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Don’t let Sage scientists off the hook for lockdown

Patrick Vallance speaks during a televised press conference at 10 Downing Street in February 2021. Credit: Getty

October 6, 2023 - 4:45pm

This week, the UK Covid inquiry was told about the “chaotic” and “toxic” atmosphere at 10 Downing Street in the run-up to the imposition of lockdown in 2020. 

Media outlets ranging from the Guardian, BBC and the Mirror jumped on striking comments made by Sir Patrick Vallance in his personal diary. These were read to the inquiry as part of a lengthy opening statement on Tuesday by the lead counsel, Hugo Keith KC.

In his nightly entries, the Government’s former chief scientific adviser lamented the political infighting at Number 10 (including the incompetence of Matt Hancock) and the cherry-picking of information from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage). He also criticised the “bipolar decision-making” and “ridiculous flip-flopping” of Boris Johnson around lockdown.

Vallance appeared to compare elected politicians to children disregarding the guidance of “The Science”, saying that politicians had behaved “totally inappropriate[ly]|”, putting Sage in a “terrible position”.

His comments are part of a larger tranche of personal communications that will come to light in the coming weeks as the inquiry analyses UK political decision-making and governance. This includes 250 different WhatsApp group chats and thousands of pages of one-to-one texts at the highest level of the UK Government. 

With such a large amount of private communication, we should expect the dirty laundry of the political class to come out in its full splendour. But judging from the lengthy opening statement by Keith, this presents a number of significant risks.

Firstly, the stupidity, selfishness and chameleonic temperament of politicians provide an easy scapegoat for other sources of chaos in the early days of 2020: namely, lockdown itself. 

The main focus of the inquiry in this second investigation is whether the Government reacted with “sufficient speed” before the 23 March lockdown. But this claim is based on the belief that lockdown was necessary, making an early imposition the natural conclusion. This is certainly the opinion of Vallance and most of the established scientific class. However, if we reject the premise that lockdown was needed, then the case reads differently: politicians were misled by scientists and a public enamoured with the new CCP model.

Support for lockdown has been woven into the dominant inquiry narrative, which has been enhanced by the overrepresentation of bereaved families. Yet this assumption co-exists uneasily with a recognition that non-pharmaceutical interventions cannot stop transmission, as noted by Keith on Tuesday:

However stringently a government intervenes, it is of course not possible to stop everyone getting infected. Some will inevitably be infected and thus be immune, but that is a long way from deliberately exposing them to a virus that might kill them. 
- Hugo Keith

And yet, in the same opening statement, Keith goes on to note: “The median age at death in the United Kingdom at the beginning of the pandemic was 83. The median age of persons who died was 82.” Was the social sledgehammer of lockdown really necessary for such a virus? Most likely not.

Secondly, it is perplexing how the use of lockdown itself is not described as “chaotic” and “toxic”. The inquiry heard on Wednesday, for example, about the neglect of children’s rights. Such measures were monitored by the police, which brought with it the full weight of social coercion. Resulting from these actions was substantial collateral damage that continues to be overlooked, including in official reports

Beyond these factors, the scapegoating of politicians is a convenient guise to hide the errors, half-truths and groupthink of the scientific establishment itself, which is keen to maintain a narrative of “truth” and superiority over the politician class. This, even though most “facts” of the Covid years are deeply contested. To pick just one example: the inquiry assumes that the virus could have been contained in Wuhan in January 2020, oblivious to the data from blood banks, cohort studies and environmental sampling showing that SARS-CoV-2 was circulating (at low levels) in Europe & the US in late 2019.

In this regard, the inquiry appears to be replicating its lockdown doctrine through an implicit need for speed that justifies the measure, a political duty to save all lives, a denial of the chaotic nature and harm of implementing lockdown, blame-shifting onto politicians and a false sense of certainty about key scientific questions. There is an alternative Occam’s razor explanation: implementing lockdown is itself a chaotic and toxic decision. But we seem to desire more complex explanations. 


Kevin Bardosh is a research professor and Director of Research for Collateral Global, a UK-based charity dedicated to understanding the collateral impacts of Covid policies worldwide.

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Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago

Excellent essay. Lockdowns don’t work because there is way too much leakage. All we did was punish young and healthy people – and create massive economic dislocation.

I will keep beating this drum – 165 million people were pushed into poverty because of the lockdowns, the first time since 1998 that global poverty rates increased.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Net Zero will be even worse. It won’t just be poverty, it will be starvation. Assuming of course that a revolution doesn’t happen before then.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
9 months ago

Thanks to a petition we are finally going to get an HoC debate on the non-Covid excess deaths recorded since the pandemic which are still running at c10% above normal and which affect young and middle-aged people in large numbers as well as the elderly. Everyone should lobby their MP to attend this debate which takes place on 20th December. A stop also needs to be put to establishment attempts to sweep this issue under the carpet as well.

