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Alternative Media

What’s So Special About Monkeypox? – The Daily Sceptic

The NHS has started warning people to take extra precautions, a degree of fear and concern is undeniably being created. Yet, monkeypox seems to be a not especially contagious viral infection that isn’t particularly dangerous.

Something that became all too apparent during the Covid panic was the failure of either the general population or most of the media to put things in context. We’re seeing the same again with the monkeypox scare. The Spectator published this table on May 23rd showing that in this recent scare there have been to date 56 cases of monkeypox in England and 170 worldwide.

https://dailysceptic.org/2022/05/24/whats-so-special-about-monkeypox/

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Opinion

The algorithm myth: why the bots won’t take over – The Spectator

Google once believed it could use algorithms to track pandemics. People with flu would search for flu-related information, it reasoned, giving the tech giant instant knowledge of the disease’s prevalence. Google Flu Trends (GFT) would merge this information with flu tracking data to create algorithms that could predict the disease’s trajectory weeks before governments’ own estimates.

But after running the project for seven years, Google quietly abandoned it in 2015. It had failed spectacularly. In 2013, for instance, it miscalculated the peak of the flu season by 140 per cent.

According to the German psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer, this is a good example of the limitations of using algorithms to surveil and study society. The 74-year-old has just written a book on the subject, How to Stay Smart in a Smart World. He thinks humans need to remain in charge in a world increasingly filled with artificial intelligence that tries to replicate human thinking.

http://archive.today/2022.02.17-120640/https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-algorithm-myth-why-the-bots-won-t-take-over

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News

Did the Covid modellers get it wrong? – The Times

It is more than a rebuke to Medley and the modellers though. This pandemic began, for many, with an announcement from Imperial College, whose study predicted 500,000 deaths if we did nothing. We locked down and never tested the prediction.

This time, in the face of what the public saw as dire predictions, we didn’t lock down and the apocalypse never came. The unspoken — and sometimes spoken — implication is clear: are we all fools?

http://archive.today/2022.02.12-105548/https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/b7b928e6-8b4c-11ec-8600-c48a9935f856

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Opinion

Britain’s unethical Covid messaging must never be repeated – The Spectator

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.

http://archive.today/2022.02.06-091111/https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/britain-s-unethical-covid-messaging-must-never-be-repeated

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Opinion

Do masks really halve the risk of Covid? A note on the evidence – The Spectator

The analysis identified 72 studies that might potentially have provided evidence on the effectiveness of masks, social distancing and hand washing. Of those, just six (not eight, 30 or 72) were sufficiently relevant — and of sufficient quality — that they could provide any useful information on mask efficacy. And how reliable were the six? Four were assessed to have a moderate risk of bias, and two to have a serious or critical risk.

http://archive.today/2021.11.29-133400/https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/do-masks-really-halve-the-risk-of-covid-a-note-on-the-evidence

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Opinion

My post-vaccine chest pain and a desperate search for answers – The Spectator

Four months ago, I had my second dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. I work for the NHS and fully support Britain’s vaccination campaign, so it was a simple decision for me to make. I had no problems with my first dose and I knew that the vaccines have been found to be highly effective and safe, preventing up to 96 per cent of Covid hospitalisations.

The day after my second dose I began to feel some aches and pains, but I gave little thought to the vaccine and carried on as normal. Four days later though my chest was seriously aching. I tried various stretches and painkillers but my symptoms grew worse. Then there was a sharp pain, piercing into the left side of my chest, near my heart. After a quick call to NHS 111, they sent me directly to Accident & Emergency, where I was strapped up to an electrocardiogram (ECG) machine and given blood tests to see if I was having a heart attack. I’m in my early thirties and relatively healthy, with no family history of heart disease or underlying conditions, and I’d never felt this sensation before.

http://archive.today/2021.11.21-115355/https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/my-post-vaccine-chest-pain-and-a-desperate-search-for-answers

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Opinion

The absurd theatre of vaccine passports – The Spectator

In August, Public Health England released data which shows that vaccination does not appreciably guard against Covid infection and transmission and protection worked out at around 17 per cent for the over-fifties. As I observed then, this would mean the vaxxed and unvaxxed pose a comparable danger to each other. All Covid apartheid schemes are therefore insensible.

