by Amy Jones
Thursday, 3
February 2022
Idea
11:49

Spare a thought for the Covid Never-Enders

Even without restrictions, many don't want to go back to normal
by Amy Jones
80% of Danes said that despite restrictions being lifted, they would still continue to socially distance

There exists no clear scientific endpoint for the Covid-19 pandemic. As early as March 2020 it was apparent that the SARS-CoV-2 virus would never be eliminated, and would circulate indefinitely around the globe. Any end to the pandemic would, therefore, be a societal and a political decision — the choice to no longer regard Covid as an absolute priority — to instead allow it to fade into the background along with other viruses and pathogens. In turn, we could permit life to continue once again, unrestricted and unabated.

Eighteen months ago, reaching this stage seemed an impossible feat. However, a mixture of vaccinations, immunity, antivirals and medical advances have now brought us to a point that many have feared was forever out of reach. Countries across the world have started to announce the end of Covid regulations: from England’s decision to drop Plan B, to Sweden and Denmark’s to lift all Covid restrictions, and New Zealand’s announcement that it was re-opening its borders.

But while some have responded to these announcements with joy, spare a thought for the Covid Never-Enders: those who feel far more conflicted about the end of the pandemic. In a survey of Danish residents, 80% said that despite restrictions being lifted, they would still continue to distance themselves from other people. Only 9% stated that they would not take the pandemic into account at all. This is a worrying sign of just how embedded the pandemic is in our collective psyche now, even as we are coming out of it.

What’s more, there is still considerable anxiety and fear among the vulnerable and immuno-supressed about moving on. Covid has not disappeared and for these people, a potential threat will always remain. As one shielder told The Guardian this week, “I worry that as people move on with their lives, they’ll forget I still want to be included”. How we move on without excluding these groups will be a crucial part of our recovery as a society.

Who can blame them? Following SPI-B’s concern in March 2020 that “a substantial number of people still do not feel sufficiently personally threatened” possibly due to being “reassured by the low death rate in their demographic group”, there was a subsequent recommendation that “the perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent”. In response, the government and media embarked upon a campaign of fear which targeted all. Such messaging left many with a heightened sense of anxiety over Covid, even after vaccines. It will take time for these people to feel comfortable with a return to normal life.

We need to acknowledge that everyone suffered as a result of not just the pandemic but the restrictions that came with it. That it has taken months — even years — to tolerate debate over the actual benefits and harms of restrictions is illustrative of the current climate of fear. Previously, the pandemic had been viewed as a pseudo war, with any questioning of policy being seen as undermining the collective response. This attitude resulted in the costs of lockdowns going unacknowledged, and the grief of those affected being disenfranchised. Those that have suffered and lost, may also not see the end of restrictions as a triumphant return to normal. Instead it may act as a bittersweet reminder of all they have silently endured.

Perhaps we can learn from our previous refusal to acknowledge this trauma. Maybe, unlike the pandemic itself, the recovery can instead be accompanied by an acceptance of our differing experiences, and an understanding that not everyone will find the same amount of joy in the prospect of a return to a pre-pandemic life. Even as it comes to an end, we cannot blame those who are simply not ready to let it go.

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Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
4 months ago

It is very sad that these people feel scared, however realistically if it wasn’t Covid it would be another virus that could make them ill or could kill them. Or it might be something else entirely. Realistically also, they cannot expect society to be put on hold because of them – lockdowns and other measures have already had devastating consequences for society as a whole. If they wish, they should shield for as long as they like.
I blame corporate media and the people who slavishly follow them for this situation. Ramping up fear for two years – these are people who have money in the bank (for now), disengage with logic and haven’t the wit to realize that by some magnitude more people are being damaged by lockdowns than will die an untimely death. Do these people honestly believe that the money taps will still be open if more and more of the economy continues to be destroyed? Also how is it caring or empathetic to lead vulnerable people to think that e.g. masks are going to prevent them from getting a viral disease?
On a more intimate human basis, I think the elderly and those with co-morbidities would do well to read the article by Giles Fraser on today’s Unherd. We are all going to die and we need to recognize that and make peace with it. This together with communion and mixing with people is what will heal society… not isolation.

Last edited 4 months ago by Lesley van Reenen
Fran Martinez
Fran Martinez
4 months ago

I agree, however, we must understand that people have been submitted to constant brainwashing for the last 2 years. It would be a miracle if many people were not traumatised. We all need to help them move on.

The real issue is whether certain interest actually want them to move on… If we just had a third of the fear campaign on the opposite direction people would recover much faster.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
4 months ago
Reply to  Fran Martinez

Fran my second paragraph is about this brainwashing….I blame the entitled hale and hearty and MSM who allowed this to happen.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
4 months ago

I agree with your overall position, but exempting the government very specifically from the role call of villains seems a bit odd. It was the government – they have a lot of power in Britain when they put their mind to it – and the BBC and all others followed suit ‘in the national interest’ etc.
I suppose many people on here feel very reluctant to say that as the Opposition would have been, and were, even worse in the devolved administrations. However, we had a supposedly liberal PM whose resolve (such as it was) and interest in alternative views, collapsed like a pack of cards at the first asking. Given that in my view Boris is lazy and incompetent, that is not much of a surprise to me, but people like Gove were as bad or worse.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago
Reply to  Fran Martinez

I would summarise Lesleys post here as “You are going to die – now just shut up and get on with it!”. No, I do not think I would accept your help – it is bound to leave me worse off than I was without it.

