This post consists mainly of tweets with, for me, some interesting connections.

Firstly, ‘gender critical’ feminist Linda Bellos at Westminster Magistrates Court in September 2018, my tweet using the words of climate sceptic Clive James in support of Linda and friends, and the BBC reporting on climate sceptic Piers Corbyn at the same court yesterday.

While we’re on the subject of courts, here’s a much younger person who’s won a tremendous victory in the High Court this week:

Now some of the difficult detail on the landmark judgment, first from women:

And now a couple of concerned, left-of-centre men:

Ah, Nick Cohen. And now his stablemate in calling climate sceptics ‘deniers’ in days gone by, and making the foolish and repugnant analogy with Holocaust deniers absolutely explicit: Graham Linehan. My hero Graham Linehan, who wrote What a day! yesterday in praise of Leila, her legal team and supporters

Confused? Don’t be. Things they are a-changing. Here’s another case in point. Maybe.

The vaccine

Here are two more well-known UK climate sceptics (and Brexiteers) in recent days:

Well I think Carswell is a climate sceptic. Or was once:

When I was a member of Friends of the Earth, I did believe human CO2 emissions were responsible for global warming. It’s just that the facts seem to have changed. And so I’ve changed my mind.

Details courtesy of Leo Hickman in The Guardian in the heady aftermath of Climategate.

Meanwhile Steve McIntyre has been retweeting on the fascinating backstory of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine:

and making this point about the reasons for delay in the United States and its consequences:

Might have been. And James Delingpole, probably not the biggest Joe Biden supporter, might have been disagreeing with his fellow-sceptic on this one.

I was thinking I was going to editorialise at this point. But sometimes I think it’s best to lay out the complexity and allow the intelligent denizens of Cliscep to make of it what they will.

117 Comments

  1. Whether it works or it doesn’t, whether it’s safe or it’s not, the crucial question is how is this government going to sell this novel vaccine against a novel coronavirus to a very sceptical public? Are they going to claim that it will protect the elderly and the vulnerable from serious illness – in which case it will not be needed by the majority of people who are not at serious risk from SARS-CoV-2? Or are they going to claim that its principal benefit will be to reduce infections, in which case they will be keen to coerce the entire population to get jabbed? The latter, of course, implies the existence of the mythical herd immunity which the government claimed was not achievable naturally and which Nadia Dorriesky, Junior Health Minister in the UK Politburo, claimed did not exist – along with increasing suicides.

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  2. “…a very sceptical public?”

    Well now a vaccine is out we can look forward to more targeted polls on the issue. But to date, the public appear *not* to be very sceptical in aggregate; and the majority are not even an incy wincy bit sceptical. Unless this changes as the needles actually start to hit arms, the biggest problem the government will face is ramping up production fast enough to meet demand.

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  3. There hasn’t been a vanilla climate thread on Cli-scep for ages, so I don’t really know where to put this. So anyhow I’m boldly dumping it on Richard’s lawn, with some minor concession into trying to make it fit the thread 0: A Ross Clarke article in the Spectator, sceptical of climate impacts as reported by the Lancet. It finishes:

    “The real story here is the increase in global population and longevity. Any impact that climate change is having on our health is dwarfed by the fact that more of us are living to a good age thanks to falling infant mortality, better diet, healthcare and so on. Yet instead of celebrating this good news, we get fed endless scare stories about theoretical death tolls from climate change.” https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/are-heat-deaths-on-the-rise-

    I still think the beast of catastrophic climate culture will be looming large when covid fades into the rear-view mirror, and bellowing ‘build-back-greener’ at the top of its voice. But maybe, and notwithstanding general (and understandable) support of orthodoxy from the public on covid, just maybe the whole debacle has done much to expose that there isn’t just one science but many, that it doesn’t have one voice, and that whether or not orthodoxy is largely right, supposedly scientific PoVs can actually be hi-jacked by emotive convictions. Exposed it to some journalists as well as the public. Support for crash NetZero relies upon cultural fears not real fears, and ultimately these are nowhere near as scary, no matter the narrative of a doomed planet. So some of the dazzle falling off ‘the science’, will help. This article reminded me that there could be some upside.

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  4. Confused? I’ll say. I’ve looked up Linda Bellos and Douglas Carswell and the German Health Minister to find out what they were about. Others will have to wait. (I know the Tavistock like I know the back of my mind, having lived within crawling distance of it for years.)

    I suppose one of the points we can take a way is that even Nick Cohen, a radical opinionator who has spent the best part of his working life defending the establishment, must sometimes get it right.

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  5. Interesting post Richard, the PB thing seems horrifying to me, in most cases. My wife tells me that she was often described as a tomboy in childhood, hated dresses, liked football, fishing and punching boys who teased her. Seems every chance that today over concerned parents might have deprived us of a happy 40 year marriage.
    Strange things do happen though. I’ve just had a cow produce male and female twins. There’s a 90% chance the heifer is a freemartin. From Wiki

    A freemartin or free-martin (sometimes martin heifer) is an infertile female mammal with masculinized behavior and non-functioning ovaries.[1] Genetically the animal is chimeric: Karyotyping of a sample of cells shows XX/XY chromosomes. The animal originates as a female (XX), but acquires the male (XY) component in utero by exchange of some cellular material from a male twin, via vascular connections between placentas: an example of microchimerism.[2] Externally, the animal appears female, but various aspects of female reproductive development are altered due to acquisition of anti-Müllerian hormone from the male twin.

    As far as I know, this only occurs in cattle. I suppose there may be other accidents in human development, but would guess they are much more rare than current practice would indicate. Either that, or maybe there is too much of some chemical in the food chain.

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  6. Ok, let’s call this morning.

    A couple of excerpts:

    Vaccination is humankind’s most life-saving innovation, banishing scourge after scourge from the face of the earth. It is a technology that is so counterintuitive as to seem magical, but when it works it is unbeatable. The extinction of smallpox in 1977 was probably science’s greatest achievement.

    We love science – real science – on Cliscep, right? And indeed the saving of life through good science, and the technology that results from it. For me what Matt lays out in three simple sentences is a key theme to ponder as we think about the blog’s future.

    It is frankly a bit of a disgrace that we had failed to speed up the development of vaccines before this. The private sector found them unprofitable, the public-health establishment preferred to lecture us on eating junk food and the World Health Organisation announced in 2015 that the greatest threat in the 21st century to human health – health, mind you! – was climate change. Which suggests that it was not focused on its day job. So we ambled into the path of a new and highly contagious virus without sufficient preparation.

    The hidden culprit – the world’s obsession with AGW – beautifully uncovered. Dig here.

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  7. That last comment stirred me into commenting again. The NHS seems to think that climate change is of overwhelming importance to our health:

    https://www.england.nhs.uk/2020/10/nhs-becomes-the-worlds-national-health-system-to-commit-to-become-carbon-net-zero-backed-by-clear-deliverables-and-milestones/

    “The NHS has today adopted a multiyear plan to become the world’s first carbon net zero national health system.

    The commitment comes amid growing evidence of the health impacts of climate change and air pollution, and aims to save thousands of lives and hospitalisations across the country.

    Air pollution is linked to killer conditions like heart disease, stroke and lung cancer, and academics have linked high pollution days with hundreds of extra out-of-hospital cardiac arrests and hospital admissions for stroke and asthma.

    The changing climate is leading to more frequent heatwaves and extreme weather events such as flooding, including the potential spread of infectious diseases to the UK. Almost 900 people were killed by last summer’s heatwaves while nearly 18 million patients go to a GP practice in an area that exceeds the World Health Organisation’s air pollution limit.

    Scientists believe perhaps a third of new asthma cases might be avoided by cutting emissions, while Lyme Disease and encephalitis are among conditions expected to become more common as temperatures rise.

    NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “2020 has been dominated by Covid-19 and is the most pressing health emergency facing us. But undoubtedly climate change poses the most profound long-term threat to the health of the nation.

    “It is not enough for the NHS to treat the problems caused by air pollution and climate change – from asthma to heart attacks and strokes – we need to play our part in tackling them at source.”

    “The NHS has already made significant progress decarbonising our care, but as the largest employer in Britain, responsible for around 4% of the nation’s carbon emissions, if this country is to succeed in its overarching climate goals the NHS has to be a major part of the solution.”

    Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), said: “Cutting carbon emissions is essential to protect health, everywhere in the world. I welcome the leadership of the largest single health system in the world, the National Health Service in England, in committing to be carbon neutral in its own operations by 2040, and to drive emissions reductions in its suppliers and partners. Health is leading the way to a greener, safer planet.”

    NHS England convened the NHS Net Zero Expert Panel in January following the launch of the Climate Assembly UK, to take and analyse evidence on how the health service can contribute to nationwide carbon reduction efforts.

    Led by Dr Nick Watts, Executive Director of The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, the Panel comprised public health and climate experts as well as patient and staff representatives.

    Their report, endorsed by the NHS board today, sets out how the health service has already cut its own carbon footprint by 62% compared to the international-standard 1990 baseline, and by 26% when indirect factors are included.

    Based on the findings of the report the NHS has formally adopted two targets, set as the earliest possible credible dates for the NHS to achieve net zero emissions:

    for the NHS Carbon Footprint (emissions under NHS direct control), net zero by 2040, with an ambition for an interim 80% reduction by 2028-2032, and;
    for the NHS Carbon Footprint Plus, (which includes our wider supply chain), net zero by 2045, with an ambition for an interim 80% reduction by 2036-2039.
    Dr Watts and his team will engage widely to support delivery, with interventions including:

    new ways of delivering care at or closer to home, meaning fewer patient journeys to hospitals;
    greening the NHS fleet, including working towards road-testing a zero-emissions emergency ambulance by 2022;
    reducing waste of consumable products and switching to low-carbon alternatives where possible;
    making sure new hospitals and buildings are built to be net-zero emissions, and;
    building energy conservation into staff training and education programmes.
    All local NHS organisations will name a senior lead to achieve these improvements.

    Dr Nick Watts, incoming NHS Chief Sustainability Officer, said: “The evidence that the climate emergency is a health emergency is overwhelming, with health professionals already needing to manage its symptoms.

    “We know that 98% of NHS staff believe the health system should be more environmentally sustainable, and even during the busiest period in NHS history, the insight, enthusiasm and commitment from those on the frontline for us to plan for the future has been exceptional.

    “The NHS’s ambition is world-leading, and the first national commitment to deliver a net zero health service. It comes at a time when the UK is preparing to host the UN climate change summit next year, and demonstrates that every part of our societies need to play their part in reducing pollution and responding to climate change.”

    Kay Boycott, CEO of Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, said: “This landmark report represents real progress and an ambitious commitment from the NHS to reduce its carbon footprint. Climate change poses a huge threat to lung health; with dangerous levels of pollution and extremes in hot and cold weather which can be deadly for people with lung conditions causing symptoms to flare up and putting lives at risk.

    “Improving lung health and cleaning up the air we breathe has never been more critical, so it’s been a real privilege to be part of the expert panel advising on this report and ensuring that the patient voice is at the very heart of this process. We look forward to working closely with the NHS to help action their plan, including safely switching to lower carbon inhalers, maximising the gains of virtual care and reviewing and scaling back transport links to and from hospitals. We want to ensure these targets are met without compromising the care of those with lung conditions and look forward to collaborating with the NHS further to face these challenges together.””

