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My apologies. This is a long but important post on the endgame for coronavirus, as things stand at present.

On Wednesday, September 2, 2020, the House of Commons’ adjournment debate was about coronavirus measures in England.

Sir Christopher Chope MP (Conservative, Christchurch) voiced disapproval on behalf of his constituents.

Sir Christopher has a good track record for representing the people, such as in this heated debate on Brexit in March 2019:

Before Parliament reconvened on Tuesday, September 1, many English residents became concerned about the Government’s response to coronavirus, particularly after lockdown began to be lifted early this summer. The following tweets reflect their concerns:

In the middle of August, The Human Unleashed Team posted an excellent article about two possible strategies the Government has. Excerpts from ‘COVID: The Case Against the UK Government’ follow, emphases in purple mine.

It begins as follows:

Has the U.K. Government acted in good faith over the COVID-19 crisis?

In this post, we’ll examine the UK Government’s actions around the COVID crisis alongside various data published by official sources. The goal is to get insight into whether the Government has acted honestly and in good faith.

For now let’s put aside the science around whether the disease known as COVID-19 is caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and focus on the evidence as it emerged.

Let’s keep two alternative possibilities in mind as we look at the facts.

The first, “Case A” is that the UK Government has conducted itself in good faith, in the genuine belief that this is a pandemic, and has done all it can to reverse it, so that the country can safely return to normal as soon as possible.

The second possibility, which we’ll call “Case B“, is the possibility that the UK Government knows that the pandemic is no longer present, but does not wish a swift return to normal, and is therefore continuing to push the pandemic narrative for some other reason.

The article is complete with graphs, such as the one charting talk about a second wave when the initial deaths from the first wave had only just appeared in March:

If Case A (the Government is acting in good faith), this really does not make sense. The public did not suddenly starting talking about it for no reason. Why would the key influencers (WHO, Government, and media) seed the idea of a second wave so soon?

It only makes any sense in Case B (the Government is knowingly rolling out a prepared agenda), where it could be argued that the idea of “second wave” is being implanted into the public’s consciousness. Why? Is it to set expectations of a second wave that is already planned?

Talk of a vaccine started trending two weeks before that, at the end of February:

Considering that the public’s interest is guided by the media narrative, it is interesting that the public’s attention was guided to terms like “second wave” and “vaccine” so early in the lifecycle of this pandemic.

Once lockdown started (Monday evening, March 23) ‘flatten the curve’ disappeared quickly from the official narrative:

Why was “flatten the curve” hailed as the nation’s priority in March, but then swiftly dropped even before the fatality curve peaked?

Furthermore (and this is a recurring theme), if flattening the curve was ever truly the goal, we would now be celebrating the fact that the curve has been flat for nearly two months. We are not. Neither the Government nor mainstream media have been cheering the fact that the COVID wave has, to all extents and purposes, ended and that the country can return to normal.

The death curve has been flat since the end of July:

Even in the hardest-hit groups (60 years and 80-plus), the curve is now objectively flat. Why are we not partying in the streets? (When it comes to younger age groups, the picture is even more ridiculous. The official NHS numbers show that only two people aged under forty have died in hospital in the past month related to COVID.)

If Case A were true, you would expect that the Government would be proudly announcing its success in halting COVID mortality. However, there have been no such announcements. On the contrary, the narrative from both Government and state news sources continue to stress the threat of another wave. Case A makes no sense.

It does all fit with the Case B scenario. If the Government’s purpose involves perpetuating the fear level thus justifying continuing the increased level of control over the population’s freedoms, then you can see why they would choose to ignore the simple fact that today there is no epidemic in the UK.

In fact, this summer, there were more fatalities from seasonal flu than there were from COVID-19:

You can see that, following a tremendous spike in death rates, since mid-June deaths linked to COVID have been significantly lower than flu/pneumonia deaths …

Again, if Case A were true, the Government would be wasting no time in announcing the end of the epidemic and delivering the good news that everything can now return to normal. Considering the incredible damage that has already been inflicted on the UK economy, you would imagine that the party in power would be anxious to lift the restrictions.

As none of that has happened, we must consider Case B. Not only has the Government resisted the clear opportunity to end all the restrictions, they have actually implemented new rules, including the requirement to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces, backed up with the threat of a £100+ fine, since July 24th.

What can we conclude?

Think it through. If both diseases are the result of similar, communicable viruses, why are more people now dying every day from flu than from COVID-19?

One possible explanation that has been suggested could be that the virus that causes COVID-19 is far more contagious than the influenza virus. If that were the case, it would suggest the novel coronavirus spread like wildfire through the UK population, but killing the elderly almost exclusively. And if that were true, it would mean that we have already reached the fabled “herd immunity”, suggesting that you could make an argument that the elderly and infirm should still be protected, but that the rest of the UK public could return to normal immediately.

So we must conclude that we have either achieved “herd immunity”, which means there is no more pandemic and that the virus is no longer a high consequence infectious disease (which Public Health England in fact published back in March), or one or more of the above assertions are incorrect, suggesting that COVID-19 may not be caused by a communicable pathogen, in which case there is also no pandemic.

Over the summer, the Government’s focus turned to ‘cases’, which has kept the psychological fear factor up among the general public:

If Case A is true, and the UK Government’s priority is to protect the population and get through the COVID crisis as swiftly and as safely as possible, why would they stop talking about deaths and start talking “cases” as the death rate dropped towards zero?

Cases simply refer to positive test results. They do not mean that someone is sick, or at risk of dying. Yet testing has continued to grow week-on-week, now averaging over 150,000 tests being processed daily. Why would a Government whose priority is a rapid and safe return to normal keep increasing its efforts to find more “cases”, instead of applauding the vanishing mortality numbers?

Again, only Case B makes logical sense. The Government’s own actions show that it is continually pouring more resources into the search for “cases”, which could have the effect of spreading fear and panic, and choosing not to report the good news that now almost nobody is dying of COVID-19, which of course would have the opposite effect.

Then there were the inflated death statistics that have now been corrected. England now has 5,000 fewer COVID deaths. Hospital admissions were also erroneously inflated:

Let us be clear. In the middle of a global disease pandemic, the Government’s number one priority must be to evaluate the danger accurately. The responsibility falls on the Health Secretary, who completely failed to deliver. He had ONE JOB.

