Last updated2020-04-20T18:42:56



272 Barney McGrew, replying to Barney McGrew, 26, #1 of 48 🔗

I wish I shared your optimism, Toby. The next indignity seems to be the imposition of face masks. It feels to me like a humiliating badge of compliance.

Even under lockdown and social distancing, no one can tell that you’re actually ‘going along with it’. Conceivably, at any time, no one really knows whether you’ve been out for more than an hour, or even twice that day; they don’t know you’re not going to buy something non-essential at the shop. They don’t know whether you clap at the appointed hour on a Thursday night. These are tiny slivers of freedom and dignity to cling onto.

But impose face masks, and your compliance – and shame – is unambiguously there for all to see. Not only do you have to wear the masks, but you’ll probably have to source them yourself – The Sun is even giving instructions on how to make them. Perhaps Lockdown Sceptics could have some made with an image of Neil Ferguson on them. Alternatively, perhaps, we should make them look like disgusting health hazards with apparent flakes of skin, blood and pus stains on them.

277 ▶▶ Brian Robins, replying to Barney McGrew, 19, #2 of 48 🔗

Or we could just refuse to wear them. I will do just that

279 ▶▶▶ Tarquin Von Starheim, replying to Brian Robins, 10, #3 of 48 🔗

Seems increasingly likely doesn’t it, just to ratchet up the fear levels another notch. Plod are going to thoroughly enjoy themselves enforcing that one.

280 ▶▶▶ Ethelred the Unready, replying to Brian Robins, 12, #4 of 48 🔗

Agreed, non compliance will be a badge of honour in my mind

314 ▶▶▶▶ Tom, replying to Ethelred the Unready, 4, #5 of 48 🔗

And I’m not accepting their vaccine either no matter what, no matter, even if I’m excluded from society for the rest of my life, it’s just not happening. These people are not trustworthy and their exploits in India have me convinced of this. Not happening.

308 ▶▶▶ Bob Webb, replying to Brian Robins, #6 of 48 🔗


286 ▶▶ Nigel Baldwin, replying to Barney McGrew, 14, #7 of 48 🔗

On an attendant note – and no, I will not wear a face mask – what is all this bull about essential items? As far as I understand it if an item is on sale you can buy it. And that comes directly from a government that can’t really do joined up writing. It’s the Plod (not the brightest profession in the world) who have mostly mentioned non-essential items, conveniently forgetting that there isn’t a shortage of anything (well not much) and there is no rationing. And how the hell would they apply that ‘so-called regulation’ to shopping online?

289 ▶▶ Ross, replying to Barney McGrew, -8, #8 of 48 🔗

Facemasks are no indignity, I will agree to wear one from the moment they decide to switch to facemasking instead of all the indignities caused by lockdowns, loss of our rights and loss of our jobs. I suggest we make a priority of removing irrational measures like lockdowns and dangerous police powers, replacing them with non-intrusive but effective measures like face masks, wash basins, open windows instead of air-con, copepr plated door handles and more regular public transport to reduce crowding is the right step to take.

309 ▶▶▶ Bob Webb, replying to Ross, 8, #9 of 48 🔗

Wearing a yellow star was considered non intrusive in 1939

362 ▶▶▶▶ RossAgain, replying to Bob Webb, -1, #10 of 48 🔗

Firstly, everyone would wear facemasks, they wouldn’t be of “yellow star” type use to mark out those a government wishes to oppress. Secondly a facemask is also a useful defence against facial recognition surveillance cameras, quite good for making state intrusion trickier for them. Unlike a yellow star beng used to track you a facemask makes tracking harder. We need to be willing to give ground on minor things like facemasks, things that actually hep make a difference but don’t restrain our important rights, in exchange for making the forces of government give ground on the intrusive measures, make a deal of it, we will take every reasonable precaution to stop the spread, as soon as they stop forcing unreasonable precuations upon us. We have to show that our way is effective and workable without needing their intrusion, that way mroe people will come to see the sense of our anti-lockdown, pro-liberty, pro-business cause.

