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News

Revealed: Sir Patrick Vallance has £600,000 shareholding in firm contracted to develop vaccines – The Telegraph

The UK’s chief scientific adviser has a £600,000 shareholding in a drugs giant contracted to develop a Covid-19 vaccine for the Government, prompting claims of a potential conflict of interest.

  • Sir Patrick Vallance, Chief Scientific Adviser to UK Government, was president of GSK 2012 – 2018
  • Holds a deferred bonus of 43,111 shares worth £600,000
  • Cashed in more than £5m worth of shares upon resignation of GSK
  • Sir Vallance special board on vaccines

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/09/23/revealed-sir-patrick-vallance-has-600000-shareholding-firm-contracted/

Categories
News

Covid: Deaths near lowest level since March – BBC

Coronavirus accounted for 1% of all deaths in England and Wales in the second week of this month.

That’s among the lowest figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) since March when the pandemic took hold.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-54248150

Categories
Opinion

Under cover of coronavirus, the Tory government is bulldozing basic liberties – The Guardian

And then there is the biggest issue of all: the fact that breaking the rule is a criminal offence. As the Hampstead incident suggests, some police officers are evidently seizing their chance to indulge in the kind of neurotic, unnecessary behaviour that first reared its head at the start of lockdown.As part of a quest for “stronger enforcement of the rules”, Boris Johnson has proposed local “Covid marshals” who will ensure any miscreants do as they are told. Now, there are to be fines of up to £10,000 for people judged to have breached self-isolation rules, and the police will be checking compliance in the “highest incidence areas” and “high-risk groups”, based on “local intelligence”.

…The legislation allows ministers to authorise no end of drastic moves, from much weaker oversight of government surveillance and sectioning powers under the Mental Health Act to the closure of the UK’s borders. Perhaps the most startling section – which Martha Spurrier, the director of the pressure group Liberty, calls “completely wild” – lays out how the police can be rapidly allowed to detain anyone deemed “potentially infectious”, without an upper time limit.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/sep/21/coronavirus-government-liberties-tories-police-powers-laws

Categories
Opinion

Boris must urgently rethink his Covid strategy – Professor Carl Heneghan, Professor Karol Sikora, Professor Sunetra Gupta

Dear Prime Minister, Chancellor, CMOs and Chief Scientific Adviser

We are writing with the intention of providing constructive input into the choices with respect to the Covid-19 policy response. We also have several concerns regarding aspects of the existing policy choices that we wish to draw attention to.

In summary, our view is that the existing policy path is inconsistent with the known risk-profile of Covid-19 and should be reconsidered. The unstated objective currently appears to be one of suppression of the virus, until such a time that a vaccine can be deployed. This objective is increasingly unfeasible (notwithstanding our more specific concerns regarding existing policies) and is leading to significant harm across all age groups, which likely offsets any benefits.

Instead, more targeted measures that protect the most vulnerable from Covid, whilst not adversely impacting those not at risk, are more supportable. Given the high proportion of Covid deaths in care homes, these should be a priority. Such targeted measures should be explored as a matter of urgency, as the logical cornerstone of our future strategy.

In addition to this overarching point, we append a set of concerns regarding the existing policy choices, which we hope will be received in the spirit in which they are intended. We are mindful that the current circumstances are challenging, and that all policy decisions are difficult ones. Moreover, many people have sadly lost loved ones to Covid-19 throughout the UK. Nonetheless, the current debate appears unhelpfully polarised around views that Covid is extremely deadly to all (and that large-scale policy interventions are effective); and on the other hand, those who believe Covid poses no risk at all. In light of this, and in order to make choices that increase our prospects of achieving better outcomes in future, we think now is the right time to ‘step back’ and fundamentally reconsider the path forward.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Sunetra Gupta; Professor of theoretical epidemiology, the University of Oxford

Professor Carl Heneghan; Director, Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, the University of Oxford

Professor Karol Sikora; Consultant oncologist and Professor of medicine, University of Buckingham

Sam Williams; Director and co-founder of Economic Insight

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/boris-needs-to-rethink-his-covid-strategy

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News Opinion

The only ‘circuit break’ in the pandemic we need now is from the government’s doom-mongering scientific advisers who specialise in causing panic and little else, say PROF CARL HENEGHAN and DR TOM JEFFERSON – Daily Mail