The article concludes as follows:

It is now clear, from observing its own actions, that the UK Government does not wish a timely return to normal life. If it did, it would be going to lengths to celebrate the practical eradication of the COVID pandemic in this country, and moving to reverse the extreme measures that limit the population’s freedoms that have resulted in such catastrophic outcomes.

Instead, the sum of this Government’s actions appear only to support the hypothesis that they wish to prolong the present restrictions by giving the impression that the pandemic is ongoing and far more serious than the data suggest.

The UK Government has some very, very serious questions to answer. This establishment must take responsibility for conspiring to extend the appearance of the alleged COVID pandemic, leading to disastrous economic outcomes for the country, but – even more importantly – the unimaginable health and emotional damage on the population of this country.

Keep all of that in mind as you read the excerpts from Sir Christopher Chope’s speech and the response on behalf of the Government from Paul Scully MP (Conservative, Sutton and Cheam), who is the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Wikipedia says (emphases mine below, link added in the next sentence):

Scully’s wife Emma is employed by Nudge Factory Ltd as an Office Manager and replaced her husband as ‘a person with significant control’ on 1 April 2018.[30][31]

The text from the adjournment debate can be found in Hansard: ‘Regulatory Impact Assessments (Legislative Scrutiny)’. The crux of the debate was that the Government made emergency laws without properly assessing the impact they would have on small business owners. That said, masks also featured in the debate.

I promise that you will not be bored reading the following excerpts. Unbeknownst to me at the time, my far better half also watched the entirety of this debate in another room. Both of us were gripped.

Sir Christopher wasted no time in making his points. He expressed himself politely but with all guns blazing, so to speak. (Bold letters for MPs’ names are in the Hansard document).

Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)

I shall start with some quotes from my constituents about the Government:

“The most inept and incompetent administration in my lifetime.”

“Incoherent and indecisive.” “Authoritarian and arrogant.” “Inconsistent and incomprehensible.” “Socialist in all but name.” As these criticisms become increasingly difficult to rebut, it is indeed essential that the Prime Minister gets a grip. The constructive purpose of this debate is to remind the Government that one key tool to enable them to get a grip is to use regulatory impact assessments as part of the policy-making process.

A regulatory impact assessment is a well-established, internationally acclaimed toolkit for good policy making. It facilitates transparency and public accountability, promotes democratic discussion by enabling potential possible policy options to be evaluated and compared. It prevents the inconsistency that arises from knee-jerk reactions and policies being developed on the hoof.

It helps to ensure that sudden changes are the exception and are made in response to changes in hard evidence rather than in response to the chorus of a single-issue pressure group—and I think it is probably fair to say that the covid alarmists are the most successful pressure group in British history. If, for the past six months, the Government had been using this toolkit, it would not have been possible for commentators to observe, as one did on Sunday:

“Britain has become a paradise for those who like to answer questions with ‘rules is rules’; even when they’re clearly made up on the spot or nonsensical.”

Allowing beard and eyebrow trimming for men but not eyebrow treatments for women was but one ridiculous example.

Most fair-minded observers supported the Government’s initial response to the covid-19 pandemic. The Government had no option but to make their priority ensuring that our hospitals were able to treat all those seriously ill as a result of covid-19. Our NHS was not as well-prepared as it would have been if the recommendations of Exercise Cygnus had been implemented. Cygnus was a brilliant initiative to war-game a serious epidemic of respiratory illness in order to identify where investment was needed to fill the gaps and thereby ensure an effective response. Tragically, Public Health England did not learn the lessons identified and failed to put the recommended preparatory work in place. We, the public, have been denied access to the full results. It remains a mystery to me as to why the Government are so defensive about the whole matter—and have indeed been dodging parliamentary questions that I have put down on the subject.

… The purpose of this debate is to try to get some more assurance from the Government that they are going to apply these principles not just to covid-19 but to other regulatory measures that are, at the moment, being brought in with far too insufficient scrutiny.

Tomorrow it will be six months since the Department of Health and Social Care policy paper on coronavirus was published. This action plan, as it became, on which the Coronavirus Act 2020 was based, envisaged four phases: contain, delay, research and mitigate. The delay phase was to

“slow the spread in this country, if it does take hold, lowering the peak impact and pushing it away from the winter season”.

Because of the emergency timetable, the legislation had the sketchiest of regulatory impact assessments, without any cost-benefit analysis. But who would have thought that none of the regulations being made under that primary legislation would be properly evaluated before implementation? I certainly hoped that that would happen, but it has not.

The basic steps in the RIA process should involve consultation and an assessment of the nature and extent of the problems to be addressed. There should be a clear statement of the policy objectives and goals of the regulatory proposal, which should include the enforcement regime and strategy for ensuring compliance. Alternative courses of action should be identified, including any non-regulatory approaches considered as potential solutions to the identified problem. There should also be a clear outline of the benefits and costs expected from the proposal and identified alternatives. The conclusion should not only identify the preferred solution but explain how it is superior to the other alternatives considered. Finally, there should be a monitoring and evaluation framework set out describing how performance will be measured.

Although the processes I have set out could not be embarked on in the immediate emergency of introducing lockdown, they should surely form an inherent part of the process of easing lockdown, and ensuring consistent and timely relaxations of the regulations. It is the failure to do this that has resulted in sudden and contradictory changes to the regulations.

This has also led to unacceptable mission creep, which increasingly embodies a gradual shift in objectives. Hon. and right hon. Members will remember that the original objective was to enable the NHS to provide the best care to all the victims of covid-19 who needed it. That clear mission has now widened into a mission to suppress the spread of covid-19 as an end in itself, regardless of the cost. The irony is that, in allowing the original objective to be blurred, the important subsidiary objective of preventing the virus peaking again in the winter is being put in jeopardy.​

The easing of lockdown has, sadly, become a veritable shambles. While the number of deaths from covid-19 has mercifully plummeted from its April peak, there has not been a corresponding relaxation of the emergency regulations. I shall refer later to the OECD principles of best practice for regulatory policy, but one of the key principles is:

“Proposed solutions should be appropriate to the risk posed, and costs identified and minimised.”

In the statement he made yesterday to the House, the Secretary of State for Health [Matt Hancock] said that there are now

“60 patients in mechanical ventilator beds with coronavirus”.—[Official Report, 1 September 2020; Vol. 679, c. 23.]

This compares with 3,300 at the peak of the epidemic, and he then said that the latest quoted number for reported deaths is two in one day. Today, The Sun newspaper has calculated from these figures that the odds of catching covid-19 in England are about 44 in 1 million per day. Economist Tim Harford, who presents what I think is one, if not the only, good programme on the BBC—the statistics programme, “More or Less”—has said:

“Covid-19 currently presents a background risk of a one in a million chance of death or lasting harm, every day.”

