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Publications

Non-Covid Excess Deaths, 2020-21: Collateral Damage of Policy Choices – The National Bureau of Economic Research

From April 2020 through at least the end of 2021, Americans died from non-Covid causes at an average annual rate 97,000 in excess of previous trends. Hypertension and heart disease deaths combined were elevated 32,000. Diabetes or obesity, drug-induced causes, and alcohol-induced causes were each elevated 12,000 to 15,000 above previous (upward) trends. Drug deaths especially followed an alarming trend, only to significantly exceed it during the pandemic to reach 108,000 for calendar year 2021. Homicide and motor-vehicle fatalities combined were elevated almost 10,000. Various other causes combined to add 18,000. While Covid deaths overwhelmingly afflict senior citizens, absolute numbers of non-Covid excess deaths are similar for each of the 18-44, 45-64, and over-65 age groups, with essentially no aggregate excess deaths of children. Mortality from all causes during the pandemic was elevated 26 percent for working-age adults (18-64), as compared to 18 percent for the elderly. Other data on drug addictions, non-fatal shootings, weight gain, and cancer screenings point to a historic, yet largely unacknowledged, health emergency.

https://www.nber.org/papers/w30104

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News

Our failure to protect care homes was the original sin of lockdown – The Telegraph

We now know, from bitter experience, that community-wide interventions did very little to alter the natural course of the pandemic and served only to delay the inevitable in countries such as China (once hailed as a paragon of infection control) where it was possible to seal the borders at the outset. Even a cursory acquaintance with epidemiological theory would tell you that the likelihood of interrupting the spread of an epidemic through restrictions on movement is vanishingly small.  

http://archive.today/2022.04.29-173710/https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/04/29/failure-protect-care-homes-original-sin-lockdown/

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News

Imperial College’s Fear Machine – National Review

Imperial College’s death estimates over the years have some things in common: flawed modeling, hair-raising predictions of disaster that missed the mark, and no lessons learned.

The defining event in the history of Western Covid lockdowns occurred on March 16, 2020, with the publication of the now infamous Imperial College London Covid report, which predicted that in the “absence of any control measures or spontaneous changes in individual behaviour,” there would be 510,000 Covid deaths in Great Britain and 2.2 million in the United States. This prediction sent shock waves around the world. The next day, the U.K. media announced that the country was going into lockdown.

https://web.archive.org/web/20220331073807/https://www.nationalreview.com/2022/03/imperial-colleges-fear-machine/

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News

Goodbye, Coronavirus Act. We won’t miss you, blasts STEVE BAKER MP – The Express

Over the past two years, we have seen pensioners penalised for drinking cups of tea a bit too close to each other in their gardens, women fined for going for a walk in a reservoir slightly too far away from their homes, and we’ve seen more than 300 people charged by the police for being ‘potentially infectious’. Children were unable to visit their grandparents at care homes to share their last moments together. Families were separated from spending festive and religious periods together. I could go on. While the Government used the Public Health Act 1984 to implement many of the lockdown restrictions, the Coronavirus Act gave the Government similar extreme authoritarian powers.

From the very beginning of the pandemic, a public health emergency has been used to push through laws that bite at the very liberties we are so proud of here in the UK. I consistently warned against the risk to our civil liberties arising from the reams of guidance and regulations issued by the Government over the past two years and the powers in the Coronavirus Act.

https://web.archive.org/web/20220326192630/https://www.express.co.uk/comment/expresscomment/1586796/coronavirus-act-britain-pandemic-steve-baker

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News

Why more and more experts say lockdown didn’t prevent people dying of Covid – and call it a ‘monumental mistake on a global scale’ – The Mail on Sunday

Speaking this week on The Mail on Sunday’s Medical Minefield podcast, Prof Woolhouse said: ‘I think that lockdown will be viewed by history as a monumental mistake on a global scale, for a number of reasons.

‘The obvious one is the immense harm the lockdown, more than any other measure, did in terms of the economy, mental health and on the wellbeing of society. 

…[A study published in Science in February 2021] also found something intriguing: lockdowns could, in a worst-case scenario, actually increase transmission of the virus by up to five per cent.

…As Dr Ali puts it: ‘Some people say lockdowns were beneficial, others that they were really terrible. 

