X Close

Inside the Zero Covid campaign The urge to eliminate the virus is understandable — but at what cost?

How long will this last? (Photo by Stefano Guidi/Getty Images)

How long will this last? (Photo by Stefano Guidi/Getty Images)


February 4, 2021   6 mins

As I discovered last week, the first rule of ZeroCovid Club is: do not talk about ZeroCovid Club.

“ZeroCovid” is, after all, a term that elicits confusion and, sometimes, outright hostility. Perhaps that’s why, when leading members of the global ZeroCovid movement met for a three-day international conference last Wednesday, it had a far more innocuous title: the “Covid Community Action Summit”.

But even though this increasingly popular school of thought — which holds that we must not return to normal until the virus is completely eliminated within a country — wasn’t explicitly on the billing, its presence was made clear from the outset. In her introductory remarks, the moderator confirmed to the more than 600 registrants and speakers from across the world that “we are here to end Covid through ZeroCovid and CovidZero policies”. More often at the event, held over Zoom and organised by American scientist Yaneer Bar-Yam, speakers preferred to refer to ZeroCovid as an “elimination strategy”.

Yet the purpose of the event was clear: to share evidence and political advice to help campaigners lobby Western governments to abandon any notion of living alongside the virus, and instead to follow the lead of Asia-Pacific nations in aiming to eliminate the disease entirely within their borders. This group is crucially distinct from people who support ongoing lockdown measures to suppress the virus to a level where it is safe to reopen — for ZeroCovid believers, we cannot rest until that level is zero.

On paper, this approach may sound rather sensible. After all, surely we’d all rather live in a world without Covid? Yet having attended last week’s conference, I keep returning to a question that didn’t seem to particularly trouble the speakers: at what cost?

In the coming weeks, I suspect this is a question we will all be forced to answer. For make no mistake: this is no fringe movement. Their advocates are among the most regular faces in broadcast media; Professor Devi Sridhar, one of its most outspoken advocates, has appeared on Channel 4 News 21 times during the pandemic — more than any other expert.

There’s a UK ZeroCovid chapter, which last month hosted its own well-attended online conference; the Scottish government is committed to their campaign, alongside Independent SAGE, British trade unions and Labour MPs such as Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott. Meanwhile, influential Tory MPs like Jeremy Hunt advocate a strategy of “zero infections and elimination of the disease” and routinely refer to the Asian model. Google search results in the UK and US for “ZeroCovid” are at an all-time high. The campaign has momentum.

Judging by last week’s conference, it is easy to see why. The campaigners are, for the most part, an impressive, sincere and eloquent group. Many of them are young, telegenic and skilled communicators. But there was a mood — a unanimity of world view — that was unsettling; a fusion of overt progressive-Left politics with an ironclad certainty about their interpretation of the science. They referred to people who disagreed with them as needing to be “educated”: “deniers”, “right-wingers”, “conspiracy theorists”, or, perhaps lowest of all, “herd immunity apologists”.

More striking, however, was the time given over to messaging, organising and communications. Alongside talks on subjects ranging from how to reduce transmission in universities to which technologies could purify the air in gyms, some sessions felt more like the War Room of a political campaign.

“You have to be playing with the theory of mind of your audience,” said Tomás Ryan, a neuroscientist at Trinity College Dublin and co-founder of Ireland’s “ISAG” group that hopes to persuade the Irish government to adopt a ZeroCovid policy, in a session on strategy. “We’ve made a lot of tactical errors. We didn’t give enough time to selling the reward, which is so we can be like New Zealand.” His ISAG colleague Aoife McLysaght, a professor in molecular evolution, agreed: “We were the merchants of doom for a while… we’ve had to change our messaging. So we are now saying: you can have hugs again. You can go to music festivals. That kind of thing.”

The speakers all agreed on one central tactic: to be successful, ZeroCoviders must present themselves, counter-intuitively, as being anti-lockdown; it is only in order to quit today’s cycle of restrictions, they say, that we need to eliminate the virus completely.

But how to convince Western governments? One place to start could be two articles written by Tomas Pueyo, a tech and marketing executive who explained during a session on  “Communications Strategy & Policy” that his blogposts had garnered over 60 million views. They had even, he claimed, contributed to a global policy change on Covid. For him, it didn’t matter that he wasn’t an epidemiologist. His skill was in a different kind of viral transmission: online content. “I have experience in virals, in communication, in products that people like and share,” he said. “So I designed them for that purpose. I put a narrative structure, and some tips to make them spread virally, and it succeeded.”  The outcome of the pandemic, he explained, hinges on winning the comms game: “The epidemics of the 21st century are going to be fought more in communication than they are in the lab.”

Such a pithy remark is, of course, typical of communications professionals. But why are they now such a central part of the ZeroCovid campaign? Part of the reason might be the sustained vilification aimed at their opposing fringe group — the so-called “Covid deniers”. The ZeroCoviders are determined to avoid the same fate. As Tomás Ryan says: “unfortunately we have been presented as the extreme end of the Overton window — the other end being herd immunity and denialist people.”

More importantly, I suspect it also stems from the realisation that the implications of a country committing to ZeroCovid are highly political. At the moment, the fundamental offer in Western democracies is: accept these awful restrictions now, and the vaccines will soon offer a way out. This means that once deaths and the pressure on the health service are reduced to acceptable levels, people will expect to be able to resume their previous way of life.

But for the ZeroCovider, at that point we would need to do the opposite of relax. Instead, we would need to use ongoing “interventions” and test and trace protocols to drive virus levels even lower — even at a time when there is hardly any Covid about. It would need very talented comms professionals to successfully sell this to the British public.

At that point, even if — and that’s a very big if — Britain was able to reach ZeroCovid within our borders, what then? Most people accept the need for sensible border controls to defend against new variants while the vaccine is still being rolled out. But if our goal is an entirely Covid-free land, why would we ever relax border restrictions? You’d have to wait until the disease were eradicated on a global scale, which even the most committed activists don’t think is possible for years. As Irish minister and former Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said last week, ZeroCovid is “a promise you could never fulfil”; if you cut off the country, “when do you ever unseal, because then inevitably, you let the virus back in again”?

Still, perhaps the thorniest question is what life would be like inside our theoretical ZeroCovid fortress. At last week’s conference, speakers explained that they prefer to use Australia and New Zealand as good examples because they garner a more positive response than when they mention Asian countries.

But the country that invented the approach, one which may be a better guide of a large nation pursing the strategy after a severe outbreak, is China. Despite the footage of people celebrating in Wuhan on New Year’s Eve  — provided by the CCP and obediently carried on global networks such as CBS and the BBC — the reality of life in ZeroCovid China is anything but normal. Constantly fearful at the prospect of another outbreak, the country’s already expansive surveillance state has ramped up a gear, ready to withdraw liberty at the slightest sign of Covid. Last month, all 11 million inhabitants of Shijiazhuang were thrown into lockdown after a local outbreak; one week later, a further 5 million people outside Beijing were put into lockdown on the basis of a single case. Only this week, Hong Kong launched a policy of “ambush lockdowns” where residential blocks are sealed off at a moment’s notice.

David Rennie, Beijing bureau chief of The Economist, recently gave an astonishingly candid account of current ZeroCovid life in the Chinese capital:

“China’s strategy, from the start, was to have no infections at all… Still in Beijing, where we have hardly any cases, every time you step outside your door you have to use a smartphone to scan a QR code — every shop, every taxi, every bus, every metro station. You have no privacy at all — it’s all built around this electronic system of contact tracing. To leave Beijing you have to have a Covid test, to come back in you have to have a Covid test…. We basically don’t have the virus here, but the flip side is that they are keeping this place locked down as tight as a drum… It’s very hard to know where Covid containment starts and a Communist police state with an obsession with control kicks in.”

Surely that is the most powerful objection to the approach: that in reality it would require a long-term illiberal regime to achieve and maintain it. ZeroCovid is a totalitarian aim, best delivered by a totalitarian state. Even in Australia, last weekend there was panic buying in Perth as the city re-entered lockdown in response to a single positive test result. So far at least, British voters have not chosen to reject liberal democracy, no matter what the epidemiological allure of a ZeroCovid regime.

For now, the British Government has resisted the campaign’s logic, and the Prime Minister continues to make encouraging signals about easing restrictions and even summer holidays. But as the impact of the vaccine is felt and the number of cases continues to fall, the politically difficult question of what constitutes an acceptable level of infection will have to be addressed.

Whatever that level is, expect well-spoken ZeroCovid campaigners to say it is too high. At each hesitant step towards opening up society, expect it to be called irresponsible and short-termist. No doubt ZeroCoviders sincerely believe their campaign for a Covid-free world is a noble one. But how successful they are at influencing policy will affect the shape of our society for years to come.


Freddie Sayers is the Editor-in-Chief & CEO of UnHerd. He was previously Editor-in-Chief of YouGov, and founder of PoliticsHome.

freddiesayers

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

363 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
bcthimn
bcthimn
3 years ago

I’m a Kiwi living in Australia, to most on the outside its the best of both worlds but it’s not all its cracked up to be! Not much COVID-19 here and life is slightly normal but everyone still acts like every stranger is out to kill them. Lock down can be implemented as soon as a case emerges (Brisbane, Perth now Melbourne), I miss my freedom to choose whether or not I get a flu shot, I miss smiling at strangers, being friendly and kind to others, I miss going to work and sitting in meetings and impromptu catch ups with friends. We don’t have as much COVID-19 but the fear of it has changed everything! Yes people point to how well NZ and Australia has managed COVID-19 but living here it is just as miserable as anywhere else because of how life has changed! I wait for the day this hysteria has passed!

Ruth Learner
Ruth Learner
3 years ago
Reply to  bcthimn

Hi Thim, I lived in Aus until five years ago and then returned to my home in UK – thank god. The rhetoric coming out from Au and NZ seems deluded – and lockdowns aint got much to do with it. Love him or not, Ivor Cummins is a rigorous stats and evidence man – see this link for some theories about your part of the world – T-Cell immunity is most likely explanation, along with humidity/Vit. D/season differences/pop density etc. AU and NZ will end up going back to banana republic status soon, as they seem intent on keeping out the rest of the world… forever. Good luck. https://www.youtube.com/wat

Mark
Mark
3 years ago
Reply to  Ruth Learner

Banana republic status. That is utter utter rubbish. Here in NZ our economy is doing surprising well. Unemployment has just reduced to 4.9% from 5.3% for example.

bmck
bmck
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark

NZers seem to think that we can cancel one major earner (tourism), while doing our damnedest to cancel the other major earner by bribing all and sundry to replace farming with forestry, while spending up large on Zero Carbon in order to offset China’s coal-fired power stations and endless other vanity projects, without facing a firesale of assets and perpetual debt.

gardner.peter.d
gardner.peter.d
3 years ago
Reply to  Ruth Learner

Rubbish.

