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News

Matt Hancock is delighted to work even closer with the World Economic Forum (2018)

@MattHancock on Twitter 26 Jan 2018

https://web.archive.org/web/20191217150219if_/https://twitter.com/MattHancock/status/956851034797891584

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Opinion

‘New advisers needed before Sage wrecks our economy’ – The Express

THE Treasury must form its own advisory group to counterbalance the “Covid-19 only” approach of Sage, experts say.

England was placed into lockdown following advice from the Government’s scientific advisers, despite warnings that it would lead to mass unemployment and cause huge economic damage. Much of the data relied on by Sage, including the “4,000 a day” death figures, has been challenged, with experts saying too much weight was being given to the doomsday scenarios. One accused the group of using “eye-wateringly wrong modelling data to inform government policy” akin to “crystal ball gazing”.

https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1357547/coronavirus-latest-sage-advisors-lockdown-economy

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Opinion

Is the cost of another lockdown too high? – The Spectator

At times, the argument about lockdown has been described as a choice between saving lives or saving money. But this is a false equivalence. A weak economy leads to weakened citizens: it means less tax revenue, less money for the NHS, and poorer families – wealth and health are all too-closely linked. Just look at the difference in height between Koreans, depending on which side of the 38th parallel their grandparents happened to be caught on.

It’s easy to measure money, but it’s far harder to measure the indirect results of a richer or poorer economy. It’s also hard to work out how much money you should spend to save a life. Ban cars, and you’ll end road deaths. But you’d also hit the economy. So a balance has to be struck somewhere.

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/is-the-cost-of-another-lockdown-too-high-

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Publications

Harms of public health interventions against covid-19 must not be ignored – BMJ

The harmful consequences of public health choices should be explicitly considered and transparently reported to limit their damage, say Itai Bavli and colleagues

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has posed an unprecedented challenge for governments. Questions regarding the most effective interventions to reduce the spread of the virus—for example, more testing, requirements to wear face masks, and stricter and longer lockdowns—become widely discussed in the popular and scientific press, informed largely by models that aimed to predict the health benefits of proposed interventions. Central to all these studies is recognition that inaction, or delayed action, will put millions of people unnecessarily at risk of serious illness or death.

However, interventions to limit the spread of the coronavirus also carry negative health effects, which have yet to be considered systematically. Despite increasing evidence on the unintended, adverse effects of public health interventions such as social distancing and lockdown measures, there are few signs that policy decisions are being informed by a serious assessment and weighing of their harms on health. Instead, much of the discussion has become politicised, especially in the US, where President Trump’s provocative statements sparked debates along party lines about the necessity for policies to control covid-19. This politicisation, often fuelled by misinformation, has distracted from a much needed dispassionate discussion on the harms and benefits of potential public health measures against covid-19.

https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4074

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Opinion

New national lockdown is a mistake – Boris Johnson must keep his promise to release us on December 2 – The Sun

THE fact that Covid cases were already plummeting across London is yet more evidence the new lockdown is a mistake.

Yes, a few hospitals around Britain are under huge strain, as NHS chief Simon Stevens says.

But many have few Covid patients or none.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/13122295/the-sun-says-new-national-lockdown-mistake-covid/

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News

Second lockdown will be the ‘final death blow’ for thousands of British businesses, industry leaders warn as leading economist predicts new measures will cost £1.8billion per day – Daily Mail

One leading economist predicted lockdown will cost the UK £1.8billion per day

Business bosses slammed ‘disastrous’ restrictions could devastate High Street

Businesses and consumers expected to slash their spending in coming weeks

This will have a knock-on effect on the public purse as VAT takings slump

As more businesses struggle job losses are expected to rise in spite of furlough

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8903375/Second-lockdown-final-death-blow-thousands-British-businesses.html

