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Boris Johnson is still in denial about lockdowns

Boris Johnson gives evidence at the Covid inquiry earlier this week

December 8, 2023 - 10:00am

As a vocal Covid dissident and lockdown opponent throughout the pandemic, watching the UK Covid inquiry these past few weeks has been a depressing experience. One gets the sense that both the people leading the inquiry and the vast majority of those questioned — the architects of the UK’s disastrously failed Covid policy — have learnt nothing. 

At one point on Wednesday, Boris Johnson had a golden opportunity to get to the heart of the problem. The lead inquiry lawyer, Hugo Keith KC, asked the former prime minister whether the late March 2020 order to lock down the country was “absolutely necessary”. This was Johnson’s golden opportunity to confess the cardinal error of the UK’s pandemic strategy: that it imposed lockdown in the first place.

Instead, he averred that the UK had “no other tool” than lockdown available. Under questioning about his involvement in pandemic decision-making in January and February 2020, the ex-PM’s mea culpa centred on his regret that he had not “twigged” the seriousness of the Covid threat earlier.

One major problem with this reasoning is that by the time February 2020 rolled around, Covid was almost certainly more widespread than anyone realised because it had arrived earlier than anyone realised. In 2019, Chinese authorities delayed reporting the existence of the virus to the world. Studies of antibodies in stored blood and stored wastewater from across the globe — including Italy, the US, Brazil, and elsewhere found traces of Covid’s presence in autumn 2019, long before the world knew about it. Even a January 2020 lockdown would have been too late: our fate was sealed once the virus was abroad in the world.

Moving forward to September 2020, Johnson faced the choice of whether to lock down again for the second Covid wave, even after the evident failure of the lockdowns to protect the population during the first wave. That September, panicked political advisors like Dominic Cummings argued for an immediate “circuit breaker” lockdown, while academics Sunetra Gupta, Carl Heneghan of the University of Oxford, and Anders Tegnell, a chief architect of Sweden’s pandemic response, called for focused protection of vulnerable people and no lockdown. After a few weeks of curfews, school disruptions and mask mandates, Johnson instituted a total lockdown on 31 October, 2020.

Despite these measures, the second Covid wave swept through England that autumn and winter. Scotland — on the advice of people like media darling Devi Sridhar — implemented its early “circuit breaker”, but also suffered through a terrible second wave. Scottish age-adjusted all-cause excess deaths are higher than in England and Wales since the pandemic’s start (as demonstrated below). There is no evidence that the circuit breaker did much except make the lives of the people of Scotland worse for a few more weeks than the English lockdown, imposed later, did.

The inquiry has been marked by a studied lack of curiosity about the great control group of the pandemic: Sweden. The country followed the traditional pandemic management strategy of focused protection of vulnerable people — especially the elderly — and non-coercive measures to avoid undue disruption in the lives of the less vulnerable. There were terrible early mistakes. Stockholm nursing homes failed to provide adequate care for the elderly in the early days of the pandemic. But Sweden did better than nearly every other country on earth in protecting human life. It has among the world’s lowest cumulative age-adjusted all-cause excess deaths since the start of the pandemic. And it accomplished this feat without lockdown.

And yet, at the inquiry on Thursday, Hugo Keith chose to mock the Swedish strategy, asking Johnson why he followed the “let it rip brigade”. Not unreasonably, the former PM informed Keith that the debate did not pit letting the virus rip against lockdown. But because of his blind allegiance to the lockdown idea, the lawyer missed the opportunity to grill Johnson about why he did not sufficiently consider the harms of the lockdowns that he ultimately implemented. 

The UK is still paying the costs of this decision, in the form of schoolchildren who had their childhood disrupted for nothing, late-stage cancer patients who skipped routine screenings, persistently high inflation and slow economic growth, and a colossal mental health crisis. On the crucial topic of lockdown harms, the inquiry has been shamefully silent. 


Jay Bhattacharya is a professor at Stanford University Medical School, a physician, epidemiologist, health economist, and public health policy expert focusing on infectious diseases and vulnerable populations.

DrJBhattacharya

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Mustard Clementine
Mustard Clementine
7 months ago

It’s really, really hard for most people to shift from following what they were told was the right thing, to admitting that very thing caused a lot of harm.

To do that, they would have to admit they likely aren’t as nice or good as they think they are – they are merely compliant.

Even worse is to admit that the bad people, who wouldn’t do what they were told, might have been right about even just some things.

A whole lot of people are completely incapable of navigating grey areas, and would rather condemn us all to darkness than admit they don’t really see the light.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago

And there are very many more of them than I ever imagined possible

Robbie K
Robbie K
7 months ago

I’ll tell you what’s harder – the Great Barringtoners still unwilling to admit they were wrong all along and convincing themselves of this nonsense.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

yes those round earthers are a problem too

John Riordan
John Riordan
7 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Thanks for providing a timely example of the problem of self-reinforcing delusion.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
7 months ago

Your comment is absolutely spot on. It is very hard for credentialed people including so-called rational and highly accomplished scientists to ever admit they’re wrong even when the correct path or answer is staring them right in the face. That is the fundamental issue that applies not just to the UK but also to the US where I live. For example, you have the new CDC Director, Mandy Cohen, recently testifying in congress that masks in any form are highly effective. Yet the data is now in. The few RCTs on Covid as well as the many RCTs on influenza and influenza-like illnesses, have shown beyond any shadow of a doubt that the impact of masks in the community is insignificant to non-existent, if not full ond etrimental. Further we have RCTs from the Cleveland Clinic on healthcare workers, so in a hospital environment, that showed there was absolutely no difference between regular surgical masks (where most of the air breathed in and exhaled never goes through the mask but comes in and out from the open sides) and N95 (which are supposed to be fitted and sealed). So we have the high and mighty and credentialed such as the CDC Director, and Fauci et al. basically living in a lala wonderland of pure make-belief, all the while claiming that they are the “Science TM”. The same, of course, is true of lockdowns which were completely unnecessary and draconian as voluntary changes in behavior as well as a shift of non-essential workers (i.e. workers who don’t need to be on site to work but can work from home through Zoom, etc…) to working home would have sufficed, as per the results in Sweden. Indeed, the only thing lockdowns did was shift transmission from mass transport and the workplace to the home. But as for the totality of viral transmission neither lockdown nor masks did anything – indeed they didn’t even slow things down. And whatt’s even more ironic is that in every instance lockdowns were imposed after the peak of infections had been reached and infections and transmission were coming down. All I can say is what a mess. But it sure doesn’t help that the establishment, who got everything wrong, keep rewarding their members (Fauci, Whitty, Valance, Farrar) with more and more honours and prizes.