367 ▶▶▶▶▶ Barney McGrew, replying to RossAgain, 2, #11 of 48 🔗

When would the enforced face mask law be lifted? The one that says that a person when outside the home needs to cover their face, even when walking alone in the countryside – because if we make it optional or common sense, some people will take them off when sunbathing in parks and that wouldn’t be ‘fair’.

If it’s just a ‘minor thing’, why would that rule ever be lifted? At any time there could be a new virus with pre-symptomatic shedding, so it would pay dividends for people to have to wear face masks all the time – even in the home come to think of it.

With regards to facial recognition, there’s no problem because each citizen could eventually be issued with personalised bar-coded face masks.

291 ▶▶ Richard Y, replying to Barney McGrew, 6, #12 of 48 🔗

If face masks are made mandatory for certain activities, and it proves impractical in some circumstances not to comply, a design of protest face mask would be useful. At least people could feel like they have stated a view and are not simply endorsing the rule.

297 ▶▶▶ giblets, replying to Richard Y, 2, #13 of 48 🔗

Suspect facial hair might be in vogue, as we know it makes face masks virtually useless!

304 ▶▶▶ Ethelred the Unready, replying to Richard Y, 1, #14 of 48 🔗

Will masks be required ‘in the bedroom’ (asking for a friend)

380 ▶▶▶▶ alan Buckingham, replying to Ethelred the Unready, #15 of 48 🔗

Dark glasses might me more appropriate in my case

316 ▶▶ Fin, replying to Barney McGrew, 5, #16 of 48 🔗

Read Dr John Lee’s article on this subject in the Spectator.

He contends that even surgical grade face masks are designed to filter bacteria – not viruses, which are typically ten times smaller.

A cloth face mask has pores in the weave that are 1,000 to 5,000 times larger than a typical coronavirus – pretty much an open door to them.

364 ▶▶▶ William, replying to Fin, 1, #17 of 48 🔗

Masks do almost nothing to protect you, but they do ensure that if you catch it then your breath, the spit while you talk and your sneezes coughs travel less distance. They let us mingle in society (with basic 2m social distancing) in a way which makes viral spread a lot trickier, as particles (the virus clings to saliva droplets far bigger than the viral particles themselves) travel a lot less distance if a mask slows their exhaled velocity first. Facemasks are a good alternative to lockdowns.

320 ▶▶ Paul Steward, replying to Barney McGrew, 6, #18 of 48 🔗

Being forced to wear a mask would be the final straw for me and I would refuse too. Besides if they can’t find enough for the NHS where on earth do they think we’re going to find them?!

324 ▶▶▶ Csaba, replying to Paul Steward, -2, #19 of 48 🔗

Hi Paul,
I understand your frustration. I thought the same. But after, I read an article somewhere. A doctor said that my mask protects others and their masks protect me. So my mask is not for me. It is more for anybody else around me.
For me, it was a reasonable argument.

365 ▶▶▶▶ Fred, replying to Csaba, -1, #20 of 48 🔗

If I get the choice, masks or lockdowns I pick masks. We need to be clear that in resposne to lifting lockdowns we will take the sensible health pre-cuations necessary, this is a good offer to negotiate with. You end lockdowns, we wear masks. You re-open all the pubs for takeaway service, we wash our hands even more often. You re-open our jobs, we’ll use some spare time to deliver food to the old people who might actually be at some risk if they caught the disease. And so forth, for each intrusive measure the government removes, we accept a non-intrusive one.

274 RDawg, replying to RDawg, 32, #21 of 48 🔗

Thank you Toby for your brilliant research and journalism. This website gives us all hope and shows that not everyone is paralysed by fear and led by an irrational response.

I still can’t understand why Neil “Haven’t Got A Clue” Ferguson carries such weight in government decision making. His track record is nothing short of abysmal! The man has no understanding of the importance of the economy nor the non-Covid healthcare crisis this totally unnecessary lockdown is creating.

284 ▶▶ Beacritical, replying to RDawg, 20, #22 of 48 🔗

Would happily mount a campaign or petition to get him sacked/removed from his position for his indeed abysmal track record.