Paul Wright
Paul Wright
3 years ago
Reply to  Ruth Learner

Ivor Cummins is a rigorous stats and evidence man

Er, no, he’s a crank and a grifter (hope you’ve not been donating to his Patreon!). Cummins said in September that “around 80% are already de facto immune through cross-immunity, T-cells, prior coronaviruses” (source: Youtube Viral Issue Crucial Update Sept 8th: the Science, Logic and Data Explained!) 80% immunity would mean we had herd immunity already, which would mean rates of infected per day would only go down, not up. To put it mildly, this is not what has happened.

You might enjoy The Downfall of Ivor Cummins, also on YouTube, though.

Marilyn Shepherd
Marilyn Shepherd
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Wright

Nothing is going up, a PCR test is not an infection and never has been. All the global PCR tests were invented in the absence of any virus, do not diagnose anything or tell if any shred of RNA they find is infectious and the CDC and FDA both stated last year there was no evidence sars2 caused symptoms of anything called covid. Do keep up. Not only that the WHO finally noted in January that they were all being run at the 40-45 the WHO recommended which means not a single person ever got this so called new ”virus”, they got normal colds and flus.

bmck
bmck
3 years ago
Reply to  Ruth Learner

I agree with regard to New Zealand at least. The politicians are totally owned by the corporations, and everyone is in complete denial about the economic impact of government policies.

Hilary Easton
Hilary Easton
3 years ago
Reply to  Ruth Learner

btw that youtube link leads to a 404

Clare De Mayo
Clare De Mayo
3 years ago
Reply to  bcthimn

In regional Victoria Thim Nhim, and I agree with you whole heartedly. One positive test and everything is restricted again. Just horrible, and has underlined Aussies tendency to only care about their immediate families: community has been destroyed really. Forget about making new friends, expanding your circles, taking your life in a different direction, very depressing

gardner.peter.d
gardner.peter.d
3 years ago
Reply to  Clare De Mayo

Nonsense. I live in Melbourne. I have friends in country Victoria. The family is the building block of any society. There is no family versus community dichotomy. You are talking nonsense.

Helen Hughes
Helen Hughes
3 years ago

Clare is quite obviously not talking nonsense for herself. The two of you are simply experiencing things differently, and the very tendency to describe someone else’s lived experience as nonsense is a great part of the real problems we humans have at the moment – the inability to listen and empathise with one another. I am glad for you that you are doing fine. Just please remember that there are many others who are not.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  bcthimn

. . . and to think – we used to eat birthday cake that someone had blown on!

Pauline Ivison
Pauline Ivison
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

😂😂😂

Steve Dean
Steve Dean
3 years ago
Reply to  bcthimn

I am pretty sure the flu jab isn’t mandatory in Australia. They mandate care homes for instance, to have a flu jab program, but not to actually jab…

gardner.peter.d
gardner.peter.d
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Dean

Correct. It is not mandatory. What is mandated is that care homes offer flu jabs free of charge to their staff and inmates.

benbradley52
benbradley52
3 years ago

Inmates?!

James Rowlands
James Rowlands
3 years ago
Reply to  benbradley52

Lol.. life sentences for the lot of them….

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago

Deleted

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago

Incorrect.
“You cannot enter an aged care facility: if you have not been vaccinated against 2020 seasonal influenza.”
Ref: Government of South Australia Visits to residential care facilities

Marilyn Shepherd
Marilyn Shepherd
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth Hart

Yet according to the notifiable diseases site in SA there has been zero flu but there is a big outbreak of chicken pox due to parents being too scared to get their babies vaxxed. And for the record 4 old sick people died from this fake virus in April last year, 4 people died on the roads last weekend.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Dean

During Covid, flu vax has been mandatory for visitors to aged care facilities, workers and family.

Elizabeth Smith
Elizabeth Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  bcthimn

I am working with an Australian expat. He and his brother have been told by their parents that they must not return because of the restrictions. Ever.
He is applying for UK citizenship.

gardner.peter.d
gardner.peter.d
3 years ago

Misguided. I live in Melbourne. My brothers still in UK cannot believe how easy life is here compared with UK.

Mark
Mark
3 years ago
Reply to  bcthimn

I’m in Auckland, NZ, and this sure ain’t the case here. I’m British ex pat with sister and family in Scotland. No way is it just as miserable here. To suggest so is utter rubbish. Life does just feel “normal” here – concerts, Uni, restaurants, etc. So very grateful to live here.

gardner.peter.d
gardner.peter.d
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark

Same here. I live in Melbourne. Brothers in UK cannot believe how easy life here really is compared with the UK.

Sarah Miller
Sarah Miller
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark

Stop it, I am so jealous !!

gardner.peter.d
gardner.peter.d
3 years ago
Reply to  bcthimn

Absolute rubbish. I live in Melbourne. The restrictions that are in place are no more than a minor irritation. I still go to live concerts, we still have dinner parties. We still see friends. We still go to restaurants. We can travel. The 75% return to work, scheduled for this week has been paused, the 50% remains in place (instead of working from home). I work from home but I can meet people face to face and go in to work (a studio) when required. We have to wear a face mask in public indoors spaces, not outside. Nobody is hysterical, although I cannot speak for your friends or you. What’s the problem?

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
3 years ago

Sadly Mr Sayers is evidently not interested in understanding/conveying your experience in Australia.

Andy Gibson
Andy Gibson
3 years ago
Reply to  Eva Rostova

I would argue you are guilty of the very same thing you accuse Mr Sayers of. You were not interested in understanding Judy’s experience.

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Gibson

Seriously dude, I am very interested. But I’m not the one publishing articles on this subject. Sayers is. I’m complaining that Sayers isn’t taking all the evidence into account, which will include the types of hardships Judy described. You are completely missing my point about evidence-based policy making and/or trying to undermine my concerns by painting me as some heartless rationalist who doesn’t care about individual experiences or whatever. Relatedly, the prevalence of ad hominem attacks in the comments section is rather telling.

Andy Gibson
Andy Gibson
3 years ago
Reply to  Eva Rostova

I do not wish to undermine your concerns in any way. And as far as I can tell have made no personal attack upon you. If anything I have tried my utmost to be polite and neutral whilst conveying a different viewpoint. This seems to be a new phenomena, when one does not agree bring out the slurs.

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
3 years ago
Reply to  bcthimn

Thanks for your perspective, but I’m genuinely curious as to how “living [in Australia] is just as miserable as anywhere else” when Oz hasn’t had the huge excess death tolls, full hospitals, and economic hit seen in Europe and the Americas?

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago
Reply to  Eva Rostova

Because we are shut off from the world, and even from other states within Australia, as lockdowns are called on a whim, on the back of a ‘case’ or two.
The response to the virus has been disproportionate and ill-targeted. For example, there have been over 13 million tests, 0.2% being positive. What is the point of all this testing? This is wasting billions that could be better spent elsewhere.
Politicians hide behind the directives of unelected medical officers, whose qualifications and expertise are unclear, not to mention conflicts of interest. Similar to the overbearing influence of SAGE in the UK.
There may be a virus, but the response to it has been a shambles, couldn’t have done worse if they tried. Some are benefiting from it though, in amassing money and power…

Paul Wright
Paul Wright
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth Hart

For example, there have been over 13 million tests, 0.2% being positive.

So much for the “PCR false positive” crowd, then, eh?

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Wright

Yes, this is interesting…
There needs to be much more consideration of what is going on with all this testing…
One thing’s for sure, this is a multi-billion dollar money-maker for some parties.💰

Paul Wright
Paul Wright
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth Hart

Below you complain about the suspect PCR test (presumably a the usual claim that there are many false positives), yet here you complain that there are hardly any positives (and so hardly any false ones, since positives includes both true and false ones). It can’t be both. Which is it?

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Wright

As I said, there needs to be much more consideration of what is going on with this testing…

bcthimn
bcthimn
3 years ago
Reply to  bcthimn

As I have said my experience, fear has changed the behaviour of others to the point that we have lost sight of what makes us human. We are hardly free, our freedom here is at the whim of politicians, ever tried crossing borders for a funeral or to see a family or friends. Our experience is subjective, obviously not everyone has to try home school 3 kids with one device between them during Lockdowns while juggling work. Peter Gardner be thankful you haven’t had the same experience as others but don’t try quash other peoples experiences mate. We hear ya but we have another experience.

educ_mid
educ_mid
3 years ago
Reply to  bcthimn

Come to NZ. It’s not like Australia where you keep getting outbreaks.

Sarah Miller
Sarah Miller
3 years ago
Reply to  educ_mid

I would love to

educ_mid
educ_mid
3 years ago
Reply to  bcthimn

New Zealand is very different from Australia. Life almost normal here

Marilyn Shepherd
Marilyn Shepherd
3 years ago
Reply to  bcthimn

Australia and Ardern are still mates and captive to Bill Gates and the Neil Ferguson model they pronounced was true. The CHO Paul Kelly stated last March that up to 15 million Australian’s would be sick and 150,000 would die. Well it’s 29,000 with a positive PCR from 14.7 million tests, 909 old sick people with an average age of 87 who died mainly of neglect and abuse in old folks homes. Apart from that nothing happened, nada, zip, zero, yet they carry on as if Paul Kelly and his belief in the Ferguson model are just around the corner waiting to pounce. I have never seen anything so deranged in all my life.

Sarah Miller
Sarah Miller
3 years ago
Reply to  bcthimn

Here in the UK.
Strangers treat you like you are diseased and loads of people are unemployed.
Our economy is screwed and we have had 150,000 deaths.
Be glad that you are in the situation you are in as here is a joke.
Also, our Government and especially the PM are corrupt as anything.

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago

It seems relevant to note that Professor Devi Sridhar’s academic qualification is in Anthropology, and that she a Fellow in Politics at All Souls College Oxford. I wrote to her Department Head at Edinburgh University who confirmed that she has no expertise in epidemiology, virology, clinical practice or any other subject normally considered relevant to formulation of public policy in infection control.

She is a key advisor on Public Health policy to the Scottish Government, which has presided in recent years over one of the few countries in the world in which life expectancy is falling, and which responded last year to the challenge of the 6.5 life expectancy gap between men and women by dispensing free tampons.

It was from this influential position that Prof Sridhar advanced the surprising claim that the decline in infection rate over the summer from this seasonal virus–observed simultaneously everywhere in temperate Northern Hemisphere countries–was the consequence of Scottish Government policies.

Andy Gibson
Andy Gibson
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

That is very interesting information on Devi Sridhar, thank you. She is on my TV screen almost daily talking, and has the ear of Sturgeon, and yet has no background in such matters…just wow

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Gibson

I think we have known since at least last summer that Sridhar is a total fraud in regard to Covid.

George Carty
George Carty
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Could you explain precisely how Sridhar is fraudulent, for the benefit of those of us who don’t already know the details?

John Wilkes
John Wilkes
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Gibson

To be fair, anthropology involves studying how people behave in a given situation. This is important when developing policies to change peoples behaviour so I have no problem with her being on the government’s team.
Epidemiology is, in part, about how human behaviour facilitates the spread of disease.
It should, however be made very clear where her expertise lies though.