Fresher information has fortified this conclusion of the summer. In every age group over 30 in the UK, the rates of Covid infection per 100,000 are now higher among the vaxxed than the unvaxxed. Indeed, in the cohorts aged between 40 and 79, infection rates among the vaccinated are more than twice as high as among the unvaccinated. PHE’s fruitlessly rechristened body, the UK Health Security Agency, frantically clarifies that the data ‘should not be used to estimate vaccine effectiveness’, a caveat which I include for the sake of accuracy. But the differences in the infection rates are drastic enough for you to draw your own conclusions.

http://archive.today/2021.11.18-125907/https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-absurd-theatre-of-vaccine-passports

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Opinion

Freedom Day? You have a barcode on your forehead – The Spectator

Our government has used Covid as an excuse to turn Australians into digital products. It is the perfect scam. Every dictatorship knows that humans are cheap, renewable, and disposable. Our digital identities are worth a fortune to the right third-party buyer, while the ability to track and control our movements presents a unique opportunity for politicians wishing to manage democracy instead of being a victim of its whims. 

http://archive.today/2021.10.11-231353/https://www.spectator.com.au/2021/10/freedom-day-you-have-a-barcode-on-your-forehead/

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News

So what about Sweden, huh? – The Spectator

It’s amazing how often Sweden still crops up in conversations. It didn’t impose tough lockdown, kept primary schools and core economic activities functioning, issued clear guidelines and relied on voluntary social distancing and personal hygiene practices to manage the crisis. For harsh lockdowns to be justified elsewhere, Sweden had to be discredited. Hence the harsh criticisms of Sweden’s approach last year by the New York TimesNewsweekUSA Today, CBS News and others.

But with Sweden’s demonstrable success, goalposts have shifted. Every time it’s mentioned as a counter to Europe’s high Covid-toll lockdown countries, the response now is: ‘But their Nordic neighbours did much better. Look at Denmark’. Let’s ‘interrogate’ this argument.

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Opinion

Why I spoke out against lockdowns – Professor Martin Kulldorff, Spiked

I had no choice but to speak out against lockdowns. As a public-health scientist with decades of experience working on infectious-disease outbreaks, I couldn’t stay silent. Not when basic principles of public health are thrown out of the window. Not when the working class is thrown under the bus. Not when lockdown opponents were thrown to the wolves. There was never a scientific consensus for lockdowns. That balloon had to be popped.

…Ultimately, lockdowns protected young low-risk professionals working from home – journalists, lawyers, scientists, and bankers – on the backs of children, the working class and the poor.

https://www.spiked-online.com/2021/06/04/why-i-spoke-out-against-lockdowns/

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News

Were fears of a third wave overblown? – The Spectator

So, the third wave is officially no more. New modelling by SPI-M, the government’s committee on modelling for pandemics, has, at a stroke, eradicated the predicted surge in new infections, hospital admissions and deaths which it had pencilled in for the autumn or winter as a result of lockdown being eased. 

…As Philip Thomas explained here on Sunday, Imperial College has also assumed strangely low estimates for the number of people in Britain carrying antibodies. If you are going to use assumptions that are far more pessimistic than real world data suggests, it is small wonder that SPI-M keeps predicting waves and surges that turn out to be wide of the mark. The question is: why are these modelling teams using such negative assumptions?

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/how-likely-is-a-third-wave-

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Opinion

Despotic laws can — even should — be ignored – Jonathan Sumption, The Spectator

The retired Justice of the Supreme Court admits breaking lockdown regulations and seems willing to countenance civil disobedience

…So most readers will turn first to Sumption’s final chapter, about the Covid pandemic. His target is not just the government and its decision to exercise ‘coercive powers over its citizens on a scale never previously attempted [and] with minimal parliamentary involvement’. He also blames the public for voluntarily surrendering their liberty ‘out of fear of some external threat’ — and MPs for agreeing to work remotely. Because this chapter was written as a lecture in October, it makes no mention of the government’s successful vaccination programme. His prediction that ‘Britain seems likely to suffer greater economic damage than almost every other European country’ is one he might now reconsider.

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/despotic-laws-can-even-should-be-ignored-says-jonathan-sumption

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Opinion

Hospital wards are filling up again – with fakers – Dr Anton Gilbert, The Spectator

How do I know that Britain’s Covid crisis is over? The fakers are back. The hypochondriacs, the psychosomatics, the pseudo-fitters, the attention-seekers and the lonely. They’ve started to return to the acute medical ward where I work. They’ve been gone so long I actually almost missed them.

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/hospital-wards-are-filling-up-again-with-fakers

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Opinion

What role do schools play in the spread of Covid-19? – The Spectator

Analysis of the age profile of Covid infections, however, does not point to schools being especially important in the early-stage growth of the second wave. Although the report does also observe that ‘school closures can contribute to a reduction in SARS-CoV-2 transmission’.

