by Amy Jones
Monday, 21
February 2022
Reaction
17:45

Ignore the doomerists — we need to learn to live with Covid

The outcry at the PM's decision has come from familiar quarters
by Amy Jones
Credit: Sky

This afternoon saw Boris Johnson’s long-awaited announcement to MPs outlining his plans to lift all remaining Covid restrictions. The move, described as a “living with Covid” plan, sees the legal requirement to self-isolate abolished from Thursday, the end of free Covid testing for the general public from the 1st April, and extra boosters this Spring for the old and vulnerable.

However, the move has provoked a predictable outcry from certain commentators. In an open letter, more than 1000 individuals, including members of independent SAGE, have lambasted the plan to “end testing, surveillance surveys and legal isolation” arguing it has “no solid scientific basis”.

This missive is the latest in a long line of similar letters and warnings, each one issued — like clockwork — every time the government decides to ease restrictions.

Many of the scientists who have signed the latest piece were also signatories of a similar letter last July, which strongly criticised “Freedom Day”, calling it a “dangerous and unethical experiment”. In fact, such was the alarmism that the easing of restrictions in Britain was even described as a threat to the world itself. And earlier in the summer, some of the same commentators warned that if the Government proceeded with the imminent Stage 3 opening, England could see a wave as bad as the January 2021 surge. Needless to say, these dire predictions never came to pass.

Even the recent decision to drop Plan B last month was met with the same ominous warnings, with one member of iSAGE describing how they were “aghast at the haste in which restrictions are being dropped” and urging the government to “reconsider this action”. Since then, both cases and deaths have plummeted.

In fairness, some of the unease towards lifting restrictions may be warranted on this occasion. Testing is important, and we must ensure that those who are elderly or vulnerable have access to tests in order to make clinical decisions, such as whether to begin antiviral therapy.

But what cannot be overlooked is the cost; billions have been spent on both Test and Trace and the now-abandoned testing project Operation Moonshot. This kind of expenditure is not sustainable.

Until we can accept that we are not in a similar kind of situation to two years ago, then we will not be able to move on. That is why the continued fixation on case numbers is unhelpful, and it ignores the importance of vaccines and antivirals which have drastically reduced the rates of hospitalisations and deaths.

But the reflex desire by some scientists to condemn all government policy drowns out reasoned analysis and criticism, and stifles sensible debate. Perhaps such political positioning is an inevitable consequence of the fact that independent SAGE, and its associated group The Citizens, were founded by anti-Brexit activist, Carol Cadwalladr. Science has now become politicised, a situation which will result in inevitable damage to public trust in the future.

Much like the boy who cried wolf, after constant warnings of disaster that never come to pass every time the government attempts to loosen restrictions, is it any surprise that politicians, and the public are beginning not to listen?

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SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago

Well said, and now perhaps that obese blob, the Prime Minister can, at last, start behaving like a Tory PM with a 79 seat majority.
‘We’ are tired of waiting……get on with it!

rodney foy
rodney foy
4 months ago

Even Simon Jenkins thinks it’s the right decision – but for the wrong reasons

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/feb/21/boris-johnson-covid-restrictions-england?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago
Reply to  rodney foy

I’m afraid after his ‘Erskine Childers incident’ I have consigned Jenkins to the pit of eternal stench, along with Margaret MacMillan.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
4 months ago

I clicked on the link and saw more unquestioning vaccine celebration.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
4 months ago

Canada saw the declining need for mandates which control every aspect of your life as an existential crisis so turned violently on its own citizens. Once a government takes dictatorial powers, it never lets them go unless forced to. Look at AUS, NZ, UK, USA ( *Democrat state leaders did not have to restrain themselves as their voters expect no less, Liberal/Left being a cult of control), Germany, France, Belgium, Austria…….

Because most Politicians are:

“High-functioning sociopaths often test well on IQ tests and have superior intelligence. They are very charming, and their magnetic personality seem to naturally draw others to them. High-functioning sociopaths are typically very calculated and may show extreme patience when trying to lay the foundation necessary to work a situation for their own good.
High-functioning sociopaths usually hold jobs, are married, and have children. In fact, they can be extremely successful in life.”

These people are great at keeping the buses running, the schools paid for (unfortunate this trait is almost total in school heads), health services going… Although they skim off a great deal of the money to their corrupt friends – they keep things going. (almost all CEOs are sociopaths too)

BUT…. once you give them the raw power to control the people like pieces in some big game – they will never willingly let that power go.

Covid Response, Blank Slate, was the Gateway Drug to their Totalitarian madness – and now taking control back is going to a the biggest fight of the 2000s.

