Two years into the pandemic, the experts are now the last to acknowledge the accuracy of their earlier predictions. This raises the question of why they changed course and sacrificed their own credibility in the process. Miller confines himself to the data, and if there’s a limitation to his book, it’s that he does not offer any compelling explanation of why the expert class threw itself a policy it once regarded as worse than useless.
It is not difficult to see why mask mandates proved irresistible to politicians. Masks are the perfect form of hygiene theatre, conveying an intuitive sense of safety regardless of demonstrable efficacy at scale. They also offload responsibility for controlling the pandemic to ordinary people. The overcrowding of ICUs can be blamed on the bad behavior of “anti-maskers”, rather than on the allocation of resources by governments and hospital CEOs. When cases and deaths spike, it is the fault of the citizenry, not the leadership.
The scientific and medical establishment’s uncritical support of masks and other dubious policies is just the latest manifestation of its lack of independence from political imperatives. After several years of finding themselves at the receiving end of rhetorical assaults from rising Right-wing populists, the experts seized on the pandemic as an opportunity to reassert their own status and authority — and that of the liberal-technocratic politicians with whom they are largely aligned.
Medical regulators must crack down on unvaccinated staff, the health secretary has said as he tries to deal with the fallout from abandoning compulsory jabs.
Sajid Javid has rebuked regulators and demanded that they send a “clear message” to healthcare workers that they must get a coronavirus vaccine.
The NHS has wasted around £13million after hundreds of beds meant for the Nightingale hospitals are unable to be used for patients in other wards. The temporary Nightingale hospitals were built across the country to tackle waves of Covid-19, including at a site in London.
The huge loss was documented last week in NHS England’s annual accounts, with the health service claiming that the beds can’t given to other departments as they don’t meet the required standard. Some of the millions of pounds written off include paying for storing the beds.
The consequences of this unprecedented state-sanctioned campaign have been visible everywhere: from the old lady in the street, paralysed with fear of contamination from another human, darting into the road to avoid someone walking the other way, to the neighbour donning a face covering and plastic gloves to wheel the dustbin to the end of her drive. These kinds of incidents are the product of an intensive messaging campaign, designed by the government’s behavioural scientists, to ‘nudge’ us into compliance with the Covid-19 restrictions and the subsequent vaccine rollout.
The Government last month signalled its intention to scrap the legal requirement for infected people to self-isolate on March 24, and yesterday it was claimed that it will stop releasing daily Covid updates in April.
…The truth is that the advent of the highly infectious (although markedly milder) Omicron variant has changed everything.
Last week the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) – the proportion of infected people who died of Covid – was hovering at around 0.95 per cent.
That is way below the 15 per cent recorded when the death rate was at its peak in May 2020 when testing was minimal.
And since Monday, when the Office For National Statistics included ‘reinfections’ – people who have contracted the virus more than once – on its daily Covid dashboard for the first time, the CFR has plummeted still further.
With the addition of hundreds of thousands of cases to the weekly total, by Tuesday the CFR had fallen to 0.19 per cent, a percentage akin to that of flu, an illness which currently has a fatality rate of between 0.1 and 0.2 per cent.
The average age of death from Covid, meanwhile, remains at the pre-pandemic 82, with data from the US showing that 75 per cent of people who die with Covid have no fewer than four underlying serious conditions.
This systematic review and meta-analysis are designed to determine whether there is empirical evidence to support the belief that “lockdowns” reduce COVID-19 mortality. Lockdowns are defined as the imposition of at least one compulsory, non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPI). NPIs are any government mandate that directly restrict peoples’ possibilities, such as policies that limit internal movement, close schools and businesses, and ban international travel. This study employed a systematic search and screening procedure in which 18,590 studies are identified that could potentially address the belief posed. After three levels of screening, 34 studies ultimately qualified. Of those 34 eligible studies, 24 qualified for inclusion in the meta-analysis. They were separated into three groups: lockdown stringency index studies, shelter-in-placeorder (SIPO) studies, and specific NPI studies. An analysis of each of these three groups support the conclusion that lockdowns have had little to no effect on COVID-19 mortality. More specifically, stringency index studies find that lockdowns in Europe and the United States only reduced COVID-19 mortality by 0.2% on average. SIPOs were also ineffective, only reducing COVID-19 mortality by 2.9% on average. Specific NPI studies also find no broad-based evidence of noticeable effects on COVID-19 mortality.
While this meta-analysis concludes that lockdowns have had little to no public health effects, they have imposed enormous economic and social costs where they have been adopted. In consequence, lockdown policies are ill-founded and should be rejected as a pandemic policy instrument.
The original coronavirus lockdowns had ‘little to no’ effect on pandemic death tolls in the US, UK and Europe, a controversial report suggests.
Economists who carried out a meta-analysis found draconian restrictions imposed in spring 2020 — including stay-at-home orders, compulsory masks and social distancing — only reduced Covid mortality by 0.2 per cent.
They warned that lockdowns caused ‘enormous economic and social costs’ and concluded they were ‘ill-founded and should be rejected as a pandemic policy instrument’ going forward.
Welcome to Denmark, where Covid is over – again. Yesterday, the Scandinavian nation became the first country in Europe to put an end to all coronavirus-related laws. In the eyes of the Danish government and, crucially, the vast majority of its 5.8m citizens, the virus is no longer deemed a “critical threat to society”. Cases remain high – very high – but the Danes have moved on. Even if you test positive, there is no longer a legal obligation to self-isolate.
