New study finds choral society outbreak that sparked panic was misunderstood, with most choristers having been infected outside of rehearsal
The Covid choir ban was based on flawed evidence, scientists have concluded, after showing that a church outbreak early in the pandemic was not caused by a singing super-spreader.
“There are some scientists who have absolutely loved being media stars for the first time and they don’t want to stop. We don’t hear as much from the paediatricians, disease physicians, academic virologists and the immunologists who really know about these things.” (says Professor Allyson Pollock.)
Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, said many prominent Covid voices have never written papers on infectious diseases. “It’s like me deciding, ‘I did a course on health and economics a year ago: maybe I should set up a group advising the chancellor on how to manage the tax system.’”
Britain’s omicron wave may be no worse than a flu pandemic, an expert has said, as the first major study into the new variant suggests it is less severe than delta.
The first real-world study looking at 78,000 omicron cases in South Africa found the risk of hospitalisation is 29 per cent lower compared with the Wuhan strain, and 23 per cent lower than delta, with vaccines holding up well.
Far fewer people have also needed intensive care from omicron, with just five per cent of cases admitted to ICU compared to 22 per cent of delta patients, the study shows.
The ONS antibody studies suggest that nearly half of 16 and 17 year olds have been previously infected. We don’t know the equivalent figure for 12 to fives but it is likely to be similar. That means the vaccine effect relative to all unvaccinated (previously infected and not) will be drastically lower than the figure used in the modelling paper. In turn, even the 15 minutes of prevented lost schooling will be a significant overestimate.
One of the UK’s leading childhood health experts has said there is not enough evidence to support vaccinating children against Covid, and the body that will make the decision on whether to jab under-18s has indicated it will take a cautious approach.
Prof Calum Semple, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said there was “rock-solid data” to show that the risk of severe harm to children from Covid was “incredibly low”.
Professor Robert Dingwall said children may be “better protected by natural immunity generated through infection than by asking them to take the ‘possible’ risk of a vaccine”.
…On Wednesday, Prof Dingwall, a social scientist who sits on a subcommittee of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) as well as on the JCVI, spoke out, saying the “risk/benefit for teenagers must be firmly established” before any decisions were taken.
In a detailed Twitter thread, he said: “Teenagers are at intrinsically low risk from Covid. Vaccines must be exceptionally safe to beat this. Given the low risk of Covid for most teenagers, it is not immoral to think that they may be better protected by natural immunity generated through infection than by asking them to take the possible risk of a vaccine.”
SARS-Cov-2 is a more stable virus than influenza. Trillions of replications have thrown up a handful of variants of concern, clustering around a small set of mutations. These variants are worth monitoring but the vaccines effectively prevent them causing serious illness. There is a theoretical risk of a more dangerous variant but it does not seem more likely than a shift in the influenza virus. If it were to occur, we could now manage it with short-term measures and rapid vaccine modification.
…Vaccination protects the vaccinated. It helps protect others but it means that we take no greater risk in the autumn of 2020 than in the autumn of 2019. Interventions should be proportionate to that – which means that most cannot be justified.
Some are worth retaining, like improved hygiene in public places or greater readiness to stay at home with respiratory symptoms. It is probably a good idea to invest further in the search for effective antiviral therapies. Promoting better population health through diet and exercise is always a good thing. But it is time for a bonfire of face masks and the despatch of lateral flow tests to landfill.
The open letter states that “a good society cannot be created by an obsessive focus on a single cause of ill-health” and states all restrictions should be lifted in June on the final date in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown. Masks should no longer be worn by schoolchildren after May 17, say the scientists – and they warn the damage to society will be too great if the current Covid control measures continue beyond the June roadmap date.
Vaccine passports should also be scrapped along with mass community testing, they say.
Instead, the government should focus on targeted testing, creating better incentives for staying home if ill and basic hygiene measures, such as handwashing and surface cleaning.
Signatories (in alphabetical order)
Professor Ryan Anderson, Translational Science, Medicines Discovery Catapult
Dr Colin Axon, Mechanical Engineering, Brunel University
Professor Anthony Brookes, Genomics and Bioinformatics, University of Leicester
Professor Jackie Cassell, FFPH, Deputy Dean, Brighton and Sussex Medical School
Professor Angus Dalgleish, FRCP, FRCPath, FMedSci, Oncology, St George’s, University of London
Professor Robert Dingwall, FAcSS, HonMFPH, Sociology, Nottingham Trent University
Professor Sunetra Gupta, Theoretical Epidemiology, University of Oxford
Professor Carl Heneghan, MRCGP, Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, University of Oxford
Professor Mike Hulme, Human Geography, University of Cambridge.