It also made them filthy rich – the Billionaires had their wealth grow by 68% in these Two years, and they used part of that to pay their sociopath politicos a reward – and they will not want to let that go…..

Andrea X
Andrea X
4 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I eagerly await tomorrow the weekly covid announcement from our superiorly intelligent – and of undisputed loveliness – supreme leader Saint Nicola.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrea X

No doubt aided & abetted by her sub continent adviser, one Devi Sridhar.
By the way does anyone know what Caste Sridhar is? Such facts are so important these days don’t you think?

Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis
4 months ago

I suspect, if you scratch away at the ever shiny surface you will discover she has no caste at all, she is simply ‘untouchable’.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrea X

‘Ye miserable crawling worms, have you come again to hear your doom? Have you come to hear What’s coming to ye? Hear of the crimson licking flames of fire?’

A speech any of the Doom mongers of the Western Leaders could be giving their Nations – as they quiver in fear and terror:

(Stella Gibbons, read by Sir Ian McKellen)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5evsxRdkJw

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
4 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

An estimated 3% of the population are psychopaths and of that I have seen it reported that a good 30% of people in corporate management structures are psychopaths.
These people are very similar to politicians as they have a high threshold for arousal – they enjoy the cut and thrust of the job, the jockeying for position, the lying, the game playing, the backstabbing, the very high stress.
it is fairly easy to identify them by using Hare’s 20 questions. Note that I did not carefully select the link – it was simply at the top of the Google search I did.
https://www.businessinsider.com/hare-psychopath-checklist-test-sociopath-2016-11?IR=T

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
4 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

“Once a government takes dictatorial powers, it never lets them go unless forced to. Look at AUS, NZ, UK, USA”
The UK let go of some dictatorial powers yesterday without being forced to.

Si B
Si B
4 months ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

I don’t think so. Not really. Vaccine mandates for health and care workers has dipped under the radar .. did I miss the u turn ? , the executive can still invoke emergency powers without much parliamentary scrutiny and it passes off as law via the 1984 public health act (yes I know Sumption challenges that somewhat and I’m right with him). They still reserve the right to avoid an adult conversation with their citizens placing their right to govern (aka know better) above any notion of personal responsibility in the face of unknowns or a fast changing situation. All in the name of “leadership to meet the moment” and to not let a crisis go to waste. And in doing so down the rabbit hole of applied behavioural psychology we all went …. Maybe time will salve some of that but I ain’t counting on it. Too many just “want to be saved by experts”. I don’t see the full row back and proper adult conversation even now.
…or rereading your post I agree and this is my take on it.

Last edited 4 months ago by Si B
James Watson
James Watson
4 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I wish I could dismiss this comment out of hand, unfortunately it has far too much of the ring of truth.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
4 months ago

Testing is important, and we must ensure that those who are elderly or vulnerable have access to tests in order to make clinical decisions, such as whether to begin antiviral therapy.”
Why is testing important? In the absence of proper early outpatient treatment, it is only a tool for propogating fear and public anxiety, for keeping tangible a virus so harmless you don’t know you have it until you ‘test positive’.
I have literally seen, time and time again, my left-leaning globalist friends ‘test positive’, go into a tizzy of fear and anxiety, self-isolate, and then admit it was little more than a sniffle.

Dan Gleeballs
Dan Gleeballs
4 months ago

Always putting ‘independent’ before SAGE, or even just ‘iSAGE’ is a bit suspect isn’t it? Is it part of the name, like those ‘Democratic Republics’ that are always dictatorships?

Sarah Johnson
Sarah Johnson
4 months ago

Thank you Amy for a good article, and well done for calling out the doom-mongers for what they are.

One objection though: you should not have taken the anti-Brexit shot at independent SAGE. Brexit and Covid are two different things. There are Leavers who are rabid Covid authoritarians and there are Remainers who are horrified at the government overreaction. Every Lib Dem MP voted against vaccine passports, for example. Those of us who want to end the Covid moral panic need all the allies we can get. Please don’t drive them away by taking cheap shots at your enemy from the last war.

Jerry Smith
Jerry Smith
4 months ago
Reply to  Sarah Johnson

Quite so. I get so bored reading the facile statements of some regular commentators who just ascribe every political position they don’t like either to “the left” or to “remainers” The world has moved on – even if political parties have yet to catch up.

