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“Admit uncertainty – and stop scaring the public!” –MPs tell Boris and Hancock

A House of Commons Select Committee report has hammered the Government’s use of “science” and big data to create a climate of fear and compliance around COVID-19.

In a section titled “Communicating uncertainty”, the Committee says:

“No one is contesting that decisions made by Government have been difficult and have involved a significant degree of judgement. Politicians have been keen to stress that they are ‘following the science’, but in reality, science rarely produces a single correct answer. 

“As the Royal Society put it in their submission to the inquiry, ‘at the frontiers of science, there is always uncertainty, and to pretend otherwise would be foolish’”.

But foolish is what Boris, Hancock and co have been from the start. Lockdown and police actions have been based on political, not scientific data, despite claims to the contrary. Now the Government is finally getting called out.

Although Hancock would have us believe otherwise, scientific data “usually contains degrees of uncertainty”. Dr Ben Worthy noted in his submission: “Almost all the data around COVID-19 is complex and contestable, for experts and the wider public. Even data such as death rates has provoked discussion, controversy, and revision”. The Committee quotes the UK’s National Statistician (no, I didn’t know we had one, either): 

“The lockdown decisions are essentially political, but they must be informed by data”.

“Advice produced by SAGE and its subgroups have outlined the uncertainties in data they draw on, but as Prof Sir David Spiegelhalter noted, politicians are not always keen to admit this uncertainty:

‘An anxiety that many communicators have about admitting uncertainty is that, if we admit we do not quite know what the benefits of face masks are and things like that, maybe people will not want to wear them, maybe people will not obey the rules…That can lead people to overclaim their confidence in the conclusions they are making’”.

Quite. And it has led to characters like Prof Lockdown scaring the life out of people (sometimes literally, if suicide rates are anything to go by) with wild, absolute worst-case scenarios presented as probable outcomes.

Cambridge statistician Prof Spiegelhalter again: “I don’t want to ascribe motivations to anyone, but if someone were trying to manipulate emotions and wanting to frighten rather than inform, then this is the kind of thing they might do”.

The MPs: “While he is right that we cannot ascribe motivation, it is a concern shared by the Committee that large projections of infections or deaths are being used in an attempt to stoke anxiety rather than to inform the public”.

The mostly-gutless British media hasn’t helped, uncritically repeating whatever they’re told. From the very start they’ve obsessed over “cases”; the word they needed was “infections”. Now they’re desperately exaggerating the potential of new variants. In fact, current data shows SARS-Cov-2 evolving like every other virus before it: to a more infectious but less lethal form – basic survival intelligence for a parasite. Data so far shows more infections, fewer deaths – just as predicted by everyone outside the SAGE/Boris panic bus.

Five months of post-viral fatigue looms

The latest on long COVID suggests that 70-80% of survivors leaving hospital following COVID-19 had not fully recovered five months later.

On average, people are reporting NINE persistent symptoms – with persistent symptoms more common in women. The ten most common are muscle pain, fatigue, physical slowing down, impaired sleep quality, joint pain or swelling, limb weakness, breathlessness, pain, short-term memory loss, and slowed thinking (aka “brain fog”). One in five could now officially be classed as disabled.

This is the coming “pandemic” – now given real form by the PHOSP-COVID study, led by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and Leicester and Loughborough universities. 

Practitioners are already reporting a surge in clients seeking help for post-viral fatigue. We’ll help you prepare with an increasing focus on this challenge.

Green tea supplements: powerful stuff

We know nutrition is powerful, but even we weren’t ready for the astounding report from an international team researching Down Syndrome (page 50 this issue). Green tea extracts taken during the first three years of life can reduce the signature facial dysmorphology seen in the syndrome.

Simon Martin

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