  • ‘Circuit break’ may be a grave error with terrible consequences for the health of the British people and for the health of the country.
  • The Government is once again in the grip of doom-mongering scientific modellers who specialise in causing panic.
  • The latest reliable data from Spain (up to September 3) which does not indicate any sort of upward curve in infections, let alone one coming to get us here in Britain.
  • Anyone with clinical experience of dealing with respiratory viruses knows that the only certainty is uncertainty itself.
  • Making comparisons between countries using different national data with different definitions is no more useful than trying to compare apples and pears.
  • Latest study shows that nearly a third of all Covid-19 deaths recorded in July and August might have actually been the result of other causes –cancer, for example, or road traffic accidents.
  • Sweden has probably suppressed Covid-19 to the same level as Great Britain but without draconian measures.
  • Anyone going down with a new respiratory illness is likely to be suffering from a cold – not Covid.

Covid-19 accounts for an average of 11 of the 1,687 deaths in Britain every day, according to official statistics.

CauseUK deaths per day
Heart disease460
Cancer450
Dementia240
Flu and pneumonia124
Lung disease84
Accidents at home16
Infections16
Suicide15
COVID-1911
Road accidents5

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-8751389/Oxford-scientists-circuit-break-need-cycle-bad-data-bad-science.html

Categories
Opinion

Lies, Damned Lies and Health Statistics – the Deadly Danger of False Positives – Dr. Mike Yeadon

I believe I have identified a serious, really a fatal flaw in the PCR test used in what is called by the UK Government the Pillar 2 screening – that is, testing many people out in their communities. I’m going to go through this with care and in detail because I’m a scientist and dislike where this investigation takes me. 

…In the last 40 years alone the UK has had seven official epidemics/pandemics; AIDS, Swine flu, CJD, SARS, MERS, Bird flu as well as annual, seasonal flu. All were very worrying but schools remained open and the NHS treated everybody and most of the population were unaffected. The country would rarely have been open if it had been shut down every time.

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News

Parliament surrendered role over Covid emergency laws, says Lady Hale – The Guardian

The former president of the supreme court says parliament “surrendered” its role over emergency laws restricting freedoms amid the coronavirus pandemic, in an intervention expected to embolden MPs threatening a Commons revolt.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/20/parliament-surrendered-role-over-covid-emergency-laws-says-lady-hale

Categories
Opinion

‘The Coronavirus Act has never been lawfully used’ – Kirsty Brimelow QC, Spiked

  • There were two pieces of emergency legislation which came into force in late March:
    • the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations;
    • the Coronavirus Act.
  • The Coronavirus Act has never been lawfully used. It has been continually misapplied.
  • The Crown Prosecution Service conducted a review of all charges under the coronavirus laws – both under the regulations and the Coronavirus Act. It found an extremely high percentage of charges made under the coronavirus laws were wrongly brought.
  • The law has the power to criminalise people. Breaching guidance should not result in criminal prosecution.
  • The rule of law developed to protect the weak and vulnerable from the strong, and to treat people equally. That has been hard fought for. That equal application of the law cannot be dependent on positions of power. The rule of law is also there to prevent the government from acting illegally. The government cannot subject us to restrictions and punishments unless justified by law.
  • The laws have come into force with less scrutiny than you would get for a new series on Netflix.
  • There’s no justification for ongoing revision of law without it going through parliament. The reason why parliament is so important is it raises checks and balances.
  • Laws are really being used as an exercise of power by police, who are not considering the health and safety aspect.

https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/09/18/the-coronavirus-act-has-never-been-lawfully-used/

Categories
Opinion

Lockdown failed. We must follow the Swedish model and learn to live with Covid – The Telegraph

I knew a second lockdown was on the cards before we’d had the first one. In mid-March my team at the University of Edinburgh modelled a lockdown that ended in June and was followed by a slow, initially imperceptible rise in cases over the summer, culminating in a second lockdown in late September.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/09/19/uk-needs-follow-swedish-model-learn-live-covid/

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Opinion Videos

Andrew Neil interviews Anders Tegnell – a second wave and what Sweden got right – SpectatorTV

Categories
Opinion

This second wave of coronavirus is simply not as deadly… if we panic, so many more lives will be lost, says PROFESSOR KAROL SIKORA – Daily Mail

Britain is now in grave danger of sleepwalking into a second national lockdown. The consequences of doing so would be disastrous.

