We need to start living with this virus before it wrecks even more young people’s lives, further devastates the economy and continues to pour fuel on the fire of the non-Covid health crisis.
Don’t get me wrong – flu is no joke. Familiarity has meant people assume it’s a runny nose or feeling under the weather, but it’s not.
A bad flu year produces a significant death toll. In the 2017/18 winter, 22,087 flu-associated deaths were recorded in England. The year before it was 15,047. These are over a few months only, so the daily death rate is very high. Those numbers could also be an underestimate as testing for flu is minuscule compared with our Covid effort.
How did we listen to that bonkers, ahem, advice with a straight face? I thought it was worth compiling a list of the 50 craziest measures
One of the checks and balances on rampant bad scientific research is to continuously assess how new ideas fit into the framework of the bigger picture. A new piece of information may seem perfectly reasonable and well-documented, but the domino effect of its implications gives you another way to test its validity. When multiple lines of seemingly rock-solid evidence contradict one another, that’s a good sign that something is wrong, even if you don’t yet know why. Whenever a thread seems out of place, it’s time to pull on that thread until you can figure out what exactly is going on.
…”Trusting the science” is not (and never has been) about trusting results or trusting experts. Trusting the scientists is what got us into this mess. For science to function properly, we must NOT trust the scientists. Instead, we must trust in the messy self-correcting process that allows truth to boil to the surface even if every participant in that process is flawed.
“Science is the belief in the ignorance of the Experts”
— Richard P. Feynman
Science is the relentless competition between measurable pieces of evidence, the ruthless gauntlet of debate, the willingness to question even the most “obvious” of assumptions, and the humbleness to test and retest any and all assumptions against hard evidence, most especially when those assumptions are our own.
‘I remember 20 May 2020 vividly, I spent hours on the phone to a man who was in the hospital car park, utterly desperate to see his wife. He begged, wept, shouted to be let in, but we said no – for the greater good of everyone else. She died unexpectedly and alone, as the government had a party.’
…We let people die alone. Just think about that. We let desperate, terrified men howl in car parks. We kept husband from wife, wife from husband. We let people give birth alone. We deprived the elderly of visits from their loved ones. We left dementia sufferers to believe, in their rare moments of lucidity, that their sons and daughters and grandchildren had abandoned them. We let people die alone.
Covid should now be treated as an endemic virus similar to flu, and ministers should end mass-vaccination after the booster campaign, the former chairman of the UK’s vaccine taskforce has said.
With health chiefs and senior Tories also lobbying for a post-pandemic plan for a straining NHS, Dr Clive Dix called for a major rethink of the UK’s Covid strategy, in effect reversing the approach of the last two years and returning to a “new normality”.
“We need to analyse whether we use the current booster campaign to ensure the vulnerable are protected, if this is seen to be necessary,” he said. “Mass population-based vaccination in the UK should now end.”
here was a distinctive moment, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, that neatly encapsulated the mistakes and confusion of Britain’s early efforts to tackle the disease, says Mark Woolhouse. At a No 10 briefing in March 2020, cabinet minister Michael Gove warned the virus did not discriminate. “Everyone is at risk,” he announced.
And nothing could be further from the truth, argues Professor Woolhouse, an expert on infectious diseases at Edinburgh University. “I am afraid Gove’s statement was simply not true,” he says. “In fact, this is a very discriminatory virus. Some people are much more at risk from it than others. People over 75 are an astonishing 10,000 times more at risk than those who are under 15.”
And it was this failure to understand the wide variations in individual responses to Covid-19 that led to Britain’s flawed responses to the disease’s appearance, he argues – errors that included the imposition of a long-lasting, national lockdown. This is a strategy that Woolhouse – one of the country’s leading epidemiologists – describes as morally wrong and highly damaging in his forthcoming book, The Year the World Went Mad: A Scientific Memoir.
The Covid modellers at Imperial College have begun to back down. About time too. Over the past few weeks, they have made extreme claims about the omicron variant that cannot be fully justified by fundamental science, let alone by clinical observation.
