The mass hysteria surrounding the Covid pandemic has similarities to climate hysteria, with the difference that it has evolved over a period of months instead of decades, and its effects are immediate instead of hypothetical. The unrolling of events can therefore be observed in real time, with the decisions and behaviour of the main actors visible to us all. A close look at the Covid saga should therefore help us to understand the far more slow-moving and opaque story of catastrophic climate change.

Mike Yeadon has laid out in detail why the second wave does not exist and why there has been no pandemic since June in this article:

Though it concentrates on the issue of false positives with the PCR test, it covers the whole history of the Covid crisis in sufficient detail to permit a layman to raise the question: Why are we where we are? Yeadon is as puzzled as we are and provides a lot of detail that tends to close off the easy answer of incompetence. But if you eliminate incompetence, what are you left with except conspiracy?

There’s only one right way of doing things, but many wrong ones. Hence there are many factors which can lead to incompetence. I’d suggest, for starters: lazy thinking, stupidity, herd mentality and corruption. As an example of lazy thinking, take a current explanation for Boris’s second lockdown: that he will do anything to prevent images of people dying in hospital corridors.

If it’s true, it’s a sufficient reason for declaring him unfit for office. If government policy is really being designed to avoid certain images appearing on the front pages of newspapers, then there’s no hope for us. Government by focus group is a sign of weakness at the best of times. In this case, the idea of wiping 20% off GDP to avoid something that wouldn’t look good on breakfast television is suicidal madness.

Whatever you do, don’t let the press mention hospital corridors,” Boris whimpered. Gove and Cummings exchanged glances. “Right, Prime Minister. So it’s decided, Tier Three all round.”

Unfortunately, it sounds plausible.

Lazy thinking merges into stupidity at some point. The argument against stupidity as a major factor is that there is a premium on intelligence in a crisis. The British system of government is not fundamentally autocratic, but rather anarchic in an End-of-the-Roman-Republic sort of way, in that anyone is at risk of being stabbed in the back at any time. In a collegial system, where everyone is aiming to shine, the guy with the bright idea should be able to make himself heard. If anyone in government has a bright idea, they’re keeping it to themselves.

Mike Yeadon links in his article to a ten-page briefing paper for MPs which he’s just issued. It’s clear enough for even the thickest of MPs to understand. It should, in a rational world, change minds. It won’t, and stupidity is not a sufficient explanation why not.

Herd mentality is a variation on the same theme, and it is certainly in play here. But in a functioning democracy, herd mentality automatically provokes a reaction, a counter-herd. We are that counter-herd of course, us sceptics, plus Nigel Farage, parts of the popular press, and the shaved headed Hard Right (our bulwark against fascism. Think about it.) The Hard Left, supposedly ready at the drop of a rouble to do Moscow’s bidding and weaken our national resolve, is right behind Boris, urging him on to further insanity (so maybe they are acting at Moscow’s bidding after all) except that they’re joined by the MI5-run hacks at the soft left Guardian, who delight in sneering at Nobel Prize winning scientists who dare question Boris’s scientific consensus. Whatever the motivations of the different factions, their herd is bigger than our herd. And Ofcom ensures that our herd remains unheard.

Incompetence rules, and the normal rules of rational discourse are suspended, which is nothing new to climate sceptics of course. Dr Yeadon is aware that this is not normal. A section of his paper is subtitled: “Government actions have been nothing but peculiar from the very beginning,” and he goes on to list some of their bizarre features: Ofcom guidelines (“…approximates censorship”) the forecasts of a second wave (“… mystifying”) lockdowns (“a fool’s errand”) and: 

Acts of Parliament giving the executive a degree of power more suited to a war, and with it, a budget 10 times larger than any previous such emergency … none of these being justified by the situation or by science.

Remember that Dr Yeadon is tempering his language in order to maintain a reputation as a serious person worthy of being listened to. He goes on to discuss the uselessness of mass testing with PCR, and the fact that the “Lighthouse” Labs are using unqualified staff and unsafe procedures to analyse tests, thus depriving official NHS Labs of testing material. Dr Yeadon doesn’t suggest corruption, but there have been enough cases of contracts going to friends and relatives of well-placed people with no relevant experience to be sure that such corruption is rampant. New, untried methods of tackling a new, unknown threat are the moist orifices by which the virus of corruption enters the system. And when billions of pounds are at stake, you can be sure it won’t be eliminated by the disinfecting powers of reason.

Corruption can’t exist without conspiracy. At the very least it involves people in the know tipping off people they can trust about opportunities, with the necessary corollary of backhanders. Once the system is operating, the politicians who set it up have every interest to keep it going. Expect a third wave once we’ve recovered from the second. 

The clearest example of conspiracy and corruption I know of is the case of hydroxychloroquine. Cheap, readily available, and tried and tested in multiple circumstances all over the world, it is used as a prophylactic against malaria by hundreds of millions of people, and it seemed to work against Covid. The attempt in France to denigrate Professor Raoult who was using it successfully in Marseille was excessive to the point of absurdity. The paper trashing it published by the Lancet and immediately retracted was an insult to the intelligence. If medical publishing was held to the same safety standards as, say, the food processing industry, the Lancet would be closed down, its papers declared unfit for human consumption, and the editor would be facing a prison sentence. 

Big pharmaceutical companies didn’t want hydroxychloroquine, so neither did the medical establishment, nor Ofcom, nor the science and medical journalists, right down to Big Weed and the Flowerpot Men on Hancock’s Half Hour. 

Hydroxychloroquine is to the Covid crisis what coal is to the problem of cheap energy faced by developing countries as they try to lift themselves out of poverty. Cheap (because the patent has expired) effective, and simple to use without complex infrastructure, it’s useless to Finance Capitalism that lives by taking a slice off the top of everything that moves. 

Coal fumes will choke you if you’re prevented from burning it efficiently by the refusal of the World Bank to finance new plant. And hydroxychloroquine may kill you if you administer ten times the recommended dose. Used properly, both are cheap and efficient. Finance Capitalism doesn’t want things that work and are cheap. It wants a patented vaccine that has to be kept at -70°C, with opportunities for profit all along the logistic chain. It wants wind turbines that produce rent when they produce “free” electricity, and more rent when they don’t. 

It’s an oddity of capitalism that it’s not much fun for capitalists when it’s working efficiently. When markets are free and transparent, people compete at making stuff, unemployment is low, and free bargaining keeps wages up and profits within reasonable limits. It’s difficult under these conditions to either live comfortably off unearned income, or make the kind of killing that excites the “vital spirits” that Keynes claimed were necessary to keep capitalism healthy.

It’s hard work digging coal or administering anti-malarial drugs in poor countries. In a slightly different sense, it’s hard work making money investing in these activities. Buying shares in a mining company or giving to a charity that distributes medicines in Africa may be sensible things to do, but they’re not going to get your vital spirits excited. What with readily available recreational drugs and free porn on the internet, it’s getting more and more difficult to excite our vital spirits. Sometimes only the threat of imminent catastrophe will do it.


  1. “Compliance is violence,” say Laurence Fox as he boasts about having dinner with friends and hugging them in the process. As Delingpole points out, the hysterical response to his tweet is deeply disturbing and indicative of an unbridgeable gulf between two factions in British society today: those who see the ‘Covid crisis’ as largely invented and exploited by those in charge for personal and/or political gain and those who are still convinced that it is a deadly plague which kills grannies whenever humans behave like normal human beings.

    There’s no going back now. Hysteria – bolstered by public complacency and compliance – has won the day. The economy will be shattered beyond repair. Our liberties will be sacrificed for the foreseeable future and people will die, in their hundreds of thousands, not from Covid, but from the insane government measures imposed upon us to control Covid . . . . . and NHS workers will be given a tax free bonus every year as a big ‘thank you’.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Geoff,

    The Mike Yeadon article you link to raises a number of interesting points that should be taken seriously. However, it is not, in my opinion, without its flaws. For example, he says:

    “In brief, the army found very few people with positive LFT results, only slightly higher than the background operational false positive rate: just over 0.3%, values expected when the tests are used in the real world. Since testing began, the positive rate has tended to a mean of 0.7% which might mean a few people were positive. My own experience of reading around this area is that this (around 0.7%) is almost certainly the true false positive rate when, in the real-world, careful but inexpert people administer the LFT. It meant that, in the city in the centre of the national hotspot for COVID-19, almost no one had the virus.”

    This is almost certainly an incorrect analysis that fails to take into account that the mass testing protocol used PCR to confirm lateral flow positives – that is, after all, how they were able to determine an operational false positive rate. It is true that the army did only find a small number, but this was after the false positives had been accounted for; and so deleting the false positive figure from a presupposed prevalence to get essentially zero is just silly in this instance. And whilst we are at it, Dr Yeadon’s ‘reading around the area’ to come up with an alternative of 0.7% is somewhat beside the point. If they measured a 0.3% false positive rate as a result of PCR corroboration, then 0.3% is what it was. We should also keep in mind that the symptomatic cases were still being tested down the road at the pre-established mobile PCR test units, and they were detecting plenty of cases in circumstances where one might expect false positives to be relatively unimportant.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Geoff, nice article. In thinking about the relationships / contributions of the various valid elements you discuss, look to causality as the most basic rule. Mass hysteria is just one (and a swift onset) expression of herd-mentality. Once it’s taken off, it can cause apparent incompetence and attendant opportunistic corruption in vast amounts. But neither incompetence or corruption causes mass public hysteria. I say ‘apparent’ incompetence above, because while at an organisational level it *is* incompetence, the reason for it is not that most of the participating individuals are particularly incompetent. Or even that, in normal circumstances, the relevant orgs are too. It’s because, just like for individuals, when an organisation is mass-panicking, its reason goes out of the window. The reason we can still call it incompetence in the case of an org, which we can’t in the case of a panicking individual (who is just panicking, their emotion overrides their reason), is that responsible orgs are supposed to be proofed against institutional panic, yet clearly that has not been the case here. However, it’s also important to note that essentially the same kind of things have happened world-wide, in governments of every different system and regime, so we should not think our own government is necessarily less proof against institutional panic than any other.

