Categories
Opinion

Opting out of NHS Test and Trace

According to government guidelines, the public will be asked to provide their names and phone numbers to the venues and businesses they visit from Saturday 4th July 2020.

Be aware that this is done on a voluntary basis. You are under no legal obligation to leave your details or provide correct information. The business should not refuse to serve you if you do not wish to provide your information.

The relevant section of the government guidelines is shown below.

Source: Department of Health and Social Care Guidance, 2 July 2020

The complete text for the guidelines can be found in a document that can be downloaded from the GOV.UK website: Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace

Information collected

If you choose to provide information as a customer, government guidelines state that only the following details should be collected:

  • The name of the customer or visitor. If there is more than one person, then you can record the name of the ‘lead member’ of the group and the number of people in the group.
  • A contact phone number for each customer or visitor, or for the lead member of a group of people.
  • Date of visit, arrival time and, where possible, departure time.
  • If a customer will interact with only one member of staff (e.g. a hairdresser), the name of the assigned staff member should be recorded alongside the name of the customer.

Booking and reservation information

The information you provide when making a booking or reservation may be shared with NHS Test and Trace. If you do not wish your details to be used for this purpose, you should inform the business that you wish to opt out of NHS Test and Trace.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

NHS Test and Trace is subject to GDPR. This means that the business is legally obliged to handle your details in accordance with the regulation. However, be aware that under GDPR, the business is not required to:

  • Individually inform customers about how their information will be used.
  • Seek consent to collect data from individual customers.

If in doubt, make sure you explicitly inform management that you are opting out and any details you provide should not be used for NHS Test and Trace.

Why you should opt out of NHS Test and Trace

While we cannot give you advice about leaving your contact details, we believe that opting out of NHS Test and Trace is the right thing to do. This is because:

  1. The tests for COVID-19 are known to be inaccurate, resulting in high false positives and false negatives.
  2. These inaccurate results may be used to justify local lock-downs which will have a severely negative impact on your area.
  3. You will be traced and told self-isolate if anyone you have been in contact with during your visit tests positive, even if it is a false positive.
  4. The tracing system rollout was rushed and did not complete mandatory privacy checks. NHS Test and Trace is facing a legal challenge because it does not have strong enough safeguards.
  5. Your data will be held for 20 years. There is no way to know how the information collected about you will be used by a future political administration.
Categories
Publications

Impact of false positives and negatives, 3 June 2020 – Government Office for Science

The UK operational false positive rate is unknown. There are no published studies on the operational false positive rate of any national COVID-19 testing programme.

An attempt has been made to estimate the likely false-positive rate of national COVID-19 testing programmes by examining data from published external quality assessments (EQAs) for RT-PCR assays for other RNA viruses carried out between 2004-2019 [7]. Results of 43 EQAs were examined, giving a median false positive rate of 2.3% (interquartile range 0.8-4.0%).

Alistair Haimes interpreted these results in this way:

2.3% false positive rate with 0.04% virus prevalence rate (ONS) means that if you test positive you have only a 4/234= 1.7% chance of being infected. We’re flying blind.

if the false positive rate is that high, surely they just know that it is ‘about nothing’; 0.04% must be false precision?

@AlistairHaimes. 3 July 2020

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/gos-impact-of-false-positives-and-negatives-3-june-2020

Categories
Publications

Officially-reported COVID-19 deaths in Ireland likely overestimates – HIQA

HIQA found that the officially-reported COVID-19 deaths likely overestimates the true burden of excess deaths caused by the virus. This could be due to the inclusion within official figures of people who were infected with SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) at the time of death whose cause of death may have been predominantly due to other factors.

https://www.hiqa.ie/hiqa-news-updates/covid-19-causes-13-increase-deaths-ireland-between-march-and-june-2020-hiqa

Categories
Opinion

Ignoring the Covid evidence – Alistair Haimes, The Critic

  • Far from following the science, the government turned its back on all available data.
  • Until mid-April, with the escalating deaths in care homes agonisingly clear across Europe, government policy was still for patients to be discharged to care homes from hospitals without requiring negative tests. And so the toll: around half of UK Covid-19 deaths are care home residents, despite them accounting for only 0.6 per cent of our population.
  • Germany, whose population is roughly 25 per cent bigger than ours, has suffered approximately a quarter of our Covid deaths.
  • Ministers have deferred to scientists who themselves deferred to the projections of models, even when data on the ground told a completely different story.
  • Statisticians on social media had a field day pointing out the chasm between modelled outcomes and reality, but it is not clear that the models on which SAGE relied (both their input parameters and mechanical dynamics) were continually refined with on-the-ground data (or simply discarded as wrong). 
  • Why weren’t Oxford’s team, who specialise in zoonotic viruses and who looked at the same data as Neil Ferguson’s modelling-led team but came to wildly different conclusions, on SAGE’s panel to provide an alternative view?
  • Why were there no economists on SAGE? Economics is not the bloodless pursuit of money but the science of decision-making under uncertainty where resources are finite; could they really have brought nothing to the party?
  • In mid-March, Stanford’s Nobel laureate Michael Levitt (biophysicist and professor of structural biology) discussed the “natural experiment” of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, a petridish disproportionately filled with the most susceptible age and health groups. Even here, despite the virus spreading uncontrolled onboard for at least two weeks, infection only reached a minority of passengers and crew. 
  • The data towards the end of March clearly showed we were already near the tipping point of the bell-curve (meaning the disease is on the wane). We were already past the point where lockdown could have made much difference.
  • Knut Wittkowski: “respiratory diseases [including Covid-19] . . . remain only about two months in any given population”. 

