Speaking this week on The Mail on Sunday’s Medical Minefield podcast, Prof Woolhouse said: ‘I think that lockdown will be viewed by history as a monumental mistake on a global scale, for a number of reasons.
‘The obvious one is the immense harm the lockdown, more than any other measure, did in terms of the economy, mental health and on the wellbeing of society.
…[A study published in Science in February 2021] also found something intriguing: lockdowns could, in a worst-case scenario, actually increase transmission of the virus by up to five per cent.
…As Dr Ali puts it: ‘Some people say lockdowns were beneficial, others that they were really terrible.
‘The reality actually is much closer to the idea that it didn’t make much difference either way.’
For those who made painful sacrifices, that won’t be an easy truth to swallow.
A senior epidemiologist who advised the government during the coronavirus pandemic claims he was told to “correct” his views after he criticised what he thought was an “implausible” graph shown at an official briefing.
Professor Mark Woolhouse has also apologised to his daughter, whose generation “has been so badly served by mine”, and believes that closing schools was “morally wrong”.
The Edinburgh University academic is deeply critical of the use of lockdown measures and says “plain common sense” was a “casualty of the crisis”.
Speaking to Sky News, Prof Woolhouse seemed concerned about a possible “big-brother” approach to the control of information about COVID.
He says he was told to watch what he was saying following a briefing given by Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) Sir Patrick Vallance on 21 September 2020.
“We knew from February , never mind March, that the lockdown would not solve the problem. It would simply delay it,” Woolhouse says, a note of enduring disbelief in his voice. And yet in government, “there was no attention paid to that rather obvious drawback of the strategy”.
Instead, lockdowns – which “only made sense in the context of eradication” – became the tool of choice to control Covid. The die was cast in China, which instituted ultra-strict measures and, unforgivably in Woolhouse’s book, was praised by the World Health Organisation for its “bold approach”. “The WHO,” he suggests, “got the biggest calls completely wrong in 2020. The early global response to the pandemic was woefully inadequate.”
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?
Covid should now be treated as an endemic virus similar to flu, and ministers should end mass-vaccination after the booster campaign, the former chairman of the UK’s vaccine taskforce has said.
With health chiefs and senior Tories also lobbying for a post-pandemic plan for a straining NHS, Dr Clive Dix called for a major rethink of the UK’s Covid strategy, in effect reversing the approach of the last two years and returning to a “new normality”.
“We need to analyse whether we use the current booster campaign to ensure the vulnerable are protected, if this is seen to be necessary,” he said. “Mass population-based vaccination in the UK should now end.”
here was a distinctive moment, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, that neatly encapsulated the mistakes and confusion of Britain’s early efforts to tackle the disease, says Mark Woolhouse. At a No 10 briefing in March 2020, cabinet minister Michael Gove warned the virus did not discriminate. “Everyone is at risk,” he announced.
And nothing could be further from the truth, argues Professor Woolhouse, an expert on infectious diseases at Edinburgh University. “I am afraid Gove’s statement was simply not true,” he says. “In fact, this is a very discriminatory virus. Some people are much more at risk from it than others. People over 75 are an astonishing 10,000 times more at risk than those who are under 15.”
And it was this failure to understand the wide variations in individual responses to Covid-19 that led to Britain’s flawed responses to the disease’s appearance, he argues – errors that included the imposition of a long-lasting, national lockdown. This is a strategy that Woolhouse – one of the country’s leading epidemiologists – describes as morally wrong and highly damaging in his forthcoming book, The Year the World Went Mad: A Scientific Memoir.
“We could be digging ourselves into a hole, for a very long time, where we think we can only keep Covid away by boosting every year,” Prof Eleanor Riley, an immunologist from the University of Edinburgh, told me.
Prof Adam Finn, a government vaccine adviser, said over-vaccinating people, when other parts of the world had none, was “a bit insane, it’s not just inequitable, it’s stupid”.
Government agencies such as health departments might be more inclined to intervene if findings from a study they commissioned are not as expected or if they are heavily invested in the health intervention — such as an education or health programme — being trialled, she adds.