    Mass corruption can occur without conspiracy. Or at least without any sizeable conspiracy that anywhere near spans the scale of the corruption within any dimension (temporal, geographic, functional). So for instance, many thousands of corrupt individuals may be working essentially alone, and many hundreds in very small groups (minimising their chances of being brought to book) that likewise are independent. Where co-ordinating factors may *appear* to be present, these are merely reflections of the common timing of the progress of the wave of hysteria and resultant incompetence, which factors provide all the opportunities.

    Like John I wouldn’t hold that Yeadon, or indeed likely anyone, has a full and objective grip on what’s been happening wrt covid, albeit he has some great points. In a mass hysteria episode, and especially a global one (so there’s no island of objectivity to sail to), it’s not likely that anyone ever could figure it out, until long afterward maybe. But in the excellent (imo) spirit of this post, if we ever want to figure it out generically and as applied to other domains too, we don’t need experts in covid any more than we need experts in climate science. We need experts in herd mentality. And given culture is only 1 branch of that (and neither am I formally trained), that’s not me either. In turn the problem with this is that, in the climate case all such disciplines that contribute to this area of understanding, are convinced of catastrophic climate-change. And while the situation with covid is swifter and more confused, I guess that again they mostly lean to an orthodoxy that is actually part of the panic, and in some cases (re the HCQ debacle), they are explicitly amplifying it themselves, at least in the US albeit less so elsewhere. I think I know enough to venture that we must be very aware of the differences in the climate and covid cases as well as the similarities; starting again with causation, they are both driven by emotive mechanisms but for the former this is almost entirely cultural (and cultural fears are ‘not real’, albeit they produce *some* of the symptoms of real fear) whereas for the latter there was a pulse of genuine fear.

    Anyhow; imo all the right things to be thinking about are raised by this piece, most excellent.

    Jaime: “Hysteria – bolstered by public complacency and compliance – has won the day. The economy will be shattered beyond repair. Our liberties will be sacrificed for the foreseeable future…”

    We don’t know it’s won the day yet. For sure a certain (large!) amount of economic damage is now committed, as are a certain amount of deaths (net unknown still, in terms of covid / lockdown balance). And millions of personal tragedies around the world of failed business and suicides and such. Plus of course lost loved ones to covid, which is still the ultimate cause. But we don’t know yet whether, for instance this time next year, our liberties will be largely or wholly restored. Or indeed whether (because causation is not due underlying poor economic factors) the economic recovery will be much swifter than anticipated. And even if this is not the case, I doubt very much it is ‘beyond repair’, even well within my span on the planet and I am not young! Which is not to discount the whole sorry saga in any way, and indeed the biggest victory for mass hysteria will be if we don’t learn from this, and start to proof our institutions from mass panic. But for sure the indicators don’t look good. If those who study such things are part of the problem and not the solution, how will governments and everyone else ever figure it out 0:

    Another difference between the climate-change and covid cases, I suspect, is that when the latter has faded away, we’ll find that herd behaviours associated with the former will still be a dominant part or our landscape. i.e. the two have very different inertia. A culture with 35 years worth of inertia isn’t going to get blown away by covid or by reactions to covid, or even by some hard realities exposed by the episode; in a year’s time it’ll probably be sitting with net benefit, via the build-back-greener narratives etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. One of the more difficult conclusions that result from accepting Dr. Yeadon’s analysis is that there is no second wave – this is interpreted as an artefact of poor testing procedures. But this artefact is occurring in most other European and North American countries. One would have to conclude that his explanation that it results from the same causes -poor testing. Is this reasonable? He concludes that the British population became herd immune in May-June. What is remarkable then is the plight of many Eastern European countries that had no first wave (and so using Dr Yeadon’s explanation their populations must already have been immune) yet are now being shown to be affected by a Autumn rise in cases/deaths in lock-step with that being reported (inaccurately according to Dr Yeadon) across Western Europe. Are these East European cases all spurious? I find this difficult to believe.

    As usual, I am confused by the continued debate.


  5. Andy, on a (very) cautiously optimistic note, there is talk of a three figure Tory rebellion in today’s vote. That would surely knock the government sideways. They would have to rely upon Labour’s outrageous abstention to get the vote through Parliament.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jaime: Yep, I agree with (very) cautious optimism. Even if they survive this vote, they know now that they’ll likely not survive the next, without radical change.


  7. Second thoughts, my optimism just crashed. Politicians’ brains have turned to mush, just like the public’s. Statements of “We should support the Prime Minister”, “I believe” and “The government is doing its best to find the evidence” are good reasons to support the destruction of the economy, society, jobs, businesses and lives in which rabbit hole to be found in which alternate universe? Answers on a postcard please, stamped ‘La La F***ing Land’.

    I’m off, for a reality break.


  8. Alan,

    It is good to see that there are the likes of Dr Yeadon out there challenging the official line, but it is important that one approaches all such commentary with exactly the same scepticism that one usually reserves for the consensus view. In addition to your criticisms (and to the criticism I have already posted above) I could add the following:

    1) The fact that the decline in numbers during the first wave preceded the imposition of lockdown is often cited as evidence that herd immunity had already been achieved. However, this fails to take into account the degree to which society had already subjected itself to a degree of voluntary lockdown prior to the official imposition. I suspect that the analysis of this issue is not as straightforward as Dr Yeadon is suggesting.

    2) Dr Yeadon points to Portugal’s legal ruling as support for the idea that PCR is untrustworthy. However, he fails to acknowledge that the ruling was not against PCR per se, but against the imposition of a quarantine based upon a single test result. The ruling was simply an acknowledgment of the importance of the Prosecutor’s Fallacy (in which base rates are neglected). In fact, there is nothing in Dr Yeadon’s thesis that addresses the matter of base rate neglect and the practice of double-checking to avoid the false epidemic that concerns him.

    3) Much is made by Dr Yeadon regarding quality control, and it makes very interesting reading. However, he seems to regard it as a problem entirely restricted to the perils of false positives. It could be equally argued that poor quality control would result in large-scale false negatives – which would rather go against his thesis. To be persuaded, I need to see a stronger argument as to how good levels of PCR sensitivity have been maintained notwithstanding the quality issues he identifies.

    4) He finishes by calling for LFT to be used for future mass testing, with PCR only used for double-checking. However, such has always been the protocol advocated by SAGE and, as far as I can see, it was the one implemented in Liverpool. So I’m left wondering what his point is, unless he thinks the problem is so bad that PCR shouldn’t even be used for the large-scale testing of the symptomatic.

    All of that said, I have been worried about the possibilities of a false-positive, false epidemic ever since the mass testing of the asymptomatic was proposed, and I remain concerned that it might still have happened in some circumstances, particularly with regard to student testing. Also, if Dr Yeadon has done nothing else, he has aroused the quality manager in me, and I can see myself looking into his lab management concerns more carefully in the coming days.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. John. I think there is a deeper problem. As with much of science it is so easy to fall into the trap of developing an explanation that incorporates much of the known data, falling in love with it and ignoring/explaining away other evidence that appears later. In Dr Yeadon’s case, he believes that some of the population had immunity by prior exposure to coronavirus colds, that only a small number of COVID 19 cases thus were able to convey herd immunity on the whole population and that viruses don’t come in waves. He therefore cannot accept that the more recent rise in cases and deaths are due to Coronavirus infections. Thus the increase in cases has to be attributed to poor testing practice (all false positives) and deaths attributed to the virus are false attributions due linkages to the false positive tests. But this last is insulting to the NHS staff treating victims. He is implying that they cannot recognise the symptoms of the disease and rely entirely upon the test results.

    The results, as I understand them are that the virus usually has produced two peaks of cases and deaths which correspond with winter periods. In Australia these peaks are in their winter months, which are of course during our northern hemisphere summer months. This alternative explains the second wave that Dr Yeadon is seemingly trying to explain away.

    But what do I know?


  10. Alan,

    I agree entirely with your summary. Once one has persuaded oneself that herd immunity has already been achieved then any apparent second wave has to be an illusion. Poor quality testing can be invoked to explain the illusion but there comes a point where one should reconsider one’s starting point. It’s one thing to point out that the operational false positive rate for PCR is unknown and it is quite another to demonstrate that the actual OFPR is consistent with the known herd immunity and the case statistics. Unfortunately, Dr Yeadon does not actually make such a demonstration.


