As you know I live in the UK, so my vantage point about coronavirus comes partially from my ringside seat where I live. And it has now finally emerged and been confirmed by the UK Office of Statistics Regulation that the British government imposed a second lockdown this week on the basis of incorrect information.
For the benefit of those of you outside the UK, last Saturday, Professor Chris Whitty and Dr Patrick Vallance, the major medical and scientific advisors respectively, who have steered the UK government’s course on Covid, held a press conference making the case for a second full UK lockdown.
They produced rather sketchily labeled graphs indicating that the UK would suffer up to 1500 deaths a day and 9000 daily hospital admissions by early December – a level that would overtake the death toll seen at the peak of the first wave of the pandemic – if we did nothing but continued on our ‘tier-system’ course of local restrictions in highly Covid-infected areas.
In fact, their ‘worst-case scenario deaths’ would rise to 4000 a day by the end of December.
Vallance went on to say that the figures over the next six weeks presented a ‘very grim picture.’ He also claimed that these figures offered ‘greater certainty’ than the long-term modeling had previously provided.
This Show and Tell prefigured the government’s decision to lock down the country for a month, once again to prevent the National Health Service from being overwhelmed by Covid hospital cases.
It soon emerged that the stats used were ‘riddled with errors,’ according to Professor Carl Heneghan of Oxford University, based on outdated figures that were initially wrong anyway and were scenarios simply ‘based on assumptions.’
Within the week, the government was forced to admit the errors and revise down the predictions, not least because the Office of Statistics Regulation rapped it on the knuckles for publicizing misleading data, saying that the data has not been supported by transparent information provided in a timely manner.
As Heneghan noted, the assumptions the chief scientists used are ‘inscrutable and decisions taken on their basis are unaccountable.’
He added: ‘The growing number of errors seem to occur in only one direction – the worst-case scenario.’
To bolster their position arguing in favor of lockdown, the government pointed to 10 hospitals crowded with patients above their highest levels last spring. In the event they ignored 472 other hospitals, most of which have capacity at normal levels for autumn and winter months.
Yesterday, Shelley Tasker, 43 – a healthcare assistant at Treliske hospital, which is part of the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust – grabbed a bullhorn, took to the streets and, standing in front of Truro Cathedral, announced to the crowd that she was leaving the job she loved rather than living a lie any longer.
At the height of the pandemic, she said, ‘I had no work for three weeks because there were no patients. We have a particular Covid ward. None of the wards were overflowing with Covid patients and they're not now.'
She went on to claim that the flu and Covid cases are now recorded as 'the same thing' on death certificates.
She also said that in three hospitals over seven months, the entire death toll was 76 people. Official figures back her up – just 67 people died at her hospital at Treliske between March and September and just four people with the virus were receiving care from Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust on October 29.
The information is clear: the government didn’t tell the truth. The big question is why. And the likely answer is to justify the decisions they’ve previously made about Covid.
To shift the blame for their own inept handling of the virus to the public: we’re locking you down because you can’t be trusted to follow the rules.
When debating whether to lock down or not in Parliament, even the ordinarily timid former Prime Minister Theresa May stood up to her own Conservative Party’s government and forcefully scolded: ‘For many people, it looks as if the figures are chosen to support the policy rather than the policy being based on the figures.’
But the bigger question is: why are we standing for this?
One reason is that governments have persuaded the public that a pandemic is analogous to a war, exhorting us to adopt a type of wartime mentality that maintains it is treasonous to question what the government or any authority is doing.
Journalists who do so risk being attacked as being part of the alt-right or proponents of the ‘plandemic’ created as a conspiracy by dark forces.
And that is perhaps the biggest problem of this pandemic: a politicization of the truth.
Reactions to the virus and its treatment are not being judged by evidence (that is, true evidence and not manufactured ‘scientific’ modeling), but by politics.
Even the press has been remiss in parroting the government line and not doing its job.
Those members of the public who agree with calls for restrictions like lockdown, as opposed to those who favor herd immunity, tend to fall into two political camps.
I’m an investigative reporter by background (and by temperament), so my inclination is always to unearth the truth and facts, without fear or favor. Whether it goes against the government, the medical establishment – or even my own beliefs.
Sometimes those facts are inconvenient, such as the fact that the Covid tests are highly inaccurate or even, like today, that the UK government is lying to us about the size of the epidemic in order to save face and shift the blame.
This does not mean there isn’t a pandemic and that people aren’t dying from a nasty virus.
But when truth becomes politicized – when it’s not all about the weight of evidence, but what is going to bolster someone’s politics – when it cannot be debated openly or new facts be presented without being demonized, all of us lose.
Happily, some organizations are fighting against Covid policy by decree. See https://timeforrecovery.org/ which is calling for reasonable open public debate.
Let’s hope that all of us can put aside politics for just one moment and look at this virus and its eradication openly and dispassionately.