Michael Lipkin
Michael Lipkin
9 months ago

The SAGE group used a crap model which was way off – worse, they continued to use that crap model when they were well aware that it was crap.
The scientists should not have been on the podium anyway. (actually a cynical move by the politicians to duck some responsibility)
There should have been multiple anonymous scientific groups each aiming to get the most accurate model. We could then see the predictions from group A, B etc and the politicians make decisions based on this data – that is their job.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
9 months ago
Reply to  Michael Lipkin

“We could then see the predictions from group A, B etc and the politicians make decisions based on this data – that is their job.”
That is exactly what they did.
Do you remember that graph Vallance put up at a news conference in October 2020 ? – 4 different models from 4 different universities with confidence intervals. “England daily deaths from mid October 2020 to end of June 2021” .
Just to refresh your memory further, the range from these 4 scenarios stretched from almost 6,000 deaths / day peaking in early December (PHE/Cambridge modelling) to 1,500 / day peaking in late December (Uni. Warwick model).
Amazingly where the confidence intervals of these 4 models intersected was the actual number that occurred (just under 1,400 on Jan 19 2021).

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
9 months ago

But not at the time lockdown was being justified as a policy, where they relied entirely on Ferguson’s team, which had a long track record of failure and duplicity.
Besides, all the university depts are the same. They use the same ideas and methods, the only reason their answers diverge so much is because the underlying ideas and methods are wrong so yield more or less random looking results. There’s no point in asking 4 universities. Just monitor what insurance companies do.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
9 months ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

“…where they relied entirely on Ferguson’s team,…”
No. See list of modelling inputs :
https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/scientific-evidence-supporting-the-government-response-to-coronavirus-covid-19#modelling-inputs
“…all university depts. are the same…” and your evidence for that assertion is what ?
Which of the models listed here :
Mathematical Models for COVID-19 Pandemic: A Comparative Analysis Adiga et al Oct.2020
do YOU think would have been more appropriate to use in February 2020 when the only data available came from previous influenza epidemics and some unreliable numbers from China ?
And what exactly do insurance companies do ?

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
9 months ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

Correct, that is where Government should have gone for modelling. Though I do confess I made a great deal of money on Pensions Act 95 because actuaries reputedly got the figure wrong on life-expectancy.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
9 months ago

This leads me to wonder if the personalities of the various scientists were a major reason for the differences in results, since their methodology was probably fairly similar. Throughout the pandemic we were all stuck in a tussle between the Easily Frightened and the Unflappable. It seems that scientists were, too. And some forgot their scientific rigor and let their emotions run away with them.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
9 months ago

Didn’t seem to evolve that way in the UK according to these 2 papers.
Modelling that shaped the early COVID-19 pandemic response in the UK  Brooks-Pollock et al July 2021
A consensus of evidence: The role of SPI-M-O in the UK COVID-19 response  Medley Dec 2022
Re-reading the SAGE, SPI-B and SPI-M-O minutes from Jan – Mar 2020 it is disconcerting to review how little hard data was available to make any reasonable decisions about anything in this time frame.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
9 months ago

Why did no one appear to take much notice of the Diamond Princess or Italy’s average age of mortality? Neither of them spoke of a ‘New Black Death”.

Johanna Barry
Johanna Barry
9 months ago
Reply to  Michael Lipkin

There’s no such thing as one model even from one group. You develop models with different plausible parameters and then create the empirical experiments to understand which parameters are more relevant in the real world. One of Ferguson’s models showed no effect of lockdown. He buried that model in favour of lockdowns saving loads of lives. I think he came up with another model later to show jabs also saved, was it 20 mill?, lives. The man is a complete charlaton imo and I really object to my tax going to pay his salary

Last edited 9 months ago by Johanna Barry
Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
9 months ago
Reply to  Johanna Barry

But he did have a Mistress to die for, because having told us we’d all die if we broke lockdown, he couldn’t resist visiting said Lady (perhaps that isn’t the right word but it might get past the moderators that way.)

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
9 months ago

“Support for lockdown has been woven into the dominant inquiry narrative, which has been enhanced by the overrepresentation of bereaved families.”
If the purpose of the Enquiry is to determine what lessons should be learned to assist forming a better policy response in future – which should be its purpose – then the emotional testimony of bereaved families and the thoughts of politicians and others at the time are entirely irrelevant and serve only to muddy the water.

The enquiry should do what should have been attempted at the time, albeit with difficulty given the uncertainties prevailing, namely to draw up a balance sheet of the likely benefits of lockdown and the disbenifits compared to alternative policies. The enquiry should not waste time on what politicians thought at the time or what bereaved families thought but gather statistics on increased mortality in different cohorts then and in the aftermath not simply from the UK but from other countries – particularly from those that adopted different policies and balance these with the economic and social harms caused by lockdown. This will undoubtedly not be easy and will encounter the difficulties of making comparisons where multiple factors that might affect the statistics will differ between countries but will at least be an attempt to apply some scientific rigour to the enquiry instead of letting it descend into a mishmash of anecdotal twaddle about political shortcomings.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
9 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

The British establishment completely failed to properly investigate its own actions during COVID, why would it be any different now? The total lack of any scientific or technical chops amongst the political elites makes them lambs to the slaughter in front of corrupt professors, and then they put a Dame in charge of the enquiry! So what does anyone expect, a rigorous and logical assessment of what they were being told by the non-experts? If they were capable of that we wouldn’t have ever got into this stupid situation in the first place.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
9 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

So much for “Evidence based’ assessments. Perhaps it is ‘magical’?

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
9 months ago

If you read Farrar’s book ‘Spike,’ you find the same thing – an absolute belief that you need to lockdown hard and fast (which he is now in a powerful position to implement globally) and an attack on the political response.
Vallance still stood there, night after night, going along with whatever Bozo was saying. It was long predicted that when it came to any reckoning, there would be buck-passing and mudslinging; it’s no surprise whatsoever to see it now.
If/when the full mid and long-term vaccine harms emerge, there will be a chorus of ‘nobody forced you to get vaccinated’, which has already started elsewhere in the world.

j watson
j watson
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Your last para the usual conspiracy twaddle.
All vaccines have a small set of possible side effects of which some can be acute for some patients. On a population aggregation study you’ll be waiting along time though I’m afraid. Elsewhere in the World? Can you flag a population based study that proves your point of mid and long term harm?

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
9 months ago
Reply to  j watson

I think you agree that there can be no proof of long-term harm when we’re not in the long term yet, and we are only really at the beginning of the mid-term. I merely think that on the basis of the trends we are seeing such harms are to be expected.
There are also two big problems:
(a) delay and obfuscation from statistical authorities to release data at the required level of specificity.
(b) journal gatekeeping. Most of the researchers into problems are essentially ‘cancelled’.
I will follow this post with another post with some links to large data sources compiled by independent researchers. It will almost certainly be held for moderation and may or may not be published, and even then, it may not even be looked at by a moderator until Monday.
You have misunderstood my ‘elsewhere in the world’ comment. Justin Trudeau stated earlier this year that ‘nobody forced you to get vaccinated’. The same Trudeau who suspended the bank accounts of people who wouldn’t get vaccinated. Vaccines were mandated all over the world for certain classes of workers on pain of losing their jobs or being turned into second-class citizens. We were constantly bombarded with ‘nobody is safe until everybody is vaccinated’.

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
9 months ago
Reply to  j watson

1. Excess Deaths
The biggest data collection hub I am aware of is from the DKS Data Consulting Group:
Two substacks that are very good for statistical analysis. Both contain considerable commentary on this question.
Where are the Numbers? (Prof Martin Neil and Prof Norman Fenton)
Trust the Evidence (Prof Carl Heneghan and Prof Tom Jefferson)
A recent analysis by former Blackrock data analyst Ed Dowd on cardiac events in the UK for the 15-44 age range is based on ONS statistics and insurance data (the latter being his professional expertise).
2. Fertility
A vast data collection on falling birth rates post-vaccination in Europe. It’s in German, but you will have no difficulty with the tables, charts and graphs.
3. Cancer
There are many red flags now about cancers. There are numerous reports of ‘turbo cancers’ in young people, and we now know that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines damage key parts of the immune system that keep cancers at bay and contain an oncogenic SV40 promoter that has the potential to drive the plasmid DNA fragments (that are not supposed to be there either) into the nucleus of cells.
We’re now at the beginning of the period concerned oncologists think we will start seeing these cancers, so I have no large data source. I give you instead this interview by Dr John Campbell with oncologist Prof Angus Dalgleish, which is a deep dive into the processes here.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell
Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
9 months ago
Reply to  j watson

“Small”?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Who was responsible for overplaying the effectiveness of the anti-COVID vaccines which seem mainly to have a short term effectiveness on reducing the severity of disease?

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
9 months ago

Complete waste of money and will only serve the back-covering fraternity.

I’m 65 and may just live long enough to see the doodoo float to the surface, but I’m not holding my breath (or my nose).

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
9 months ago

I heard it on BBC Radio 4 and couldn’t help noticing how the reporting of Vallance’s diaries went unchallenged and pretty much uncommented. They read some excerpts and pretty much left it at that, as undisputed facts (that we locked down to late, etc. Etc.)

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
9 months ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

The Beeb ? Surely not since it is the world’s premier news service.

Watch Amol Rajah ‘s grovelling ‘interview ‘ of Bilbo Gates for more of their unbiased reporting.

Harry Child
Harry Child
9 months ago

I once was involved in preparing a major accident plan for a group of hospitals. All neatly worked through with other agencies or so I thought. Looking at the results from people who had actually experienced a major disaster, the advice was expect chaos in the immediate aftermath which no previous planning would prevent. One of the major problems highlighted was the media who could cause endless headaches with their demands for immediate access to any information.
I hope the Covid enquiry addresses the almost hysterical demands made by the press and TV for a lockdown at the beginning.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
9 months ago

The person who needs to be completely discredited is Neil Ferguson. And the question remains, why didn’t the scientists already know what the Spectator knew:
https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/six-questions-that-neil-ferguson-should-be-asked/
namely that the man and his computer model always spits out numbers that predict things are going to be one, two or even three orders of magnitude worse than they actually turn out to be. Exactly what do you have to do before reasonable people can conclude that it is a waste of time to listen to your opinions? And why hadn’t the reasonable people already concluded this?