In the capital, Copenhagen, there was an atmosphere of cautious relief on Tuesday morning as people crammed into the Metro, onto commuter trains and buses, and into shops without face masks for the first time since November.
Austria’s powerful Constitutional Court has demanded detailed data from the country’s Health Ministry justifying the government’s coronavirus response.
The 14-member court issued 10 sets of questions to the Health Ministry on January 26 in order to prepare for a “possible oral hearing” into a number of complaints it has received against Austria’s Covid-19 measures.
The Government’s “grossly unethical” uses of its “nudge unit” inflated fear among the public during the Covid pandemic, psychologists have said – prompting MPs to launch an investigation into scare adverts.
A group of psychologists have written to Parliament’s Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, warning that a team of civil servants dedicated to “nudging” public behaviour during the pandemic were unaccountable and unethical.
The letter’s 40 professional signatories – led by Dr Gary Sidley, a retired clinical psychologist – said they opposed the use of dramatic adverts, which included slogans such as: “If you go out you can spread it, people will die.”
Ivor Cummins gives an excellent talk on the history of COVID-19 to Irish Nurses and Mother’s Group.
In a blog post, John Lewis group operations director Andrew Murphy told staff – whom it calls partners – across its department stores and Waitrose grocers: ‘We just don’t believe it’s right to create a link between a partner’s vaccination status and the pay they receive.
‘When life increasingly seems to present opportunities to create division – and with hopes rising that the pandemic phase of Covid may be coming to an end – we’re confident that this is the right approach.’
He said John Lewis ‘cast no judgment’ on other businesses and that the pandemic had often left firms with ‘just a choice between a range of unappealing options.’
Doctors are among the health workers least likely to be vaccinated against Covid-19, while fitness instructors, artists and waiters have some of the highest unjabbed rates overall.
New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show vaccination rates by profession at the end of last year. The data provides an early indication of which parts of the NHS and social care workforce could be hardest hit by the compulsory vaccination rule that comes into force in April.
Everything the government has got right on Covid-19 in the past 12 months has happened when it ignored ‘the science’. If the modellers hadn’t made such fools of themselves in the summer and autumn of 2021 they might have been taken more seriously by the government in the winter. As it was, their incompetence had seeded enough doubt in Johnson’s mind for him to resist going beyond ‘Plan B’ despite almost every ‘scenario’ modelled telling him that hospitalisations and deaths from the virus would exceed anything England had ever seen before.
We need to start living with this virus before it wrecks even more young people’s lives, further devastates the economy and continues to pour fuel on the fire of the non-Covid health crisis.
Don’t get me wrong – flu is no joke. Familiarity has meant people assume it’s a runny nose or feeling under the weather, but it’s not.
A bad flu year produces a significant death toll. In the 2017/18 winter, 22,087 flu-associated deaths were recorded in England. The year before it was 15,047. These are over a few months only, so the daily death rate is very high. Those numbers could also be an underestimate as testing for flu is minuscule compared with our Covid effort.
We’re conscious that some businesses have changed their sick pay policy with regard to unvaccinated employees in some Covid related absence scenarios.
At the John Lewis Partnership we’re not going to make any change of this type.
We’re hugely supportive of the UK vaccination programme (we give ‘free’ time off to all Partners to get their vaccination and we’ve provided our Bracknell sports hall to the NHS as a vaccination centre since the very start of the jab roll-out, providing 160,000 jabs). We just don’t believe it’s right to create a link between a Partner’s vaccination status and the pay they receive.
Leadership teams from every business have had to work incredibly hard to navigate the Covid years. There has been no map, guidebook or training programme to help anyone find the best way through. Very often, there’s just a choice between a range of unappealing options.
We cast no judgement on the decisions of any other organisation, in fact we’ve enjoyed how united businesses – retailers especially – have been in the face of these huge corporate and societal challenges. However, when life increasingly seems to present opportunities to create division – and with hopes rising that the pandemic phase of Covid may be coming to an end – we’re confident that this is the right approach for us.
Daily reported Covid death figures are too high because people are dying from conditions unrelated to the virus after testing positive, Sajid Javid has admitted.
On Wednesday, there were 359 deaths reported in Britain, but the Health Secretary said that “many” people were being included in the count who “would not have necessarily died of Covid”.
His comments came after death data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show a large discrepancy in weekly death registrations compared to the figures released on the Government dashboard.
For the week ending Jan 7, the UK Health Security Agency reported 1,282 deaths of people who had died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus.
However, ONS data show there were just 992 death registrations with Covid mentioned on the death certificate in that week.
Boris Johnson has announced the end of all Covid measures introduced to combat the Omicron variant from next week, including compulsory mask-wearing on public transport and in shops, guidance to work from home and vaccine certificates.
Ocado has announced it is cutting sick pay for unvaccinated staff who must self-isolate due to exposure to Covid-19.
According to the BBC, the online grocer will continue to offer full sick pay if unvaccinated workers test positive for the virus but will reduce sick pay for exposure related isolation.
‘I remember 20 May 2020 vividly, I spent hours on the phone to a man who was in the hospital car park, utterly desperate to see his wife. He begged, wept, shouted to be let in, but we said no – for the greater good of everyone else. She died unexpectedly and alone, as the government had a party.’
…We let people die alone. Just think about that. We let desperate, terrified men howl in car parks. We kept husband from wife, wife from husband. We let people give birth alone. We deprived the elderly of visits from their loved ones. We left dementia sufferers to believe, in their rare moments of lucidity, that their sons and daughters and grandchildren had abandoned them. We let people die alone.