BBC

Sunetra Gupta’s Colleagues Come to Her Defence After Rude, Dismissive BBC Interview

Sunetra Gupta, Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology at Oxford, gave an interview to BBC News last week which may be a new low in the Beeb’s one-sided coverage of the lockdown debate. The interviewer, Annita McVeigh, treated the distinguished Oxford scholar as if she was a David Icke figure whose views were completely beyond the pale. At one point, as Prof Gupta was making the case for lifting all restrictions immediately, McVeigh cut across her, saying, “Sorry to interrupt you, Professor, but multiple scientists say lockdowns have worked, the Government says so too.” Gupta patiently replied: “That doesn’t mean it’s true.”

Professor Gupta’s fellow signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration, Jay Bhattacharya, Professor of Medicine at Stanford University, and Martin Kulldorff, Professor of Medicine at Harvard, have come to their colleague’s support.

Professor Kulldorff said: “After one year of covering the pandemic, it is surprising that some journalists still do not understand basic principles of epidemiology and public health. Rather than interrupt her, BBC could learn a lot from Professor Gupta, one of the world’s preeminent infectious disease epidemiologists.”

Professor Bhattacharya added: “Dr Gupta’s comments to the BBC were correct. There is a growing scientific consensus that the lockdowns have failed to control the spread of Covid in nearly every country that has imposed them. The scientific community even more strongly agrees that lockdowns have hampered vital public health priorities along other dimensions, including cancer prevention, mental health, and health inequality. That the BBC does not know these facts indicates how narrow a set of scientific advisors they rely on.”

What They Don’t Talk About on the BBC

We’re publishing an original post today by Dr Mark Shaw, a retired dentist and regular contributor to Lockdown Sceptics. After getting a double-dose of pro-lockdown propaganda on the BBC last week – first on Question Time, then on Any Questions – he was moved to write this piece. He made a list of those questions BBC correspondents and editors should be asking but aren’t:

  • The scandalous failure and cost of NHS Track and Trace and the serious inaccuracies of the PCR and lateral flow tests upon which lockdown strategy were/are based.
  • Why broadcasters have not been reporting over the years how lethal and devastating flu is and how serious its post-viral effects are; and that flu kills far more young people than Covid.
  • Why the BBC is not reporting projections of the non-Covid death toll resulting from lockdown.
  • While I believe informed adults should be able to choose to smoke, why are reporters not drawing attention to the fact that, despite a global annual death toll around three times that of Covid, the Government does not ban tobacco use to “save lives” and “protect the NHS”?
  • Why has the BBC given so little time to discussing lockdown alternatives, the lack of evidence of the effectiveness of lockdowns and mask wearing, the HART Report (“COVID-19: An overview of the evidence”), and the enormous influence and control that SAGE has in Government policy making.
  • Why, in discussing the pros and cons of this particular vaccine rollout, has the BBC submitted nothing but the ‘pros’ and virtually nothing of the risks?
  • Why has there been no comprehensive investigative journalism into the scientific and healthcare authorities that prevent their employees from speaking openly about the effects lockdowns are having on their institutions, their patients and themselves?

Worth reading in full.

Negative Impact of Restricting Travel Extends Far Beyond Tourism

The broadcast media is wrong to focus only on holidays abroad when considering travel restrictions, Lord David Blunkett says. In a letter published in yesterday’s Telegraph, he highlights that the impact on trade and aviation is just as important.

Am I the only one who is tired of interviewers on broadcast media, particularly the BBC, asking: “Do you think it will be impossible to go on holiday abroad this year?”

Questions on this theme are not only put to politicians, but also to anyone with any kind of expertise – whether it’s relevant or not – on an almost hourly basis. This obsession then drives the narrative, which affects how decisions are taken.

Decisions about foreign travel have ramifications way beyond whether anyone can go on holiday. All of our future trading arrangements depend on people being able to be on site, to demonstrate products, and, of course, to be able to maintain and service what is delivered. Maintaining our aviation capacity is as much about freight as it is about passengers, and when airlines go into liquidation and airports cease to be viable, all of us lose out.

Perhaps in the weeks ahead these kinds of questions might replace the constant reiteration of the anxiety displayed by broadcasters.

BBC Covid ‘Reality Check’ Needs a Fact Check of Its Own

In its latest “reality check” the BBC attempts to rebut seven of the “most frequently-shared” “false and misleading claims”.

It’s written by Jack Goodman, a “producer, newsreader and reporter at BBC Radio Derby”, and Flora Carmichael, a “journalist and producer with a strong track record of developing media partnerships and managing international projects and teams”.

So you can see why they would be well-qualified to set straight Oxford’s Professor Sunetra Gupta, Harvard’s Professor Martin Kulldorff, Stanford’s Professor Jay Bhattacharya and other eminent sceptics.

Let’s take each of the seven “myths” in turn.

1. “Here we are a year later – the world shut down for a 99.97% survival rate”

Verdict: This figure and similar figures being widely shared, are incorrect.

One recent estimate shows that overall, on average, about 99.3% of people who catch coronavirus survive it, according to statistics analysed by University of Cambridge.

That might not seem like a big difference, but it means that about 70 in 10,000 people are expected to die – not three in 10,000.

The death rate is much higher for older and more vulnerable people.

The “fact check” does not cite any sources for the claims it is debunking so it’s hard to know what the full context is. However, a search on Twitter brings up a number of recent tweets claiming that Covid has a 99.97% survival rate. While taken by itself this is not in line with current best estimates, a number of the tweets claim this is the survival rate once the over-65s have been vaccinated, though without citing a source. One tweet uses data from Minnesota to estimate a survival rate for the under-60s of 99.97%.

The BBC quotes 99.3% (IFR 0.7%) from the Cambridge MRC Biostatistics Unit, but it’s worth bearing mind that this is the same modelling team that produced the notorious projection of more than 4,000 deaths a day by the start of December, modelling which was already wrong on the day it was presented to the public by Witless and Unbalanced.

Professor John Ioannidis has estimated the global IFR for the WHO at 0.23% overall (survival rate 99.77%) and, for people under-70, 0.05% (survival rate 99.95%).

The BBC’s “fact-checked” IFR of 0.7% is therefore on the high side, and if the 99.97% claim refers to the under-60s (or to a scenario where all the over-60s have been vaccinated) then it would be within the ballpark of current data.

The wider point though is that the death rate has been greatly exaggerated, especially for those who are young and without underlying conditions. The median age of death with Covid is 83, and only 388 people under 60 with no underlying conditions died with Covid in English hospitals in 2020. Sweden, a country which did not implement strong restrictions (retail, hospitality and most schools remained open, there were no limits on private gatherings and no mask mandate) experienced only 1.5% excess age-adjusted mortality in 2020.