Fran Martinez
Fran Martinez
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

That’s not what she said at all. But it is true we are all going to die. Better to spend it in happy ways than with fear and isolation. Even you must concede this.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Oh geez. I had COVID. It isn’t that bad. One good night’s sleep and I was over most of it.
In any case we’ve all got to die of something someday. The purpose of life is to enjoy the short time we have here together. It certainly cannot be about confining ourselves to comfortable sarcophagi in the hope of staving off the inevitable.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

If you prefer to have your fun and (slightly) risk your life that is certainly your choice. It becomes a little more complicated when it is a question of having your fun and risking other people’s lives. As it mostly is in these posts.

stephen archer
stephen archer
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Life to a certain extent is about judging and taking risks, driving a car, hiking in the mountains, taking a helicopter tour of Kauai, piloting a private jet, surfing the big wave. Or staying at home in the comfort of your armchair watching TV and consuming endless packets of crisps and cans of beer. Which is the biggest risk of these?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

As Andy Warhol said ” Life is a terminal disease”… get over it!

Alex Stonor
Alex Stonor
4 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

I had covid really badly before christmas & pneumonia into the new year; I was really ill. I have never worn a mask (rat licker); except when I actually had covid. I thought I’d had it many times but evidently not. I broke the regulations (anti-lockdown protester), didn’t clap for the NHS (covidiot) and refused the vaccines (antivaxx).
Getting so ill made me seriously question all my theories and opinions and as I’ve recovered (I am now well), I’ve been enjoying the feedback from the (much smaller) friendship group. Today a friend admitted that she expected to find me awkwardly crestfallen, I’m not, I would do it all the same again.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
4 months ago
Reply to  Alex Stonor

Thanks for your honesty, Alex. My wife had it worse and she had more shots than me (I just had the vaccine). I experienced the same as you. I probably should take the virus more seriously, but it’s not in my psychological make-up to do so. I’m unable to worry about things I have no control over.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
4 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

What I find astonishing is that SPI-B so completely misunderstand the psychology of people that they think that the solution to ‘people still do not feel sufficiently personally threatened’ is to threaten everybody more, rather than to understand that this ‘inability to get worried about things I have no control over’ is an essential part of the nature of a great many people who cannot be made to feel threatened. You cannot budge them, while you crush the people who were already feeling more than sufficiently fearful.

Tom Jennings
Tom Jennings
4 months ago

Very nicely thought out. Government did whip the strong and crush the meek.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Rasmus, that is certainly not what I am saying – as my final sentence illustrates.
Anyway, let me leave you with this – lockdowns and fear have caused half a million children to be lost to the school children in South Africa forever. I wonder what a caring person like you feels about this?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

What more would you have society do? Most countries have endured lockdowns and restrictions while vaccination and booster rates could get to high levels so as to offer the most protection to the most vulnerable, which has now largely happened. The virus is now endemic, the vulnerable can have regular boosters and take their own precautions such as masks if they’re at risk, but society needs to start again. The restrictions simply wouldn’t achieve anything anymore

Noel Chiappa
Noel Chiappa
4 months ago
Reply to  Fran Martinez

people have been submitted to constant brainwashing for the last 2 years
The fundamental problem is that way too many people are very susceptible to brainwashing. For anyone who was awake, reading about COVID, and had their brains turned on, it was obvious that COVID paranoia was way overblown. That was a small minority though.
The same problem is occurring all across modern life. Look at the panic in Germany over CO2 and nuclear power. Better to give Putin a rope around their necks, it seems. I will laugh when he yanks it.
“Experience is a dear master, but fools will learn at no other.” (Franklin) Welcome to the world of fools.
Noel


Iris C
Iris C
4 months ago

One of the saddest outcomes is that children who see and listen to the media and the adults around them generating fear are full of anxiety.

Last edited 4 months ago by Iris C
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
4 months ago
Reply to  Iris C

Yes, indeed so. And there have been many articles written about the devastation this has caused children. Children losing the ability to read emotions properly at a formative age (because of masks), having to wear masks themselves and the fear and trauma this must cause, losing their immune systems to endless sanitizing instead of mucking around in the dirt and sand. Then maybe one of the worst of all, are the children who are not in the elite zoom classes – children who have lost years of schooling. In South Africa there have already been half a million children lost to the school system – anticipated forever.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
4 months ago

This covid thing – it is all a “Mass Formation Psychosis” (see Dr Malone for explanations).

The world was driven to this mass hypnotic state – just as the good people were in Germany in 1932, and became psychopaths out to conquer the world with extreme violence.

Both were manipulated and encouraged by elites, and so went on to make good people do horrific things out of falling into a Mass Formation Psychosis.

BUT the good news is the whole agenda and mandates are falling totally apart – the Emperor is looking a bit naked.