    Sorry it’s so long. Note the illegitimate conflation of climate change with air quality. And in case it was missed among all those paragraphs of drivel, here’s the stand-out paragraph again:

    “NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “2020 has been dominated by Covid-19 and is the most pressing health emergency facing us. But undoubtedly climate change poses the most profound long-term threat to the health of the nation.”

    There is no evidence behind that statement, and to my mind it’s just plain wrong. The use of excess deaths due to heat in summer conveniently ignores the far greater number of excess deaths in winter in the UK, for example. This is just political spin, totally lacking in medical justification. So long as the NHS leadership continues to go down this road, it will continue to fail the people of the UK routinely, day in and day out.

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  8. Science is of course, not infallible. For every stunning success, there are probably at least 10 crashing failures. I would prefer to wait and see if the ridiculously rushed, highly experimental mRNA Pfizer/Moderna vaccine, of a type never before tested on humans, manages to come through the Phase 3 trials which end in Dec 2022.

    The NHS certainly looks like it will be coping with the effects of ‘climate change’ this winter. Here we are, only December 4th, and it’s already snowing heavily!

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  9. When I said James Delingpole probably isn’t the biggest supporter of Biden, he and Steve Mc might have common cause on that:

    On topic for this thread? It is now!

    Thank you Mark for picking up on the NHS ‘commitment’ on climate change.

    I sure that really helped as it faced a genuine challenge this year.

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  10. Latest news on the miracle vaccine that will – according to unelected, unaccountable scientific ‘expert’ JVT get us out of lockdown – IF we do our duty and roll up our sleeve when we are offered it:

    1. It is not known whether the vaccine will prevent serious illness in the most vulnerable demographic.
    2. It is not known whether the vaccine will prevent transmission, hence those vaccinated who are contacted by NHS test and trace will STILL have to self-isolate.

    So, remind me again, why is the government pushing this vaccine so hard?

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  11. If one takes a somewhat conspiracist view of proceedings, in line with Steve Mc’s tweet in the main post, this from Dr Fauci is rather interesting. Was there a “gentleman’s agreement” between US deep staters, the EU and others in the shadows to delay the advent of the vaccine precisely because they knew it worked? And, most certainly, to prevent Trump from getting any credit before the election.

    As you can see, the good doctor has had to back off. They can’t diss the newly independent UK too much. That’s nice to know.

    But maybe Jaime is saying that, in this case, Fauci is right and Trump was wrong?

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  12. Well, we’re all doomed. We’re gonna chafe away while our leaders, glorious and otherwise, drive us headlong into a future lit by candles, probably made of earwax. There are no contrary voices that have any reach, alas. The denizens here are in the snug at the back of the pub (allowing for the purposes of this metaphor that we survive until such things are possible again), agreed that we have seen through the veil that has been cast over most of the developed world. But there ain’t a damn thing we can do other than suck it up as Boris delivers more of the “people’s priorities.”

    Who is there to tell Stevens that he is so wrong as to be out the other side of wrongness and into a twilight zone where the greatest threat to health might as well come from alien space rays? Nobody.

    On the beeb’s story about the new people’s priority, that of a 68% cut in emissions by 2030, the commentary was: “Scientists have welcomed the news.” Endorsements were obtained from professors; XR was mentioned as demanding more; the LSE was cited as saying that 72% cuts were feasible; the committee on climate change welcomed the cut; someone I’ve never heard of, “architect of the Paris agreement” endorsed it; the traitorous RSPB endorsed it; Ed Milliband madly demanded more; it was welcomed by some guy from Anglian Water who co-chairs the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Luncheon Group.

    That was all.

    Nowhere are the practical effects of this insanity laid out. I found myself reacting angrily to the story, which is very unusual for me. “How can these people all be so stupid?” I demanded, and gnashed my teeth, and (idly) wondered whether there was a better country out there to live in that would have me. “How can they be doing this to our young people?”

    Alas, I have no answers.

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  13. The history of medicine is one of those areas where great advances can happen very quickly and suddenly but there are also cases where the urge for speed brings problems. One such case would be the 1976 swine flu outbreak in the USA. From wiki :

    “In 1976, an outbreak of the swine flu, influenza A virus subtype H1N1 at Fort Dix, New Jersey caused one death, hospitalized 13, and led to a mass immunization program. After the program began, the vaccine was associated with an increase in reports of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which can cause paralysis, respiratory arrest, and death. The immunization program was ended after approximately 25% of the population of the United States had been administered the vaccine.”

    There are interesting parallels, such as the way that drug companies wanted product liability to be waived. However, most writers seem to agree that this example does not give clear-cut evidence in favour of either caution or aggressive intervention. It also took from March till September before the vaccination programme was launched.

    We should also note that the current licence for the Pfizer vaccine in the UK has a number of stipulations because of the paucity of testing. It cannot be used on pregnant women because there is no evidence of how it might affect the foetus. It cannot be used on people already on medication because there is little to no evidence of how it might interact with these drugs. Etc etc.

    Mr Drake, is there no room for nuance in your world? Must everything be Trump or Fauci?

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  14. MiaB: I think your question betrays an unnuanced view of my approach. There are many areas where both men could be right or both wrong. And areas where neither of them have relevant expertise at all. But I think on whether it was worth speeding up the regulatory process, as the UK has clearly done, and as Trump very much wanted to do, by all accounts, it will probably be possible to say that one man was more correct than the other. In the end, with the benefit of hindsight. And Ridley’s arguments on why an RNA-based vaccine should be less accident-prone also hold some sway with me.

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  15. MAN IN A BARREL

    We should also note that the current licence for the Pfizer vaccine in the UK has a number of stipulations … It cannot be used on people already on medication …

    So that’s practically no-one over the age of 70 then, and no-one in care homes. No-one, in fact, who stands more than an infinitesimal chance of dying from it. Shouldn’t this be the headline in every newspaper today?

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  16. Good point, Geoff, so I imagine that exceptions will be made on a discretionary basis. On Tim Worstall’s blog, a bloke who works in the pharma field had this to say when news of the vaccine first broke. He regards it as a waste of effort and money to mass vaccinate European countries who have had the first wave. For those Eastern nations where it seems to be kicking off, it might be worthwhile :

    “My first caveat is they have likely recruited an, on average, relatively young, fit, healthy study population. There was no upper age limit, but in practice, it’s the active population that volunteers for (and gets accepted for) trials like this. Some of their age cuts look strange, but that’s a detail for another time. The press release wants to tell us that 42% of patients have so-called “diverse backgrounds” (the stuff they come up with for “anything but white”…), but not how old they are.

    It’s especially difficult to do trials in the care home residents that covid is a serious risk for. But I don’t know, just going on what any other broad population trial would look like.

    If my assumption is correct, this is a population you would expect to see pretty good efficacy in, but also the population that has little to gain from vaccination. The trial has been criticised for not studying death as an endpoint, but I don’t think that is a valid objection (stop infection -> stop death). It does however show what a nothingburger covid is – you can’t study the effect of the vaccine on mortality except by doing an unfeasibly enormous trial because so few people die of it. Hold that idea that mortality is what we actually care about, because it is (pace long covid) pretty much all we care about for this disease.

    Right, let’s do some analysis, giving the most generous assumptions we can muster to the supposed desperate need for a vaccine. Assumptions are, purely for the sake of argument:

    – it prevents 90% of infection. It won’t because this proportion will be lower at later follow-up times; it can’t possibly get any larger, for both mathematical and immunological reasons – that’s why I call the headline result “highly convincing”*.

    – SAGE/Ferguson/WHO utterly incredible proposition that 90% of the population remains susceptible and most of those will be infected.

    – the IFR in the population studied is 0.05%. That’s a high estimate, for that population, but definitely low for the population as a whole.

    So, if you treat 100,000 people:

    10,000 of these have already survived covid (per SAGE/WHO) so the treatment is of no benefit to them).

    Among 90,000 people you prevent 81,000 infections assuming all are at risk, and consequently at most 41 deaths.

    I like the number needed to treat (NNT) for prophylactics of marginal benefit, because relative risks ignore the many people who stand to receive no benefit in any case. The NNT given these assumptions is 2500 (between friends). Meaning you need to vaccinate 2500 people to prevent 1 death. And that is with all the assumptions skewed towards having a low NNT. The real number is likely to be much higher. You can plug in different IFRs – if you think my IFR estimate is too low set it at 0.1%, still gives you an NNT of about 1250. But I’d contend the idea that 90% of people in the UK remain to be infected is some of the most barkingly insane antiscience I have ever seen.

    I think the actual NNT will settle around 10,000, mainly because far more people have been exposed than the official government/antiscience/globalist narrative claims. I think the IFR is falling because of a number of factors, important for this discussion will be the changing risk profile of the population over time (those who gonna die of it largely already dead). 1 in 10,000 is just not a number that justifies population-wide roll-out, let alone coercive measures, however benign the safety profile is. Vaccines are usually extremely safe, I see little mileage in criticising any vaccine on that basis. I’m also not concerned about the mRNA technology used.

    So, at least in Europe/US/most places that have clearly had very heavy exposure already this won’t be a game changer for health. Australia and New Zealand however would probably be well advised to roll it out population-wide with strong encouragement (but not coercion) to take it, and then let things take their natural course. And if you are vulnerable, clearly it’s absolutely worth your while having this. I’d let people have this voluntarily, you will still find enormous take-up.”

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  17. Fauci has criticised the UK for approving this vaccine so quickly and he’s probably correct for doing so. Apparently, Trump wanted to approve it just as quickly as the UK have done. My opinion is that it should not have been approved at all until Phase 3 trials have completed (in Dec 2022), so it’s neither here nor there as far as I’m concerned whether the UK got there first before Trump and Fauci’s grumpy that they did so.

    Hancock, once again, was unable to contain his excitement at being the first country in the world to approve the new Wonder-Vax and resorted to his usual lies to explain just how great he is and how great the miraculous jab of hope will be. That guy must have shares in underwear companies I reckon.

    “This is Matthew Hancock announcing the “milestone” of an MHRA approved “vaccine” to the House of Commons yesterday. He reiterated his promise that “no vaccine will be used until its safety and effectiveness have been clearly established”. He added that the Pfizer formulation had been “subjected to the closest scrutiny of the MHRA” and been given “a clinical authorisation”. “This,” he stated baldly, “is a vaccine we can all believe in”. He finally bragged that “this is the first vaccine in the world to have achieved regulatory approval for use against Covid19”.

    Mr Hancock lied to the House. He further lied to BBCNews viewers earlier in the day, as he told them, “when this vaccine is rolled out, things will get better and we will all return to normality and the things we love”. He doesn’t know that – he cannot know that – and this is emphatically not what the MHRA Pfizer decision says.”

    “Pants on fire . . . ” it says, beneath his photo. Quite. Here’s the reality:

    “I apologise now for having to resort to The Science Bit. It is however vital that this reckless little man is held to account. I am indebted to Slog reader Martin for digging out the somewhat obscure links on the MHRA website. The reality of what the regulator has decided blows Hancock’s claims out of the water.

    You can get the full strength of such “approval” as has been given here.