288 ▶▶▶ Jonny Dixon-Smith, replying to Beacritical, 11, #23 of 48 🔗

I am constantly looking for a campaign/action group but this is the only page I am a member of right now. I am a lawyer/teacher and writer and would happily protest in the streets (but of course the Coronavirus Act makes this illegal (unlike the Civil Contingencies Act which we chose not to use). Are there any organised protests in the UK?

296 ▶▶▶▶ Beacritical, replying to Jonny Dixon-Smith, 10, #24 of 48 🔗

I have never in my life considered protesting but would strongly consider it now, unfortunately I have no idea about how to go about it and am not aware of any groups, Reddit might be a good place to look. Convenient that it should be made illegal, however I am almost at the point of not caring because it will generate attention.

332 ▶▶▶▶▶ Sandra, replying to Beacritical, #25 of 48 🔗

I remember some time back there was a website trying to organise a protest in early April against the lockdown and it got taken down pretty quickly

336 ▶▶▶▶▶ Brian Robins, replying to Beacritical, 1, #26 of 48 🔗

If the Americans can do it, why can’t we?

307 ▶▶ RDawg, replying to RDawg, 1, #27 of 48 🔗

P.S. If anyone wishes to make their thoughts on Professor Ferguson’s “model” known to him personally, he is on Twitter: @neil_ferguson

275 enjayaitch, replying to enjayaitch, 16, #28 of 48 🔗

Toby, your updates are extremely helpful. In my view, the single most mendacious aspect of the globally adopted propaganda here is the use of deaths “with” as opposed to deaths “from”. The distinction is drawn parenthetically (occasionally), but my understanding is that the degree to which this is misleading is proportional to how widespread the disease is. If 50% of the population has it, one would expect at least 50% of deaths to be part of the rising “Covid-19 death toll”.

I believe the solution (for the UK, at least) lies in simply looking at the year-on-year comparison of deaths whose underlying cause is respiratory disease. These have been recorded for ten years, and, as I understand it, must include all deaths that were actually caused by Covid-19. ONS will release w/e 10th April tomorrow, which will be interesting because there definitely was a spike w/e 3rd April (week 14), and how that spike continues will give a good idea about true excess mortality. The numbers lag because they are by date of registration, so not only is the availability of data a week behind, but also the deaths that it describes may be up to two weeks old.

However, at at the end of week 14, the total number of deaths from respiratory failure (which we have to assume includes those actually caused by Covid-19) was 25,012. At the same point in 2018, the figure was 31,659.

It may be that we do see a significant spike in the coming weeks, and that 2020 starts to compare with, or even exceeds 2018. If we do see that, the conclusion would be that the effect on mortality was slightly worse than a very cold winter.

I have been producing the graphs each week (as have others, e.g. https://twitter.com/hector_drummond/status/1251177611100913664 and https://twitter.com/hector_drummond/status/1251176564051640320 ). I think it would be great to include this in your next update.

290 ▶▶ Jonny Dixon-Smith, replying to enjayaitch, 9, #29 of 48 🔗

Thank you so much for your calmness and rationality. I am baffled at the country’s reaction to this. How can we get this data out to a wider audience and/or organise a protest on this?

276 AN other lockdown sceptic, 12, #30 of 48 🔗

A very big daily thank you Toby for your work.

If nothing else, it’s reassuring to know that there are others who question this crazy approach taken by our cowardly government.

I’m off for a longish walk than usual this afternoon. This is following the new interpretation of the guidelines, that as long as I walk for longer than the drive to it then I’m fully compliant.

I’m wondering how far I can stretch things? Its a 9 hour round trip drive to the Lakes for me, so as long as I walk for 9 hours and 1 minute then I’m good! A trip to Scotland maybe pushing it a little though …

278 Sim18, replying to Sim18, 4, #31 of 48 🔗

On the subject of IFR, has anyone heard any results from the Porton Down antibody survey?

