YouTube has removed interview so we have archived the video in the above location. It is currently available on Unlocked Facebook page:
- SAGE admitted early virus modelling based on figures from online encyclopedia
- Committee of scientists advising PM also had no expert on human coronavirus
- Dubious data formed the basis for the group’s calls for first national lockdown
- Experts predicted that the peak would be in June – but it actually came in April
- Impact of care home staff spreading Covid by working in multiple sites not considered
- Scientists failed to consider the impact agency workers would have on spreading Covid in care homes by moving between several different sites to work
- There were more than 30,000 excess deaths in care homes because of Covid in 2020
Professor Mark Jit, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and member of SPI-M, said the group used data from Wikipedia in the UK along with hospitalisations in China and Northern Italy to inform their modelling.
The UK’s pandemic response relies too heavily on scientists and other government appointees with worrying competing interests, including shareholdings in companies that manufacture covid-19 diagnostic tests, treatments, and vaccines. Government appointees are able to ignore or cherry pick science—another form of misuse—and indulge in anti-competitive practices that favour their own products and those of friends and associates.
THE Treasury must form its own advisory group to counterbalance the “Covid-19 only” approach of Sage, experts say.
England was placed into lockdown following advice from the Government’s scientific advisers, despite warnings that it would lead to mass unemployment and cause huge economic damage. Much of the data relied on by Sage, including the “4,000 a day” death figures, has been challenged, with experts saying too much weight was being given to the doomsday scenarios. One accused the group of using “eye-wateringly wrong modelling data to inform government policy” akin to “crystal ball gazing”.
Clare Craig is a consultant pathologist and expert in diagnostic testing. She has raised concerns that inaccurate Covid test results may be producing a skewed picture of the nature and course of the pandemic – a picture based on overestimates of cases and deaths, and underestimates of immunity levels. spiked caught up with her to discuss what has caused the problems in testing, how they are manifested in the data, and where the government has gone wrong in its Covid strategy.
- There has been so much pressure put on laboratories, there have been flaws in the results of the tests they are doing.
- People who have been diagnosed with Covid who did not have Covid.
- We are testing at such a large scale – over 200,000 tests per day – that even a small percentage of mistakes ends up meaning large numbers of people being affected.
- The SAGE committee has an overrepresentation of physicists, chemists and mathematicians.
- For people from those backgrounds, false-positive test results are usually related to highly precise laboratory equipment. In those cases, the false-positive rate is a stable number.
- It’s not like that in medicine. For the test kits, the false-positive rate is stable. But for the process as a whole, there are all sorts of things that can go wrong. That includes problems with cross-contamination, and problems with cross-reactions with other viruses.
- Things have gone wrong because of the UK’s strategy for testing.
- In an epidemic, there are two strategies that you take, one at the beginning, and then one when you reach peak deaths.
- When you increase the number of tests you do, you start to find milder cases.
- Factors show that Covid has become less severe.
- Normally, we would start to see increasing numbers of influenza cases at this time of year. But influenza seems to have disappeared globally.
- We have experience of SARS in 2003 and MERS in 2012, while in the UK there are at least four known strains of coronavirus which cause the common cold.
- Many individuals who’ve been infected by other coronaviruses have immunity to closely related ones such as the Covid-19 virus.
- Multiple research groups in Europe and the US have shown that around 30 per cent of the population was likely already immune to Covid-19 before the virus arrived – something which Sage continues to ignore.
- Prof. John Ioannidis, professor of epidemiology at Stanford University in California, have concluded that the mortality rate is closer to 0.2 per cent – 1 in 500 infected die.
- Around 45,000 Covid deaths in the UK
- Approximately 22.5million people have been infected – 33.5 per cent of our population – not Sage’s 7 per cent calculation.
- Not every infected individual produces antibodies.
- The human immune system has several lines of defence:
- Innate immunity which is comprised of the body’s physical barriers to infection and protective secretions (the skin and its oils, the cough reflex, tears etc);
- Inflammatory response (to localise and minimise infection and injury), and the production of non-specific cells (phagocytes) that target an invading virus/bacterium.
- Antibodies that protect against a specific virus or bacterium (and confer immunity) and T-cells (a type of white blood cell) that are also specific.
- T-cells that are crucial in our body’s response to respiratory viruses such as Covid-19.
- World Health Organisation says 750million people have been infected by the virus as of October and almost none have been reinfected.
- Mortality in 2020 so far ranks eighth out of the last 27 years.
- The death rate at present is also normal for the time of year – the number of respiratory deaths is actually low for late October.
- Not only is the virus less dangerous than we are being led to believe, with almost three quarters of the population at no risk of infection.
- I am convinced this so-called second wave of rising infections and, sadly, deaths will fizzle out without overwhelming the NHS.
Transcript of speech
Government by decree: Covid-19 and the Constitution
Cambridge Freshfields Annual Law Lecture
27 October 2020, 6pm
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the British state has exercised coercive powers over its citizens on a scale never previously attempted. It has taken effective legal control, enforced by the police, over the personal lives of the entire population: where they could go, whom they could meet, what they could do even within their own homes. For three months it placed everybody under a form of house arrest, qualified only by their right to do a limited number of things approved by ministers. All of this has been authorised by ministerial decree with minimal Parliamentary involvement. It has been the most significant interference with personal freedom in the history of our country. We have never sought to do such a thing before, even in wartime and even when faced with health crises far more serious than this one.
It is customary for those who doubt the legality or constitutional propriety of the government’s acts to start with a hand-wringing declaration that they do so with a heavy heart, not doubting for a moment the need for the measures taken. I shall not follow that tradition. I do not doubt the seriousness of the epidemic, but I believe that history will look back on the measures taken to contain it as a monument of collective hysteria and governmental folly. This evening, however, I am not concerned with the wisdom of this policy, but only with its implications for the government of our country. So remarkable a departure from our liberal traditions surely calls for some consideration of its legal and constitutional basis.