Last edited 9 months ago by Laura Creighton
Norman Powers
Norman Powers
9 months ago

The “reasonable people” will always assume anything an academic says must be correct, and if there’s any disagreement between them you just have to stick them in a committee to work it out.
It’s a very deeply held set of false intuitions about human nature and society, unfortunately. The same set that led to the USSR trying to plan all the prices in the economy using committees of experts. Expecting these people to see through people like Ferguson is too much for them, it would require confidence with maths and logic that they simply don’t possess and never will. We will continue to live in a dictatorship of pseudo-scientific frauds until a new party arises that prioritizes the hiring and selection of technically minded political candidates, and somehow manages to win elections too.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
9 months ago

The BBC censored any posts in any HYS on Ferguson’s historical performances or lack of performance. They also censored any link to Prof Heneghan or Jefferson.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
9 months ago

The fundamental problem with the entire response, as well as the conduct of SAGE, is that they failed to blue. team/red team each proposal and then make the argument and pros and cons public.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
9 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Actually at one point Bojo did try this. He brought in a few of the skeptical scientists to Number 10. But then Vallance/Whitty were there and ambushed them with totally new models that hadn’t been made public and demanded a response right there on the spot. When the skeptics couldn’t immediately explain why they were wrong, they “lost”. A clearly stupid way to do red teaming but that’s what they did.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
9 months ago

The other issue with lockdowns is that ultimately it was a mitigation procedure that simply could never work. It could potentially have slowed the spread a tiny bit but the area under the curve will never be affected. Since the hospitals and ICUs were never overwhelmed, despite the hysteria in the press, lockdowns were simply a bad idea. They should have concentrated on focussed protection for those most at risk, such as the nursing homes, while leaving the general population alone.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
9 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Mr Watson would appear to disagree.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

“The area under the curve” assumes that everybody will get COVID exactly once. That is not true. You can get it several times, and you are at risk each time.

Hospitals and ICUs were not overwhelmed because of lockdowns etc. Prove the contrary, or admit that my guess is as good as yours.

For protection of nursing homes etc. it is exactly like for the general population. As you say “[We] could have slowed the spread a bit [into nursing homes] but focussed protection or not, it would have got in anyway.

Mustard Clementine
Mustard Clementine
9 months ago

While scientists certainly deserve scrutiny for harmful recommendations, I do believe it was ultimately the fault of those who followed them.
This is just one aspect of a larger issue related to systemic thinking within institutions.
Institutions, including governments and healthcare systems, often resort to short-term fixes and symbolic gestures instead of addressing the root causes of complex issues.
This is where seemingly unrelated topics like paper straws, Covid, and harm reduction strategies intersect, from my perspective.
mustardclementine.substack.com/p/grasping-at-paper-straws
Expecting more from institutions, beyond just holding scientists accountable, is crucial for achieving meaningful change.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
9 months ago

I think the public would have immediately demanded the removal of any politician who didn’t meekly Follow The Science.
Ultimately I don’t blame politicians for what happened. Our culture devalues them and tells them constantly that they are useless and know nothing about anything compared to the mighty experts (=academics).
For us to eventually get politicians with a backbone, we must chip away at the problem day after day: discredit academics, discredit their institutions, always attacking the idea that the public sector actually has expertise in anything relevant. Only when people accept the futility of anything except libertarianism will politicians actually be free to ignore these sorts of hysterical demands.
Obviously, the UK is light years away from there. Most people still think politicians did nothing except get in the way of the speedy and efficient implementation of whatever Vallance/Whitty wanted. They need to be reminded day in day out that everything they did was gross incompetence of the form that’d land you in jail, in the private sector.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
9 months ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

Some would, but then some think Net Zero is sanity.

Jürg Gassmann
Jürg Gassmann
9 months ago

Thank you.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
9 months ago

In retrospect, the main problem was that Sunak’s helicopter money justified another year of lockdowns.
The Great Barrington Declaration was also rubbished when more consideration should have been given to state support for older and/or fragile people isolating at home until they were fully vaccinated. Again, this would have entailed much more pressure to resist lockdowns in 2021 if not before.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
9 months ago
Reply to  Tyler Durden

The Vaccination myth for me was summed up when the Norwegians explained the 33 deaths of care home patients following the vaccine.
“Health authorities in Norway sought to allay safety concerns raised by the death of some elderly patients after they were vaccinated against COVID-19, saying there was no evidence of a direct link.
It comes after 33 people in the country aged 75 and over died following immunisation, according to the agency’s latest figures. All were already seriously ill, it said.
Initial reports raised alarm as the world looks for early signs of potential side effects from the vaccines. Although doctors say it’s possible that vaccine side effects could aggravate underlying illnesses, they were expecting nursing-home residents to die shortly after being vaccinated because deaths are more common among the frailest and sickest elderly patients.
“Clearly, COVID-19 is far more dangerous to most patients than vaccination,” Steinar Madsen, medical director at the Norwegian Medicines Agency, said, adding that a connection between the vaccine and the deaths was difficult to prove. “We are not alarmed.”
“We can’t say that people die from the vaccine. We can say that it may be coincidental. It is difficult to prove that it’s the vaccine which is the direct cause.” (They were very good at saying ‘It wuz COVID wot dunnit’ however. With or Of?)
“It is important to remember that about 45 people die every day in nursing homes in Norway, so it is not a given that this represents any excess mortality or that there is a causal connection,” Camilla Stoltenberg, head of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, said at a press conference.”
So there you have it, you can’t prove someone died of the vaccine, BUT you can when its COVID. Dying ‘Of’ or “With’ – that is the question. Given the number of patients who got infected with COVID in hospitals, I suspect the “With” was conveniently binned.
PS An NHS source tells me that large numbers of deaths didn’t actually have the doctor visit and check when they signed the death certificates – did they too opt for “Of” not “With”?