On 3rd April Matt Hancock said (note past tense “We have already”): “Yes, but I’m not assuming any come on stream – that’s pillar three, as we call it – in order to hit the 100,000 target. We have already 3,500 a week of antibody tests at Porton Down, and they are the top quality, the best test in the world. We’re using those for research purposes to understand how much of the population has had coronavirus. This is one of the great unknown questions. But that’s obviously a very small number, 500 or so a day.”

300 ▶▶ Mark H, replying to Sim18, 2, #32 of 48 🔗

Anyone got any idea why the Porton Down laboratory has the Health Secretary listed as a 75% of more shareholder?

281 Ethelred the Unready, replying to Ethelred the Unready, 18, #33 of 48 🔗

I walked to and along Poole & Bournemouth promenade yesterday, definitely a good deal more people, cyclists and cars about than a week previously, Easter Sunday. In the absence of much evidence of Covid in the local Dorset area, suspect many are beginning to suffer from Lockdown fatigue. Guido reporting increasing incidence of anti-lockdown demonstrations around the World. As ever (see Brexit and ‘Climate Emergency’ the noisy woke, the MSM, ‘celebrities’ and social media jockeys give the impression that the vast majority are ‘on board’, I suspect (hope) the level of cynicism is underreported.

293 ▶▶ Ethelred the Unready, replying to Ethelred the Unready, 11, #34 of 48 🔗

Update, I just took a sunny, late afternoon drive around the Sandbanks peninsula, it wasn’t essential, I didn’t need to or have to, I just wanted to, for my own pleasure. Felt good.

542 ▶▶▶ Quentin, replying to Ethelred the Unready, #35 of 48 🔗

Sounds to me like you didn’t actually encounter any other human beings, hence no risk of spreading in either direction. No civilised person could comdemn you for those actions. I wish this text field would let me underline the word “civilised”, today I define it to mean any person who can understand statistics and respects that a risk of death always exists hence quality of life is more important than quantity.

283 Phoenix44, replying to Phoenix44, 4, #36 of 48 🔗

There is some racial data for the UK. According to the Guardian, nearly 25% of patients critically ill are Asian or black, versus 16% for black and Asians in the general population. For the at-risk age group, that 15% is much lower. I doubt if it is Vitamin D. It is far more likely to be obesity, diabetes and hypertension, all of which have significantly higher incidence in blacks and Asians than whites and all of which increase the risk of COVID. There may also be genetic disposition, particularly around ACE2 in the lungs. I have heard (but seen no data) that the Somali population in Sweden is disproportionately affected, and may be in London too. I note that the UK has the largest Somali community in Europe.

292 ▶▶ Will Jones, replying to Phoenix44, 4, #37 of 48 🔗

Doesn’t it just reflect the ethnic composition of London, where most of the cases are? London has a majority ethnic minority population. Plus poverty and high density living I imagine.

294 ▶▶ Ian M, replying to Phoenix44, 1, #38 of 48 🔗

Hi Phoenix44
Re effects of covid on Sweden’s Somalis, Go to BMJ link in Young’s blogabove.

298 Koen, #39 of 48 🔗

Here are 53 measures we can take right now to end the lockdown and reopen the economy and public life while continuing to limit the damage COVID-19 is doing: https://medium.com/@codecodekoen/covid-19-53-suggestions-for-reopening-the-economy-in-a-responsible-way-f8616bb2cf83

303 Christine, replying to Christine, 20, #40 of 48 🔗

I have written to my MP to advise him that I will not accept the shutdown for my age group till 2022. I am a fit pensioner at the moment, and dread to think how I would survive or not if this length of time was imposed upon me. Among my friends the fear factor is running very high at the moment and I am worried some may not be able to last such a long period of time in lockdown. I am very positive regarding this virus, I will not let it beat me or worry me but unless the Government change this plan many elderly will worry themselves into an early grave.

310 ▶▶ Bob Webb, replying to Christine, 8, #41 of 48 🔗

Christine, I do hope your MP has the courage of conviction to accept and represent your point of view. The emotive rhetoric surrounding this “deadly virus” seems to have been engineered so as to discourage any form of critical thought or rational discourse.
There was a move at the start to adopt a measured and proportionate approach to tackling this “crisis” with the aim of building a “herd immunity”. Unfortunately, that gave way to an irrational knee-jerk response that has only reinforced the herd mentality.