Last edited 7 months ago by Johann Strauss
Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
7 months ago

Why is this Inquiry judge and KC led? Lawyers have no particular expertise to carry out this Inquiry compared for example to scientists, economists, educators, business people, or experienced former senior civil servants or ministers. The only benefit a lawyer could bring would be expertise in running an adversarial type investigation with two sides – one making the case for lockdown and NPIs, and one against. But that isn’t how the Inquiry is being carried out – the lockdowns seem to be a given, the only questioning is around whether it should have been earlier. Witnesses including Boris Johnson and Carl Heneghan have had their reputations attacked at the Inquiry but have no legal representation. It is shocking that Hugo Keith would refers use loaded language such as “the let it rip brigade”. This Inquiry is a great deal worse than useless.

Last edited 7 months ago by Stephen Walsh
Mrs R
Mrs R
7 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

It is a pantomime staged as a means of establishing a case for the acceptance and submission to the WHO’s Pandemic Treaty. This treaty will allow the WHO to take complete control over all citizens and impose lockdowns and mandates as they – and their sponsors – see fit.
Look, it is saying, we can’t trust our elected politicians and ministers in the event of the next pandemic – that with all the gain of function labs around the world will surely happen sooner rather than later – therefore we must submit to the WHO.
If we think our lockdowns were bad, if we think the pressure to take an experimental therapy was bad, then just wait until they are quite literally calling the shots.

Last edited 7 months ago by Mrs R
Jane H
Jane H
7 months ago
Reply to  Mrs R

There’s always mass public non compliance which will certainly include me.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
7 months ago
Reply to  Jane H

Me too, just as with C19.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
7 months ago
Reply to  Jane H

And me.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
7 months ago
Reply to  Mrs R

A pantomime indeed.
“What authoritarianism? Where?”
“It’s behind you!”

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
7 months ago
Reply to  Mrs R

The WHO is a paper tiger. It can’t force any sovereign nation to do anything. It might prove to be a convenient excuse for weak political leaders, but Covid has shown that there are plenty of excuses available.

Mrs R
Mrs R
7 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Perhaps but since when have we had strong political leadership?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
7 months ago
Reply to  Mrs R

A captain of a ship is held responsible for all that occurs on a ship. We need to change the law such that any director or senior person running an organisation, is forced to accept the responsibility of ship’s captain. A captain may undertake any action which saves ships but immediately faces a court of inquiry if it sinks and cannot blame anyone else.

John Wilkes
John Wilkes
7 months ago
Reply to  Mrs R

I clicked like, but definitely don’t like what you said. I do agree though. Wes Streeting has already said that Labour will ‘always comply with WHO recommendations’. Indeed.

Mrs R
Mrs R
7 months ago
Reply to  John Wilkes

Yes, I must say I don’t like it either. We need only look towards Trudeau’s Canada to see a flavour of what awaits the U.K. under Labour. All very disturbing, for the Tories cannot be allowed
to continue. This country has not stood in such peril since the Second World War but somehow worse for our country has never been more divided.

Martin M
Martin M
7 months ago
Reply to  Mrs R

Starmer is not as unctuous as Trudeau though.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
7 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Entirely agree with your comment. The whole basis that the enquiry is following is entirely useless as a means of discovering how best we might meet the next pandemic.The constant repetition by the KC of the suggestion that England suffered disproportionately from covid renders the exercise a farce. Barristers are good at arguing a particular predetermined line but without barristers arguing the line that lockdown was harmful rather than the only tool in the box there is no prospect of reaching a sensible conclusion.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
7 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Absolutely. The Inquiry should be equally probing about the let public debt rip brigade, the let inflation rip brigade, the let domestic violence rip brigade, the let cancer and other non-Covid health conditions rip brigade, and the abandon education brigade.

Robert Routledge
Robert Routledge
7 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Surely the covid enquiry is only just a witch hunt against Boris Johnson and a whitewash of our dysfunctional civil service? Absolutely shocking it’s not about learning lessons for the next time

D Glover
D Glover
7 months ago

Spot on. The only purpose of this enquiry is to chop BJ into tiny pieces so that he can never come back.
They are deliberately avoiding questions like: where did the virus come from? Do masks work at all? Is hand-washing anything to do with it?

rupert carnegie
rupert carnegie
7 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

I agree. So far, this inquiry gives the appearance of being conducted by scientific illiterates grasping onto a debatable lockdown narrative – perhaps because they feel ill equipped to explore the alternatives – ignoring key questions and deploying a bullying KC in the hope they can force the witnesses to adhere to this artificially constrained approach. It is a long way from the sort of open minded inquiry some of us would like which would clarify dispassionately what happened from a scientific and medical perspective and result in a credible lessons leant document.

That said:

1/ One never knows with Public Inquiries. Excellent public sessions can be followed by pitiful reports and vica versa. Lady Hallett may surprise us yet. She has clearly cottoned onto the fact that there is an alternative to the standard lockdown theory. One also needs to remember that she has all the written statements to work from not just the fruits of the public questioning – and that she has shown signs of growing irritation with Hugo Keith’s prosecutorial approach which is no doubt excellent for bludgeoning minor criminals of limited intelligence into admissions of guilt but is less useful in this context.

2/ The material being assembled will help others do the analysis that, so far, the Inquiry has seemed ill equipped to do. One should not despair. More productive discussions will occur elsewhere in the UK system and in other countries.

3/ Already important lessons have emerged e.g. that one of the key flaws of our political and media elite is that most of them are functionally innumerate and unable to grasp even basic concepts such as the implications of exponential growth. One of the reasons that the crisis was mishandled was because the PM, Cabinet Secretary and Principal Private Secretary all lacked the skills and mindset to understand and respond to a crisis of this nature – leading to a reliance on an assistant Private Secretary and then Cummings to explain what was going on. Already there has been a decision to change fast stream civil service recruitment and increase the STEM graduate proportion from 15% to 50%. Next I suggest as a first step that we pass a rule that no politician can become a minister unless they can pass a simple test on basic statistics and scientific concepts (with free training provided). If we think it unsafe to permit teenagers to drive without a driving test, it is not too much to ask for some evidence that wannabe ministers have some of the required skills and knowledge to steer the ship of state. Ironically, the Inquiry has unintentionally reinforced this point by proving to be as ill equipped, unscientific and innumerate as Boris. Ultimately, this flaw is the fruit of a warped educational system. See CP Snow’s Two Cultures lecture. Other equally important conclusions will become obvious irrespective of the Inquiry team’s intentions.

4/ One of the functions of this Inquiry is group therapy for those who lost family members. This aspect Hugo Keith seems to have well in hand with his otherwise objectionable questioning techniques.

