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Follow the science? Aye, right – the unscientific mishandling of Scotland’s Covid response

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LAST OCTOBER I sent Nicola Sturgeon an email to express my anger at her “Unscientific Mishandling of Coronavirus”. That email is posted online here and is still valid. I received an acknowledgment implying I would get a reply – but none ever arrived.

I then sent an email in the same vein (Unscientific Mishandling of Coronavirus, Part 2) to my MP Mr Drew Hendry but I received no reply from him either.

I said in my original email that the Scottish Government’s approach to Coronavirus was unscientific and unfathomable and, sadly for the Scottish people, that remains the case now. I said that if The First minister carried on with an unscientific denial of reality “we could be stuck all winter in a never-ending illusory epidemic with huge ongoing collateral damages” – and so it is proving.

This article seeks to prove why Nicola Sturgeon’s handling of Coronavirus is unscientific, counter-productive and extremely damaging.

Be sure your lockdown pseudo-science will find you out 

The arrival of the SARS‑CoV‑2 virus has seen governments across the world, including those in the UK and Scotland, jettison decades of established medical practice for dealing with virus epidemics in favour of an unproven approach of national lockdown copied from what allegedly took place in Wuhan, China. For deeply controversial reasons discussed below, this has become a scientifically-unvalidated global orthodoxy.

The seeds of this disaster were sown in February 2020 with reports of a draconian lockdown in Wuhan, the first visible source of the pandemic. People were reportedly dying in the streets and the authorities allegedly resorted to welding people into their homes. Subsequent reports put out by China suggested that this approach had been successful and the Worldometers data for China (scroll down for new Covid deaths) shows only a short-lived February ripple of deaths and none thereafter apart from a backlog spike in April. The graph previously showed small numbers of deaths in later months but these have now all been deleted. How believable or acceptable is that? Clearly the Wuhan lockdown was either a staged fake or tyrannical barbarity.

The UK’s initial approach to handling SARS‑CoV‑2 was to work towards herd immunity using social distancing and hygiene measures in line with the 2019 WHO pandemic guidelines – which did not even mention the word “lockdown”. Chief Scientific Advisor Professor Chris Whitty said in mid-March that the Government was not looking to suppress the disease entirely but to help create a “herd immunity in the UK” while protecting the most vulnerable.

Unfortunately, around this time a team of non-medical mathematical modelers led by Professor Neil Ferguson, who has a career history of grossly-exaggerated modelling predictions going back all the way to the 2001 foot and mouth epidemic, published their predictions of very high Covid mortality. Nobel laureate Professor Michael Levitt wrote to Ferguson at the time to tell him that his predictions were too high by a factor of ten but he got no reply. The sad result was that the government was spooked by the Ferguson predictions into dropping its traditional approach in favour of full lockdown as inspired by the example supposedly imposed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Wuhan. This hitherto untried approach was being copied in a kind of panic domino-effect across many countries of the world.

Since then, many establishment figures including the Marxist head of the CCP-controlled WHO have effusively praised the China approach, as reported in the devastating video The scientific history of lockdowns. Since March 2020 the WHO has altered its traditional pandemic guidelines to align them to the new China orthodoxy, including an Orwellian re-definition of herd immunity (see Whitford below). They have also created major difficulties by pushing the issue of asymptomatic transmission based on a small number of questionable cases, reportedly only six in total globally. It almost seems as if the WHO is working with the CCP to inflict maximum disruption on the rest of the world. The same might be said of Professor Neil Ferguson whose grossly-inflated computer model predictions created the global political panic over Covid and is on record as saying of China: “It’s a Communist one-party state. We couldn’t get away with it [lockdown] in Europe, we thought”.

There is also the paper The CCP’s global lockdown fraud from a group of legal and medical experts which describes how the CCP appears to have “played” the rest of the world to convince our gullible politicians and other “useful idiots” that the CCP approach on Covid was the way to go. It links to an open letter calling on security services around the world to investigate: “Given the gravity of the decisions being made, we cannot ignore the possibility that the entire science of COVID-19 lockdowns has been a fraud of unprecedented proportion, deliberately promulgated by the Chinese Communist Party and its collaborators to impoverish the nations who implemented it”.

