My 30 years of working in academic environments, as both a scientist and a clinical academic, tell me this: a scientist’s career objective is to big up his subject, which increases his personal likelihood of gaining grants, influence and promotion. Scientists focus on narrow topics, often almost to the exclusion of everything else. Perspective is rarely a strong point. The more their subject is in the public eye, preferably centre stage, the better it is from a career point of view. Any crisis is, I’m afraid, a career opportunity for some. Unbiased, agenda-free, selfless public service is not, I believe, a key feature of academic life, nor is there any real reason to expect it to be.
The management of the Covid ‘crisis’ – a crisis substantially caused by the very management itself – has all the hallmarks of government being advised by a group of experts in the limelight, in thrall to groupthink, and with far too cosy a consensus to do effective science.
The UK’s chief scientific adviser has a £600,000 shareholding in a drugs giant contracted to develop a Covid-19 vaccine for the Government, prompting claims of a potential conflict of interest.
- Sir Patrick Vallance, Chief Scientific Adviser to UK Government, was president of GSK 2012 – 2018
- Holds a deferred bonus of 43,111 shares worth £600,000
- Cashed in more than £5m worth of shares upon resignation of GSK
- Sir Vallance special board on vaccines
And then there is the biggest issue of all: the fact that breaking the rule is a criminal offence. As the Hampstead incident suggests, some police officers are evidently seizing their chance to indulge in the kind of neurotic, unnecessary behaviour that first reared its head at the start of lockdown.As part of a quest for “stronger enforcement of the rules”, Boris Johnson has proposed local “Covid marshals” who will ensure any miscreants do as they are told. Now, there are to be fines of up to £10,000 for people judged to have breached self-isolation rules, and the police will be checking compliance in the “highest incidence areas” and “high-risk groups”, based on “local intelligence”.
…The legislation allows ministers to authorise no end of drastic moves, from much weaker oversight of government surveillance and sectioning powers under the Mental Health Act to the closure of the UK’s borders. Perhaps the most startling section – which Martha Spurrier, the director of the pressure group Liberty, calls “completely wild” – lays out how the police can be rapidly allowed to detain anyone deemed “potentially infectious”, without an upper time limit.
Dear Prime Minister, Chancellor, CMOs and Chief Scientific Adviser
We are writing with the intention of providing constructive input into the choices with respect to the Covid-19 policy response. We also have several concerns regarding aspects of the existing policy choices that we wish to draw attention to.
In summary, our view is that the existing policy path is inconsistent with the known risk-profile of Covid-19 and should be reconsidered. The unstated objective currently appears to be one of suppression of the virus, until such a time that a vaccine can be deployed. This objective is increasingly unfeasible (notwithstanding our more specific concerns regarding existing policies) and is leading to significant harm across all age groups, which likely offsets any benefits.
Instead, more targeted measures that protect the most vulnerable from Covid, whilst not adversely impacting those not at risk, are more supportable. Given the high proportion of Covid deaths in care homes, these should be a priority. Such targeted measures should be explored as a matter of urgency, as the logical cornerstone of our future strategy.
In addition to this overarching point, we append a set of concerns regarding the existing policy choices, which we hope will be received in the spirit in which they are intended. We are mindful that the current circumstances are challenging, and that all policy decisions are difficult ones. Moreover, many people have sadly lost loved ones to Covid-19 throughout the UK. Nonetheless, the current debate appears unhelpfully polarised around views that Covid is extremely deadly to all (and that large-scale policy interventions are effective); and on the other hand, those who believe Covid poses no risk at all. In light of this, and in order to make choices that increase our prospects of achieving better outcomes in future, we think now is the right time to ‘step back’ and fundamentally reconsider the path forward.
Professor Sunetra Gupta; Professor of theoretical epidemiology, the University of Oxford
Professor Carl Heneghan; Director, Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, the University of Oxford
Professor Karol Sikora; Consultant oncologist and Professor of medicine, University of Buckingham
Sam Williams; Director and co-founder of Economic Insight
- ‘Circuit break’ may be a grave error with terrible consequences for the health of the British people and for the health of the country.
- The Government is once again in the grip of doom-mongering scientific modellers who specialise in causing panic.
- The latest reliable data from Spain (up to September 3) which does not indicate any sort of upward curve in infections, let alone one coming to get us here in Britain.
- Anyone with clinical experience of dealing with respiratory viruses knows that the only certainty is uncertainty itself.
- Making comparisons between countries using different national data with different definitions is no more useful than trying to compare apples and pears.
- Latest study shows that nearly a third of all Covid-19 deaths recorded in July and August might have actually been the result of other causes –cancer, for example, or road traffic accidents.
- Sweden has probably suppressed Covid-19 to the same level as Great Britain but without draconian measures.
- Anyone going down with a new respiratory illness is likely to be suffering from a cold – not Covid.