Last edited 7 months ago by rupert carnegie
Ruth Sharratt
Ruth Sharratt
7 months ago

Re Point 4 – really? what about those who lost family members as a result of the ‘vaccine’? I don’t get the impression the Hallett enquiry is interested in them?
My impression is that the assumption is that the responses to Covid were fundamentally right – the only debate is how long and how hard.
There is no questioning of the fundamentals and anyone who does question or challenge the ‘official narrative’ gets a very hard time eg Heneghan.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
7 months ago

I’m truly gobsmacked that people can look back in 2023 and still argue in favour of lockdowns. The economic and social damage is still being paid today. These people are either fools – big shocker I know – or so ashamed they can’t admit to their blunders.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
7 months ago

Completely agree, except the biggest lesson is surely the bottomless corruption of Big Pharma and the vast medical experiment with the novel and pretty useless vaccines on a locked down population.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Vaccines weren’t useless. They helped the most vulnerable and elderly people in society. Vaccine mandates and lies about stopping transmission were an abomination, but the vaccines were beneficial.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

If you believe the vaccines work.
First they told you that the vaccine would stop you catching the virus which was untrue
Then the told you the vaccine would stop you spreading the virus, also untrue.
Then they told you the vaccine reduce the severity of symptoms when, despite taking the vaccine you still caught the virus, impossible to prove.
Isn’t it more likely that having terrified the nation into locking down, the only option for getting people back to work was push an untested vaccine of dubious medical efficacy as the panica.
It is just as well that the virus proved to be no more harmful than the flu, but this was apparent even before the first lockdown.
One question that has not been asked is how may deaths were due to the hysteria that was whipped up around Covid

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
7 months ago

I specifically said mandates and lies about transmission were an abomination. The vaccines were helpful for people at risk.

David Jory
David Jory
7 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The Cleveland Clinic disproved even that,showing the vaccinated people were more likely to become infected.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Jim

How did the vaccines help people at risk?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
7 months ago

Covid vaccines were more like a therapeutic. They offered some protection from the most acute symptoms and respiratory issues. Again, vaccines were not the issue. Mandates and lies about transmission were the issue. Like virtually everything in life, the issue is not black and white. There is room for nuance and reasonable discussion and action. An overweight 65 year old with diabetes would be a fool not to get the vaccine IMO. A healthy 20 year not so much. The problem was forcing the 20 year old to get the vaccine:

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

But that assumes that there is good evidence that the vaccine actually has therapeutic benefits over and above the placebo effect. Does such evidence exist?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
7 months ago

Isn’t this same argument we get from people saying Ivermectin and other treatments were useless? There’s lots of evidence and studies that suggest vaccines worked, just like there is for ivermectin. Do an internet search and there’s tonnes of links. There’s also lots of studies that both treatments didn’t work. Everyone should have been free to take all these treatments, and not prevented from taking any. IMO at risk people were foolish not to get the vaccine, and they should have had access to other treatments as well.

Last edited 7 months ago by Jim Veenbaas
Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
7 months ago

What’s even worse now is the knowledge which is being suppressed by MSM that the mRNA vaccines? after two boosters actually shut the immune system down and suppresses it. Not good if you are suffering from Cancer.

Karen Arnold
Karen Arnold
7 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Martin

That’s interesting to know. Someone I know was given boosters every 6 months and has now developed a rare cancer that is terminal. This type of cancer was not known of in the family until now.

Mrs R
Mrs R
7 months ago
Reply to  Karen Arnold

Some well known oncologists have spoken out about the rise in what they term turbo cancers and also rare cancers.

Peter Donnelly
Peter Donnelly
7 months ago

Seems to me that the King’s Councils belong to Indy Sage’s cult of zero-Covid and cannot entertain the simple fact that they might be wrong. The adversarial and, indeed, discourteous treatment of Carl Heneghan and later on Boris Johnson leaves me with the impression that the KC’s are prosecuting the case in order to deliver a verdict of guilty of harming society by not locking down stone and harder when there is a growing body of evidence to the contrary. Whatever else it is this inquiry will not provide any useful lessons from which we can learn. So the money would have been much better spent on analysing the data we already have to determine the benefits and harms of the NPI’s and to undertake the sort of studies Professors Heneghan and Jefferson and others have been calling for.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
7 months ago
Reply to  Peter Donnelly

SAGE contained over 21 people some with non medical qualifications. It should have been five for the duration and members prosecuted for criminal negligence if needed . Each SAGE member should have been treated as ship’s captain, yes given responsibility and punished if failed. It used to be said a RN captain could never be court martialled for sailing towards the sound of enemy gunfire.
Scientists who do not accept punishment for mistakes are worthless. A ship’s captain’s given almost unlimited power to keep a ship safe and is court martialled if it sinks.
Modern life gives people status but does not make them responsible for mistakes.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
7 months ago

“Instead, he averred that the UK had “no other tool” than lockdown available.”
That’s the point. When your only tool is a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail. And boy, did we get hammered!

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
7 months ago

What will we learn from this enquiry? That no politician will ever again take responsibity for managing resources in a pandemic.
So, very quietly, we will sign the new WHO treaty next year, which will allow the WHO to tell us when to lockdown in the future. They will also tell us when to cancel all flights in and out of the UK.
So that’s good isn’t it!!

Gordon Hughes
Gordon Hughes
7 months ago

There is more going than either Prof. Bhattacharya or commenters seem to realise. Public inquiries of this kind are performative and a huge waste of money, incidentally giving too much credibility to second (or third) rate jurists. They show up the weaknesses of the English legal system as well as totally inept management by the Department of Justice – formerly the Lord Chancellor’s office. Ultimately the blame will fall on Lady Hallet whose reputation will be trashed in the longer term. If she doesn’t realise that, then she is even more stupid than one might have guessed but maybe she likes to strut in the limelight. Her legal career certainly does not suggest any outstanding talent.
As an adversarial system, English legal practice is not good at inquisitorial processes. Some senior advocates have a high level of forensic skills, but many of them are little more than verbally fluent but overbearing bullies. This inquiry needed either (a) advocates with proven forensic skills (who were almost certainly too expensive and unwilling to spend the time required), or (b) advocates specifically appointed to explore competing arguments and to challenge the lines of arguments made by Hugo Keith and colleagues (again almost certainly too expensive). So what it has got is advocates who are bullies but may be relatively cheap to hire. Lady Hallet’s behaviour reinforces that outcome.
The performative element is also important. As many have noted the whole process is little more than theatre designed to allow the public to that someone is being held accountable for the mess. It provides a platform for some aggrieved parties to vent their personal tragedies without achieving anything concrete. There will be hundreds of conclusions and recommendations at the end, almost 95% of which will be utterly pointless and 100% of which will be ignored.
The mess is greatly exacerbated by the time scale and lack of focus. None of the best advocates I know would sign up for 4 years at what is probably relatively low daily rates (for QCs) on a matter as broad and poorly managed as this inquiry. It is a huge chunk of your life that won’t enhance your career – apart from a knighthood at the end for a few of them.
The core point is that this is a shambolic, badly managed and fundamentally pointless exercise. While some may have had hope that some good would come out of it, I think that it was pretty clear from the outset that this would not happen. Part of Lady Hallet’s tragedy is that any chance of her findings being taken seriously in the wider community has long since gone. Prof. Bhattacharya is right to challenge the value of the exercise but it isn’t really worth devoting much time to. Think of the inquiry as a massive iceberg that will gradually break up and disappear into the sea without leaving any substantial trace.

