The argument for a lockdown was overwhelming. When Boris Johnson addressed the nation eight weeks ago, it appeared as if a killer virus was about to engulf the population at astonishing speed. You had to be mad or bad, it seemed, not to back the Prime Minister as he urged us all to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. The moral justification for collective action was crystal clear. “Squashing the sombrero,” as Johnson colourfully put it, was needed to buy time for the NHS to fight this thing. And we did it. Britain achieved that aim.
The biggest political ruse of our time has now spiralled so far out of control that it has become almost impossible to distinguish fact from deception. Every day we are besieged with such a selective and biased artillery of “scientific” assertions that it makes a mockery of expert insight.
Every day we are subjected to yet more bitesized epidemiology that gives an utterly false impression of risk. And every day we are bombarded with terrifying death figures so out of context that they are effectively meaningless.
But if we are going to be served up with the daily death toll from Covid-19, isn’t it about time we were also provided with the number of deaths caused daily by the national lockdown? If you are prepared to dig around a bit, it is already possible to work this out from officially released figures.
The risk of coronavirus for the young is “staggeringly low”, the UK’s top statistician has said – as he condemned the government’s “embarrassing” handling of Covid-19.
He made withering criticisms of the Government’s handling of the crisis, saying its treatment of statistics was “not trustworthy” and amounted to “number theatre” rather than an attempt to properly inform the public.
Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College “stepped back” from the Sage group advising ministers when his lockdown-busting romantic trysts were exposed. Perhaps he should have been dropped for a more consequential misstep. Details of the model his team built to predict the epidemic are emerging and they are not pretty. In the respective words of four experienced modellers, the code is “deeply riddled” with bugs, “a fairly arbitrary Heath Robinson machine”, has “huge blocks of code – bad practice” and is “quite possibly the worst production code I have ever seen”.
New study analysing dozens of actual Covid-19 clusters from around the world shows enclosed spaces are hotbeds of the virus
- The overall infection rate was six per cent, but it was much higher among friends (22 per cent) and family members (18 per cent).
- In terms of location, the main risk factors were homes (13 per cent) transport (12 per cent) and dinner and entertainment (seven per cent).
- Risk of infection is much higher within households or other enclosed environments in which contact is close and sustained.
- In the outdoors, it falls to something in the 0-5 per cent range.
- Children, it seems, are not only better able to resist the infection within the home but also less likely to bring it back with them.
- Close and prolonged contact is required for transmission of the virus.
- Risk is highest in enclosed environments such as houses, care facilities, public transport, bars and other indoor spaces where people congregate.
- Casual, short interactions are not the main driver of the epidemic.
- Susceptibility to infection increases with age.
When foreign commentators discuss Sweden’s light-touch response to Covid-19, they tend to adopt an affronted tone. Which is, on the surface, surprising. You’d think everyone would be willing the Nordic country to succeed. After all, if Sweden can come through the epidemic without leaving a smoking crater where its economy used to be, there is hope for the rest of the world. So far, many signs appear encouraging. The disease seems to be following the same basic trajectory in Sweden as elsewhere.
A new analysis by Edge Health, a leading provider of data to NHS trusts, warns that a second and then a third wave of “non-corona” deaths are about to hit Britain. Unless radical solutions can be found to resume normal service and slash waiting lists, the NHS may be forced to institute a formal regime of rationing.
Posting anti-vaccine propaganda on social media could become a criminal offence.