A 2016 inquiry into the delayed publication of research commissioned by UK government agencies identified cases in which publication was “manipulated to fit with political concerns”. More recently, the British Medical Journal reported four instances of politicization and suppression of science in the United Kingdom during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is a major threat, not only to countries whose economies rely on agricultural exports, but also to industrialised countries that maintain a healthy domestic livestock industry by eliminating major infectious diseases from their livestock populations. Traditional methods of controlling diseases such as FMD require the rapid detection and slaughter of infected animals, and any susceptible animals with which they may have been in contact, either directly or indirectly. During the 2001 epidemic of FMD in the United Kingdom (UK), this approach was supplemented by a culling policy driven by unvalidated predictive models. The epidemic and its control resulted in the death of approximately ten million animals, public disgust with the magnitude of the slaughter, and political resolve to adopt alternative options, notably including vaccination, to control any future epidemics. The UK experience provides a salutary warning of how models can be abused in the interests of scientiﬁc opportunism.
- [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.
- Instead of indiscriminate rules, we should be concentrating on protecting the vulnerable.
- The rest should be allowed to get on with normal life and acquire some natural immunity.
- The Government’s policy is founded upon a great lie — that we are all vulnerable to Covid so it is necessary to take over the lives of everyone.
- For healthy people under 60 the symptoms are usually mild or non-existent.
- About 90 per cent of deaths have been of people aged over 70. Most are in their 80s or 90s.
- Infections don’t matter a row of beans unless they lead to hospitalisations or deaths.
- Out of nearly 43,000 dead with Covid-19, just 41 have been under 25.
- What we are seeing now…is the first spike…which has come back to hit us. Just as their advisers told them it would, back in February and March.
- So why are Johnson and his crew doubling down on failure? This is about covering politicians’ backs.
Researchers from Edinburgh University reassessed Imperial modelling that showed half a million people would die.
Blanket social distancing and the closure of schools may have cost more lives than if herd immunity had been allowed to build slowly in the community, a study suggests.
The cost of adding one more year of life to someone who is dying of coronavirus is more than five times higher than the maximum the NHS can spend on other illnesses, according to a statistician.
- The cost of adding one more year of life to someone who is dying of coronavirus is more than five times higher than the maximum the NHS can spend on other illnesses.
- Professor Simon Wood has calculated that it costs approximately £180,000 per extra year of life to rescue a dying Covid-19 patient.
- NHS watchdog will only spend up to £30,000 per year of life on any new treatment, deeming any higher cost a bad cost-to-benefit ratio.
- Many people left in worse physical or mental health, or in poverty, as a result of policies brought in to slow down Covid-19 could see years chopped off their life expectancy.
- The Office for Budget Responsibility predicted the UK’s national debt would grow by £550billion next year as a result of spending during the epidemic.
- The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which makes decisions on which drugs are good value for the NHS, considers £30,000 to be at the upper end of its good value limit.
- Statistical organisations across the UK, meanwhile, suggest that there have been around 59,000 ‘excess deaths’ during the epidemic, which includes people who died of Covid-19 but never tested positive, as well as those who died because of indirect effects of lockdown, such as being unable to get hospital care.
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.
No child who was not already profoundly ill has died of Covid-19 in Britain, a large study has indicated, with the researchers saying that the results should reassure parents as a new school term begins.
The study looked at 260 hospitals in England, Wales and Scotland. Out of the 69,500 patients admitted with proven Covid-19 in the first six months of the year, 651 — or 0.9 per cent — were under 19 years of age.
Six deaths of minors were recorded. Three were newborn babies with other severe health problems. The other three were aged 15 to 18 years old and also had “profound health issues”.
LOCKDOWN will come to be seen as a “monumental mistake on a global scale” and must never happen again, a scientist who advises the Government on infectious diseases says.
Mark Woolhouse said lockdown was a “panic measure” but admitted it was the only option at the time because “we couldn’t think of anything better to do”.
But it is a crude measure that takes no accounts of the risk levels to different individuals, the University of Edinburgh professor said, meaning that back in March the nation was “concentrating on schools when we should have been concentrating on care homes”.