  11. JAIME
    “An unbridgeable gulf.. There’s no going back now. .. The economy will be shattered beyond repair.”
    Yes, that’s what I feel as well. But we all need to know so much more, which involves discussion of details, before we can give rational shape to our feelings. Though I also feel that discussion of viruses may be irrelevant in a few months and we’ll all be discussing macroeconomics and revolutionary theory.
    Those are important points which ideally should be put to Yeadon. Unfortunately, when I left a link to this article, comments to his article were already at the 2000 mark, so getting a criticism noticed might be hard.
    As a beginner in statistics, I’d like to know what the false positive rate means in practical terms. 0.3% doesn’t sound much, but my reading is that with an infection rate of 1%, 25% of positives would be false positives. That’s 25% of NHS staff self isolating when they don’t need to. Am I right?


    Mass hysteria … can cause apparent incompetence and attendant opportunistic corruption

    Certainly. But even in a situation of mass hysteria, incompetence should be self-correcting when everyone, hysterical or not, is agreed about the aim. Shouldn’t this be organised in a military fashion, with the government defining war aims, the generals devising battle plans, and the officers issuing orders in accordance? This is like Boris saying: “We’ll have a tank assault here, and an aerial bombardment there,” without actually knowing what tanks and aircraft do, and no-one there to inform him.

    Maybe I’m wasting my time trying to understand, since Boris has been quoted as saying we must kneel on the neck of the virus – or was that someone’s joke? Why hasn’t he been hauled off his pedestal and chucked in the Thames?

    We need experts in herd mentality.

    Every marketing consultant and think tank wonk thinks he’s that. Mackay is good for anecdotes, and Gustave le Bon’s short study of the psychology of crowds is available in English on the net. Elias Canetti’s Crowds and Power is a marvellously eccentric study, and the probable origin for the Xhosa tribal suicide story. There must be lots of studies within academic psychology, but I’ve come across little that seems enlightening since the Milgram experiment. Anyone got any suggestions?

    My aim in this article was to lead into a wider discussion of the role of conspiracy in this affair. I take your point that a thousand little conspiracies might be provoked opportunistically, and you’ve criticised me before for proposing conspiracy theories with no evidence, but I’d like at least to consider in a future article the question: What would a conspiracy theory have to look like to be explanatory? Yeadon and a Dr McCullough before a Senate committee, linked by Jaime on another thread, are among many who are baffled by the behaviour of people whose actions must have some rational explanation. Even Ferguson, who sounds as if he’s two data points short of a polynomial function, must be coming from somewhere – I mean somewhere in this galaxy.


  12. The state of Victoria was locked down hard for 3 months until the virus was “eliminated”. They are now reporting 0 cases each day. In recent days over 100,000 tests, 0 positive results. Other countries have reported .8 tp 4% false positive rate. Someone is massaging the data here, methinks.


  13. Geoff:

    >“But even in a situation of mass hysteria, incompetence should be self-correcting when everyone, hysterical or not, is agreed about the aim.”

    No. The whole point of mass hysteria, just like individual hysteria, is that it will have little or no rationality associated with it, including any rational agreement. There is *not* common agreement about the aim in any meaningful terms, there is only a common high fear of the cause, unless you count ‘make it stop’ by any means. Generally, there’s as many opinions about what to do as there are people involved in the decision-making process. In such circumstances, and especially where genuine uncertainty reigns too (i.e. even if everyone *was* being rational), what often rises to the top via emotive selection, is prioritising the things that *look* like they’re doing something effective, rather than, via rationality, actually *are* effective. And another issue is that, even where longer-term learning allows the uncertainties to be slowly ground down, by the time this happens enough there’s lots of inertia already running in (typically) the wrong direction(s), both for the authorities and within the public.

    It’s not like a typical war at all, because what happens in wars, after endless practice runs and indeed endless real wars so that everyone gets to measure every kind of tactic, strategy, weapon and context, is usually pretty well mapped. If aliens landed on the planet and immediately started making war, then indeed it might be like this kind of war, because Boris and co would know what tanks and aircraft and missiles do to humans and their infra-structures, but indeed would not know what they did to the aliens and their equipment, and for sure there’d be no-one to tell him. In this kind of scenario, far from being one in which incompetence gets self-corrected, it may typically get amplified. That nations across the world haven’t practiced endlessly for this kind of war is a major factor here, and even more basic than this, that orgs of every kind seem utterly vulnerable to mass hysteria whatever generated it in the first place, is not a good sign of progress in a world that ought by now to understand these things.

    >>“We need experts in herd mentality.”
    >”Every marketing consultant and think tank wonk thinks he’s that.”

    I’ve been to a bunch of high-level marketing courses. They know jack shit about this sort of stuff; they focus on selling things, naturally, which is completely different.

    >”There must be lots of studies within academic psychology,”

    Agreed, there must be. But on this timescale it’s largely fear-driven not culturally-driven, and so I’m not familiar at all. Despite there are some commonalities, this is where the climate case and the covid case part company; the former I’m pretty comfortable with.

    “Yeadon and a Dr McCullough before a Senate committee, linked by Jaime on another thread, are among many who are baffled by the behaviour of people whose actions must have some rational explanation. Even Ferguson, who sounds as if he’s two data points short of a polynomial function, must be coming from somewhere – I mean somewhere in this galaxy.”

    Well Yeadon has some great points, but he has limitations and biases too. And ultimately, when he or anyone tries to pronounce not on covid but on the puzzling nature of the behaviours it prompts, for named individuals or orgs or masses, what they’re actually attempting to do is understand mass hysteria without knowing the slightest thing about it. This in itself is not very rational. If they were experts in same, a rational explanation would be at hand (or at least mostly) which explains why everyone from the local covid marshal to every president and PM in the world plus a few billion in-between, is acting irrationally. For the climate case, and of course subject to challenge by anyone and everyone, I have a theory which I believe explains (largely) the behaviours. But the covid case is out of scope for me. However, there’s enough overlap to see that *someone*, within the depths of academia most likely, will indeed be able to explain it. Especially considering that historically speaking, such behaviours are not at all unusual.


  14. P.S. reading above back I’ve implied that everything which pops out is irrational, which is not so. For instance the washing hands thing seems to be regarded as eminently sensible by the entire spectrum of opinion, which means it likely is. So rather, irrationality dominates behaviours, but plenty practical may happen under the radar or in-between the cracks, as it were. We could certainly regard effective vaccine work as an output of rational science for instance, and backing multiple horses both vaccine related and basic treatment related, as a rational strategy. But certainly not suppressing the simple treatments and studies of same (e.g. Vit D, or HCQ just because Trump mentioned it), in order to push hi-tech solutions and create biased narratives around same.


  15. what I found interesting was the post link & link to

    Click to access Note-to-broadcasters-Coronavirus-update.pdf

    where they have a – “Note to Broadcasters”

    with this section heading – “Broadcast content relating to the Coronavirus”
    partial quote –

    “We recognise that licensees will continue to want to broadcast content relating to the Coronavirus and
    that dissemination of accurate and up-to-date information to audiences will be essential during the
    current situation. However, we remind all broadcasters of the significant potential harm that can be
    caused by material relating to the Coronavirus. This could include:
    • Health claims related to the virus which may be harmful.
    • Medical advice which may be harmful.
    • Accuracy or material misleadingness in programmes in relation to the virus or public policy
    regarding it.”

    never thought/worried about ofcom before, but now wonder “who are you!!!”

    Liked by 3 people

  16. This seems significant. Dr Yeadon has joined calls for the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine approval to be suspended.

    “Dr. Wodarg and Dr. Yeadon demand that the studies – for the protection of the life and health of the volunteers – should not be continued until a study design is available that is suitable to address the significant safety concerns expressed by an increasing number of renowned scientists against the vaccine and the study design.

    On the one hand, the petitioners demand that, due to the known lack of accuracy of the PCR test in a serious study, a so-called Sanger sequencing must be used. This is the only way to make reliable statements on the effectiveness of a vaccine against Covid-19. On the basis of the many different PCR tests of highly varying quality, neither the risk of disease nor a possible vaccine benefit can be determined with the necessary certainty, which is why testing the vaccine on humans is unethical per se.”


  17. They’ve approved it. That’s significant too.

    Something is on its way. Not help, I suspect.


  18. Geoff (Chambers),

    Yes, according to your figures, 25% of the NHS staff who are self isolating would be doing so unnecessarily. However, we have to be careful here. It is normal to use the incidence of covid-19 as an indicator of the pre-test probability of a true positive. However, in this instance, the figure may be misleading because it does not take into account level of exposure. For NHS staff, this is high and so the risk of an unnecessary self isolation may not be as high as the figures suggest.