    These are the key facts about the Pfizer-Biontech product’s assessment under Reg174 at the MRHA:

    This medicinal product does not have a UK marketing authorisation but has been given authorisation for temporary supply by the UK Department of Health and Social Care

    It has no approval at all for people aged under 16

    The administration of COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2 should be postponed in individuals suffering from acute severe febrile illness

    No interaction or contraindication studies have been performed. In the absence of compatibility studies, this medicinal product must not be mixed with other medicinal products.

    COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2 is not recommended during pregnancy. For women of childbearing age, pregnancy should be excluded before vaccination

    It is unknown whether COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2 is excreted in human milk

    The effects of the vaccine on fertility are unknown

    Reporting suspected adverse reactions after authorisation of the medicinal product is important. It allows continued monitoring of the benefit/risk balance of the medicinal product. Healthcare professionals are asked to report any suspected adverse reactions via the Coronavirus Yellow Card reporting site https://coronavirus-yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk/

    The MHRA was given just five days to study the mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2. Hancock called this “the closest scrutiny”.

    Its safety and effectiveness have not been “clearly established”.

    The Pfizer product has been given a temporary, narrow approval under the emergency Covid19 legal instruments so eagerly approved by our braindead MPs earlier this year.”

    https://therealslog.com/2020/12/03/exclusive-how-health-secretary-matt-hancock-misled-parliament-about-the-pfizer-vaccine/

    So basically, it’s only suitable for use by healthy working age males (and females who are not pregnant or wishing to become pregnant). Anybody on medication (which is millions of people over 50) is excluded. In other words, the demographic least at risk is the demographic mainly covered by the MHRA authorisation. What a farce.

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  18. Fauci is just blowing smoke to defend their own bureaucratic slowness. They have exactly the same information as the UK. That they take longer to review and approve it doesn’t mean they did a better job of doing so, only that it took longer to do it.

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  19. I just posted this at Bishop Hill, in response to a comment there, and as it seems vaguely relevant to aspects of this discussion, I also leave it here, FWIW:

    “”Denmark set to end all new oil and gas exploration”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-55184580

    “Denmark will end all new oil and gas exploration in the North Sea, as part of a wider plan to stop extracting fossil fuels by 2050.

    Its government also agreed to cancel its latest licensing round on Thursday, which gives firms permission to search for and produce oil and gas.

    “We are now putting a final end to the fossil era,” said Denmark’s climate minister.

    Greenpeace Denmark described the announcement as a “watershed moment”.

    However, the country’s latest licensing round was facing uncertainty, after Total of France pulled out in October, leaving only one other applicant.

    Denmark is currently the largest oil producer in the European Union, although it produces much less than non-EU members Norway or the UK.

    It pumped 103,000 barrels a day in 2019, according to analysis by UK oil giant BP

    There are 55 drilling platforms on its territory, across 20 oil and gas fields.

    “We’re the European Union’s biggest oil producer and this decision will therefore resonate around the world,” Danish climate minister Dan Jorgensen said on Thursday.

    The decision will cost Denmark about 13 billion kroner (£1.1bn), according estimates by the energy ministry, though it said this amount was subject to substantial uncertainty….”.

    Reporting by the Guardian and the BBC seems to be increasingly confused and confusing regarding climate change. On the 6pm news on Radio 4 this evening, this story was reported with a negative spin, the suggestion being that Denmark should aim to achieve this by 2030 rather than by 2050, yet this story on the BBC website is largely positive and supportive.

    Recently, though, we were given the carbontracker spin to the effect that thanks to China’s [non-] commitment to carbon neutrality and Biden’s win in the USA, we are now within spitting distance of achieving the Paris climate agreement temperature targets. Yet this article ends with:

    “…Governments around the world have also committed to take further action on climate change as part of a wider plan to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

    The UK will aim to cut its carbon emissions by at least 68% of what they were in 1990 by the end of 2030, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Friday.

    Scientists have said, however, that even if the UK and other nations keep their promises on cutting emissions there was no guarantee the world would avoid serious global warming.”

    So, which is it? Are we nearly there or are we basically stuffed regarding climate change? I do wish they’d make their minds up.”

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  20. Regarding Jit’s comment at 11.08 am today, another lengthy post I’ve just put at Bishop Hill again seems vaguely relevant. Apologies for its length:

    The BBC has now caught up with this morning’s story on this topic in the Guardian:

    “Climate change: UK aim of 68% emissions cut a ‘colossal challenge’
    By Roger Harrabin
    BBC environment analyst”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-55179008

    “Meeting the UK’s world-leading climate change target will be a “colossal challenge”, a government spending watchdog has warned.

    The National Audit Office says it will affect the way we work, travel, heat our homes – even how much meat we eat.

    In a report it says the cost of cutting CO2 is highly uncertain, but the cost of allowing temperatures to rise would probably be greater….

    …The RSPB’s Martin Harper said: “The UK government’s new 2030 climate target will enhance the UK’s leadership credentials.

    “But we need to go further and faster, in particular by investing in protecting and restoring habitats such as our peatlands which are so important for locking up carbon.”

    A UK strategy on conserving peat is long-delayed….”

    I particularly liked that last bit. Perhaps if we stopped destroying peat bogs by building wind farms on them and cutting great swathes through them for the access roads, peat in this country might be doing a bit better?

    The BBC website report is rather short on the detail contained in the report itself, wo which you can link here:

    Click to access Achieving-net-zero.pdf

    It includes this:

    “…Aiming for net zero represents an increase in the level of ambition from government’s previous emissions reduction target. In 2008, government set a target for the UK to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 by 80% compared with 1990 levels. Between 2008 and 2018, the UK’s emissions reduced by 28%, faster than any other G20 economy. Most of this reduction has come from changes to how electricity is generated, with a switch away from coal and
    increasing amounts coming from renewable sources such as wind and solar power. Reducing emissions further to achieve net zero will require wide-ranging changes to the UK economy, including further investment in renewable electricity generation, as well as changing the way people travel, how land is used and how buildings are heated….”

    And this:

    “…Achieving net zero is a colossal challenge and significantly more challenging than government’s previous target to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050. Achieving net zero means all parts of the economy, including those that are
    harder to decarbonise, need to reduce emissions substantially. In some sectors, there are well-understood pathways to net zero but there is uncertainty in other sectors over how to reduce emissions. This is because it is not yet known how
    quickly some technologies will develop or how much individuals will be willing to change their behaviours. Also, the majority of reductions in greenhouse gas emissions achieved to date have been in the power sector, which required
    consumers to change their behaviour less than will be necessary for other sectors that need to decarbonise, such as heat and transport…”.

    And this:

    “…The costs of achieving net zero are highly uncertain but the costs of inaction would be far greater. There are costs to achieving net zero because of the need to switch to new technologies that in some cases are more expensive than those currently used, and the need to build new infrastructure to accommodate them. The exact amount and timing of future costs are very uncertain because there are several potential ways to achieve net zero. The Climate Change Committee (CCC), in 2019, estimated that the annual costs of achieving net zero could increase over time to being around 1%–2% of GDP in 2050. BEIS is developing its own estimate of what net zero will cost between now and 2050, with this likely to be hundreds of billions of pounds. The CCC will also publish shortly revised analysis of the potential costs of net zero. HM Treasury will investigate how these costs could be shared between government, businesses and individuals. As part of this review, which will conclude in 2021, HM Treasury will consider the range of policy instruments that might be used to support decarbonisation, including the role of regulation. The costs of inaction would be far greater than the costs of achieving net zero because of the need to adapt to substantial climate change, such as building flood defences and dealing with the health impacts of higher temperatures. The CCC has also suggested there are wider benefits of achieving net zero, such as improvements to human health and enhanced biodiversity….”.

    And this:

    “…Achieving net zero will require changes unprecedented in their overall scale. There are several different pathways to achieving the target, but all will require changes to the way people live and how businesses operate…”.

    And this:

    “BEIS has not produced comprehensive estimates of the possible benefits of achieving net zero, but its initial work suggests that costs could be offset even when considering only a narrow set of benefits (fuel savings, air quality
    improvements and an estimate of the cost of carbon saved by reducing emissions). Benefits may be greater still if global emissions reductions mitigate the need for extensive adaptation measures, such as reinforcing or expanding flood defences, or dealing with the additional health impacts of higher temperatures. While some adaptation will be necessary as a result of the impacts of climate change linked to historical emissions, rapid and concerted global action to limit further emissions could mean avoiding more substantial adaptation costs that would be required in more extreme climate change scenarios. The CCC has also suggested that benefits could potentially outweigh costs of net zero, particularly once wider benefits, such as healthier lifestyles due to more active travel and improved diets, less noise and enhanced biodiversity, are taken into account….”.

    There’s much more in similar vein, but not much extra that’s directly on point. Clearly a huge amount of work has been done to produce this 67 page report, but one might ask what the point is. It’s an enormous exercise in group-think, relying on existing assumptions, and asking no difficult questions.

    One might have thought a conclusion such as “Achieving net zero will require changes unprecedented in their overall scale. There are several different pathways to achieving the target, but all will require changes to the way people live and how businesses operate” would lead to intense scrutiny of what those changes are, and a highly detailed cost-benefit analysis, but one would search in vain for anything meaningful or useful in that regard in this report.

    Similarly, the sweeping assumption, casually inserted without any supporting evidence, to the effect that “The costs of inaction would be far greater than the costs of achieving net zero because of the need to adapt to substantial climate change, such as building flood defences and dealing with the health impacts of higher temperatures. The CCC has also suggested there are wider benefits of achieving net zero, such as improvements to human health and enhanced biodiversity” is jaw-dropping in its naivety.

    No numbers have been crunched, no supporting evidence has been supplied, and it assumes that if we go to all this trouble and expense, the costs of adaptation can be saved but if we don’t go this trouble and expense (expense which nobody seems to be bothered to quantify), those costs will hit us across the chops, and my word, what big costs they will be (even though we don’t know what they are)!

    When are the grown-ups going to take charge?

    Liked by 3 people

  21. O/T but rather lovely:

    We’ll get there in the end (even if Mr Greybeard’s guitar is a bit greasy).

    Like

  22. The Cabinet recently announced that they are repealing the Fixed Term Parliament Act. This will mean that a government can call a General Election at any time. Are we ready to vote David Kurten and Heritage Party? This may be our last chance to get rid of the climate change fanatics at Westminster.

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  23. I’m glad that Jaime agrees with my take on the vaccine approval. The stuff on the website is rather more circumspect than on the press release I read, but it seems to convey the same meaning…

    Liked by 1 person

  24. @Mark

    If there is hope, it does not lie with the NAO. The surface area of the UK is one part in 2000 of the Earth. Therefore the “benefits” of our noble action will be spread 2000 times thinner than the costs. There is no possibility therefore that the benefits of Net Zero in the UK would ever exceed its cost. You might expect the NAO to understand that the benefits of our actions in this sphere extend even to those whose attitude to carbon dioxide emissions is less “virtuous” than ours, but apparently that is not the case. They have drunk the kool-aid.

    If examined rationally, we would be left with only the old “we have to do this to obtain moral authority” argument to justify the costs. Which is an argument for leaping off the cliff and hoping that everyone else will leap with us. And that while falling we will grow wings.