Dr John Lee – formerly Pathology, Hull York Medical School
Professor David Livermore, Medical Microbiology, University of East Anglia.
Professor Paul McKeigue Genetic Epidemiology and Statistical Genetics, University of Edinburgh
Professor David Paton, Industrial Economics, University of Nottingham
Emeritus Professor Hugh Pennington, CBE, FRCPath, FRCP (Edin), FMedSci, FRSE, Bacteriology, University of Aberdeen
Dr Gerry Quinn, Biomedical Sciences, University of Ulster
Dr Roland Salmon, MRCGP, FFPH, former Director of the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre (Wales).
Emeritus Professor John Scott, CBE, FRSA, FBA, FAcSS, Sociology, University of Essex
Professor Karol Sikora, FRCR, FRCP, FFPM, Medicine, University of Buckingham
Professor Ellen Townsend, Psychology, University of Nottingham
Dr Chao Wang, Health & Social Care Statistics, Kingston University and St George’s, University of London,
Professor John Watkins, Epidemiology, Cardiff University
Professor Lisa White, Modelling and Epidemiology, University of Oxford.
In a bad year for flu, we can lose 20,000-25,000 people. With a largely vaccinated population, there are likely to be about 30,000 Covid-related deaths over the next 12 months, an average of about 80 deaths every day. This is about half of one per cent of the deaths we would normally expect to happen in that period.
And not all of these will be additional deaths. In many cases, Covid will just substitute for another respiratory infection.
Dr Susan Hopkins, an epidemiologist consultant in infectious diseases and microbiology from Public Health England, has pointed to the possibility we will suffer a bad flu season in 2021/22 because the level of population immunity has been pushed down by Covid restrictions in 2020/21.
HOSPITALS had almost fifteen percent fewer patients this December compared with 2019, despite the Covid crisis.
But they are being ovewhelmed by the surge in infections because of a lack of beds and staff, experts said.A freedom of information request to NHS England revealed that on December 22, three days after Boris Johnson introduced tier four for millions, more than 13,000 fewer beds were occupied than the same date in 2019.
The new data suggests a key reason hospitals are struggling is this lack of capacity.
- [The fight against Covid] ignores the devastating social and economic impact of Covid restrictions, and exaggerates the threat the disease poses.
- Despite all the hysteria, this is not a modern plague.
- In the week ending October 2, Covid accounted for just 3.2 per cent of all fatalities in British hospitals.
- Even with the recent rise in infections, Covid mortality levels are drastically lower now than at the peak of the pandemic in the spring.
- That toll may increase, but it is highly unlikely to reach the levels we saw in spring.
- Covid-19 is a cruel disease that targets the old or those whose life expectancy is compromised by ill-health.
- While every life is precious, the average age of patients who die with Covid-19 is 82.4.
- Since August, just one otherwise healthy person under 30 has died with the disease, while in the same period only 97 victims have been younger than 60.
- One study in June by the Office for National Statistics found 91 per cent of people who died with Covid in England and Wales between March and June had at least one pre-existing condition.
- Contrary to the depressing propaganda, six in every seven people who are infected over the age of 90 actually survive.
- [T]here is little convincing scientific evidence to support the belief that these venues are significant arenas of transmission.
- Much of the North and the Midlands has been living with Covid restrictions for months, yet it has not stemmed the rise in positive cases.
- There is not a single documented case of any student this autumn yet dying from Covid.
- In 40 years, scientists have never found an HIV/AIDS vaccine, nor has one been discovered for the SARS virus in 18 years.
- A vaccine will probably be more like an annual flu jab — which will give some protection but not stop you contracting the disease — rather than a measles vaccine, which provides a lifetime’s protection.
- Edinburgh University argued that heavy-handed use of lockdowns and social distancing could cost between 149,000 and 178,000 lives over the course of the pandemic — far more than have died from Covid.
- The Government likely borrowing more than £350 billion this year — will have be paid by generations to come.
- Humans have lived with infectious diseases for at least 15,000 years.
- Until the early 2000s when we started to vaccinate for flu, we accepted that outbreaks would kill 20,000 to 50,000 people every winter without much comment.
- Self-isolation is not appropriate if you do not share the living conditions of the elites who make the rules – and that the risk does not seem proportionate to the benefits for ordinary people.
- Face covering, as practised, is irrelevant in most circumstances. The whole country should not be driven by the exceptional circumstances of rush hour in major cities. If most people are currently wearing face coverings, acknowledge that this is because they want to avoid trouble rather than to achieve protection.
- We will never eradicate the threat from coronaviruses because they are so widespread among animal populations.