Last edited 7 months ago by Gordon Hughes
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
7 months ago
Reply to  Gordon Hughes

Very good points. I suggest three people, a Chartered Engineer, a ship’s captain who has made life of death decisions and a commercial KC. Maximum time 6 months. Copy a Board of Inquiry when ship sinks. Sit 8 am to 6pm Monday to Friday. Each person to prepare evidence comprising bullet points not more than 5 pages long. Large numbers of pages of evidence are used to conceal the truth. People told they must get to the point and will dismissed if they do not. Panel ask questions and will talk over people if not given adequate answers.
Compare Covid Inquiry with that of the Titanic.
The five assessors consisted of Rear Admiral the Honourable Somerset Gough-Calthorpe; Captain A. W. Clarke of Trinity House; Commander Fitzroy Lyon of the Royal Naval Reserve; Professor John Harvard Biles, an expert on naval architecture at the University of Glasgow; and Edward Chaston, an Admiralty senior engineer assessor.
British Wreck Commissioner’s inquiry into the sinking of the Titanic – Wikipedia

Penny Mcwilliams
Penny Mcwilliams
7 months ago

Despite the author’s stated starting point, and his perception that lockdowns were unnecessary and ineffective, there is no evidence that anyone could claim to genuinely have known that at the time. Arguably, the matter is not exactly proven even now. So while I flinch at ever defending Boris Johnson, he really does not need to apologize for that.
And as someone who would really like to know what evidence based lessons can be learned from this pandemic to help us prepare for the next one, I am already heartily sick of the combination of finger pointing, blame assigning and wallowing in self pity that this enquiry has become.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
7 months ago

You’ve perfectly summed up my position. All previous comments are based on hindsight, and a complete absence of understanding the howling for lockdown that accompanied the decision-making in the early months of 2020. I doubt even the most brave, wisest politician would’ve failed to succumb in those circumstances. That’s not Boris Johnson of course, who himself succumbed to the virus and his spell in intensive care no doubt influenced his thinking for the rest of the pandemic.
We were being shown pictures of severely-ill patients being turned away from specialist hospital beds on the European mainland due to lack of capacity. The first lockdown was to try to ensure that didn’t happen to us, and in that, it might be considered to have succeeded.
Remember also the massive effort to produce ventilators and temporary hospitals, which were never needed?
After that first lockdown, capacity was available and so further lockdowns and authoritarian use of emergency laws to prosecute very minor infractions became unnecessary. That’s the only conclusion worth recalling, and the rest is just theatre – the theatre of the absurd.

David Jory
David Jory
7 months ago

The Diamond Princess episode happened in February 2020.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
7 months ago

The point of this inquiry is to obscure the facts and not to illuminate the debate. The biggest question – where did the virus come from ? – is not being asked. This is highly relevant as the WHO, which has failed to publish the source and is almost certainly protecting China, is about to receive the right to imprison everyone in their homes. Then there are the pillaging of public funds, the lies told about the safety of the vaccines and the campaign to make these untested and dangerous vaccines compulsory.
Johnson’s problem is that he is an idiot. Anyone could have seen the news coming out of Italy in January 2020 and foreseen that there would be serious problems in the UK. A lockdown in March 2020 was probably a sensible precaution. However, within weeks the government had access to information that casualties were highly concentrated in the elderly and vulnerable groups. That was why there were parties in Downing Street; no one below retirement age felt in danger. The lockdown should have been ended sooner. Plans for a very different response during the winter of 2020-21 should have been made. The questions to ask are why were these plans not made and why were the same, inaccurate models used.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
7 months ago

When people died having Covid it was invariably because they had one or more other medical problems , especially for those above the age of 80 years. There needs to be multivariate data analysis on all those who died with Covid which does not mean they died from it, in order to understand how Covid contributed to deaths. However, how accurate are death certificates?
A FoI request said 17,000 died from Covid who had no other medical conditions.The average age of death was reduced from 81 years 9 months to 81 years 6 months.
Flu varies from year to year and contributes to deaths especially those with lung problems.

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
7 months ago

It’s a measure of how lost UK public policy is on this issue that, notwithstanding the truth of Jay Bhattacharya’s observations, so many lockdown sceptics feel the need to grasp at the he-had-the-right-instincts straw.

David
David
7 months ago

To my mind there are two underlying phenomena here. One is the very human desire not to admit responsibility, and to avoid accountability. Experts are as adept at both as politicians. The other, more dangerous, is the underlying assumption that every situation can be improved when the “experts” do the maximum possible to control it. The learned KC seems to have joined in this professional omertà. It’s after all what helps to preserve the experts’ standing in society. And it’s up to our elected representatives to challenge it. That’s where Boris has failed.

Last edited 7 months ago by David
Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
7 months ago

While not disagreeing with the thrust of this piece, can authors please, please, please not quote the Swedish example if they don’t actually understand it.
It’s misleading to simply state that Sweden didn’t lock down. Their lockdown was different from ours, being mostly self-imposed (as was ours for the first two weeks) but included limits on the size of public gatherings, closing schools for the over-15s and closing universities.
The Government didn’t have the powers to mandate greater restrictions (though it took those powers in late 2020) but Stockholm-based foreign journalists overlooked the fact that municipalities did have those powers and often used them.
It’s also worth noting that, while Sweden has ultimately emerged as mid-table wrt excess deaths, their posture came under severe criticism internally, from media, politicians and even the King, in late 2020 as at that time deaths were well above those of Norway and Denmark. There was huge embarrassment in Sweden when Denmark declined to reopen the famous bridge between the two countries.
We can certainly learn from the Swedish experience but only if we take the trouble to understand what that experience actually was. There seems no likelihood that our Inquiry will attempt this.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
7 months ago

True point. Our arguments often lack nuance. We should point fingers at leaders like Biden and Trudeau, for instance, but health care delivery is a state and provincial responsibility in North America. Every province in Canada and virtually every state in the U.S. supported these policies.

Paul Collyer
Paul Collyer
7 months ago

Far better than mid table on excess but you make some good points.

But as someone living in Stockholm I assure you there was never any lockdown as such. We were able to use the recommendations at our discretion. Even at the height of measures in winter 20/21 we could go out for dinner or a drink subject to some restrictions on opening times and do whatever we wanted socially in our own homes.

The Danes, Norwegians and Finns are taking a different view of the Swedish strategy now that the excess death figures show little differences between all. I suspect they can learn from Sweden as much as we from them.

The other issue of course is that Swedish politicians would initially follow the guidance of the Public Health Authority. There was none of the chaos we’ve heard about in Whitehall with politicians and scientists having no idea who was in charge or what the protocol was.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul Collyer

Thank you for this piece of local knowledge. Following the public health authority wouldn’t have helped here, I don’t think, as Whitty & Valance started by being lockdown sceptics and then, almost overnight, becoming lockdown zealots.
It’s a mark of the uselessness of our Inquiry that both have given evidence but we still don’t know why they had this change of heart.

jf2023
jf2023
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul Collyer

And also of note, Sweden never closed down the primary schools, which seems to have had devastating consequences in other countries. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health advised strongly that Norway shouldn’t close the schools either, but was overruled by a panicking government.