306 hashmath, replying to hashmath, 2, #42 of 48 🔗

You may wish to check Fumento’s points a bit more carefully yourself before citing them, as the points you’ve pulled out contain serious errors or mischaracterizations of what was written in the papers. To pull out a couple of examples:

The paper citing 1.4 million deaths for Ebola stated that it was for *four months* of uncontrolled or unmitigated behaviour and multiplying by 2.5 to estimate for unreported occurrences and used this as a justification for taking countermeasures and the importance of putting mitigations in place as early as possible. A few sentences after the 1.4 million figure, it goes on to say “The cumulative number of Ebola cases for Liberia and Sierra Leone could double to approximately 8,000 by the end of September 2014”, which is somewhat closer to the 8,000 you quote and something of a justification of the model.

The error with AIDS reporting is even greater; the 17,325 cases in 1993 is from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/8010413_Migration_and_AIDS_in_Mexico_An_overview_based_on_recent_evidence and is actually the number of cases in Mexico, not the United States which by mid 1993 had 315,390 cases. It’s difficult to understand how such a fundamental error was made in the first place and is not the kind of error made in a “particularly good” article; you may wish to raise your quality threshold somewhat.

317 ▶▶ Tim Bidie, replying to hashmath, 7, #43 of 48 🔗

The point made, though, is a good one and still stands:

‘Use and abuse of mathematical models: an illustration from the 2001 foot and mouth disease epidemic in the United Kingdom.’

‘‘The progress of an outbreak of FMD is extremely difficult to predict in the early stages of the disease. The course of an outbreak can be critically affected by minor and inherently unpredictable events, such as a single livestock movement. For this reason, predictive disease models, which depend on statistical probabilities of transmission, have not met with much success in predicting the spread of FMD from herd to herd, and still less the impact of
control measures……….’

‘The UK experience provides a salutary warning of how models can be abused in the interests of scientific opportunism.’


325 ▶▶▶ hashmath, replying to Tim Bidie, -1, #44 of 48 🔗

The point (or at least Young’s point which appears to be that models don’t work very well) doesn’t stand if several of the papers cited actually do make good predictions and the author is either deliberately misrepresenting them or has made a mistake so inpet that they’ve confused the USA and Mexico and *still* doesn’t spot it after seeing the absurdly low resultant infection rate. Even if you don’t like Ferguson’s work, the vCJD deaths that occurred are inside the 95% confidence interval of the paper cited in the article of 50 – 50000, the very high CI is the reason that the second sentence of the abstract says “well grounded mathematical and statistical models are therefore essential to integrate the limited and disparate data” which Young & Fomento have missed, as well as the lower bound number completely and not taking into account that it was even before any bovine to human transmission had been detected at all.

There may be things to criticise in the COVID-19 modelling which can be done by criticising the actual models, starting parameters or the maths themselves, which Young doesn’t do. Picking out a policy failure aruond FMD, an animal disease, from nearly two decades ago says nearly next to nothing about the current situation. Yes, predictive modelling in the early stages is hard as they’re very sensitive to initial conditions and real world outcomes are affected by behaviour and policy changes. But the government has to have a policy response (even if that is a do-nothing, no-response) which if it isn’t guided by models is going to be guided by…what exactly?

328 ▶▶▶▶ Caswell Bligh, replying to hashmath, 5, #45 of 48 🔗

“… the government has to have a policy response (even if that is a do-nothing, no-response) which if it isn’t guided by models is going to be guided by…what exactly?”

The 64 trillion dollar question. Maybe it has to be the result of rationalism, not empiricism. The ‘science’ doesn’t replace the need for judgement calls – it merely disguises or defers them. I don’t think it even ‘informs’ them when it is so obviously confused itself.

Sweden used cool, calm rationality in deciding that the disease would have to be a factor of ten worse than indications (possibly just anecdotes) were showing it to be, in order to justify destroying the economy and suspending civil liberties. One factor was, apparently, that they could see that a lockdown is a self-reinforcing strategy, making it almost impossible to come out of with any sort of coherent justification. Our government is now wrestling with this this problem, meaning we are probably going to have to trash the economy and society even further while the press and public are psychologically conditioned to accept a relaxation of the lockdown.