While age, gender, geography, behaviour and other aspects affect the risk, it is now far lower than the risk of death or serious injury in a motor accident. On average, five people continue to be killed each day on our roads, yet I have not yet heard from the Government any proposals to ban people from driving because of the risks associated with so doing.

One sure way of ensuring consistency would be to impose the discipline of a regulatory impact assessment on each and every continuing restriction, so that the justification for loss of personal liberty could be evaluated against the alleged benefits. It is not too late for this to start, and I hope that the Minister, in responding to this debate, will provide an assurance that the forthcoming six-month review of the legislation will include a full regulatory impact assessment and an evaluation of the performance of the emergency regulations introduced.

The public would then be able to see the evidence about whether the decisions taken were correct. For example, was closing schools and setting back the education of the covid regeneration a proportionate and necessary measure? Was the postponement of 107,000 weddings across the United Kingdom justified? Could any of the 4,452 weddings which should have taken place last Saturday have been permitted? Why can people sit safely side by side with strangers on an aircraft, but not at a wedding breakfast or in a church, a theatre or a concert hall—or even in this Chamber?

Why was the World Health Organisation advice, which was originally that there should be 1 metre social distancing, not applied from the outset? We introduced a 2-metre or 6-foot rule, but that has now been modified with the 1 metre-plus rule, but at the same time the additional safeguards required for the 1 metre-plus situation are being applied to the 2-metre situation, which is creating all sorts of problems, conflicts and uncertainties for our constituents.

Is it protecting the NHS to create a situation where, as was revealed in The Times on 27 August, 15.3 million people are now on the hidden waiting list for treatment? ​Is it reasonable that we should try to prevent two deaths a day and keep 15.3 million people on waiting lists for treatment, with all the dire consequences that flow from that? Madam Deputy Speaker, I do not know whether you were listening to the Secretary of State for Health when he made his statement yesterday, but in my view his responses on the issue of NHS waiting lists were the weakest and least convincing parts of what he had to say.

Is the continuing economic cost of lockdown now disproportionate to the benefits? Well, let us have an exercise and see. Let us see the data presented, so that we can have a proper debate about it. I raised the importance of regulatory impact assessments in public policy making with the Leader of the House at business questions on 2 July. It was his response on that occasion which caused me to apply for this Adjournment debate, which I am delighted that we are having this evening. I said that we would be able to achieve much more consistency in Government advice with regulatory impact assessments. The Leader of the House [Jacob Rees-Mogg], however, argued that

“if we spend too long doing all this, by the time we have done it we have moved on to the next stage of the lockdown.”

He accused me of “calling for bureaucratic folderol”, which would inhibit moving

“at a pace to ensure that things happen in a timely manner”.—[Official Report, 2 July 2020; Vol. 678, c. 534.]

Would that they were. But I must correct the Leader of the House, because, far from being the worthless trifles described in the expression “folderol”, regulatory impact assessments are fundamental to ensuring that we make the right decisions as legislators.

It is incredible that, instead of lockdown continuing to be relaxed, new restrictions on freedom, such as mandatory face coverings, have been introduced. The consequence is that I detect a growing atmosphere of gloom and foreboding as we see winter approaching: no vaccine availability for many months; the economy in a worse state than most of our competitors; and the prospect of the resurgence of the pandemic coinciding with the flu season. I do not like the expression “waves” because it makes it seem as though we are talking about something equivalent to the Atlantic rollers so much enjoyed by our former Prime Minister and colleague, David Cameron. We are not talking about waves. We are talking about the potential resurgence of the pandemic—not everywhere, but in particular hotspots.

This scenario demands a rational evaluation of conflicting risks to the economy and public health, together with a cost-benefit analysis, and now is the time for the Government to reinstate the intellectual rigour of the regulatory impact assessment process. Sooner or later, the incredible economic cost of the Government’s failure to remove lockdown restrictions in a timely and effective manner will become apparent. If that coincides with the Government asking their natural supporters to pay the price for their failure through higher taxes, the political consequences will indeed be dire. It is for that reason that I commend to the Government what the OECD says about regulatory impact analysis. It describes it as an

important element of an evidence-based approach to policy-making…that…can underpin the capacity of governments to ensure that regulations are efficient and effective in a changing and complex world.”​

I will not read from the whole OECD regulatory impact assessment report on best practice principles for regulatory policy, but it extends to about 40 or 50 pages and is extremely well researched and documented. As I understand it—the Minister will correct me if I am wrong—these principles are supported by the Government; the trouble is that they do not seem to be being implemented by the Government and by Government Departments. I hope that in his response the Minister will tell us what he is doing to try and put that right.

The Government should revert to following their own “better regulation framework” established under the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015, which requires that

“A RIA should be prepared for all significant regulatory provisions as a standard of good policy making and where an appropriate RIA is expected by parliament and other stakeholders.”

The interim guidance issued in March this year sets out a general threshold for independent scrutiny of regulatory impact assessments and post-implementation reviews, where the annual net direct cost to business is greater than £5 million. It calls on Government Departments to undertake proportionate cost-benefit analysis to inform decision making.

The trouble is that this is not being done, and I will give just one topical example, to which I referred in my brief comments in the previous debate. Under the Coronavirus Act 2020, there was specific primary legislation saying that residential tenancies should be protected from eviction until 20 September this year. On Friday last week—27 August—regulations were made extending that period from 20 September for another six months. The regulations came into force on 28 August, which was last Saturday, the very same day that they were laid before Parliament. Regulation 1(2) says:

“These Regulations come into force on the day after the day on which they are laid”.

Those regulations have caused a storm of protest from residential landlords in my constituency; they are apoplectic about the fact that they are not going to be able to recover possession of their premises. Notwithstanding the contractual agreements they have entered into with their tenants, they are not going to be able to recover their premises until 31 March 2021.

It says in the explanatory notes to the regulations that they amend schedule 29 of the 2020 Act. This is primary legislation being amended by subordinate legislation subject only to the negative resolution procedure, and so one might have expected that there would be a regulatory impact assessment or something which would indicate to us, on behalf of our constituents, that the Government have thought this whole process through, but that is not there, and instead there is a little note which says:

“A full impact assessment has not been produced for this instrument due to the temporary nature of the provision” …

Bob Stewart [Conservative, Beckenham]

It makes us look like clowns.