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News

Pub closures not backed by evidence – The Herald Scotland

A leading bacteriologist has said he was not surprised to learn that pub owners are pursuing a legal challenge against lockdown closures saying he had been left ‘frustrated’ by the absence of hard data informing some decisions.

https://www.heraldscotland.com/business_hq/18816036.coronavirus-pub-closures-not-backed-evidence/

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News

Government has borrowed £1bn PER DAY and £208bn in just six months – during coronavirus crisis as £2tn debt debt pile hits worst level since 1960 – Daily Mail

* Government borrowing has hit £208billion in six months of coroanvirus crisis
* Debt pile has topped £2trillion and at 103.3% of GDP is the highest since 1960
* September borrowing figure of £36.1billion was the third highest on record

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8862441/Government-borrowing-hit-36BILLION-September-highest-month-records-began.html

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News

WHO warns against COVID-19 lockdowns due to economic damage – New York Post

The World Health Organization has warned leaders against relying on COVID-19 lockdowns to tackle outbreaks — after previously saying countries should be careful how quickly they reopen.

https://nypost.com/2020/10/11/who-warns-against-covid-19-lockdowns-due-to-economic-damage/

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Opinion

An epidemic of failure: Test and Trace that doesn’t work, local lockdowns that don’t make sense, flu deaths counted as Covid-19… and an economy on the brink. We somehow made a crisis worse – Dr. John Lee, Daily Mail

  • The UK Government’s Test and Trace policy isn’t working and is worse than useless.
  • 40 per cent of those asked to name their recent contacts were unable to remember anyone.
  • The tests on which Test and Trace is based are highly unreliable.
  • Covid is a coronavirus and its symptoms are vague: a cough, a raised temperature, the loss of taste and smell — all of which overlap with the symptoms for flu and the common cold.
  • When the procedure goes wrong, it generates a ‘false positive’ result: it indicates an infection where none exists.
  • Even with long-established tests, we’d expect to see false positives in perhaps one per cent of cases. With this one, it could quite conceivably be 5 per cent or higher.
  • This means that if 300,000 tests are processed in a day, perhaps 15,000 or more will generate inaccurate reports of Covid-19 infection.
  • One positive is not necessarily the same as another, but the Government numbers don’t differentiate.
  • Last week, it was reported that just 1,800 out of 110,000 occupied beds in hospitals were taken up by Covid-19 patients.
  • It is likely that those who died were elderly and suffering from co-morbidities such as heart disease and diabetes.
  • But it is also possible that they died from something else entirely — such as flu.
  • The UK Government’s Test and Trace policy isn’t working and is worse than useless.
  • 40 per cent of those asked to name their recent contacts were unable to remember anyone.
  • The tests on which Test and Trace is based are highly unreliable.
  • Covid is a coronavirus and its symptoms are vague: a cough, a raised temperature, the loss of taste and smell — all of which overlap with the symptoms for flu and the common cold.
  • When the procedure goes wrong, it generates a ‘false positive’ result: it indicates an infection where none exists.
  • Even with long-established tests, we’d expect to see false positives in perhaps one per cent of cases. With this one, it could quite conceivably be 5 per cent or higher.
  • This means that if 300,000 tests are processed in a day, perhaps 15,000 or more will generate inaccurate reports of Covid-19 infection.
  • One positive is not necessarily the same as another, but the Government numbers don’t differentiate.
  • Last week, it was reported that just 1,800 out of 110,000 occupied beds in hospitals were taken up by Covid-19 patients.
  • It is likely that those who died were elderly and suffering from co-morbidities such as heart disease and diabetes.
  • But it is also possible that they died from something else entirely — such as flu.
  • Coronaviruses are as old as humanity and have resisted every attempt at a vaccine or a cure. One project to wipe out the common cold was funded for more than 40 years — and got nowhere.
  • Today’s flu vaccines are less than 50 per cent effective, and there is no chance whatever that a hurriedly developed Covid-19 vaccine could be anything like as good as that.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-8808609/DR-JOHN-LEE-Test-Trace-doesnt-work-local-lockdowns-dont-make-sense.html