The collaboration between a major UK broadcaster and the Nudge Unit to promote one of the most controversial policies today is deeply alarming. The report, The Power of TV: Nudging Viewers to Decarbonise their Lifestyles, jointly published by BIT and Sky, shows little regard for the obligation imposed on broadcasters by Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code to maintain “due impartiality” across all their output, particularly when it comes to news and current affairs. It also neglects the requirement that broadcasters expose viewers to a wide range of different views when it comes to “matters of major political and industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy”.
A demonstration against mandatory vaccinations has been organised by “Take a Stand London”, “Save our Rights” and “The Great Reopening”, along with other protest groups from 12pm at Parliament Square in Westminster. The iconic location was said to be “rammed” with angry Britons on Saturday afternoon, with one witness saying on Twitter: “Parliament Square rammed with protestors!” The protest today saw people travel to the capital from across the UK and there are also rallies in Bournemouth, Blackburn, Gloucestershire, Bristol, Glasgow, Cardiff, Belfast and the Isle of Wight.
The Prime Minister has talked of giving Whitty a knighthood — but after that reckless and irresponsible performance, the Chief Medical Officer deserves the boot.
At a stroke, he inflicted spectacular damage on our economy, particularly the hospitality sector which makes over a quarter of its profits in this period, and which has already taken a termendous battering during the pandemic.
…The irony is that if the most lurid forecasts of the lockdown addicts are realised, with the pandemic reaching every household, then all those oppressive measures they cherish most — such as social distancing, bans on large gatherings, venue closures and vaccine passports — will be largely useless.
…And in fact it would be worse than meaningless: it would be counter-productive. Lockdown directly undermines the fight against the virus by preventing the spread of naturally acquired Covid immunity in the population.
The UK Government’s handling of what Boris Johnson warned will be a ‘tidal wave’ of Omicron infections verges on hysteria.
With predictions of one million cases by the end of the month and concerns about the NHS being overwhelmed with up to 10,000 hospitalisations per day, I gather there is talk of Christmas again being cancelled and a possible New Year lockdown.
Yet you only have to look at the picture in South Africa, where the world’s first known cases of Omicron were spotted, to realise this reaction is out of all proportion to the risks posed by this variant.
And I should know — because I am the doctor who first raised the alarm about Omicron back in November.
The societal, and therefore moral, consequences of our current situation are catastrophic, and yet they have gone curiously unmentioned. Domestic violence has risen to levels that constitute a tragic pandemic in itself. The reliance on the internet and hours cooped up at home has led to the consumption of violent or taboo forms of pornography skyrocketing.
We have a duty to contemplate the effect of repeated lockdowns on the young, particularly on the development and the nutrition of the poorest children. They have carried an extraordinary burden.
And while restrictions may be tolerable for the comfortable middle classes, our leaders seem to have forgotten those for whom staying at home is a type of hell, and those for whom work, which tends to be essential, cannot be conducted from the spare bedroom.
‘Masks were a softening up exercise for Plan B,’ according to a government whistleblower. He told me that while there is little appetite in the Cabinet for a full lockdown, Covid Passes are ‘oven-baked’ and ready to go.
In my opinion, the UK government’s Winter Plan was always about Plan B. It displayed a classic ‘foot-in-the-door’ strategy – the raison d’être of Plan A was to prepare you for Plan B. Now winter is upon us, and the nudges fall in a flurry of torpefying snowflakes. Worst case scenarios, big numbers, salutary stories in the media, threats and cajolements are directed at us daily. Plan B is in motion as calls for working from home are heard from the usual suspects and we hear the Cabinet is divided on Covid Passes.
This seasoned government insider plays a key role on a Covid task force and has decided to speak out now because he is disturbed by the unethical reasons for mandating masks. Firstly, ‘It’s a highly political move to reset the Johnson administration’s orientation after bad polling over sleaze and corruption. If Omicron turns out to be super-bad and the public ask what the government did about it, the answer is we implemented masks. The one-way systems, plexiglass screens and masks are to give you an illusion of the government doing something. It’s just theatre. There is no evidence base or proportionality in favour of masks.’