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  25. Geoff:

    MAN IN A BARREL

    We should also note that the current licence for the Pfizer vaccine in the UK has a number of stipulations … It cannot be used on people already on medication …

    So that’s practically no-one over the age of 70 then, and no-one in care homes. No-one, in fact, who stands more than an infinitesimal chance of dying from it. Shouldn’t this be the headline in every newspaper today?

    It should, if it really works out like that. But I don’t believe it will. The stupidity – and loss of electoral credibility, given the amount being spent and the political capital lost – would be terminal. Which brings me to Jaime:

    The Cabinet recently announced that they are repealing the Fixed Term Parliament Act. This will mean that a government can call a General Election at any time. Are we ready to vote David Kurten and Heritage Party? This may be our last chance to get rid of the climate change fanatics at Westminster.

    I agree with getting rid of the FTPA. But in what way is that consistent with the idea that the government is now fascist? Or using the term UK Politburo as you did earlier on this thread? These totalitarians didn’t make voting against them easier, as a general rule. For which read: never.

    Same question about Piers Corbyn’s very light sentence. Compare that with the fate of Hans Litten just a month after Hitler had become Chancellor – a point I first made on 30th August that you have never responded to:

    On whether it’s good to call the UK government fascist, just consider Hans Litten and his arrest the night of the Reichstag fire in February 1933, four weeks after Hitler became Chancellor. From then on it was torture and incarceration in a series of horrific concentration camps until the poor man committed suicide in 1938. Just because the brilliant young lawyer had sought to apply the rule of law to Hitler himself in 1931.

    Meanwhile Boris came to power here in July 2019 …

    The analogy is ridiculous and with its stupidity go loads of much more interesting questions. More nuanced ones, indeed – thanks MiaB. For example, were the authorities more relaxed than they would have been about the arch anti-lockdown protest maestro because they had become convinced that the vaccine (and its two competitors) would provide a way out of lockdown – and that’s in fact what they desperately want, as elected politicians?

    As I said at the top, I see interesting connections.

    And the title of the thread? Somehow it feels like it’s become provocative to suggest that there’s been some good news in the public space. And I think there has, especially Keira’s victory in the High Court. That shows that even entrenched evil (as climate extremism and cronyism also are) can be significantly rolled back.

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  26. I should add that I will look at the video Jaime linked to from Dr Yeadon over the weekend. Thanks for that – and for all the contributions to this thread so far.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. MiAB,

    If I knew how the grown-ups could gain control, I’d be doing something about it. I fear that observing on sites such as this that the NAO and others are quite simply not up to the job, will not achieve the glorious revolution that’s needed…..

    So long as every major political party is signed up to the same stupidity, then we’re effectively done for, IMO.

    Like

  28. I suppose I am late in getting interested but this struck me as truly weird

    No doubt Mr Drake can explain why the UK has bought 6 doses of vaccine for the entire population?

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  29. Mr Barrel, please do call me Richard. I think the slightly sinister affectation has run its course.

    I have no idea. Thanks for the pointer.

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  30. Jaime: I viewed the Yeadon video with JHB and I think he’s very good. I’d previously read one piece by him in the Mail, which I likewise thought was excellent. It’s a key point about post-1945 medical ethics after real Naziism had perverted the field in such a terrible way. So no coercion. All very good.

    Like

  31. Mark:

    So long as every major political party is signed up to the same stupidity, then we’re effectively done for, IMO.

    I was thinking of doing a sister post to “Provocation” called “Despair”. Here I began with two pretty major bits of good news. At least as I see them. But much else seems filled with darkness. How do we, how should we, react to that?

    The other thing is something you and I touched on recently by email: how, when we move off climate science and policy, we are bound to disagree in ways that may not be very productive. Not just within the subject matter: transgender ideology, the new vaccine or whatever. But on which subject is more important than another. The virus, science and policy, has taken up many, many words on Cliscep this year. But you gave me an example of someone I really appreciated on here who left us because they disagreed with the line taken by some leading lights on a completely different, non-climate subject. That bit of news really, really bothered me.

    But climate does seem a bit of a death march at the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. One can always hope for well-placed banana skins …

    But here’s another almost painful combo of triumph and disaster. This week The Spectator has invited old leftie, comic writer and surprise hero for Richard Drake, Graham Linehan, to do a Diary page:

    Excellent stuff. The same week Ben Pile has been in trenchant despair about the magazine giving ground to the Green Blob. I did my best to show support. One can read back in the thread for the unimpressive details:

    Like

  33. Mark H: “So long as every major political party is signed up to the same stupidity, then we’re effectively done for, IMO”

    The only way forward with this is to create political representation against NearNetZero. A potential downside being that not everyone may like some of the bedfellow policies, but nothing’s perfect. from today’s Spectator (Patrick O’Flynn), on the creation of the Reform party:

    ‘Even if the remaining chapters of the Covid story are dominated by a relatively smooth journey back to normality — and even if the purest possible Brexit emerges (which it probably won’t) — the new venture will go ahead.

    This is because of two key factors. The first concerns the sheer array of touchstone issues still up for grabs for a new right-of-centre offer. The second factor guaranteeing the new venture will go ahead is Tice himself.

    Even after lockdowns and Brexit have passed, there still remains: Rishi Sunak’s tax rises; the ever more intrusive and expensive carbon reduction policies of the PM, including a war on motorists and a looming withdrawal of domestic gas supply; the actuality of the immigration system (as opposed to the Tories talking a good game); a feeling that this is a crony administration that favours its friends over ordinary folk; ministerial reticence in the face of radical Islam; wider culture war issues; and a general sense of scratchiness towards a Tory party that is heading towards the start of its twelfth successive year in power next spring.’
    https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/richard-tice-not-nigel-farage-should-terrify-the-tories

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  34. Richard,

    I was very surprised, I must admit, to discover that the Cabinet wants to repeal the FTPA and it either means they have come over all democratic once again, after enjoying ruling by decree for 8 months, or they have some other reason for doing so. I’m at a loss to explain it, I must admit. Have they bought shares in Dominion perhaps? Will the next GE be majority postal vote because of Covid or some other deadly disease doing the rounds?

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  35. Jaime: “I was very surprised, I must admit, to discover that the Cabinet wants to repeal the FTPA and it either means they have come over all democratic once again, after enjoying ruling by decree for 8 months, or they have some other reason for doing so. I’m at a loss to explain it, I must admit.”

    And maybe it’s neither of those options. Maybe it indicates that the model (I don’t mean formal) you’ve been using to explain what’s happening and why, has some serious issues 😉

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  36. Andy, that might be the case if I had a model (even an ‘informal’ one) to explain what’s happening and why, but I don’t. I’m just looking at the empirical data and science and trying to make sense of it all. I leave the modelling to epidemiologists and climate scientists!

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  37. Then there’s this, which explains in more detail the phenomenon Antibody Dependent Enhancement, which Dr Yeadon has pointed out and which this guy apparently warned vaccine manufacturers about, but was ignored. I think on the whole, I’ll risk being banned from football matches, concerts and Qantas flights rather than queue up for this vax which Matt says he’ll do. I think that’s taking rational optimism a bit too far!

    https://twitter.com/YellowCube7/status/1335020288543576064

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  38. Holy shite. In case you were wavering, read this entire thread by a practising GP. The ‘NHS Reset’. Post Covid. Vaccine is effectively unlicensed. Prescribers have duty to point this out and are responsible for adverse effects, not the Pharma company. When you’re vaccinated, it won’t go onto your digital NHS record but on a ‘Pinnacle’ record, run by EMIS, who are part of the ‘NHS Reset’ which is, in brief:

    “We’ll see widespread adoption of genomics, proteomics, lifestyle data collection and PSYCHOLOGICAL DATA COLLECTION. Intelligent algorithms will be used to enable truly personalised healthcare and medicines, delivered by clinicians and patients themselves, underpinning improved psychological and physical wellbeing.”

    Fourth Industrial Revolution anyone? You can be part of the future; all it takes to get you going is a quick jab in the arm by a builder who just happened to complete a St. John’s Ambulance First Aid course (don’t even ask!)

    https://twitter.com/GeodanNew/status/1335230099969495041

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  39. Jaime: Everyone has an informal one 0: It’s what in your mind best satisfies to date the effort of ‘trying to make sense of it all’.

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  40. I live in the carbon negative state of Tasmania, net emissions 2018 minus 2.2Mt CO2 equivalent.
    When my grand daughter started school striking for real climate action, I asked her if she knew what our emissions are and whether her teachers had ever mentioned this. You can guess the answer.

    Liked by 2 people

  41. Geoff Cr: Thanks for that, and especially for your reflections on 3rd:

    Interesting post Richard, the PB thing seems horrifying to me, in most cases. My wife tells me that she was often described as a tomboy in childhood, hated dresses, liked football, fishing and punching boys who teased her. Seems every chance that today over concerned parents might have deprived us of a happy 40 year marriage.

    Puberty Blockers that must have been. You’ve absolutely hit the nail on the head. The word tomboy belongs to a more innocent age and a far more sensible one, one has to say, despite the apparent worship of youth in some quarters. And that’s why a brave 23-year-old taking on the UK transgender establishment, and winning, about her own regrets at being persuaded to ‘transition’ medically far too young is such a wonderful thing. (Keira Bell was joined in prosecuting her case against the Tavistock Institute by ‘Mrs A,” a concerned mother of a younger girl going through the same ‘social contagion’ nightmare, influenced by much older people that she isn’t really female at all. Never has anonymity had a more justified place in court.)

    It’s a very different subject from climate or coronavirus but there is very interesting science involved in all three. And what one might call science-politics. The role of Big Pharma in both transgender activism and Covid responses is another really deep connection. But in saying that I don’t mean to imply that all pharmaceutical companies are the blackest of evil. Indeed, I agree with Matt Ridley that “The extinction of smallpox in 1977 was probably science’s greatest achievement.” Nuance is indeed our inescapable companion en route to some kind of sanity.

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  42. Mark: thank you. Very helpful to know about.

    As you can see, I’ve opened up another possible avenue for the “we’re effectively done for” conversation, so climate despair is separated from vaccine despair, if that’s what this thread has to turn into, for strictly scientific reasons.

    Geoff (three days ago):

    I suppose one of the points we can take a way [sic] is that even Nick Cohen, a radical opinionator who has spent the best part of his working life defending the establishment, must sometimes get it right.

    Indeed, that was part of the intended message. Though my view of Cohen pre-Keira Bell was perhaps more positive than yours, because of his piece How to defend the arts using liberal values in The Spectator, no less, in October 2015. But The climate change deniers have won in The Guardian a year and a half before was lamentable and sadly wrong in its headline to boot.

    Cohen, by my lights, has only recently had the courage to get to grips with extreme transgenderism. He’s paid a much lower price, therefore, than Graham Linehan. And when the data changes, even about people who want to call me a denier, I change my opinion:

    The person I was debating the merits of Linehan with there has deleted all his tweets in the thread, so I assume I visibly won the argument. What a lamentable system Twitter is. But the network effect is strong with that one.

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  43. Mark, we see time and time again these days how science has become the plaything of a privileged elite intent on re-framing society in the image of identity politics and social and ‘climate’ justice, how it is being abused to implement an agenda which suits a minority, not the majority. ‘Immunity passports’ are the latest thing – promoted by a media class and host of ‘experts’ who have very little idea of what ‘immunity’ they are actually talking about.