Sir Christopher Chope

I hope that that is on the record—it makes us look like clowns. That is why I hope that we can persuade the Government to reform their ways. It is also extraordinary that the excuse should be put forward that this is a temporary arrangement and that is why there is no need for a regulatory impact assessment. That is not set out anywhere in any of the books on this, and it is a novel interpretation of what should be happening.

Switching away from the regulations directly related to coronavirus, I have received support for raising this issue from the Internet Association, which is the only trade association that exclusively represents leading global internet companies on matters of public policy. The organisation responded to the Government’s invitation when they went out to consultation in June inquiring about the reforming regulation initiative. It said, “Regulation in the digital sector has a wide range of potential impacts which extend beyond traditional economic impact analysis. As a matter of course, the Internet Association recommends that Government Departments and regulators undertake a wider impact assessment of their proposals covering not only the economic impact, but also issues such as technological feasibility and impacts on freedom of expression and privacy.” It goes on to say that “there have been a number of recent policy and regulatory initiatives in the digital sector where it has not been clear whether an impact assessment has been conducted and/or the impact assessment has not been published for external scrutiny.” It gives an example of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport/Home Office online harms White Paper. The Internet Association believes that wider regulatory impact assessments, as specified, should be required for major digital policy and regulatory initiatives. Therefore, this extends into that field also, as it does to all legislative and Government policy making—or it should do—and I hope that we will be able to get ourselves back on track.

The interim guidance to which I refer, which was published in March this year, referred to the Government considering how best the better regulation framework can be delivered

“more effectively over the course of this Parliament”.​

Now is the time, surely, to take some action. As their first step, the Government should promise that the six-monthly review of the Coronavirus Act 2020 will be accompanied by a full post-implementation review and that a full cost-benefit analysis of those emergency regulations that it recommends should be kept in place. I hope that the Minister will announce that he is going to do that tonight and thereby help to restore public confidence in the Government’s decision making and the ability of Parliament to scrutinise it, because that is fundamental. I am grateful for the opportunity to put this point to the House.

This was the Government minister’s response, which entailed further lively debate:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Paul Scully)

… Our commitment to conducting such impact assessments remains strong. The analysis that goes into impact assessments ensures that Government consider the need for and likely impact of new regulations to support legislative change. They ensure that we consider how regulation will affect the operation of markets and best enable businesses to innovate, and, in line with the subject of this debate, they inform parliamentary decision making …

The Coronavirus Bill, introduced in March this year, provided powers needed to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The powers enabled the Government to introduce temporary emergency legislation to respond to the pandemic. To allow the Government to deliver at the required pace, formal regulatory impact assessments are not required for better regulation purposes for the temporary measures put in place in response to the pandemic. Further flexibility in the approach to impact assessments is appropriate where permanent measures need to be enforced urgently.​

My hon. Friend mentioned some specific examples where we have assessed the impact in a different way. He is right to talk about the importance of regulatory impact assessments. Some of the guidelines that he mentioned fall within my area. The specific residential landlord and tenant issue that he mentioned falls to my colleagues in the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, but in terms of the commercial Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 changes, we found from listening and speaking to businesses over a period that some companies that were struggling to pay their rent were being wound up by some landlords, so we acted.

This is on the basis of detailed, long-standing conversation and engagement with businesses on both sides of the debate. In my short time as a Minister, I have had around 500 meetings with, I estimate, 3,000 to 4,000 businesses, so I think I have a reasonable handle on retail, hospitality, weddings and the beauticians who do eyebrows and beard trimming that my hon. Friend mentioned. It is a source of great regret that we are unable to allow wedding celebrations of more than 30 people to occur at the moment. I have seen at first hand and heard from people in the wedding sector, which is an enormous contributor to the UK economy, how badly they are suffering as a result …

At this point, the responses from Paul Scully became brittle and defensive. More importantly, Scully said that some changes will be permanent:

Sir Christopher Chope

May I present a challenge to the Minister? Will he publish for our benefit a regulatory impact assessment on the issue of not allowing larger weddings? That would bring into the open all the issues with which he is familiar but which have not yet been exposed to public debate and scrutiny. Is that not what it is all about? This has now been going on for six months, and people want to know where the future lies for the small organisations involved in weddings. Will he offer to do that for us, notwithstanding the fact that his Department is very busy? That would be really helpful.

While I have the Floor, let me also say that I am concerned that the Minister seemed to distance himself from what is happening to individual landlords. Although they may not be incorporated, they are small businesses.

Paul Scully

To answer my hon. Friend’s last point, I am not distancing myself; I literally was not involved in that decision. I do not want to offer a line of thought on something that I was not involved in, but I understand his point.

On weddings and the public debate, my hon. Friend has clearly not been following my Twitter feed—totally understandably—which is full of such debates about the wedding sector. We are trying to work with the sector to make sure it can open. My primary concern is about ensuring we get our economy open again with a warm but safe welcome to people. The Government’s first priority has always been to save and protect lives, but restoring livelihoods, protecting jobs and protecting businesses are right up there, for the reasons that my hon. Friend set out. If we do not get this kick-started now, the effect on the economy will be huge, so it is important that we work together to give people not just confidence but joy, so that when they come out to use services in their local high streets and city centres they enjoy the experience and come back time and time again.

A one-off hit to our economy is not good enough. We know it is not going to go back to how it was in February, and there are some permanent behaviour changes that seem to be kicking in. None the less, we need to work with the new normal, which means working with the virus, because we will be living with it. My hon. Friend talked about a second wave, or spike or whatever he wants to call it. If we learn to live with it, there may be a third and a fourth until we get a vaccine, but live with it we must. There will be a new reality of the permanent behaviour change.

Well-designed and effective regulation, which my hon. Friend wants to see in our legislation, and which we are championing, enables markets and business to flourish, grow and innovate. It can provide certainty for investors and protection for individuals and society. The use of impact assessments in informing regulatory design can help us to achieve those outcomes. Excessive or poorly designed regulation can impede innovation and create unnecessary barriers to trade, investment and economic efficiency. We have sought to limit that by ensuring that regulation changes in response to the pandemic are targeted and time-limited.

Bob Stewart

One of the biggest things that the Government have insisted on is facemasks, which we have mentioned already. I would be intrigued to know ​whether there is a regulatory impact assessment on why we all have to wear facemasks in public and various other places, because I have not seen it. If there is one that could be made public, perhaps it could be put in the House of Commons Library. There are growing numbers of people in my constituency of Beckenham who are rebelling against that idea.