https://thecritic.co.uk/issues/july-august-2020/ignoring-the-covid-evidence/

Categories
News

The Government’s coronavirus response remains trapped in ludicrous second wave pseudo-science – The Telegraph

It is official. No 10 is too entangled in lockdown spin to do what it takes to save Britain. For the sake of our ailing economy, political clarity, and basic scientific honesty, this was Boris Johnson’s moment to declare to the nation that the overwhelming evidence suggests lockdown was a mistake – and we must never lock down again. 

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/06/23/governments-coronavirus-response-remains-trapped-ludicrous-second/

Categories
Publications

Comment on Flaxman et al. (2020): The illusory effects of non-pharmaceutical interventions on COVID-19 in Europe – Professor Stefan Homburg

Flaxman et al. (Nature, 8 June 2020, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2405-7, 2020) infer that non-pharmaceutical interventions conducted by several European countries considerably reduced effective reproduction numbers and saved millions of lives. We show that their method is ill-conceived and that the alleged effects are artefacts. Moreover, we demonstrate that the United Kingdom’s lockdown was both superfluous and ineffective.

https://advance.sagepub.com/articles/Comment_on_Flaxman_et_al_2020_The_illusory_effects_of_non-pharmaceutical_interventions_on_COVID-19_in_Europe/12479987/1

Categories
News

Non-apologies for coronavirus deaths are not good enough – Al Jazeera

The UK government blusters its way through excuses for its poor response to coronavirus. It must be held accountable.

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/apologies-coronavirus-deaths-good-200416115612897.html

Categories
Opinion

Has the British scientific establishment made its biggest error in history? – The Telegraph

The scientific establishment in this country has had a bad war. Its mistakes have probably made the Covid-19 epidemic, as well as the economic downturn, worse. Britain entered the pandemic late, with lots of warning, so we should have done better than other countries. Instead we are one of the worst affected in Europe and one of the last to begin to recover.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/06/06/has-british-scientific-establishment-made-biggest-error-history/

Categories
Publications

Sir David Norgrove response to Matt Hancock regarding the Government’s COVID-19 testing data – UK Statistics Authority

The way the data are analysed and presented currently gives them limited value for the first purpose [of understanding the epidemic]. The aim seems to be to show the largest possible number of tests, even at the expense of understanding. It is also hard to believe the statistics work to support the testing programme itself. The statistics and analysis serve neither purpose well.

Categories
Opinion

Coronavirus doesn’t care about politics – UnHerd

So as you read, in coming weeks, furious news stories about technical incompetence, citizen non-compliance, threats of stricter enforcement and blame in all directions, as if everything was hanging on the latest government policy, remember the humility of scientists instead of the solipsism of the political class. Yes, the Government action plan will most likely be ineffective, but politicians were never in charge of this anyway. It’s bigger than they are — the best they could ever hope to do is tinker around the edges. Coronavirus is nobody’s ‘fault’.

Categories
Opinion

I’ve signed death certificates during Covid-19. Here’s why you can’t trust any of the statistics on the number of victims – Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, RT

As an NHS doctor, I’ve seen people die and be listed as a victim of coronavirus without ever being tested for it. But unless we have accurate data, we won’t know which has killed more: the disease or the lockdown?

It matters greatly for two main reasons. First, if we vastly overestimate deaths from Covid-19, we will greatly underestimate the harm caused by the lockdown. This issue was looked at in a recent article published in the BMJ, The British Medical Journal.  It stated: “Only a third of the excess deaths seen in the community in England and Wales can be explained by Covid-19.

If Covid-19 killed 30,000, and lockdown killed the other 30,000, then the lockdown was a complete and utter waste of time. and should never happen again. The great fear is that this would be a message this government does not want to hear – so they will do everything possible not to hear it.

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/490006-death-certificates-covid-19-do-not-trust/

Categories
News

Government coronavirus contact tracing site CRASHES within minutes of launching as staff reveal first shift has been a ‘complete shambles’ – Daily Mail

The government’s coronavirus contact tracing site crashed on launch this morning amid complaints it has been a ‘complete shambles’.

Doctors and other staff reported major teething troubles as the much-trumpeted scheme finally got up and running, with some saying they had not even received passwords to start work.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8364799/Matt-Hancock-LAUGHS-suggestion-rushed-contact-tracing-scheme.html

Categories
Opinion

How Fear, Groupthink Drove Unnecessary Global Lockdowns – Real Clear Politics

That is the story of what may eventually be known as one of the biggest medical and economic blunders of all time. The collective failure of every Western nation, except one, to question groupthink will surely be studied by economists, doctors, and psychologists for decades to come.