    Then we have this crazy idea, mentioned in that Guardian article, that puberty blockers are ‘safe and irreversible’. ‘Safe’ as in they have few immediate medical side effects, but they are not reversible, just as many natural thermodynamic and biological processes are not reversible, Hormone blockers involve some sort of ‘hysteresis loss’, both psychologically and biologically. They are not a reversible intervention in a complex human being approaching puberty. The very idea that they are simply reversible is insane and you have to wonder who are the ‘experts’ who have brainwashed parents with this notion.

    I don’t think censoring the internet is that sensible though. Reining in schools, charities, the government, the NHS and other public bodies who are idiotically promoting this pseudoscientific political ideology is what’s really needed. Let me clear, childhood gender identity crisis is real and, in some cases, does not disappear with adulthood, but it is extremely rare and is not in the same league as tomboyish or girlie behaviour in young children. Ideologues promoting convenient ‘scientific’ Big Pharma ‘solutions’ to normal childood behaviour is NOT the answer.

    Liked by 2 people

  44. Well, whaddya know, just talking of ‘experts’ and children and their brainwashed parents, here we go with the vaccine propaganda. Professor Van-Tam says Santa will be at the top of the list for vaccination so he can deliver presents this Christmas. This guy needs to pull his neck in now. What an absolute irresponsible moron.

    https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1367858/Christmas-2020-covid-vaccine-Santa-Claus-Van-Tam-coronavirus-news-latest-video-vn

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  45. For an alternative view to Jaime Jessop’s at 10:20am, see The Guardian’s How Jonathan Van-Tam won the nation's trust on coronavirus. Actually, that was just the first thing that hit me when I googled to make sure I got his name right. Before that I googled for Spinal Tap:

    Do we really need to turn the knobs to eleven on this comment about Santa? Isn’t it possible there was some humour involved? I haven’t turned to the Express, I confess. My interest in this thread was, first, that climate sceptics have differing views on the vaccine. That I think we have established beyond doubt, with help from Matt Ridley. And I had another concern related to that: that we would be painted as anti-science if the vaccine worked, or even was seen to work, by the vast majority of the UK population, if we took a very strong line against it right now.

    There were other concerns. But “careless talk costs lives,” from WW2, alongside “mustn’t grumble,” continues to inspire.

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  46. The only views we need on a vaccine are whether it works, what the side effects are and who should it be administered to. As far as we know, it is effective. Because of the lack of rigorous testing, we have no clue about its side effects. Because we have no clue, it would be grossly irresponsible to use it on the people who could really benefit from it – elderly people on medication. Rushing it into use and buying colossal numbers of doses are very stupid things to do in the UK. If you are unfortunate enough to live in New Zealand, the calculation changes.

    Liked by 2 people

  47. MiaB:

    The only views we need on a vaccine are whether it works, what the side effects are and who should it be administered to.

    I disagree. The existence of a vaccine which is widely believed to work, without any significant negative side-effects, may transform people’s attitudes to returning to normal life. Yeadon, Jessop and others may think that they should never have been so bothered in the first place, or at least in the second place, after the first wave was over, given the risks they are happy to live with every day in other areas, but it may be the vaccine that tips them into acting far more rationally.

    Wouldn’t this make it grossly irresponsible not to use it as widely as possible?

    Massive negative side-effects that only become clear some way down the road would indeed be a bit of a downer!

    But science and biotech have moved on since Thalidomide and pregnant women would not, in any case, be expected to take part.

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  48. Concern at being portrayed as ‘anti-science’ if the vaccine works or is seen to work is the very last thing on my mind at the moment. I’m pro-science, pro-data, pro thorough testing, which is PRECISELY why I am so anti this particular vaccine. More to the point, I am pro choice and pro informed consent. All of these things are missing in the rollout of this vax and that, combined with the absurd level of propaganda and hysteria generated deliberately by its marketers and the extremely dishonest and coercive way it has been marketed mean I wouldn’t go near it with a barge pole.

    Just look at the MSM to see how absurdly hyped this vaccine is. The Queen and Prince Phillip are going to get it (maybe they’ll do it live on TV like Jonson and that moron Piers Morgan?). Santa’s going to get the jab. No doubt every two-bit celebrity will be keen to tell us how they too are going to get jabbed in order to save grannies everywhere. Then there’s this. The anti-vaxx movement is a Russian conspiracy. Dan Hodges of the Mail on Sunday has outdone even Codswallop with this one:

    “But now, with the vaccine that could finally end our Covid nightmare about to be rolled out, Britain’s overseas enemies are mobilising.

    On Wednesday, Putin’s international mouthpiece, Russia Today, greeted news of UK vaccine authorisation by reporting that ‘Britain became the first nation in the world to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for widespread use on Wednesday.

    The announcement was delivered in pompous style by the government’.”

    OMG. RT reported that Wancock pompously announced the world first authorisation of a Covid vaccine. He did. But just reporting the truth is somehow indicative of a Russian anti-vaxx conspiracy!? LOL.

    Remind me again, who are the whacko, anti-science conspiracy theorists nowadays?

    Also have you seen this web page? If genuine, it looks like the vast majority of us are anti-vax and anti Covid scam.

    https://www.worldvaccinepoll.com/

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  49. Re worldvaccinepoll site. Very odd, no meaningful site information at all. Plus all the figures are almost the same in all 7 vote categories. Not what one would expect.

    Some mainstream polls in the UK 2 to 3 weeks back showed a big majority would take the vaccine. I think one via the Daily Mail was 74% in favour. There was even a majority for mandatory vaccination, albeit much slimmer (I don’t recall the figure). And about a 1% or 2% or so majority for banning people from pubs and bars if they hadn’t had a vaccine (I think this one was via the Daily Express).

    Liked by 1 person

  50. It seems that Yeadon and others have concerns about the vaccine testing regime.

    “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. ”

    They are worried about the auto immune system response, which is actually one of my main concerns because of allergies and eczema :

    ” The formation of so-called “non-neutralizing antibodies” can lead to an exaggerated immune reaction, especially when the test person is confronted with the real, “wild” virus after vaccination. This so-called antibody-dependent amplification, ADE, has long been known from experiments with corona vaccines in cats, for example. In the course of these studies all cats that initially tolerated the vaccination well died after catching the wild virus.”

    https://www.zerohedge.com/medical/ex-pfizer-exec-demands-eu-halt-covid-19-vaccine-studies-over-indefinite-infertility-and?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+zerohedge%2Ffeed+%28zero+hedge+-+on+a+long+enough+timeline%2C+the+survival+rate+for+everyone+drops+to+zero%29

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  51. To my mind, some of the great things about this site are the lack of a rulebook, and the freedom to discuss things without sanction, the ability to disagree (sometimes strongly) with others, without falling out (I hope), and while the thing that unites the founders of the site and most regular contributors is climate scepticism, I find it encouraging that we can differ greatly about so many other subjects – thus demonstrating that we are free-thinkers, not group-thinkers living in an echo-chamber.

    Delving deeper, what is the site’s purpose? Does it seek to persuade the undecided that there is at least a debate to be had about climate change and the policy considerations associated with it? Or is there an implicit assumption that nothing can be done to persuade people, so that it is in essence a forum for the sceptical to exchange views and inform others about recent developments and news articles, but not much else? Or something different entirely? If the former, I think it’s vital to avoid comments at the extreme end of scepticism on other subjects, for precisely the reason Richard gave above – we don’t want to be open to the criticism of being “anti-science”, and we don’t want to give the impression (even if the impression is inaccurate) of being a bit unhinged. Everything we discuss should, I think, usefully be backed up by supporting evidence, especially if views expressed are a bit “off the wall”. But that’s just my personal opinion. I’m off to read the “Despair” thread shortly to see if there’s any cross-over (perhaps I should have read it first before commenting here).

    On the subject of vaccinations, my views are, I like to believe, rational, and not anti-science. I am certainly not “anti-vaxxer” (a group of people whose numbers and importance are, I suspect, massively exaggerated by a state and establishment frightened of the people not doing exactly what they’re told), and indeed I have had large numbers of vaccinations throughout my life, especially before holidays to exotic locations which carried the potentially to pick up nasty diseases while there. During the last few days I have availed myself of the (now free) over-50s flu jab. However, while being very keen to see mass take-up of a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccination, so that the authorities might be persuaded to allow life return to something like normality, I’m not in a hurry to take a vaccination whose approval process seems to have been rushed. Once I’m satisfied it’s safe, without potential side-effects that might be worse than the disease it’s supposed to protect against (which for a fit, healthy male in his 50s like me wouldn’t be too serious, I like to think) then I’ll line up to take it, but not before.

    Which begs the question of what will satisfy me that it’s safe. I’d like to see much more in the way of peer-reviewed commentary on it; I’ll await the effects on large numbers of human guinea pigs who are happier than I am to take it asap; and I’d be a lot happier if the government hadn’t exempted the providers for liability for side-effects (if it’s safe, why are they so keen to be provided with this unusual exemption?). I’m hoping my concerns are unfounded and that I’ll be in the queue for vaccination sooner rather than later. Goodness knows, we need 2021 to be a better year than 2020.

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  52. Andy:

    Some mainstream polls in the UK 2 to 3 weeks back showed a big majority would take the vaccine. I think one via the Daily Mail was 74% in favour. There was even a majority for mandatory vaccination, albeit much slimmer (I don’t recall the figure). And about a 1% or 2% or so majority for banning people from pubs and bars if they hadn’t had a vaccine (I think this one was via the Daily Express).

    Compare with the first comment on this thread, from Jaime:

    Whether it works or it doesn’t, whether it’s safe or it’s not, the crucial question is how is this government going to sell this novel vaccine against a novel coronavirus to a very sceptical public?

    We all have our own filter bubbles – echo chambers, in old money – but I was astounded by that “very sceptical public” assumption baked in to the first sentence of the first comment. Not what I felt I was picking up on Radio 5 Live as they interviewed Mr and Mrs Public across the country or anywhere else.

    I don’t blame the media or the government for this. Like Andy, I think you sometimes have to listen and learn from Ms Clapham Omnibus. (Well, I think this is how Andy sees it, when the long words are stripped away!)

    Because the wisdom of crowds is a thing. Except of course when it isn’t.

    The dripping contempt for the ordinary person, exemplified by some names I won’t mention again, has not for me been the greatest aspect of the transfer of the ‘scepticism’ meme to the lockdown situation.

    On climate we’ve had the ordinary person on our side for many years, with some change towards alarmism but nothing like the percentages on the vaccine. This should ring warning bells, in my view. My own instinct is that the wisdom of crowds is operating. As it is in the transgender ideology area. We’ll miss Dominic Cummings and his “no more of that drivel” – expressing the view of the vast majority of the population. But with a corrupted elite, it took courage and intelligence, led by Keira Bell, to bring the courts into line.