Paul Scully

I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention. I get the train and the Underground into London each and every day, and the adherence of people to wearing face masks is, on the whole, good. Tube use, I am glad to say, is increasing substantially. London city centre—the central activity zone in London—is incredibly quiet. That is affecting the west end in particular, and the City.

The west end represents 3% of the entire UK economy—just the west end—so although we need to make sure that the whole country is able to restore the confidence and joy that I was talking about, it would be remiss of me, as Minister for London as well, not to showcase those areas that make up a massive amount of our capital city as a strategic and world city, so that it is ready for international travellers when they have the confidence to travel.

The Government’s focus has been on improving design and proportionality in regulation. That is done through the Better Regulation Executive, which is responsible for embedding smarter, more cost-efficient and better regulation across Government, and which has recently introduced new guidance templates and training to improve the quality of impact assessments. As a result, impact assessments have clearer presentation of results, better planning for implementation and more quantification of costs and benefits.

The better regulation guidance represents the agreed Government policy on evidence and independent scrutiny, including when to seek independent scrutiny. It is clear that legislation should be accompanied by robust evidence and assessment of impact.

Bob Stewart

Forgive me. The Minister is a really good friend of mine, but he did not answer my question. I would really like to see the Government’s justification, in writing, as to why so many people have to wear face masks. Can we know what that justification is in this House?

Paul Scully

There has been a long debate about the use of face masks, both on transport and in retail. There are arguments either side—whether it gives a false sense of security or whether people touch their face when they put on or take off their mask. None the less, we have a better understanding of the transmission of the virus and the aerosol nature of its transmission. That is why the World Health Organisation has changed its advice from the beginning, when it said people do not need to have masks or face coverings, to, “Yes, you do.” Actually, we can learn from history. In the 19th century, cholera was assumed to be transmitted by air, but by greater understanding and by working through it—they did not need a regulatory impact assessment to figure it out— eventually people found that it was the water supply that was causing cholera, so they were able better to tackle that particular issue at that given time …​

By mentioning cholera (?!), Scully killed his own argument. He should read up on the 20th century instead, specifically, the 1918-19 influenza pandemic. In the early 1920s, medical experts concluded that masks did nothing to stop the contagion. However, I digress.

The debate continued:

Sir Christopher Chope

Is this body to which the Minister is referring going to look at the issue of face masks, or face coverings? In answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Bob Stewart) he has said that there are arguments on both sides of this. In those circumstances, why are the Government taking one side and criminalising behaviour instead of trusting people to reach their own decisions on the information provided by the Government?

Paul Scully

I am sure the necessary people will have heard my hon. Friend’s call for that to be examined, but on the use of face masks, it is the same as self-isolation as a result of the test and trace system: the number of people who are having to self-isolate at any one time means that millions of us can go about our relatively normal lives by going to retail, hospitality or our places of work, which we were not able to do for so many months.

Those changes are evolving. I, like my hon. Friend, do not take any infringement of our civil liberties lightly, but this is a situation—I am not going to use the word “unprecedented” even though I just have; it has been used an unprecedented number of times—that we have never had to face before. No Government have ever had to face such a situation, so we are learning as we go along. We will not always get it right, but we have to make sure we are using the best engagement, listening to both sides of the argument, and working through as the science evolves and as we see what is in front of us in terms of human behaviour.

My hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch talked about the OECD, whose latest report acknowledged that better regulation is an area of strength in the UK. It notes that the UK has been a leader in regulatory policy in general, with the early adoption of the better regulation agenda. Our ambitious agenda is reflected in the results of the OECD’s monitoring of regulatory management tools, as displayed in the “OECD Regulatory Policy Outlook 2018”, with the UK displaying the highest composite indicator score for stakeholder engagement for primary laws. Our score for secondary legislation is also significantly above the OECD average. We also had the highest composite indicator score for regulatory impact assessments across the OECD. That includes strong formal regulatory impact assessment requirements in areas such as establishing a process to identify how the achievement of the regulation’s goals will be evaluated; assessing a broad range of environmental and social impacts; and undertaking risk assessments as part of regulatory proposals. So we should be justifiably proud of our world-leading reputation in this area.

These assessments are valuable documents, and the Government should be applauded for encouraging their production and the transparent scrutiny of them, but, ​as with some individual impact assessments themselves, there is always room for improvement. As with the principles underpinning better regulation, we are always looking for ways to learn and improve our approach.

Sir Christopher Chope

Obviously, we are fortunate in having a bit of extra time this evening, which is great. Will the OECD be asked to opine on the effectiveness of the Government’s regulatory response to the coronavirus epidemic? For example, will the OECD be able to comment on the distinction, which my hon. Friend has made, between rules on face coverings, for which there are lots of exemptions, and rules about isolation and quarantine, for which there are no exemptions. I am afraid that there is an anomaly there.

At that point, Scully could hardly wait to bring this important debate to a close, with no give on his part.

As you read the following (if you got this far), please note that the Government, not the requesting MP, is supposed to look into matters resulting from these debates:

Paul Scully

I am afraid I do not have the OECD on speed dial, but I am sure that my hon. Friend will be able to ask it to look into all these things. I am glad that we have extra time, because there is nothing I like more than to discuss regulatory impact assessments—I am afraid that Hansard does not detect sarcasm. Although I make light, it is good that we have parliamentary scrutiny of an important topic to cover.

As I say, there is a further cultural shift in Whitehall to make on such impact assessments across the board. We do have a responsibility to monitor the extent to which the laws we have passed are implemented as intended and have the expected impact. My hon. Friend ​is justified in raising this important issue, so that we can consider, learn and move forward together. The planning for monitoring and evaluating regulatory changes could be more effective. There is a risk that laws are passed that result in unexpected consequences or inappropriately stifle innovation. I have seen that at first hand as we have been changing and tweaking various support measures for businesses; we have had to change them so that they are supporting businesses as intended, rather than with an unintended consequence. Better planning for monitoring and evaluating will help to ensure that there is sufficient information to assess the actual state of a law’s implementation and its effects.

In conclusion, regulatory impact assessments, in themselves, have evolved into an important and valuable component of the UK’s better regulation system. The transparent publication of impact assessments has added accountability to the analytical dimensions to policy development, which has increased the amount of evidence presented alongside policy proposals, and the existence of the independent scrutiny has increased both the transparency of the process and the accountability of government. I thank my hon. Friend for raising this important issue.

