“We are jabbed up to the gills (well over 95 per cent of adult Britons have some immunity either from vaccination or having had Covid). Even so, many of us have regretfully curtailed lovely plans this week in order to safeguard Christmas. We are truly sorry if we have wimped out and cancelled restaurant bookings and hairdresser appointments or failed to pick up last-minute gifts in the shops (those businesses have suffered enough), but we simply cannot bear to have a repeat of last year. We may not fear omicron (I certainly don’t, it seems to bear a remarkable resemblance to the condition formerly known as “a cold”), but we dare not catch it and risk being told to isolate for 10 days or giving it to elderly relatives.
My young adult children, who both live in London, have foregone parties and trips to the pub with their mates because Covid is rife in the capital and their greatest dread is bringing the virus home to Grandma. Astonishingly, my 80-something mother has overcome enormous fears, stoked nightly by BBC news, and escaped from South Wales (tunneling out of Colditz was a doddle by comparison) to be with us. On Wednesday morning, my sister and brother-in-law should land at Heathrow after an even more heroic escape from Australia. I am holding my breath until I actually see them. A family reunion will never have felt more miraculous.
It shouldn’t be like this, it really shouldn’t. The number of hospitalisations and deaths did not justify the introduction of Plan B, let alone Plan C for which Sage lockdown zealots continue to agitate. On Monday, there were 6,650 Covid patients in hospitals in England, a slight increase, but that still only accounts for a paltry 5 per cent of all hospital beds. Overall hospital occupancy currently stands at 89 per cent, which would be considered pretty good for the NHS at this time of year, never mind during what London Mayor Sadiq Khan called a “major incident”. There is no sign at all of the NHS being “overwhelmed” which is the stick with which the scientists beat the Prime Minister to get him to approve yet more restrictions.
According to my reliable NHS England source, admissions with Covid have actually been declining for the past week, if you look at the seven-day-rolling average. The number of patients in hospital for other ailments who test positive for Covid – but are sneakily counted as “Covid admissions” – is rising slightly but most of the increase is seen among those who have been in hospital for more than eight days. So – brace yourselves – those poor sick people have been given Covid by the very hospital where they went to get better. Save the NHS, eh?
I expect you’re sick of me bombarding you with these bloody statistics. I’m sick of it too. But it’s clear we are now engaged in a great, existential battle of Humans vs Scientists. Not just Christmas, but much of what we hold dear about our shared national life is under threat from these monomaniacal modellers and their supporters in Government and the civil service, whose authoritarian agenda they sustain with dubious data. As Professor Graham Medley just admitted in a jaw-dropping Twitter exchange with Spectator editor Fraser Nelson, Sage only models “what we are asked to model”. That turns out to be worst-case scenarios lacking any input for the incalculable damage caused to actual men, women and children by arbitrary restrictions.
Let me give you one example of the way that our scientist overlords operate. On December 10, Professor Neil Ferguson pointed out that Covid hospital admissions were about 700 a day. What he failed to take into account is that such a worrying number would be balanced by around 600 Covid discharges each day. According to my source, the current seven-day average for Covid hospital discharges is 623 per day compared with average admissions of 780. While both metrics have, indeed, increased, hospital bed occupancy has stayed roughly the same.
Do you think they bother to explain that to Boris? Or do they bamboozle the poor, exhausted fellow (has Carrie got him doing the night feeds?) with their super soaraway case numbers? Despite a track record of almost uninterrupted error, data from Imperial College continues to be treated as holy writ. Its latest wild hypothesis has seen the NHS being told to prepare for double the numbers of beds occupied by Covid this coming January as there were in January 2021. Absolutely nuts, according to my NHS England source. A study from – oh, look! – Imperial College suggests that “Omicron evades delta antibodies” so, basically, it’s headless-chicken time.
Yesterday, I put the findings of that Imperial study to Sunetra Gupta, Oxford professor of theoretical epidemiology. “The main point,” Gupta said, “is that both omicron and delta evade immunity to infection after a short period of time, but neither variant evades immunity against severe disease and death. Omicron may do a better job than delta in evading immunity, so it will win the race. But the situation should not be treated differently in public health terms.” In other words, Corporal ‘Don’t Panic’ Jones can stand down. We’re OK.
Although the general public knows little of theoretical epidemiology, nostrils have started twitching at the unmistakable odour of prime ordure. Anger and its electorally dangerous younger sibling, mockery, are on the rise. “Stand up if you hate Boris,” chanted a packed crowd at the 2022 PDC World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace on Monday night. Being jeered by darts fans is a sign the PM has badly missed the target.
Spurred on by the example of 99 Tory MPs who rebelled against vaccine passports last week, several members of the Cabinet refused to sign off on further measures that would have made Christmas a misery. The resignation of the estimable Lord Frost, in protest at coronavirus restrictions, had clearly stiffened some sinews. The loss of such a like-minded ally should make the PM think twice before he goes on TV to tell the country that we are going into another lockdown lite on December 28.
Oh, yes. ‘Fraid so. I have it on good authority from a senior figure in the food supply chain that Sainsbury’s and Asda were notified by the Government on Monday afternoon that harsher measures will start on the 28th. The supermarkets got their emails just as a wan-faced PM said in an interview that he must “reserve the possibility of taking further action”. Did Boris summon the courage to not cancel Christmas only to offer the scaremongering scientists the consolation prize of a blighted New Year, as in Scotland?
If so, it could be the biggest mistake of his career. We don’t need top-down mathematical modellers telling us what to do any more. Over the past week, we have been weighing up our own Covid risks, staying home if we are unwell, judging what is in the best interests of our loved ones this Christmas. As people have always done, and always will. How are the police supposed to arrest anyone who hosts an illicit New Year’s Eve bash when we now know that those who made the rules were breaking them in Westminster last festive season? I reckon mass non-compliance is practically guaranteed.
In the battle for the nation’s future happiness, our PM must soon pick sides between the Scientists and the Humans. Between those “who want everyone to experience life in all its fullness” and those who persist in the belief that a virus will behave itself if people will only do as they’re told. The evidence suggests otherwise. Trust your instincts, Boris. Trust the people. Let nothing you dismay.
O tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy