≡ Menu

Some Covid Links

Martin Kulldorff tweets:

The 925,000 signers of the Great Barrington Declaration understood epidemiology and public health better than America’s most famous lab scientist, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Vinay Prasad insists that what must be restricted are the Covid restrictions. A slice:

Let’s reflect on this for a moment. NYC school district has been requiring children wear masks OUTSIDE all this time. Years after we knew the virus almost never spreads outside. During recess when kids play, forced to wear a mask while exerting themselves. Wow!

Whoever made the policy is an idiot. No way around it. They are not fit for policymaking. They abused the power of government to coerce children (at incredibly low risk of bad outcomes) to wear a mask in a setting where the virus simply does not spread. In other words, they participated in something done in the name of public health, which actually made human beings worse off. Worse, they used coercive force to do it.

Post-COVID we need to seriously talk about setting restrictions. But not on people. We need to place restrictions on public health and things done in the name of public health. We cannot allow individuals who are poor at weighing risk and benefit and uncertainty to coerce human beings, disproportionately the young and powerless (waiters/ servers) to participate in interventions that have no data supporting them, for years on end.

(DBx: I of course agree with what Prasad says above. I, however, disagree with his later-expressed proposal to put restrictions also on what private entities may prescribe or proscribe. It’s vital to remember that government cannot increase its ability to restrict what private parties may do unless its own powers become less restricted. Just yesterday, by the way, I went to get my haircut. Unlike my last visit to the privately owned and operated salon that cuts my hair, this time I was told that I must wear a mask. I politely declined and told the receptionist to contact me when the salon drops its mask requirement. I wish that this salon had no such requirement; this requirement makes my life less convenient. But I will defend vigorously the salon’s right to have in place this requirement.)

Sarah Knapton, the Telegraph‘s Science Editor, explains “[h]ow scientific ‘groupthink’ silenced those who disagreed with Covid lockdowns.” Four slices:

“Following the science” became a mainstay mantra of the pandemic, frequently trotted-out to justify unpalatable policy decisions such as banning hugging or denying fathers the right to attend the birth of a child.

Yet as Britain’s epidemic begins to fade away, it is becoming increasingly clear that many influential scientists were ignored, ridiculed and shunned for expressing moderate views that the virus could be managed in a way which would cause far less collateral damage.

Instead, a narrow scientific “groupthink” emerged, which sought to cast those questioning draconian policies as unethical, immoral and fringe. That smokescreen is finally starting to dissipate.

Take scientists who supported the Great Barrington Declaration. They, not unreasonably, believed that it would be sensible to shield the most vulnerable while allowing those at very low risk to carry on their lives, thereby preventing cataclysmic damage to the economy, mental health and education.

Instead of the idea being sensibly debated, the signatories were pilloried and made to seem as if they were in the minority. A recent study by Stanford University revealed they weren’t; they just had fewer social media followers and so struggled in the face of more organised opposition.

The report neatly demonstrates the alarming reach and power of demographically unrepresentative forums like Twitter, which are easily hijacked by powerful lobbying groups.


Much of the pro-lockdown narrative was controlled by a small group of scientists who effectively organised themselves into a political movement which sought to influence policy.

Independent Sage, a group of largely Left-wing academics which regularly called for tighter restrictions, was put together by The Citizens, a group founded by Carole Cadwalladr, a Guardian and Observer journalist and activist.

Many of the scientists on Independent Sage also signed the John Snow Memorandum, which branded the Great Barrington Experiment as unethical.

In his article in BMJ Open, Prof Ioannidis made the point: “Perusal of the Twitter content of John Snow Memorandum signatories and their op-eds suggests that some may have sadly contributed to Great Barrington Declaration vilification.”

Even moderate scientists who called for greater evidence on lockdowns, masks, and other restrictions, faced the full force of supporters of the highly-organised group.


Large parts of the scientific community were completely ignored as a disproportionate amount of attention was given to virologists and epidemiologists.

One government minister said: “We have had to have the guts to say the data can be challenged sometimes, and say that’s good data but we have to make a political decision.

“In the pandemic we got a bit close to pretending there was no tension. Public health officials who have absolutely no remit to keep the economy vibrant, they only remit is to make sure there is no infection were calling for the whole thing to be shut down

“You can see there is a legitimate voice that says, hang on, we need to get the balance right. Shutting down the local economy and sticking everyone back in boxes is not going to be good for public health.”


In the 1841 book, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds Charles Mackay, the Scottish journalist, observed: “Men go mad in herds and they only recover their senses slowly, one at a time.”

Prof [David] Livermore added: “I suspect that it’ll shortly be hard to find anyone who once was in favour of lockdowns.”

Telegraph columnist Juliet Samuel laments the lingering ghosts of lockdowns. Two slices:

They are everywhere: the ghosts of lockdowns past. Circles on the floor telling you to stand here and not there; lines outside the supermarket where we once had to queue; notices informing you that “face coverings are required by law”; and the latest, put up only a few weeks ago, helpfully announcing that “you can now isolate for five days instead of six”. And, as of this week, with all restrictions abolished in England, the little Covid cues to our behaviour dotted around the public sphere are fading away, like a child’s scribbles in chalk.

Before they disappear, it’s worth noting what these lines and stickers and notices overlaid upon one another say about the process of trying to manage a pandemic. They signal the ultimate futility of trying to control and measure human behaviour down to such pettifogging detail. The first lockdown was clear enough: “Stay at home.” There wasn’t much to interpret. But this dabble in China-style disease management didn’t last long. After that, everything grew murky.

The police couldn’t track down everyone and check what they were up to, after all. They couldn’t very well go around the streets with a measuring tape. Besides which, can anyone really tell us the impact of revising the two-metre rule down to one metre? Did the Test and Trace app save a single life? What proportion of people actually isolated when they flew home from their holidays? Did the bossy signs and one-way systems make any difference at all? Or did they quickly just become a piece of the scenery, like an ever-changing window display? Like a politician spending his political capital on gimmicks, they quickly lost their authority. Is this sign up to date, I wonder, seeing another one in the loos, or was that last week’s war with Oceania?


So now we are left with the detritus of disproved theories and hypothesised behavioural cues. May it fade away fast and never come back. For those made most anxious by Covid, these signs are nothing but little reminders to be afraid and to seek out isolation. Whatever originally justified them, they can’t disappear soon enough.

Here’s the opening paragraph of Wall Street Journal columnist James Freeman’s latest:

The New York Times has its faults. But one can never accuse the newspaper’s editors of being insufficiently obsessed with Covid-19. “Another casualty of Russia’s invasion: Ukraine’s ability to contain the coronavirus,” reads a Times headline.

Sarah Beth Burwick tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

“Covid-minimizer” is another meaningless label people slap on you when they know they’re wrong. Demanding nuanced policies based on risk assessment informed by data, while balancing collateral harms ≠ minimizing.

The fear monger covid maximizers are who we need to worry about.

Aaron Kheriaty lays out the case for why it’s ethical to resist what David Hart calls “hygiene socialism.”