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Opinion

The fatal mistakes which led to lockdown – Dr. John Lee, The Spectator

Such is the quality of decision-making in the process generating our lockdown narrative. An early maintained but exaggerated belief in the lethality of the virus reinforced by modelling that was almost data-free, then amplified by further modelling with no proven predictive value. All summed up by recommendations from a committee based on qualitative data that hasn’t even been peer-reviewed.

  • According to Office for National Statistics, this year comes only eighth in terms of deaths in past 27 years.
  • The spread of viruses like Covid-19 is not new. What’s new is our response.
  • The whole Covid drama has really been a crisis of awareness of what viruses normally do, rather than a crisis caused by an abnormally lethal new bug.
  • Modelling is not science, for the simple reason that a prediction made by a scientist (using a model or not) is just opinion.
  • To be classified as science, a prediction or theory needs to be able to be tested, and potentially falsified.
  • A problem with the current approach: a wilful determination to ignore the quality of the information being used to set Covid policy.
  • Most Covid research was not peer- reviewed.
  • In medical science there is a well-known classification of data quality known as ‘the hierarchy of evidence’: a seven-level system gives an idea of how much weight can be placed on any given study or recommendation.
  • Virtually all evidence pertaining to Covid-19 policy is found in the lowest levels (much less compelling Levels 5 and 6): descriptive-only studies looking for a pattern, without using controls. 
  • Level 7 is at the bottom of the hierarchy (the opinion of authorities or reports of expert committees) because ‘authorities’ often fail to change their minds in the face of new evidence.
  • Committees often issue compromise recommendations that are scientifically non-valid.
  • The advice of Sage (or any committee of scientists) is the least reliable form of evidence there is.

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/how-strong-was-the-scientific-advice-behind-lockdown

Categories
Opinion

Science, doubt and the ‘second wave’ of Covid – Dr. John Lee, The Spectator

One of the key things about science – obvious to its practitioners, but often obscure to outsiders – is that it is fuelled by doubt, not certainty. When the ‘facts’ change (as they often do), and when original assumptions are qualified or overturned, then any scientist worth their salt re-examines and, if necessary, alters their conclusions. The presence of cross-reactive helper cells in maybe half the population means that ideas about a possible second wave must be rewritten. This finding must make a second wave less likely, probably much less likely. And the fact that there has been no ‘second wave’ (as opposed to isolated outbreaks) anywhere where lockdown has been released also fits this hypothesis. It may well also explain why the first wave didn’t infect much higher proportions of the population.

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/science-doubt-and-the-second-wave-of-covid

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Videos

Dr John Lee on The James Delingpole Channel

  • There was genuine fear at the beginning but the COVID-19 response is now political.
  • Nothing at the beginning of the epidemic justified the subsequent reaction.
  • The community suffered from ascertainment bias: hospitals saw the worst form of the virus so they thought we were dealing with a big problem.
  • Lockdown means people will be getting nastier versions of the virus.
  • We implemented a policy of enormous magnitude without considering the implications. This goes against the most fundamental principle of medicine.
  • A significant number of the excess deaths are not victims of COVID-19 but of the lockdown. More than half of the deaths may be found due to other causes.
  • The response of the authorities and media has made it impossible to understand what was going on.
  • Our huge and emotional overreaction has caused more harm.
  • Years of life lost is a more important metric than the number of deaths.
  • Most people working in the NHS wouldn’t speak out about these things.
  • There were two types of journalism during the epidemic: investigative journalism and illustrative journalism (propaganda). Most of the mainstream media were engaged in propaganda and ended up frightening the people and the government. They need to take their share of the responsibility of the damage caused.
  • COVID-19 is nowhere near as bad as previous epidemics.
  • The medical establishment should have been speaking out since the beginning of the lockdown. The evidence was pretty clear, pretty quickly.
  • Vaccine is a red herring because it’s unlikely we’re going to have one. The Common Cold Research Institute spent 43 years trying to make a vaccine for the common cold and didn’t manage it.
  • Track and Trace is extremely worrying and not thought-through with its implications for a Big Brother society. None of it makes sense.
  • Social distancing is nonsense. Vulnerable people should be given information and allowed to make their own decisions.
  • The NHS is there to protect us. That’s what we pay our taxes for.
  • Young people are being thrown in the scrapheap for a disease that isn’t going to affect them.
  • As you get older, your immune system starts to ‘forget’ diseases you’ve already had. That’s why older people are more susceptible to getting sick.
  • We can say with absolute certainty that there is no overwhelming risk. It’s wrong to say the opposite.
  • Many doctors are smart but don’t have a huge amount of time to question things. Most doctors get their information in the same way most people do and unfortunately that information has been very biased. The science has moved on but the narrative has not.
  • The media was responsible for amplifying the fear about something they didn’t know about.
  • Models are useful scientifically when you have an understanding of something but they’re very bad at predicting outcomes. The government should have known this because we’ve have many examples of models and resulting policies being spectacularly wrong.
  • Politicians have forgotten that leadership is not about telling people what they want to hear. Where is the criticism of the narrative?
  • There is no evidence that lockdown has had any effect except in modelling. The evidence show that the lockdown plays out in similar way.

