Big Data and Government Covid19

Misinformation, Covid and the BBC

Since my appearance on BBC Radio Ulster Talkback on Friday I’ve had to face a fair amount of criticism on social media – but, thankfully, I’ve also received lots of messages of support. The criticism tended to focus on the fact that I clearly lost my temper on-air. My defence is that it’s tricky to maintain calmness when the interviewer (in this instance, William Crawley) was, from the outset, hostile.  But, I also wanted to present an alternative to the calm and clerical sounding Chief Scientific Advisor who was allowed to ramble, unchallenged, about the need for yet another draconian lockdown in Northern Ireland from Boxing Day. 

The day after that broadcast we heard from the Prime Minister that London and the SE of England was to have Christmas effectively cancelled as an opportunity for families to get together – as London moves into “Tier 4” of a tier system that starts with Tier 1/Medium and goes to Tier 4/Be Scared, Be Very Scared. The Covid Scare Taxonomy is running out of severity descriptors. 

My attempts, on Friday, to provide an antidote to the scary stuff from public health “experts,” were stifled at every opportunity by Crawley. When I attempted to present evidence to counter the fear narrative, I was closed down with accusations that my evidence essentially wasn’t allowed. It was, apparently, misinformation. Only the correct sort of evidence is allowed by the BBC these days.

But there were three central points I was trying to get across on Crawley’s programme that were stifled.

The first relates to lockdowns themselves. They don’t work. An excellent article to this effect was published by Nick Hudson (of PANDA) on Medium today. Although there’s a growing body of evidence that viruses will do their thing until populations achieve near herd immunity. There’s good evidence that we’re there already in the UK. Winter seasonal flu, which has nearly overwhelmed A&Es in the past (e.g. in December 2017/January 2018) is now being reclassified, it would appear, as Covid (see chart, below). Bed occupancy in London has been pretty consistent since mid September, but patients are being reclassified as Covid to fit the narrative.

NHS Bed Capacity, London, September to December, 2020

The second is that the PCR test is a duff test. I’m not going to re-hash a huge volume of work and back catalogue of research. There are a lot of resources on that justify the view that the testing is creating a false narrative of “cases” – when they are, in fact, simply false positives. The PCR test produces large volumes of false positives simply because it is not fit for purpose for testing large populations of asymptomatic people.

Because PCR is the test of choice for NHS personnel it means that perfectly healthy healthcare workers are being sent home to isolate at a time when they are most needed i.e. during a Winter respiratory disease spike. 

And the final point I wanted to make relates, inevitably, to the social cost of all of this – especially when the concept of asymptomatic transmission must be questioned. Covid-19 is not a particularly dangerous disease for most people. Many have innate immunity (probably around 50% from T-cell immunity). Many have acquired immunity from having had the disease, even in a mild form. Therefore, people who are concerned that they may suffer severe ill-health if exposed to it can choose to isolate or take precautions. But those of us prepared to take the risk should be allowed to get out and socialise or engage in trade. The restraint of trade, and restraint of education, that are the the cornerstones of lockdown are extraordinarily damaging – especially to business owners, children and young people. 

These are not extraordinary claims or misinformation. These are valid concerns about a policy that has been tried, repeatedly, in all four home nations since March. It is a policy that’s is hugely damaging to our society and our way of life. If we are not allowed to question government policy, it starts to feel conspiratorial. Freedom of speech is at the heart of this. And curtailing that freedom – by the BBC or government – is the stuff of misinformation-spreading and propaganda. 

By Jeffrey Peel

7 replies on “Misinformation, Covid and the BBC”

Extremely difficult to make a reasoned contribution when there is so little chance to speak without being cut out.

The narrative appears to be set against proper debate on these broadcasts.

This is as we all know a gravely serious health threat. No one sane can think otherwise.

But the default position must remain that those prompting removal of liberty, near destruction of all other healthcare services and mass destruction of livelihoods with consequential untold suffering and death must justify their actions.

It appears that those arguing against these appallingly destructive lockdowns now expect not to have to justify their actions at all; rather it is the dissenters against government policy who must carry burden of proof. This cannot be right.

Another example must be the accepted wisdom that mask wearing protects us. The evidence suggests otherwise as those who are properly informed on this will likely already know. Why the lack of debate?

Wise counsel from the likes of Jonathan Sumption, Professor Karl Hennigan, Senatra Gupta and many many others has been steadfastly ignored by the BBC and other mainstream media outlets throughout. We must wonder why.

I have no idea how my I would cope under such circumstances as I have never done a radio interview; it would undoubtedly be incredibly frustrating to be shutdown as false information, which is a lazy and unethical card to play as a journalist, especially when placed against the backdrop of a distinct lack of discussion by the government or the CMO regarding the actual impact of Covid-19 or the response to it. Where are the peer reviewed studies cited by the government regarding the reliability of the PCR test? Why are comparisons to more impactful winters skirted over? Why are the endemic reasons for capacity issues never addressed? Why was your personal knowledge of a doctor mocked while in the same breath, the words of a King used as evidence for Sweden’s failure, even though their number of deaths from winter respiratory illness is currently lower than average. Perhaps if you had been allowed, you might have pointed out that comparisons to other Nordic countries on the basis of culteral idiosyncrasies is a rather quaint replacement for a proper assessment of what factors could have caused the difference, such as the severity of prior flu seasons and the consequential percentage of an aging population that is vulnerable to a virus, particularly a novel one.

There are many more glossed over discrepancies that I could mention and that is the frustration, isn’t it? Pushing against a unquestioned narrative is not a level playing field, and if the BBC would give more airtime to people like yourself and Yeadon, Craig and many, many others we could at least get a clearer picture of reality and perhaps even see the possibility that the first lockdown was an experiment that failed and it’s continuance is bringing death and destruction.

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