The present government came to office after the general election of December 2019 with a large majority and a good deal of constitutional baggage. It had not had an absolute majority in the previous Parliament, which had rejected its policy on the terms for leaving the European Union. It had responded to Parliamentary opposition with indignation. The Attorney-General told the House of Commons in September 2019 that they were unfit to sit, surely one of the more extraordinary statements ever made in public by a law officer of the Crown. The government had endeavoured to avoid Parliamentary scrutiny of their negotiations with the EU by proroguing it, and had been prevented from doing so by the Supreme Court’s decision in Miller (No. 2). The ground for the Court’s intervention was that the prorogation impeded the essential function of Parliament in holding the government to account. This decision was certainly controversial in expressing as a rule of law something which had traditionally been regarded as no more than a political convention, although I have no doubt for my part that the Court was right. But whether it is properly classified as law or convention, the constitutional principle which the court stated was surely beyond question. Governments hold power in Britain on the sufferance of the elected chamber of the legislature. Without that, we are no democracy. As the court pointed out, the dependence of government on Parliamentary support was the means by which “the policies of the executive are subjected to consideration by the representatives of the electorate, the executive is required to report, explain and defend its actions, and citizens are protected from the arbitrary exercise of executive power.” The present government has a different approach. It seeks to derive its legitimacy directly from the people, bypassing their elected representatives. Since the people have no institutional mechanism for holding governments to account, other than Parliament, the effect is that ministers are accountable to no one, except once in five years at general elections.
Within four months of the election, the new government was faced with the coronavirus pandemic. The minutes of the meetings of SAGE, its panel of expert scientific advisers, record that shortly before the lockdown was announced the behavioural scientists advised against the use of coercive powers. “Citizens should be treated as rational actors, capable of taking decisions for themselves and managing personal risk,” they had said. The government did not act on this advice. Encouraged by the public panic and the general demand for action, it opted for a course which it believed would make it popular. It chose coercion. For this, it needed statutory powers.
There were three relevant statutes.
The Coronavirus Act was passed specifically to deal with Covid-19. This hefty document of 348 pages with 102 sections and 29 schedules was pushed through all its stages in a single day in each House as the lockdown was announced. In the time available, no serious scrutiny of its terms can have been possible. The Act was primarily concerned to enlarge the government’s powers to marshal the medical resources of the country and to authorise additional public expenditure. But tucked away in Schedules 21 and 22 were additional powers to control the movement of people. Schedule 21 authorises public health officials to screen and test people for infectious diseases. They are given extensive powers to control the movement of any one found to be infectious and to call on the police to enforce their directions. Schedule 22 confers on the Secretary of State extensive powers to forbid “events” or “gatherings” and to close premises for the purpose of controlling the transmission of Covid-19. For present purposes, however, the important point to note is that apart from the power to prevent events or gatherings, the Act conferred no power to control the lives of healthy people. The measure stood in a long tradition dating back many centuries by which infectious diseases were controlled by the confinement of infectious people, not by the confinement of healthy ones.
A power to confine healthy people was, however, conferred by another Act, the Civil Contingencies Act 2004. The Civil Contingencies Act is the only statute specifically designed for emergencies serious enough to require the kind of measures that we have had. It authorises ministers to make regulations to deal with a wide variety of “events or situations”, including those which threaten “serious damage to human welfare”. These are defined so as to include things which may cause loss of life or illness. The regulation-making power could not be wider. Ministers are authorised to do by regulation anything that Parliament could do by statute, i.e. anything at all. In other words, it authorises government by executive decree. Specific examples given in the Act include restricting the movement or assembly of people and controlling travel. In enacting these provisions, Parliament recognized that emergency legislation of this kind is constitutionally extremely dangerous. It therefore provided for the powers to be exercisable only under stringent Parliamentary control. I shall return to that.
The government chose not to include a general lockdown power in the Coronavirus Act and not to use the power that it already had under the Civil Contingencies Act. Instead it resorted to the much more limited powers conferred by Part IIA of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, as amended in 2008. Section 45C(1) authorises the Secretary of State to make regulations “for the purpose of preventing, protecting against, controlling or providing a public health response to the incidence or spread of infection or contamination in England and Wales.” That sounds very wide, but the problem about it is that the power is couched in wholly general terms. It is a basic constitutional principle that general words are not to be read as authorizing the infringement of fundamental rights. The best known formulation of what has been called the “principle of legality” comes from the speech of Lord Hoffmann in Ex parte Simms  2 AC 115, 131. His words are well known, but they are so apposite as to be well worth repeating. Parliament, he said, “must squarely confront what it is doing and accept the political cost. Fundamental rights cannot be overridden by general or ambiguous words. This is because there is too great a risk that the full implications of their unqualified meaning may have passed unnoticed in the democratic process. In the absence of express language or necessary implication to the contrary, the courts therefore presume that even the most general words were intended to be subject to the basic rights of the individual. In this way the courts of the United Kingdom, though acknowledging the sovereignty of Parliament, apply principles of constitutionality little different from those which exist in countries where the power of the legislature is expressly limited by a constitutional document.” There are few more fundamental rights than personal liberty. The effect of the principle of legality is that those proposing its curtailment must be specific about it and take the political heat.
So what specific powers to curtail personal liberty does the Public Health Act confer? The answer is that its main purpose is to confer extensive powers on magistrates to make orders in relation to particular people thought to be infectious or specific premises thought to be contaminated. Magistrates can make orders disinfecting infectious people, quarantining or isolating them or removing them to hospitals, among other things. They can order the closure or decontamination of contaminated premises. Ministers are given very limited powers in this area, only two of which were relevant to the lockdown or to current measures of social control. Under Section 45C they have a specific power to make regulations controlling “events or gatherings”. A “gathering” is not defined, but the context shows it to be concerned with more substantial assemblies than ordinary social interchange in peoples’ homes. The object was to deal with threats to public order. Otherwise the only specific power conferred on ministers is a power to do some of the things that a magistrate could do. The result is that ministers can make regulations controlling people thought to be infectious. There is no specific power under the Act to confine or control the movements of healthy people. To interpret it as conferring such a power would not only be inconsistent with the principle of legality. It would also be contrary to the whole tenor of this part of the Act. It is axiomatic that if a statute deals in terms with the circumstances in which a power can be exercised so as to curtail the liberty of the subject, it is not open to a public authority to exercise the power in different or wider circumstances. The courts will I suspect be tempted to give the government more leeway than they are entitled to. But on well established legal principles, the powers under the Public Health Act were not intended to authorise measures as drastic as those which have been imposed.