    So, my two examples of good news stand. In my own mind at least. And there are inspirational examples to take courage from, whether Keira or Katalin Karikó. And you hadn’t seen that alliteration coming, had you? 🙂

    Over and out for the moment as I go back to winter hibernation aka CSS refactoring. Respect to Jaime for her comments on Trump and Fauci and the surprise move of the government on FTPA. I hope we continue to be surprised. It sure makes life more interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  53. Personally. I think the public are highly sceptical of vaccines and they are becoming more sceptical. I think they are especially sceptical of this vaccine. That might not necessarily mean they don’t take it in their millions though because of the way it has been sold to them – as a way out of illegal lockdowns, which is itself extremely dishonest. But seriously, how can you not expect the public to be sceptical of vaccines when the manufacturers are given indemnity against damages and where the WHO has now changed the definition of adverse vaccine reactions to include only those identified in preliminary trials. So when ‘unexpected’ reactions happen during roll-out, they are not considered to be causally related to the vaccine! It’s absurd. It’s almost Monty Python.

    https://twitter.com/MichaelYeadon3/status/1335966428881629191

    https://twitter.com/MichaelYeadon3/status/1335966441737252868

    https://twitter.com/MichaelYeadon3/status/1335966443695984644

    https://twitter.com/MichaelYeadon3/status/1335966445432352771

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  54. Jaime, “But seriously, how can you not expect the public to be sceptical of vaccines when… etc.”

    This is not a case of expectations. There’s data. Unless the data changes (which it may or may not as details seep out), then the low level of scepticism is what it is. That you have processed this differently to the majority of the public is neither here nor there (and surely not unusual anyhow?) It will be interesting though to see what newer polls, post vaccine approval, say. Haven’t see any yet.

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  55. Andy, of course it is a case of expectations! It is logical and reasonable to expect that if the public are aware of this new definition of vaccine harms, which specifically excludes any harms not revealed by limited clinical trials, meaning that basically any illness which occurs soon after vaccination is not considered causally related to the vaccine, then vaccine scepticism is going to grow among the public. I give my fellows credit for some common sense in that regard and don’t consider that I process this information in any way different than most people would process it. Did you not notice what happened in Denmark when the government was proposing compulsory vaccination? Huge numbers opposed it and the proposed legislation was abandoned. That is scepticism.

    By the way, my ‘informal model’ which attempts to make sense of this government’s (and other governments’) actions is gaining more traction as the weeks pass and it becomes increasingly difficult to rationalize what this government has done to this country – and why.

    “So, what is going on now? Why has a Conservative government apparently abandoned these core values? Why is it behaving more like a socialist government, with out-of-control debt, massive unemployment, draconian controls over business, invasion of private lives with people being told where they may and may not go, who they may and may not meet, what they may and may not buy? Why has Britain been placed on a wartime footing for the sake of fighting a virus which is no more lethal than a seasonal ’flu?

    The pretext that fighting a virus justifies current Government policy is no longer making sense. People know that there are alternative strategies to lockdowns, such as those suggested by the Great Barrington Declaration. We also know that effective treatments exist. There is no reason to fear the virus as much as we might have done at the beginning of 2020. But, because the Government is behaving so irrationally, people are starting to ask why? They are beginning to wonder if there is another agenda.

    So far, we have had only hints of a different future in ‘Build Back Better’ and the Prime Minister’s references to digital. ‘Build Back Better’, however, seems to be a global slogan in line with the World Economic Forum’s ‘The Great Reset’, now endorsed by Prince Charles. WEF’s founder Professor Klaus Schwab has stated: ‘The pandemic represents a rare but narrow window of opportunity to reflect, re-imagine, and reset our world’ in the direction of the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’. The UK Government is being coy about its own support for WEF, in spite of publishing a White Paper last year in which collaboration between the UK and WEF was clearly established.

    Why is the UK Government not being more open about its support for the World Economic Forum and the Fourth Industrial Revolution? Is it because of a fundamental lack of compatibility between the philosophy of the World Economic Forum and core Conservative Party values?”

    https://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/technocracy-and-the-abolition-of-man/

    Here’s that White Paper, published 6 days after Johnson’s infamous tweet about fanatically pursuing net zero:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/regulation-for-the-fourth-industrial-revolution

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  56. Jaime: “Andy, of course it is a case of expectations! It is logical and reasonable to expect that if the public are aware of this new definition of vaccine harms, which specifically excludes any harms not revealed by limited clinical trials, meaning that basically any illness which occurs soon after vaccination is not considered causally related to the vaccine, then vaccine scepticism is going to grow among the public.”

    Publics subject to mass emotive behaviours do not behave logically and reasonably. And all the info that does get out there is contested as to meaning and import by multiple sides in such circumstances too, so one can’t assume that any independent set of accepted ‘truths’ does or will ever exist out there. Added to which, there will not only be plenty of scientists backing the safety, likely right now that’s a majority too, albeit we don’t have a poll for this. Publics have no significant means to assess one scientist’s view over another (and out of a complex and conflicted domain not personally and deeply researched, we can hardly make absolute judgements on same ourselves). However, I said the data is what it is *now*, the public are largely not sceptical; yet I also noted that indeed it will be interesting to see if this changes when some of the detail does make it out there, in whatever forms. But our measure will remain the data, not an expectation that the public perforce *must* take some course, whether it seems obvious or not. I wouldn’t make any bet in such circumstances, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the current public majority survived, albeit maybe cut in size.

    “By the way, my ‘informal model’ which attempts to make sense of this government’s (and other governments’) actions is gaining more traction as the weeks pass…”

    Great. Have you updated to correct for your ‘complete loss’ at why the government went for FTPA?

    “But, because the Government is behaving so irrationally, people are starting to ask why? They are beginning to wonder if there is another agenda.”

    That’s a great question, which everyone should ask. To which should be added, why nearly all other governments too, of whatever system and regime? The most obvious answer is because they actually *are* irrational, i.e. via communal irrationality, the same as can afflict publics too, and sometimes in sync. There are lots of historic examples of same; shouldn’t our first thoughts be the commonplace? Whatever rafts of special interests from climate culture to globalists to cardboard control freaks then try to seize opportunities presented by fear and change; these latter may indeed may the situation very dangerous, but that’s still very different to saying it’s cause (and deliberate, planned, consciously nefarious).

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  57. Re later poll data:

    BerniesTweet’s @berniespofforth today : “According to Sky only 11% of people wouldn’t stick to Tier lockdown restrictions once they had been vaccinated. What the hell is wrong with the other 89%?”

    Mail Online yesterday : “A Sky/YouGov survey of more than 1,700 people found that 54 per cent believed it would be ‘acceptable’ to limit air travel to only people who have received a Covid-19 vaccine.” (I see it’s the same poll as above, this figure for air-travel drops to 40% for restaurants, 44% for cinemas).

    Again the same poll, Sky leads with : “The findings also suggest there is work to do to convince the public, as nearly one-in-five say they are unlikely to get the jab.”

    1 in 5 is low. Little to no convincing needed to get the requisite numbers. All this suggests that the public are still, so far, pretty much the opposite of sceptical.

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  58. The Wall Street Journal said that “the UK population was more receptive to vaccination than Americans (79 per cent of Brits said they would take the injection, compared to 64 per cent of those in the US)” as repeated in The Spectator.

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  59. Thanks for pursuing the opinion poll data, Andy. I agree it indicates the UK is “pretty much the opposite of sceptical” on the vaccine though that of course can change.

    Going back to my original post, given I have a little more time than I expected to on Monday morning, and bearing in mind Elvis’s admonition “A little less conversation, a little more action, please,” here’s a really important request for feedback that’s directly relevant to why I joined a large crowd of mostly radical feminists supporting Linda Bellos and Venice Allan outside Westminster Magistrates Court in September 2018, who’d been dragged into court for alleged “hate speech” by transgender activists. I leave the reader to click down into Caroline Ffiske’s excellent explanatory thread on the Law Commission consultation:

    Our freedom is under threat and here’s one way to do something to arrest the decline.

    Meanwhile, on the vaccine, here’s a carefully worded thread pointed to by Matt Ridley, asking why the famous Wuhan lab didn’t produce a vaccine, when it seems to have been in an ideal position to do so.

    Question worth asking. But, as is often true, intemperate conspiracism probably won’t help.

    Liked by 1 person

  60. Here’s a fun video of the French prime minister getting flummoxed:

    A longer version:

    Jean Castex got confused after exiting Covid World and re-entering Former World, as I think many of us do. (I do.) He took his mask off and sanitized his hands and… ooof! I’m back where I used to be. Thank god for that. But is everything OK? Am I wearing my specs?

    Perhaps more interesting but even more off-topic: the first Castex video was plugged by Kristjan Guy Burgess – KGB: geddit? – an occasionally leftie Icelander who used to advise an Icelandic foreign minister and played a minor role in the Glaciergate thing. Every few years, I try to found out how he came by his name. I’ve just had another try. No luck. Any pointers?

    I could always ask him, I suppose.

    Nah. CliScep can solve it. How can an Icelander born in 1973 be called Kristjáni Guy Burgess?

    Liked by 1 person

  61. Vinny: I can’t solve it but I’m sure you’re right that Cliscep can. Very amusing illustration of the confusion we all feel right now. (At least I do, too.)

    Steve Mc admitted to having gone too far on the politics of the vaccine in the early hours UK time, which I found a great help. To my mind Steve has always been willing to do this and that’s why I listen to him as I do.

    There’s also this strand, in response to climate alarmist eli rabett aka chemistry professor Josh Halpern:

    Steve made his personal position on the vaccine clear ten days ago, with an important dig on who should be priority:

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  62. Provocation: London is locked down, businesses destroyed, lives destroyed, Christmas ruined, because of a mutant SARS-CoV-2 ‘new strain’ which Hancock claims may be spreading faster than the ‘old strain’ across SE England. How odd that the spike protein variant present in the ‘new strain’ is the same as that from a mouse-adapted laboratory strain of SARS-CoV-2 used to research vaccine effectiveness. #MouseGate

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  63. I happened to watch this video on youtube last night about one aspect of the English reformation. What struck me about it was how relatively little resistance from ordinary people to having their lives turned upside down at the whim of the ruling classes. And it occurred to me that the culture that we should be examining has nothing to do with religion, covid or climate change, but the deep underlying culture that defines how, we as ordinary citizens, relate to the way we are governed.

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  64. Bill Bedford: There isn’t a deep underlying culture that defines our relationship with governance. There are deep underlying mechanisms about how cultures work, which hence all of them run on, and despite many differing surface features most people can sense the resulting similarities. Having said that, elites form a critical cog in cultures, although for any particular cultural entity aren’t necessarily one-to-one with ruling elites, and can sometimes be opposed to ruling elites. And given that cultural mechanisms have been evolving from long before we were even human, they have continued to develop in parallel with all the many forms of rule that humans have come up with (albeit the oldest of single strongman / alpha-male rule actually predates them), and hence are entangled with these as a path to influence. While the primary ‘purpose’ of cultures is to hold together a group who will ‘sing off the same hymn-sheet’, some do propose that coalitions against alpha-male dominance are what gave early development a head start. Also, we need to be careful not to confuse all emotive phenomena with culture. While the latter invoke emotive commitments of a specific kind, our brains *subconsciously* ‘know’ that cultural fear, hope etc is not true, and so act differently. This is not so (primarily) for the kind of (real) raw fear prompted by covid, although there can indeed be cultural spin-off, plus all sorts of opportunities for existing cultural movements to further themselves during mass fear events.