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News Opinion

‘R’ rate is less reliable than a weather forecast – Dr. John Lee, Daily Mail

  • Keeping R below one is not the only way to map a route out of lockdown.
  • R is an artificial construct and not even a number we know with any certainty.
  • R is calculated using mathematical models which have repeatedly been found to reach wrong-headed conclusions.
  • R is not a strong enough number to bear the burden of any Government policy.
  • Epidemiology models share the same serious problem as meteorology because of weak data.
  • Lack of testing means we don’t know how many people have been infected, or have recovered.
  • Changes to death certification during this epidemic mean that we genuinely don’t even know how many people have died as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • It is becoming increasingly clear that assumptions central to the models that generate R are flawed.
  • Worries that R was apparently heading back towards one were missing the point. For some segments of society, including most people of working age, that would be a good thing.
  • Another implication of seeing R this way, which is quite a relief, is that social distancing can be consigned to the dustbin of bizarre historical episodes.
  • R is calculated in ways that the Government can produce at will to justify a policy that is no longer tenable.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8326857/DR-JOHN-LEE-says-R-rate-reliable-weather-forecast.html

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Opinion

Ten reasons to end the lockdown now – Dr. John Lee, The Spectator

Even if one could understand why lockdown was imposed, it very rapidly became apparent that it had not been thought through. Not in terms of the wider effects on society (which have yet to be counted) and not even in terms of the ways that the virus itself might behave. But at the start, there was hardly any evidence. Everyone was guessing. Now we have a world of evidence, from around the globe, and the case for starting to reverse lockdown is compelling.

  1. You cannot understand the significance of this virus simply by looking at the raw death figures
  2. The policy response to the virus has been driven by modelling of Covid – not other factors
  3. We don’t know if lockdown is working
  4. We should ease the lockdown to save lives
  5. Lockdown is not sustainable
  6. Lockdown directly harms those most likely to be affected by coronavirus
  7. Lockdown directly harms those who will be largely unaffected by coronavirus
  8. The health service has not been overwhelmed nor likely to be 
  9. The virus is almost certainly not a constant threat
  10. People can be trusted to behave sensibly

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/ten-reasons-to-end-the-lockdown-now

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News Opinion

The Grand Delusion: Bail-out billions shield us from the reality – our economy is in tatters – Dr. John Lee, Daily Mail

  • Just 11 people under the age of 20 have succumbed to Covid-19.
  • Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College has a dismal record as a forecaster.
  • There’s the possibility that the lockdown has actually made the virus more deadly.
  • Bank of England warned that if the lockdown is extended until June the economy could shrink by 14 per cent this year.
  • More than one-in-five adults now furloughed on 80per cent of their wages.
  • A fifth of the working-age population could be jobless and the quality of people’s mental and physical health would plummet.
  • Every day, about 1,700 people die in Britain. Only five years ago, in the winter of 2014/15, more than 28,000 people died from seasonal flu, not far off the current coronavirus death toll of just over 30,000.
  • Direct evidence to support the two-metre rule is weak, and based almost entirely on modelling rather than real life.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8302055/Bail-billions-anaesthetise-reality-economy-tatters.html

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News Opinion

Could the lockdown have side-effects no one has considered? – Dr. John Lee

Lockdown might actually be slowing the tendency of this new disease to get milder with time. Which raises an important question: might the lockdown be causing more harm than good.

Two and a half thousand years ago Hippocrates told us that medicine should ‘First, do no harm’, and this is still a key tenet. Making absolutely sure that the treatment is better than the cure takes a long time and requires that we carefully examine as many angles as possible. Unfortunately, in the rush to apply the lockdown treatment for Covid, this principle was the first casualty.

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/could-the-lockdown-have-side-effects-no-one-has-considered

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News Opinion

Do face masks work? A note on the evidence – Dr. John Lee, The Spectator

[D]oes any of what is out there add up to a watertight case for compelling people to wear masks in public or at work (outside a healthcare setting)? The threshold for compulsion must surely be higher than ‘maybe’ and ‘perhaps’. But if it really is the case that the threshold for regulatory compulsion is being approached, it should be a simple matter for our scientific advisors to present it to us and allow time for it to be critically discussed in relation to a real-world setting, before government imposes measures upon us all.

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/face-masks-should-there-be-a-cover-up-

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News Opinion

There’s no direct evidence that the lockdowns are working – Dr John Lee, Spiked

The UK government has extended its lockdown for another three weeks. But could the shutdown of society be doing more harm than good? In fact, is there any evidence it is doing any good at all? Dr John A Lee, a recently retired professor of pathology and NHS consultant pathologist, has repeatedly called for a critical and dispassionate examination of the evidence in relation to Covid-19, raising questions about the government and its advisers’ interpretation of the data.

https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/04/17/theres-no-direct-evidence-that-the-lockdowns-are-working/

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News

Where is the vigorous debate about our response to Covid? – Dr John Lee, The Spectator

“Barely a day goes by without a politician saying that they will be ‘led by the science’. But what we are seeing with Covid-19 is not ‘science’ in action.”

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/to-understand-covid-we-need-evidence-scepticism-and-vigorous-debate

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News

How deadly is the coronavirus? It’s still far from clear – The Spectator

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/The-evidence-on-Covid-19-is-not-as-clear-as-we-think