We find ourselves in this wretched position partly because the Government’s main achievement since the pandemic first emerged in China has not been suppressing the virus or saving lives or the economy, but in spreading irrational fear.

  • A blanket lockdown is the last thing we should be contemplating if we are serious about the nation’s mental and physical well-being.
  • This second wave or will not trigger the explosion in deaths we saw in the spring.
  • Not a single young child has died in the UK from Covid without some other serious pre-existing condition.
  • According to Cambridge statistician Sir David Spiegelhalter, anyone under 50 is more likely to die in a car crash than from the virus.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-8748883/This-second-wave-coronavirus-simply-not-deadly-says-PROFESSOR-KAROL-SIKORA.html

Categories
News

Common colds ‘may account for some reported COVID-19 cases’, PHE survey says – Sky News

Rising cases of the common cold could be giving a false picture of the spread of coronavirus among children.

Public Health England’s weekly coronavirus report shows a rise of almost 23% in rhinovirus infections, which include the common cold, in the last week.

https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-common-colds-may-account-for-some-reported-covid-19-cases-phe-survey-says-12075554

Categories
Videos

Dr Mike Yeadon: ‘Government are using a Covid-19 test with undeclared false positive rates.’ – talkRadio

Dr. Mike Yeadon, former Chief Scientific Advisor, Pfizer:

  • The evidence suggests that a substantial number of the positive cases are false positives.
  • The government doesn’t know or is not disclosing the false positive rate.
  • False positive rate may be as high as 1%, which would mean most or all of the positives are false positives.
  • We are finding traces of an ‘old’ virus which can’t possibly make people sick.
  • The test looks for a piece of genetic code. A positive test does not mean someone is sick.
  • ONS says the prevalence of the virus is less than 0.1%.
  • Pillar 2 (community) testing seems to be flawed. Method of processing samples would be inadmissible if this were a forensic case.
  • The number of COVID deaths is continuing to stay low and fallen for 6 months. For it to suddenly increase would need a big change in transmission.
  • Young people would have been the first who caught COVID-19 because they were not social distancing. The idea that the young people are now getting it is “for the birds.”
  • If positive tests are false, they will be distributed evenly in the population. This is what we’re finding.
  • Mass testing is not the answer.
  • Sweden is not doing mass testing and their society has had 0.06% of their population die from COVID-19. This is the same as the UK.
  • We are using a test with an undeclared false-positive rate.
  • Are we re-testing the positives? This is unclear.
  • A second lockdown is going to amplify the non-COVID deaths.
  • UK’s lockdown was too late to prevent the initial spread.
  • Mass population immunity is keeping the deaths low. This is the most reasonable explanation for the differences between the models and reality.

Categories
Publications

Use of “normal” risk to improve understanding of dangers of covid-19 – BMJ

Accumulating data on deaths from covid-19 show an association with age that closely matches the “normal” risk we all face. Explaining risk in this way could help people understand and manage their response, says David Spiegelhalter

As covid-19 turns from a societal threat into a matter of risk management, it is vital that the associated risks are understood and clearly communicated.1 But these risks vary hugely between people, and so finding appropriate analogues is a challenge. Although covid-19 is a complex multisystem disease that can cause prolonged illness, here I focus solely on the risks of dying from covid-19 and explore the use of “normal” risk—the risk of death from all causes each year—as an aid to transparent communication.

  • General population: the risk of catching and then dying from covid-19 during 16 weeks of the pandemic was equivalent to experiencing around 5 weeks extra “normal” risk for those over 55, decreasing steadily with age, to just 2 extra days for schoolchildren
  • Over 55 who are infected with covid-19: additional risk of dying is slightly more than the “normal” risk of death from all other causes over one year, and less for under 55s.

https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m3259

Categories
Opinion

The evidence for the ‘Rule of 6’ is not promising – UnHerd

As always, we have to be careful before drawing out firm conclusions from data when many other factors may be involved. But we can be clear that the restrictions on family meet-ups in the Northern Lockdown areas have not managed to prevent positive cases increasing.