As Germany after the war – all came out from under the Na* i spell, and in fact turned pacifist in complete rejection – I have every reason to guess this may also happen when this psychosis if finally shown to be the crime against humanity it was, and the people wake up from their coma of denial of reason, and belief in lies.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
4 months ago

I agree with your overall position, but exempting the government from the role call of villains seems a bit odd. It was the government that implemented these draconian regulations – The BBC and all others followed suit ‘in the national interest’ etc, being very supportive of leftish ‘herd’ ‘and ‘caring’ views in any case.
I suppose many people on here feel ambivalent at acknowledging this because the Opposition would have been worse (and were so in the devolved administrations). Also there were many in the Conservative Party (as opposed the government) who pushed back – they are real heroes as they were in a small and unfashionable minority among politicians in the supposedly ‘free’ (!) world.
However, we had a supposedly liberal PM whose resolve (such as it was) and interest in alternative views collapsed like a pack of cards at the first asking. Given that in my view Boris is lazy and incompetent, that is not much of a surprise to me, but people like Gove were as bad or worse.

Last edited 4 months ago by Andrew Fisher
Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
4 months ago

i have just spent several minutes laughing at a man in Waitrose carpark, wearing one of those ridiculous beaks, sitting alone in his car.
I have no sympathy for the worried well. They are stopping me from living my life as I choose, and from doing my job properly. How can I build the new team that I have just been given at work, including two people who are brand new to the organisation, when we can only meet in person sitting in the corners of an enormous conference room shouting at each other?
Those who have genuine physical conditions that prevent them from mixing normally are covered by the Equality Act in a work situation. The rest of us need to get back to normal.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
4 months ago

Caroline, there are many of us who have had the logic to anticipate this. WFH worked to an extent (in certain industries) when there were teams in place with existing relationships. The chickens are now coming home to roost.

stephen archer
stephen archer
4 months ago

The other creatures with real beaks and much smaller brains could be considered to be just as intelligent as the car driver. I saw an article on TV last week where a researcher came up with a solution to the litter problem with cigarette butts by training crows to pick these up and deposit them in a container only to be rewarded with food. At least the crows had some subconcious sense of civic duty maybe lacking in some humans.

Last edited 4 months ago by stephen archer
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
4 months ago

an understanding that not everyone will find the same amount of joy in the prospect of a return to a pre-pandemic life.
Quite. Especially those who happily sat at home doing FA rather than going into work and doing b****er all

andrew harman
andrew harman
4 months ago

Do not ask me to feel any sympathy for those who had no real reason to fear the virus and simply gave way to a self indulgent and virtue signalling neuroticism, encouraged by a shameless and self serving media. They deserve to suffer, and to suffer terribly, all of them.

Last edited 4 months ago by andrew harman
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago
Reply to  andrew harman

Correct. This has been the greatest confidence trick perpetrated on the Human Race since the Resurrection.

More tea Vicar?

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
4 months ago

NO!

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
4 months ago
Reply to  Doug Pingel

Shouldn’t that be :
No thank you?

Andrea X
Andrea X
4 months ago

Can I say it? Can I??
Nonsense!
If someone is scared they can behave as they see fit, as long as their fear does not prejudice my freedom. Over (a short?) time people will relax and a vast number will revert to a normal life, but I you don’t start and repeat the fear message we will never come out of it (while inflation spirals out of control, energy costs rise, interest rates rise and so on and so forth).
The immuno compromised were immuno compromised before and shall be immuno compromised after Covid. Covid is not the only disease that may be dangerous to them. Cold, flu, rotavirus… Are they all OK for them? I doubt it.

If we have to do something is to analyse the fear porn we have been living with for the past two years and ask (ourselves) we it was allowed to continue unquestioned and who is going to pay the bills that have been piling up.

Enough already!

Last edited 4 months ago by Andrea X
Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
4 months ago

“Following SPI-B’s concern in March 2020 that “a substantial number of people still do not feel sufficiently personally threatened” possibly due to being “reassured by the low death rate in their demographic group”, there was a subsequent recommendation that “the perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent”.”
This amounts to a deliberate and concerted attempt by the authorities – or at least an arm of the state – to promote disinformation and groundless fear in the wider population. This is quite a lot more scandalous than Partygate.

Josh Woods
Josh Woods
4 months ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

In other words, a colossal scale psy-ops. Very scandalous indeed, with profound implications!

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
4 months ago
Reply to  Josh Woods

I wouldn’t want to dignify or glamorise their behaviour by attaching an Ipcress-File-style label to it, when it’s really just seedy and manipulative.

Josh Woods
Josh Woods
4 months ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Yep, that’s what it is- psychological manipulation & abuse, though my labelling of it as psy-ops is merely a broad term for government and/or media-run psychological manipulation & propaganda. Still it’s a colossal scandal right up with Null Ferguson & SPI-M’s surrealist math models, both of which dwarve Partygate!

R Wright
R Wright
4 months ago

Some people are just immune to hysterical propaganda and others less so. I don’t spare a thought for the latter, the willing pawns of measures that have damaged my life. As far as I am concerned they can lie in the bed of their own making and endure a diminished standard of living, gripped in a perpetual state of exception.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
4 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

But they should not be allowed to vote

Vijay Kant
Vijay Kant
4 months ago

Every era has its hypochondriacs. I just wish that none of them are in any public institution to make life difficult for all. The madness regarding PCR tests must end. I am sure that many will be glad to see that go.

Last edited 4 months ago by Vijay Kant
Fred Oldfield
Fred Oldfield
4 months ago
Reply to  Vijay Kant

But you know as well as me that many businesses and institutions will not let it go. How long – if ever – before masks are unnecessary on flights, for example? I was on a bus the other day with about 30 other passengers – I was the only one unmasked.