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News

More than a third of UK employers planning to make staff redundant – The Guardian

More than a third of UK employers plan to make staff redundant over the next three months, according to research warning of a cascade of job losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/oct/01/more-than-third-uk-employers-planning-make-staff-redundant-job-losses

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Opinion

Snitches and snoopers, students and the elderly shut away… a nation cowering and an economy in tatters. Now BEL MOONEY asks: How could once-indomitable Britain be reduced to slaves to fear? – Daily Mail

Have we all gone mad, and become so afraid of the virus that we’ve lost the ability to read, to think and to question? You could argue that the fear of Covid-19 has become so all-consuming that it has become even more of a killer than the virus itself.

  • The national debt: £36 billion borrowed last month [August] alone.
  • The national debt: Our overall figure of more than £2 trillion is the biggest ever recorded, and will take at least two generations to pay off. Redundancy looms for millions.
  • Of the 52,514 virus deaths registered by the Office for National Statistics, 89 per cent have been over-65s.
  • More than 22,000 over-85s have died, as well as some 17,000 aged between 75 and 84.
  • Only 314 people under the age of 40 have died of the disease since March.
  • NHS England figures show that more than 95 per cent of patients who die from coronavirus in hospital have an underlying health condition, such as diabetes, heart disease or obesity.
  • New report estimates that there will be a total of 74,000 deaths over the next five years due to the long-term financial and health impact of the pandemic.
  • Oncologists warn of an extra 30,000 deaths from cancers currently going undiagnosed.
  • Dr John Lee: COVID-19 is currently killing fewer than 40 of the 1,600 people who die every day in the UK.
  • There were 2,000 extra deaths from strokes and heart attacks this summer.
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Opinion

Making an apocalypse out of a pandemic – Spiked

The great 20th-century pandemics, comparable in so many ways to their 21st-century heir, accounted for myriad private tragedies. Yet, unlike this novel coronavirus, their public, political significance was negligible. They were treated as public-health challenges, problems for clinicians, virologists and epidemiologists. And there were arguments at the time that more should have been done to mitigate their harm. But there was no sense of a world ending. No talk of a new normal. No attempt, that is, to reorganise the entirety of societal life around the threat they posed.

https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/09/18/making-an-apocalypse-out-of-a-pandemic/

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News Opinion

‘Australians must know the truth – this virus is not a pandemic’: Alan Jones, Sky News Australia

Sky News host Alan Jones says he has warned time and time again the political leaders who are the architects of this coronavirus response will not be able to escape the criticism that is now finding its way into the public place. It comes as an economist in the Victorian Department of Finance and Treasury, Sanjeev Sabhlok, on Wednesday penned an article in the Australian Financial Review announcing his resignation from his position.

  • Policies are a sledgehammer to kill a swarm of flies.
  • The Spanish Flu killed killed at least 50 million out of 1.8 billion people out of worldwide.
  • To compare with Spanish Flu, COVID-19 would need to kill 210 million people. It has only killed 0.9 million.
  • 60 million people worldwide normally die each year.
  • There are strong scientific arguments against lockdown.
  • The data was clear from February that the elderly should be protected but this wasn’t done.
  • Epidemiological models have badly exaggerated the risk.
  • There was never any reason to mandate measures such as face masks.
  • COVID-19 is no worse than the Asian Flu.
  • Lockdowns cannot eradicate the virus.

https://www.skynews.com.au/details/_6191311935001

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News Opinion

The Failed Experiment of Covid Lockdowns – Wall Street Journal

New data shows that ockdowns correlated with a greater spread of the virus.

Six months into the Covid-19 pandemic, the U.S. has now carried out two large-scale experiments in public health—first, in March and April, the lockdown of the economy to arrest the spread of the virus, and second, since mid-April, the reopening of the economy. The results are in. Counterintuitive though it may be, statistical analysis shows that locking down the economy didn’t contain the disease’s spread and reopening it didn’t unleash a second wave of infections.