Why did the government not include a lockdown power in the Coronavirus Act given that it was drafted at the inception of the crisis? The most plausible explanation is that it thought that there might be difficulty in getting such a thing through Parliament without further debate and possibly amendment. Why did they not use the Civil Contingencies Act, which was already on the statute book? The most plausible answer is that the Civil Contingencies Act required a high degree of Parliamentary scrutiny which ministers wished to avoid. Emergency regulations under the Civil Contingencies Act must be laid before Parliament in draft before they are made. If the case is too urgent for that, they must be laid before Parliament within seven days or they will lapse. If necessary, Parliament must be recalled. Even if the regulations are approved, the regulations can remain in force for only 30 days unless they are renewed and reapproved. Unusually, Parliament is authorised to amend or revoke them at any time. By comparison the degree of scrutiny provided for under the Public Health Act is limited. In urgent cases, regulations under the Public Health Act have provisional validity, pending Parliamentary approval, for 28 days, and that limit is extended for any period when Parliament is not sitting. Parliament cannot amend them, and once it has approved them it cannot revoke them. They remain in force for whatever period ministers may decide. These differences in the level of Parliamentary scrutiny were remarked upon at the time when the powers in question were added to the Public Health Act in 2008. The government of the day told the Constitution Committee of the House of Lords that the lesser degree of Parliamentary scrutiny was appropriate because the powers under the Public Health Act were not intended to authorize anything very radical. They were mainly directed at controlling the behaviour of infected people, and then only in cases where the proposed measure was urgent but “minor in scope and effect.”
The problems begin with the very first days of the lockdown. In his televised press conference of 23 March, the Prime Minister described his announcement of the lockdown as an “instruction” to the British people. He said that he was “immediately” stopping gatherings of more than two people in public and all social events except funerals. A number of police forces announced within minutes of the broadcast that they would be enforcing this at once. The Health Secretary, Mr. Hancock, made a statement in the House of Commons the next day in which he said: “these measures are not advice; they are rules.” All of this was bluff. Even on the widest view of the legislation, the government had no power to give such orders without making statutory regulations. No such regulations existed until 1 p.m. on 26 March, three days after the announcement. The Prime Minister had no power to give “instructions” to the British people, and certainly no power to do so by a mere oral announcement at a Downing Street press conference. The police had no power to enforce them. Mr Hancock’s statement in the House of Commons was not correct. Until 26 March the government’s statements were not rules, but advice, which every citizen was at liberty to ignore.
To complain about the gap of three days during which the government pretended that the rules were in effect when they were not, may strike some people as pedantic. The regulations were eventually made, albeit late. But it revealed a cavalier disregard for the limits of their legal powers which has continued to characterise the government’s behaviour. Over the following weeks the government made a succession of press statements containing what it called “guidance”, which went well beyond anything in the regulations. These statements had no legal status whatever, although this fact was never made clear. The two-meter distancing rule, for example, never had the force of law in England. Many police forces set about enforcing the guidance nonetheless, until the College of Policing issued firm advice to them that they had no business doing so.
Why did the government, once they had announced the lockdown on 23 March wait for three days until 26th before making their regulations, and then resort to the emergency procedure on the ground that it was so urgent that Parliament could not be consulted in advance? The obvious answer, I am afraid, is that Parliament adjourned for the Easter recess on 25th. They deliberately delayed their urgent regulations so that there would be no opportunity to debate them before the recess. The period of 28 days before any kind of Parliamentary scrutiny was required was thus extended by the 21 days of the recess, i.e. to the middle of May.
This is not the only respect in which the level of Parliamentary scrutiny of the executive has been curtailed. The Coronavirus Act authorises any payments connected with coronavirus without limit and without any form of advance Parliamentary scrutiny. The Contingencies Fund Act, which passed through every stage in the House of Commons on the day after the Coronavirus Bill, authorised an increase in the statutory maximum in the Contingencies Fund, from to 2 per cent of the previous year’s authorised expenditure, to 50 per cent. The result was to make an additional £266 billion available to the government with no advance Parliamentary scrutiny. These measures departed from a century and a half of constitutional principle by which Parliament controls exactly how public funds are spent.
There was a number of other steps radically affecting the rights of individuals, which the government took without any Parliamentary sanction. Most of these involved exploiting existing regulatory regimes. The two meter distancing rule, for example, was uncritically adopted by the Health and Safety Executive. As a result, a number of building sites and factories where it was impractical to observe it were required to close although not included in the closure orders made under statutory powers. Perhaps the most remarkable example concerns the steps which the government took to deprive people of access to medical and dental services. The provision of medical and dental services was expressly excluded from the closure orders made under the Public Health Act. But a combination of government advice and government-inspired pressure from regulators was used to limit access to general practitioners. They were required to conduct video triages and refer serious cases to hospitals while telling other cases to wait. This has had a serious impact on the diagnosis and early treatment of far more mortal diseases than Covid-19, notably cancer. More drastic still were the steps taken to close down dental practices. On 25 March the Chief Dental Officer, a government official, published a statement referring to the Prime Minister’s announcement of the lockdown and requiring dentists to stop all non-urgent activity. In reality, they were required to stop even urgent activity. Their role was limited to carrying out a video triage of patients. Urgent cases were to be referred to a small number of local urgent dental units which essentially performed extractions. Treatment was refused in other cases. This direction, which had no statutory basis, left many people in pain or discomfort and threatened a significant number of dental practices with insolvency. Even after it was lifted at the beginning of June, distancing rules were imposed which seriously reduced the number of patients that a dentist could see and made many dental practices financially unviable. This is a serious matter, because the government’s use of non-statutory procedures like these escapes Parliamentary scrutiny. Parliament may, for example, be taken to have approved, albeit seven weeks late, the exception in the Health Protection Regulations which allowed the provision of dental services to continue. Parliament has never had the opportunity to approve the instruction of the Chief Dental Officer to the opposite effect.
