Still, however, the battle for common sense over hysteria is far from won. Do we really think testing healthy children at an estimated cost of £144,564 per positive test is either “sensible” or “proportionate”? Do we really think that asking children who’ve already missed so much this year to miss further days isolating for a virus against which all vulnerable adults have been vaccinated is a drawback appropriately balanced against a benefit? And what do we think of this in the context of the looming discussion over offering the vaccine to children – at negligible risk from Covid – given the harm we should assume will ensue to a small minority of them?
Back in November, Nick Stokes emailed the Planet Normal podcast to protest that the NHS was being turned into the “National Covid Service”, and misinformation was being spread about hospitals being overwhelmed. “If there is a shortage of beds, that happens every single year – it is not due to Covid! I can remember several years of black alerts, ambulances unable to unload etc due to flu cases, but I don’t remember everything else being cancelled or people being told to stay at home.”
Watson’s response to the easing of lockdown is not all that uncommon, say psychologists. It is not yet known how many people will be affected by residual Covid anxiety after vaccination, but it’s feared a significant minority will struggle to readjust, especially as increased unlocking allows for large groups and big, crowded events to take place again.
There is a “prima facie risk” of harm to secondary school pupils from wearing masks during lessons due to the impact it has on their ability to breathe properly, according to lawyers acting for a 12-year-old girl against the Trust that runs her school.
Closing playgrounds has helped to fuel “a pandemic of mental health problems” among children, a parliamentary committee has warned.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood is calling for practical measures to help children recover from repeated lockdowns, which have left too many confined for long periods at home.
Meanwhile, the disconnect between what ordinary people can see with their own eyes and the Covid regulations only confirms the idea that Government pronouncements are no longer to be taken literally. The rules are starting to seem symbolic and removed, subject to broad reinterpretation. While the polling shows that people are content with the official pace of reopening, the mobility data (what people are actually doing) shows they have been quietly reopening their lives since January. Apple data now shows use of public transport in London up to nearly 70 per cent of normal from nearer 30 per cent at the start of this lockdown.
The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that 23 per cent of coronavirus deaths registered are now people who have died “with” the virus rather than “from” an infection.
This means that, while the person who died will have tested positive for Covid, that was not the primary cause of their death recorded on the death certificate.
Whether frightening the public was a deliberate – or honest – tactic has become the subject of intense debate, and dozens of psychologists have now accused ministers of using “covert psychological strategies” to manipulate the public’s behaviour.
They believe the Government, acting on the advice of behavioural experts, has emphasised the threat from Covid without putting the risks in sufficient context, leaving the country in “a state of heightened anxiety”.
They also claim that “inflated fear levels will be responsible for the ‘collateral’ deaths of many thousands of people with non-Covid illnesses” who are “too frightened to attend hospital”.
A future independent inquiry into the handling of coronavirus is expected to scrutinise Sage and consider whether such a monolithic body should hold so much power. Members of Sage have themselves expressed concern that the group holds too much sway over ministerial thinking and prevents alternative views being given equal weight.
As with so many of the Government’s Covid-19 measures, the ten-year jail sentence is important mainly for what it tells us about the mentality of the decision-makers. Laws like these can only be justified on the footing that nothing matters except keeping infections down.
They are the work of people who think that there is no limit to the human misery, oppressive cruelty, economic damage or injustice that we must put up with if it reduces infections.
A Government advert that says joggers and dog-walkers are “highly likely” to have Covid is to be discontinued after the regulator said there was no evidence to support the claim.
The Telegraph can reveal that the Cabinet Office has also agreed not to repeat the claim made in the 30-second radio ad – which also warns that “people will die” if individuals “bend the rules” – after being contacted by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
The taxpayer-funded advert was condemned by MPs and public health experts for spreading “false information” and risking “scaring” people into physical inactivity during the third national lockdown.
So, why are the excess death data and the Covid deaths data so out of whack? And why isn’t Covid killing lots and lots of people this winter, as it did in spring? Even if you ascribe all excess deaths to Covid and none to lockdown, there really does not seem to be anything out of the normal variation in total deaths from year to year. And surely, by now, the toll of unnecessary deaths caused by untreated cancer, heart disease, depression and so on, has at least begun to register.
One reason coronavirus might not be slaying all around it this winter is because, well, this is not its first winter. Remember: it is called Covid-19, as in 2019. Of course, the official version of history states that the virus never reached Western civilisation until the spring of 2020, but evidence for this assertion is based on dodgy polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and a profound rejection of common sense. (By the way, how many people do you know who had a severe bout of pneumonia-like symptoms last winter?)
But the main reason for the disparity is obvious: mass PCR testing. Under the current regime (science is the wrong word), a ‘Covid death’ is someone who dies having tested positive for Covid within the previous 28 days. When you test all hospital patients, as the UK does, then some of them will turn out to be positive – how many depends largely on the way you do the tests. And the more tests you do, the more ‘Covid deaths’ you will generate. It is that simple. Dr Mike Yeadon has written extensively on this, which he calls the PCR false positive pseudo-epidemic.
This means that at least 20,000 people who died from coronavirus last year would have been likely to have died from something else. The figure is likely to be higher because many more people have died from the impact of lockdown and cuts to NHS services, which will also be caught in the excess figures.
Trademark symptoms of seasonal flu could be mistaken for symptoms of Covid-19, it is claimed
People with common colds who are testing positive for Covid-19 may simply be asymptomatic cases, experts have said.
Trademark symptoms of seasonal flu could be mistaken for symptoms of Covid-19 if the individual tests positive for the virus, it is claimed.
More than eight in ten people who test positive for coronavirus show none of the main symptoms at the time they are tested, a major study by UCL previously revealed.
More than 10,000 people acquired coronavirus when they were being treated in hospital for other illnesses, The Telegraph can disclose.
Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said that 139 out of 357 Covid-19 patients they had treated had caught the virus there – 38.9 per cent – with board papers showing that five patients had died.
Office for National Statistics (ONS) data – which showed soaring coronavirus cases before the second lockdown – has been quietly revised down and now suggests that cases were largely plateauing at the time, it has emerged.
Many experts have complained that the data presented by the Government ahead of the lockdown was “riddled with errors” and exaggerated the need for a second lockdown, while Greg Clark, the chairman of the Commons science and technology committee, said the belated admission of errors was “of great concern”.
PHE researchers believe people with high levels of T-cells likely to have picked up immunity from coronaviruses like common cold
A quarter of people may already be immune to coronavirus even though many of them have never been infected, a new study by Public Health England (PHE) suggests.
Experts working inside Cabinet Office to sift through data that can inform policy-making
GCHQ has embedded a team in a Downing Street cell to provide Boris Johnson with real-time intelligence to combat the “emerging and changing threat” posed by Covid-19, The Telegraph can disclose.
GCHQ analysts have been given access to mobile phone data to track the public’s movements during the national lockdown. The up-to-the-minute reports on compliance are passed to the Prime Minister.
Government forced to reissue key charts used to justify second lockdown after admitting projected fatalities were overstated
Official projections which pushed the country into a second lockdown have been quietly revised to no longer suggest deaths could soon overtake those at the peak of the first wave, The Telegraph has learned.
Update seen by Telegraph shows capacity tracking as normal for beginning of November, with usual numbers of beds available
Hospital intensive care is no busier than normal for the majority of trusts, leaked documents have shown, raising more questions about whether a second national lockdown is justifiable.