John Wilkes
John Wilkes
3 years ago
Reply to  John Wilkes

Perhaps I should also point out that I can’t immediately recall anything that she has said that hasn’t raised my blood pressure.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  John Wilkes

Anyone with such outrageous notions shouldn’t really be on any team though, should they…..

George Carty
George Carty
3 years ago
Reply to  John Wilkes

Just because she strikes a nerve with you doesn’t necessarily imply that she’s actually wrong

Helen Hughes
Helen Hughes
3 years ago
Reply to  John Wilkes

Maybe she should be studying her own behaviour in this given situation?

Andy Gibson
Andy Gibson
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

Very strange tried responding to you and it is waiting approval…

Andy Gibson
Andy Gibson
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Gibson

And again! Words use type of fish that rules in Scotland…

James Moss
James Moss
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Gibson

The other day Unherd would not let me say p@rn@graphy. Not post such content, but use the word. One can experiment with multiple posts (deleting them again obviously) to find the offending characters,

Andy Gibson
Andy Gibson
3 years ago
Reply to  James Moss

Thank you, getting to grips with this!

Gordon Black
Gordon Black
3 years ago
Reply to  James Moss

Pawnokraffie.

Andy Gibson
Andy Gibson
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

Was only going to thank you for info on Devi. And to comment that she is on my TV screen almost daily.. With No background in epidemiology etc
And has ear of Sturgeon

Andy Gibson
Andy Gibson
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

Here goes again… 3rd time lucky maybe.. was trying to say thank you, I did not know that!!!

James Moss
James Moss
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

Then again, it is only fair to note that her MPhil and PhD are not her only academic qualifications and that her first degree is in biology – giving her more of a grounding in the above subjects than the majority of public commenters. Also that whilst the headline subject of them was “Anthropology”, her research was actually into the effectiveness of public health interventions in certain populations.

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago
Reply to  James Moss

I agree. But the persona she cultivates in her endless media appearances is “COVID expert”. Not “Public Health expert”.

“Effectiveness of public health interventions” extends to such areas of enquiry as “the theory of mind of your audience”, government “nudge units”, and Reflexive Law. The latter is the exciting and emerging area of jurisprudence devoted to coercing the public via covert methods into surveilling and policing itself, favoured by the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development movement as a mechanism for facilitating the so-called “Great Reset”.

I think this lends an entirely different interpretation to her musings on the requirement for, say, face masks, which some interpret as an instrument for cultivating a culture of social policing (“Voluntary but expected”, in the language of Reflexive Law), rather than public health.

James Moss
James Moss
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

In her case “Effectiveness of public health interventions” was something to do with attempts to combat malnutrition.

I can’t say I’ve paid much attention to her TV appearances, so your critique of her “musings” may well be correct – I do not know.

Roland Ayers
Roland Ayers
3 years ago
Reply to  James Moss

So why is she advocating policies, which when applied to the poorer parts of the world, will push people who have struggled their way out of poverty right back down into it again, leading to malnutrition?

James Moss
James Moss
3 years ago
Reply to  Roland Ayers

Stepping around the strawman you present, I merely mentioned the field in which she did her PhD research. If you want to know why she advocates a particular policy, you would have to ask her – I cannot help you. 🙂

Derek M
Derek M
3 years ago
Reply to  James Moss

Many thousands of people have undergraduate degrees in biology, most of them aren’t on TV as ‘experts’

James Moss
James Moss
3 years ago
Reply to  Derek M

No, such a qualification confers more relevant credibility than an undergraduate degree in anthropology. I think it’s fair to question the basis of the lady’s treatment as an “expert” with respect to her qualifications and experience – so long as we are clear what they actually are.

Andrew Anderson
Andrew Anderson
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

Thanks very much for that. I’d previously read that Sridhar had no biomedical expertise, but wasn’t sure if the claim was true. It’s extraordinary that she’s been in the media so much, when Edinburgh University has plenty of people with genuine expertise, including Professor Paul McKeigue, “physician, disease modeler and professor of epidemiology and public health”, as he’s referred to in the Great Barrington Declaration, which he signed, from whom we never hear.

Your points about Scotland’s health are well-made (although I think strictly speaking it’s healthy life expectancy that’s falling). What’s often overlooked is that Scotland’s Covid mortality isn’t much lower than England’s, and this despite the much higher % of BAME people in England; I suspect that mortality among white people has been just as high in Scotland. Also, Scotland has made the same Covid decisions (abandoning test and trace, locking down etc.) as England, and at almost the same time. It’s just the PR that’s different. (And Scotland’s vaccination rate has been consistently lower than England’s.)

The ZeroCovid people are fanatics, and appear to be led by pseudo-scientsis such as Sridhar and Susan Michie, a psychologist; a link in the piece takes one to a BMJ publication in which she spouts nonsense about pubs and gyms, where apparently people touch each other (not in the gym I used to go to they don’t).

Duncan Hunter
Duncan Hunter
3 years ago

Susan Michie: lifelong committed communist and former wife of Andrew Murray – he of Jeremy Corbyn’s far left Momentum inner circle.

Covid is an opportunity for hateful anti nation state types like Michie to advance their twisted cause. She loses little to no opportunity to inflict her campaign of psychological terror and mind control. Given her political leanings, it’s not fanciful to wonder if she is following the GRU/KGB handbook on population control / influence. Branding variants as “mutant” and unleashing distasteful slogans like “Don’t kill granny” and sundry others are clearly part of phase 1 of the handbook: Demoralisation of the wider public. Possibly we’re well into phase 2: Destabilisation. Phase 3 is crisis and 4 is Normalisation, presumably a new normal whatever that is or will be in poisoned minds like hers.

As to ZeroCovid, one has to laugh – even a good number of the scientific community whom I’ve come to dislike and distrust would confirm that Covid can never be 100% eliminated or eradicated. I was going to stop reading when I saw Corbyn, Abbott and Sridha’s names, but morbid curiosity and rising contempt / disbelief sustained me to the end….

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago

Andrew – thanks for your comments. No – it’s actual life expectancy. For accuracy, the 6.5 years is the gap for the most economically disadvantaged. I suspect your impression about falling healthy life expectancy comes from a recent article claiming that women were disadvantaged because their “healthy” life expectancy was lower, while neglecting to mention the fact that their total life expectancy was higher.

gardner.peter.d
gardner.peter.d
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Lyon

Although there is a seasonal influence on infection rates it is not dominant. You only need to compare southern, equatorial and northern hemisphere coronavirus pandemics to see that.
One cannot justify attribution of rising or falling infection rates of coronavirus to any single cause, especially as in all cases NPIs are in place. One basic rule of physics is applicable, however: if you stay away from someone with an infectious disease, you won’t catch it from them. You don’t need to be an epidemiologist or virologist to understand that. It is common sense.

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago

I’m not sure I understand your point. It is a human coronavirus, which exhibits strong seasonality–are you suggesting this variant behaves differently? Upon what evidence? The epidemic dynamics in the Northern and Southern hemispheres conform exactly to observed seasonal dynamics. In the US, which contain both a temperate northern climate and a warm southern climate, they separate out and are the source of the myth of the “second wave” in the US, obtained from a naive interpretation of the aggregate data set. Statistical regression studies searching for correlation between death rate and factors such as age, health, GDP etc. find a strong correlation with latitude (and none with lockdown severity).

George Carty
George Carty
3 years ago

Actually the seasonality of coronaviruses is key to why Australia and New Zealand did so well, as it limited the spread of the virus in the period before mid-March 2020 (ie when they closed their borders and imposed lockdowns).

Joe Reed
Joe Reed
3 years ago

Zero-Covid is as you say impossible outside of a hyper-nationalist surveillance autocracy – if at all. That the left have become the loudest cheerleaders for closed borders, geo-tracking, and an authoritarian home office illustrates the extent to which this monomania has disrupted our political norms.

Zero-Coviders can make all the epidemiological arguments they like, but the moral debate pivots on the fact that a biosurveillance state of the scale they propose would violate all the core postulates of liberal democratic civilisation. Lunatics.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Joe Reed

Beautifully put. I presume some are Green at all costs, some are authoritarians and some are just very dangerous myopic fools who think Covid is an existential threat to the world.

At least some senior people in the UK are talking about Covid in terms of acceptable annual deaths now – once the vulnerable are vaccinated. If there’s ~10,000 Covid deaths a year then it shouldn’t overwhelm the health service and is sadly less than 2% of annual deaths in the UK.

No doubt someone will say “How will you feel if it’s someone you love, is their death acceptable?”. No more so that any of the other huge number of preventable things people die from, and yet we ignore everyday.

Joe Reed
Joe Reed
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

Totally. The pursuit of a deathless, hyper-sanitised world is not only a road to dystopia, but an impossible dream. It would be bad enough if a few years were added to average life expectancy at the cost of much of what makes like worth living, but the morbidities caused by lockdowns would make not even that the case, for we would save life from Covid but increase the risk to it from almost everything else.

But don’t expect logic from people who purport to be objective analysts but are really fanatical ideologues. This is an age when, political aspirations having seemingly failed, the west is left with nothing but fear. The virus exists, but projected onto it are pre-existing fears that were already expressed in a vocabulary of contagion: ‘safe spaces’, ‘toxic’ politics, the fear of the other traded by ideologues of the right, and the identitarian neuroses of the cultural left. We are not just dealing with a virus here but a whole ideology of biopolitics, in existence prior to Covid & defining expanding governmental structures of management, audit and screening operating across multiple contexts (health, the legal system, digital surveillance). Covid is a gift to the kind of neoliberal who longs for a completely systematised order of algorithmic governmentality and techno-feudalism presided over by a priestly caste of futuristic bureaucrats. Of course this future has zero chance of materialising. Human social and cultural drives cannot be eradicated, even under the techno-authoritarian regime of China, which is beset by instability. But that won’t stop them trying and doing a hell of a lot of damage in the process.

Douglas Jones
Douglas Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

Johnson, I believe, does have it in him to make this point at the right time. Of course many will howl at the moon but let them. He can make a very positive case about Britain leading the world in vaccines while also stressing the urgent need to make up for lost time by getting schools and universities open, businesses back on their feet. As I say, the usual suspects will have fits but I for one can imagine him making such a speech. But timing will be crucial.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Douglas Jones

He will need to improve his credibility if he is to make a valid point at the right time.

Douglas Jones
Douglas Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Absolutely, but love him or hate him it seems to me undeniable that he remains one of a vanishingly small number of politicians in this country who could ‘sell’ this idea effectively. He could even, if he wished, pitch it as steering a ‘sensible, British’ course between the extremes of ‘Covid Denialism’ and ‘Zero Covid’. I don’t necessarily endorse those labels but I can well see such a pitch having very broad appeal. People have been cowed by fear over the past 10 months. But they also respond well to optimism, as long as there is something tangible behind such an outlook. Johnson could definitely put across a vision when the stars align.

Duncan Hunter
Duncan Hunter
3 years ago
Reply to  Douglas Jones

All this depends on the success of the vaccines in the short to medium term. It is to be hoped that this will be the case, but it can’t be overlooked that these vaccines were produced – almost miraculously – quickly and approved in record time. We are effectively being asked to participate in a live Phase III trial with experimental vaccines, whose complete package we / nobody yet knows, including manufacturers and regulatory bodies (transmission prevention, side-effects etc.).