These events give rise to concern on a number of counts. The most draconian of the government’s interventions with the most far-reaching economic and social effects have been imposed under an Act which does not appear to authorise them. The sheer scale on which the government has sought to govern by decree, creating new criminal offences, sometimes several times a week on the mere say-so of ministers, is in constitutional terms truly breathtaking. The government has routinely made use of the exceptional procedure authorizing it in urgent cases to dispense with advance Parliamentary approval, even where the measure in question has been mooted for days or weeks. Thus the original lockdown was imposed without any kind of Parliamentary scrutiny until the middle of May, seven weeks later. Thereafter, there was little scope for further scrutiny. Even the powers which the government purported to exercise were gratuitously expanded by tendentious and misleading “guidance”, generally announced at press conferences.
A special word needs to be said about the remarkable discretionary powers of enforcement conferred on the police. The police received power to enforce the lockdown regulations by giving directions to citizens which it was a criminal offence to disobey. Fixed penalty notices are normally authorised in modest amounts for minor regulatory infractions, parking and the lesser driving offences. The government’s Regulations, however, authorised them for a great variety of newly created offences and sometimes in very large amounts. On 26 August the government introduced by decree an offence of “being involved” in a gathering exceeding thirty people, and empowered any policeman in the land to issue a fixed penalty notice of £10,000. This sum, enough to ruin most people, was far in excess of any fine that would be imposed by a court for such an offence. The power, which was originally advertised as being intended to deal with “raves” has of course been widely exercised for other purposes. In particular, it has been used to suppress protests against the government’s coronavirus policies. On 30 August, the police served a £10,000 fixed penalty notice on Mr Piers Corbyn for addressing a rally against masks in Trafalgar Square. The regulations contain an exception for political protest, provided that the organisers have agreed a risk assessment and taken reasonable steps to ensure safety. On 26 September the police broke up a demonstration against the government’s measures, whose organisers had agreed a risk assessment and had taken reasonable steps. The police claim to have done this because some of the demonstrators had not acted in accordance with the arrangements made by the organisers. They cleared the square using batons with considerable violence, injuring some 20 people who were guilty of nothing other than attending an apparently lawful protest. There is a noticeable process of selection involved in these actions. No such fines, arrests or assaults have been seen in other demonstrations, such as those organised by Black Lives Matter, or Extinction Rebellion which did not observe social distancing but were thought to have greater public support. The Mayor of London applauded the police action. The silence from civil rights organisations such as Liberty was deafening.
The police’s powers of summary arrest are regulated by primary legislation, the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. Under Regulation 9(7) of the original lockdown regulations, the government purported to amend that Act by enlarging their powers of arrest so that they extended to any case in which a policeman reasonably believed that it was necessary to arrest a citizen to maintain public health. I need hardly say that the Public Health Act confers no power on ministers to amend other primary legislation in this way.
In fact, the police substantially exceeded even the vast powers that they received. In the period immediately after the announcement of the lockdown, a number of Chief Constables announced that they would stop people acting in a way which the regarded as inessential, although there was no warrant for this in the regulations. One of them threatened to go through the shopping baskets of those exercising their right to obtain supplies, so as to ensure that they were not buying anything that his constables might regard as inessential. Other forces set up road blocks to enforce powers that they did not have. Derbyshire police notoriously sent up surveillance drones and published on the internet a film clip denouncing people taking exercise in the Derbyshire fells, something which people were absolutely entitled to do. When I ventured to criticise them in a BBC interview for acting beyond their powers, I received a letter from the Derbyshire Police Commissioner objecting to my remarks on the ground that in a crisis such things were necessary. The implication was that in a crisis the police were entitled to do whatever they thought fit, without being unduly concerned about their legal powers. That is my definition of a police state.
Many people think that in an emergency public authorities should be free to behave in this way because the ordinary processes of lawmaking are too deliberate and slow. I do not share this view. I believe that in the long run the principles on which we are governed matter more than the way that we deal with any particular crisis. They are particularly important in a country like ours in which many basic rights and liberties depend on convention. They depend on a recognition not just that the government must act within its powers, but that not everything that a government is legally entitled to do is legitimate. The Public Health Act requires any exercise of its regulation-making powers to be proportionate. The government has included in every regulation to date a formulaic statement that it is. But its actions speak differently. Its public position is explicable only on the basis that absolutely anything is justifiable in the interest of hindering the transmission of this disease. I reject that claim. Powers as wide and intrusive as those which this government has purported to exercise should not be available to a minister on his mere say-so. In a society with the liberal traditions of ours, the police ought not to have the kind of arbitrary enforcement powers that they have been given, let alone the wider powers that they have not been given but have exercised anyway. These things should not happen without specific Parliamentary authority, in the course of which the government can be required to explain its reasons and the evidence behind them in detail, and its proposals can be properly debated, amended or rejected by a democratic legislature. Their imposition by decree, even if the decrees are lawful, is not consistent with the constitutional traditions of this country.
There are, I would suggest, at least three lessons to be learned from this dismal story.
The first lesson is one to which I drew attention in my BBC Reith lectures last year. Our society craves security. The public has unbounded confidence, which no amount of experience will dent, in the benign power of the state to protect them against an ever wider range of risks. In Britain, the lockdown was followed by a brief period in which the government’s approval ratings were sky-high. This is how freedom dies. When societies lose their liberty, it is not usually because some despot has crushed it under his boot. It is because people voluntarily surrendered their liberty out of fear of some external threat. Historically, fear has always been the most potent instrument of the authoritarian state. This is what we are witnessing today. But the fault is not just in our government. It is in ourselves. Fear provokes strident demands for abrasive action, much of which is unhelpful or damaging. It promotes intolerant conformism. It encourages abuse directed against any one who steps out of line, including many responsible opponents of this government’s measures and some notable scientists who have questioned their empirical basis. These are the authentic ingredients of a totalitarian society.