Colorado UnHerd
Colorado UnHerd
9 months ago

The United States will never conduct a meaningful inquiry into government pandemic policies. I was hopeful the UK would, but this report is discouraging.
Implementing lockdown and imposing other mandates was, indeed, a toxic decision. The unquestioned imperative to save every at-risk life — most of whom were elderly and/or otherwise compromised — at the price of harm to everyone else resulted in collateral damage we’ll be feeling for a long time. Never mind that the effectiveness of those supposedly life-saving measures was and is debatable.
I say this as a person whose father — 87 and with Parkinson’s-related disability that was only getting worse — died of COVID. In a society that prolongs living and obstructs dying at all costs (and at great profit to medical, pharmaceutical and senior “care” industries), I considered it a mercy.

Last edited 9 months ago by Colorado UnHerd
Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
9 months ago

Your faith in the UK is misplaced, large numbers of our scientists and politicians are as rotten as yours.

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
9 months ago

The same people who tried largely successfully to use Covid to take over the world are now investigating the way Covid was used to take over the world. The conclusion is hardly in doubt.

j watson
j watson
9 months ago

Vallance and SAGE advice needs to be strongly scrutinised as part of the Inquiry. The chaff in amongst WhatsApp politician comms, whilst probably entertaining, needs to be filtered out where irrelevant. Decision making in the context faced in Mar 2020 was always going to be chaotic.
This is why we have an Inquiry. We must calmly learn, and where that needs illumination of accountability so be it.
I do think though many are forgetting what it was really like at that time. Other nations had moved to Lockdowns whilst we were still running the Cheltenham festival. These things need appraisal.
Personally working in a hospital I’ll never forget the rush to find and acquire PPE as we got hit by surge unlike anything ever experienced. I still have my stats. On 3/3 17 patients in hospital with Covid. 3/4 – 445, and a third of staff off sick or frightened and isolating. All planned surgery/procedures ceased – not because of the risk of Covid but no staff. 7 staff funerals in the coming weeks where they had acquired the virus and never recovered, albeit tragically we could not attend any of them.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
9 months ago
Reply to  j watson

The words “frightened” and “isolating” in the context of the NHS strikes me as very worrying, as does the mortality figures you provide. It also confirms something a family member in the NHS confessed, that COVID seemed to act like a catalyst for absences in the system. They worked throughout BUT many departments, they said simply put up the shutters and no one turned up. So, to get some idea of just how bad the NHS is as a place of danger.
How old where those staff?
Given that the average age mortality and the ratio of co-morbidities hardly changed from the 83 years and 91% of victims in Italy having at least one other co-morbidity? It sounds as though the NHS was an even more deadly environment than the Diamond Princess/Care Homes and much of that down to fear.
I know of NO ONE who died of COVID, though my uncle in a residential home said 3 had died (all in the 80’s and 90’s).
Ironically Trump’s ‘hunch’ that the IFR of COVID being much less than 1% turns out to be true.

John Riordan
John Riordan
9 months ago

It is of course depressing that the inquiry is effectively a whitewash, but it is wholly unsurprising. Lockdown was the worst policy mistake in peacetime history. Everyone involved in perpetuating the myth that it was unavoidable ought to lose their careers over it, but since that’s almost everyone in politics, the turkeys won’t be voting for Christmas.

If they think we’re going to be fooled by this whitewash though, they’re even more delusional than the mistake of lockdown itself implies.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
9 months ago

We need to investigate and prosecute – IF it includes Johnson, so be it. BUT SAGE in particular was a scandal and the people behind it need sorting out. The greatest boost for poverty in the world since the industrial revolution is reputedly lockdown.

Mr Tyler
Mr Tyler
9 months ago

One might have hoped that an inquiry of such gravity would attempt to do more than settle the media and political talking points of the day. But no. It suits all involved (politicians, scientists, administrators and journalists) to make this a quarrel over relative trivialities.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
9 months ago

Withdrawn.
Excessively vitriolic.

Last edited 9 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago

The usual stuff. Basally this is a matter of faith, of true believers confirming each others’ opinions. Instead of just presupposing that you are right, could we at least get some review of the actual facts, if you believe they are on your side? That way we might actually get somewhere.

Item:

Complaining about the false certainty of the majority when the facts are contested – but taking your own minority positions as certain nevertheless (e.g. taking it as fact that COVID was circulating outside China in 2019).

The sleight of hand about the mean age of death from COVID being 83. It sounds like ‘they were dying anyway’, but what it means is that not only do 83-year-old have up to ten good years still left to live, but people were dying from COVID with the same kind of age distribution as people were dying form anything else! If some disease, say, doubled everybody’s risk of death, you would get the same numbers.

Talking about people getting infected and becoming immune – OK, it is a quote, but it is outdated. People can get COVID twice, so getting infected does not make you immune, any more than getting vaccinated does. Which is why that much desired herd immunity is a non-starter for COVID.