There are a handful of references to deaths in care homes after the first jab, but as is the norm these days it is receiving no media coverage and flat denial in places like Norway. Time alone will tell. I wonder if such deaths are classified as Covid deaths?

I’m not sure I share your confidence in Johnson to get anything right, but take your point about the worrying lack of alternatives – it’s not exactly a government of all the talents!

Douglas Jones
Douglas Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Duncan Hunter

Well I think we can all agree that he’s hugely more comfortable selling an optimistic vision than being the harbinger of doom that he’s had to be for most of his time in Number 10. That always felt massively incongruous, and maybe in a strange way his press conferences were all the more powerful for that, compared to how those by a known pessimist would’ve been received.

John Wilkes
John Wilkes
3 years ago
Reply to  Douglas Jones

I do hope so.

John Keepin
John Keepin
3 years ago
Reply to  Douglas Jones

He’ll say whatever he believes is necessary to hold on to his job; living up to his reputation.

What the usual suspects do is to turn a blind eye to all the other things that we have never eliminated, such as the other coronaviruses (at least 4 of them) that are endemic, and which we live with. Looking on the bright side, some of us are likely to have a degree of natural protection against the new one on account of that. This fact is not advertised by the usual suspects at all.

Nick Faulks
Nick Faulks
3 years ago
Reply to  Douglas Jones

Johnson doesn’t have a clue about the things going on around him. He is just given a script before they push him out in front of the TV cameras.

William Murphy
William Murphy
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

I recall a French author who wrote that, if he had nothing with which to compare it, his electric kettle was the principle source of energy in the universe. The BBC seems to have been working on this principle for the last 11 months – continually proclaiming the daily COVID death toll, with ever mentioning the typical daily number of deaths in the UK or the numbers who died of causes other than COVID.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  William Murphy

I don’t think those numbers really matter though Covid deaths are all that matter, a Covid death is infinitely more important that any other death. Covid suffering is far worse than any other suffering.

When you see figures from last summer where a fair minority of the population thought Covid had kill over 10% of the UK population, then I fear for people’s grasp of reality.

steve eaton
steve eaton
3 years ago
Reply to  Joe Reed

Agreed, but it appears that they are the lunatics largely in charge.

Ben Scott
Ben Scott
3 years ago

We will never live in a sterile environment. It’s impossible. I still can’t quite get my head round why so many of these so-called experts think we can. We cannot eradicate everything that makes us ill. With the single exception of smallpox (that took around 50 years to eradicate) we have never managed to wipe out any harmful vector. Either the microorganisms evolve to survive what we throw at them (mutations) or we evolve to survive what the microorganisms throw at us (immunity).

Frederik van Beek
Frederik van Beek
3 years ago
Reply to  Ben Scott

Of course we can live in a sterile environment, in every respect life is becoming more and more sterile, not only in a physical sense but also and even more in a psychological sense. Our whole world starts to look more and more like a hospital or an airport. China is leading the way. Contact is dangerous and only allowed when you are being scanned. I don’t know why but somehow people seem to enjoy being sterile. People in fact are like these hairless cats they breed. The ultimate domestication is not to be found in what we eat (cows, chickens etc.,) but in ourselves. Our pets reflect exactly the direction in which humanity is moving. So sad.

William Murphy
William Murphy
3 years ago

Seeing that cats can get COVID…..I trust that the zero COVID zealots have similar plans to innoculate or exterminate our hairy friends.

johngrant4est
johngrant4est
3 years ago
Reply to  Ben Scott

As recently as July 2020, a biotech company announced that they were seeking FDA approval for a drug to treat infection with orthopoxviruses, of which smallpox is/was but one. Clearly the industry sees them as an ongoing threat. Better get used to those jabs in your arm – it seems likely that that are plenty more to come.

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
3 years ago
Reply to  Ben Scott

You definitely just trumped Mr Sayers in the straw man argument stakes. What has a maximal suppression strategy in, say, Australia or New Zealand or South Korea got to do with the fact that “[w]e will never live in a sterile environment”?

Putting my point another way: Suppression and eradication are not the same thing. This goes to a problem I keep coming across on UnHerd: there is such little precision in the language that is used. It makes it very hard to have a rational, empirically-based debate on the merits of policy.

Andy Gibson
Andy Gibson
3 years ago
Reply to  Eva Rostova

Ah forgive me, your last sentence..
It makes it very hard to have a rational, empirically-based debate on the merits of policy.
I come to this debate from a completely different angle, with a background in humanities. For me the impact on human life and experience holds more sway than statistics and mathematical modelling (although I understand their importance).
It has been interesting seeing different approaches play out, both have a role, and should be open to discourse.

David Slade
David Slade
3 years ago

The description of the zero Covid fanatics doesn’t surprise me – young and well educated, superficially clever and working in the tech industry. Possibly the first generation to have never known life without the internet. They probably can’t understand why people wouldn’t want to lock themselves away with Netflix until Covid is gone. They will always find useful idiots like the unions, all extremists find useful idiots.

I think the point needs to be hammered home that these people are every bit as dangerous and anti human as any other kind of totalitarian advocate. Their proposal is a recipe for dystopia and I have never seen any evidence that any of these people are humanitarians.

Real people need to write to their MP and be prepared to lobby hard in the other direction to counter smooth talking techie types who specialise in dominating to the narrative.

Andy Gibson
Andy Gibson
3 years ago

If, like me, you feel that enough is enough, then I would urge you to have a look at the following: (reposted with spaces where dots would be or it would be lost in ether)

Inproportion2 talkigy com
Do Lockdowns work? The literature
A blog which lists (in its words) “published papers finding Lockdowns have little or no efficacy (despite unconscionable harms) along with a key quote from each.”

Hartgroup org
Health Advisory Recovery Team, set up by retired pathologist Prof John Lee (he did a great article -The uncomfortable truth about death on Unherd). This is a group of Doctors, scientists, academics, psychologists and economists. They are looking to widen the debate in a fair and balanced way.

Timeforrecovery org
This is another wide ranging group who wish to bring hope and balance to this debate.

Laworfiction com
Lawyers who as they say “do not advocate breaking the law. We advocate understanding the law and acting within it.’ Great advice on masks.

InformScotland uk
This is an utterly fantastic resource and it is worth looking at even if you don’t live in Scotland. It produces all the daily covid stats ( this is a dedicated team) and explains their meanings – no hyperbole.

Blog practicalethics ox ac uk
Another fantastic resource. The ethics of lockdowns and vaccine drives fascinates me. Just type in what you wish to ponder on into the search bar, I’m sure there will be something to chew on.

Lockdownsceptics org
Love it or hate it there is a ton of stuff to read on here.

I think it is imperative now that we all come together to change the narrative. I for one would be very happy to get further links to other resources… Please share, knowledge is power

David Slade
David Slade
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Gibson

Yes, that’s good advice. You should also look at ‘us for them’ that looks at the impact of this debacle on the education and employment prospects of the young.

Of course, the people who really need to see all this stuff are those under the delusion’ that there is a scrap of moral authority behind these measures. I think most people here are wise to it by now.

If you are sure about lockdown and zero Covid though, you should accept your moral compass possibly needs recalibration.

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Gibson

Thanks for these links.

Robin Taylor
Robin Taylor
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Gibson

Many thanks for the links. Always impressed by Prof John Lee’s rational, informed and compassionate approach to Covid-19 and, as he continually says, you don’t improve the health of a country by making it poorer.

nckamdar
nckamdar
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Gibson

thank you for this list.

Elizabeth Pienaar
Elizabeth Pienaar
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Gibson

Thank you going through all your links

Paul Wright
Paul Wright
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Gibson

Hartgroup = pcrclaims = ycampaign (all hosted on the same website until Hartgroup moved recently, see https://twitter.com/nameand… ). The latter two are PCR truther cranks, supporters of Yeadon and his ilk (ycampaign is “Yeadon campaign”).

I did offer Hartgroup a chance to clarify what the links between the 3 groups were (on Twitter) and didn’t receive a reply.

Amusingly, Yeadon himself has vanished as it turns out he was big fan of Tommy Robinson and not such a big fan of Muslims before he got famous, and forgot to delete his old tweets.

Paul Wright
Paul Wright
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Gibson

Hartgroup = pcrclaims = ycampaign. They were all hosted on the same website, until Hartgroup moved recently as part of their grand unveiling/deletion of previous embarrassing “no second wave” tweets. The latter two are PCR truther cranks, supporters of Michael Yeadon and his ilk (ycampaign is “Yeadon campaign”). There is nothing fair or balanced about them.

I did offer Hartgroup a chance to clarify what the links between the 3 groups were (on Twitter) and didn’t receive a reply. Perhaps I’ll give it another go.

Amusingly, Yeadon himself has deleted his Twitter account, as it turns out he was big fan of Tommy Robinson (and, shall we say, not such a big fan of Muslims) before he got famous, and forgot to delete his old tweets.

Toby Aldrich
Toby Aldrich
3 years ago

One cannot help but notice that people’s approach to covid and lockdowns is often directly related to the size and regularity of pay cheque that hits their bank account. Lockdowns are marvellous and enriching if you’re monotonously collecting full salary on the 31st of every month. Why not be a lockdown/zero covid fanatic?

Fiona Archbold
Fiona Archbold
3 years ago
Reply to  Toby Aldrich

Well said sir!!! I am now in month 11 of zero income and no financial support from government. My crime? Operating as a director of my own LTD company. Apparently Rishi Sunak thinks that is a beyond the pale! He decided we had to be punished, whilst government employees get to stay home on full pay and big companies get furlough payments. So I am desperate for freedom to work, like millions of others similarly penalised. I will bet now tax payments will increase to pay off the massive debt incurred, I wonder if we company directors will be excluded from that. It would seem fair to me that if you didn’t receive any government funds you shouldn’t have to pay increased taxes!!!!

Elizabeth W
Elizabeth W
3 years ago
Reply to  Toby Aldrich

I say there are 4 types of people loving lockdowns: 1) those at home working and collecting their usual pay cheque 2) those that are living off the system and don’t care 3) those who are retired with a nice, fat pension and 4) those who are extremely wealthy. It is ridiculous to think there will never be a covid case and that we need to strive towards zero cases. And I refuse to capitalize covid.

George Carty
George Carty
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth W

I suspect the vast majority of them are also happily married.

UMM SPIKE
UMM SPIKE
3 years ago
Reply to  Toby Aldrich

Indeed.
And as usual, the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. The fact that so-called liberal Westerners have no concept that their actions are killing both economies and people in the developing nations continues to boggle my mind. Zero-Covid will increase this and add the death of democracy to that list.

Joe Smith
Joe Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Toby Aldrich

I wrote to my MP to suggest that since lockdowns were mainly to protect over 65s, then those in receipt of a state pension and have another guaranteed retirement income of at least 25k pa should have to forego their state pension. Since the most economically and financially vulnerable in society have suffered from lockdown it seems fair to me that well off pensioners should contribute something to the massive borrowing.

