by Peter Franklin
Tuesday, 22
December 2020

It’s not just the Covid cranks spreading misinformation

by Peter Franklin
Why would Boris Johnson want to “egg up” a virus that has cost more than 67,000 lives in the UK? Credit: Getty

It’s amazing what you can find in the murkier recesses of the Internet. For instance, yesterday I read that Boris Johnson had “egged up the transmissibility of the new strain of the virus” as an excuse for cancelling Christmas. However, he overdid it — and thus accidentally scared our neighbours into closing their borders. Whoops!

Here’s this shocking revelation in full, which was supplied by Lionel Barber:

Wow! You don’t get that sort of analysis from the BBC, do you? And that’s just as well, because it’s complete nonsense.

Boris Johnson didn’t “egg up” anything. What he said on Saturday was a fair reflection of the official scientific advice from NERVTAG — The New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group. Here’s the relevant document, which includes the following key statement:

“In summary, NERVTAG has moderate confidence that VUI-202012/01 demonstrates a substantial increase in transmissibility compared to other variants.”
- NERVTAG meeting on SARS-CoV-2 variant under investigation

At this stage our understanding of the VUI-202012/01 variant is incomplete, but neither NERVTAG nor the Government have tried to hide that fact. Almost by definition, fighting a novel pathogen means acting upon incomplete information.

One also has to ask why Boris Johnson would want to “egg up” the threat. Having staked so much credibility on the Christmas relaxation, clamping down again was not in the Government’s political interest. Moreover, the current trajectory of new infections is rather alarming enough without having to exaggerate the threat from the new variant.

Who is this Lionel Barber, anyway? A mad conspiracy theorist? A libertarian grifter? A Trumpist troll? No, none of those. He is, in fact, a pillar of the British and European establishment — and, until recently, editor of the Financial Times.

Strange, then, that he didn’t come to a more logical conclusion: i.e. that Boris Johnson issued his warning because the British people and the international community needed to hear it. If we want to control this pandemic — and prevent future pandemics — then full transparency on the part of all governments is vital.

One day, I hope that the Chinese government is held accountable for what it did and didn’t tell the world a year ago. In the mean time, western governments need to exemplify the standards we expect of others. If that is indeed what the British government has done, then it should be congratulated not carped at.

Join the discussion

  • An Austrian virologist (Bergthaler) was quoted in the Austrian daily newspaper “Kurier” yesterday as having the impression that “the British politicians were using this new strain of the virus to justify their strategy change shortly before Christmas.” The implication there, also, was that it had somehow been “talked up” for ulterior motives. Most Austrian newspapers are running some kind of scathing schadenfreude-spewing piece about it today – some of which seem to imply that the mutation is somehow a result of Johnson’s incompetence. Well, Johnson is incompetent – but blaming him for a virus mutation? Come on! Alternatively, the situation is framed as some kind of karmic retribution for having questioned the great religion of the EU and asserting a sense of individualism. It is absolutely mad.

    But more fool me – if I will insist on reading this guff then I only have myself to blame for the resulting bad mood.

  • What?!? EEk! A mutated form of the scary, scary virus that kills 1 person in 10,000. I know so many people that have died of the virus – I think the number is just below 1 – SO MANY Dead. And everybody knows somebody who has died. All of my friends have roughly the same number of people they know who have died – a number just below 1.
    It’s everywhere, the piles of body. Meanwhile, let’s lockdown the world and push 130 million people (according to the UN’s World Economic Forum) into acute hunger and starvation. Yes, let’s celebrate these heroic world leaders for mass murder greater than Stalin, Hitler or Mao! Trophies all around.

  • ” You may as well talk about controlling the weather. “ Meanwhile our govt is spending the rest of our money doing just that.

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