Why have you and UK government, aided and abetted by the mainstream media and Big Tech, gone along with this unbelievable Chinese propaganda so uncritically? We have even had (American) Big Tech companies joining forces to enforce the orthodoxy by censoring dissention (e.g. closing down contrarian YouTube videos, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts) and even the discussion of cheap treatments such as hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin and humble vitamin D which could help to alleviate the disease and speed the return to normality.

The Scottish government’s Covid policy was enunciated by the SNP’s Philippa Whitford, MP (a trained doctor) in a recent Westminster debate on Boris Johnston’s latest lockdown. To summarise, she asserted that the right approach is to pursue total suppression of the virus (zero Covid), that vaccination is the only acceptable way of getting to herd immunity and that lockdown has to continue for as long as it takes.

Dr Whitford was never taught these ideas at medical school (Glasgow University) as they go against almost a century of established medical practice. By what feat of Orwellian doublethink does she suppress all the learnings of her medical career to instead embrace the totally dubious new orthodoxy introduced to us by opaque communist China in conjunction with by the Marxist-led WHO?

The same applies to UK health minister Nadine Dorries (a trained nurse) who tweeted “There is no such thing as herd immunity”, although to give her the benefit of the doubt, she appears to be just plain ignorant.

It is a sign of the times that George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984” has recently soared to the top of Amazon’s best-selling list. The grim prospect of never-ending lockdowns brings to mind Orwell’s 1984 memorable line: “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever”.

Evidence that lockdowns don’t work 

The reality is that there is no credible evidence that non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) against SARS‑CoV‑2 actually work. One paper has been published by UCL colleagues of Professor Neil Ferguson to claim that lockdowns have some efficacy but it has been widely discredited. To paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies “They would say that, wouldn’t they”.

In contrast, a large body of published papers indicates that lockdowns have little or no efficacy and may even be counter-productive in terms of direct Covid deaths, never mind all the indirect collateral damage. New York data showed that the majority of new infections occurred in the locked-down population. It is clear that delaying the attainment of herd immunity by locking down the entire population only prolongs the passage of the virus, as SAGE admitted last February, which leaves the susceptible exposed for longer to the risk of eventually succumbing and also increases the risk that potentially dangerous variants will emerge.

The papers include a Lancet study from last July which concluded that lockdowns are ineffective. In the “Findings” section, the authors state: “Rapid border closures, full lockdowns, and wide-spread testing were not associated with Covid-19 mortality per million people”.

Also included is a recent peer-reviewed paper by Professor John Ioannidis and others which studied the imposition of NPIs in ten countries and reached the conclusion that all the apparent benefits were derived from less restrictive NPIs and from changes in public behaviour following the imposition of the lighter restrictions. Ordering businesses to close and telling people to stay at home did not appear to reduce rates of infection further.

A November editorial in The BMJ is entitled Covid-19: politicisation, “corruption” and suppression of science with the sub-heading “When good science is suppressed by the medical-political complex, people die”. This should be mandatory reading for all politicians and members of SAGE.

There is a much simpler source of empirical evidence that lockdowns are highly ineffective in reducing mortality than obscure academic papers. Many countries and states around the world stuck with the standard 2019 pandemic guidelines and imposed only minimal lockdowns. It is easy to compare how they fared relative to the UK and Scotland. [Spoiler: Very often countries with minimal lockdowns did better and those with stringent lockdowns like the UK did worse.]

One country which applied light-touch lockdown is Sweden. Ironically (and tellingly), Sweden only fell into doing this because their constitution prohibits their politicians from infringing on basic human rights such as freedom of movement. Sweden applied minimal lockdown, minimal social distancing, kept junior schools, shops, pubs and restaurants open, did not require people to stay at home and did not mandate facemasks yet it has ended up with about 24% fewer Covid deaths per million population than us, in fact with a 2020 death toll broadly in line with the European average.

Sweden has been excoriated by the globalist establishment for having the temerity to go against the orthodoxy. All sorts of misinformation has been put out to claim that they mishandled the virus very badly. The fact remains that its citizens have been living normal lives (by 2019 WHO pandemic guideline standards) throughout the Covid crisis with relatively minor societal collateral damage.