Covid-19 accounts for an average of 11 of the 1,687 deaths in Britain every day, according to official statistics.
|Cause||UK deaths per day|
|Flu and pneumonia||124|
|Accidents at home||16|
I believe I have identified a serious, really a fatal flaw in the PCR test used in what is called by the UK Government the Pillar 2 screening – that is, testing many people out in their communities. I’m going to go through this with care and in detail because I’m a scientist and dislike where this investigation takes me.
…In the last 40 years alone the UK has had seven official epidemics/pandemics; AIDS, Swine flu, CJD, SARS, MERS, Bird flu as well as annual, seasonal flu. All were very worrying but schools remained open and the NHS treated everybody and most of the population were unaffected. The country would rarely have been open if it had been shut down every time.
The former president of the supreme court says parliament “surrendered” its role over emergency laws restricting freedoms amid the coronavirus pandemic, in an intervention expected to embolden MPs threatening a Commons revolt.
The UK’s biggest Covid-19 testing laboratory is prioritising Premiership Rugby players and travellers to Dubai while failing to meet government targets for the public, according to company insiders.
Randox Laboratories, based in Co Antrim, Northern Ireland, was handed a £133m testing contract in March — no other company was given the opportunity to bid for the work. It is responsible for a quarter of community tests in the UK.
However, leaked documents marked “sensitive” reveal that it regularly fails to provide test results within the official 24-hour target. On September 9, Randox completed fewer than one in 10 tests on time. It has also “voided” more tests than any laboratory — meaning the number it throws away because of errors.
- The NHS has not resumed anything like normal service. But the predicted Covid deluge never materialised.
- Current Covid death toll of 41,628 is barely half the total fatalities of the 1968 flu epidemic in the UK.
- Hospital admissions for cancer were down by 36 per cent in April and another 37 per cent in May.
- The State has wildly over-reacted, partly as a result of being in thrall to scientists such as Professor Neil Ferguson with unproven theories and dubious modelling.
- More than 1,600 people die in Britain every day, yet, despite the Government’s scaremongering, the coronavirus daily death toll has been in single or low double figures for weeks.
- The ‘rule of six’ has no scientific evidence to back it up, and may well end up having major social consequences.
- Increased activity at the end of summer leads to an increase in acute respiratory infections, as it does every year.
- Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence Based Medicine: no scientific evidence on the effects of measures such as distancing on respiratory viral spread. No study pointing to the number six. If it’s made up, why not five or seven?
- Admissions for Covid, critical care bed occupancies and deaths are now at an all-time low.
- There are currently 600 patients in hospital with Covid compared to over 17,000 at the height of the epidemic. An average of ten patients a day die with Covid registered on their death certificate, compared to over 1,000 at the peak.
- Shift in focus away from the impact of the disease is a worrying development.
- Severity of the pandemic was monitored by numbers of cases, numbers of admissions, and deaths. All three measures are open to misinterpretation if their definitions are not standardised.
- Cases are being over-diagnosed by a test that can pick up dead viral load.
- Hospital admissions are subjective decisions made by physicians which can vary from hospital to hospital.
- Even deaths have been misattributed.
- Cases will rise, as they will in winter for all acute respiratory pathogens, but this will not necessarily translate into excess deaths.
- Models ignore the vast expertise of our clinicians and public health experts who could provide a more robust approach based on their real-world healthcare experiences.
- The current Cabinet is inexperienced:
- the Health Secretary has been in post for just over two years now;
- the PM and the Chief Medical Officer a year;
- The Joint Biosecurity Centre is overseen by a senior spy who monitors the spread of coronavirus and suppresses new outbreaks;
- New chair of the National Institute for Health Protection who has little or no background in healthcare.
- The recognised alert threshold for ‘regular’ acute respiratory infections is 400 cases per 100,000.
- Britain’s mental health has deteriorated. During lockdown, a fifth of vulnerable people considered self-harming, routine healthcare came to a standstill, operations were cancelled, and cancer care put on hold.
- The most glaring initial blunder was not observing what was going on in other European nations and learning from their mistakes.
- Life should return to as close as possible to normality.
Taxpayer money was used to pay social media influencers and reality TV stars to promote the NHS Test and Trace system, the government has admitted.
The Mirror cited a social media expert as saying the influencers would usually be paid between £5,000 and £10,000 for an ad post.
The NHS has a “hidden waiting list” of 15.3 million patients who need follow-up appointments for health problems, according to the first analysis of its kind.
The official waiting list, which stands at 3.9 million, shows how many patients are yet to have their first hospital appointment after a GP referral.
However, the total number who are on hospital books in England and need appointments is not collated centrally. A new calculation, based on freedom of information requests to NHS trusts and seen by The Times, puts the figure at 15.3 million.
Although the official waiting list, after initial referral by a GP, has remained at a fairly stable level throughout the pandemic, this has been mainly driven by fewer patients joining it.
LOCKDOWN will come to be seen as a “monumental mistake on a global scale” and must never happen again, a scientist who advises the Government on infectious diseases says.
Mark Woolhouse said lockdown was a “panic measure” but admitted it was the only option at the time because “we couldn’t think of anything better to do”.