So, I regret to say, is the propaganda by which the government has to some extent been able to create its own public opinion. Fear was deliberately stoked up by the government: the language of impending doom; the daily press conferences; the alarmist projections of the mathematical modellers; the manipulative use of selected statistics; the presentation of exceptional tragedies as if they were the normal effects of Covid-19; above all the attempt to suggest that that Covid-19 was an indiscriminate killer, when the truth was that it killed identifiable groups, notably those with serious underlying conditions and the old, who could and arguably should have been sheltered without coercing the entire population. These exaggerations followed naturally from the logic of the measures themselves. They were necessary in order to justify the extreme steps which the government had taken, and to promote compliance. As a strategy, this was completely successful. So successful was it that when the government woke up to the damage it was doing, especially to the economy and the education of children, it found it difficult to reverse course. The public naturally asked themselves what had changed. The honest answer to that question would have been that nothing much had changed. The threat had not been fairly presented in the first place. Other governments, in Germany, in France, in Sweden and elsewhere, addressed their citizens in measured terms, and the level of fear was lower. It is not fair to criticise the government for the mere fact that the death toll in Britain is the second highest in Europe. There are too many factors other than government action which determine the mortality of Covid-19. But it is fair to blame them for the fear which means that Britain seems likely to suffer greater economic damage than almost every other European country.
The ease with which people could be terrorized into surrendering basic freedoms which are fundamental to our existence as social beings came as a shock to me in March 2020. So has much of the subsequent debate. I certainly never expected to hear the word libertarian, which only means a believer in freedom, used as a term of abuse. Perhaps I should have done. For this is not a new problem. Four centuries ago the political theorist Thomas Hobbes formulated his notorious apology for absolute government. The basis of human society, he argued, is that people have no right to be free, for they completely and irrevocably surrender their liberty to an overpowering state in return for security. In an age obsessed with escaping from risk, this has become one of the major issues of our time.
I have criticised the way in which the government has invaded civil liberties with limited Parliamentary scrutiny or none. But of course Parliamentary scrutiny is not enough unless Parliament is to willing to live up to its high constitutional calling. It has to be ready to demand rational explanations of ministerial actions and to and to vote down regulations if they are not forthcoming. There is unfortunately little evidence of this. The public’s fear effectively silenced opposition in the House of Commons. The official opposition did not dare to challenge the government, except to suggest that they should have been even tougher even quicker. Parliament allowed the Coronavirus Act to be steam-rollered through with no real scrutiny. It agreed to go into recess at the critical point in March and April when the need for active scrutiny of government was at its highest. When it returned, it meekly accepted government guidance on social distancing, and submitted to a regime under which only 50 out of the 650 members could be in the Chamber at any one time with up to 120 more participating remotely on screens. This has meant that instead of answering to a raucous and often querulous and difficult assembly, whose packed ranks can test governments with the largest majorities, ministers had an easy ride. The exclusion of most of the House from participating in the core activities for which they had been elected by their constituents, was a most remarkable abdication of the House’s constitutional functions. It has reduced its scrutiny of the government to the status of a radio phone-in program.
However, the basic problem is even more fundamental. Under its standing orders, the House of Commons has no control over its own agenda. Its business is determined by the Leader of the House, a government minister, and by the Speaker. Backbenchers, however numerous, have no say and the official opposition not much more. In this respect the Commons is unlike almost every other legislature in the world. Other legislatures determine their own agenda through bipartisan committees or rules which entitle members with a minimum level of support to move their own business. When, in September, MPs began to kick back against the government’s dictatorial measures, the only way that they could do it was to tack a proviso onto a resolution authorizing the continuance of the Coronavirus Act, requiring the government to obtain Parliamentary approval of regulations made under the Public Health Act. The Speaker, probably rightly, ruled this out as an abuse. But it should not have been necessary to resort to devices like this. The standing orders date from another age when there was a shared political culture at Westminster which made space for dissenting views, and a shared respect for the institution of Parliament. The procedures of the House are not fit for a world in which the government seeks to shove MPs into the margins. Speaker Hoyle was surely right to accuse ministers of despising Parliament. But it will take more than schoolmasterly lectures to address the problem. Over the past few decades, the House of Commons has lost much of the prestige and public respect that it once enjoyed. Mr Cox’s strictures against Parliament in September 2019 were outrageous. But Parliament will richly deserve them unless it can rise to the challenge of controlling the most determined attempt by any modern government to rule by decree.
So much for the first lesson of recent events. The second is a variant of Lord Acton’s famous dictum that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Ministers do not readily surrender coercive powers when the need has passed. The Scott Inquiry into the Matrix Churchill scandal, which reported in 1996, drew attention to a broad class of emergency powers which had been conferred on the government at the outset of the Second World War until such time as His Majesty should declare by Order in Council that the war had ended. These had been kept in force by the simple device of ensuring that no such Order in Council was ever placed before His Majesty. They were still being used in the 1970s and 1980s on the footing that the Second World War was still in progress, for purposes quite different from those originally envisaged. Likewise, the powers conferred on ministers and the police by the Terrorism Acts of 2000 and 2006 have been employed not just to combat terrorism but for a variety of other purposes, including the control of peaceful demonstrations, the enlargement of police stop and search powers to deal with ordinary non-terrorist offences, and the freezing of the assets of Icelandic banks for the protection of their UK depositors. It will therefore surprise no one that the present government, having announced on 23 March that the lockdown would last until the NHS was able to cope with peak hospitalisations, should have continued them in May and June after this objective had been achieved. Ministers did this notwithstanding the warning of their scientific advisers in reports submitted to SAGE in February and March that a lockdown could delay infections and deaths but not stop them. Once again, fear persuaded people to accept the surrender of their liberty, even when the lockdown was no longer capable of the objective originally claimed for it. If the government had made its regulations under the Civil Contingencies Act, as it should have done, they would have had to be reapproved by Parliament every 30 days. Even with a relatively supine House of Commons, it is permissible to hope that Parliament would at least have called for a coherent explanation of this pointless and profoundly damaging decision.