Expert analyst Ivor Cummins has published a video The last word on Sweden which uses public data to debunk all the establishment misinformation against Sweden. It should be mandatory viewing for all politicians because it goes beyond the Sweden issue to explain via indisputable facts just how badly Coronavirus has been mishandled across the board, that neither lockdown nor testing mitigate Covid mortality rates and that it is imperative that nothing like this be allowed to happen again.

Early in 2020 Nobel laureate Professor Michael Levitt showed that the trajectory of Covid deaths, a Gompertz-style steep rise to a short-lived peak followed by a steady fall to an equilibrium level, was basically the same (with seasonal variations) in every country stricken by Covid regardless of the degree of lockdown imposed, if any. What else but the much-derided concept of herd immunity explains the slowdown of the initial steep rise to a peak then the fall to low levels of mortality seen in all countries, including those which applied little or no lockdown? It is epidemiology class 101 that it is rising herd immunity which makes it increasingly difficult for the virus to find new ‘victims’.

It is beyond comprehension that this natural herd immunity concept can be denied or downplayed by members of SAGE and your Scottish equivalents. They all seem to be suffering from debilitating cognitive dissonance.

A further video Viral impact on England – the empirical truth by a team of data analysis experts uses public UK data to demolish the notion that lockdowns work. The most telling analysis is a graph of fatal infections plotted on a log scale, which shows exponential change as a straight line. It reveals the initial, supposedly exponential rise in Covid fatal infections back in March as a curve, showing that the rate of infections was already decelerating at the very start of recorded Covid data at the beginning of February, pre-dating the introduction of social distancing and extra hygiene measures and the full lockdown on 23rd March.

This and its wealth of other analyses show that all the government-imposed lockdowns and other NPI restrictions since the very beginning of the crisis through into the autumn so-called second wave have had indiscernible influence on the passage of the virus. Their impeccable data analysis also shows that the UK epidemic was effectively over by last June when you started obsessing about “zero Covid”, the fanciful concept which has zero scientific credibility or practicality yet is still being pushed by your social anthropologist advisor.

The late Donald Henderson was the 20th-century’s most acclaimed disease eradicator. In particular, he is credited with ridding the world of smallpox. He stated in 2006 “Experience has shown that communities faced with epidemics or other adverse events respond best and with the least anxiety when the normal social functioning of the community is least disrupted. Strong political and public health leadership to provide reassurance and to ensure that needed medical care services are provided are critical elements. If either is seen to be less than optimal, a manageable epidemic could move toward catastrophe”. (My emphasis.)

Lockdowns are the very antithesis of this approach. They increase stress levels as well impairing general health through reduced exercise, fresh air and sunlight resulting in vitamin D depletion.

Given that 10 million essential UK workers have to be out and about every day, the unpalatable truth (for power-drunk politicians) is that there is no realistic alternative but to let the virus take its course, self-isolating when feeling unwell and doing our best to protect the vulnerable, not “letting it rip” but following the original 2019 WHO virus pandemic guidelines based on many decades of modern medical and scientific experience, as apolitical Sweden and others have done.

Be sure that excess deaths statistics will find you out 

From the very start of the Coronavirus crisis, you and the UK government have disgracefully failed to put matters into proper perspective, in particular by failing to contextualise the reported Covid deaths against the normally expected number of all-cause deaths based on the running 5‑year average. You have been aided and abetted in this by the fearmongering mainstream media, especially the BBC. The failure to provide context to the reported Covid deaths has cruelly panicked the general public and led to poor quality, most probably counter-productive, government policy decisions.

Looking at all-cause deaths circumvents the confusion caused by the widespread mis-attribution of deaths to Covid, due partly but not wholly to the “death within 28 days” rule.

The government’s Covid dashboard contains a segment on excess deaths (scroll down) with a graph which shows (to data point week beginning 11 January) that Scottish excess deaths have been close to or below baseline normal for most of the time since early last June apart from a transient rise above normal from about mid-October to early December. There is no sign of any untoward impact from “mutant variants“ (about 20,00 variants have been recognised so far), nor of a post-Christmas spike which your dentist advisor was certain would happen. How on earth is this possible if we are still supposedly stuck in a raging pandemic? Why have politicians and commentators failed to pick up on this hugely significant fact? Detailed examination of the numbers follows.