But it is a crude measure that takes no accounts of the risk levels to different individuals, the University of Edinburgh professor said, meaning that back in March the nation was “concentrating on schools when we should have been concentrating on care homes”.
Scores of MPs and former ministers have urged the prime minister to tackle a backlog in NHS cancer care that threatens to lead to thousands of early deaths over the next decade.
One senior oncologist has claimed that in a worst-case scenario the effects of the pandemic could result in 30,000 excess cancer deaths over the next decade.
We have consistently (and I’d say flagrantly) over-estimated the threat of Covid-19, starting with the absurd prediction of 500,000 deaths by Imperial College London’s Professor Neil Ferguson. Data experts who later reviewed the computer code used in the professor’s model described it as “a mess which would get you fired in private industry”…
The trashing of the economy, the worst recession in our history, avoidable deaths at home with people too frightened to go to hospital for fear of catching the virus, chaos in education, the explosion in domestic violence, steep rises in anxiety, depression, and heavy drinking?
No. Lockdown will come to be seen as one of the most catastrophic misjudgments a British government has ever made.
The Imperial College study published this morning claiming that 3.4 million people ( six per cent of the UK population) have antibodies indicating that they have been exposed to Covid-19 provides no great revelation. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has already published similar figures suggesting that 6.5 per cent of the population has been infected. Nevertheless, it is yet more confirmation of how irrelevant are the official statistics for Covid 19 cases – and what a nonsense it is to rely on them for policymaking.
According to the Government’s Covid “dashboard”, updated at 4pm on Wednesday, 313,798 people in Britain have had the disease. This is less than one tenth of the number suggested by the Imperial study. In other words, for all Matt Hancock’s efforts to ramp up testing, the vast majority of cases have not been detected.
- The government is purporting to engage with ‘The Science’, but it is also engaging in psychological operations.
- But a side-effect of compelling people to wear masks is that some may decide it is all too stupid, and they are not going to go to the shops until this idiocy is over.
- But a side-effect of compelling people to wear masks is that some may decide it is all too stupid, and they are not going to go to the shops until this idiocy is over.
- The science on masks is very weak. The claim is that you might spread Covid-19 without knowing, if you have it asymptomatically.
- Firstly, asymptomatic Covid-19 spreading around is good because it reduces the virulence of the virus.
- Secondly, the idea that masks stop the spread is not only totally unproven, but also facile. It is a failure of imagination.
- When a droplet hits a mask, it will dry out within seconds or, at most, minutes. If there is any substance to the droplet other than water, it will turn into a dust particle. Unless you superglue the mask to your face, there will be a constant rain of dust particles coming out from all directions around your mask as you breathe. They will be breathed in by others and the virus will do what it does.
- There seems to have been no assessment whatsoever of the effects of lockdown before we entered it. That violates a key principle of medicine: first, do no harm.
- There is a term in medicine for taking action without that knowledge: negligence. The government was negligent in putting us into lockdown with no assessment of what that would do.
- The most common symptoms of Covid-19 are not fever, cough, headache and respiratory symptoms – they are no symptoms at all, and around 99 per cent of those who catch this virus recover.
- The government painted itself into a corner very quickly. It doesn’t know how to get out of that corner apart from by acting out the scenario that it came up with in the first place, which is why, months after we could have abolished all these restrictions and got back to normal, we are going through more months of public virtue-signalling and ritualistic behaviour.
- The WHO is not fit for purpose and whose performance has been lamentable
- The WHO said there were no asymptomatic cases of Covid-19. Now, it is reckoned probably about 90 per cent of people who get Covid-19 are asymptomatic. That is a big change in viewpoint.
- Broadcasters have done a woeful job of presenting balance on this, and have not allowed views contrary to the mainstream narrative to reach the public.
- I also fear too many people are compliant, and complacent in thinking the government knows what it’s doing.
- This episode is showing us that personal freedom must not be taken for granted.
Lockdowns may reduce the peak of transmission and recovery rates but not the number of critical cases or overall mortality.
Lastly, government actions such as border closures, full lockdowns, and a high rate of COVID-19 testing were not associated with statistically significant reductions in the number of critical cases or overall mortality.
…full lockdowns and early border closures may lessen the peak of transmission, and thus prevent health system overcapacity, which would facilitate increased recovery rates.
The final Prime Minister’s Questions of the parliamentary session was played out before a smattering of MPs in the Commons, a depressingly familiar sight throughout the pandemic emergency. The legislature has been endeavouring to work within the constraints imposed by social distancing but its focus has been on piecemeal issues, not the bigger picture.
The most severe curtailment of civil liberties in peacetime went through parliament without a vote weeks after the laws had already taken effect. There will be no vote either on the extension of public health laws to require the wearing of face coverings in shops from tomorrow. The regulations will only be published today when the House will not be sitting. It is hard to believe that a Government diktat enforcing the wearing of masks is to take effect with nary a peep from parliament.