Highlighting that interventions cannot protect everyone -while ignoring that it can both slow down the epidemic and reduce the number of cases – just not to zero.

Complaining about ‘the political duty to save all lives’. Let us get clear here: If you thought that more people will die eventually from the lockdown effects, fair enough, but at least give us the arguments. If you really think that it is better to have more people die if it can avoid economic disruption – or to save *you* from the horror of having your comfort disturbed just to save someone else, then at least say it straight out.

Vote me down.

Last edited 9 months ago by Rasmus Fogh
Robbie K
Robbie K
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

A common sense response, so no doubt it will get voted down here.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

165 million people were pushed into poverty because of lockdowns – not western world poverty, but $2 a day abject poverty. This isn’t just about having your comfort disturbed. This is real life poverty. And who exactly did lockdowns save? Only the privileged people who could afford to actually isolate – who had the ways and means to not interact with other people. Elderly and compromised people living with family members who worked outside the home were certainly not isolated in any meaningful way. They were not actually given an opportunity to truly isolate.

Last edited 9 months ago by Jim Veenbaas
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You are missing the point here, I think. Lockdowns were about reducing the virus that went around, so that everybody were less exposed and fewer got sick (and so that the peak was spread out over longer time). Those that were privileged enough they could isolate totally did not need lockdowns anyway – they could just isolate and be safe on their own.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

You contradict yourself: “everybody were (should be was) less exposed and fewer got sick and so that the peak was spread out over longer times”. Clearly, despite being a scientist you display remarkably little understanding. Yes, mitigation efforts may (and may is very much the operative word because there is absolutely no evidence or proof for this) have reduced the height of the peaks but the width of the peaks was simply increased in compensation, so that the integrated area under the peak, i.e. the number inected, was not impact at all by mitigation. The only purpose, therefore, of any mitigation effort for an ILI is to prevent hospital overload. But despite the hoopla and hysteria of the MSM, hospital overload never occurred. That’s why in NYC they never needed to make use of the Mercy hospital ship or the makeshift hospital built at the Jaffitz center.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I’m not trying to be aggressive here or obnoxious, but are you saying it’s okay to drive 165 million people into poverty to flatten the curve? The social and economic consequences of lockdowns were devastating – I haven’t even mentioned the impact on education and young people – and we did this not to reduce deaths and illness but simply spread them out over time?

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The curve wouldn’t have been so high had they not ventilated people – that turned out to be a death sentence in large numbers of cases. Also had the NHS not sacrificed care homes to save itself, they mortality may have been reduced.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I am saying that it is a trade-off. Increased poverty is bad, but lots of people dying prematurely is also bad. ‘Flattening the curve’, as you say, meant keeping hositals from being overwhelmed and having people die on beds in the corridors, getting time to learn how to treat the disease, getting time to make a vaccine and get it into people, and (given that you can get COVID more than once) reducing the total number of cases over time. All of that saves lives.

If you are arguing that the total damage would have been less if we had just let the disease run as it would, that is a perfectly reasonable argument. I’d like to see your data (and all data on the costs of lockdown are so full of uncertainty and hype that it is almost impossible to seperate the hard facts from the biased rationalisations). It is possible you are right – I am just not convinced. You would have to agree, though, that with the information available at the time, prioritising saving people’s lives rather than the economy was at least not an unreasonable choice to make.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Global poverty has decreased every year since 1998 – until 2020, This is from a well known UN report that is easy to discover. Premature deaths is not an accurate way to describe Covid victims. Where I live, the avg life expectancy is 79. The avg age of Covid victims was 80.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I am getting a bit tired of that argument. It is fake. People who are 80 have an average of ten years left to live. More than half the people live longer than the average life expectancy, since some people die quite young and that pulls the life expectancy down. If l could have lived happily till 90, killing me at 80 is a premature death.

If you think that people at 80 do not deserve to live any longer and ought to pop off anyway to help keep the young out of poverty, by all means say it directly. If not please stop playng games with average life expectancies.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Yet the majority of 79 year olds killed by Covid still had underlying health issues. For many of them, there was no prospect of living until they were 90. Covid rarely killed healthy people. Nevertheless, we pushed 165 million people into poverty

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The majority of *all* 79-year-olds have underlying health issues. Which is why this issue of underlying health issues is a bit of a red herring.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

They should have locked down care homes. The data was already known, BUT the BBC in particular was a disgrace, it regularly removed any links to Profs Heneghan and Jefferson or any of the other ‘not on the same song sheet scientists’
All you need to know is that we don’t have memorials to all the BLM protesters who died of COVID or Beach Party-goers and no Supermarket as yet has unveiled a memorial plaque to the thousands of their staff who died while keeping us fed.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Bravo Rasmus but I think you are whistling into the wind.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
9 months ago