https://unherd.com/thepost/the-evidence-for-the-rule-of-6-is-not-promising/

Categories
Opinion

Boris Johnson needs to bin the rule of six- The Spectator

  • The ‘rule of six’ has no scientific evidence to back it up, and may well end up having major social consequences.
  • Increased activity at the end of summer leads to an increase in acute respiratory infections, as it does every year.
  • Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence Based Medicine: no scientific evidence on the effects of measures such as distancing on respiratory viral spread. No study pointing to the number six. If it’s made up, why not five or seven?
  • Admissions for Covid, critical care bed occupancies and deaths are now at an all-time low.
  • There are currently 600 patients in hospital with Covid compared to over 17,000 at the height of the epidemic. An average of ten patients a day die with Covid registered on their death certificate, compared to over 1,000 at the peak.
  • Shift in focus away from the impact of the disease is a worrying development.
  • Severity of the pandemic was monitored by numbers of cases, numbers of admissions, and deaths. All three measures are open to misinterpretation if their definitions are not standardised.
    • Cases are being over-diagnosed by a test that can pick up dead viral load.
    • Hospital admissions are subjective decisions made by physicians which can vary from hospital to hospital.
    • Even deaths have been misattributed.
  • Cases will rise, as they will in winter for all acute respiratory pathogens, but this will not necessarily translate into excess deaths.
  • Models ignore the vast expertise of our clinicians and public health experts who could provide a more robust approach based on their real-world healthcare experiences.
  • The current Cabinet is inexperienced:
    • the Health Secretary has been in post for just over two years now;
    • the PM and the Chief Medical Officer a year;
    • The Joint Biosecurity Centre is overseen by a senior spy who monitors the spread of coronavirus and suppresses new outbreaks;
    • New chair of the National Institute for Health Protection who has little or no background in healthcare.
  • The recognised alert threshold for ‘regular’ acute respiratory infections is 400 cases per 100,000.
  • Britain’s mental health has deteriorated. During lockdown, a fifth of vulnerable people considered self-harming, routine healthcare came to a standstill, operations were cancelled, and cancer care put on hold.
  • The most glaring initial blunder was not observing what was going on in other European nations and learning from their mistakes.
  • Life should return to as close as possible to normality.

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/boris-johnson-needs-to-bin-the-rule-of-six

Categories
News

Flu and pneumonia killed 10 times as many Brits as Covid-19 last week, statistics show – The Mirror

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that in the week ending 28 August 2020 1,040 deaths were linked to influenza or pneumonia. However, just 101 deaths were linked to coronavirus

https://www.mirror.co.uk/science/flu-pneumonia-killed-10-times-22666018

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News

GPs recorded three times more suspected cases of COVID-19 than official figures – Sky News

Suspected cases of COVID-19 recorded by GPs at the height of the pandemic were three times higher than officially confirmed infections, according to new research.

https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-gps-recorded-three-times-more-suspected-cases-of-covid-19-than-official-figures-12066280

Categories
News Opinion

Face mask rule for school children imposed ‘without proper research’ professor says – Professor Carl Heneghan, Daily Mail

FORCING school children to wear masks is part of a scattergun approach by a government “lacking the political will” to study the actual evidence, a professor warns.

Dr Carl Heneghan said that the mask doctrine came into place even as the deputy chief medical officer admitted there was no strong evidence they would help with the disease. This was despite the social and psychological damage masking pupils would cause, he said. He pointed out that with drug interventions, high quality testing was required before they were implemented. 

…He said: “Wearing masks can interfere with social wellbeing. We clearly understand with drugs the need to do proper research on the benefits against the harms before we use them.

This is a huge intervention to impose on society with many unknowns and potentially damaging consequences, but we are not doing the research to justify it.”

Categories
News

Hopes for normality grow as Covid shifts to the young: Two-thirds of new UK infections are in under-40s while rate in older people FALLS – raising hopes deaths will remain low without lockdowns – Dail Mail

The number of over-50s with Covid-19 represents a fifth of those nationwide

Just three per cent are aged over 80, down from 28 per cent six months ago

Peak age range for infections is now in the 20s but used to be in the 80s 

Sparked hope further restrictions could soon be reduced as older people shield 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8700399/Covid-shifts-young-Two-thirds-new-infections-UK-40s.html