    Geoff (Cruickshank),

    If there has been no double-checking of the positive results then the SoV figures do indeed look very fishy. They remind me of China’s claims.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. It’s funny how very different people converge on the same images. This is from an anonymous NHS doctor in the Critic, linked at today’s Lockdown Sceptics:

    The Prime Minister is fond of saying he is following the science. He is not. He is absolving himself of command, control and blame by saying so. He may also be too classically-educated to appreciate he is not following the science with lockdown, masks and social-distancing. He is ensconced in an echo-chamber following a narrow body of nominal rubber-stamping medics, scientists and mathematicians without the correct skill sets, incentive nor personality traits to think outside of the box. They are the ones who ruthlessly rise to the top and become the best government mandarins in Whitehall. Ambitious, ladder-climbing, back-stabbing Et tu Brute? sociopaths in the image of their Caesar.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I woke up weirdly positive this morning. It’s weird, I mean I haven’t woken up positive in many months, let alone weirdly positive, and the positivity still hasn’t quite worn off even with all the morning’s bad news. It’s grey, it’s cold, there’s a stillness and frigidity in the air that can only be Tier 3 wintryness, and I’m off for a trot with the dogs. Best wishes to everyone.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Hunter, yeah, who gets to decide what’s accurate or not? And are they even motivated by rationality in the first place (whether or not they also have expertise), or emotive drives. For instance suppressing discussion about HCQ because of an intense emotive dislike of Trump. Or falling to ultimate villain bias, which we see within the climate domain. Once something achieves ultimate villain status, it can cause *anything*, and it *can’t* possibly be addressed by simple solutions, or indeed be anything less than terrible, as such would appear to defy logic for those accepting the emotive argument of ultimate villain. In a similar mode, Vit D studies for example, *must* be misinformation.


  22. In any active area of science, especially one as contentious and apparently as polarised as that dealing with covid 19, no camp will be 100% correct. All sides will hold some truths, some misunderstandings of other camps’ positions, and some false beliefs. Yet here in Cliscep is a group that believes the British Government’s position is totally without merit, grabs on any expert opinion that is supportive of their position and trashes contrary evidence or ignores it. Dr. Yeadon is their latest hero, he who believes the U.K. population has gained herd immunity, that lockdowns are unnecessary as are vaccines. So they would have us step into a brave new world where the young and healthy can live free, but just in case lock up the elderly and infirm.

    I am not confident that I know any answers, other than I do not believe any side can be 100% correct and I do not believe the Johnson Government to be so power grabbing as some here claim. I suspect they are floundering in a morass of differing opinions and evidence (as should we all).

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Geoff, interesting article. Per your quote from same, I believe it features an oft-made misunderstanding. Boris is indeed within an echo-chamber. But notwithstanding that the corridors of power likely attract certain personality traits, the echo chamber is vastly larger than said corridors, and what is rising to the top (and literally via selection) are not the people, but those narratives which best satisfy the emotive equation. That in the covid case the timescale of all this has been far faster than the great majority of the career moves / migrations of staff, whether medical or political or whatever else, and that the same effect is seen in hugely different types of governments all over the world, emphasises this.


  24. Andy,

    I was exaggerating slightly. I am very aware of your interest and the unfailing support you have shown. For that I am most grateful.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Wow Geoff, I did as you said and read TCP’s entire article. This person puts my unsophisticated and amateurish attempts at Covid hyperbole to shame! Brilliant. Followed.

    “The post-Covid pseudo-medical order has not only destroyed the medical paradigm I faithfully practised as a medical doctor last year. It has inverted it. I do not recognise the government apocalypse in my medical reality. The breath-taking speed and ruthless efficiency with which the media-industrial complex have co-opted our medical wisdom, democracy and government to usher in this new medical order is a revolutionary act. A medical tyranny transitioning to a technocratic totalitarianism. A cis- to trans-medicine moment.

    I would rather not end up in a Jacinda Ardern flulag camp for medical dissidents. Her impressive teeth have taken on altogether different connotations for me. They are sinister, pristine OCD-masticators of dissent.

    I think of a disturbing parallel Jordan Petersen made between dissenting words, germs, authoritarianism and the Nazis. A parallel which lulled the population into colluding in a mass Rentokil extermination of a human pest. That is what the unmasked, and soon the non-vaccinated, will become to the ignorant yobs who do their leader’s every bidding. Even UK Christians have gone underground.”

    Liked by 1 person

  26. From an earlier article:

    “Liberty. The right to be free from torture, inhumane and ill treatment; the prohibition of servitude; the right to liberty and security of person; the right to a fair trial; freedom of expression; freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; the right to privacy and a family life; freedom of association; freedom from discrimination; and policing by consent are all so pre-Covid-19. The governmental response to the coronavirus pandemic has massacred these fundamental human rights.

    We live in a strange world where minority activists campaign for commercial euthanasia: a world in which a select number of elected and unelected individuals dictate that 100 per cent of us are not allowed the liberty of taking the 0.06 per cent risk of a cost-free, natural death from a respiratory illness (a very common terminal event) at an average age of 82 years old. This is utter insanity while younger, fitter people commit suicide at rising rates under repressive lockdown restrictions, economies collapse, and other debilitating diseases continue to crush, kill and incapacitate the other 99.94 per cent.

    We now have the Labour party wishing to criminalise and censor our free speech. This time their leverage is “anti-vaxxers”, but even that term is problematic. I would imagine it is a defamatory slur designed by the corporate mandatory vaccine pushers who wish to smokescreen the fact that most objectors are manifestly not anti-vax. They are simply and reasonably against useless, unsafe, rushed and unproven pharmaceuticals where the profit-centric corporations are given state immunity from civil and criminal prosecution should the pharmaceutical be dangerous.

    This is aside from the very serious issues of common assault, treatment without consent, and the violation of patient choice. In the context of what we know about the risks of the virus, none of this is appropriate, nor proportionate. What we now have is a mainstream principal of discretionary free speech at the behest of one ideological blob. If you do not worship at that altar, your god does not necessarily get to be heard, and may as well not exist.”

    I realise that this might be slightly irritating to some because it’s not me saying this, nor is it the lockdown sceptic’s favourite ‘go to expert’ Dr Mike Yeadon. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Oh dear, more Holocaust, Soviet era Communism and fascist hyperbole, this time from The Conservative Woman, in response to the government’s suggestion that vaccination may be heavily coerced. I guess people can’t help themselves, referring always to the harsh lessons of history when faced with a new and emergent tyranny which seemingly has no precedent in the modern democratic era, barring a few unsavoury examples in Banana Republics and odd-ball Asian regimes.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Well there you have it: the threat. ‘Take this vaccine when it is offered to you or we will keep you locked up.’

    Could it be more explicit? That is (was) the sole purpose of lockdowns: to demonstrate to the populace how effing miserable this fascist government can make their lives if they do not do as the government and its elite team of scientific ‘experts’ says and take their Big Pharma medicine like good little infantilised techno-slaves. Anybody who doesn’t see this now is completely cast adrift from logic and reason. The whole point of the ‘Covid crisis’ and the insane government response to it was to coerce mass vaccination and cow populations into submission to a medico-fascist tyranny which will never end. The ‘new normal’ is here to stay.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Geoff, half of your title concerns “herd immunity”. This you cover with a claim that it was achieved in late-spring/early summer and thus the so-called second wave is an artefact of poor testing procedures. As authority for these claims you turn us toward an article written by Dr. Mark Yeadon. I carefully read that article, and despite the eminence of the author (ex chief scientist of Pfizer no less) and my ignorance in these matters, I found fault with his conclusions. This I briefly laid out in two posts on the 1st December and my conclusions were strongly supported by John. Yet when you wrote to three commentators expressing you views, you completely ignored my efforts. I have attacked one of the foundations of your article, yet there has been no response from you whatsoever. Do you think the argumentation of John and myself is wrong, or what?

    I consider the two questions of whether we have reached herd immunity and whether the “second wave” is real, to be fundamental questions. Do you?


    Apologies. When I said: “Mike Yeadon has laid out in detail why the second wave does not exist…” I wasn’t taking up a position for or against Yeadon or anyone else, merely observing that no debate is taking place.

    I thought that would be clear when I immediately followed up with: “… it covers the whole history of the Covid crisis in sufficient detail to permit a layman to raise the question: Why are we where we are?”

    That’s all I’m doing, raising questions as a layman. My article is entirely abut the absence of debate (on Covid, climate, and an increasing number of other questions.) Hence I saw no need to intervene when you and John make sensible suggestions about things I know nothing about.

    What’s stopping someone putting Yeadon or the Great Barrington three or a host of other contrarians in a TV studio for an hour or two together with supporters of the official line and having a debate? It’s when you realise that such a thing would be impossible that you realise that something is going on that has nothing to do with science or public health. My article was entirely about herd mentality, and herd immunity was put in for assonance.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. But, but, your entire premise Geoff, that there is a conspiracy somewhere, is surely based upon an acceptance that the government is imposing unnecessary restrictions upon us that fly against what a correct appreciation of “the science” tells them. Such a view is broadcast by Dr Yeadon and you accepted it. If, on the other hand, his views are suspect, then your need to consider conspiracies goes away IMHO.

    As to there not being any debate: I suggest that debate on the necessity (or otherwise) has, on occasion come close to tearing the website apart.


  32. “It’s when you realise that such a thing would be impossible that you realise that something is going on that has nothing to do with science or public health.”

    Yes, and no matter that there are both wrong and right points on whichever sides. When entire PoVs are suppressed from wide public view / debate, this is not only unhealthy generally, it *must* in time lead to group-think and gross error within the side that are doing the suppressing. The short timescale of covid mitigates against this, but that it’s already been happening for instance regarding HCQ studies and anti-Trump feeling, is pretty hard to argue against.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. One of the interesting outcomes of the belief that people gained immunity to covid19 from prior exposure to coronavirus colds is the possibility that this might be reciprocal. Immunity obtained by vaccine might also prevent the vaccinated from catching coronavirus colds in the future. I am aware that non-coronaviruses cause seasonal colds and flu, but this new type of vaccine is probably adaptable to all types of virus. Could my grandchildren be free of colds and flu? Something to look forward to in these dark times?


