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by Amy Jones
Friday, 12
November 2021

Instagram censorship will only help the conspiracies

The medical group Cochrane has been shadow-banned by Instagram

The Cochrane Organisation is responsible for the publication of meta analyses and systematic reviews to help doctors and patients make informed choices about health. They are considered by many to be the gold standard in scientific and health evidence. On Wednesday they were unceremoniously shadow banned by Instagram. Anyone wishing to tag the organisation’s account in their posts was greeted with a warning message, declaring that they had “repeatedly posted content that goes against our community guidelines on false content about COVID-19 or vaccines”.

This is a surprising turn of events, given that, for years, the literature produced by the Cochrane Organisation has been considered an authority in medical evidence. Each systemic review considers the findings of many studies and trials, and a well done review is often considered “level 1” evidence — the best of the best. Such reviews feed into guidelines issued by national and international organisations such as NICE, and have significant impacts on NHS policies. What happened? ...  Continue reading

by Amy Jones
Friday, 5
November 2021

The NHS vaccine mandates aren’t what they seem

The Government is — once again — trying to nudge us

Two developments on vaccines in the NHS in quick succession. First, the news that the Government intends to force NHS staff to have both a Covid vaccine and a flu jab or risk losing their jobs. Then, the announcement that it won’t kick in until… April!

At first sight, this simply seems like bad and nonsensical policy.

It has the potential to wreak havoc on an already stretched service. Despite a record uptake, around 25% of NHS staff did not have a flu jab last year; add to that the 116,000 NHS workers who have not yet had a Covid jab, and this has the potential to affect hundreds of thousands of employees. ...  Continue reading

by Amy Jones
Thursday, 21
October 2021

Sajid is right: we don’t need more restrictions

Nothing in the data suggests that it's time for 'Plan B'

Sajid Javid’s decision to hold an impromptu press conference last night felt almost inevitable. The pro-lockdown machinery had slowly been shifting into gear, with familiar calls for mask-wearing, heightened restrictions and even lockdown. The NHS Confederation and now the BMA have both called for the immediate implementation of the government’s “Plan B”— a plan which consists of mandatory face masks, working from home and vaccine passports.

But Javid stood his ground: that in this moment in time, there would be no Plan B. Instead, liberties would be maintained and normal life would continue. This will have come both as a relief to some and a betrayal to others. ...  Continue reading

by Amy Jones
Monday, 18
October 2021

Why the Internet needs anons

The tragic murder of an MP should not be used to curtail civil liberties

The horrific murder of sitting MP Sir David Amess on Friday has united the country in shock. Much like Jo Cox’s murder 5 years ago, it has also raised fundamental questions about the tension between the public’s right to have access to democratically elected politicians, versus the right of MPs to be safe while working in an increasingly fractious political landscape.

Rather surprisingly though, Priti Patel focused on an entirely different concern when discussing the terrible events this weekend — that of online anonymity. According to the Home Secretary, social media users could face a ban on anonymous accounts as a means to prevent radicalisation on line. To most people, this would seem like a non-sequitur; while the investigation is still in its preliminary stages, reports suggest that Ali Harbi Ali was known to the authorities, and had already been referred to Prevent, a counterterrorism scheme, following concerns regarding his behaviour. ...  Continue reading

by Amy Jones
Thursday, 14
October 2021

The question the Covid report failed to answer

What is most revealing about the new study is what it leaves out

The media has wasted no time in using the publication of the highly anticipated Covid report as a stick to beat the Government.

The charge made by the report is, unsurprisingly, a familiar one: that we should have locked down sooner. That is in spite of the fact that the scientific advice at the time — early March 2020 — was to not lock down, and that lockdowns had been previously discouraged by the WHO. Nor was there much mention of the health and societal impacts of lockdown, the data for which is slowly beginning to emerge. Just this week, a new Lancet report found soaring levels of depression over the last 18 months, noting: ...  Continue reading

by Amy Jones
Tuesday, 28
September 2021

Another lockdown would hurt the NHS

More restrictions will exacerbate our health service's woes

The NHS is once again in trouble. A mix of “bed blocking”, staff shortages, and increased presentations to A&E (from both Covid and non-Covid causes) have all conspired to push our healthcare service closer to the brink. 18 months on from the first lockdown to “protect the NHS” — and with nearly 90% of adults vaccinated against Covid — the NHS finds itself struggling once again.

More frightening is that talk is once again returning to “firebreak” lockdowns, ignoring the fact that lockdowns themselves are partially responsible for much of the increased attendance to A&E. Now we are seeing soaring weight gains, a doubling of children’s mental health referrals, delayed presentations and treatment for hundreds of thousands of cancer patients, and a spike in RSV in young children — thought by some to be due to an “immunity debt” brought about by lockdowns — it is becoming increasingly apparent that lockdowns themselves are hazardous to health. Then there are, of course, the huge economic costs. So where does this leave us? And what does this mean for the winter ahead? ...  Continue reading

by Amy Jones
Tuesday, 31
August 2021

Children on antidepressants up 20% — another cost of lockdown?

As the school year begins, drug prescriptions are skyrocketing

Stephen Fry’s recent piece in the Telegraph, reflecting on the damage done to the mental health of children and young people as a result of lockdown, could not have come at a better time. As the new school year begins across England, we could well be sitting on a mental health time bomb for children. Policies over the last 18 months have resulted in months of educational disruption, loneliness, and social isolation for the young.

This is not just limited to school aged children. For those at university who started their degrees in 2019, this September many will be entering their final year, having never enjoyed a full year of face-to-face teaching. Instead, since the start of the pandemic, they have been subjected to such indignities as being locked in halls (including fire escapes being tied shut to prevent them leaving), police searches, and even being told to “wait behind” in the event of a fire, if self isolating — all with the supposed aim of preventing covid. ...  Continue reading

by Amy Jones
Friday, 6
August 2021

Will the alarmist media coverage of Covid ever end?

Certain media outlets are fear-mongering to generate clicks
A measured Covid headline

If there’s one thing media reporting over the last 18 months has taught us, it’s that when it comes to Covid, no headline is too sensational, and no prediction too dire. Glance over the Twitter feeds or websites of most newspapers, and it is hard not to sometimes wonder if the Armageddon is upon us.

This sort of medical alarmism is, of course, not new. Most remember the Daily Mail’s countless articles containing a seemingly endless list of things which may, possibly, cause cancer (some highlights:  flip flops, crisps, Facebook, being left- handed, shaving your armpits, soup, being a woman, being a man, grapefruit, and lipstick). Covid, however, has taken the fear-mongering to new heights, with a constant parade of terrifying new variants and “harrowing questions” about the effects of such mutations, intermingled with misplaced fears about vaccine resistance. ...  Continue reading