My MP not only disagreed, he wouldn’t put my idea to the relevant govt dept. Needless to say he’s a person who is financially comfortable. Whether his disagreement with my idea was really on the basis of principle or just self-interest is unknown.

Andy Gibson
Andy Gibson
3 years ago
Reply to  Joe Smith

A very forward thinking and novel approach to this problem. You might wish to read – Current Lockdown is Ageist ( against the young) by Alberto Giubilini on
blog practicalethics ox ac uk

(Spaces where dots would be)

Fran Martinez
Fran Martinez
3 years ago

The ZeroCovid guys really frighten me. It is fundamentalism in its biggest expression.

I wonder what will happen if in austral winter NZ and Australia actually have bad outbreaks. Will these guys stop?

Most people would resume their lives normally if the government let them. There is no need to wait to zero covid.

Glyn Reed
Glyn Reed
3 years ago
Reply to  Fran Martinez

Extremism is always scary whatever the religion or ideology.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

I keep returning to a question that didn’t seem to particularly trouble the speakers: at what cost?
the author may keep returning to this question and a host of us people in the regular world keep asking it, but it should be apparent that those dispensing the advice and passing the mandates have yet to consider it. And that’s despite some hints of the cost seeping through – businesses closing, perhaps permanently, along with the increase in mental health issues up to suicide, the coming fallout from the govt-inflicted economic harm, etc.

When you have exhausted all the rational answers for why something has happened, you eventually have to look at possibilities that initially seemed far-fetched. Like this is not about a virus or public health or anything that sounds, at first glance, plausible. It has been shown beyond any doubt that the virus is especially harsh on the elderly, particularly those who are already sick, along with less old people who are obese or diabetic. Yet, the approach is to treat everyone as being at equal risk. That makes no sense.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

I think you are correct. Over the last few weeks I have gone from pro-lockdown to anti. Clearly this site is part of the influence. Another reason for my change is that I see older, more vulnerable people every day, who ignore all of the basic advice. At the beginning of the lockdowns people nodded, sagely, assuming that the old people didn’t understand. Now you have to say that a lot of it is deliberate.

So a government can’t protect its older citizens if they don’t want to be protected.

As an add-on, I often hear people say, “You are only on this Earth once so you might as well enjoy yourself.” My father said this about smoking around 18 months before he died of lung cancer. People say this when they are grossly overweight but want to eat an ice cream.

To protect our health services, we need to instil into individuals a sense of responsibility to others around them. This means that governments say to fat people, “You are fat.” even if it sounds offensive

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

ironically, noticing the obvious is now called ‘fat shaming,’ as if the overweight person is unaware of the condition and the attendant risks. We recently had a couple of women’s mags with plus size women on the covers and the declaration that “this is healthy.” Um, no, no it isn’t.

The worst part is that studies following the recession of the previous decade documented the connection between economic harm and harm to health. You’d think that alone would have made an impression re: lockdowns, and so we now have a new study predicting 900K deaths – above and beyond the virus itself – as a result of the measures taken.

Joe Smith
Joe Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Lockdown is about trying to prevent visible deaths. Since the collateral deaths are less visible, and not reported the same way, this makes it easier for the govt not to care about them.

Elizabeth W
Elizabeth W
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

We need to take more responsibility for our own health. Stop idolizing models, movie stars, etc. Start dealing with one’s body image in a healthy way by realizing you only have one life to live this time around and to treat yourself with more kindness and love. Start looking into more natural health solutions vs filling up on pharma drugs when often changing one’s diet etc. can help turn things around. There are so many issues here. I can’t put it into one paragraph.

Robin Taylor
Robin Taylor
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth W

So many issues indeed, and yet the UK Government hasn’t even used the opportunity to bang home the importance of basic healthy eating and losing weight as a first step to protecting yourself.

Joe Smith
Joe Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Maybe some of those older people put more value on living life than just trying to prevent death.

Caro HW
Caro HW
3 years ago

What gets me is how much they must ultimately resent their fellow citizens. It is unbelievable how much narcissism and misanthrope behaviour is driving this. Who would want their fellow human beings to live stifled and paralysed, unable to thrive and enjoy life. And sell it as the “good and kind” thing to do. Only a sadist, at the end of the day.

Duncan Hunter
Duncan Hunter
3 years ago
Reply to  Caro HW

The hatred and moral superiority on display is palpable.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  Caro HW

Not to mention that they are actually advocating and prescribing poverty to many.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago

End covid!
Zero covid!
Lets stamp out covid!
End covid now!
Eliminate covid!

What a load of ignorant bollox

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

“No doubt ZeroCoviders sincerely believe their campaign for a Covid-free world is a noble one.”

No, they just don’t recognize a great PR strategy when they see one. They probably buy land in swamps frequently as well. If zero coviders can be persuaded to give up their own interests and be locked up, who would bother stopping them? Anyone who wants to be locked up should be allowed to do so.

Michael Sweeney
Michael Sweeney
3 years ago

I continue to be amazed that we NEVER see a conversation about our issues of “underlying conditions” that clearly make bad cases of Covid really bad.

I just finished my celery juice and headed for a hike in the snow…

Andy Gibson
Andy Gibson
3 years ago

Amazing article in sciencemag org by Meredith Wadman. Titled “Why covid 19 is more deadly in people with obesity – even when they’re young”

Makes for stark reading and blows out of the water the saying you can be obese and healthy….

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Gibson

Of course, obesity counts against you – without reading the article you only have to be near to an obese person walking through a shop and you can hear them struggling to breathe.
However, the mainstream press and the media is still sending out mixed messages and I guess that less than 1% of the population would read the article you are recommending.

My wife and I argue about this every day. If I meet a stranger who is obese we agree that they are obese. If there is a family member, friend, neighbour, workmate, who is obese my wife will not agree because I am being unkind.

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Tough Love……..Tough Kindness.
Please inform your wife that some think
you are terrible. Terribly right.

Michael Sweeney
Michael Sweeney
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Gibson

Found it and will read tonight. Thanks

Ben Scott
Ben Scott
3 years ago

Good point. I like to think I “vaccinate” myself every day when I go for a run and consider carefully what goes in my diet.

UMM SPIKE
UMM SPIKE
3 years ago

David Katz, MD, of Yale, tried to have that conversation from early days. He was shut down.

Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston
3 years ago

Whilst you are trying to persuade democracies to ‘be careful’ the question of cost is ignored both financially and psychologically and all points in between. Suppression in NZ/OZ stopping hospitals being overwhelmed elsewhere.

Using obedient controlled Eastern young populations as a guide is, as the article highlights of no help, we function differently, for many it is a different world and an irrelevant unhelpful comparison.

If you really want to pursue Swedish ‘lagom’ you have to consider all the competing needs and find that moderate ground. I do not think most of the people I have talked to think trying to stop the frail and elderly dying at any cost is the middle ground and neither is it for them because they will remain imprisoned in a sanitised environment for the rest of their lives. I have heard of a number of frail/elderly people joining large gatherings of families this christmas and subsequently dying I suspect that was a decision and one we should be mindful of.

To enable health care services to function across the board (800 excess deaths a week in the UK at home 2% C19) we need herd immunity and a threshold at which you set the hospitalisation of the elderly/frail. Herd Immunity will come from nature and the vaccine roll out but we have to accept that the vast elderly population will die a little earlier in the years ahead if they catch the Virus.

We also need to quit with the hypocrisy of foaming at the mouth over Sars CoV 2 getting in (OZ/NZ) and moving ever more closer to a population which is 50% Obese. Australians are now up to 40% and NZ which is supposed to be a country of adventure is moving above 30%. Those health risks will kill far more than the three times influenza of Sars Cov 2. Never mind Long Covid how about Long Obese.

More capacity more imaginative and deft controls of serious outbreaks but live with it and live with old people dying. Through out my professional career I have watched children agonise over their once fine parents become incontinent, forgetful, demented or merely in the cycle of endless hospital visits, or sat in the room with all the others vacant, unhappy, bad tempered and petulant as they lose their faculties. Then their is degradation of all the physical gifts we are given to a point we are barely able to walk.

Essentially we have to go back to believing that people in the main have 70/75 healthy years and then die and remember that childhood, young adulthood making our way and then a period when we sit back and enjoy it are what we are about. Those are the precious years the ones of achievement not post achievement. What the last year has shown me is we have completely lost sight of that and Freddie’s article suggests some want more of the same. I am cautiously optimistic that the English are too contrarian too single minded to put up with being controlled beyond a point in time of moderate good sense. We follow rules badly in this case it may not be a bad thing.

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
3 years ago

Thoughtful and insightful comment. Wish we could read an article on this site covering these important and difficult philosophical issues, rather than the hysterics about the UK becoming a totalitarian state or Covid measures heralding the end of the free world.

Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston
3 years ago
Reply to  Eva Rostova

Thank you Eva. For me this about timing I have been watching the two underlying issues growing for many years. The consequence of a highly contagious virus only being dangerous in the main to those two groups should be construed as a clear message that we need to face these issues. The conservative party is terrified of appearing uncaring we need cross party unity on the challenges of dealing with an ageing decrepit population and a young one that artificially generates demand on health services. I sense when I have walked into a surgery in recent years for a jab for travel or for routine blood pressure readings they have almost forgotten how to deal with people who are healthy. You can see them thinking oh I don’t need to do all these other tests its obvious she is fit and well.

Elizabeth Pienaar
Elizabeth Pienaar
3 years ago

Please please get much more bad at following rules. The sooner the better!

teresa_d_wood
teresa_d_wood
3 years ago

What an absolutely terrifying piece. Well done again Freddy. Its one thing eradicating smallpox or polio, it is another thing entirely to eradicate a coronavirus. We haven’t managed it with flu, or the common cold. They are far too successful. They may appear to have gone, but will then pop up again. Pursuing a zero covid strategy really does mean keeping borders closed and quarentine hospitals for international travel for ever. We will create isolated countries, cut international travel, and learn to fear and distrust strangers. It is a recipe for xenaphobia. And what about the developing nations. Can you really see zerocovid strategies succeeding in the slums of mumbai, or the shanty towns of south africa? Its absolute insanity. I read a really interesting piece on the left lockdown sceptics site today. If you haven’t checked out these guys, please do. It is so refreshing to hear sense being talked by folk from the left. <https: leftlockdownsceptics.com=”” f=”” internationalism-africa-and-the-real-%e2%80%9ccovid-deniers%e2%80%9d?blogcategory=”Guest+Articles”>

Andy Gibson
Andy Gibson
3 years ago
Reply to  teresa_d_wood

Thank you will have a look

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
3 years ago
Reply to  teresa_d_wood

You are conflating the concepts of “suppression” and “eradication”. Oz, NZ, South Korea etc’s policy is directed at achieving maximal suppression, not eradication.