Josh Woods
Josh Woods
4 months ago

“Who can blame them? Following SPI-B’s concern in March 2020 that “a substantial number of people still do not feel sufficiently personally threatened” possibly due to being “reassured by the low death rate in their demographic group”, there was a subsequent recommendation that “the perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent”. In response, the government and media embarked upon a campaign of fear which targeted all. Such messaging left many with a heightened sense of anxiety over Covid, even after vaccines. It will take time for these people to feel comfortable with a return to normal life.”
A tragically successful psy-ops, which is coercive nudging in a nutshell, and what the nudge unit & SPI-B are in practice. And I wonder if it’s them that have been asking SPI-M to model all these unrealistic scenarios?
“We need to acknowledge that everyone suffered as a result of not just the pandemic but the restrictions that came with it. That it has taken months — even years — to tolerate debate over the actual benefits and harms of restrictions is illustrative of the current climate of fear. Previously, the pandemic had been viewed as a pseudo war, with any questioning of policy being seen as undermining the collective response. This attitude resulted in the costs of lockdowns going unacknowledged, and the grief of those affected being disenfranchised.”
Been saying this very loudly since March 2020, much to the ire of many folks in Adelaide where I lived for 5 years till past March(now in England). Glad these words can now be spoken openly after 23 months of being taboo for all the wrong reasons!
“Perhaps we can learn from our previous refusal to acknowledge this trauma. Maybe, unlike the pandemic itself, the recovery can instead be accompanied by an acceptance of our differing experiences, and an understanding that not everyone will find the same amount of joy in the prospect of a return to a pre-pandemic life.”
Fair point, live and let live with compassion; though the 2nd sentence of this quote ought to be taken much more seriously by the never-enders as well- They’re also the very same bunch that often babbles:”We’re all in this together” in all the wrong contexts, and aggressively invalidate others’ views & individual experiences. I can be diplomatic with them, BUT NOTHING will work UNLESS they finally realize that this is a 2-way street and put their act together!
That said, I do understand where the author is coming from. The tremendous psychological damage has been done, and we now have to clean up this mess created by the incompetent authorities, and it’ll take a rather long time sad to say!

Last edited 4 months ago by Josh Woods
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
4 months ago

Coronaphobes provide me with endless amusing entertainment….

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
4 months ago

I think many of these “never-enders” are either extremely vulnerable or live with someone who is; they will still need to be very careful. The possibility of risking their own lives or that of a loved one does tend to make one a tad cautious, so a little understanding of their plight, I’m sure, would be appreciated by them

D Bagnall
D Bagnall
4 months ago

Nicely stated. In the midst of such long-standing and understandable anger, it is important to acknowledge that we all carry a different capacity to handle the unknown; when we are frightened, we often express our fear with rage. If nothing else, to see the pandemic as a battle between pragmatism and anxiety is helpful. As it eases, sympathy (within reason) will be important for societal healing.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
4 months ago

I am immuno-suppressed and so have received over the past two years all the letters advising me to shield and asking me about my mental health, imagining I have been sitting at home getting things left outside my door. My consultant advised me just to be sensible about avoiding crowded indoor spaces, so I just went on with my life, taking elementary precautions such as avoiding going to the supermarket at the busiest times. Everything has been perfectly fine, thanks, and so far as I’m concerned let’s get back to normal right away.

Dominic A
Dominic A
4 months ago

There are many threads to this story, and to understand it requires nuance, the ability to hold conflicting ideas – as ever. In the early stages of covid you’d have to be a bit mad or bad not to have been frightened, and to accept the short-term restrictions. Now, the other way round has truth to it as well – you have to be a bit ‘mad’ (anxious; obsessing over 1 cause of death and illness), or bad (riding waves of power, money) to not be very much letting go of on-going restrictions.
For what it is worth, the vulnerable people I’ve known throughout my life, and during the pandemic, have shown an admirable stoicism about their situation. No panic, special pleading – it is those around them often do make such claims, supposedly ‘on behalf of the vulnerable’. One bold exception was a charity sector writer/academic who told me that his special quest was to ‘improve the quality of death in the NHS’.

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
4 months ago

Interesting discussion: one thing we tend to forget is that infections do not exist on their own: they can only cause illness if the patient (or group) is susceptible. The modern virologist will use explanations about spike proteins etc to explain this for covid… That is fine and interesting but what about the people who never ‘catch’ covid or hardly any symptoms when they did? Nothing to do with spike etc. this has to to with susceptibility. This same susceptibility exist on the perception of the dangers that may come to us. We are all different here.
But unless medicine starts to become interested in making us healthy (rather than only thinking in developing treatments that can be sold) individual susceptibility will keep being put under the carpet by our current industry of illness as if nothing can be done about it. If we were to develop a medicine and healthcare that improves people’s health and normalises immune responses, we would be in a much better place…
…and, in the mean time, covid and other viruses smile and rub their hands: look at the fools… and continue to support the medical, petrol, food and drinks lobby

Jason Highley
Jason Highley
4 months ago

Let’s see the Ven diagram overlap between COVID never-enders and climate never-enders.

Benjamin Jones
Benjamin Jones
4 months ago
Reply to  Jason Highley

Don’t forget the Remainers……Rejoiners whatever they call themselves these days

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
4 months ago
Reply to  Benjamin Jones

And middle-aged woke public sector employees with brilliant pensions.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
4 months ago

A massive number of people in Britain are still being infected by Omicron, which for the vulnerable, is a real threat.