The Scotland 5‑year average prior to 2020 runs from around 1,000 deaths per week in summer to over 1,500 per week at peak midwinter [ref. NRS file ‘Covid-deaths-data-week-53’, Table 3, weeks 1 to 53]. The statistics show that Scottish excess deaths in 2020 were 10% (6,147) above the 5‑year average, slightly lower than the 12% for England and Wales. Yes, that was very bad, SARS‑CoV‑2 is a dangerous virus especially for the old and chronically ill and the many deaths that have occurred are very sad, but we need to follow the proper science and keep things in perspective.

The bulk of 2020 Covid-19 deaths occurred during the March to May spike. If these sad but long-ago deaths are excluded from the annual total of excess deaths, the effective rate of excess deaths of relevance to our current winter situation falls to about 2%.

A net positive rate of excess deaths is hardly surprising given that normal NHS services have been severely curtailed since last March, coupled with the mantra “Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives” and all the fearmongering which left so many people too frightened to leave home even for urgently needed treatment. In fact, it is quite surprising that the figure is not higher. The above NRS file shows that there were 5,100 Scotland excess deaths at home (or in non-institutions) in 2020 of which surely only a tiny proportion could have been due to Covid. The excess deaths in care homes were 2,100 while excess deaths in hospitals were an astonishing minus 1,100.

These trends are shown in the graphs (for E&W) in this Excess deaths scandal Recovery press release which shows how excess deaths at home have held remarkably steady since last March, even over summer when Covid deaths fell away. To put it bluntly, the official mantra might as well have been “Stay Home and Die”.

To provide further context which never gets mentioned, according to NRS there were 4,800 excess deaths in Scotland over the winter of 2017/18. How many people even remember that? Was a national lockdown ever suggested? Of course not.

Yet more never-mentioned context is given in the article What does endemic Covid look like? which includes a graph of excess deaths since 2016 (for England). What stands out is not just the huge 2020 March to May Covid peak but also the fact that the 2020 October to December winter peak is of similar scale to the winter peaks of the previous years, if not lower (see 2017/18 above), as well as being much lower and more gradual than the March to May peak. This scotches the myth that winter could bring a “deadly second wave” as happened with very different Spanish flu a century ago. This fearmongering fiction was pushed relentlessly despite the lack of any scientific evidence from decades of modern experience of coronaviruses that any such second wave ever occurs. All we have seen to year-end 2020 has been a typical profile of fatal winter illnesses.

The week 2 2021 version of the above-referenced NRS 2020 file shows that Scottish excess deaths in week 2 (starts 11 January) were 2% below the 5‑year average. (The full-year data show that historically the worst week of the year for deaths in Scotland is week 2, more closely matched date-wise in 2021 by week 1). If the reported 327 Covid deaths were excluded, the total excess deaths in week 2 would be down a stonking 23% on the baseline. Given that the health of many people must have suffered badly from curtailed NHS treatments and lockdown stresses since last March, this figure suggests that the continuing high numbers of reported Covid deaths are probably due in part to other severe illnesses which have caused increased susceptibility to Covid, perhaps then contracted nosocomially, or which have been erroneously “badged” as Covid.

Political confusion over the mis-attribution of deaths to Covid has been compounded by the confusion of the false positive pseudo-epidemic caused by the PCR testing system (especially bad over the summer when testing ramped up and infections were low) and the tendency to confuse test “cases” with genuine, serious, transmissible “infections”. You almost let the cat out of the bag about this major shortcoming of PCR testing at First Ministers Questions, as your national clinical director inadvertently let slip some time ago – it’s “a bit rubbish”, similarly covered up by dissembling.

These PCR false positives have contributed to the current acute NHS staff shortage due to healthy people being forced to self-isolate. They also give a misleading boost to the number of reported Covid deaths, as can happen for example when a patient who tests positive, such as when being admitted to hospital, subsequently dies of a heart attack within 28 days of the test.

You clearly haven’t got a clue as to what is really happening.