Perhaps the most dangerous three words in the English language are ‘Protect the NHS’.
After 18 months of discouraging people from getting treatment in hospital, we are now seeing the catastrophic results.
A report from the National Audit Office (NAO) this week found that up to 740,000 potential cancer patients have been missed since the beginning of the first lockdown in March 2020.
These are people who should have been referred urgently for investigation in hospital, for a disease where delays exponentially increase the risk of death.
The NAO estimates that, since the pandemic began, between 35,000 and 60,000 fewer people than expected have started treatment for cancer.
The analysis identified 72 studies that might potentially have provided evidence on the effectiveness of masks, social distancing and hand washing. Of those, just six (not eight, 30 or 72) were sufficiently relevant — and of sufficient quality — that they could provide any useful information on mask efficacy. And how reliable were the six? Four were assessed to have a moderate risk of bias, and two to have a serious or critical risk.
The boss of the drugmaker Moderna has warned that Covid-19 vaccines are unlikely to be as effective against the Omicron variant in comments that have added to uncertainty about its impact and unsettled financial markets.
“There is no world, I think, where [the effectiveness] is the same level we had with Delta,” Stéphane Bancel told the Financial Times. “I think it’s going to be a material drop. I just don’t know how much because we need to wait for the data. But all the scientists I’ve talked to … are like, ‘this is not going to be good’.”
Four months ago, I had my second dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. I work for the NHS and fully support Britain’s vaccination campaign, so it was a simple decision for me to make. I had no problems with my first dose and I knew that the vaccines have been found to be highly effective and safe, preventing up to 96 per cent of Covid hospitalisations.
The day after my second dose I began to feel some aches and pains, but I gave little thought to the vaccine and carried on as normal. Four days later though my chest was seriously aching. I tried various stretches and painkillers but my symptoms grew worse. Then there was a sharp pain, piercing into the left side of my chest, near my heart. After a quick call to NHS 111, they sent me directly to Accident & Emergency, where I was strapped up to an electrocardiogram (ECG) machine and given blood tests to see if I was having a heart attack. I’m in my early thirties and relatively healthy, with no family history of heart disease or underlying conditions, and I’d never felt this sensation before.
In August, Public Health England released data which shows that vaccination does not appreciably guard against Covid infection and transmission and protection worked out at around 17 per cent for the over-fifties. As I observed then, this would mean the vaxxed and unvaxxed pose a comparable danger to each other. All Covid apartheid schemes are therefore insensible.
Fresher information has fortified this conclusion of the summer. In every age group over 30 in the UK, the rates of Covid infection per 100,000 are now higher among the vaxxed than the unvaxxed. Indeed, in the cohorts aged between 40 and 79, infection rates among the vaccinated are more than twice as high as among the unvaccinated. PHE’s fruitlessly rechristened body, the UK Health Security Agency, frantically clarifies that the data ‘should not be used to estimate vaccine effectiveness’, a caveat which I include for the sake of accuracy. But the differences in the infection rates are drastic enough for you to draw your own conclusions.
Foucault saw the tendencies to try to control, normalise and rationalise everything as ubiquitous in industrialised society. ‘The judges of normality are present everywhere. We are in the society of the teacher-judge, the doctor-judge, the educator-judge… [E]ach individual, wherever he may find himself, subjects to it his body, his gestures, his behaviour, his aptitudes, his achievements.’ Foucault asked: ‘Is it surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons?’
…To turn Foucault on his head, you could easily argue that it is the medical staff who are the slaves, rather than the masters, in the NHS Panopticon. Those in the blue and green uniforms, the masked and overworked, are expected to metaphorically slave all day for the needs and whims of those of us who lie around all day, doing nothing but eating, reading, sleeping or messing around on the internet.