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  65. Consider it appended. But the prospect taken exactly as stated has no support of any kind I’m aware of, notwithstanding all the caveats and entanglements that I did put forward. And indeed Bill may have spotted the generic mechanisms, so indeed a good spot, but was highly likely off on the characterisation.

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  66. Bullshit. This is a question of historiography. How many works of history have been published, in total? How many of them have supported your theory of history? My estimate: a very, very small percentage. So you don’t have the authority to come on this thread – my thread – and look down from a great height on what Bill said. And thus squash the conversation that would have happened without your intellectual-sounding but empty putdown.

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  67. Matt Ridley in The Spectator yesterday: Why mRNA vaccines could revolutionise medicine:

    Almost 60 years ago, in February 1961, two teams of scientists stumbled on a discovery at the same time. Sydney Brenner in Cambridge and Jim Watson at Harvard independently spotted that genes send short-lived RNA copies of themselves to little machines called ribosomes where they are translated into proteins. ‘Sydney got most of the credit, but I don’t mind,’ Watson sighed last week when I asked him about it. They had solved a puzzle that had held up genetics for almost a decade. The short-lived copies came to be called messenger RNAs — mRNAs – and suddenly they now promise a spectacular revolution in medicine.

    The first Covid-19 vaccine given to British people this month is not just a welcome breakthrough against a grim little enemy that has defied every other weapon we have tried, from handwashing to remdesivir and lockdowns. It is also the harbinger of a new approach to medicine altogether. Synthetic messengers that reprogram our cells to mount an immune response to almost any invader, including perhaps cancer, can now be rapidly and cheaply made.

    Katalin Karikó — the Hungarian-born scientist who doggedly pursued the idea behind this kind of medication for decades at the University of Pennsylvania before joining BioNTech — and her collaborator Drew Weissman may be the Watson and Brenner of this story. They figured out 15 years ago how to send a message in a bubble into a cell and have it read. For years they had tried putting in normal RNA and found it did not work; the body spotted it was an alien and destroyed it.

    Etc. It’s an amazing science story – told by Matt in what Charles Rotter at Watts Up With That has called a “wonderfully optimistic piece” – a story about which I think Cliscep has been in danger of opting to be in an intellectual backwater. Because good news isn’t our business. Oh no.

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  68. For example, Mr Barrel, on 4th December, gave his expert view of the Pfizer vaccine, based on his own reading, ending with a crude putdown of my own view, using a particularly smelly strawman:

    We should also note that the current licence for the Pfizer vaccine in the UK has a number of stipulations because of the paucity of testing. It cannot be used on pregnant women because there is no evidence of how it might affect the foetus. It cannot be used on people already on medication because there is little to no evidence of how it might interact with these drugs. Etc etc.

    Mr Drake, is there no room for nuance in your world? Must everything be Trump or Fauci?

    To which Geoff replied:

    So that’s practically no-one over the age of 70 then, and no-one in care homes. No-one, in fact, who stands more than an infinitesimal chance of dying from it. Shouldn’t this be the headline in every newspaper today?

    And that incisive comment was liked by Andy West. But I saw a snag in the reasoning:

    It should [be the headline in every newspaper today], if it really works out like that. But I don’t believe it will. The stupidity – and loss of electoral credibility, given the amount being spent and the political capital lost – would be terminal.

    Now the vaccinations have been going for over two weeks, with focus on the over-80s, and no disasters have occurred, who was right and who was operating under advanced Dunning-Kruger?

    Note the sophistication of my own argument: the government can’t be that stupid. But we all know, on Cliscep, that the government is monumentally stupid. And that’s how the error came to be. Making us look stupid to those on ATTP, the Daily Kos and the like who can be bothered to care.

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  69. Richard,

    “Now the vaccinations have been going for over two weeks, with focus on the over-80s, and no disasters have occurred, who was right and who was operating under advanced Dunning-Kruger?”

    So far so good is not a really great philosophy especially when it’s been just two weeks. Also, 2 very serious anaphylactic reactions have occurred in the UK and 6 in the US. One woman was in intensive care. I don’t know whether she still is. 3150 people who took the vaccine have also been made sick enough to have to take time off work, were unable to perform daily activities or required the care of a doctor or medical professional. We should not ignore these adverse health events and we definitely should not ignore the fact that the survival rate of the virus is greater than the success rate of the vaccine; also that it is not demonstrated to provide any form of herd immunity, but is being very heavily coerced right now by a health secretary threatening to keep many millions of people imprisoned in their own homes until the vaccine is ‘rolled out’. This violates the Nuremberg Code. That does not inspire trust in politics or the wonders of science to be frank. Optimism is great, but it has to be rational optimism. I’m not so sure that Matt’s is.

    [ttps://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/acip/meetings/downloads/slides-2020-12/slides-12-19/05-COVID-CLARK.pdf]

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  70. The idea that an mRNA would have adverse reactions with existing drugs is bordering on ridiculous, but regulations will insist that such things be tested, regardless of how ridiculous they might be. Existing drug reactions often come about because of a bottleneck at the detoxification and elimination step by enzymes. They can only process so much drug in a given amount of time. With two competing drugs, the plasma levels of both can increase beyond safe levels. Apart from that, you have effects which might potentiate the effects of other drugs, reduce their effectiveness, or the metabolized product might have side effects etc.

    mRNA in lipid vesicles is a completely novel drug. It neither competes with enzymes for detox, nor does it compete at sites of any other drugs. Its only job is to express a protein. Obviously, the type of protein expressed is the likely determining factor for any potential drug interactions, and I doubt a viral coat protein has any. The most likely side effects are direct ones stemming from an allergic reaction to the mRNA injection or the expression of the viral coat protein (which Jamie points to evidence of). Allergic reactions can be very severe, but it’s also a risk present with other drugs, penicillin being a good example.

    Liked by 3 people

  71. Vinny,

    That’s a great link you have dug up there.

    So, Peter Wadham is a big fan of Sir William Crookes then is he? He thinks he was stitched up by the mainstream, does he? Well, you might wish to recall the story of the notorious Mr Slade:

    https://cliscep.com/2018/10/05/the-notorious-mr-slade/

    To refresh your memory, it was Sir William who led the scientific high fliers who staked their professional reputations on Slade’s authenticity, only for it to emerge that Slade had been a charlatan all along. Crookes stitched himself up! The point I was making in my article, of course, is that scientists are not immune to naivety and are often the easiest to fool. Wadham’s hero worship of Sir William Crookes is very much in the same vein.

    I could say so much more but I’m a bit short of time right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  72. Andy, Gadzookes, why the use of a minced oath when referring to public acceptance of the new Tier 4? Frankly I’m surprised if the percentage weren’t higher if long-suffering Tier 3 northerners were asked if London didn’t deserve it.

    What did the 26% want? To let the rampaging virus rip? Perhaps yes if people like an individual from my town were asked. This “person” developed symptoms so knew he was infectious, but decided to deliberately join parties in two pubs, so infecting tens of people and many, many more in their homes. That individual had his own personal R Number of over 80. With such people about, what is any government to do but institute draconian measures?

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  73. Alan: “Andy, Gadzookes, why the use of a minced oath when referring to public acceptance of the new Tier 4? Frankly I’m surprised if the percentage weren’t higher if long-suffering Tier 3 northerners were asked if London didn’t deserve it.”

    I don’t think ‘who deserves it’ is a rational / scientific motivation 😉 Bloomin Heck because of such sudden change to firm plans of just a couple of days prior, based on what as explained so far seems like very tenuous projection re strains / spreadability. I suspect fear is once again playing an outsized part. I think 17% outright opposed (there were some neither for or against), but to do so doesn’t mean that they want to ‘let rip’. It much more likely means that they are not convinced by the evidence such stricter measures are net beneficial to society.

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  74. Provocation: Tier 4 is b****x. YouGov polls are government propaganda. If you haven’t woken up to this scam now, you never will.

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  75. Jaime: “YouGov polls are government propaganda.”

    If this were so they’d differ substantially from other polls, but as these come out that hasn’t been the case in the past. And for early indication this time, see for instance a poll by the Daily Express of its readers, of whom 77% said that Londoners should have been prevented from travelling out of the newly imposed T4 before it went live. This is not quite getting at the same thing, and we’ll have to wait for more. But I doubt there’ll be much variance, and once again it appears that the populace hugely lean towards the stricter end of the spectrum on measures, more so than the government in fact (per polls desiring more not less action).

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  76. The 70% figure may result from modelling and will need to be verified, but surely you are not disputing (a) a new variant of the virus is abroad London and the southeast (and already detected elsewhere in Europe), and (b) there has been a corresponding upsurge in hospital admissions and deaths in regions where the new variant has been detected. The latter alone justifies additional measures. A plausible link also exists between (a) and (b).
    I have always thought the 5-day Christmas respite to be an immense error, a chance to see those you most love, and kill them. I will not be seeing my son and his family, even though they live less than 80 miles away with a direct rail link between us, and I haven’t seen them since last Christmas.

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  77. Andy. I realise that I now require an emoji that when employed signifies I’m attempting humour or being somewhat whimsical, as earlier this morning. I mistakenly believed that criticising your use of a minced oath, while using one of my own, would have done the trick.
    However, I was being deadly serious about the existence of some nutters who are so antisocial as to be criminal. Many opposed (here and elsewhere) to the imposition of new, more stringent measures, if successful would IMHO allow such nutters free rein to spread the pain.

    Liked by 1 person

  78. Alan: “but surely you are not disputing (a) a new variant of the virus is abroad London and the southeast”

    Absolutely not. But I was looking at genome maps of rafts of global variants back in May / June, with particular interest in the different West / East coast US varieties, plus how you can determine which local areas in any nation picked what up from where by identifying the genome. And now there are reported to be thousands. In other words, variants are absolutely bog standard normal territory. And the modelling
    of viral behaviour has been very much less than stellar in this tale so far, certainly enough so as to not inspire confidence in new modelled particular variant behaviour. But anyway, my chief point was not of being for or against T4, I don’t have enough knowledge for same. My chief point is that, albeit it is early / limited indications since T4 announcement, the public are still hugely for more strict not less strict action, and hence pops are likely pressuring governments and not the other way around. I knew there’d be a majority, but 74% was a surprise as I thought it may well be waning by now. Apparently not. The thing is, whatever the rational arguments for or against T4, for the bulk public their support likely comes from fear and not rationality anyhow.

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  79. Alan: “I realise that I now require an emoji that when employed signifies I’m attempting humour or being somewhat whimsical…”

    No worries.

    Re what amounts to be *knowingly* the worst kind of behaviour, this likely can’t be stemmed by any rule system. While fear still motivates the bulk public, they will take a lot of zealousness. But there is a point where continuing to turn the screw will actually produce less conformance, not more. There is already a lot of hypocrisy shown in surveys, that people want stricter, but with a significant proportion for ‘everyone else’, as their own projected behaviours would not conform even to their own wishes. This is emotive reaction. And even before the point of bulk reduction of conformance, tightening the screw may actually lower the threshold for totally irresponsible behaviour too. We have to take mass human behaviours into account, or any solutions will be less than optimum, and we also have to accept that optimum will always be very far from perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

  80. Perhaps the dehumanizing abuse justified by the anti-scientific gender reassignment movement will finally wake people up. But the damage by the equally deranged climate extremists is much more pervasive, and more deeply rooted. Until there is the realization that the climate extremists are as deranged and anti-scientific, we will all be vulnerable.