But had schools played a big role you would expect to have seen a sharp increase in cases among children of school age a week or two following the return to the classroom. Instead, the ECDC noted that Europe’s second wave began with a sharp increase in cases among 19 to 39 year olds in mid August. Cases among 16 to 18 year olds also increased around this time, but the curve of infections among younger children rose much more gradually, in step with infection rates in the over-40s. 

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/what-role-do-schools-play-in-the-spread-of-covid-19-

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News

Why lockdown scepticism is growing in Japan – The Spectator

‘We all know it’s bull and we’ve had enough.’ This is not the kind of language I have come to expect from the Japanese. But this protester, who lived for twelve years in Reading, which accounted for his excellent, if rather fruity English, was clearly angry. He was one of hundreds outside Tokyo’s Shinjuku station last week, attending the latest in a series of small but significant demonstrations of the growing Covid-sceptic movement.

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Opinion

Landmark Danish study finds no significant effect for facemask wearers – Prof Carl Heneghan & Dr Tom Jefferson, The Spectator

In the end, there was no statistically significant difference between those who wore masks and those who did not when it came to being infected by Covid-19. 1.8 per cent of those wearing masks caught Covid, compared to 2.1 per cent of the control group. As a result, it seems that any effect masks have on preventing the spread of the disease in the community is small.

…there is a troubling lack of robust evidence on face masks and Covid-19…The only studies which have shown masks to be effective at stopping airborne diseases have been ‘observational’…But observational studies are prone to recall bias: in the heat of a pandemic, not very many people will recall if and when they used masks and at what distance they kept from others.

https://web.archive.org/web/20201119080242/https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/do-masks-stop-the-spread-of-covid-19-

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Opinion

Is the cost of another lockdown too high? – The Spectator

At times, the argument about lockdown has been described as a choice between saving lives or saving money. But this is a false equivalence. A weak economy leads to weakened citizens: it means less tax revenue, less money for the NHS, and poorer families – wealth and health are all too-closely linked. Just look at the difference in height between Koreans, depending on which side of the 38th parallel their grandparents happened to be caught on.

It’s easy to measure money, but it’s far harder to measure the indirect results of a richer or poorer economy. It’s also hard to work out how much money you should spend to save a life. Ban cars, and you’ll end road deaths. But you’d also hit the economy. So a balance has to be struck somewhere.

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/is-the-cost-of-another-lockdown-too-high-

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Opinion

Is the NHS at risk of being overwhelmed by Covid? – The Spectator

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, has gone back to Plan A, reviving his ‘protect the NHS’ message from March and now wears a facemask with those words on it. The Prime Minister is repeating the slogan. It’s  deeply controversial with senior doctors who fear that it discourages the sick from seeking help – which might explain the 28,000 excess at-home deaths over the last few months. The NHS is worried about this and has countered with its own advert, urging people to seek medical help. I looked at this in my latest Daily Telegraph column.

The NHS has learned much from the first wave of Covid. PPE equipment, for example, is now in bountiful supply. Basic medical techniques – better use of blood thinners, oxygen therapy, steroids etc – are having a big impact on survival rates. When Boris Johnson went into intensive care, his survival chances were about 50 per cent. Now, they would be closer to 70 per cent. The trajectory this time is nowhere near as daunting – the below graph shows the rise of Covid patients needing critical care. As the data shows, intensive care unit (ICU) usage is 13 per cent of what it was at the end of March. (These figures are from the Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre.)

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/how-likely-is-the-nhs-to-be-overwhelmed-by-covid-

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Opinion

Why I’m resigning from the government – Chris Green MP, The Spectator

The Greater Manchester ‘local lockdown’ and the more extreme economic lockdowns have both failed to control the number of positive tests within the Borough of Bolton, which has inexorably risen.

During the lockdown, Bolton has seen 20,000 fewer GP referrals to hospital when compared to last year, while many others have not accessed vital treatment because they have been too frightened to do so. By taking our current approach to Covid-19, we are creating many other health problems that are leading to pain, suffering and death. 

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/why-i-m-resigning-from-the-government

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Opinion

Quantifying the cost of lockdown – The Spectator

We have had plenty of anecdotes about people failing to be diagnosed with serious diseases during lockdown. This is thanks to either to hospitals cancelling appointments, GP surgeries stopping face-to-face meetings or people picking up the message that they should protect the NHS by trying not to use it. 

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/quantifying-the-cost-of-lockdown