Glyn Reed
Glyn Reed
3 years ago
Reply to  teresa_d_wood

Another excellent article from that site is this: https://leftlockdownsceptics.com/f/the-virus-lockdown-and-the-left

Matt Harries
Matt Harries
3 years ago

With so much data to interpret and so many different interpretations of the data to digest, it is nonetheless clear to most observers (I assume) that the UK has been hit as hard as, if not harder, than most countries across the world. And yet, I suspect that if it were to go to a referendum, the majority would vote to remain in an ongoing state of lockdown restrictions, pursuant to ultimate ‘Zero Covid’ or not.

This is surely one of most worrying facets of this last year. With the ‘100,000 + deaths’, the recent spikes in mortality in the 15-44 age group and the fathomless costs to society, economy and mental health (especially of the young), what on earth would possess people to think the ‘doubling down’ of lockdown measures, of extra masks and ongoing restrictions, is the best way to proceed? What is it about our government’s policy in this last year that could warrant such optimism in these kinds of methods?

I found the snapshot of life in Beijing to be an alarming, prescient warning. Under the guise of technological progress and ‘not killing granny’, the distinctions between ‘our way of life’ and ‘their way of life’ seem to be getting ever hazier .

Robin Taylor
Robin Taylor
3 years ago
Reply to  Matt Harries

In the first lockdown supermarkets were running out of booze as well as pasta, toilet roll, etc. People were treating it like an extended Christmas holiday with so many getting paid to stay at home through furlough, self-employed grants, etc. Some people have now lost jobs and businesses but the true costs have yet to hit us.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
3 years ago

These zero-covid zombies are either disingenuous or insane. I suspect it is the former, for it offers the likeliest way to extend state control of populace and economy in a generation – the old communist aim.

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Yeah, as in that famously leftist country, Australia:

https://www.statista.com/st

Glyn Reed
Glyn Reed
3 years ago
Reply to  Eva Rostova

This is a good read on the so-called left:
https://leftlockdownsceptics.com/f/the-virus-lockdown-and-the-left

David Bell
David Bell
3 years ago

Mother nature is going to have something to say about “ZeroCovid” and she will win.

jmskennedy9
jmskennedy9
3 years ago

What would be next, influenza? We should be able to lock the world down permanently. To what end indeed.

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
3 years ago
Reply to  jmskennedy9

Except Covid is about 5x-10x more lethal than flu, and puts commensurately higher pressure on the healthcare system through hospitalisations etc. So you are not comparing like with like.

Jennifer Matlock
Jennifer Matlock
3 years ago
Reply to  Eva Rostova

Except Covid is NOT 5x-10x more lethal than flu for a significant percentage of the population. Over 65, sure. 40-65, the Covid/flu lethality runs about even. Under 40…no, not even remotely. The age stratification of Covid is a glaringly relevant part of this discussion that everyone seems to want to ignore.

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
3 years ago

If anyone isn’t aware of that fact I don’t know which cave they’ve been living in the past 9 months or so. However, that’s not the full story. For example, the majority of hospitalisations in UK and US are typically under 60. It is very hard for people (including me) to get their heads around the fact a disease with such low mortality still has such huge socioeconomic costs (and, to pre-empt the knee-jerk “but Sweden” response on the site, we have Sweden to prove that these costs exist regardless of the existence of a formal “lockdown” or not).

Glyn Reed
Glyn Reed
3 years ago
Reply to  Eva Rostova

It would appear that obesity, heart disease and dementia are drivers behind how the body reacts to Covid19 and one of the reasons so many are falling victim to it in the UK and the US. I am not denying that there are some who are healthy who succumb to this virus but for the most part the statistics bear out the fact that the majority fall into the former categories. Also, I believe that the average age of death from Covid is around 82.

44benn
44benn
3 years ago

This is nothing to do with Covid, or only insofar as it is a useful smoke screen to do what people like this always want to do, which is to control everyone else.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago

What is this obsession from zealots who think that lockdowns are sustainable? What about starting a ZeroDeath drive? Just as illogical.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago

“Never let a crisis go to waste…”. They like this-they can control all activity and be on the side of the angels. Look for many of these restrictions to never be lifted.

Susan
Susan
3 years ago

Thank you, Freddie. I had no knowledge of this campaign. It’s a revelation but a truly terrifying one.

mmh1280
mmh1280
3 years ago

Very good comments on here.

To take the long view: What would happen even if COVID completely disappeared? There have always been and always will be respiratory viruses competing for susceptible people to infect. This winter, COVID has largely replaced seasonal viruses. The 2009 H1N1 virus also did that. When that virus ran its course, the seasonal flu returned, as it will again when COVID recedes.

For the majority of population It seems we have two big choices: We can try to hide forever, or we can try to stay healthy so we don’t get sick or infect others with whatever new viruses come around.

In the long run, which option is better for our physical and mental health? I would think the first one.

David Slade
David Slade
3 years ago
Reply to  mmh1280

I think you mean the second? Any pandemic management should require – first and foremost – a mentally and physically healthy population (you need zero expertise to work this out).

Lockdowns and the associated psychological campaign to enforce compliance take us far away from that.

SAGE have basically spent the last year sculpting some of the most unhealthy 66million people to have ever existed.

Not the thing you want in a pandemic (regardless of novelty, R number, IFR etc.)

Duncan Hunter
Duncan Hunter
3 years ago
Reply to  David Slade

Witness the rise of the “new variant” as the hook for potentially indefinite control, panic-sowing and perpetual extension of the pandemic via lockdowns (which even the WHO disowns) and loss of civil liberties. As soon as Hancock started mentioning the new ‘mutant’ strain before Boris folded before Christmas in time to waterboard the hospitality sector extra hard , I realised this was the new game / ploy / tactic. A perverse gift that can be literally engineered to keep on giving (in this case, taking).

Leaving the delusional, frankly inhumane ZeroCovid morons to their leftie selves, one wonders with increasing dread how many civic rights and civil liberties we once took for granted will ever be restored to us?

Interesting that Sunak went on an (not the, yet) offensive against SAGE et al in the Telegraph today, accusing them of shifting the goalposts constantly and demanding a clear pathway to ending lockdown. A similar tactic to variants and their uses?

SAGE now wants cases and case numbers to be the primary focus, now that deaths and hospitalisation numbers are declining. But this goes to the heart of this entire sh*tshow: what is a “case” and how is it determined?

To me, a case in theory is a positive test requiring hospitalisation. So far, so logical. But what of the test identifying the case, the collective totals of which underpin and drive the entire public health ‘policy’ that has reduced us to house arrest, trashed the economy and people’s livelihoods, people’s health, our kids’ education and so much more?

The PCR test. A test whose inventor claimed was utterly unsuited if not useless for detection of viruses.

Then how this test is used. While not a scientist or clinician, I understand enough about PCR testing to identify the Cycle Threshold (CT) as the crucial variable in terms of accuracy and sensitivity: set it too high and it will pick up virtually anything and everything, including dead fragments of coronavirus from recovered infectees that tested positive a long (unsure just how long) time back.

The WHO published a global communique in mid January, warning against the risk of high false positives and recommending at CT of 30 maximum. PHE point blank refuses to state or confirm what the official UK number or guidelines for CT settings are. Why would this be? There is increasing suspicion and some anecdotal evidence that we are using a CT of 40-50, which explains the “case” numbers and possibly SAGE’s new line of attack (defence?).

Is it really possible that it all comes down to this? Everything based on a fundamental falsehood? We should be able to know. Then why? In parallel with our suspected overcounting of deaths by our rigid (compared to most / many other countries, especially in Europe) recording methodology, we seem to want to be among the worst with the worst outcomes – like the lockdown cycle and our politicians’ dependence on it.

But why?

steves9404
steves9404
3 years ago

Zero Covid in Western democracies is infeasible for the simple reason that massive civil unrest involving violence will be triggered by any attempt to implement a ‘zero covid’ policy. Governments that try to implement it are likely to fall, and fall hard.

As things stand, people’s patience with existing lockdowns is wearing thin, and further lockdowns are not likely to be accepted.

China gets away with it because the populace there has largely been brainwashed into accepting the idea that a life without freedom, and having one’s life micromanaged 24/7 are good things. That, and the fact that China probably have at least 100 million people willing to be cops, soldiers and enforcers of state policy in return for a few yuan in their pockets.

Australia and New Zealand seem to have successfully obtained a state of Zero Covid, but their success seems to have had less to do with draconian lockdowns, and more to do with the fact that both countries are geographically remote and hard to get to, and that all international travel info or out of the respective countries has been curtailed.

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
3 years ago
Reply to  steves9404

My understanding is Oz and NZ have in fact used very draconian lockdowns on occasion to stamp out small outbreaks, in addition to strict border controls/hotel quarantine as you say.

Would have been helpful for this article to address the NZ and Oz experience.

Andy Yorks
Andy Yorks
3 years ago
Reply to  Eva Rostova

Yes indeed, but the point is they will have to do this forever and a day unless and until Covid effectively disappears from the earth, and I for one doubt that it will do that. We still do not properly know or understand where this virus originated and how it did so. Like many I do not believe the Chinese who have lied and lied and lied. There is a high probability that it was a ‘manufactured virus’ and escaped from a Chemical Weapons establishment a few miles from Wuhan. It has also been argued that it is a combination of the Aids virus and a Covid virus, which partly explains its virulence.

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Yorks

So-called “Zero Covid” strategy merely aims at maximal suppression, not smallpox-type elimination. Based on the latest data from Israel (which has vaccinated 60% of its population), the vaccine should enable maximal suppression, and hopefully make Covid no worse than the seasonal flu (ie an endemic but liveable-with disease that doesn’t screw our healthcare system or economy etc).

No virologist, including UnHerd’s go-to Professor Bolloux, believes it is at all likely that SARS-Cov-2 is a “manufactured virus”, however it is possible it escaped/crossed over to humans from eg a bat at the Wuhan lab that studies coronaviruses. SARS-Cov-2 has been genetically sequenced so we know it’s a coronavirus (just like the common cold and SARS), and absolutely nothing to do with AIDS.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Yorks

You are absolutely correct this a Chinese virus that was inadvertently produced by their Institute of Virology, outside Wuhan. It is their equivalent to our facility at Porton Down, and is in effect their Biological Warfare Establishment.

It was set up with massive US help, I think from the University of Texas. Whilst the Americans were still present the Chinese were scrupulous to obey various protocols, but once the American departed they went rogue, as we can now see!

Frankly everything about China has been ‘stolen or borrowed’ from the West. Science, technology, politics, philosophy, culture. You name it, everything. They haven’t got an original thought between their ears.
Forget the eighteen hundred years of civilisation from the Han to the Ming, it was an ossified Confucian charade.

There is certain sense of deja vu about the present situation. Nearly one hundred and seventy years ago, another Mongoloid people, the Japanese from the land of Nippon were dragged kicking and squealing into the Western orbit. With astonishing speed, coupled with a breathtaking ability to copy and mimic
the West, they soon became a Major Power, and subsequently a major threat, which ultimately could only be solved by Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Sadly ‘we’ are yet again faced with the same problem, a Darwinian struggle against an aggressive Mongoloid people who feel it’s their turn to rule the Globe. It isn’t, but yet again ‘we’ shall have to fight them to prove the point.
“As the Ancients would say “if you wish for peace, prepare for war”.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  steves9404

Spot on Australia and New Zealand. The US and UK cannot turn themselves into remote, sparsely populated islands with comparatively little travel in and out. Even doctors in Australia were begging the government to stop the lockdowns due to serious health consequences with little benefit in addressing COVID.

