THE Government has been accused of over-relying on pandemic modelling and risking “catastrophe by computer”. Last week Boris Johnson published a cautious ‘roadmap‘ to normality after scientists warned him there could be 91,000 extra deaths if he scrapped curbs completely at the end of April.
These figures were based on Imperial College modelling that has since been challenged by Mark Harper, deputy chair of the Covid Recovery Group of MPs. He argued the model did not account for key factors shown to change the course of the pandemic such as the most up to date evidence on the protective effect of the vaccines as well as the “seasonal effect” as the country moves into summer. Modelling has driven much of the pandemic response. The initial reaction in the UK, the US and other European countries was shaped by the dramatic headlines in March last year, suggesting 550,000 deaths in the UK and 2.2 million in the US if mitigation measures were not put in place.
But this logic is faulty. For a start, children are almost entirely unaffected by the virus. And anyway, why should the country be held hostage because one-fifth of the population decline to protect themselves?
…Regrettably, we may unintentionally have encouraged more serious variants with lockdowns instead of allowing milder variants to circulate and ultimately prevail.
The science behind fighting Covid is difficult, and politicians need all the help they can get to interpret it correctly. Sadly, Mr Johnson has repeatedly retreated to his comfort redoubt of a handful of key advisers who seem wilfully blind to the fact that their recommendations are tearing apart the fabric of our society.
Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is a major threat, not only to countries whose economies rely on agricultural exports, but also to industrialised countries that maintain a healthy domestic livestock industry by eliminating major infectious diseases from their livestock populations. Traditional methods of controlling diseases such as FMD require the rapid detection and slaughter of infected animals, and any susceptible animals with which they may have been in contact, either directly or indirectly. During the 2001 epidemic of FMD in the United Kingdom (UK), this approach was supplemented by a culling policy driven by unvalidated predictive models. The epidemic and its control resulted in the death of approximately ten million animals, public disgust with the magnitude of the slaughter, and political resolve to adopt alternative options, notably including vaccination, to control any future epidemics. The UK experience provides a salutary warning of how models can be abused in the interests of scientiﬁc opportunism.
Despite the success of the vaccine programme, which will see all vulnerable people protected against Covid-19 in a month, it seems lockdown will largely continue until July.
Restaurants and churches possibly still closed. Travel impossible. Families forbidden to mingle indoors. The Treasury still borrowing billions to keep people on furlough. This is draining the health of our population and our economy.
Anyone would be justified in demanding to know what the past year’s sacrifices have been for, if not to end lockdown as soon as possible.
How can the Government fail to set free the country — particularly after the stellar vaccination campaign?
EXPERTS have called for urgent action to protect children from the harm of lockdown, saying youngsters are being used in “an unethical mass experiment” and warning we are on the brink of a “national emergency”.
They are urging the Government to take urgent steps to examine and address the collateral damage that has been caused to children from issues such as school closures, lockdowns and social isolation as a result of the pandemic. One specialist is calling for a task force to be launched immediately and to remain in place for10 years, which would include experts in child abuse and neglect, childhood depression, suicide and anxiety, as well as physical, educational and developmental health.
As with so many of the Government’s Covid-19 measures, the ten-year jail sentence is important mainly for what it tells us about the mentality of the decision-makers. Laws like these can only be justified on the footing that nothing matters except keeping infections down.
They are the work of people who think that there is no limit to the human misery, oppressive cruelty, economic damage or injustice that we must put up with if it reduces infections.
But then Ministers discarded a decade of planning in a few hours and embarked on a sinister and untried experiment with the lives of millions. They ordered a national lockdown which was both coercive and indiscriminate.
That decision, I believe, was nothing to do with the science. They were panicked to act by seeing recently ordered lockdowns in Italy, France and Spain, following the lead of totalitarian China. Ministers seemed convinced that the public would blame them if they failed to do what other nations were doing.
Trapped in lockdown between the two extremes of Coronavirus deniers and lockdown orthodoxy, Nye is intrigued by Sweden’s approach: no lockdown, no school closures, no masks. She manages to secure an exclusive interview with Chief Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, whose steely resolve not to buckle under world mainstream media pressure means – among other things, tango dancing is allowed in Stockholm!
Claudia Nye is a BAFTA nominated filmmaker. Brought back to documentaries for the sake of the future of her children, Nye travels from UK to Sweden to learn about their unique Covid-19 strategy.
She is also a qualified Relationship Counsellor, which she’s been practicing over the past ten years. She travelled to Stockholm with photo-journalist Sean Spencer and together they made this documentary
Life after coronavirus will not feel like life before. It is best that governments acknowledge that and start planning now in order to capture the best that can come out of a very tough period while not raising expectations that life will suddenly snap back to an almost forgotten normal.