William Cameron
William Cameron
7 months ago

Here is the question that is not being asked.
“Which caused greater damage ? Covid or lockdown ?”
In my view the legacy of lockdown is far far worse than the legacy of covid. Educations denied, productivity reduced, Huge furlough costs Etc – For what ?
Would more people have died if lockdowns had not been imposed ? Certainly many thousands of patients today are dying because of the NHS backlog .
Where are the comparative quantitative data and estimates ?
Rather more important than very expensive questions about who used a rude word in a text.

Rob Britton
Rob Britton
7 months ago

The lockdown enquiry is a classic example of Establishment ar5e covering.

Last edited 7 months ago by Rob Britton
Peter Donnelly
Peter Donnelly
7 months ago

Vaccines should only be offered to those at a measurable risk of suffering harm from a given disease. The problem is we have no way of knowing who this might be. Similarly we also know that others will suffer harm from the vaccine but again we have no way of knowing who that might be.. However, it seems to me that attempting vaccinate every single human being on the planet was reckless especially as we knew before the first jab went in that it was the elderly and those with weaker immunity that would be most likely to develop COVID-19 as opposed to simply being infected with SARS-COV-2. Now we are having to dump millions of does that have past their sell-by date – just as we did with swine flu. And, as you say, the a=vaccine reducers went laughing all the way to the back as they could claim their products were effective (COVID-19 is now endemic as was predicted) and could not be held accountable for any harm done (as apparently stated in the advanced purchase agreement.

Iris C
Iris C
7 months ago

We are a democracy – not an autocracy- and people should have been advised to take their own decisions and precautions, depending on their age and medical history.
Also you did not contract Covid unless you were close to someone who was already infected and who breathed or sneezed towards you.
Originally every person over 70 was told to stay at home – no mention of a daily walk at the outset I could playing two rounds of golf a day at 70 and knew it benefitted my health to spend at least an hour beathing in fresh, cold air.

John Riordan
John Riordan
7 months ago

The covid inquiry is not there to investigate or challenge the government’s pandemic policy. It is there to exonerate it. The government cannot ever admit that the socioeconomic disaster of 2020-2022 was actually caused by its own response to the virus and not the virus itself.

When I say “government”, I’m not talking about the Tories here. What’s being defended is the machinery of government itself, not the party political executive that ostensibly controls it from time to time.

I could turn out to be wrong – I hope I do anyway – but I suspect that pandemic policy may turn out to represent a damaging one way shift in the balance of power between state and individual. It may take some time to become clear, but think it’ll be revealed in due course that the power to impose house arrest on a nation will become normalised and will be used upon lots of pretexts, not just when there’s a new infectious disease to worry about.

William Cameron
William Cameron
7 months ago

If you haven’t watched any of the evidence I do recommend it . Not for the substance -which is poor and off target – but for the theatrical showing off of the KC asking the questions. His endlessly repeated hand gestures designed to convey his brilliance and gravity . How he isnt in the Royal Shakespeare Company is a mystery.

j watson
j watson
7 months ago

The general point that to date there seems to be insufficient further assessment of how the UK might have followed the Swedish approach, and whether it could have worked in much denser populated country, with as Bojo conveyed, a less healthy population, has some validity. There are 4 Modules to go yet though, so we’ll see.
But the Author a bit selective too. Two key points – firstly hindsight heavy. In March 20 nobody had the level of insight we have now. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t reflect and learn for a next time, God forbid, but conveying all this knowledge was pre-known a bit performative. Secondly, and again as Bojo conveyed at the Inquiry, the alternative approach got a hearing with a joint meeting. Heneghan et al were there. Bojo conveyed it came to a general ‘consensus’. Now we ought to hear more about this meeting – is his interpretation correct, what did ‘consensus’ mean, what was debated and concluded etc, is it formally minuted? Hopefully the Inquiry will dig into this a bit more.

Last edited 7 months ago by j watson
Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
7 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Agreed. The Heneghan meeting is interesting. So far it is said that when it came to it the ” red team” did not challenge the consensus that a further lockdown was appropriate. Its not clear to me that they agree with that interpretation.

Cloudier Nigh
Cloudier Nigh
7 months ago

Quite! Here’s a documentary we made in Sweden during the Scamdemic – share with those who are still in denial … if we want to prevent another round of folly!

https://youtu.be/Ri_yU_gHLcA?si=7M2cdZBKtxSte0wg

William Cameron
William Cameron
7 months ago

Here is the second question not being asked.
” What is the correlation of Covid hospital admissions post vaccine availability and new covid cases broken down by ethnicity”
Put more crudely “did some parts of society fear vaccine more than others ? And did that result in more than average admissions ?”

William Cameron
William Cameron
7 months ago

While not being a fan of BJ this piece is unfair. Because of the (unwise in my view) adversarial style of questioning by the KC it inevitably results in defensive responses . Had the KC wished to learn about how to manage a pandemic rather than skewering a retired PM – he might have got a more helpful response.

George Venning
George Venning
7 months ago

There are two questions about the pandemic response.
The first is did we get the strategy right and the second is did we execute it well.
It’s fair of the author to point out that the inquiry is focussing on the latter to the exclusion of the former but, in championing the Swedish approach, he is neglecting the latter.
Sweden didn’t just opt for the right strategy, it also implemented it skilfully.
Given what we have seen of the goings on inside Downing Street, can we be confident that Johnson & Co would have run the Swedish approach any more effectively than they ran the actual approach?
I guess what I’m wondering is whether the right strategy would have led to even worse outcomes if it had been implemented poorly (as it surely would have been if these muppets had been in charge).

Ryan Scarrow
Ryan Scarrow
7 months ago

The purpose of lockdowns was not to completely prevent the spread of Covid through the population but to slow down its spread to a number that was more manageable for the health services to not be overwhelmed.
I completely believe that there is a need for this inquiry to delve into the things that we now know should’ve been done differently – schools should’ve been kept open if at all possible, masks weren’t terribly effective outside of very specific circumstances and usage, etc. – but not once in this article does the author mention that in March and April of 2020 there was such a fear of the NHS being overwhelmed that the government built the Nightengale hospitals, but the fact that those facilities never had to be used is, to a large degree, a function of how well the lockdown worked in the first place (at least as long as people believed in that everybody was following the lockdown rules, until a certain Boris advisor made a trip to Barnard Castle…)

Jane H
Jane H
7 months ago
Reply to  Ryan Scarrow

The Nightingale hospitals were, in my opinion, a coercive publicity stunt to terrify everyone into compliance. They never had enough staff to operate the tent hospitals either. I also hope the counting of covid deaths will be included in the inquiry i.e. people dying with covid rather than from. A victim of a road traffic accident testing covid positive would be counted as a death from covid. Who made that decision to bump up the covid death statistics?