George Carty
George Carty
3 years ago
Reply to  steves9404

The Chinese Communist Party has almost 100 million members, and during Wuhan’s lockdown (where people were forbidden to leave their homes even for exercise) they were mobilized to deliver food to people’s homes.

In addition, the very layout of Chinese cities makes them easy to lock down: they are essentially collections of gated communities.

Dave Smith
Dave Smith
3 years ago

It will never happen. The young of the world are those that will see to that. The need to find mates and to create the next generation is a basic drive. We are deluded if we think it is not. Just observe the animal world and see how it dominates life.
Then there is the sheer energy of the young. It would take the resources of a totalitarian state to crush that. For a while as nothing lasts for ever. The technocratic future mapped out in Davos and the rest is not going to happen. Men would rather go to war than let that nightmare come about.
They would flock to the banners of a new Ghengis Khan or Alexander. Tell each other the old tales round the fires and start all over again at the game.

David Slade
David Slade
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

I admire your optimism – I just wish I shared it.

Steven Sieff
Steven Sieff
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

Dave – I wholeheartedly agree with this comment. My concern though is that we might have a lot of pain to go through before it happens.

John Wilkes
John Wilkes
3 years ago

It is the ‘acceptable level of infection’ (and mortality) which will be critical.
Flu deaths annually are stated by the ONS as 10 to 20.000 though this does not include the at least the same number who die from pneumonia some time after contracting flu. These deaths are concentrated largely in the winter and in those (the elderly and vulnerable) who have already been vaccinated.

I don’t believe that this number of deaths from Covid would ever be acceptable to the BBC and other MSM. The same experts on opposition SAGE (sorry, I mean independent SAGE) will be trotted out to say that we are all doomed and that Boris has blood on his hands etc.

For arguments sake lets say 25000 Covid deaths over a winter period, again concentrated over the winter period. I don’t know about anyone else but I can hear Laura Doomsberg saying that ‘the government is coming under pressure to do something about the 5000 deaths in the last month alone’ and ‘the NHS under increasing strain’. There would be marches of masked folk and unions demanding that schools and universities are closed to protect their members.
None of this would have happened in even the worst flu year, but sadly it is now entirely politicised,

It will take a lot of nerve for us ever to be allowed in a shop/ pub/ theatre without a mask on ever again. I’m not sure that any of our politicians have the nerve to say that this (or indeed any) level of mortality is acceptable. Boris of old maybe, no one else comes immediately to mind though I accept that I am doing some a disservice there.
I do, however, think that mortality levels comparable or even slightly above those for flu (e.g. 50,000 p.a.) would be acceptable to the general public.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
3 years ago

I’n in Perth, Western Australia, on day 4 of the hopefully 5 day lockdown. Monday was the first day I had to wear a mask – horrible, I have had to drive to the beach rather than ride a bike! But I don’t mind our closed borders and the normal life we’ve had for the past year – our usual big family Xmas etc. We do have the ‘phone app you should use when you go into shops, but alternatively you can write your name & ‘phone number on a sheet of paper at the door and no one checks to see what name or number you put down. Going for elimination seems reasonable if it means enjoying normal life and no one dying of COVID until we’re vaccinated. Kids are at schools with their friends, old people are out and about, hospitals not stressed – those are pretty big advantages.

Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago

“until we are vaccinated” seems to be an unreasonable hope, though. This is one of my biggest issues as it means there is no end in sight.

Also, I wonder what people who were locked up for months and months in other states feel about it.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrea X

Just read comments from Aussies higher up…. they are greatly dissatisfied with the lockouts and suppression.

Mark
Mark
3 years ago

We sure are not dissatisfied in NZ!

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
3 years ago

Fewer anecdotes and more empirical evidence would be helpful, Lesley! The Australian public is overwhelmingly in favour of their maximal suppression (aka “ZeroCovid”) strategy:

https://www.statista.com/st

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  Eva Rostova

Give it up Eva. My comment was merely referring to comments above from people who live there. Hmmmm. These ZeroCoviders sure are illogical zealots.

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
3 years ago

What’s illogical about asking for evidence?

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrea X

Andrea, the data from Israel is very encouraging that the end is in sight through vaccination. Fingers crossed! https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/

Elizabeth Smith
Elizabeth Smith
3 years ago

Any liberal democracy that adopts a policy of zero covid must allow its citizens to end their lives. Access to the combination of drugs, in a lethal dose, used by Dignitas, must be guaranteed to those who cannot live with the constant risk of lockdown. Simple as that.

Derek M
Derek M
3 years ago

These people are extremely dangerous, and you can see them regularly as ‘experts’ on the British media, egged on by hysterical journalists and politicians. The only thing I would quibble with in this important article is “So far at least, British voters have not chosen to reject liberal democracy” – I’m afraid they have.

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
3 years ago

So, I’m guessing that the second rule of ZeroCovid Club is: do not talk about ZeroCovid Club.

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
3 years ago

Why stop at COVID? Let’s stay in our modern caves until all diseases are at zero. Then we can emerge into the pristine sterile light and live forever.

To paraphrase Chesterton, when you stop believing in the heaven your ancestors imagined, you end up needing to imagine heavens of your own. And religions to get there. Gotta start converting the heathens and the godless, the Covid-deniers and herd immunity heretics.

Dick Barrett
Dick Barrett
3 years ago

The writer is 100% right about the Irish examples he gives. In Ireland, the entire political left has signed up for Zero Covid, albeit one or 2 parties have decided not to use that term. I think that in years to come, there will need to be some discussion as to why the left tilted so heavily towards measures of control and restriction.

Konstantinos Stavropoulos
Konstantinos Stavropoulos
3 years ago
Reply to  Dick Barrett

Simply because they love control and restriction. The extreme idea of imposing a “system” that will regulate equality is unnatural. They know it down deep in their hearts and minds but can not let go of the idealist and purist effort to “save” the world, even if the world does not comply with that short of absurd thinking. So they chose control and restriction again and again.

educ_mid
educ_mid
3 years ago

Hi from COVID free New Zealand. We’re having a hot and glorious summer filled with large outdoor music festivals, happy children returning to school after holiday camping trips, packed shopping malls and bars. Yes, we scan the QR code displayed on every business or public place we visit. No, there is no ‘BIg Brother’ watching every visit I make to K-Mart or the loo at my local park. But, in the highly unlikely event a lone virus has escaped from one of our MIQ (Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facilities) protecting our borders, the system will alert me that an infected person visited the same KMart or toilet at the same time and day as I did. Such outbreaks are rare. Only one has resulted in a short local lockdown in Auckland ( our largest city) and was quickly contained. At the start of the pandemic, when the first cases entered NZ, the country went into a hard lockdown for, I recall, a month, the this was eased over the next three weeks as the rate of infections dropped, slowed, then stopped. Our borders remain closed to everyone except returning New Zealanders and essential workers. They have to quarantine for 14 days in MIQs – high quality hotels. Exercise facilities are provided. Visiting performing artists and sports teams are returning to our shores – they willingly pay for their MIQ . Here in NZ we watch the chaos in the USA, UK and Europe with horror. Our Government bases it’s approach on hard science. Our best epidemiologists have helped and criticised the policies as they have been developed ‘on the run’. No system is perfect but we learn as we go. We are a left of centre liberal democracy. Yes, we have our tiny number of QAnon supporters but they are regarded as a joke. The economy is do8 g better than expected and unemployment is far less than predicted. Children missed only six weeks of school at the start of the pandemic, but schools have been open ever since. The vast majority support these policies and can’t understand why so many in the UK and USA scream about lockdowns and masks meaning loss of liberty. We believe in freedom from as much as freedom to. We don’t think individuals have the right to wilfully infect others.

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
3 years ago
Reply to  educ_mid

Would be good for Mr Sayers to do a follow up article where he doesn’t avoid the Oz and NZ experience.

There are pros and cons, and we deserve to hear them in full, rather than summarily dismissing maximal suppression strategies as a path to Chinese-style totalitarianism!

Dave Smith
Dave Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  educ_mid

Good for you but if any country could do that it is NZ. Look at the atlas .Look at your landmass and your population level. There are more people in Grater Manchester alone.
Be realistic .

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

I guess we missed the boat but not making ourselves island nations out in the middle of nowhere, sparsely populated with very few people coming in and going out.

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

We should also consider South Korea and Taiwan, alongside the Oz and NZ examples.

Graham Thorpe
Graham Thorpe
3 years ago
Reply to  educ_mid

Sue,, I think the point is to ask: Are you going to stay like that for ever? With your borders closed, returning citizens sent to quarantine. Is that how you are proposing to live your lives for ever? Do you really think you can contain moonbeams in a sieve?

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
3 years ago
Reply to  Graham Thorpe

Who said it’s forever? In Oz and NZ, it’ll be until populations are vaccinated, no?

Graham Thorpe
Graham Thorpe
3 years ago
Reply to  Eva Rostova

So what happens when one case slips through. As it will.. Vaccines are not 100pc effective. How does a “zero tolerance” policy work then? ( A: It doesn’t). Here in the UK we are already hearing voices telling us we “must understand we can never get back to the previous normal”. One “expert” this morning decreed that the idea of people returning home to the UK for weddings, for instance, could not be allowed in the post-epidemic post-vaccine world. That’s the problem I’m trying to talk about.

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
3 years ago
Reply to  Graham Thorpe

I think you’re fundamentally misunderstanding maximal suppression/”Zero Covid” strategy. The idea is that vaccines turn Covid into a manageable seasonal flu-type disease. Not to eradicate it. The strategy is essentially about waiting for mass vaccination to arrive (Google what the Aussie and NZ governments are saying on this).

So, once the pandemic is brought under control by vaccines, everything open ups and we accept that thousands of elderly/vulnerable will be carried off early by Covid in the UK each year (basically a more dangerous version of flu) — but it won’t affect as many as it does now and therefore our hospitals and society can function.

If the vaccines don’t succeed for whatever reason, then obviously there will be a rethink. But the data from Israel vaccinations (they’ve done 60% of the population) is looking promising, so hopefully vaccination is a way out — both for US/Europe, and for Aus/NZ (who will hopefully end the pandemic with far fewer costs as a result of their not having widespread Covid in their countries).

Incidentally, I’d note that one of UnHerd’s go-to epidemiologists, Anders Tegnell (Sweden’s state epidemiologist), also said a couple of days ago on Robert Peston’s show that he doesn’t think life will be “normal” again in Sweden in the sense that Covid will keep killing people, and he personally thinks people maybe shouldn’t live in cities as much (as this increases pandemic risks). However, like the Aussies and NZ, he thinks vaccines will make Covid manageable and allow society to reopen.

educ_mid
educ_mid
3 years ago
Reply to  Graham Thorpe

We will get vaccinated by mid year.