The third and last lesson which I want to draw from these events is that government by decree is not only constitutionally objectionable. It is usually bad government. There is a common delusion that authoritarian government is efficient. It does not waste time in argument or debate. Strongmen get things done. Historical experience should warn us that this idea is usually wrong. The concentration of power in a small number of hands and the absence of wider deliberation and scrutiny enables governments to make major decisions on the hoof, without proper forethought, planning or research. Within the government’s own ranks, it promotes loyalty at the expense of wisdom, flattery at the expense of objective advice. The want of criticism encourages self-confidence, and self-confidence banishes moderation and restraint. Authoritarian rulers sustain themselves in power by appealing to the emotional and the irrational in collective opinion. The present government’s mishandling of Covid-19 exemplifies all of these vices. Whatever one might think about the merits of its decisions, it is impossible to think well of the process which produced them, which can only be described as jerky, clumsy, inconsistent and poorly thought out. There is not, and never has been an exit plan or anything that can be described as a long-term strategy – only a series of expedients. The Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons reported in July that the lockdown was announced without any kind of cost-benefit analysis or advance planning for its disruptive economic effects. The many relevant social and educational considerations were disregarded in favour of an exclusive concentration on public health issues and only some of those. These are all classic problems of authoritarian government. It is habitually inefficient, destructive, blinkered and ultimately not even popular.
The British public has not even begun to understand the seriousness of what is happening to our country. Many, perhaps most of them don’t care, and won’t care until it is too late. They instinctively feel that the end justifies the means, the motto of every totalitarian government which has ever been. Yet what holds us together as a society is precisely the means by which we do things. It is a common respect for a way of making collective decisions, even if we disagree with the decisions themselves. It is difficult to respect the way in which this government’s decisions have been made. It marks a move to a more authoritarian model of politics which will outlast the present crisis. There is little doubt that for some ministers and their advisers this is a desirable outcome. The next few years is likely to see a radical and lasting transformation of the relationship between the state and the citizen. With it will come an equally fundamental change in our relations with each other, a change characterized by distrust, resentment and mutual hostility. In the nature of things, authoritarian governments fracture the societies which they govern. The use of political power as an instrument of mass coercion is corrosive. It divides and it embitters. In this case, it is aggravated by the sustained assault on social interaction which will sooner or later loosen the glue that helped us to deal with earlier crises. The unequal impact of the government’s measures is eroding any sense of national solidarity. The poor, the inadequately housed, the precariously employed and the socially isolated have suffered most from the government’s. Above all, the young, who are little affected by the disease itself, have been made to bear almost all the burden, in the form of blighted educational opportunities and employment prospects whose effects will last for years. Their resentment of democratic forms, which was already noticeable before the epidemic, is mounting, as recent polls have confirmed.
The government has discovered the power of public fear to let it get its way. It will not forget. Aristotle argued in his Politics that democracy was an inherently defective and unstable form of government. It was, he thought, too easily subverted by demagogues seeking to obtain or keep power by appeals to public emotion and fear. What has saved us from this fate in the two centuries that democracy has subsisted in this country is a tradition of responsible government, based not just on law but on convention, deliberation and restraint, and on the effective exercise of Parliamentary as opposed to executive sovereignty. But like all principles which depend on a shared political culture, this is a fragile tradition. It may now founder after two centuries in which it has served this country well. What will replace it is a nominal democracy, with a less deliberative and consensual style and an authoritarian reality which we will like a great deal less.
- COVID-19 is not a dread disease that will kill everyone.
- The initially high case fatality rate of COVID-19 was because the medical community didn’t know how to treat it.
- The fatality rate of flu is 0.1% (1 in every 1,000 who are infected end up dying).
- Ventilators are the wrong option if you do not have an obstructed airway disease.
- Prod. Ioannidis: The infection fatality ratio of COVID-19 is 0.15%. This is pretty much the same as the flu.
- We should just ask people to be careful but otherwise go about your daily life.
- These things pass every year. This is the first ‘social media pandemic.’
- The normal practice for intensive care beds in the NHS is to run them almost full. This is because a lot of intensive care bed assignment is planned.
- ICU use at the height of the pandemic was has very low because the NHS was run as light as possible to cope with a second wave.
- Respiratory viruses don’t do waves.
- This is not opinion but is basic understanding among experts in the field. It is supposrted by the highest quality science. Sir Patrick Vallance knows this.
- COVID-19 follows the Gompertz Curve.
- You have immunity after your body has fought off a respiratory virus. If that was not the case, you’d be dead. Immunity probably lasts decades based on evidence from other viruses.
- Gompertz Curve is identical in all heavily infection regions.
- Something awefull happened in the middle of the year: PCR swab test.
- It is not true that if you test more people you’ll save more lives. A certain percentage of the test will come up positive even if there’s no virus in you.
- False positive rate wasn’t released.
- Kate Barker wrote in a government document on June 3rd, 2020, to SAGE: test has an unknown false positive rate; based on similar tests it may be between 1%-2%. This is a big deal.
- Based on 1%: for every 1,000 people you test, 10 will come back positive, even if they don’t have the virus. If prevalence is only 0.1% as reported by ONS, only 1 in 1,000 will be genuine. This means 9 in 10–in other words 90%–are false.
- Pillar 2 testing would have caused of the most of the positives to be false.
- 1,700 people die normally every day in the UK. During the summer, only about 10 were dying per day of covid.
- More testing, more false positives. We’ll never escape covid if we keep testing because most of the positives will be false. This is immunology 101. Sir Patrick Vallance would have known this.
- Influenza is a high mutation-rate virus. Coronaviruses are relatively stable so once you’ve recovered, you are probably immune for decades.
- COVID-19 kills 0.15%-0.2%, slightly more lethal than the average flu. Once it’s gone through the population, it won’t come back.
- 99.94% survive COVID-19 and will be resistant for a long time.
- COVID-19 is 80% similar to SARS-COV-1.
- People who were exposed to SARS have T-cell immunity 17 years later. Evidence for COVID-19 all point in direction.
- Our bodies have many lines of defense, including innate immunity and T-cells. Antibodies are in the last line of defense.
- Study shows around 30% prior immunity to SARS-COV-2. It was due to exposure to common-cold coronaviruses.
- The claim made by Sir Patrick Vallance that more than 90% are susceptible is a lie.
- Mass testing of the well populating is the worst problem as it generates false positives, fear and control.
- If you’re immune, you can’t be infected or infectious. Herd immunity is already in play in London.
- If SAGE is correct, London should be ‘ablaze’ with deaths.
- Current testing methods are not forensically sound.
- Tests detect common cold and dead virus.
- SARS-COV-2 has never really been a public health emergency.
- We do not need the vaccine to return to normal. Most people are not in danger from COVID-19. More people are in danger from car crashes and we accept that risk.