  34. Alan, interesting indeed. The partial immunity is better understood when one considers that existing corona colds were very likely themselves once waves of something much more destructive. Matt Ridley points to the ‘Russian Flu’ of 1896, which took out a few million, as being highly likely not flu at all, but a corona virus that still circulates now as a cold. From this perspective, we’ve likely been assailed by an uncountable number of corona waves stretching back to long before we were even human, so in this sense it’s not novel at all, but absolutely normal.


  35. Debate is crucial, even if, at times, it gets so heated that people end up insulting one another. Because what is important is what happens before the insults start flying. It would of course be nice if we could all try to stick to facts and avoid personal attacks, but we are, after all, human, despite the attempts of Schwab and cohorts to pretend that we can become something ‘other’.

    So, when Alan says:

    “Geoff, half of your title concerns “herd immunity”. This you cover with a claim that it was achieved in late-spring/early summer and thus the so-called second wave is an artefact of poor testing procedures. As authority for these claims you turn us toward an article written by Dr. Mark Yeadon. I carefully read that article, and despite the eminence of the author (ex chief scientist of Pfizer no less) and my ignorance in these matters, I found fault with his conclusions. This I briefly laid out in two posts on the 1st December and my conclusions were strongly supported by John.”

    What I then suggest is that Alan and/or John set out in rather more detail their case for not supporting Dr Yeadon’s (and others) contention that herd immunity has already been achieved in the majority of the country and their corresponding argument that the ‘second wave’ is not a wave but a ripple, a minor autumn/winter re-emergence of limited infections set against the backdrop of a false positive pseudo epidemic. We can then all join in a healthy debate on the comment thread below.

    Over the years on this site, we have seen time and time again how vital debate is, even when it’s carried out by people who are generally antagonistic to each other’s viewpoint. We’ve had many people come on here who are scathing of ‘deniers’ but they have put their pov across (sometimes very impolitely) and a debate has ensued, which, though heated, is much better than no debate, I’m sure you would agree. If we’re going to be too frightened to get into an argument, we might as well pack this scepticism thing in right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. P.S. though, similarly to flu, to prevent ordinary colds would likely need a massive vaccine tracking program. And to what end? If the mild colds are allowed to circulate in their normal fashion, they do their good work of providing some generic protection without any intervention being required, and at very low social cost (some lost / less efficient work hours and minor discomfort).

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Jaime. Perhaps you might comment upon previous posts where John and I have already commented upon the conclusions made by Dr. Yeadon, then we could all debate.


  38. Alan, I could of course do that, but I do think it would be better to write a new post on this very important issue and to expand on the arguments for and against the presumption of natural herd immunity and for and against the presumption of a ‘second wave’ of mass infections happening in an immunologically naive population. Answers to these questions of course are vital when considering the usefulness of mass vaccination which now is available and being pushed hard by this government. Finally, I would point out that it’s not an opportunity just for me to comment, but hopefully for others to join in a healthy discussion. I’m actually more interested in hearing what others think rather than getting embroiled in a one or two way conversation with you and John.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Jaime, others of course are at liberty to comment upon our December 1st posts, but so far haven’t. They have been ignored completely. Even when invited specifically to do so, you decline. I cannot speak for John, but I do not intend further flogging this moribund equine.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Hmmm, so I’ll take that as an unwillingness to expand upon your brief comments and flesh out the substance of your argument.

    Also, how does ‘I could of course do that’ translate as ‘when invited specifically to do so, you decline’?

    I presume it wasn’t a moribund equine when you decided to challenge Geoff on the herd immunity issue and pressed him further in subsequent comments, but it now is.


  41. Jaime. Grow up.
    I’m simply expressing a lack of desire to waste any further of my time and effort writing here on topics that there is demonstratively no desire on anyone’s part (except for John) to engage in. All you have done is write how important such topics are but still fail to engage. My recent posts to you and Geoff have failed to elicit any response to the criticisms we already have specifically expressed about Yeadon’s conclusions.
    The equine inhales no more and is now being insulted for not moving.


  42. Alan,

    ‘Grow up’ is a refrain I have only ever heard coming from liberals, progressives and #FBPE types on Twitter. I don’t know why that is. It’s not a phrase I might have expected here from a fellow sceptic. As usual, we’ll just leave it there. Debate is stifled; a debate you insist that nobody is interested in anyhow. I did at least try to ignite debate, rather than squash it or confine it to a narrow prospectus defined by your few brief comments. But like I said, Cliscep seems more and more like the real world all the time these days.


  43. ALAN KENDALL 03 Dec 20 11.31am

    ..your entire premise Geoff, that there is a conspiracy somewhere..

    No, that is not my premise. I merely propose to examine the hypothesis of a conspiracy to see where it leads. The reason for doing so is the general observation that much about the affair is odd, bewildering, inexplicable.

    .If, on the other hand, [Dr Yeadon’s] views are suspect, then your need to consider conspiracies goes away..

    No, because the “need” is not based on Dr Yeadon’s views. I only used Dr Yeadon’s article as an example of what I thought was a good, wide-ranging overview.

    I suggest that debate on the necessity (or otherwise) has, on occasion come close to tearing the website apart.

    I hope not. But that’s a danger that only affects a website where real debate happens. So is it necessarily a bad thing? Might we not all come out of it vaccinated against a lot of the nonsense that infects those who stay in intellectual lockdown in their own bubbles?

    Liked by 3 people

    I’ve only just seen your later comments. Not intervening in your discussion with John doesn’t mean I didn’t find it interesting or relevant. That Dr Yeadon might be wrong on some, or even many points wouldn’t in any way justify the general censorship we’ve seen in action. As I’ve pointed out on the question of climate, even if dangerous warming started tomorrow, or even yesterday, it wouldn’t make the hockeystick true.

    Liked by 2 people

  45. “Might we not all come out of it vaccinated against a lot of the nonsense that infects those who stay in intellectual lockdown in their own bubbles?”

    Lovely 🙂


  46. Whoops, I now see that they were made on this very thread. They make good points but do rather depend on whether Yeadon has provided enough material to justify his conclusions. Also, without more knowledge of what is happening in Eastern Europe, it is difficult to reach conclusions.


  47. In the article I mention a briefing paper for MPs written by Dr Yeadon and his colleagues but I gave the wrong link. The correct link is here

    Click to access MP-briefing-26-Nov-2020.pdf

    This document is important to my argument, since it went to MPs, and should therefore form part of the national debate. If it’s wrong, then it needs refuting point by point in the media. This is not happening, and, if Ofcom has its way, can’t happen.

    Although it is mainly about PCR tests, it contains the following subsections:
    1) The definition of COVID deaths is too broad.
    2) The tests are not measuring the disease.
    3) Excess deaths are not all COVID deaths.
    4) There is an NHS staffing crisis caused by false positive test results.
    5) The only confirmatory testing carried out has shown no COVID.
    6) Weak criteria used to declare a positive will result in false positives.
    7) The results from PCR testing no longer fit reality.

    John’s point affects the above point 5) I believe, and is therefore important, but it doesn’t affect my argument, which is about incompetence and the suggestion of corruption and conspiracy which might lie behind it.


  48. I can’t give you the link without the thing popping up and sending my ancient Mac into a tizzy. Chatting with WordPress is like being in some mad Wittgenstein sketch, where you can’t say the word “brick” without someone heaving one at you.


  49. Geoff, might I suggest if you wish to reference PDF files on here, you just remove the first ‘h’ from the web address and then post it. That way the link doesn’t go live and cause all sorts of problems, but people can copy and paste the link in their browser and just add back in the ‘h’.

    Liked by 1 person

  50. On the general topic of LFT and PCR and what they might (or might not) be telling us about live infections, St Andrews University have recently tested 1000 students using LFT and not a single test came back positive. Even if no student was infected, you would have expected 3 positives given the FPR of 0.32% cited by Porton Down for this test. Porton Down did find a much lower FPR for stringent laboratory testing vs. ‘field testing’, so perhaps the people doing the testing at St. Andrews were extra careful? But what it suggests is that Covid-19 is absent from the student population there.

    As regards PCR’s usefulness as a diagnostic tool for tracking infections, Prof. Carl Heneghan has this to say:

    Complete live viruses are necessary for transmission, not the fragments identified by PCR. Prospective routine testing of reference and culture specimens and their relationship to symptoms, signs and patient co-factors should be used to define the reliability of PCR for assessing infectious potential. Those with high cycle threshold are unlikely to have infectious potential.”

    Also, this:

    Contrary to what Alan states above, NHS staff are recording many ‘Covid patients’ on the sole basis of whether they test positive via a PCR test, regardless of what they have been admitted to hospital for. So if you are admitted to hospital with heart failure, stroke or even a broken leg and you have tested positive within 14 days prior to admission, then you are a ‘Covid admission’. If you haven’t had a test prior to admission but subsequently test positive in hospital, you become a ‘Covid patient’. If you catch Covid in hospital and develop symptoms, you are a ‘Covid patient’. This is fraud.

    Given what Carl Heneghan (and Michael Yeadon and others) have to say regarding the unreliability of PCR testing to track live infections, it seems pretty obvious that Covid admissions and Covid deaths are being artificially inflated and, furthermore, it would appear that this is not by accident but by design.