Last edited 7 months ago by Jane H
Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
7 months ago
Reply to  Jane H

They weren’t needed because Covid wasn’t that dangerous, other than to particular vulnerable groups. No country in the world ultimately experienced the level of Covid deaths luridly forecast at that time. The government policy of herding hospital patients into care homes meant that the vulnerable were more, not less, likely to be exposed to Covid than the general population.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
7 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Absolutely spot on. The tragedy is that the reaction of Government in most western countries, including the K and US, but not Sweden, was guided by fear and panic, and that’s never a good thing as generally panic makes things always worse.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
7 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

I’d say fear and panic was the control device employed by the government and its media functionaries. All those maskless politicians getting their hair done, going out to dinner, and attending approved “mostly peaceful” protests were clearly never worried about it.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
7 months ago
Reply to  Ryan Scarrow

You make the false assumption that lockdowns slowed down the spread of Covid. However, a careful look at the data shows that this was absolutely not the case, and the only impact of lockdown was to shift the spread of the virus from the workplace/public transportation to the home. Net result: no effect on spread and number of cases. Further, as it is, in each and every case of lockdown, COVID had already reached its peak BEFORE the lockdowns were implemented and the cases were already rapidly falling. The simple fact is that a more laissez-faire approach as adopted in Sweden which took advantage of people’s intrinsic good sense, worked every bit as well if not better. Beter in fact since the end result was significantly better in Sweden than in the UK, although, of course, that could also be due to the general health of he population.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
7 months ago
Reply to  Ryan Scarrow

Sweden.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
7 months ago
Reply to  Ryan Scarrow

Yeah, that was the story. You still buy it after all we know now? How is that possible? This thing was war gamed in October 2019. Fauci has been exposed, right along with the pharmaceutical companies who control the politicians and the news/entertainment industry. It’s mind-boggling how so many still cling to “it’s for your own good, government cares about you” fantasy.

Gerard A
Gerard A
7 months ago
Reply to  Ryan Scarrow

The fear of being overwhelmed was largely generated by the telephone number forecasts of hospitalisations and deaths generated by the modelling of Feguson et al
In a very short period of time it was obvious that the key assumptions in the models were either completely wrong (eg if I have covid now I am as likely to infect you or anyone else on this discussion as my family or near contacts) or wildly pessimistic (eg secondary attack rates, IFR for the under 60s). However SAGE stuck to the flawed models and even tried to defend them when they fell apart when Omicron arrived.
One of the strange this about this debate is you find yourself agreeing peole with you would otherwise have contrary views. I am blocked on Twitter by Allison Pearson but her column in the Telegraph yesterday summed up my feelings “panicking politicians,mystic meg modellers, and over-mighty scientific advisors chose to lock down and entire nation for a virus which overwhelmingly infected the very old”
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2023/12/07/sham-covid-inquiry-ignoring-victims-of-lockdown/

John Riordan
John Riordan
7 months ago
Reply to  Ryan Scarrow

The infection rate was already falling at the point the first lockdown was introduced, we now know. Lockdown was not necessary.

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
7 months ago

The author doesn’t understand Boris. Boris isn’t interested in getting to the heart of anything, just looking after Boris.
The author claims that there is evidence that the virus was widespread around the world in 2019, therefore 2020 lockdowns missed the boat, but if this is so [or crucial] how come numerous countries achieved impressively low numbers of deaths with lockdowns? The difference between their lockdowns and our UK lockdowns were that they went early and we waited until very late. In other words, Boris botched our lockdowns, making them less effective, we can’t talk about lockdowns without taking their timing into account. The enquiry discussed at length the need to compare like countries with like when comparing death rates, and when we compare Sweden’s death rate with fellow [locked down] Nordic countries, we find that Sweden’s death rate was twice as high. No academic focusing on protection of vulnerable people [plus carers, families etc] without lockdowns, ever explained how this could be done, and no country achieved it, least of all Sweden.

Mrs R
Mrs R
7 months ago
Reply to  Doug Mccaully

Blanket lockdowns of the healthy, especially the young, were not only despicable but hugely counterproductive.
My sister, a nurse of many years, was extremely distressed by the unnecessary suffering heaped on those already dying from the multitude of diseases that carry us off. Their last days and moments were made even more heartbreaking for themselves and their families.
We were sickened by the ‘covid’ death tallies that appeared on the top of every newspaper and ever news bulletin for they never made clear that they included those who died ‘with covid’ rather than from it, ie people who had had a positive tests within 28 days before dying. Many had no symptoms and were dying from other terrible illnesses but still Covid was on the death certificate. This is a scandal. The fear mongering was pure, government sponsored propaganda.
This ‘inquiry’ doesn’t even scratch the surface.

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
7 months ago
Reply to  Mrs R

I’m sorry to hear of your sister’s distress but there was a mountain of distress that afflicted so many people in all walks of life, as is coming out in the enquiry, again and again. I’m a nurse of many years by the way, many of us died from caring for people with covid, and the NHS didn’t collapse, due to the lockdowns. This ‘died with covid’ idea doesn’t hold water. People with stable diabetes or cardiac failure etc. who could reasonably have expected to have good years of life ahead of them got covid and the covid carried them off. What was written on the death certificate followed standard medical diagnostic practice, there was no cooking the diagnostic books. If the govt. didn’t release the death numbers then we couldn’t have made any informed decisions about our lives, and that would be sinister. Latest ONS stats, 310,000 deaths, that’s not fear mongering, that’s really scary.

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
7 months ago
Reply to  Doug Mccaully

Why are Sweden’s neighbors “like” Sweden. If we apply the logic across Eurasia..then, mathematically, every country on that landmass is “like” every other. It’s just gratuitious generalization masquerading as knowledge. In fact its all-cause mortality appears to be bottom in Europe — according to the UK Office of National Statistics: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/articles/comparingdifferentinternationalmeasuresofexcessmortality/2022-12-20.
Why, even if it were true that Sweden did worse in terms of mortality than the neighbours, does that justify lockdowns?
In fact I don’t think it did do worse than the neibhbors but mortality alone is not the sole measure of success or failure.
50,000 people dying at 83 and a million poor kids going to school for two years is a much better outcome than 50,000 people dying at 85 and a million poor kids not going to school.
Mortality and, even morbidity, are not the only metrics. Public health science has many other factors to consider.
Believing that the measures were right because “scientific consensus” said so is tautological nonsense.

Last edited 7 months ago by Paul MacDonnell
Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
7 months ago

Unless, that is, you are one of the 50,000. Or poor Granny is one. Things are different when they’re not just random figures to play with.

david c
david c
7 months ago

No you’re wrong. I’m a “senior citizen” and hate the idea that kids suffered to possibly give me a bit longer on this earth. And I’m sure most older people think likewise. And remember, even amongst older people the risk of death of (not “with”) Covid was much smaller than most people think. Of course it’s sad for anyone to die earlier than they would without getting Covid but one has to get things into perspective. And we could have done a LOT more to offer focussed protection.

Helen Nevitt
Helen Nevitt
7 months ago
Reply to  david c

Agreed. I’m older too. Why should the young be sacrificed for the old?