If you shout out a bravo to Rasmus, you have no understanding of the impact of mitigation either: the only impact mitigation can possibly have for an ILI (influenza-like illness which is what COVID is) (and in all likelihood it didn’t even do that) is to reduce the height of the peak while increasing the width, so that the area under the peak, and hence the number of people infected, remained completely unaltered. This is basic epidemiology for ILIs 101. I guess they don’t teach you that stuff in dental school. Perhaps you ought to perhaps read some of the material on the Oxford Center for Evidence-Based Medicine web site. But judging from your previous view about masks and lockdowns, I guess you’re not going to bother and prefer to remain stuck in erroneous thinking.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
9 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Here’s an interesting article the Dental profession got upset about when Peter Hitchen’s pointed it out. It had remained on their website since 2016, yet suddenly when COVID struck and masking became de-rigeur, it ‘disappeared’ to reappear with ‘qualifications on an archival site.
https://web.archive.org/web/20200509053953/https:/www.oralhealthgroup.com/features/face-masks-dont-work-revealing-review/
Mind you Jenny Harries perhaps had it right ‘first time’.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/coronavirus-news-face-masks-increase-risk-infection-doctor-jenny-harries-a9396811.html
I wouldn’t trust a SAGE scientist as far as I could throw them, they learnt a lot from Climate Scientists if you ask me.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
9 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Hi Johann
I am very familiar with Oxford Centre for Evidence Based Medicine web site (they have some nice stuff) and ICNARC and ONS and the Covid-19 Actuaries Response Group and More or Less and the Nuffield Foundation and This Week in Virology and a raft of clinicians and scientists who have had the chutzpah to post on social media and JAMA and Nature and Cell and the BMJ and the NEJM and yes … even the Lancet and on and on.
Covid 19 is not an ILI. Anyone who worked in a hospital dealing with this disease in 2020 and 2021 knows this along with the well known stats :
Risk for In-Hospital Complications Associated with COVID-19 and Influenza — Veterans Health Administration, United States, October 1, 2018–May 31, 2020 October 23
“Notably, compared with patients with influenza, patients with COVID-19 had two times the risk for pneumonia, 1.7 times the risk for respiratory failure, 19 times the risk for ARDS, and 3.5 times the risk for pneumothorax, underscoring the severity of COVID-19 respiratory illness relative to that of influenza.”
You are absolutely correct that the purpose of mitigation efforts in the UK was to spread the load on the NHS and that at the end of the day the area under the curve is pretty much the same. This was modelled by Hellewell early in 2020.
I have no idea what happened in the USA re: hospital overload. In the UK the NHS almost but didn’t quite fall over in January 2021 – this with surge capacity and a year’s worth of experience managing the disease.
You don’t know how I think.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
9 months ago

Of course COVID is an ILI by definition. Perhaps you shouldn’t make comments on medical matters when you are a dentist. COVID is a respiratory tract viral infection. That is the very definition of an ILI – full stop. Incidentally, perhaps red the latest report from UKHSA who concluded that the evidence for all non pharmaceutical interventions including lockdowns and masking was of very low quality and has very low confidence. No surprise since the majority of published work came from modeling as opposed to reality.
And you might also like to know that the CDC have just published an assessment on the vaccine and have indicated that it’s current efficacy is close to zero. This was put out to very low fanfare and not covered by the MSM.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

You are forgetting that the evidence against the non-pharmaceutical interventions is of equally low quality. The available data are not very good. It is not written anywhere that when we do not have the data we should simply assume that Johan Strauss is right.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

what it means is that not only do 83-year-old have up to ten good years still left to live, but people were dying from COVID with the same kind of age distribution as people were dying from anything else.  If some disease, say, doubled everybody’s risk of death, you would get the same numbers.

JFC no it does not mean that. This is high school level statistics. Consider “some disease” that for some reason only killed people who were exactly 83 years old. The mean would match the overall death profile of the population whilst the standard deviation wouldn’t.
Still, seeing as you like hypotheticals so much, you can also get such an age distribution from a disease that hardly affects anyone but thanks to bad data practices causes ordinary deaths to be misclassified as COVID deaths. As nobody has ever claimed that COVID uniformly doubles everyone’s risk of death, I don’t think this point lands in the way you think it does. What sort of disease would exactly double everyone’s risk uniformly anyway, and how would that even work biomechanically?

People can get COVID twice, so getting infected does not make you immune

It normally does. There’s nothing magical about SARS-CoV-2 that defeats our immune system, that’s why they were so keen to claim that vaccines would lead to immunity.
The problem here is threefold:
(1) The way viruses are classified as SARS-CoV-2 is extremely lax. Omicron is for all intents and purposes a different virus to the Wuhan-2019 wild type strain yet virologists are happy to claim they are merely “variants” of each other. Look at the rules for how a virus is classified as a variant or not and you will discover the rules are not well thought out and have no biological basis.
Rather they seem designed to ensure that SARS-CoV-2 and thus COVID is never considered gone, no matter how much the virus mutates. There just isn’t any reason to think that something our governments call a variant is the same virus from our immune system’s perspective. In turn that means you can get sick from different viruses, but that’s not anything special and of no surprise.
(2) COVID is defined as having a positive PCR test for SARS-CoV-2, not a coherent set of symptoms. As time went on the PCR tests were also made more lax to match the ever widening definition of SARS-CoV-2, which is why a modern “COVID” case is totally different in severity to a 2019 COVID case. A doctor might well consider these different diseases, but doctors aren’t consulted on such things.
(3) The vaccines themselves appear to sometimes go wrong and break people’s immune systems in ways that cause them to stop learning how to respond to the virus. This can cause people to get the same disease from the same virus multiple times in rapid succession, and this is the only time your statement seems to hold in reality. (3) is the reason that statistics on COVID cases by vaccine count always show a massively higher infection rate amongst the vaccinated. Governments try to either hide or explain away this data as missing confounds they just can’t identify, but the pattern here is clear.