Considering that lockdowns are economically costly and create well-documented long-term public-health consequences beyond Covid, imposing them appears to have been a large policy error. At the beginning, when little was known, officials acted in ways they thought prudent. But now evidence proves that lockdowns were an expensive treatment with serious side effects and no benefit to society…

Measuring from the start of the year to each state’s point of maximum lockdown—which range from April 5 to April 18—it turns out that lockdowns correlated with a greater spread of the virus. States with longer, stricter lockdowns also had larger Covid outbreaks. The five places with the harshest lockdowns—the District of Columbia, New York, Michigan, New Jersey and Massachusetts—had the heaviest caseloads.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-failed-experiment-of-covid-lockdowns-11599000890

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Opinion

We wanted the toughest possible lockdown, and now we will pay the price – The Telegraph

I used to joke about ending up under house arrest – arraigned by Europol on charges of xenophobia for criticising the Maastricht Treaty or some such. Sure enough, here I am after an ill-timed trip to France. And house arrest is the apt term: we returnees not allowed out even for solitary walks. The rules are unenforceable, of course, and plenty of people are ignoring them, but newspaper columnists and politicians don’t have that option. If there is a double standard at work, it is the opposite of what is commonly supposed.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/08/30/wanted-toughest-possible-lockdown-now-will-pay-price/

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News

Europe is at last waking up to its lockdown folly – The Telegraph

Did you hear it? Beyond the second wave sirens and the schools debate, the sound of the penny dropping on the global stage. In recent days, world leaders have hinted at an extraordinary admission: lockdowns are a disaster, and we can’t afford to repeat the mistake

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/08/27/europe-last-waking-lockdown-folly/

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News

New Thinking on Covid Lockdowns: They’re Overly Blunt and Costly – Wall Street Journal

In response to the novel and deadly coronavirus, many governments deployed draconian tactics never used in modern times: severe and broad restrictions on daily activity that helped send the world into its deepest peacetime slump since the Great Depression.

The equivalent of 400 million jobs have been lost world-wide, 13 million in the U.S. alone. Global output is on track to fall 5% this year, far worse than during the financial crisis, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Five months later, the evidence suggests lockdowns were an overly blunt and economically costly tool. They are politically difficult to keep in place for long enough to stamp out the virus. The evidence also points to alternative strategies that could slow the spread of the epidemic at much less cost. As cases flare up throughout the U.S., some experts are urging policy makers to pursue these more targeted restrictions and interventions rather than another crippling round of lockdowns.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/covid-lockdowns-economy-pandemic-recession-business-shutdown-sweden-coronavirus-11598281419

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News

How eco-warriors are using Covid as an excuse to drive cars off the road: Councils are closing roads but creating more cycle lanes, piling new agony on shops… all under the guise of saving us from the virus – Daily Mail

Covid has been used as an excuse for road closures to encourage people out of their cars to get fit and lose weight and protect themselves against the virus 

London, Oxford, Manchester, Birmingham, York, Edinburgh, Nottingham, Derby and Cardiff are all in line for Government funding to install ‘green’ measures

Government has set aside £225m for ’emergency’ walking and cycling measures

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8654475/How-councils-closing-roads-creating-cycle-lanes-guise-saving-virus.html

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News

UK economy faces long climb back to health after historic 20% crash – Reuters

Britain’s economy shrank by a record 20.4% in the second quarter when the coronavirus lockdown was tightest, the most severe contraction reported by any major economy so far, with a wave of job losses set to hit later in 2020.

The data confirmed that the world’s sixth-biggest economy had entered a recession, with the low point coming in April when output was more than 25% below its pre-pandemic level.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-britain-economy/uk-economic-output-collapses-by-20-4-in-second-quarter-idUSKCN2580LK