’t speak, don’t smile
Silence

Protect the NHS, it is not here to protect you,
We’ll do the counting, have we ever let you down?
Fields lie unharvested, pubs are contagious
Feed the mob, it’s hungry, and that is very dangerous

Take the knee, bend your democracy
Bend your knee, bend your mind, laugh at your weak-kneed MP
Submit

Wear the mask, think of…no, don’t think
Don’t argue, don’t speak, don’t smile
Silence

Don’t call me till your lips are blue
I can’t breathe, I can’t hear you

I can’t think

Round-Up

And on to the round-up of all the stories I’ve noticed, or which have been been brought to my attention, in the last 24 hours:

Theme Tune Suggestions From Readers

I got one new suggestion for a theme song from a reader: “Self-Isolation” by Beepfrog. It’s not bad.

Small Businesses That Have Reopened

A few weeks ago, Lockdown Sceptics launched a searchable directory of open businesses across the UK. The idea is to celebrate those retail and hospitality businesses that have reopened, as well as help people find out what has opened in their area. But we need your help to build it, so we’ve created a form you can fill out to tell us about those businesses that have opened near you. Please visit the page and let us know about those brave folk who are doing their bit to get our country back on its feet.

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the last 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. It takes me many hours every day, which doesn’t leave much time for other work. If you feel like donating, however small the amount, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links I should include in future updates, email me here.

And Finally…

In my latest Spectator column I thank the BLM protestors for doing more to advance the cause of lockdown scepticism than I’ve been able to do in the past two months. I’ve been blogging away here like a demon, pointing out that the public health argument for suspending our liberties just doesn’t stack up. But the case against lockdowns is often quite technical and so doesn’t have much cut-through with the general public. But the protests could change that.

I’ve written thousands of words on why I think the infection fatality rate of Sars-CoV-2 has been over-estimated and the virus is likely to kill fewer people worldwide than seasonal flu did in 2017-18. I’ve published an article by an ex-Google software engineer criticising the code used in the apocalyptic Imperial College computer model that spooked Boris Johnson into imposing a full lockdown. I’ve even published two lengthy papers by Mikko Paunio, an adjunct professor in general epidemiology at the University of Helsinki, pouring scorn on the World Health Organisation’s dire warnings about the disease and claiming that the populations of many large cities, including London, are close to herd immunity.

But while some of these arguments have been taken up by other journalists, none of them has moved the dial. The British public have remained stubbornly attached to their own confinement. Until now, that is. Many of the same politicians, public health panjandrums and celebrities who’ve been telling us that if we emerge from under our beds we risk a “second spike” and “all our sacrifices will have been for nothing” are now enthusiastically endorsing the protests. That’s quite incredible, given that almost 150,000 people across the UK have participated in them so far and that number will probably swell by tens of thousands by the end of the weekend.

How can it be that the virus poses such a grave threat to public health that we’re not allowed to hold weddings, attend funerals or send our kids to school, but it’s perfectly acceptable to attend mass rallies to protest about the killing of a man 4,000 miles away? Why are the same progressive journalists who were so indignant about Dominic Cummings driving 260 miles to Durham with his sick wife and child now publishing handy guides to attending the nearest demo?

I think the public will smell a rat.

Worth reading in full.

Latest News

Borough Market in London, normally a busy hot-spot for food lovers and those in search of a pint, was packed today as people gathered in their numbers for the first time since lockdown began

The re-opening of England’s pubs has rendered me, ahem, unable to do a proper update today but will do one tomorrow.

In the meantime, here is a post from regular contributor Guy de la Bédoyère that will, I imagine, strike a chord with many.

Sky News this morning featured another of those bizarro-world reports the broadcast media seems to be fixated about pushing out. This one, by Alex Crawford in Houston, was about the dramatic increase in infections in Texas. It was straight back to the Good Old Days of Covid Death Porn – except that there didn’t seem to be much death. But Ms Crawford had clearly been watching back through the Death Porn archives to make sure it ticked all the boxes. But somehow it just didn’t work out like that.

Needless to say, the item began with a patient having a tube stuffed down his nose – the usual opening scene in any self-respecting Covid hospital report. “The awful reality of Coronavirus,” said Alex Crawford, who moved on to a hospitalised patient whom she reported as saying that “Coronavirus kills you”. That he seemed to be alive, conscious and on the way to recovery had apparently passed both him and Crawford by.