So no, though it’s right to lift the restrictions, the pandemic isn’t remotely over.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
4 months ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

Absolutely, There is still a large number of people for whom the threat is still high whilst the virus is circulating at the rate it is. They should not be forgotten, which is why I always assume that a person that I may come into contact with, should be treated with care.

stephen archer
stephen archer
4 months ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

Well what the about the last 60 years of flu epidemics? My parents said they were lucky to survive the 1968 epidemic. In the end, it was a lifetime of cigarette smoking and cancer/heart disease which ended their lives.

Laura Pritchard
Laura Pritchard
4 months ago

One thing I thought about the other day is that the those who have to shield normally from most infectious diseases are now lucky with Sars Cov2 that there is a raft of vaccines that they can safely take to give them protection from severe disease. This isn’t the case for most other similar viruses but let’s hope the technology can be cheaply and quickly applied to the ones most dangerous to this group in order to give them other safe remedies and thus the freedom they crave.
….so that they stop demanding that everyone else must live without the same freedom – Demands which basically make it impossible for wider society to function.

Hilary Arundale
Hilary Arundale
4 months ago

When you talk about the advocates for locking up society and those who engage in spreading fear among the credulous, never forget the vast, unimaginable profits being made by certain corporations and middlemen. The masks, the PPE, the vaccines, testing kits, mostly produced in ….you guessed it…China. Then there are the streaming services, the social media companies, Amazon… you get the picture.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
4 months ago

What’s the difference in meaning between “social” and the neologism “societal”, exactly?

Bashar Mardini
Bashar Mardini
4 months ago

Give the Danes 2 months and then ask the question again. I’m sure the statistics will be inverted. Governments spent 2 years scaring people out of their minds. It will take a minute to bring them back- but they MUST be brought back

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago

Sensitive and sensible article (somewhat unexpectedly). One thing that would help me would be a reliable account of the risks and the effects of the disease and the various measures: including how effective the vaccine is, long covid, what chance you could realistically have of avoiding the diseases, and what measures would contribute how much. We need to get to a new normal at some point, but in the debate between those trying to ‘increase the level of personal threat’ and those who deny that there is any risk whatsoever or any reason to act, there is not much to do except to chose one camp or the other.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

For an assessment of adverse reactions by the vaccine, you only need to go to the Supporting Information associated with the original Moderna article in the New England Journal of Medicine reporting the results of the Phase III trial: main article https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2113017; Supporting Information: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2113017
p.61: 3 x more AEs in vaccine arm than placebo, and 2.7x more severe AEs overall
p.65 Bell’s palsy 2.7 x higher rate
p.66: thrombotic/embolic AEs: 1.4 x
etc…. and that’s with only a very small study group of around 30,000, of whom 15,000 were vaccinated.
Effect of lockdowns, masking etc… on mortality from a recent Johns Hopkins study: 0.2% https://sites.krieger.jhu.edu/iae/files/2022/01/A-Literature-Review-and-Meta-Analysis-of-the-Effects-of-Lockdowns-on-COVID-19-Mortality.pdf
You can also look at Daily Mail article on this: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10471265/Johns-Hopkins-professor-blasts-college-media-downplaying-study-COVID-lockdowns.html
Then in Europe: myocarditis rates are up 30-75%: https://www.theepochtimes.com/why-are-myocarditis-rates-surging-in-europe_4250397.html
And so it goes on.
The bottom line: right now we’re lucky that the virus has mutated into the Omicron variant which is mild and nothing more than a bad cold for the vast majority of people.
Incidentally even the British Government has had enough since the daily COVID stats are going to be ditched from April on.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

I skimmed through the John Hopkins study. I see a big problem, not with the work (I am not qualified for that, nor do I have the time), but with the position. All through the discussion there is the point that it is hard or impossible to separate the effect of a lockdown from the effect of spontaneous behavioural changes. This is obviously true. Lockdown only makes a difference to the extent that it changes behaviour. If people take the precautions anyway, the lockdown is unnecessary, and if people do not comply, the lockdown has no effect. There is a lot of talk about ‘signalling effect’, and I have no problem with the idea that much of the effect comes from communicating to people as opposed to legal enforcement measures.

But – why do people have a problem with lockdowns? If they were going to take the precautions anyway, they would not care. Clearly the opponents want to be free *not* to take the precautions. But then they cannot claim that lockdowns are unecessary because people take precautions anyway. The relevant question – which this lockdown analysis completely misses is 1) whether precautions help (and which precautions), 2) how you get people to take those precautions. If your actual position is that a) All these precautions are nonsense, b) I am not going to do any of it, c) I am going to flaunt my non-compliance in the face of the sheep (which seems to be a common attitude on Unherd), you need to address the question of what would happen if most people behaved like you, and not hide behind the point that most people were fairly cautions in practice. Sweden, as it happens is a particularly bad poster boy for this attitude. Swedes are notoriously conformist and obedient to authority and social pressure, even by Scandinavian standards. You get a lot of compliance in Sweden for very little official guidance. Taking Sweden as an example of what would happen in the US or UK without lockdowns is really neither here not there.