  51. @ Jaime

    According to my spreadsheet, the probability of 0 false positives in a thousand tests if the false positive rate is 0.003% is about 0.05. It’s stretching the bounds of credibility perhaps, but, allowing for the fact that the tests are self-administered, you could probably say half are good for nothing (how good are the students at collecting the swabs?). If only 500 were valid tests, then the chance of no positives goes up to 22%. (I assume that there is a metric for a successful test, i.e. that the test reports if it was a fail rather than negative or positive, which would make that last comment void.)

    I dismissed the “no second wave” theory because of the daily numbers admitted to hospital. If this is really composed of people admitted for something else, a broken leg etc… then we’re in trouble and some might argue that a deliberate spin is being put on the statistics. The same applies to the daily reported deaths. There is though the rejoinder that the dead people are dying of something, and that something clearly isn’t the normal flu-related pneumonia. Logically they are dying from WuFlu. (Are they?)


  52. JIT, given that the rise in deaths from Covid is, at present – and unlike in April – being uncannily mirrored by a deficit in excess deaths from all other causes, I suspect that the logical conclusion that ‘deaths are clearly not the normal flu-related pneumonia, but Wu Flu’ is highly suspect.


  53. >“What I then suggest is that Alan and/or John set out in rather more detail their case for not supporting Dr Yeadon’s (and others) contention that herd immunity has already been achieved in the majority of the country and their corresponding argument that the ‘second wave’ is not a wave but a ripple, a minor autumn/winter re-emergence of limited infections set against the backdrop of a false positive pseudo epidemic. We can then all join in a healthy debate on the comment thread below.”

    If one looks at my latest article on Covid-19, and take into account the comments I subsequently posted in an attempt to make sense of the effects of false positives on the reporting of the epidemic, one can see that I have already written somewhere in the region of 11 thousand words on the subject – the most important of which may have been “God give me strength”. I really don’t think I owe this site any further elaboration on my thinking. Nevertheless, and in order to keep things in perspective, I will say this:

    Whether or not I believe Dr Yeadon has made a strong enough case for the establishment of herd immunity, or whether his claims for the current absence of Covid-19 are sound, is neither here nor there. What matters is whether I agree with the seven recommendations he has made to MPs regarding the application of testing technology – and I am pleased to report that I broadly do. For those who have not read his briefing to MPs, they are as follows:

    1. Stop mass testing asymptomatic individuals.

    2. Re-test a sample of hospitalised patients previously diagnosed (by PCR alone) using Lateral Flow Tests.

    3. If PCR is to continue to be used at all, it should be at low scale and on no account should this involve the high capacity facilities known as Lighthouse Labs.

    4. Even conducted at lower scale, it is vital that additional quality control measures for PCR testing are instituted.

    5. Hospital / NHS and care-home staff absence policies should be based primarily on LFT testing, using PCR testing for confirmation of positive tests only.

    6. The definition of “an outbreak” must require subjects to have positive LFT results with confirmatory testing using high-quality PCR tests conducted in a well-managed laboratory, combined with symptoms and evidence of direct contact.

    7. Overturn the Ofcom ban on free speech in broadcast media.

    Of the above, the only recommendations that I would caveat would be the first and third. With the correct testing protocol in place it is feasible to perform reliable mass testing. However, I’m not convinced that it is worthwhile. The competence of the Lighthouse labs is something on which I have yet to form an opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

  54. I was somewhat surprised when this thread so abruptly finished. I meant to add a post, but somehow it slipped my mind.
    I was also surprised that no one commented on Dr. Yeadon’s views upon the two main testing methods. I thought that PCR testing was preferred over LFT tests and positive LFT results ought to be confirmed by PCR tests. Yeadon’s article, in contrast is very disparaging about PCR results, suggesting they should be confirmed by LFT. This seems odd, and given my suspicious mind, I wondered if Dr Yeadon had any connection with LFT manufacturers.


  55. This seems odd, and given my suspicious mind, I wondered if Dr Yeadon had any connection with LFT manufacturers.

    Oh no, he held out so long but Dr Kendall finally became just another Cliscep conspiracist 🙂

    It’s a joke. We’re all allowed to wonder, especially at Yuletide.


  56. Richard. Au contraire, I retain my pristineness, my suspicious mind is possibly at fault, but wondering is far removed from advocating, in my book. It is true, however, that much time spent considering Dr Yeagon’s stance has failed to produce alternative explanations. As a proponent of Chamberlin’s “Method of Multiple Working Hypotheses” I am mightily put out by my failure to concoct feasible alternative explanations in this matter. Please help!

    Liked by 1 person

  57. It’s worth noting that, quietly, without fuss, the WHO changed their definition of ‘herd immunity’ in October of this year. They now specifically exclude any potential role for natural infections in achieving herd immunity, thus denying millions of years of biological evolution in response to viral infections, claiming that herd immunity can only be achieved via vaccination. Your natural immune system no longer exists. Big bucks for Big Pharma, eh?

    We’re all conspiracy analysts now.

    Liked by 1 person

  58. Alan,

    It isn’t PCR, as such, that Yeadon has problems with, it’s the lighthouse labs and the quality control problems associated with mass use. Recommendations 3-6 of his briefing for MPs were:

    3. If PCR is to continue to be used at all, it should be at low scale and on no account should this involve the high capacity facilities known as Lighthouse Labs.

    4. Even conducted at lower scale, it is vital that additional quality control measures for PCR testing are instituted.

    5. Hospital / NHS and care-home staff absence policies should be based primarily on LFT testing, using PCR testing for confirmation of positive tests only.

    6. The definition of “an outbreak” must require subjects to have positive LFT results with confirmatory testing using high-quality PCR tests conducted in a well-managed laboratory, combined with symptoms and evidence of direct contact

    Note that Yeadon’s claims for PCR being horrendously inaccurate in the hands of Lighthouse labs contrasts starkly with the ONS claiming to have experienced 99.995% specificity using PCR.


  59. Even so John, I would still advocate that before Dr Yeadon, PCR tests were overwhelmingly favoured, whereas LFT was considered much less “accurate”. Suddenly the picture is reversed by Yeadon, but on what evidence?

    From my own experience of being tested in hospital by a professional (bloody painful) to watching individuals, shown on TV News items, testing themselves gingerly by showing the swab to lower parts of their nasal cavities, I would suggest that the greatest cause of false negatives might well be who conducts the test, regardless of what test is being used.

    Liked by 1 person

  60. Alan,

    I’m no expert on such matters, but I think that any discussion of the relative merits, and therefore deployment, of PCR and LFT has to take account of their costs and operational practicalities. Add to that the fact that PCR can be optimised for either sensitivity or specificity, in a manner that (correct me if I’m wrong) LFT cannot. The bottom line is that PCR was never intended for large-scale testing.

    Your point regarding self-administered swabs is very relevant. I wonder what sensitivity was achieved in the ONS study.

    Liked by 1 person

  61. Never one to turn down playing all sides of an argument, there’s this:

    Simon Dolan has pulled out something fascinating in the evolving official story here. H/t Matt Ridley on my twitter timeline.

    Liked by 1 person

  62. My minor contribution is to support Alan’s musing on the effectiveness of self-administered swab tests. A few weeks ago I was selected at random to participate in a Covid-19 test and agreed to do so. The kit arrived, accompanied by an explanatory leaflet and an exhortation to watch an on-line video explaining how it was all to be done.

    I complied with all instructions and carried out the test, which was collected at the end of the day (having been carried out by me at 8am because I was warned that the courier might turn up at any time). I found it to be quite unpleasant and fairly complicated to follow the instructions to the letter. I learned a few days later that I had tested negative, and I assume that I was indeed negative, as I did my utmost to carry out the test carefully and as instructed.

    However, I was left wondering at the time if everybody self-administering a test does it properly. As well as the problem of false positives, I can’t help thinking that there might also be a false negatives problem occurring from incorrectly self-administered tests. Of course I don’t know, but having been through it myself, I do have strong suspicions.

    Liked by 1 person

  63. My experience in mid August left me with the same doubts Mark. In that case I had some ‘symptoms’ (not any of the main ones but Division Two rather than Isthmian League, if everyone is still following me). I had some work concerns about meeting up with people so elected to book myself a test online. (Only a week before Hancock or the like weighed in saying people who didn’t need tests were preventing those who really did from getting theirs.) The local North Somerset site was appalling but I was then directed to a central site which was highly impressive. I knew exactly where the muddy disused car park was a few minutes drive away and I could get a test in less than that number of minutes, or any other gap I wanted to interpose. Sure enough, I was expected and was given the pack and instructions through the narrowest gap possible in my driver-side window. But did I hold the swab against my tonsils for as long as the instructed 10 seconds? Well, I read that bit afterwards. I remember doing the same with exams.

    I too was negative. Not a reflection of my bouncy personality I’m sure but also perhaps not the best case of ‘following the science’ during this ‘crisis’. (I was nerdy enough to take notes afterwards. If only the nerdiness had extended to reading and doing in the right order. Sorry, matron.)


  64. Jaime: Whatever Wikipedia says, or says tomorrow, the reader is one click away from seeing all the changes that have been made to the page since the first time someone tried to talk in a sensible way about it, in its oft-fabled ‘neutral point of view’. What most shocks me here is that the WHO did not (afaik) anywhere point out that their definition had changed in such a significant way, with a link to show exactly when and how. Props to Mr Dolan for sleuthing this out.