Bravo, Sir Christopher. I hope that more of the old guard Conservative MPs continue along his line of debate. We, the people, need their support.

On the other side of the Pond, that same day — September 2 — Tucker Carlson had an excellent segment on the endgame of the coronavirus panic. According to the WHO’s Dr Tedros, who is not a medical doctor, the plan is to ultimately bring in a worldwide reset to fight climate change. Bill Gates approves.

This is a short but highly instructive video:

Given all of the above, do Britons think that the UK government has been acting in good faith over coronavirus?

Boris Johnson promised us a ‘people’s government’. It certainly doesn’t look like one at present.

Remember the events of March 2020?

It was only six months ago, yet, because of coronavirus, the world has changed dramatically for many of us in Western countries.

What was supposed to be a three-week lockdown has turned into a six-month socio-political experiment.

Science isn’t settled

On August 25, Dr Malcolm Kendrick posted yet another excellent analysis of the situation: ‘COVID — What have we learned?’

Excerpts follow, emphases mine.

During the past six months, the public have received contradictory messages:

We have learned that people who are asymptomatic can, cannot, can, cannot, can, cannot, can… spread the virus.

That the accuracy of PCR antigen testing is brilliant, useless, brilliant, useless, brilliant, useless.

That false positive tests are impossible, common, impossible, common, impossible, common.

That facemasks are useless, necessary, useless, necessary, useless… absolutely necessary.

We also know that some people are, are not, are, are not are, naturally immune. In addition, we know that having had COVID means that you can, cannot, can, cannot, can cannot – maybe you can, frankly who knows, get it again.

Let’s not forget that, in the UK, the government downgraded coronavirus as no longer being a ‘disease of high consequence’ on March 19.

On March 23, the UK went into lockdown.

Dr Kendrick says:

The only disease in history which has required lockdown, including the obliteration of many basic human rights, and the trashing of the entire economy. Yet it is not a disease of high consequence?

This happened virtually unremarked. Very quietly, you could almost say sneakily. What on earth went on here? My guess is this was done to stop healthcare workers suing the NHS if they contracted COVID at work – as almost no medical staff had adequate PPE. There may be other reasons, but I struggle to think what they may be.

Then came the hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) controversy. HCQ used with azithromycin and/or zinc, according to a strict protocol (Drs Zelenko, Raoult) can help many (not all) patients in the early stages of COVID-19.

Yet, the doctors who have documented their success with HCQ, a long-standing anti-malarial drug, have been vilified. Is it because HCQ is available by prescription and is cheap as chips, alleviating the need for a vaccine?

As a physician, Kendrick read many papers on HCQ:

… having read around the area, it seemed that hydroxychloroquine might do some good. It was certainly pretty safe, and we had nothing else at the time. Thus, I recommended that it might be used.

Then, the distorting engine was switched to full power. Driven by two main fuel types. Type one was money. Companies with anti-viral agents, such as remdesivir, did not want a ‘cheap as chips’ drug being used. No sirree, they wanted massively expensive (and almost entirely useless) anti-virals to be used instead.

This resulted in a study published in the Lancet, no less, slamming hydroxychloroquine through the floor. It turns out the study was almost entirely fabricated, by researchers strongly associated with various companies who, surprise, surprise, make anti-virals.

The other fuel type was the hybrid money/vaccine. If hydroxychloroquine (plus zinc and azithromycin) works, then there was great concern this would lower uptake of any vaccine that was developed. In addition, it would not be possible to impose emergency vaccine laws, which would make the manufacture of any vaccine far quicker and easier.

Such laws, in the US, are known as Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA). If enacted, these laws mean that a vaccine does not have to be tested for safety and efficacy before use. Just whack it out there, untested. Also, there is no possibility of suing a vaccine manufacturer if it turns out the vaccine caused serious problems.

In the US, UK, and several other countries, complete legal protection against vaccine damage is already enshrined in the law, so nothing changes here.

Bottom line — the quest for money is determining how this scenario is unfolding, and scientists cannot agree as to how. Vested interests are at play, so the science is not settled:

So, what have we learned? We have learned that medical science is not a pure thing – not in the slightest. We have also learned that the world of research has not come together to conquer COVID, it has split apart

It is said that the first casualty of war is the truth. Never has this been more certain that with COVID. In this case, first we killed the truth, then we killed science, then we beat inconvenient facts to death with a club. It is all extraordinarily depressing.

Lack of rational thinking

It has become clear that politicians and members of the public got caught up in a media-driven frenzy of fear.

Between March and June, I watched BBC News after each of the UK government’s coronavirus daily briefings.

In mid-March, prior to March 23, presenters and reporters pleaded for a lockdown, because every other country had one.

Two months later, BBC News was asking when lockdown would be lifted. They never mentioned that we were the last European nation to lock down. Therefore, it was logical that those nations had done so earlier would reopen earlier.

In between, the BBC drove us into a COVID-dominated news cycle, stoked with fear.

On August 24, John Church, an oil and gas professional, wrote a guest post on Hector Drummond’s website: ‘John Church: Burning Witches’. John Church doesn’t cite the media, but he does take the public to task for abandoning rational thinking:

It appears that human stupidity in the 21st century knows no bounds, and the mass stampede off the cliff that we have all made, with very few exceptions, is a testament to the validity of my concern. I don’t need to describe the absurdity of the world in August 2020, because one just has to open a newspaper to read about the catastrophic damage that has been done by our actions. Totally self-inflicted. All of this has been in response to a fear of death from a viral epidemic which did indeed kill some people, as is usual with viral epidemics. But not many, and the rest of us have survived with a survival rate somewhere between 99.9% and 99.99% depending on demographics, how deaths have been counted (or miscounted), and how effectively we managed to shield the truly vulnerable. But in summary pretty much every country has a survival rate well north of 99.9%.

What on earth were we thinking ? Or was it just a case of just not thinking ? At an individual level, of course there were good analyses and examples of critical thought, but the great learning from the last four months is how society can throw rational behaviour out of the window and, in a fit of hysterical panic, just run around like headless chickens.

I would put politicians in that basket, too. Ultimately, they enacted lockdown policies.