Last edited 4 months ago by Rasmus Fogh
Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

You’ve missed the point. The key is that it would have been reasonable to put “focussed protection” into place while leaving everybody else well alone. Now focussed protection can include not just the elderly and those with co-morbidities, but also those where work from home was perfectly feasible . i.e. many office workers and administrator types. But general lockdowns as enforced had massive negative consequences for the economy, including the forced closure of many small businesses and restaurants, with negative health consequences elsewhere (including children not attending in-person school).
What you fail to realize is that the only thing that mitigation such as lockdown can do is flatten the curve somewhat, but the area under the curve remains the same. In other words, all one does is prolong the agony.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

The problem with ‘focused protection’ is that the chance of the policy actually protecting anyone was for all practical purposes zero. The vulnerable tend to have a lot of different carers. Now you are proposing having no isolation – the poor dears should not suffer loneliness. No vaccines – in the beginning because there aren’t any, later because it is unethical to require carers to be vaccinated. No measures to restrain the spread in society. In short you have a pandemic raging and the vulnerable connected to everybody else, like always. Clearly they will get sick, and they will die. Focused protection is theatre, intended to make people feel cared for, even while you are doing nothing effective to protect them
Basically I can see three groups who promoted ‘focused protection’ against COVID. There are the sincere and impractical who genuinely believe that you can achieve utopia in the real world. The original framers of the Barrington declaration probably belong here. There is the majority, who cannot and will not accept restrictions of whatever kind, and who prefer to be in denial at the consequences of their policies. And then there are a few people who do realise what the consequences will be, who genuinely believe that this is the best policy even so, and who realise that the best chances of achieving their policy goals is to lie about it.
I shall not speculate about which group you are likely to belong to.

Last edited 4 months ago by Rasmus Fogh
Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

You clearly don’t understand focussed protection. That’s an issue. The idea is based on the observation that there is a huge age-based risk stratification with regard to COVID. Those who need focussed protein are largely the really old and frail in nursing homes! That could easily have been done instead of introducing infected patients into nursing homes as happened in both the UK and certain US states (such as New York).

Jon Hawksley
Jon Hawksley
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Agreed – not sure why anyone would down vote. What is missing from the debate is an understanding that the virus does not replicate accurately so it cannot persist indefinitely. The waves of infection have a decline that is not solely (or possibly not largely) due to social distancing. We need to understand just how many times it can replicate before it ceases to be effective. Against that it can mutate to a variant that is more effective, and will have its own cycle of infections. Everyone says we must learn to live with it – but the “it” is not what it was.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago
Reply to  Jon Hawksley

Regrettably I think you have got the biology wrong. The virus multiplies enormously during an infection. It may take relatively few virus particles to start an infection, but there may be a billion or 100 billion virus particles in a patient at peak. Inaccurate replication means that a lot of the new virus particles will be different from the original, but most will still be identical. A wave of infections may die out because vulnerable individuals either die or become immune, so there is no longer anybody much around to infect. It will *not* die out because the virus in soem way ‘runs out of steam’.

Jon Hawksley
Jon Hawksley
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

That is what I had assumed – but if most “will still be identical” a wave will only end if there is no one available to infect – yet the wave for each variant seems to have ended before that could possibly be the case.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago
Reply to  Jon Hawksley

I believe that a wave grows as long as each new patient infects more than one additional person, and peters out when each new patient infects less that one additional person on the average. Since society is not a well-mixed flask like in chemistry, it can die out locally once enough people in the local group are immune due to vaccination/prior disease, or people do not (any more) mix enough for each patient to infect more than one new person. It all gets fiendishly complicated, which is why even the best avaialbe models are only approximations at best. But anyway, a virus is like fire – it can keep spreading as long as it can keep reaching something that will burn. They do not come with built-in expiry dates. Nor do they *necessarily* get milder with successive variants (though they sometimes do).

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The confounder has always been the epidemic curve which waxes and wanes regardless of measures taken by man. This has happened throughout history and was documented decades ago. Indeed this was recently evidenced in South Africa in December/January 20/21 with the Beta variant, when no vaccines were in circulation and few restrictions were in place (and those that were, were largely ignored).
Certainly not everyone in all communities at that stage had been exposed previously (although a lot had been) – this then suggests that some people are simply not susceptible.

Jon Hawksley
Jon Hawksley
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

What puzzles me is that the original virus declined in transmission long before vaccinations. I have not seen evidence of enough people having antibodies to account for it. Social distancing had been significantly relaxed sufficient for the growth in beta. The same cycle has applied to each variant. If replication was highly reliable then there should still be an original virus capable of spreading as rapidly as it did in early 2020 in a cluster somewhere in 7 billion people. One possibility would be high levels of natural immunity but the fact that clusters in choirs and a birthday party a friend attended before the first lockdown infected a very high percentage of participants argues against that. Research on the Diamond Princess cases did show mutations which were used to track the sequence of infections. It is this that prompted me to consider imperfect replication. There should be research on this somewhere.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
4 months ago
Reply to  Jon Hawksley

If you look at infection rates in SE Asia, you find that in 2020 hardly anybody got sick. This was the case whether or not the country took extreme measures w.r.t lockdowns, masking and contract tracing or didn’t do much. This didn’t stop the press from claiming it was all about the superiority of a more authoritarian response.
Then came delta. SE asia, for all its interventions, got really sick.
My conclusion is that something else must have been protecting them from contracting alpha, and ‘prior infection with some other corona virus’ seems a very good bet.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago

Could be. But if we are reduced to guessing even in this very clear and obvious case, surely any attempt to prove that lockdowns do not work must be doomed. If things are complicated it is a little too easy to prove that nothing we can do could possibly help – if it is in your interest to do nothing.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

We aren’t reduced to guessing. Checking for t-cell protection vs various strains just costs money. The Taiwanese are checking now, so we should hear something in a few months or so.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago

Good!