  65. Re: Accuracy of self-administered swabs

    This is what the ONS has previously said on this subject:

    “Our study involves participants self-swabbing under the supervision of a study healthcare worker. It is possible that some participants may take the swab incorrectly, which could lead to more false-negative results. However, research suggests that self-swabbing under supervision is likely to be as accurate as swabs collected directly by healthcare workers.”

    To justify their confidence, the ONS cited a study that involved a massive 45 subjects:

    Liked by 1 person

  66. Nice though they were, the folks briefly outside my Honda Jazz that rainy day didn’t make me feel ‘under supervision’. Under suspicion of being about to give them Covid, yes. And I don’t blame them for that.


  67. What on earth is the saving (time and/or effort) between a swab taken by a trained person (not necessarily a health worker (whatever that is)) and one done under supervision (presumably someone trained to administer a swab test)?

    I know that if I had to administer another swab test on myself, I doubt if I would inflict as much pain as that hospital worker did. Yet, presumably contact with the sensitive nasal labyrinth is required (and it wasn’t just that the hospital worker enjoyed inflicting pain upon others)😳


  68. Science has been handed over to fanatics who think it is perfectly acceptable to change scientific terminology at will to suit a political agenda. There’s no better example than the ‘climate crisis’ which is now common parlance across the world, courtesy of the Guardian’s change in ‘style guide’ last year. The WHO can just toss out decades of accepted epidemiological theory at the drop of a hat and declare basically that biological evolution has not endowed us with an immune system and a left wing rag can declare a global climate crisis simply on the basis of an adopted new literary style, which then becomes a universally accepted scientific ‘truth’ within a year! Heaven help us.


  69. John: It wasn’t that personal or amiable.

    Alan: I wasn’t left clear what setup for a test you regard as optimal. I thought my experience was perhaps interesting, because I had no prior experience and wasn’t on any risk list. It was very similar to not reading an exam question properly – of course you do read it (put swab on tonsils) but miss an important detail (for at least ten seconds) until it’s too late. I doubt I’m alone in being so stupid, first time around, with the ‘supervision’ just a bit too far out of one’s normal sensory space to make the difference.

    I feel I should also clarify that the warning from Matt Hancock or similar (if such a thing were possible) that some selfish people were getting tested when they didn’t really need it, thus depriving care workers, key workers and other such, was the week *after* I took the step of getting a test. And that week I hit on an almost unbooked afternoon. But after that warning I know I wouldn’t have tried. Does that make me a bedwetter? Either way, I mean – a) having the usefess test or b) choosing not to because the hated Hancock made clear I was unworthy. I can feel the hot breath of lockdown sceptics on my neck as I toss it up in my mind. But I like to think I’m a good user tester for any such system – and, not untypically, I gave the government (local) terrible marks and the government (central) very good marks. Because I’m that much of a contrarian.

    I’ve just tweeted this, having read Ridley in the Telegraph today, rather late. Brilliant and balanced. What I’m sure we all aspire to, though YMMV on this article, even if you have the means to get through the paywall.


  70. Richard, if it turns out that by interfering with the natural process of this disease by imposing lockdowns (though personally I believe they have had only minimal effect) and by administering experimental knee-jerk, not properly trialled experimental treatments (convalescent plasma therapy) to patients, the government and the medical authrorities have in fact created an even more deadly, more contagious strain of Covid, then there will be hell to pay. We will be paying. By locking down even harder to try to suppress this latest variant, they may make matters even worse. Our lives are literally in the hands of science-denying idiots who think that an untested, highly experimental vaccine is going to be the silver bullet to end the Covid nightmare which they created. Or maybe they know it will not. We are human guinea pigs, trapped in a wicked PsyOps, socio-political, behavioural, medical experiment devised and sloppily implemented by politicians and Commie, power-mad, control freak scientists and I suspect that many of us may not be leaving the cage alive and well.


  71. Also, I’m also not entirely convinced of the origin of this new mutated virus which apparently first appeared in a patient in Kent and has been attributed to convalescent plasma therapy because of the large number (14) of simultaneously appearing mutations in the genome. It strikes me as a little odd that a mouse-adapted variant (discussed in a Chinese paper published on Nov 11th) used to research vaccine effectiveness has 12 mutations, 3 of them in the critical RBD area of the SARS-CoV-2 genome and one of those being N501Y, which appears to be the most important of the mutations in both the mouse-adapted, lab engineered mutant variety and the emergent new strain in humans. But it’s probably just pure coincidence and just my conspiracist ideational mind working overtime. However, I’m not busy over Christmas so I might amuse myself by taking a deeper look into this ‘new mutant’ nonsense. If I suddenly disappear in the New Year, you’ll know why!


  72. I have absolutely no basis in fact for suggesting as much, but it did seem to me to be odd that the new variant virus was found in such large numbers in Kent, suggesting it had originated there. A much more likely explanation, it seems to me, as that it’s the first place in Britain was found in large numbers, because it’s where it arrived in the UK from the continent. And we were the first to spot it because we’re doing so much work on viral mutations here in the UK – much more than in the rest of the world.

    That’s a non-evidence based comment, but it seems like common sense to me. And it also seems to me that there’s precious little of that on evidence among politicians and SAGE scientists at the moment.


  73. Drosten, the inventor of the decidedly dodgy PCR test, throws cold water on Scrooge Johnson’s claim of ‘70% more transmissible’, basically saying ot was plucked out of thin air for political purposes. He even claims that the rise in cases in London and the SE may not have anything to do with the intrinsic properties of this ‘mutant Covid’ virus. He of all people should know all about that.

    Meanwhile, in the real world, respiratory deaths continue to musteriously fall in the ‘midst of a respiratory pandemic’ when they should be rising because we’re told that hospital admissions are up due to a new mutant super-strain and the NHS is under intolerable pressure.


  74. There’s been a lot of work on mutations of covid19

    “In this work, we analysed a data set of >46,700 SARS-CoV-2 assemblies sampled across 99 different countries and all major continental regions. Across our data set, we identified a total of 12,706 mutations”


    It could well be the case that the latest variant was first detected in Kent, or was it Norfolk, but came from somewhere else entirely. You have to look for it before you can find it.

    Re LFT testing, it seems that analysis of results of the testing at Uni of Birmingham has led people to conclude that it is fairly useless

    “Research by Birmingham University, where more than 7,000 students were tested, suggested that about 60 positive cases of Covid-19 were missed.
    Separate preliminary research by Public Health Scotland found that only 13 out of 31 positive lateral flow tests subsequently had a confirmed positive after a more reliable PCR test.
    Jon Deeks, a professor of biostatistics and the head of the test evaluation research group at the University of Birmingham, said that lateral flow tests were “not fit for purpose” unless they were used on highly infectious people. He said that using the tests in care homes was a “really, really bad” idea.
    “There will be somebody who goes into the care home who has got a negative result who has got infectious Covid and they spread it to their mum or dad or whoever they are visiting,” he said.
    After a separate pilot in Liverpool showed the rapid tests missed half of all cases they were scrapped as a way of approving care home visitors, Professor Deeks said.
    Neale Hanvey, the SNP MP and a member of the House of Commons health and social care select committee, has criticised the UK government for heavily promoting the tests. He praised the Birmingham study. “What this study reveals is that these tests are of no real clinical benefit and esteemed experts have branded their continued use as wasteful and dangerous,” he said.”


  75. From a press release 2 days ago from Novacyt, a major supplier of PCR tests to the NHS

    “The Company notes this new strain of the virus has also been identified in other countries, including the Netherlands, Denmark and Australia.”

    Australia? I thought that their borders have been closed for months


  76. Jaime: Can I suggest you do a new post on the Mutant Strain – or some title to that effect? Including a reference to Ridley’s article and republishing what various commenters have said about the subject here. Expecially if you do some further study on it over the holiday season. But anyway. I think it’s a big enough and different enough subject in its own right.


  77. Richard, I need to do more research on the origins of this new strain, which seems to be cloaked in mystery, but hopefully I’ll come up with something over the Christmas break, though I’ve run out of mince pies, which is a serious set back.

    Liked by 1 person

  78. It’s not the Kentish Virus now, it’s the South African Virus. I can’t keep up. The BS is moving faster than a speeding bullet at the moment.


  79. MiaB,

    I have responded to your comment of 10:35am over on my own thread “The Curious Incident…”


  80. In the paper Geoff was discussing Yeadon wrote:

    Viruses don’t do waves (beyond the secondary ripple concept as outlined above). I have repeatedly asked to see the trove of scientific papers used to predict a ‘second wave’ and to build a model to compute its likely size and timing. They have never been forthcoming. It’s almost as if there is no such foundational literature. I’m sure SAGE can put us right on this.

    The post-WW1 “Spanish flu” appears to be all there is where it comes to evidence of waves. Most scholars accept that what most likely happened was that more than one infectious agent was involved. It was 102 years ago and no molecular biological techniques indicate multiple waves of a single agent then or anywhere else. In any case, that was influenza. There have been no examples of multiple waves since and the most recent novel coronavirus with any real spread (SARS) performed one wave each in each geographical region affected. Why a model with a ‘second wave’ in it was even built, I cannot guess. It seems completely illogical to me. Worse, as far as the public can discern, the model fails to account for the unequivocally demonstrated population prior immunity, to which must be added the recently-acquired immunity arising from the spring wave. This is why I’m reasserting what I’ve been argued for months – a ‘second wave’ cannot happen and must, perforce, not be happening as described.