Andy Yorks
Andy Yorks
3 years ago
Reply to  educ_mid

So you seem perfectly happy to have turned the whole of New Zealand into a Prison from which you do not seek to be released. And what will happen when you are ? And why take the risk of allowing anyone in to the country ?!

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Yorks

I believe the quite simple answer is that a sufficient number of the New Zealand population will be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity (making Covid no worse than the annual flu season with any luck) and then requiring visits to be vaccinated (as many countries do with Yellow Fever), thus allowing open borders. Their strategy is based on vaccination.

educ_mid
educ_mid
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Yorks

A prison? Really?

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

This will become clearer to many more in good time, but little doubt that covid has proven to be an absolute gift of an excuse to existing authoritarian states like China, as well those with a hankering towards it under the premise of appearing to care unconditionally for the welfare of its citizens.

‘Zero covid’ is only likely to be achieved in much the same way as it was for Spanish Flu. To put it bluntly, it will eventually burn itself out once it runs out of the easily accessible fuel to burn and yes, controversial as it may sound, once we move toward that much maligned phrase by some, apparently implicit of a desire for mass murder, herd immunity.

Whilst covid is essentially a public health issue and needed to be treated as a serious one by public health bodies, there is little doubt that it has afforded many in a position to do so with the rare opportunity to further their own political agendas and tighten their grips on their respective populaces.

Obviously I’m biased here, but for those who err on the side of personal liberty, by far, over striving to prevent all and any deaths associated with covid whatever the individual circumstances and often at the very obvious enduring expense of others, the people we really need to fear here are indeed the ‘zero covidiots’ referenced above, not those realists agitating, albeit as by far the lesser of two evils, for a policy of herd immunity.

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Of course all pandemics eventually end naturally, but based on what’s happening in Israel (with 60% vaccinated so far), it’s vaccines that will achieve SARS-Cov-2 herd immunity in the shortest time with the fewest costs.

As Sweden’s Anders Tegnell said on Robert Peston the other night, the herd immunity threshold is likely very high (maybe 80% or so), which is why vaccines are so important.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Excellent post. This will be what we need to consider going forward because there will be more pandemics. Do we really want to damage millions of young lives to spare the very oldest among us? Spanish flu ended, even without a vaccine and we know who to protect from COVID, we have known who the “fuel” was for a long time yet we did not act as if we knew. The massive damage done was unnecessary and at the expense of basic liberty.

In talking to older people including my very old parents, they are horrified at what has been done to young people and those in their working prime. Particularly since we could have sheltered the vast majority of those who needed to be sheltered without the enduring damage to people who have many decades to live. When the next pandemic comes, will young people be willing to accept like sheep the serious damage that has been done to them now? Will we accept increased inequalities created by variations in school closings? Will people be passively thrown out of jobs simply because they cannot work from home?

I’m heartened to finally see politicians like Andrew Cuomo paying a political price for their authoritarianism combined with missteps that cost many more older lives than necessary. He, at least, will not get away with it as even the MSM has begun to cover it. Gavin Newsom in California is likely facing a recall effort due to his authoritarian approach that didn’t wind up saving lives. Anthony Fauci has also paid a political price for either not understanding herd immunity or intentionally lying about it throughout the pandemic.

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
3 years ago

Agree with you on challenge of what to do with future pandemics.

But even the lockdown-sceptic epidemiologists like Anders Tegnell in Sweden say that herd immunity threshold is very high (perhaps 80% or so). So very much in agreement with Fauchi.

And you’re out on a limb suggesting that California’s measures did not reduce the death toll. Just look at San Francisco, which remained pretty strict throughout (345 deaths out of a million). Even in LA where I live (which has had rather lose restrictions; felt pretty normal throughout other than a few weeks of restaurants and bars being closed over Christmas), we have a lower death toll per capita than e.g. Stockholm and similar to Miami. Of course, California’s measures have resulted in lost schools days, business closures etc. So I’m not at all questioning the costs.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Eva Rostova

Agreeing with Fauci isn’t a plus, considering how often he has been wrong. And he has been all over the place on immunity anyway so it’s hard to say anyone agrees with him. If they agree with him now, they would not have before and vice versa. G Harris is correct, recognizing who the fuel is and was, which we have known for a long time, coupled with more recent data which shows significantly higher levels of T-cells from previous viral infections than expected leading to higher levels of natural immunity made the lockdowns even more ridiculous.

California’s measure were no more successful than states which took much less severe measures and therefore better protected their populations from damage by lockdown when they were not at risk from serious COVID consequences. Californians had to suffer consequences like school closures and loss of businesses that other states have not. And it’s a state that can least afford those.

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
3 years ago

Absolutely agree with you it’s very complex. And all experts have been “wrong” at times, that’s inevitable with a new disease, but some have been a lot more wrong than others (e.g. those who said the pandemic wouldn’t cause many deaths/more waves/much disruption, including in non-locked down Sweden).

In any event, on the issue you mentioned concerning relative Covid death rate between states, as we’ve discussed before, California is well below the big states per capita (New York, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois). I totally accept that is just one part of the picture, and I share your concerns re: long term implications for education, employment etc.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Eva Rostova

Being wrong at times is one thing. Being wrong consistently is entirely different, particularly when you won’t admit it, like Fauci.

20% of the population of Florida is over the age of 65, in California, its 14%. Pennsylvanians are much older as well, with 18% over the age of 65. With COVID, age matters. As I said, we know what the fuel was. You’re trying to compare apples to oranges. For NY, ask Mr. Cuomo. We now know what he did wrong, he specifically did NOT shelter the elderly, which was key.

James Moss
James Moss
3 years ago

Next article – “The pitfalls of eternal life”? The “false dilemma” is a well-worn generic fallacy.

For the moment I’d like less Covid. I think that’s a majority view and most people accept the cost.

Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago
Reply to  James Moss

I wonder whether anyone really understands the costs.
Take the money tree, where is that coming from, who is going to pay for it and why don’t we keep planting it?

James Moss
James Moss
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrea X

Clearly most don’t.

Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago
Reply to  James Moss

Who do you think does? I can’t think of any.
Certainly not the zero covid brigade, but neither the British government.

James Moss
James Moss
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrea X

I don’t think there is even any consensus as to the “correct” answers to these questions, so pointing to one person or persons who hold a certain belief is somewhat futile.

NIGEL PASSMORE
NIGEL PASSMORE
3 years ago
Reply to  James Moss

Well there are objective costs. According to the Office of Budgetry responsibility the UK government will borrow an additional £400bn for the year April 2020 – April 2021 exclusively for C19. Histroy suggests it will be much more than that. Of course none of this is government money. So they are borrowing on our behalf which means we repay it to which there are only two realistic repayment options:

1. The government taxes at the same level and reduces exisitng expenditure
2. The government spends at the same level and increases taxes
3. And the unrealistic option which is the government just keeps printing more money but that always leads to hyper-inflation.

The government has failed to carry out a cost benefit analysis, but other people are we need to factor in the following costs which are currently subjective but will crystalise in to hard cost over the next few years. The £400bn may yet prove a drop in the ocean compared to the cost of the following non-exclusive list:

1. We’ve blown apart the QALYs system for C19 so the pressure on healthcare budgets will go through the roof
2. All the other health impacts physical and mental
3. The impact of messing about with our immune system for a year which people are now starting to realise may be the worst can kick down the road consequence of all and the impact on future viral outbreaks as a result
4. 800,000 extra unemployed and when Furlough ends we can double that as a minimum with the inevitable increase in relative and absolute poverty
5. Loss of corporate taxation from all the business that have closed
the impact of all the lost taxes
6. The cost of millions of school children having their education curtailled for a year to date
7. And lots of others besides

Regards

NHP

James Moss
James Moss
3 years ago
Reply to  NIGEL PASSMORE

Yes there are some costs. I don’t think this is disputed. I’m not sure your no. 3 is scientifically based, but that’s a detail.

David Morrey
David Morrey
3 years ago
Reply to  NIGEL PASSMORE

I agree, in fact I think the attitude to the concept of QALYs is one of the most disjointed and irrational aspects of the Covid reaction. In our hospitals, every day, QALYs are still fundamental – it is why all the Covid patients in intensive care are in their 60s and not in their 80s, even though there are a lot more severely ill Covid patients in the older age group. An 80 something year old Covid patient won’t be given the more expensive treatment options as they have a low life expectancy and / or low expected quality of life if they do recover. In many cases older patients will just get end of life (ie very little) care. That is QALYs in action – like the concept or not it is at least rationale and consistent with the medical intervention decisions that we have accepted our doctors have needed to make for the longest time.

But outside of the hospital, in the field of non-medical interventions, QALYs or any similar concept is completely forgotten, indeed considered immoral. What QALY would you need to apply to justify lockdown and its economic costs? Several million per life saved. That is quite the precedent.

Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago
Reply to  James Moss

So you are deciding policy not really knowing what you are doing.
That is fine, but let’s be clear about it.

James Moss
James Moss
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrea X

No, I do have my own views on the matter but it is a quite a complicated subject and I do not wish to get drawn into a discussion of it here.

Forgive me, but you have already begun to draw me down a rabbit hole I did not wish to go down. When I referred to “costs” I did not mean merely the narrow issue of financial costs. There are social and personal costs too, along with benefits. I was referring to costs in general.

Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago
Reply to  James Moss

Indeed, I couldn’t agree more.
In any case, it wasn’t I who dug the rabbit hole 😉

James Moss
James Moss
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrea X

That’s not really material. But yes, you led me to it and unwittingly, I broke ground. 🙂

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrea X

one must first realize that costs exists before those costs can be understood. People in this campaigns are much like the person whose only tool is a hammer. They cannot see anything other than nails.

William Murphy
William Murphy
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrea X

One poster on Unherd suggested £400 billion for UK government spending alone, plus £400 billion for the economic losses to UK businesses alone. That’s excluding mental illness, social isolation, loss of education, family interaction and mutual support, domestic violence, massive damage to all manner of charities and small local social societies – churches, amateur theatres, choirs, sports, conservation groups, informal friends’ get-togethers, you name it.

Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago
Reply to  William Murphy

Yes, I remember that. I seem to recollect he said that each life “saved” cost about 1 mil.

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrea X

That’s why a comparison in this article between the UK’s experience of the pandemic, on the one hand, and Australia/NZ’s experience, on the other, would have been instructive. (Or indeed a comparison with South Korea.)

On the face of it, Australia and NZ have suffered much lower costs across the board (from public healthy to education to the economy).

I would be very interested to get Mr Sayer’s analysis of that. Instead, we got a straw man argument on how we don’t want to do what China did.

As for government financial support during the pandemic (which suffice to say has been necessary in Sweden too, despite the absence of a mandated “lockdown”), one does not have to subscribe to the minority “magic money tree”/”modern monetary theory” school of thought to appreciate the need for monetary financing and fiscal stimulus in times of socioeconomic crisis. Take a look at, e.g. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s research on the subject for an explanation of who is going to pay for it and why we can’t simply keep planting the “money tree” forever.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago

Perhaps it should be recognised as a mental illness and be treated accordingly