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago
Reply to  Jon Hawksley

It is complex – and puzzling. But if you think that viruses have a ‘natural lifespan’ and automatically deline after a while, you are going back to the science of the early 1800’s, where people thought that races had a ‘natural lifespan’ from barbarism through primitive vigour, flourishing, and decadence to to degeneration. I would hope we have learned something since then.

Jon Hawksley
Jon Hawksley
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

But I fear may have forgotten. Life in a virus is an interesting concept – an inert set of proteins arranged in a way that contains “information” that can cause a particular cell to replicate it but with no capacity to sustain itself. The vast majority just disintegrate. Parasitic information.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
4 months ago
Reply to  Jon Hawksley

Exactly correct. Alot may have to do with seasons and when people spend most of their time indoors. e.g. the summer in Florida, and the winter in New England.

John Montague
John Montague
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Unfortunately your use of the choice phrase “increase the level of personal threat” pretty much delineates which camp you have chosen to fall into. I would prefer no camps at all, as placing people into camps of any kind – be they virtual, as in the in Western “civlised” world or physical and real in many more unfortunate places, do not provide any long term solution. The factual reality is that for most people – and by that we can cover the absolute majority of our population, the risks attendant to catching Covid were small, and are now minimal in the extreme… so the level of “personal threat” as you state is also minimal. Risk cannot be manufactured out of any culture. However the societal, economic, long term mental and educational effects of this reccomendation to increase the perception of threat are hugely long term, have not really been felt yet or even encompassed in “official” MSM reporting. This simplicity, lack of nuance, and indeed the placing of people into “camps” is mendacious, shorn of any historical wisdom and will eventually become as fruitless as a good bacon sandwich.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago
Reply to  John Montague

“increase the level of personal threat” was a quote from the article, they claimed that the health authorities deliberately inflamed people’s fear to enforce compliance. And ‘minimal in the extreme’ also shows which camp *you* have chosen. We would need numbers to get a neutral wording.
Regrettably the two camps have formed themselves.The two sides cannot be made to agree on even basic facts, let alone on what is important or what needs to taken into account.

John Montague
John Montague
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Death rate average for Flu, while being difficult to be precise about, but the CDC say – somewhere between .1 and .2 per cent at the lower end. Current case fatality for Covid seven days pre Jan26 .14 percent. Do we stop the country for flu – even on a bad year – we do not because the negative effects of the stoppage would be unbalanced. The counter point to the threats would be to not threaten anybody with increases of any kind. The article is actually also only quoting from a release which suggests such threat increase / nudge in a governmental document – follow the link. I’m off for a bacon sandwich.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Actually the camps are not just divided into those that feel personal threat and those that don’t. There are camps that had money in the bank/were earning/were on welfare and those that faced financial ruin.
Amazingly the ‘people who care about other people’ and earn salaries seem to continually ignore that fact.

Last edited 4 months ago by Lesley van Reenen
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago

I will admit that it is easier when lockdowns do not cost you much. Will you admit that it is easier to accept a lot of premature deaths when you are convinced that it will be someone else who does the dying?

Gordon Black
Gordon Black
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

In all the dangers and hazards of life, the only “camps” I know of is the risk-averse, hapless, gullible, naive ‘nudge-prone’ and the risk-aware, common-sense, grounded, mature rest of us.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago
Reply to  Gordon Black

You forgot the risk-indifferent, stubborn, opinionated, proud of not taking precautions, and convinced that because it has not happened to me or my friends yet, no one ever needs to worry about it.

Last edited 4 months ago by Rasmus Fogh
j morgan
j morgan
4 months ago

I think we can blame them where they clearly get a kick out of telling others what to do. In such cases, the refusal to acknowledge collateral damage caused by our response to a virus just seems cruel to me, and I’ll find it hard to forgive that.

And shielders don’t want to be “left behind”? Well, how to avoid that? No more trips to the pub for you if you have a friend who is shielding? Are we supposed to abandon all of our cultural norms?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
4 months ago

The masked Coronaphobes provide endless entertainment for those with a satirical sense of humour, and are a great butt of casual p*** taking, to help defray the boredom of visiting shops, etc.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
4 months ago

My favourite coronaphobe story is of the woman who refused to leave her home for 18 months, and on the very day she did, stepped out in the street, and whilst fiddling with her i fone getting some coronaphobe app, was run over by a truck!

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
4 months ago

As for distancing etc. It used to be called reticence and was a very British characteristic. It’s been replaced by shrieking, shouting huggy gobbiness accompanied by hooting American influenced ullulating. Many of us simply haven’t missed going to restaurants where it became common to be aurally assaulted by shouting large groups or families with badly behaved children wandering around. I guess one downside has been the inability to export large crowds of shouty drunks to Spain along with their litter.