Last edited 9 months ago by Norman Powers
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

We disagree about the facts – too much to have a meaningful discussion. But if you can show me some credible references to the claim that the vaccinated get infected at a higher rate than the unvaccinated, I shall read them with interest.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Perhaps acquaint yourself with the facts. While you are entitled to your own opinion (misguided as it may be), you are not entitled to your own facts. Yet you appear to be of the entitled generation that believe that 2+2 = 5.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
9 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Provide the citation(s) for the assertion that the vaccinated get infected at a higher rate then the unvaccinated.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
9 months ago

Why don’t you just take a look at the statistics from the UKHSA and try and get you head out of the sand.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Provide a link. Put up or shut up.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
9 months ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

My second bout, 2 years almost to the day after my first was a doddle, I just felt exhausted, went to be and slept for a day or two. Curiously almost 2 years to the week after my 2nd dose of COVID I now have it again, I just sleep more. PS The first bout of COVID I had was really bad (tho’ I never thought I was actually dying) BUT it really does seem to have done wonders for my immune system OR else it has driven out colds and flu, because except for these biennial COVID infections, I’ve never felt better for YEARS – and I’m in my 70’s.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

COVID was outside of China in 2019 Not only were there waste-water samples from Barcelona IIRC showing signs of it, a blood test in Paris from Dec 2019 when retested proved positive for COVID.
Then there is my own experience. In last 2 weeks of Nov 2019 & first week of December I had ‘Flu’. I had never had anything so bad. It had all the flu symptoms PLUS a very deep coughing that was so bad I decided I would not visit my uncle in his care home even when I’d recovered because it would surely kill the elderly and sick, he would have been fine, he’s healthy, but some of this fellow residents were weak and very old.
When COVID hit the headlines (and a family member, virologist researching a 3rd world virus for a possible vaccine) started to take an interest I mentioned that I believed I had it in Nov 2019. They said without an antibody test you wouldn’t be able to prove it. Convinced I was right I then refused all vaccinations waiting for an anti-body test.
Some 16 months after my illness (and I was never so well after it! In fact I’ve never felt or been so well for the following 2 years, when i got my second bout of COVID) I had the chance to take part in an antibody test trial. Given a questionnaire prior to the test the testers were politely amused at my claims. At least until the test results came out of the machine. I had COVID antibodies and still in sufficient numbers to make me immune. My anti-body profile was of a COVID sufferer NOT a vaccine induced response.
Their second reaction was to say you must have had COVID since but not known. Given my age, I laughed at that, and asked IF they really believed that was possible when I had never felt better FOR all the intervening time. No, under-the-weather days etc. (I was also on another ‘health’ survey where I had to report daily on my well-being via a large number of tick boxes, so no danger of ‘not remembering’.)
Now I do live near an international airport, but I doubt I meet many of the passengers coming through it. There was also a spate of similar symptoms in the north that had other people wondering if they too had already had it.
COVID was in the West before the claimed timelines for it escaping in Wuhan. That doesn’t mean it didn’t escape from a Wuhan lab, it does however screw up some of the proposed timelines I believe.
Fauci might be worth ‘interviewing’ under extreme duress to find out, or perhaps even a few of his pet scientists who believed it was man made & escaped Wuhan between themselves, but denied it publicly.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

You are entitled to feel as certain as you wish. But the rest of us have to rely on more than one man’s anecdotes. A number of people claim to be certain to have seen UFOs, if not Elvis.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

That was a bit too rude of me, sorry. You may well be right, actually. It just takes more than your word to convince others.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The fact the average age of death of COVID was 83, larger than the average life expectancy doesn’t take a maths genius to work out that it was killing older people in larger numbers. Also Italy’s stats had 91% of mortality was in patients with AT LEAST one co-morbidity. Now ironically the ONS list of co-morbidities included the 5 highest killers pre-covid. COVID as the new Black Death was a myth, and if the Diamond Princess hadn’t dispelled it, the ONS data via a Freedom of Information request did.
FOI Request Ref:FO1/2021/3249 – ‘Deaths of Covid with NO other underlying cause.’ – ie NO co-morbidities
This is for England and Wales.
Covid without co-morbidities (13/03/2020 – 7/1/2022): 17,371
65+:  13,957
under 65: 3,774

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

You could do the same thing by asking for the number of people who died of COVID who had never had a cold. You would then get a very small number. The real question is whether people would have died if they had not caught COVID, and how long they would otherwise have lived – and that is much harder to answer. Maybe 10-20% of the population have some kind of co-morbidity, be it only old age, or catch some kind of complication from the COVID. Looking only at people who were perfectly healthy apart form the COVID does not make sense – unless you deliberately want to make COVID look less dangerous than it is.

Last edited 9 months ago by Rasmus Fogh