    As for the virus, prudent effective caution is always in order. It turns out I will be traveling to South America for the next few weeks. I have arranged for a prescription of HCQ, just in case. And zinc. I will be able to get azithromycin easily where I am going.
    So please accept my early greetings. I hope for the very best Christmas wishes to the entire CliScep family. I will raise a toast of aguardiente to us all, hoping for a peaceful and healthy Christmas. And for New Year’s, may 2021 see health, good fortune and a return to sanity.

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  81. John R, that’s a very entertaining post. When you’re no longer too busy, more of the same, please. (I also like the idea of banning farts in Tier 4, though I have family in Tier 4 and I know that at least one of them will be unable to comply.)

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  82. Sorry to have been trying to sort out Christmas, in blatant defiance of the Grinch – and that’s a metaphor you’re free to use as you wish in the privacy of your own lockdown: Covid, Boris, Brexit, stupidity, the French, WEF and its Great Reset, all of humanity collectively.

    I agree with DaveJR yesterday at 3:02 pm. But Jaime should remember what I was drawing attention to, namely Dr Barrel’s

    It cannot be used on pregnant women because there is no evidence of how it might affect the foetus. It cannot be used on people already on medication because there is little to no evidence of how it might interact with these drugs. Etc etc.

    followed by Geoff’s exclamation

    So that’s practically no-one over the age of 70 then, and no-one in care homes. No-one, in fact, who stands more than an infinitesimal chance of dying from it. Shouldn’t this be the headline in every newspaper today?

    This was for me a perfect example of the paranoia of non-experts, Dunning-Kruger style. I avoided it by taking the position that the government isn’t that stupid.

    And, deliciously, I wrote up this strange anomaly in Cliscep’s standard model having just had my own Christmas plans blown to smithereens. By the government.

    What I’m looking for on here is Precision Despair. I feel another post coming on before Christmas.

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  83. PS: I’m also very glad we still have Alan Kendall with us, in every sense. That goes deeper than his mere opinion on the latter parts of this thread but it certainly includes that. The diversity that we badly need.

    Liked by 2 people

  84. We have become a nation of ‘wee timorous beasties’, scurrying beneath the feet of tyrants, desperately in search of the next thing to be terrified of, obligingly dispersed, like crumbs of perverse comfort, from the hands of those tyrants who would keep us in a state of abject fear forever.

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  85. A really thoughtful article on the Russell Prize by Amol Rajan on the BBC website is making waves:

    The winners: The 2020 Russell Prize for best writing

    Here’s the (very) offending passage, on JK Rowling and her groundbreaking piece on the transgender debate earlier this year:

    I take absolutely no view whatsoever on the issues that she raises.

    I do take an issue on abuse and trolling, and Rowling has achieved the inglorious honour of topping many a league table for those. The deluge of hatred that she faced before writing this blog made it brave, and it was nothing compared to what came after. Talking about bravery, so too, by the way, was Suzanne Moore’s engrossing, long, personal essay for Unherd on why she left the Guardian.

    We should all applaud bravery in writers – even those with whom we disagree. And Rowling’s essay contained moments of both real beauty and piercing honesty, as when she revealed that she is a survivor of domestic abuse and sexual assault.

    What the judges – that is, the voices in my head – most admired about the writing was the plain English. It is an interesting fact about rhetoric that if you want people to understand something, plain, mono-syllabic words are usually your best bet: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country”.

    Or think of the final line from Enoch Powell’s most notorious speech: “All I know is that to see, and not to speak, would be the great betrayal.”

    I’m not endorsing the argument; but the rhetorical power of that line comes from the fact that there are 16 words, the first 15 of which have one syllable, and the last of which has three.

    Compare it with this line in Rowling’s essay: “So I want trans women to be safe. At the same time, I do not want to make natal girls and women less safe.”

    Praising bravery in those with whom we disagree – we can’t have that! Our old friend ripx4nutmeg and a fellow feminist from Los Angeles give their take on the debate:

    Liked by 1 person

  86. More provocation:

    In Spain, during the so-called ‘2nd wave’, 87% of fast turn around ‘Covid hospitalisations’ turned out to have no antibody response, strongly suggesting that their ailment was NOT SARS-CoV-2 infection. This is probably people testing positive for the D614G ‘mutant’ which spread across Europe and dominated PCR test results in Spain during the early summer, which was said to be both more contagious AND more deadly, unlike the Scrooge-ish Kentish Virus (or is it Virus of Kent?) N501Y mutation which is only claimed to be more contagious (by Ferguson, in December, who resigned, but didn’t resign from SAGE and NERVTAG in May). So that’s cleared that up.

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  87. Jaime: Ferguson did resign from SAGE I believe, not to return. But only missed a couple of months of NERVTAG before gradually creeping back in. Given the claim was that he’d no longer be a government advisor, that claim should be fully honoured; he should step down from any and all advisory bodies.

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  88. Jaime wrote: “We have become a nation of ‘wee timorous beasties’ ”

    I’m not sure whether that’s entirely fair. Inspired by a recent, and observation of many other, exchanges, I’d say overprotectiveness plays perhaps the greater part. Are most people afraid for themselves, or do they believe they are protecting others?

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  89. DaveJR: Exactly. The new extended definition of bedwetter: someone who doesn’t want kill their friends and fellow citizens. And at the end of endlessly calling their fellow-citizens such names, when Covid is over, due in part to the heroic work of scientists like Katalin Karikó, people are *really* going to listen to the likes of James Delingpole and Jaime Jessop about the details of climate change.

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  90. Richard makes strange comments at times :

    “Now the vaccinations have been going for over two weeks, with focus on the over-80s, and no disasters have occurred, who was right and who was operating under advanced Dunning-Kruger?”

    It seems odd to accuse the MHRA of Dunning-Kruger.

    [Try again to discern my true meaning. — rd]

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  91. I’m with JD, for all his ‘extended definition of bedwetter’ which offends those who may actually be virtue-signalling rather than bedwetting:

    “This is why I still have faith that Donald Trump is going to win his rightful second term as president (and I mean now, not 2024). It’s not that I underestimate the vastness of the forces arrayed against him. Rather it’s that I believe there are enough people out there – from those 74million Trump voters to the Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe to the tenacious, fearless, 5-D-chess-playing President himself – who understand that this attempted election theft poses an existential threat to the Republic and, by extension, to the Free World. They will not let this crime happen because they are fully aware that the costs of nipping this globalist coup in the bud now will be as nothing to the costs of dealing with it should these evil-doers be allowed to prevail.

    My suspicion is that Trump has known this for years, that he has been preparing for it all along, and that he and his most trusted advisers are simply biding their time before they strike.

    If I’m wrong, well, my having been wrong will be the least of my worries and of your worries too. It will be game over for Western Civilisation. And I won’t draw any satisfaction from being able to say ‘I told you so.”

    It’s game over for the UK if Tier 4 lockdowns are extended ‘to protect our fellow citizens’ in the New Year. The Brave New World which Boris has promised us by Easter will arrive and I can honestly say that not one of you will feel safe or feel satisfied that your compliance to the rules kept others safe.

    https://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/i-still-believe-trump-will-and-must-win/

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  92. To repeat what I said two weeks ago, this is priority for me today.

    I urge others to do the same.

    This does assume there is a future to fight for, despite Covid and lockdown as perceived in December 2020.

    But even if there isn’t, it just helps psychologically to do something positive.

    Is that wrong?

    And the funny thing is that, if you’re like me, the probability of there being a future worth fighting for seems to increase when you take a step to fight for it, even if Trump doesn’t succeed in taking the White House again, and the United States doesn’t fall into a disastrous civil war (which may I think disappoint some people, if I’m reading them right).

    Anyway, Caroline Ffiske is giving a lead, with hints and tips, that I for one want to follow.

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  93. I take considerable credit for persuading a friend from Hull to unlock her Twitter account after this superb response to UN Women, who have been pushing the establishment line that ‘trans women are women’.

    Please retweet if you like it as much as I do – and UN Women surely won’t.

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  94. RD, given that your shtick seems to be to revel in studied ambiguity but decry people who declare their beliefs, allow me to blow a Biden-sized illegally-acquired wealth sized raspberry. Merry Christmas everyone. And let us ponder why so few people who voluntarily take covid tests want to talk to the Test and Trace teams…

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  95. I mentioned Kathleen Stock, philosophy professor at Sussex, earlier in this thread. This is her news today.

    https://twitter.com/Docstockk/status/1344525004973682689

    In one of our private exchanges Dr Stock was surprised that I knew what ‘implicature’ meant:

    The Dean, a thoughtful man when sober, was unavailable for comment.

    One of my favourite words/concepts, that I picked up while reading up about linguistics in relation to biblical hermeneutics, I think.

    Anyway, Kathleen at once paid tribute in her turn to a truly great woman who’s been at the heart of the UK gender critical movement:

    https://twitter.com/Docstockk/status/1344549559826001921

    On getting on the London tube with another GC friend, after a meeting featuring Sharron Davies MBE on ‘trans women’ in sport, in March last year, we found we were in the standing area with Stephanie. I told her we’d just been talking about her in glowing terms and she seemed rather touched. I wasn’t making it up. Small kindnesses matter. At least that’s my view, in these ‘mega’ areas of human dispute.

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  96. Correction: I mentioned Kathleen Stock in the sister thread to this one, Despair. And then (it seems) she deleted the tweet that I was using to show some level of reconciliation between her and Posie Parker. The OBE I assume won’t be rescinded so easily. It speaks eloquently of the significant change of heart the Tory party has had on this issue in the last three years. For which I voted last December – see Election Special.

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  97. Richard,

    >”In one of our private exchanges Dr Stock was surprised that I knew what ‘implicature’ meant:”

    That one’s new to me Richard. It is going into my little book of words to be used at my next linguistics party. Previous party successes taken from the world of linguistics have included ‘intension’. Another unfamiliar expression I came across the other day was ‘goat rope’. I will be using it at my next covid-19 rave.

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  98. “Goat rope: When good intentions go bad, messily” as the Urban Dictionary has it. Can’t think of any possible referent there!

    On intension(al), there’s also another meaning, or variant thereof – see What is intension vs extension in functional programming?. I’ll let the good nerds of Reddit try to explain. I first came across this terminology in an prototype-object (like Self and JavaScript) time-series database being used in fund management in the late 1980s. It was called Vision and it was indeed way ahead of its time. How I got to use it in the City of London is a long story I won’t try and tell here.

    The implicature issue with Dr Stock came to a head because I spotted a typo in one of her public web pages. After she gratefully acknowledged that, I drew attention to a talk of hers like

    ‘Fictional Interpretation and Conversational Implicature’

    Kathleen took this to mean that I was also trying to correct Implicature to Implication. In other words, she took my comment to be an implicature when it wasn’t! I was merely expressing delight in the idea – and sympathy that her work in this area had had to be truncated because of the importance of a clear and rigorous defence of the gender critical response to trans activism. The OBE is a really great outcome from where I sit.

    Like

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