- Best case scenario is that the vaccine is 50% effective. Natural immunity might be better.
- The most vulnerable often don’t respond well to vaccines and die anyway.
- SAGE is giving lethally wrong advice.
- The reason the pandemic is not over is because SAGE says it’s not.
Professor Matt Keeling said he wished he ‘hadn’t put these numbers in the study’
Paper said about 107,000 Britons could die by January without a circuit breaker
Study’s findings already been used as ammunition by scientists and politicians
The academic behind a startling study which projected a two-week ‘circuit-breaker’ could save thousands of lives by New Year has today admitted his figures were wildly over-estimated.
Professor Keeling told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning: ‘I really, really wish I hadn’t put these numbers in the paper because they were there for illustration.
Up to mid-March 2020, the Government’s Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) Committee advised against attempting heavy suppression of the spread of what in those days it called the “Wuhan coronavirus”. The minutes of its meeting of March 13 2020 state: “Sage was unanimous that measures seeking to completely suppress spread of Covid-19 will cause a second peak. Sage advises that it is a near certainty that countries such as China, where heavy suppression is underway, will experience a second peak once measures are relaxed.”
- [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.
- 75,000 people could die from non-Covid causes as a result of lockdown to devastating official figures in a 188-page document from SAGE.
- 16,000 people died as a result of the chaos in hospitals and care homes in March and April alone.
- A further 26,000 will die within a year if people continue to stay away from A&E.
- An additional 31,900 could die over the next five years as a result of missed cancer diagnoses, cancelled operations and the health impacts of a recession.
- Official COVID-19 death toll on 29 September 2020 is 41,936.
This is an archive of a series of Tweets by Dr. Mike Yeadon on 26 September 2020. It has been formatted for readability but otherwise kept intact.
Yesterday, two strikingly similar events tells us the oppressive police state closes in. My sister is visiting her daughter in Lincoln and loves looking after her granddaughter. Daughter and husband go out for a drink as a couple (they’re fit and well, late-20s). No pub would let them in because they don’t have the NHS Proximity App. They just don’t want to be tracked, thanks very much.
Meanwhile, earlier on the same day, a family friend and daughter tried to go for a pizza in Zizzis in a small town near Guildford. Again, they were told unless you stand outside and download this App, we’re not serving you. They went somewhere else on principle.
It is simply not necessary to be doing anything about COVID-19 and definitely not this App. How many readers know that summer flu typically kills 200 people every day in July? That was five times the number of COVID-19 deaths, even though the reporting biases the cause to COVID-19. For example, if a person died of pneumonia and had a COVID-19 positive in the last 28 days, it’s coded COVID-19. Vallance/Whitty sombrely warned us of “the potential for 200 COVID-19 deaths per day” sometime in October, if we didn’t accept Draconian measures.
I’m much more knowledgeable about immunology than is SAGE. I was shocked yesterday to review the membership and as of the whole of the spring phase of the pandemic, they had NOT ONE immunologist. It’s no wonder they don’t realise that we are close it and in places over the threshold for “community immunity”.
We know this by:
- the shape of the daily deaths versus time plots;
- the fact that covid19 deaths essentially ceased during the late summer;
- the ‘Secondary Ripple’ is happening at around four to five times slower pace than the March ‘afterburners on full’ climb when we were at the maximum susceptibility;
- as predicted, the deaths per million population is far smaller now in the most infected, dense conurbations than in the centres of recent outbreaks.
It is simply not necessary to do anything, let alone this East German tech surveillance and interferences with civil society that we’re accepting, it seems, with hardly a murmur. ‘Lockdown’ (as abbreviation for state interventions) will not save a single life. At best, these deaths will be displaced into the winter.
Those dying “with or of” covid19 continue to be, as previously, in the old, frail and already unwell. Over 50% of recent covid19 deaths were in the over-80s and 95% were in the over-60s. As before, most had at least two life limiting, chronic disease such as dementia (the largest category), diabetes, obstructed lung disease, kidney failure etc. It is beyond question that in almost all cases, the next viral infection will see them into the next world. So they cannot be “saved”. So it is WHOLLY IRRATIONAL that Govt has chosen to place large tracts of the country under “measures”. It’s worse than that.
I’m complete certain that the best thing to have happened would have been NOT to do testing in any locations where young people gather (I’d abandon all community testing), let this years intake at secondary school, 6th form colleges and Universities do what healthy, enthusiastic young people do, which would add another few percent to community immunity by middle of October and in all likelihood, that would abort even the current ‘Secondary Ripple’
The ignorance that is demonstrated daily by SAGE and by ministers will, I am certain, lead to MORE COVID-19 deaths than if we do nothing. They’re trying mightily and wholly inappropriately to prevent the normal and unquestionably beneficial process whereby young people build their acquired immunity which these fools fail to understand is what protects the vulnerable.
Next, in the vain and uninformed attempt to prevent happening something of unequivocal good in our communities, government is amplifying dangerous conditions in the country. It is estimated that spring lockdown killed 20 thousand people approx through poorer access to healthcare. Even SAGE’s own estimates of additional fatalities arising directly and indirectly from their “measures” currently sit at 75,000. So far, 42,000 have died “with or of” COVID-19.
Meanwhile, these chaotic and damaging “measures” have completely wrecked our economy and I’m concerned that we’re already beyond repair of some of it. We’ll experience a bleaker future rather directly as a result. Aside from the cold economics, family businesses have been as destroyed as if Govt had fire-bombed their premises, bringing bleak futures and retirements to millions.
I’m normally quite hardy and I am aware I’m suffering from almost disabling levels of anxiety. And we’ve stood by while civil society is dismembered, week by week, severing relationships which, for many people than they’d rather not be alive and living in U.K. if the trade-off is this living near-death.
I’m doing what I can in providing science based testimony. I can’t demonstrate or organise it. It’s not what I’ve ever done, either. So, some of you reading this absolutely need to organise, raise petitions, lobby your MP, write to the PM, etc. Persuade others that far from expert guidance coming from the SAGE and others at the top, they’re ignorant (or malevolent) and are engaged in acts so destructive to the nation in all its pieces that I am of the belief that, if it isn’t stopped and imminently, the U.K. we knew and loved will be deleted.