You betrayed your lamentable failure to understand the current scientific and statistical reality when you said on live TV in early January, cranking up the fearmongering, that you were “more worried about Covid now than at any stage of the pandemic so far”, despite irrefutable public data showing that the UK epidemic was effectively over by last June and that the much-hyped deadly second wave was a myth.

The result of all the confusion and blinkered political dogma has been a massive, never-ending over-reaction. You and the UK government have managed to bring about the worst UK economic downturn in 300 years, all because of a relatively unexceptional virus which sadly led to an average UK mortality age of 82.4 years (higher than average UK life expectancy) and which as of the end of December had killed just 388 people in the UK aged under 60 with no pre-existing health conditions.

Direct Covid deaths have been dwarfed by massive indirect societal collateral damage (links to multiple papers), the effects of which will be felt for many years after the 2020 excess deaths have become an minor historical footnote: missed medical diagnoses and hospital treatments (the ONS has predicted that Covid political interventions will kill 200,000 UK citizens of all ages in the medium to long term, Bristol University has estimated the equivalent of over half a million), blighted schooling, ruined businesses and careers, lost homes, wrecked life chances, worsened inequality, loneliness, physical and mental ill health, domestic violence and suicides, all on top of now having to service a racked-up national debt of around £2 trillion.

On top of these domestic woes, we have collectively ruined the lives of hundreds of millions in third world countries whom the World Food Programme has said would starve as a result of the global economic restrictions, potentially more than were killed by Mao, Stalin and Hitler combined.

There is no justification for ongoing mass lockdowns now that SARS‑CoV‑2 is almost certainly endemic and very unlikely to spread uncontrollably, certainly not beyond the end of the current winter surge which our “envy of the world” NHS is struggling to cope with, only partly due to Covid-induced pressures. The lockdown “cure” is clearly far worse than the disease yet as early as last April you closed your mind and committed to ongoing on/off/on lockdowns “until … we have an effective vaccine”.

Your unscientific policy of virus suppression and even eradication (zero Covid) has been a reckless experiment on the people of Scotland with no medical precedent, no evidence that lockdowns even work and no cost-benefit analysis to show that the cure is not worse than the disease. Moreover you have implemented it with an authoritarian attack on the fundamental human rights of the Scottish people, at the same time infantalising them by scaring them witless with unscientific state-sponsored propaganda and refusing to accept that they can make common sense decisions for themselves. Unfortunately, the mainstream media has been hopeless at holding you to account which has perhaps given you a misguided sense of certitude.

You are no doubt aware that under your unscientific mishandling of Coronavirus, Scotland has a worse record for a country its size in terms of reported Covid deaths than any other European country of a population of 5 million.

Your emotive thankyous to the Scottish people for their “sacrifices” throughout this crisis ring hollow. We were given little choice and, as argued above, these sacrifices were almost certainly counter-productive. You should be apologising to the Scottish people for the grievous net harm you have done them.

Much of what I have argued above is expressed far more eloquently in the extremely powerful recent article by Recovery’s Jon Dobinson entitled Take Junction 3 off the road to Hell. It should be mandatory reading for all lockdown supporters.

There are alternatives to your authoritarian sledgehammer lockdown of the entire population. You badly need to reappraise your dogma and change course as soon as possible. We can’t survive indefinitely living off a magic money tree. We need to learn to live with the virus. Given that the (mis)-handling of the Coronavirus crisis in Scotland has been very much fronted by you, quite literally on television almost every other day, it’s time for you to do the right thing and resign.

It is all becoming completely intolerable! You and the UK government are behaving like demented lunatics! You cannot be allowed to continue riding roughshod over the electorate on such important matters without a democratic mandate. We need more democracy, not less. The political class should only be allowed to stick to their “political consensus” approach on such issues if they give the people a direct say. How about a Swiss-style referendum on prohibiting lockdowns, or even on deciding policy on alleged man-made global warming?

Yours faithfully

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Douglas Brodie is a sceptical layman with a BSc from Glasgow University, 20 years retired from a career in computers and telecommunications and hates being taken for a fool by politicians. 

Photo: The First Minister doing her mail, she didn’t get round to answering Douglas Brodie.

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