‘The reality actually is much closer to the idea that it didn’t make much difference either way.’

For those who made painful sacrifices, that won’t be an easy truth to swallow.

https://web.archive.org/web/20220326223327/https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-10655171/Englands-lockdown-did-NOT-prevent-people-dying-Covid-say-growing-number-experts.html

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Opinion

The stupidity of lockdown revealed society’s nihilism – The Critic

When I sat down to write a piece reflecting on the second anniversary of the March 2020 lockdown, I initially thought it would be about what the past two years have taught us about law, civil liberties, and the state. Instead, I’d like to talk about the thing that has occupied my mind most ever since Boris’s famous press conference shortly before the “lockdown” was given legal effect: namely, the nihilism of modern life. This is illustrated perfectly by the way in which the interests of children were treated during the pandemic.

https://web.archive.org/web/20220323115415/https://thecritic.co.uk/the-stupidity-of-lockdown-revealed-societys-nihilism/

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News

Did flawed PCR tests convince us Covid was worse than it really was? Britain’s entire response was based on results – but one scientist says they should have been axed a year ago – Daily Mail

It has been one of the most enduring Covid conspiracy theories: that the ‘gold standard’ PCR tests used to diagnose the virus were picking up people who weren’t actually infected.

…But could they have been right all along?

http://archive.today/2022.03.20-013219/https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-10606107/Did-flawed-tests-convince-Covid-worse-really-was.html

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News

Did flawed PCR tests convince us Covid was worse than it really was? Britain’s entire response was based on results – but one scientist says they should have been axed a year ago – Mail on Sunday

It has been one of the most enduring Covid conspiracy theories: that the ‘gold standard’ PCR tests used to diagnose the virus were picking up people who weren’t actually infected.

Some even suggested the swabs, which have been carried out more than 200 million times in the UK alone, may mistake common colds and flu for corona.

If either, or both, were true, it would mean many of these cases should never have been counted in the daily tally – that the ominous and all-too-familiar figure, which was used to inform decisions on lockdowns and other pandemic measures, was an over-count.

And many of those who were ‘pinged’ and forced to isolate as a contact of someone who tested positive – causing a huge strain on the economy – did so unnecessarily.

Such statements, it must be said, have been roundly dismissed by top experts. And those scientists willing to give credence such concerns have been shouted down on social media, accused of being ‘Covid-deniers’, and even sidelined by colleagues.

But could they have been right all along?

https://web.archive.org/web/20220312223855/https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-10606107/Did-flawed-tests-convince-Covid-worse-really-was.html

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News

Britain’s Covid death rate compared with rest of world is not as bad as feared – The Telegraph

Britain’s Covid pandemic death rate is much better than previously thought compared with the rest of the world, a Lancet study has shown.

Research by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in the US calculated the excess death rates for 191 countries and territories and found that the UK is now roughly in the middle at 102.

Previously, countries have been judged by death rates alone, which would place Britain at 168 – the 24th worst in the world. Critics of the Government’s pandemic response have often cited this figure as justification for calling for tougher Covid restrictions. 

But Britain was found to have an excess death rate of 126.8 per 100,000, very close to France – which had 124.4 per 100,000 – and Germany, with 120.5 per 100,000.

Sweden, which did not lock down, was found to have one of the best excess death rates in Europe, with 91.2 per 100,000. Only Finland, Luxembourg and Iceland fared better. 

https://web.archive.org/web/20220310190243/https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/03/10/uk-covid-death-rate-compared-rest-world-isnot-bad-feared/

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News

COVID-19 expert claims he was told to ‘correct his views’ after criticising ‘implausible graph’ shown during official briefing – Sky News

A senior epidemiologist who advised the government during the coronavirus pandemic claims he was told to “correct” his views after he criticised what he thought was an “implausible” graph shown at an official briefing.

Professor Mark Woolhouse has also apologised to his daughter, whose generation “has been so badly served by mine”, and believes that closing schools was “morally wrong”.

The Edinburgh University academic is deeply critical of the use of lockdown measures and says “plain common sense” was a “casualty of the crisis”.

Speaking to Sky News, Prof Woolhouse seemed concerned about a possible “big-brother” approach to the control of information about COVID.