It’s not for me to work out motives. But it’s enough to know that Ferguson, Whitty and Vallance each stand to become very wealthy if they succeed in torturing us through the winter, by which time lots of you will be desperate for a poorly tested vaccine which most of you do not need.
Finally, the “coronavirus emergency” – which has long been over, by the way – has resulted in what are essentially extraordinary War Powers “in order that they can act fast when needed”. I don’t think they need do any such thing. But these Powers are ALREADY being used to insert into our lives and against our wills, invasive surveillance software. Absent these War Powers, this could not have been done without parliamentary approval.
The original text can be found on Twitter.
According to professor Russell Viner, President of Royal College of Paediatrics and SAGE member:
- There’s very little evidence for the use of masks in schools.
- Children could potentially spread the virus more if they wear masks
CORONAVIRUS hospital admissions were over-counted at the peak of the pandemic as recovered patients returning to wards without Covid were included in the stats.
An investigation for the Government’s Science Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) found that people were being counted as ‘Covid hospital admissions’ if they had EVER had the virus.
Government figures show that, at the peak of the pandemic in early April, nearly 20,000 people a week were being admitted to hospital with coronavirus – but the true figure is now unknown because of the problem with over-counting.
This over-counting mirrors the problems with data for coronavirus deaths – where people who had died of other causes were being included in Covid-19 statistics if they had once tested positive.
Professor Graham Medley, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, asked by Sage to look into the situation, told The Telegraph: “By June, it was becoming clear that people were being admitted to hospital for non-Covid reasons who had tested positive many weeks before.
“Consequently, the NHS revised its situation report to accommodate this.”
One of the largest studies in the world on coronavirus in schools, carried out in 100 institutions in the UK, will confirm that “there is very little evidence that the virus is transmitted” there, according to a leading scientist.
Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and a member of the government advisory group Sage, said: “A new study that has been done in UK schools confirms there is very little evidence that the virus is transmitted in schools.
“This is the some of the largest data you will find on schools anywhere. Britain has done very well in terms of thinking of collecting data in schools.”
- 16,000 people died because they didn’t get healthcare from March 23 to May 1
- At the same time, 25,000 Britons died of coronavirus at the pandemic’s height
- Of the 16,000, 6,000 were unwell people who were too scared to go to A&E
- It is feared that 81,500 people could die over next 50 years because of lockdown
- In the next five years, 1,400 could die as they were diagnosed with cancer late
- The new figures were presented to the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) in the middle of July.
- They were calculated by the Department of Health, the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the Government Actuary’s Department and the Home Office.
- The 16,000 people who died included 6,000 who didn’t go to A&E during lockdown because they feared catching the virus.
- Another 10,000 people are thought to have died in care homes after early discharge from hospital and a lack of access to care.
- A further 26,000 people could die by next month because of the restrictions, while in total 81,500 people could lose their lives in the next 50 years because of the virus.
- In more bad news, the next five years could see 1,400 people die because they were diagnosed with cancer too late.
- An earlier report by the same team suggested deaths caused by delayed care amid the virus they could be as high as 185,000.
- Professor Neil Mortensen, the president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, warned that the health service ‘must never again be a coronavirus-only service’.
Such is the quality of decision-making in the process generating our lockdown narrative. An early maintained but exaggerated belief in the lethality of the virus reinforced by modelling that was almost data-free, then amplified by further modelling with no proven predictive value. All summed up by recommendations from a committee based on qualitative data that hasn’t even been peer-reviewed.
- According to Office for National Statistics, this year comes only eighth in terms of deaths in past 27 years.
- The spread of viruses like Covid-19 is not new. What’s new is our response.
- The whole Covid drama has really been a crisis of awareness of what viruses normally do, rather than a crisis caused by an abnormally lethal new bug.
- Modelling is not science, for the simple reason that a prediction made by a scientist (using a model or not) is just opinion.
- To be classified as science, a prediction or theory needs to be able to be tested, and potentially falsified.
- A problem with the current approach: a wilful determination to ignore the quality of the information being used to set Covid policy.
- Most Covid research was not peer- reviewed.
- In medical science there is a well-known classification of data quality known as ‘the hierarchy of evidence’: a seven-level system gives an idea of how much weight can be placed on any given study or recommendation.
- Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) form the highest, most reliable form of medical evidence: Level 1 and 2.
- Virtually all evidence pertaining to Covid-19 policy is found in the lowest levels (much less compelling Levels 5 and 6): descriptive-only studies looking for a pattern, without using controls.
- Level 7 is at the bottom of the hierarchy (the opinion of authorities or reports of expert committees) because ‘authorities’ often fail to change their minds in the face of new evidence.
- Committees often issue compromise recommendations that are scientifically non-valid.
- The advice of Sage (or any committee of scientists) is the least reliable form of evidence there is.
SARS-CoV-2 in the hospital environment and risk of COVID-19 nosocomial transmission
A document produced by SAGE states the following.
Evidence on efficacy of cloth face-coverings (non-medical masks):
There is limited evidence regarding the respiratory protection that non-medical / homemade masks can offer for the wearer, and there are no established quality standards for self-made face masks. One study reported a low filter efficiency (3-33%), and high penetration (up to 97%) of NaCl aerosol particles in homemade masks (42). A trial comparing the use of cloth and medical masks by healthcare workers also showed penetration of microorganisms by 97%, compared with a rate of 44% for medical masks (43).
The UK operational false positive rate is unknown. There are no published studies on the operational false positive rate of any national COVID-19 testing programme.
An attempt has been made to estimate the likely false-positive rate of national COVID-19 testing programmes by examining data from published external quality assessments (EQAs) for RT-PCR assays for other RNA viruses carried out between 2004-2019 . Results of 43 EQAs were examined, giving a median false positive rate of 2.3% (interquartile range 0.8-4.0%).
Alistair Haimes interpreted these results in this way:
2.3% false positive rate with 0.04% virus prevalence rate (ONS) means that if you test positive you have only a 4/234= 1.7% chance of being infected. We’re flying blind.@AlistairHaimes. 3 July 2020
if the false positive rate is that high, surely they just know that it is ‘about nothing’; 0.04% must be false precision?