Michael K
Michael K
4 months ago

There is no argument to be made either way. Governments initially didn’t take COVID seriously at all, which was a mistake and resulted in needless deaths in hospitals and retirement homes. And then they took it way too seriously, taking away people’s freedom and locking the young generation inside, getting ready to forcefully inject them with some doubtful substance. This only led to our collective immune systems getting weaker, and we completely missed the chance for herd immunity. Meanwhile, because everybody has the same antibodies, the virus gets rewarded for mutating to evade the vaccines. And some dimwit somehow, somewhere, blames the unvaccinated, who are the literal antithesis to a vaccine-evading mutation, because they are not vaccinated and thus cannot instruct the virus how to evade a vaccine. Meanwhile, the virus lives and mutates in animals just as well, and immunodeficient people with chronic infections are a breeding ground for mutations to which any (unvaccinated) individual doesn’t even remotely come close. CLEARLY another case of “it sucks, but we’ll have to live with it”.
~~~~
The correct way to handle this whole crisis – and yes, there is a correct way – would have been to protect the vulnerable, and to support everybody else as good as possible. Vaccinate only those for whom it is absolutely necessary and those who are really scared of the virus. Leave everybody else alone, but in case of disease provide monitoring of lung function (pulse oximeter) and call every few days to assess their status, to allow for early treatment. Remind them to EAT, as COVID takes away your appetite. That would easily prevent 80% of ICU visits.
Interestingly, there is one country that mostly got it right – Sweden. They just failed to protect the elderly in the very first wave. I went there on vacation and could see a lot of people jogging in groups. To our politicians: an infection hazard, to any sane individual: an effective defense against disease.
Obviously, practically every other country got it catastrophically wrong.

Last edited 4 months ago by Michael K
Kathleen Stern
Kathleen Stern
4 months ago

The end result of these ‘scientists’ squawking is the fact that now many people are hugely disinclined to ‘trust the science or indeed these scientists. They and the timid politicians banned all alternative scientific voices which is actually the opposite of how science is supposed to operate. Even worse the dodgy programmers and sinister fear manipulators were those favoured to try to terrify people into compliance. Never again!

Alison Wren
Alison Wren
4 months ago
Reply to  Kathleen Stern

Plenty of excellent immunologists virologists and the like banned from YouTube Twitter Facebook gor disagreeing with the official narrative. Divide and rule has worked… again!

Kieran Saxon
Kieran Saxon
4 months ago

Another great article from Dr. Jones. Unherd has been an oasis of reason in the last 2 years and articles like this are a huge factor.
I used to read The Independent when it was a grown-up, quality, newspaper before it became click-bait nonsense, and Unherd reminds me of that a little, in that there is a wide range of views rather than an overt political agenda.
Thanks Unherd and Dr. Jones.

Chris Eaton
Chris Eaton
4 months ago

“But what cannot be overlooked is the cost; billions have been spent on both Test and Trace and the now-abandoned testing project Operation Moonshot.”
Sooner or later, it’s always about the money.

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
4 months ago

‘Doomerism’ or ‘freedom’? An oversimplified dichotomy typical of the ideological stance being used about a pandemic by ‘opinion writers’. There’s a clue in the term opinion? Generally the amount of arrogant hindsight around is breathtaking. Name me one large country that got this perfectly? Of course not. Like many I wanted to shout at the TV at times. Over caution…recklessness? The balance wasn’t right at times and Johnson and co made some big errors and got some things right. 5/10. Must do better. There was only one metric worth having- the nation’s ICU capacity before mass vaccination and whether a politician was prepared to say ‘sorry, we’re not prioritising Covid cases, other people are ill too and some people will not be admitted but die at home’. A kind of Putin or Trump approach- neither care about ordinary people do they? Like the multi millionaire 73 yr old Jonathan Sumption, prepared to die for freedom but has lived his life and no doubt could isolated agreeably somewhere. His magisterially brilliant 100 yrs war history shows- a friend of his said he has spent too much time thinking about the Black Death. People coped with the Black Death didn’t they? Actually governments in our past typically used widespread edicts and laws to try and stop infections. Never was some free choice over public health though cholera was stopped sometimes by removing pump handles. Well the water tasted ok didn’t it? We now have anti vaxxers absurdly attacking vaccinations that allow their train driver or builder or plumber etc to work by not being ill. As for others- how dare they use their free choice to continue wearing masks! Shocking I tell you. Shouldn’t be allowed! Personally I’m glad restrictions can be lifted. Of course.

Last edited 4 months ago by Terence Fitch
Michael K
Michael K
4 months ago
Reply to  Terence Fitch

What vaccines are you taking about? The ones that make people miss work for days because of 80% systemic side effects?

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
4 months ago
Reply to  Michael K

‘People’ isn’t a stat. Like how many kids at my school had eye or ear defects due to measles in the 1960s. If I say ‘many’ or ‘some’ it usn’t a stat- though a distinct memory. Or if I say I know no one amongst 40-50 family and friends who’s had any reaction you can just say it’s not a fact even though that’s true. See?