Putting a bionic cat among the catatonic pigeons, the much publicised only 17k deaths from covid figure has led to some of the most acrimonious splats Dr No has ever seen on squitter, the social media platform on which participants dump on each other from great heights. Joining the general opprobrium, Tim Harford used the first slot on this week’s More or Less programme on Radio 4 to apply ‘tireless debunkery’ to the claim, with more or less help from a molecular biologist who got her ONS numbers mixed up, claiming (at about 3:12) that the 17k deaths were covid–19 deaths where “no other health condition was mentioned on the death certificate”, which is not true: the actual number of deaths where no other condition was mentioned — that is, deaths where covid–19 was the only cause mentioned — is even smaller, at 6,183. The 17k figure, on the other hand, represents covid–19 deaths with no pre-existing conditions, or as ONS also calls them, deaths from covid-19 with no other underlying causes; but that is not to say there were no other causes mentioned. Other causes may have been present, but they were not deemed by ONS to be pre-existing, or underlying causes.
It has been a long time coming, as we enter the final stages of the rollout of the NHS (Self-Destruction) Regulations 2022. After a two year period unlike anything ever seen before in the NHS, with a seriously demoralised and depleted workforce, NHS managers are gearing up to fire many tens of thousands of NHS frontline staff. The managers and their staff are, of course, just following orders, following in the footsteps of others who, at times of moral darkness, just followed orders, and removed innocent undesirables from their midst. What makes the NHS managers so remarkable in their behaviour is that the undesirables aren’t innocent aliens, they are instead a significant part of the NHS frontline workforce. The generals, in effect, are gearing up to shoot their own troops, at a time when they need them the most.
As the stain of compulsory vaccination and its dystopian paperwork paraphernalia spreads across many European states, extinguishing the lights of individual freedom, and paving a way for a return to the dark days of totalitarianism, we in Britain, and particularly England, find ourselves standing alone in resisting the clamour for ever tighter controls. At his press conference earlier this week, Mr Johnson, the prime minister, may have had the appearance of new character in one of Mr Corbett’s glove puppets shows, but the content — no further restrictions — was pure gold. Had Johnson dipped into his Pocketbook of Memorable Churchillian Phrases, then he would not have gone far wrong with this from We Shall Fight on the Beaches: ‘I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone’. All it needs is but a single word substitution, covid in place of war.
Those familiar with the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will know that the number 42 is the ‘Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything’; it necessarily follows that it must also be the answer to today’s ultimate question, how to end the covid pandemic. Dr No has spent the New Year break trying to get to the bottom of this cryptic answer. Perhaps it means the pandemic will end once BoJo has done his 42nd presser? Or the Milk Curdler posts a twitter thread that is exactly 42 tweets long? The problem is that no one knows what question Deep Thought, the supercomputer in the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide, was programmed to answer, and without knowing the question, how can one hope to make sense of the answer? Let’s see what we can come up with.