We need to begin thinking in an informed way about death on a national level:

There is the total lack of awareness about the ‘normal’ number of deaths in any year, month or week. Over 600,000 people die in the UK every year, and this is entirely normal! … In the UK, at a rate of about 1600 per day. We never hear this on the news. We never hear it said that thirty people died from Covid, but this was actually only around 2% of the daily death count. And a slight pause for thought would lead to other observations: such as that if 40,000 people in the UK have died from this virus, then it means 99.94% of us have survived. Or how if we take the gigantic step of looking at the age breakdowns which can be accessed with three clicks from the website of the Office of National Statistics, over 90% of the deaths are from people over 60. And almost all of these people also had serious other diseases. Most of us take far more risk getting into a car, and yet huge numbers of young and middle aged people were genuinely worried for their health. And still are. What were we thinking?

Mr Church wisely asks us to consider the difference between ‘lives’ and ‘livelihoods’:

Secondly, the way we almost point blank refused to allow any thought or discussion to be made about equivalences between ‘lives’ and ‘livelihoods’. Everyone wanted to save lives (“what if it was your granny?”), but no one seemed able to think about how much saving those lives would cost. It was like the sight of the oncoming tsunami of unemployment, impoverishment, additional deaths due to untreated cancers, and the general deleterious effects of a huge recession were going to happen to somebody else.

Thirdly, he rightly says that lockdown only suppresses the virus. It doesn’t kill it:

And thirdly, our total inability to see that the lockdown was not a solution, just a delay of the problem. Even Boris told us: we must lockdown to “flatten the curve”. But you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see beyond this brilliantly flawed strategy what the problem is. As soon as you release the lockdown, you just revive the problem you were trying to solve. Because it wasn’t a solution, just a delay.

Governments will be reluctant to admit they made a mistake:

… worse, once you have locked down it becomes difficult to admit it was a mistake because, through your own sacrifice, you are now emotionally invested in the enterprise. This is known as the sunk-cost fallacy. I look around the world in amazement and see how everyone was just totally blind to this obvious issue. It’s like a giant psychotic Ponzi scheme, with the hugely sad and final outcome that it will crash. Just look at Australia and New Zealand if you want to watch this tragedy unfold in slow motion. Every attempt to release themselves results in a resurgence of the problem, and, unlike European countries, the problem hasn’t even really started there, so they still have it all to come. It is genuinely tragic to watch these once proud and free nations implode. What on earth were they thinking?

What should the UK have done? We should have kept going with social distancing and maintaining life as normal:

by mid-April it was clear we had over-reacted and we should have changed track. We didn’t. We doubled down, moved the goal posts and four months later this is where we are. Future generations will look back and remark on the illogicalities, the inability to mentally execute simple trade-offs, and the staggering numerical illiteracy of the people of the world in the early 21st century. For all our technological and intellectual prowess, we are no better than those who used to burn witches because the harvest failed.

Unsubstantiated ideas we fell for

On August 23, Stacey Rudin wrote an excellent article for the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER): ‘Save Yourself: Stop Believing in Lockdown’.

The first myth she explores is that ‘lockdown saves lives’. The West took unprecedented action based on the what China (?!) was doing:

Blind faith in lockdown rapidly took hold in March 2020 like a fire in a haystack. The spark that ignited it was terror, lit by the media’s sensationalist reporting of the “disaster” in Northern Italy, shortly followed by the doomsday predictions from fancy-sounding (“Imperial College! London!”) modelers. Those same modelers offered a lifeline: — lockdown, the long awaited real-life opportunity to test a pet theory. Too bad we never stopped to question their credibility (“they sound so fancy!”) and motives (“we’ve been waiting for this moment!”) before taking any action — particularly drastic, life-altering action

A second, even bigger credibility issue is found when we consider the first lesson we ever learned about “lockdown.” That lesson came from China. None of us — or even our parents — had ever heard of a population-wide quarantine until the Chinese government planted the idea with a highly-publicized “lockdown” of its own

This normalized the concept, preparing our minds to accept it as a scientifically-supported measure to manage infectious diseases. Then, after bombarding us with images of its citizens’ sacrifices, China predictably declared, “It worked! We defeated the virus! Disease is gone!”

The lifeline. The island of escape. Thank you, China — because of you, we will not die.

Little did we know that decades of public health work unequivocally established the opposite: “There is no basis [in science] for recommending quarantine either of groups or individuals.” 

The second myth is that everyone must avoid getting COVID-19:

Some people, particularly the very elderly with serious comorbidities, should indeed try to avoid infection. But for the millions of people at low risk, COVID should be treated the same as the flu. They should circulate normally, serving humanity by exposing themselves to the virus without hysteria, as the Swedes did. This will minimize overall mortality by reducing the duration of the epidemic, freeing the high-risk elderly from confinement earlier, and avoiding all of the lockdown deaths and other traumas. It is a scientific fact that every epidemic ends at the threshold of “herd immunity” — not before.

The alternative we have chosen — an epidemic identical in size, but longer in duration, with people at statistically zero risk hiding inside their homes getting more stressed, fatter, and sicker — is utter madness. The most tragic part is Imperial explained this to us on March 16, and posted it online for everyone to see:

Once interventions are relaxed . . . infections begin to rise, resulting in a predicted peak epidemic later in the year. The more successful a strategy is at temporary suppression, the larger the later epidemic is predicted to be in the absence of vaccination, due to lesser build-up of herd immunity.”

While Imperial designed lockdown as an ICU-capacity management strategy, it apparently did not foresee the difficulty in persuading people terrified by lockdown to go right back out and live two weeks later. “All clear! We have thousands of ICU beds staffed and ready for you! Good luck!”

I will come back to the ICU-management strategy versus extended measures tomorrow. It was the subject of a debate in the House of Commons this week!

The third myth is that people aren’t safe without masks:

Established science says that masks and distancing don’t work, anyway — COVID-19 spontaneously shows up on naval ships 49 days into isolation, and similar viruses have appeared during the 17th week of perfect Antarctic quarantines. But at least you will feel like you’re doing something.

The fourth myth is feeling stupid for having fallen for lockdown:

There is no shame in falling for such a sophisticated propaganda scheme. Most people did. A few shining stars have since emerged to admit their mistake, quietly adopting the Swedish approach.

The fifth, and final, myth is that coronavirus is more dangerous than the flu:

Nope. As stated above, in terms of mortality impact, Sweden already proved that COVID-19 is indeed similar to the flu. The diseases are similar in other respects — both can have long-term health effects, both kill random outliers (the flu even kills young teachers), and both can cause hospitals to overflow, as influenza did as recently as two years ago. They have similar survival rates: ~997 out of 1,000 for COVID, ~999 out of 1,000 for flu. Over fifty percent of Americans don’t even get the flu shot, yet we have destroyed the planet to “stop” COVID-19.