He says he was told to watch what he was saying following a briefing given by Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) Sir Patrick Vallance on 21 September 2020.

https://web.archive.org/web/20220307102955/https://news.sky.com/story/covid-19-expert-claims-he-was-told-to-correct-his-views-after-criticising-implausible-graph-shown-during-official-briefing-12555800

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News

Britain’s Covid experts ‘misled with alarming models and abandoned objectivity’ – The Telegraph

Scientists abandoned their objectivity, misled with alarming models and failed to appreciate the damage lockdown would cause, a government adviser has claimed in a damning indictment of Britain’s pandemic response.

In his memoir, The Year The World Went Mad, Prof Woolhouse claimed that lockdowns “had surprisingly little effect” and just “deferred the problem to another day, at great cost”.

He argued that Spi-M was set up to tackle the wrong disease, influenza, and that early models were based on flu dynamics, and so mistakenly thought schools were a major driver while underrepresenting the impact of shielding.

https://web.archive.org/web/20220305142940/https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/03/05/britains-covid-experts-misled-alarming-models-abandoned-objectivity/

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News

Sweden’s no lockdown policy WAS right and countries that enforced them had ‘significantly worse outcomes’, report by its government finds – Daily Mail

Sweden made the correct decision by avoiding a full Covid-19 lockdown and relying on their population’s common sense, a commission into the handling of the virus has claimed.

Despite praising keeping the country open, the commission said some restrictions should have been introduced earlier.

Swedish experts said repeated lockdowns in other European countries were neither ‘necessary’ nor ‘defensible’. 

http://archive.today/2022.02.26-133215/https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10553853/Sweden-correct-avoid-Covid-19-lockdown-report-claims.html

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News

Covid modelling that prompted first UK lockdown based on ‘inaccurate’ case numbers – The Telegraph

Scientists did not have accurate Covid case numbers, and were unsure of hospitalisation and death rates when they published models suggesting that more than 500,000 people could die if Britain took no action in the first wave of the pandemic, it has emerged.

On March 16 2020, Imperial College published its “Report 9” paper suggesting that failing to take action could overwhelm the NHS within weeks and result in hundreds of thousands of deaths.

Before the paper, the UK coronavirus strategy was to flatten the peak rather than suppress the wave, but after the modelling was made public, the Government made a rapid u-turn, which eventually led to lockdown on March 23.

However SPI-M (Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling) minutes released to the Telegraph under a Freedom of Information request show that by March 16, modellers were still “uncertain” of case numbers “due to data limitations”.

The minutes show that members were waiting for comprehensive mortality data from Public Health England (PHE) and said that current best estimates for the infection fatality rate, hospitalisation rates, and the number of people needing intensive care were still uncertain.

They also believed that modelling only showed “proof of concept” that lockdowns could help, and warned that “further work would be required”.

https://web.archive.org/web/20220226190045/https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/02/26/covid-modelling-prompted-first-uk-lockdown-based-inaccurate/

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News

How scientific ‘groupthink’ silenced those who disagreed with Covid lockdowns – The Telegraph

“Following the science” became a mainstay mantra of the pandemic, frequently trotted-out to justify unpalatable policy decisions such as banning hugging or denying fathers the right to attend the birth of a child.

Yet as Britain’s epidemic begins to fade away, it is becoming increasingly clear that many influential scientists were ignored, ridiculed and shunned for expressing moderate views that the virus could be managed in a way which would cause far less collateral damage.

Instead, a narrow scientific “groupthink” emerged, which sought to cast those questioning draconian policies as unethical, immoral and fringe. That smokescreen is finally starting to dissipate.

https://web.archive.org/web/20220226190050/https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/02/26/scientific-groupthink-silenced-disagreed-covid-lockdowns/

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News

MGH Study: Pandemic Lockdown May Be Linked to Brain Inflammation – NBC Boston

COVID-19 lockdowns may have triggered brain inflammation even in people who didn’t get infecting with the virus, research from Massachusetts General Hospital shows.

The societal and lifestyle disruptions caused by the pandemic may have triggered inflammation in the brain that can affect mental health, according to the study. The impacts manifest as symptoms including fatigue, brain fog and mental distress.