James Joyce
James Joyce
4 months ago

Ah, more from Anonymous Amy: what in this article threatened her precious work with the NHS? Is she an anonymous “never-ender?”
This is just PPE tosh–pseudo philosophy–a failing grade at the uni. This adds nothing of value to UnHerd. Beneath UnHerd’s standards…..

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago

The posters here overwhelmingly show a furious resentment against the people who have “stopp[ed] me from living my life as I choose” – just because some of them were dying! I mean – how dare they?

I have to say that you are rather confirming my prejudices here.

David Slade
David Slade
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Politicians and scientists imposed restrictions and people still died, with no evidence that their numbers would have been any greater minus the great Covid abuses.

Stop trying to pretend these measures and those that support them have any moral authority. They didn’t ‘stop me living my life by dying’; scientists stoped children going to school; vulnerable people from seeing loved ones; economic activity in the developing world feeding it’s poorest people; abused children being noticed by the authorities; a generation from developing normally.

How dare you try and shame those who disagreed with this madness.

Last edited 4 months ago by David Slade
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago
Reply to  David Slade

I think you are exaggerating a bit in your choice of words. But yes, the anti-COVID measures had the kind of effect you are saying. I acknowledge it. I stand by the decision. On the other hand doing without the measures would have had the likely effect of more, probably many more, vulnerable people dying. Are you willing to acknowledge the consequences of the policies you champion?

David Slade
David Slade
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Well, fairs fair – yes I would be willing to as I was at the beginning. I don’t think you can impose mitigation measures with an obviously harmful impact to contain a threat of which you are uncertain. We have subjected one group of vulnerable (the elderly) to isolation whilst exacerbating the vulnerabilities of the young.

Last edited 4 months ago by David Slade
Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Well, we have a new meta-analysis of lockdown policy, jointly done by researchers in Denmark, Sweden and John Hopkins University.
It’s here:
https://sites.krieger.jhu.edu/iae/files/2022/01/A-Literature-Review-and-Meta-Analysis-of-the-Effects-of-Lockdowns-on-COVID-19-Mortality.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0Fni3AAIGetjo89UOe8ixTXLsI82KS05-0OGthN3ZpJeraY4dIZx3itrE
The conclusion is that lockdowns in Europe and North America reduced covid mortality by 0.2 %.
What do you want to bet that the deaths caused by lockdowns greatly outnumber these?

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
4 months ago

Yes, it is a no brainer.
Just for starters – more than half a billion pushed into extreme poverty…

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago

I answered that one in more detail above, in a reply to Johan Straus. The report is comparing lockwdown v. non-lockdown using a ‘severity index’, without looking at what people actually do in either case. The big problem with that (as the authors say) is that you cannot distinguish the effect of lockdown from the effect of people taking the same precautions without being forced to. Obviously, if people take the precautions anyway lockdowns have no additional value. But then, if people take the same precautions anyway you get the same costs as well. If you want to show that precautions are unnecesary and damaging, you need to compare places that actually take precautions with places that do not (China v. Brazil, anyone?). You cannot say “I should be free to choose entirely for myself what precautions to take” just because it worked in Sweden where people freely choose to follow government advice.

Last edited 4 months ago by Rasmus Fogh
Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

You would only get the same costs if lockdown didn’t impose more costs than were needed. So if, for instance, the only bit of good done by lockdowns could have been obtained by saying ‘Stay home if you have symptoms. Work from home if you can. Try to keep your distance, especially from older people’ then it wasn’t only the Swedes who would freely choose this to follow this advice.
That was the whole Swedish plan. This is not a sprint, but a long distance race. Therefore we will only ask people to do things which they can do indefinitely.

Last edited 4 months ago by Laura Creighton
GA Woolley
GA Woolley
4 months ago

What an odd set of arguments. For a start, we are still in a Covid-influenced situation. As we come out of it, social distancing will slowly get back to a version of ‘normal’ behaviour. It was not ‘a climate of fear’, but a climate of caution, and a necessary one. And the implication that the economy would have functioned more or less as usual without lockdowns and other restrictions is simply nonsense. The impact of infections and deaths, and the fear of infections and deaths, would have been enormous, very rapid, and chaotic, with hospitals and mortuaries overloaded, people deserting their jobs, and self-isolation every bit a drastic as lockdown. It might have been over quicker, but the psychological and social effects would have been far worse.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
4 months ago
Reply to  GA Woolley

Except that none of what you say is actually true – just look at Sweden

Iris C
Iris C
4 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Or what was said yesterday about North and South Dakota – one with lockdowns and one without – the number of people infected and the death toll were similar.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
4 months ago
Reply to  Iris C

The Dekotas, North or South, are in no way similar to own tiny over-crowded island.

John Montague
John Montague
4 months ago

I think the point about the dakotas are that they very similar to each other. But had different approaches….one more relaxed, and one more restrictive in reaction to covid. And they have both had a very similar result in health terms in reaction to the virus, but one is more affected by the restrictions.

Last edited 4 months ago by John Montague
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago
Reply to  GA Woolley

I totally agree.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Gosh, you can’t even say that you agree without being down-voted hers.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago

Well, I guess I have form by now 😉

Jon Game
Jon Game
4 months ago
Reply to  GA Woolley

The under 40s have never been in danger and could have lived life to the full while us old codgers took a bit more care. Nothing more was needed.

John Montague
John Montague
4 months ago
Reply to  Jon Game

Correct, and they are not in danger now.