Let us be clear from the start: the case, the whole case, and nothing but the case for the introduction covid vaccine passports rests on a single premise: that covid vaccination reduces the risk of onward transmission of covid–19 by vaccinated individuals. That is the alpha and the omega in the Empire of the Covid Passport Tsar. If folk, be they vaccinated or unvaccinated, are as likely the catch covid from a vaccinated individual as they to catch it from an unvaccinated individual, then there is no case for covid vaccine passport. The Covid Passport Tsar has no clothes, and more importantly, he has no evidence, and stands revealed as the model tyrant from Albert Camus’ 1950s observation: ‘Le bien-être du peuple en particulier a toujours été l’alibi des tyrans, et il offre de plus l’avantage de donner bonne conscience aux domestiques de la tyrannie‘ (The well-being of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it offers the additional advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience).
It’s not often that Dr No’s flabber gets well and truly ghasted. An extraordinary exchange on twitter (scroll down a page or so to get to the start of the substance, and click here to see the above tweet) has revealed what many have long suspected: SAGE purposely cook the books in its modelling reports. Graham Medley, professor of infectious disease modelling at LSHTM, and chief pongo for the time being of SAGE’s modelling group SPI-M, defends the group’s practice of ‘giving the decision makers the information they ask for’. Read that again, and let it sink in. The scientists give the politicians the information they ask for. Being on twitter, the discussion quickly becomes scrambled into incoherent fragments, making it almost, but not entirely, impossible to get to the heart of the matter. The crux, however, is simple enough: is SAGE told, one way or another, what to tell the government — which, in effect, soon becomes here’s the policy, now where’s the evidence — or does it provide, as its name, the Scientific Advisory Group, might suggest, independent and impartial scientific advice?
Covid — the perfect public health emergency that just keeps on giving. Each new scariant is only ever one step away from the next new scariant — an endless flow of new worries, Fergie forecasts and government responses, forever clogging up the mainstream media, like logs in a log jam. Behind the puppetry, for an authoritarian government hell bent on passing draconian laws and regulations with the minimum of scrutiny, covid is the perfect enabling epidemic, because it allows the government to get into the swing of passing law by diktat, or secondary legislation, which is almost never subject to meaningful parliamentary scrutiny. The backstops against bad secondary legislation, the arcane the negative and affirmative procedures, haven’t been used in anger since the late 1970s. In practice, the instruments of secondary legislation sail through Parliament like ships in the night, unseen, unheard, and unopposed. As of 10th December 2021, the government has laid 1,788 SIs (Statutory Instruments, the name given to this form of secondary legislation) before parliament since January 2020, of which 546, or 31%, were covid related. Truly, covid is the enabling epidemic that just keeps on giving.
There have been some crackles in recent days on twitter, as the Bangladeshi mask trial caught light again. The crackling started with the publication of a ‘short note‘ that provided a ‘simple analysis’ of the recently released raw data from the Bangladeshi trial that claimed that, given the new ‘simple analysis’, the trial failed to show any covid protection benefit from mask wearing. Not content with blowing holes in masks, the authors of the ‘simple note’ also report that they did nonetheless find some other highly significant differences between the intervention and control groups, including one that could introduce more than enough bias to explain the original trial report’s marginal benefit from wearing surgical masks. In the limp language of academic writing, the authors suggest their findings ‘urge caution’ (sic) in interpretation of small differences, and that ‘bias-susceptible endpoints…should be used with care’. Translating into plain English, the masks don’t work, and the mandates should go.
***Correction 0848 02/12/21: The 45-64 age band chart lost the 2020 line – Dr No apologises. Now corrected, and with marginally better colours. This styling will also be applied to other charts in due course. One phrase, ‘unlike the all ages and older ages charts’, removed from chart commentary*** ONS’s weekly mortality reports have rather gone off the rails for the last two weeks. A week ago, the familiar high profile double humped weekly deaths chart got disappeared, perhaps because the 2021 line was misbehaving. Earlier today, this week’s day late report opened with an estimate of homeless deaths in 2020. The reference has since disappeared, but while it was there, one naturally felt great pity for the homeless deaths, who even now must be wandering across the great plains, looking for somewhere to call home. Dr No suspects ONS might have meant deaths in homeless people. Perhaps next week it will be deaths in parachutists, which ONS will refer to as registered parachute deaths. Sooner or later it will no doubt be alcohol deaths, or rather alcohol related deaths, because in public health, one is never more than a short step away from the demon drink and its deadly toll. But Dr No’s attention is being led astray by ONS’s diversionary tactics. Once again, it is time to look at all cause mortality.