“Even survival feels like death,” Crawford opined, perhaps frustrated by the lack of body bags on hand. This was a faintly peculiar thing to say since it appeared to suggest it isn’t worth surviving the virus anyway.

Crawford hunted on through the wards. We were treated to another victim who had a mask on but was otherwise sitting up and able to bang on about the governor’s irresponsibility for lifting the lockdown. Crawford added the revelation and dark warning “it only takes one infected person” to catch the virus. She’s obviously been reading the Noddy in Toyland Guide to Epidemiology.

The numbers of cases have “tripled” (no numbers provided). The doctors are “frantic” about how they’ll be able to cope. One told Crawford “if you go out on July 4th you have the potential of dying or killing someone else”.

I’m not sure why that makes this year’s July 4th especially or unusually dangerous since unless I’m missing something there’s been no July 4th in history in which zero risk was an option, either from a car crash, catching an infection or being mugged, or not going out and falling downstairs.

“There’s no shortage of protective equipment here,” said Crawford, which seemed to suggest along with the systems in placed that everything was under control. Nonetheless the doctor in charge of the unit shook his head and said there were still some people out there and he just didn’t know how they could still be alive. How indeed?

But it turned out that a cocktail of steroids, vitamins and anti-coagulants costing $100 per day per patient has resulted in a 96% success rate of those hospitalised. “The infections in Texas have spiked but the mortality rate is much lower… and they’re getting results.”

Crawford was quick to quash any sense that might be good news.

Crawford interviewed a nurse who was keen to warn her “that a lot of people are going to die being ignorant and ignorance is never a defence… and they’re going to be an example to the rest of the country” as well as countries like Britain. “If they don’t take this serious [sic] they’re gonna die… point blank.” Then bizarrely the nurse added “and they’re gone get sick”, but presumably not necessarily in that order prior to the inevitable death she was promising, apparently not being aware of the 96% survival rate of those who were bad enough to go to hospital in the first place.

Just in case you hadn’t realized how serious she was she threw in “and it’s gonna be bad”.

For good measure the piece finished up with a nurse who had been infected because after all no hospital piece is complete without a health worker hero hanging off the barbed wire in No-Man’s Land. She too was sitting up in bed and was able to warn anyone who had mistaken her for someone still alive, conscious and in a reasonable state, that if you didn’t hug your loved ones they you might never do so again.

The entire premise of the piece seemed to be that catching COVID-19 is invariably a catastrophe and that death follows as night follows day. That this was not corroborated by any of the content of the piece did not bother the fearless reporter or the people she spoke to. Nor did it match the news that the surge in infections in Texas seems to be partly due to much younger people getting COVID-19 who, as we all know, are far less likely either to get sick or to die.

Presumably even now the BBC’s battle-seasoned Covid hacks are on their way to Texas for a slice of the action.

Theme Tune Suggestions From Readers

One suggestion today: “Compete Control” by the Clash.

Small Businesses That Have Re-Opened

A few weeks ago, Lockdown Sceptics launched a searchable directory of open businesses across the UK. The idea is to celebrate those retail and hospitality businesses that have re-opened, as well as help people find out what has opened in their area. But we need your help to build it, so we’ve created a form you can fill out to tell us about those businesses that have opened near you. Now that non-essential shops have re-opened – or most of them, anyway – we’re now focusing on pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants, as well as other social venues. As of July 4th, many of them have re-opened too, but not all. Please visit the page and let us know about those brave folk who are doing their bit to get our country back on its feet. Don’t worry if your entries don’t show up immediately – we need to approve them once you’ve entered the data.

Note to the Good Folk Below the Line

I enjoy reading all your comments and I’m glad I’ve created a “safe space” for lockdown sceptics to share their frustrations and keep each other’s spirits up. But please don’t copy and paste whole articles from papers that are behind paywalls in the comments. I work for some of those papers and if they don’t charge for premium content they won’t survive.

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the last 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. It usually takes me several hours to do these updates (although not today), which doesn’t leave much time for other work. If you feel like donating, however small the amount, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links I should include in future updates, email me here. (Please don’t email me at any other address.) I’ll try and get another update done on Saturday.

And Finally…

Not-so-easyJet?

Can I ask for advice regarding the Young family holiday? We want to go to Venice and then on to the Dolemites in the last week of July or thereabouts and have found some nice places to stay. However, I’m worried about booking an airline ticket, only for the flight to be cancelled. How risky do people think that is? Are some airlines more reliable than others? And if they think it’s very risky, would they recommend going by train instead? Please email me here with any advice. Thank you.