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
7 months ago

There was no lockdown, and no debt built up for future generations to pay, in response to the Asian flu pandemic in 1957-58, or the Hong Kong flu of 1968-70. So Granny was able to get her education and enjoy her youth unimpeded. Education, economic well-being, and long term public and mental health (noting current ongoing excess mortality) should not be randomly frittered away.

Last edited 7 months ago by Stephen Walsh
Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
7 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Flu comes from a different family of viruses to covid, you can’t compare the two. Covid is more infectious and has a higher mortality rate.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
7 months ago
Reply to  Doug Mccaully

Actually the mortality rate for the two is very comparable. The mortality rates for covid and flu at the beginning were wildly overestimated which, of course, led to panic and fear, and hence the hysterical heavy-handed response by the powers that be.

Last edited 7 months ago by Johann Strauss
Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
7 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

The mortality rate of flu is about three times that of the [pre vaccination] best mortality rate of covid, and flu deaths are concentrated in an older age group than are covid deaths. In the UK. in a bad year, 30,000 people die from flu, less in other years. In two years, between 180,000 and 230,000 people died of covid in the UK. This information can be found on the British [govt.] Office for National Statistics website, check in out.

Last edited 7 months ago by Doug Mccaully
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
7 months ago

But it’s not even that. The vast majority of elderly people who died from Covid were not healthy to begin with.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
7 months ago

This is false logic because those at risk could always protect themselves or, if in care homes, those homes could have instituted appropriate protective measures. i.e. focussed protection. That’s the nub of the matter.
The other key thing to understand is that the life expectance , at least in the US, of those entering nursing homes (i.e. full support with no independent living) is about 1 year. And when one has reached that level of infirmity the fact of the matter is that one can be carried away by a mere cold, leading to fatal secondary bacterial pneumonia (which used to be known as the old man’s friend).

John Riordan
John Riordan
7 months ago

“Unless, that is, you are one of the 50,000.”
Actually no. This wrongly assumes that an alternative strategy would have saved them but as we now know, this is not the case. Lockdown severity has no correlation with all-cause mortality. Unless you’re one of those strange people who think that stopping people dying of Covid is so important that it’s essential even if the policy kills them of something else.

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
7 months ago

Making allowances for different outcomes in countries of different types is standard epidemiological practice, not just dreamed up for covid. Sweden had lockdowns by the way, just not as drastic as ours, Sweden pivoted towards targeted lockdowns in response to their high death rate. Latest Office for National Stats figures for covid deaths in over 80’s is about 300,000, not 50,0000. That’s a really careless argument, and your pitting mass deaths against kid’s schooling is a morally unacceptable argument, and most medics would agree with me on that.

Gerard A
Gerard A
7 months ago
Reply to  Doug Mccaully

Covid deaths for the over 80s was 45,271 in 2020 and 36,606 in 2021. I can’t find the figure for 2023 to date by age but for all ages its 15,826 to 17 November, so even if all of those were over 80 the figure is less than a third of your 300,000.

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
7 months ago
Reply to  Gerard A

I got 300,000 from the Office of National Statistics, a govt. organisation whose job it is to produce these figures. Their figures do seem a little on the high side to me, and I think we’ll have to wait a little longer for more accurate stats, but let’s go back to their figures of a few months ago, a mere 200,000 over 80’s deaths. I don’t know where you get your stats from but they appear to be way off. Are you confusing under 80s and over 80s? That would make more sense of your figures.

Gerard A
Gerard A
7 months ago
Reply to  Doug Mccaully

I got mine from Nomis, the ONS interactive service. From your comment there would have been 100,000 over deaths from covid in the over 80s in the last few months. I think you have looked at the wrong data

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
7 months ago
Reply to  Gerard A

The clearest ONS stats I can find claim 227,000 covid deaths in the UK. Given we know that 90% of deaths were amongst the over 80s, that means a little over 200,000 over 80 covid deaths. I did say I thought the 300,000 figure too high. I think the stats will vary somewhat as people argue over precise eligibility for being counted as a covid death, and I doubt there will ever be total unanimity over this, but the consensus figure will be about 200,000 over 80s covid deaths in the UK.

Gerard A
Gerard A
7 months ago
Reply to  Doug Mccaully

I was using figures for England as Johnson was not in charge of Covid measures in the other countries. The over 80s deaths were 45,000 out of 74,000 in 2020 and 36,000 out of 64,000 in 2021 so 55-60% not 90%

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
7 months ago
Reply to  Gerard A

ONS figures can be tricky because they obviously change over time so there may be more than one set of figures on offer. The 300,000 number [which I am suspicious of] is a ‘best guess’ by ONS. I’ve seen ONS quote 210,000, a little over 186,000. Worldometer stats, which seems respectable has just over 232,000 deaths so we’ll see.
If you maintain that the percentage of over 80s deaths was a mere 55-60% then we had more than 100,000 under 80s deaths, which would demolish any view that lockdowns weren’t needed. Johnson was the PM of the whole country and responsible for nearly every covid related decision, so we can’t use England only stats. Stats can be tricky and a final figure will take years to arrive at, but your figures are far too low.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
7 months ago
Reply to  Doug Mccaully

How is Covid detected? How is death by Covid defined ? In 1968/69 there were 88,000 deaths from flu. What are the treatments which slow down or stop the devlopment of Covid such as Zinc, Vitamin C and Vitamin D3.What are the age brackets, say 0 to 10 yrs, 11-20 yrs, 21-30 yrs of Covid Death.
In Italy, initially every person who was died in hospital with Covid deaths was reported as dying of Covid. When they revaluated what was being defined as Covid deaths , the death rate fell by 95% .
The most important aspect of engineering is measurement- what do the measuring devices measure and what is their accuracy?
I have yet to see a detailed explanation of testing, apparently some of the PCR tests were contaminated with Covid.
If aeroplanes were designed with the indifference to raw data of the Covid saga , there would be vast numbers of crashes.

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
7 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

90% of covid deaths were of people over 80. Most of these people have stable health issues such as diabetes, then covid comes along and carries them off. Without covid many of them would have had years of good quality life, so their death certificate is likely to be classified as a covid related death. It’s the covid that carried them off. I can’t comment on the rest of your post because it doesn’t make sense.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
7 months ago
Reply to  Doug Mccaully

165 million people across the globe have been pushed into $2 a day poverty since 2020, after 25 consecutive years of declining poverty. When evaluating the impact of lockdowns, you can’t myopically look at Covid deaths. The collateral damage is far worse than the marginal benefits.

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
7 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

This must be at least the third time we’ve had this conversation, so far its gone like this: you claim that lockdowns are responsible for an increase in global poverty, I point out that most countries didn’t have lockdowns, that maybe it was the virus that depressed global trade, you go quiet.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
7 months ago
Reply to  Doug Mccaully

I will keep pounding the table on this issue because 165 million people pushed into poverty is a crime against humanity. And we ignore it in the west because it’s happening in places we don’t care about.