Scientists looked at brain imaging, behavioral tests and blood samples from 57 people before and 15 people after stay-at-home measures were in place.

http://archive.today/2022.02.25-121805/https://www.nbcboston.com/news/local/mgh-study-pandemic-lockdown-may-be-linked-to-brain-inflammation/2652114/

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News Opinion

Covid made the world go mad – Here’s what we know now about the year of lockdown – The Telegraph

“We knew from February [2020], never mind March, that the lockdown would not solve the problem. It would simply delay it,” Woolhouse says, a note of enduring disbelief in his voice. And yet in government, “there was no attention paid to that rather obvious drawback of the strategy”.

Instead, lockdowns – which “only made sense in the context of eradication” – became the tool of choice to control Covid. The die was cast in China, which instituted ultra-strict measures and, unforgivably in Woolhouse’s book, was praised by the World Health Organisation for its “bold approach”. “The WHO,” he suggests, “got the biggest calls completely wrong in 2020. The early global response to the pandemic was woefully inadequate.”

http://archive.today/2022.02.20-070634/https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/02/20/covid-made-world-go-mad-know-now-year-lockdown/

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Publications

Estimated impact of the 2020 economic downturn on under-5 mortality for 129 countries – PLOS ONE

In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), economic downturns can lead to increased child mortality by affecting dietary, environmental, and care-seeking factors. This study estimates the potential loss of life in children under five years old attributable to economic downturns in 2020. We used a multi-level, mixed effects model to estimate the relationship between gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and under-5 mortality rates (U5MRs) specific to each of 129 LMICs. Public data were retrieved from the World Bank World Development Indicators database and the United Nations World Populations Prospects estimates for the years 1990-2020. Country-specific regression coefficients on the relationship between child mortality and GDP were used to estimate the impact on U5MR of reductions in GDP per capita of 5%, 10%, and 15%. A 5% reduction in GDP per capita in 2020 was estimated to cause an additional 282,996 deaths in children under 5 in 2020. At 10% and 15%, recessions led to higher losses of under-5 lives, increasing to 585,802 and 911,026 additional deaths, respectively. Nearly half of all the potential under-5 lives lost in LMICs were estimated to occur in Sub-Saharan Africa. Because most of these deaths will likely be due to nutrition and environmental factors amenable to intervention, countries should ensure continued investments in food supplementation, growth monitoring, and comprehensive primary health care to mitigate potential burdens.

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0263245

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Videos

Song 4 theTruckers – Nancie Amethyst

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News

Storm Eunice live: Cobra to meet as millions urged to stay home amid Met Office red ‘danger to life’ warning – The Guardian

Government’s Cobra emergency committee to meet

The government’s emergency response committee Cobra will meet this afternoon to discuss the response to Storm Eunice, No 10 has confirmed.

The Home Office minister Damian Hinds said the military was being readied to help if required. He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain:

Cobra have been convened about making sure the readiness is in place for this storm. Obviously it comes right on the back of Storm Dudley.

“We have had to learn a lot of lessons from previous events like Storm Arwen and others.

“There are troops as you know at readiness if needed, if military assistance is called for, the Environment Agency are of course on the ground, the network operators themselves are also in readiness.”

http://archive.today/2022.02.18-101152/https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/live/2022/feb/18/storm-eunice-london-added-to-red-weather-warning-as-met-office-urges-millions-to-stay-indoors-live-news-updates

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News Opinion

The expert bias toward Covid catastrophe has been exposed – The Telegraph

The World Health Organization amplified false Chinese statements about COVID-19 initially, while it dragging its feet on declaring an international emergency. Pandemic experts here clung to flu epidemic plans too, ignoring observable COVID-19 successes in East Asia and so ruling out any similar possibility of test-and-trace containment in the UK from the off.

Most public health experts then pivoted to being extremely pro-lockdown, but stuck rigidly to this even as the context, and so the costs and benefits of restrictions, changed with the vaccines and omicron.

Epidemiologists proved especially stubborn. Their modelling usually ignored the role of voluntary behavioural change entirely, so erred on the side of assuming catastrophic public health outcomes absent government mandates and restrictions. Hence, Freedom Day was dubbed “criminal” by scientists, while the government’s scientific advisers called for more restrictions last Christmas. Both proved wrong in retrospect.  

http://archive.today/2022.02.15-191444/https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2022/02/15/expert-bias-toward-covid-catastrophe-has-exposed/