A group of 47 psychologists has claimed this amounts to a strategic decision “to inflate the fear levels of the British public”, which it states is “ethically murky” and has left people too afraid to leave their homes for medical appointments. Led by former NHS consultant psychologist Dr Gary Sidley, the experts have written to the British Psychological Society (BPS) claiming the strategy is “morally questionable.”
Secret talks covered vaccines and mass testing
Tony Blair has been advising health secretary Matt Hancock on coronavirus pandemic strategy, it has emerged.
The former Labour prime minister has reportedly privately offered strategic advice to the government a number of times during the course of the outbreak.
Topics touched on by the ex-Labour leader are said to include vaccine strategy and mass testing, the Sunday Times newspaper reported.
The secret talks are reportedly part of an attempted comeback for the former politician, according to a source familiar with his thinking who spoke to the same newspaper.
Ivor Cummins aka the Fat Emperor – gives James the lowdown on why you can’t trust anything our governments tell us about Covid-19. If you want the facts on Coronavirus – how deadly is it? do lockdowns and masks work? how does it compare with previous pandemics? – you’ve come to the right place
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The unprecedented measures of universal lockdowns, tight institutional lockdowns of care homes, universal masking of the general population, obsession with surfaces and hands, and the accelerated vaccine deployment are contrary to known science, and contrary to recent leading studies. There has been government recklessness by action and negligence by omission. Institutional measures have been needed for a long time to stem corruption in both medicine and public health policy.
Lockdowns cannot eradicate the disease or protect the public. Indeed, Matt Hancock nearly said as much this week. They lead to only economic meltdown, social despair and direct harms to health from other causes.
In fact, lockdowns may be worse than just useless. There is some science to suggest – perhaps ironically – they actually drive the disease to spread more easily.
This danger lies in the evolutionary nature of the coronavirus. Like all viruses it mutates all the time. More than 20,000 variants of the Covid-19 virus have already been identified, which is why it is so wrong of the Government to whip up hysteria over two new strains, a reportedly more infectious strain in the South East of the UK and a ‘South African’ strain.
This hunger games scenario of a middle-aged, potentially pre-infected and already immune health secretary taking a nominal, rushed, improperly trialled novel-technology vaccine after the pandemic has already passed on live TV is as unethical and obscene as any of the propaganda we have been subjected to. What have we become? If it happens, the supposed vaccinator, the TV station, the secretary of state, and the vaccine company should all be roundly condemned. It proves nothing and risks everything. Obnoxious and dangerous as he is, he hasn’t a clue what might happen to him. He is still that sacred thing: somebody’s patient. A power-crazed, ignorant man for whom the mantras “whatever it takes” and the “end justifies the means” are dear, offering himself for a macabre, televised ritual sacrifice fit for the Incas to appease his political masters. It is truly grotesque. There is no medical reason for him to have these chemicals.
- The ‘new strain’ of coronavirus that put London into Tier 4 was down to more computer modelling from Neil Ferguson.
- The government deliberately resorted to fear.
- The damage done to our standing in the world is permanent.
- The government is doing something it should not do and has no justification.
- The whole notion of the mutant strain is completely constructed.
- NERVTAG is full of psychologists who are experts in frightening people.
- If you don’t get angry, this will never go away.
- There is no evidence that this new variant is any more infection that the old one.
- Historically medical beliefs are often wrong.
- Fighting this thing is probably the most important thing we’ve ever done in our lives.
By plunging London into a Tier Three lockdown, the Government is going to do terrible harm to the city, the entire national economy, and to millions of lives.
No one can predict the number of people who will lose jobs, suffer poor mental health or who will have life-saving operations postponed until too late.
All we can say with any certainty is that all these things will happen, and not to a few isolated people. The harms caused by these new restrictions, like those caused by the previous over-reactions, will be immense.
- The Government is withholding much of the information we need to draw our own conclusions about better ways to handle the crisis.
- The weekly average number of Covid deaths in the capital is just over a tenth of what it was at its peak in April.
- Weekly average Covid admissions to London’s hospitals are a quarter of what were in the spring.
- The [UK Government’s] obsession with secrecy is not intended to hide the facts from enemy agents but from us, the general public.
- This disease is not like Spanish flu, or the plague. It does not sweep away young and old indiscriminately. In fact, many younger people – now more likely to catch Covid – will have it without even being aware. They will be infected but not affected.
- The average age of people dying with a Covid infection is 82 years and four months – 14 months more than the average life expectancy in Britain.
- In November the total number of deaths in London was very little different to the average over the past five years.
- Covid is a respiratory virus that spreads on the wind. Just look at the leaves blowing around – that’s what viral particles do when we walk past each other.
- Cloth or woven paper masks are no barrier to this tiny virus either, as shown by the world’s only controlled study, from Denmark, which found that they only made a small, ‘non-statistically-significant’ difference.
Little is known about the interests of the doctors, scientists, and academics on whose advice the UK government relies to manage the pandemic. Attempts to discover more are frequently thwarted, finds Paul D Thacker.