331 ▶▶▶▶ Tim Bidie, replying to hashmath, 1, #46 of 48 🔗

Government actions should, in a perfect world, always be evidence based. Evidence provides data, and data can be used for decision making. Models using accurate data can indeed provide useful decision support tools. The author’s point here is straightforward: models are inherently unreliable, dependent as they are on the quality of the data provided, as his referenced paper points out:

‘Then Fauci finally said it. “I’ve spent a lot of time on the models. They don’t tell you anything.” A few days later CDC Director Robert Redfield also turned on the computer crystal balls. “Models are only as good as their assumptions, obviously there are a lot of unknowns about the virus” he said. “A model should never be used to assume that we have a number.”

Which, of course, is exactly how both a number of public health officials and the media have used the them.’

The criticism of modellers is that they themselves are aware of the limitations of modelling but may not always be as diligent as they might be in making that clear:

‘The models essentially have three purposes: 1) To satisfy the public’s need for a number, any number; 2) To bring media attention for the modeler; and 3) To scare the crap out of people to get them to “do the right thing.”’

‘……all the modelers know that no matter what the low end, headlines will always reflect the high end.’

On a separate point, the fact that a paper may be 14 years old quite obviously in no way invalidates its conclusions, most particularly when it concludes:

‘The course of an outbreak can be critically affected by minor and inherently unpredictable events, such as a single livestock movement. For this reason, predictive disease models, which depend on statistical probabilities of transmission, have not met with much success in predicting the spread of FMD from herd to herd, and still less the impact of control measures……’

That point is particularly relevant to Covid 19. Covid 19 data is all over the shop. The virus could have crossed over to humans as early as 13 September 2019 or as late as 07 December. Testing has been sporadic and unreliable. Mortality rates are unreliable, since no international standard for recording cause of death exists.

Short of good data, as they are, to input into decision support tools, leaders have to exercise judgement; and democratically accountable leaders are extremely risk averse, with the honourable exception of Sweden, which has a health authority independent of political control. Hmmmm.

Democracy: the least worst system of government.

350 ▶▶▶▶▶ Tim Bidie, replying to Tim Bidie, #47 of 48 🔗

Good data is being gathered in the U.S. Hopefully we are doing the same. Then the able bodied can all get back to work, knowing that the risks we take with this virus are really no different to those we take every year with influenza:


327 jcmzd, #48 of 48 🔗

I think we have been walked to this outcome for quite sometime. I am in no doubt the controlling powers are moving to complete population monitoring. We will no longer have freedom to buy and sell. Go outside or partake in any activity without the information being collected.
If you think back to the arrival of Alexa. In most people’s homes. The fact your phone listens to your conversations and targeted advertising appears amongst your social media. All this information is for sale.
This virus is without doubt nasty but the fear of it has been made much worse. The measures put in place to hasty and withdrawing them all I dont think will ever happen. You only have to listen to the WHO and the measures they want to take.
The rapid tell tale society that phones police re gatherings of people are doing the job for them.
I could go on. I will just say if you are not aware take a look at The Corbett report.com and the Last American Vagabond. Both put out great information on the USA and the rest of the world.
We cannot trust any death figures when they are being recorded incorrectly and the numbers will drop as the epidemic passes and the government change the recording rules to suit their message.


35 users made 48 comments today.

42Ethelred the Unready12, 1, 18, 11
33RDawg32, 1
30Beacritical20, 10
28Barney McGrew26, 2
20Brian Robins19, 1
20Jonny Dixon-Smith11, 9
16Bob Webb0, 8, 8
14Nigel Baldwin14
12AN other lockdown sceptic12
10Tarquin Von Starheim10
8Tim Bidie7, 1, 0
6Paul Steward6
6Richard Y6
5Caswell Bligh5
4Will Jones4
2Mark H2
1Ian M1
1hashmath2, -1
0alan Buckingham0