    I was very struck by that passage when I first read it – which isn’t quite the same as saying I was convinced. So how do we square it with this from Nic Lewis four days ago:

    Many people, myself included, thought that in the many regions where COVID-19 infections were consistently reducing during the summer, indicating that the applicable herd immunity threshold had apparently been crossed, it was unlikely that a major second wave would occur. This thinking has been proved wrong. In this article I give an explanation of why I think major second waves have happened.

    Lewis admits his thinking has been proved wrong. As I would expect, given my respect for the guy. Has Yeadon said anything along the same lines?


    Thanks for the comment. It forced me to reread the article, thinking: “Is this right? Why’s the author telling me this?” Etc.

    I can think of one good reason for Yeadon’s silence. One mistake by a sceptic and he’s branded as an idiot for ever. “Churchill got the Dardanelles wrong, therefore Hitler isn’t a menace” – that sort of thing. Nic Lewis isn’t a media figure so can be more open. Raoult is facing the same criticism. Even though he prefaces every interview by saying he never does predictions, he’s still attacked for having been contradicted by events. A generalisation based on empirical evidence is true until a counterexample renders it false. People confuse being wrong on a matter of fact with putting forward irrational arguments.

    Also, viruses are supposed to have their single wave in winter. This one escaped or created itself in spring. So maybe wave one was just a dress rehearsal? The Spanish flu arrived in a Europe suffering from starvation and deprivation of all sorts.

    Liked by 2 people

  82. Anyway, the public and the journalists who infect them don’t deserve a correction, even if one is in order. When graphs go up, they call them exponential. When they go up and down and then up again, they think they’re sinusoidal, presumably because up the sinus is where they stick the swab.


  83. Another consideration is that the Spanish flu was a secret at the time – the first stories about it were published in Spain, because it was not involved in WW1 and therefore newspapers were not censored. So I wonder just how much we know and understand about it.

    It was also a time when large numbers of people were being carried around the world in ships and on trains to fight wars, both WW1 and the Russian Civil Wars, which must have helped the diffusion of the disease. There was no isolation – ANZAC took it from Europe back to their home countries. Canadians and Indians would have taken it home with them etc. There was no chance of countries isolating themselves. Contrast today, when international travel is mostly by plane, which seems up to now to be fairly safe because of the filters in the air conditioning.

    Even now, Spanish flu is a spectral presence in the historical literature. Ian Kershaw’s account of 1914-49 in the recent Penguin History of Europe series (2015) only has 3 occurrences of the word “influenza” and there is no lengthy discussion of its impact – it was just another, albeit very large, cause of death in 1918-19. He does not have anything to say about where it came from, the symptoms, how it spread around Europe.

    It would be interesting to know just what has brought about this recent resurgence of COVID because it is not behaving in the “usual” way. It does seem to be an unprecedented disease. One thing that is becoming clear from my partner’s work in Test and Trace is that everyone’s experience of the disease is different. In the same household 3 people will have a completely different series of symptoms and outcomes. One might have a day of fever and intense headache. Another may suffer 3 days of anosmia. Another will have a whole range of symptoms for a week, including fever, cough and all the stuff we hear about.

    Until recently, I think it is understandable that people should use mental models of previous Sars outbreaks and influenza to try to work out what to do and how it is likely to evolve. Second waves haven’t happened before, apart from the 1918-19 pandemic


  84. Yeadon per above quote: “viruses don’t do waves”. But there seems to be plenty of mention of waves in flu and other literature, for instance: “In order to determine the infected individual distribution, i(u), we use standard traveling wave theory [18–23]. The interesting feature of the selection due to immune escape is that the fitness landscape which controls the traveling wave travels with the wave. Moreover, it is the wave itself which creates its own landscape, as follows: the recovered create a landscape for the infected evolution, which moves the recovered distribution forward in x, and so on.”

    Geoff: “Also, viruses are supposed to have their single wave in winter.” AFAIK respiratory diseases may have a wave when they first arrive, albeit the size may be determined by when, then one each winter following (theoretically of decreasing size, and obviously in countries that have winter). There was some interesting work in the US showing the size and shape of waves related to the climate of each state, which seemed to make a lot of sense. I didn’t save links, unfortunately.

    I don’t understand why all the second wave stuff, on all sides of the discussion, has become dominated by the variant conversation, and indeed acquired lock-down / anti-lockdown positions. If I’d known this was coming I’d have saved more links, but it seemed to me that back in the summer most folks from every PoV were aware that there would pretty much have to be a second wave of some size in winter. There is *always* and without fail a steep rise in respiratory disease in the population of this country in winter. That this could somehow be avoided for a new such disease in the pandemic year of its arrival, would require a major miracle; I’m not sure how Lewis and others convinced themselves this was unlikely. A feature of flu, which usually causes most of the wave, and it seems coronavirus too, is that they always have many variants; hence if indeed ‘variance’ is part of the mechanics of the wave as much as ‘winter’, it is always going to be on hand. Meaning one can never model on the basis of ‘no variants’.

    Liked by 1 person

  85. MiaB: “One thing that is becoming clear from my partner’s work in Test and Trace is that everyone’s experience of the disease is different. In the same household 3 people will have a completely different series of symptoms and outcomes. One might have a day of fever and intense headache. Another may suffer 3 days of anosmia. Another will have a whole range of symptoms for a week, including fever, cough and all the stuff we hear about.”

    This is maybe just due to the fact that the virus is still new to humans, and finding its feet, so to speak, in our highly heterogeneous population. If so, it would likely evolve to be more constant (and benign).

    Liked by 1 person

  86. Andy, good points there. I remember wondering back in March/April if the “squashing the sombrero” stuff would just result in a flatter but broader curve, with the same number of cases and deaths just spread out over a longer horizon. I suppose it was the near disappearance of deaths in July and August that led to the optimism that it might be over. Again it makes me question what we really know about the Spanish flu, because both the 2nd and 3rd waves were deadlier than the 1st, although the 3rd was smaller than the 2nd. Was it the same disease all 3 times? Will Covid follow the same pattern?

    Liked by 1 person

  87. And as for Yeadon, I don’t read very much of his outoutbut I think it was in September that he talked about the possibility of localised “secondary ripples”. I will add that I am no longer following the course of the epidemic in the UK because it is so clouded by misleading statistics but it does seem, from the BBC bulletins, to be a set of outbreaks in little areas such as Watford, Isle of Wight etc. Admittedly BBC news is dreadful at best so I wouldn’t like to conclude whether Yeadon got the scale of his prediction right or wrong.

    Liked by 2 people

  88. Look at the data. Where is the ‘second wave’ in the Euromomo data? Sorry, can’t manage to get the graph to show here but if you go to the site you will see clearly the sharp peak of the spring epidemic, characteristic of the impact of a novel virus on a largely immunologically naive populace. Then you have a flatter winter peak of deaths, looking more like a winter peak of deaths (suprise, surprise), only just exceeding in magnitude the winter peak of deaths in 2018 and now declining rapidly. Our governments and the media scream at us that this is the ‘second deadly wave’ based entirely on mass testing using PCR, and very dubious ‘Covid admissions’ stats and attributions of deaths. Then there is Sweden. No lockdown, no significant second winter peak even. Almost seems like they got it right and didn’t end up killing more people in winter (from non-Covid causes) as a result of severe lockdowns in spring and summer.

    Liked by 1 person

  89. Euromomo shows a very confusing picture. Switzerland, Slovenia and Portugal are showing a massive spike in deaths in December, much higher than earlier in the year.

    Italy’s 2nd spike is almost as high as the 1st

    England, Spain, Netherlands, Hesse, France and Austria seem to show secondary ripples.

    Belgium has had 3 big spikes.

    It surely puts to bed the idea that the UK has handled this less competently than any other nation


  90. Individual countries are all over the place. Most have had lockdowns; strongly suggestive that lockdowns, masks and social distancing probably have very little consistent impact on transmission, if any, and that other more important factors are at work. Factors such as geography, climate, population susceptibility, demographic differences. But the overall picture across all Euromomo nations is that of a very sharp spike in deaths in April, followed by a more subdued winter peak.


  91. Geoff:

    I can think of one good reason for Yeadon’s silence.

    I can’t. At best I’d say it might be understandable. And do we know for sure that he has been silent?

    Toby Young has meanwhile done a very good Twitter thread triggered by a Tory MP who was getting on his wick (to use the technical term). Here’s where he points to his biggest mea culpa so far, on Newsnight.

    Showing that Nic Lewis in his obscurity can be matched by those with rather more ‘hits’ at stake.


  92. Jaime and I then spotted, independently, that Toby Young had gone further, praising an article by Christopher Snowdon in Quillette (which Young helps to edit) called Rise of the Coronavirus Cranks, which criticises Yeadon, not least because of not facing up to the ‘second wave’. But Young doesn’t agree with Snowdon entirely. Sounds the kind of attitude one wants in a highly complex situation.


  93. Dr Simone Gold relates her very personal experience of being fired for prescribing hydroxychloroquine. The way this safe treatment (and others) has been banned and maligned by the medical establishment is an international scandal and probably amounts to corporate mass manslaughter. She also talks about the Covid vaccines.


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