  • The virus is now known to have an infection fatality rate for most people under 65 that is no more dangerous than driving 13 to 101 miles per day.
  • Even by conservative estimates, the odds of COVID-19 death are roughly in line with existing baseline odds of dying in any given year.
  • The virus that bears a survival rate of 99.99% if you are a healthy individual under 50 years old.
  • New York City reached over a 25% infection rate and yet 99.98% of all people in the city under 45 survived

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2020/05/21/how_fear_groupthink_drove_unnecessary_global_lockdowns_143253.html

Categories
News

Health regulator tells laboratories to STOP analysing all samples from Covid-19 home antibody tests – Daily Mail

US CDC that antibody tests for Covid-19 may be wrong up to half of the time.

The CDC now warns antibody testing is not accurate enough for it to be used for any policy-making decisions, as even with high test specificity, ‘less than half of those testing positive will truly have antibodies’.

There is currently a high level of inaccuracy in the testing, however, caused by how uncommon the virus is within the population.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8358729/Health-regulator-tells-laboratories-STOP-analysing-samples-Covid-19-home-antibody-tests.html

Categories
News

Revealed: 90,000 ‘void’ UK Covid tests – The Spectator

Currently, over 8 per cent of people who were tested in ‘pillar two’ have been told that their test result is ‘unclear’. Pillar two is the strand of the government’s testing strategy that deals with at-home tests and those carried out at drive-through centres. This pillar is designed for certain key workers and those who have been randomly selected for testing.

Yet the NHS instructions given to Sarah make clear that while the test might be ‘uncomfortable’, patients should stop if they ‘feel strong resistance or pain’. In other words, she was told to stop swabbing if it hurt. The tests may be accurate in a clinical setting but the problem comes when people are expected to try to carry out the procedure themselves in the real world. 

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/revealed-90-000-void-uk-covid-tests

Categories
Opinion

Is the government blaming the scientists? – The Spectator

With ministers and officials involved with the country’s coronavirus strategy braced for an eventual public inquiry, this week we’re being given a glimpse of how it might play out. During a morning broadcast round on Tuesday, Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey set the cat among the pigeons when she was asked about mistakes the government may have made. It’s clear that this is a row No. 10 does not wish to be having right now.

Coffey replied by saying ministers can ‘only make judgments based on the advice’ they are given. She went on to say that on issues such as testing capacity, if the scientific advice at the time was ‘wrong’, she would not be surprised if people think ‘we made the wrong decisions’. Those comments were quick to gain traction – with critics claiming Coffey was attempting to scapegoat scientists for the government’s U-turn on testing.

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/is-the-government-blaming-the-scientists

Categories
Opinion

Under the Corona Act, Dr Shipman could have got away with more murders – The Critic

[O]ne thing the Coronavirus pandemic has shown us is that rather than turn away from experts plenty of people appear to ascribe almost supernatural powers to them.

The bottom line is this: if Shipman were killing under the Coronavirus Act, he might have gotten away with even more murders. And if the safeguards held others back from killing their patients, well, they’re not anymore.

“What’s happening, exceptionally, with Covid is that not only do you not have to be an attending doctor to make a statement that someone has died of Covid, you don’t have to discuss it with anybody else, you don’t even have to be medical, you don’t have to have any test positivity – you can even deem a death to be due to Covid if it’s not mentioned on the death certificate and, say, you’re a care home provider and you think it ought to be mentioned.. and few of these cases are being autopsied. So we’re not building up any sort of knowledge about what this disease actually does to the body, or even whether it was present in the body of somebody who was said to have died of Covid. We actually know less about who’s dying of what now, particularly concerning Covid, than at any time in the past. So it really is a complete mess”.

https://thecritic.co.uk/under-the-corona-act-dr-shipman-could-have-got-away-with-more-murders/

Categories
Opinion

How Covid panic caused the carnage in care homes – Spiked


Shockingly, the UK government was not alone in pushing the crisis into care homes. In New York, the centre of the world’s worst outbreak, it is a similar story. Care homes were not only neglected for PPE and testing, but were also ordered to take in Covid patients. Homes could be fined $10,000 or lose their operating licence if they refused to comply with the rules. In Lombardy, the hardest-hit region of Italy, care homes were paid extra to take in Covid patients from hospitals.

The carnage in care homes ought to be the biggest scandal of the Covid crisis.

https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/05/19/how-covid-panic-caused-the-carnage-in-care-homes/

Categories
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

Categories
Opinion

Neil Ferguson’s Imperial model could be the most devastating software mistake of all time – The Telegraph

Imperial College’s modelling of non-pharmaceutical interventions for Covid-19 which helped persuade the UK and other countries to bring in draconian lockdowns will supersede the failed Venus space probe and could go down in history as the most devastating software mistake of all time, in terms of economic costs and lives lost.