The biggest countries had lockdowns – China, the US, virtually all of the west. To think lockdowns didn’t disrupt the global economy is willful ignorance IMO.

I never went quiet. I asked you to explain how Covid itself cold be responsible. Covid was not a serious issue for people in the workforce – it targeted the elderly and people with compromised health. People didn’t stop working because they were sick. People stopped working because they were forced to stay home. The tourism industry was crushed because of lockdowns, even if your state didn’t impose lockdowns. Just in India alone, 75 million people were pushed into poverty – and it was a lockdown state.

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
7 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

 No one is ignoring people pushed into poverty and we do care about that, but unless we think the Chinese designed covid in a lab and deliberately infected us with it, there’s no crime here, just a massive tragedy. Terrible things sometimes happen, no one was to blame. So to explain the lockdown thing again: We could see what covid was doing to Italy, India, Pakistan, Iran Spain etc as it approached the UK, and we knew we had about two weeks before it hit us. There was no treatment, huge numbers of people were becoming sick, often very sick, but it appears in your world a person has to die before their plight becomes significant. Very large numbers of people were dying, often in appalling ways. It turned out to be a disease that hurt very many people but mostly killed the elderly and sick, vulnerable to infection from the rest of us. Do you care about them, or are you like others on this thread, willing to write them off as acceptable collateral damage? That would be a crime against humanity. Here in the UK all this that scared the hell out of people and they started to lock down before the govt imposed lockdowns on them. I’m describing a huge crisis, and that’s certainly going to suppress trade. In the UK we had [I believe] three countrywide lockdowns of varying severity, each lasting several weeks, in years 2020-21. Then we had some local lockdowns, plus other bits and pieces. For most of the pandemic there was no lockdown. If the govt hadn’t botched the first lockdown [see increasing evidence from the enquiry] then we wouldn’t have had the lockdowns we did have. Out health service was on the verge of collapse, saved by lockdowns. In situations like this, people don’t go out, they don’t go on holiday or buy new cars, they sit tight and hope for the best, which is not good for trade. Are you seriously suggesting that if there were no lockdowns that things in the UK would carry on as normal?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
7 months ago
Reply to  Doug Mccaully

Lockdowns were certainly implemented in good faith – no argument there – but they stunk of govt incompetence, hubris and complete disregard for the unintended consequences, especially for people outside their borders.

I had no issue with two weeks to stop the spread, but lockdowns were repeatedly implemented over the next two years. Car manufacturers and businesses of all kinds were still shutting down in 2021, long after we knew the true nature of the virus. Supply lines were a mess and the cumulative disruptions to the global economy affected everyone, but the poorest among us especially so.

I don’t believe any of this is true; “In situations like this, people don’t go out, they don’t go on holiday or buy new cars, they sit tight and hope for the best, which is not good for trade.”

People went out when the rules allowed it. Covid had zero impact on event attendance – except when venues were closed. People were cash rich. When restaurants were open, they went out. Demand for cars was strong. If sales were hampered, it was because of chip shortages and other supply chain issues. Travel was restricted, especially to overseas destinations, where people are more dependent on the industry.

The argument that people who opposed lockdowns didn’t care about seniors was specious back then, and even more so today. And who exactly did the lockdowns save? Wealthy people who could afford to isolate did just that. People who could work at home did the same. Lockdowns were irrelevant to them. They could isolate regardless. Who did lockdowns fail to protect? At-risk poor people living with family members working outside the home.

Blaming politicians at this point is irrelevant, and frankly most people supported the policies. But no govts have even acknowledged their failed policies, let alone accounted for the impact. Britain is one of the few countries even bothering with a commission, and it doesn’t look like an evaluation of lockdowns is even on the table – other than those saying we should have locked down earlier and harder with zero evidence to back up those statements.

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
7 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Well I think we’ve discovered some points of agreement on lockdowns. Looking at the more successful lockdowns, Singapore had only one, Taiwan [I think] had one, South Korea had none etc, but they all enforced a package of early border controls, early lockdowns, proper test and trace, and they all had spectacularly fewer deaths and economic disruption than we had. We can’t talk about lockdowns as an undifferentiated stand alone group, timing, test and trace, border controls alongside lockdowns are crucial.
 Certainly in the UK covid altered people’s spending and social habits, above and beyond lockdowns, there is no doubt about this. We haven’t got back to pre-covid spending and social patterns so this can’t be lockdown driven. Some countries did enable poor people to lock down by paying them a decent allowance to do so and could afford to do this partly because they had fewer and shorter lockdowns, though many did not. It is the job of all govts. to look after their own people first, by the way.
The whole UK enquiry is one big evaluation, of lockdowns amongst other things, and of the competence and honesty of the politicians who made the decisions. If we don’t learn from history, we repeat history, so we need this enquiry, but it will take years to completely unscramble all this. Clearly lockdowns had an economic effect beyond their duration but we can’t rationally place all the blame on lockdowns. Interestingly, UK govt stats are now claiming that a third of covid deaths were in the 60-75 cohort, which if true, completely changes the picture of 90% of deaths being in the over 80 group, and all that logically flows from that. Time will tell.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
7 months ago
Reply to  Doug Mccaully

Your facts are not correct. At the end of the day (i.e. when all was done) Sweden actually fared better than its neighbours. The initial higher death rates in Sweden relative to the other nordic countries was due to the different structure of the elderly care homes where Sweden made the same screwups as the US and NYC by sending convalescent patients into these. Further, Sweden did better than any of the other non-nordic European countries. It is perfectly true that the initial death rates in the far east were very small, and initially this was attributed to masking. However, in all likelihood this was due to different prior exposures (recall the population had been exposed to SARS and derivative corona viruses in the early 2000s). However, later on, the death rates in places like Japan and S. Korea rose dramatically when Omicron came along, while Omicron was basically a nothing for Western countries.

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
7 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Here are the figures from Worldometer stats from Feb 23, a reputable site using the same calculation criteria worldwide: Norway, [population 5.5 million] 5732 covid deaths. Denmark [population 5.9 million] 8804 deaths. Sweden [population 10.5 million] 26018 deaths. Japan 74694 deaths [population 123 million] S. Korea 35934 deaths [pop 51.5 million]. I’ll leave you to do the maths and compare. Screwups with decanting sick people into care homes was widespread throughout the world, the UK screwed up bigtime on this. The Nordic countries did better than most other European countries because of the conditions in the Nordic countries, and Sweden did spectacularly worse than her Nordic neighbours. You miss the point with your theory that S.E Asian exposure to SARS, 23 years ago resulted in hugely increased immunity to covid 19. If we need a covid jab every year, how can a distantly related coronavirus of 23 years ago make any difference to covid 19 immunity today, there’s no evidence for that at all. The point is that SARS never really reached Europe [and maybe not the US] in 2000, because it is much less transmissible than covid 19. S.E. Asian countries did so well with covid 19 because they were badly stung by SARS and resolved not to make that mistake again. We were not, and learned the hard way.