Why did it happen? Because the media chose to depict this virus as Black Plague — and we believed it. Now that we know that the media can do this, we can understand why the U.K. Prime Minister — and others in his position — was afraid of its powers. He reportedly imposed lockdown because he was threatened as follows: “If he didn’t lock down, journalists will ask him on national television to accept responsibility and apologise to the families of those who have died as a result of Covid-19, because the rhetoric would have been that it was his fault for not locking down. In other words, the media had a three-step plan: (1) convince us that politicians have the power to stop death, (2) put the politicians in the position of needing to do what the media suggests will “save our lives,” (3) watch as we drive ourselves over a cliff.

The media cannot do this without our participation. We can stop them immediately by refusing to believe their superstitious, pseudo-scientific proposition that this is the only disease in history that needed a politician-imposed lockdown to abate. They cannot trick us into burning down our own houses once we simply stop believing that politicians have the power to stop death. Standing firmly on this foundation of scientific truth, we will finally be at peace, realizing that COVID-19, like every disease in history, will infect a certain number of people, kill a minute percentage of them, and then move along, lockdown or no lockdown. 

We really must stop believing otherwise. Our credulity is destroying us

As we enter September, not much is really opening back up. Sure, it might be doing so on paper, but, in the UK, many people are still working from home. That has a huge impact on local economies in cities. London is still a ghost town. Think of all the shops that rely on intensive daily trade: from sandwich places to shoe repair shops.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, had a restaurant programme that ran throughout August from Mondays to Wednesdays: Eat Out to Help Out. I’m sure it helped the restaurant trade to some extent, but if people need to travel in a mask on public transport, including taxis, then it will be some time before we can return to normality.

Furthermore, if department stores have to be one-way and COVID-compliant, no one is going to be shopping for the pleasure of it, especially if they have to wear masks. Online orders beckon.

In the beauty industry, some close-contact procedures on men and women were banned for months.

I had expected better by now, but, then, I was foolish enough to think that the lockdown was only going to last for three weeks.

How wrong I was.

How wrong our government is to persist with ever-changing rules on how businesses can and cannot operate.

If Boris and Rishi expect things to start humming along, they’re going to have to persuade Health Secretary Matt Hancock to let go of the strings and let us manage our own lives — sooner rather than later.

Robert F Kennedy Jr went to Berlin late last week to speak at a rally for personal freedom in the city on Saturday, August 29, 2020:

The rally continued into the night with music:

For several years, Robert F Kennedy Jr has been concerned about the effect of modern vaccines on children and, as a result, founded Children’s Health Defense.

The day before the Berlin rally, he launched Children’s Health Defense Europe:

A press conference was held:

The press release says, in part:

On Friday August 28, 2020, Mr. Kennedy, chair of Children’s Health Defense, held a press conference and met with the leaders of the newly-formed Children’s Health Defense Europe Chapter. In attendance were Senta Depuydt and Tina Choy (board members of CHD Europe), RA Markus Haintz (Querdenken-731 Ulm), and Heiko Schöning (MD, Ärzte für Aufkärung). While in Berlin he will also meet with colleagues from all over Europe to discuss global challenges to health and human rights …

In photo [above], RFK, Jr. is with organizers Dr Heiko Schoening, M.D. and Attorneys Markus Haintz & Rolf Karpenstein in front of Brandenburg Gate where his uncle, President John F Kennedy, gave his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech in 1963.

Kennedy gave an 18-minute speech at the launch:

He spends the first seven minutes discussing vaccines, then moves on to the current coronavirus situation in Western nations.

In those seven minutes, he says that Big Pharma is much larger and much more powerful than Big Oil. Big Pharma is also working with governments all over the world.

After that, he warns us about our compliance with government guidelines on coronavirus.

At 7:54, he says that when Herman Goering was interviewed at the Nuremberg Hearings, he said that the German government created a climate of fear to get people to obey. When pressed further on the nature of the German people, he replied, ‘It wasn’t just Germany’, explaining that any government can successfully create a climate of fear causing people to do all sorts of things they would not normally do.

Kennedy noted that, by contrast, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt told the American people in that era:

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

He says that present-day Western governments have created a climate of coronavirus fear, using ‘science’ as a weapon. He wants to see the details on ‘Bill Gates’s and Dr Fauci’s “science”‘.

He discusses 5G and Alexa. Those who own an Alexa are allowing spying on them and their households. He says that 5G isn’t there for the benefit of gamers, allowing seconds-long downloads of video games. Rather, it is there to enable phone networks, governments and the private sector to gather vast amounts of information on citizens.

With 5G, Western governments would be able to target individuals who are not obeying the system. They could freeze people’s bank accounts for making notionally unauthorised purchases. (This is already being done in China, with deleterious effects on private citizens. It’s called a ‘social credit score’. Some Chinese have lost not only access to their money but also their jobs and, in some cases, their university places. Their next of kin can be similarly affected: guilt by association.)

He says he does not know whether coronavirus is a ‘plandemic’, as many have said, but understands how one could draw that conclusion.

Therefore, with all of this in mind, we need to be careful about complying with government directives en masse. Kennedy says that it would be very easy for governments to take away our precious civil liberties. He said that his father, the late Attorney General Robert F Kennedy who was assassinated during his run for president, told him as a child:

People in authority will lie to you.

Interestingly, on the day of the rally in Berlin, news emerged that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) did an about-face on America’s coronavirus deaths, revising them downwards. They are not the sky-high totals we’ve been shown over the past several months:

The Gateway Pundit reported (emphasis mine):

The CDC silently updated their numbers this week to show that only 6% of all coronavirus deaths were related to the coronavirus aloneThe rest of the deaths pinned to the China coronavirus are attributed to individuals who had other serious issues going on.  Also, most of the deaths are related to very old Americans.

The article also said (emphasis in the original):

So get this straight – based on the recommendation of doctors Fauci and Birx the US shut down the entire economy based on 9,000 American deaths to the China coronavirus …

Earlier this year, after the WHO seeded panic:

Doctors Fauci and Birx were next to push ridiculous and highly exaggerated mortality rates related to the coronavirus:

** Dr. Tony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx used the Imperial College Model to persuade President Trump to lock down the ENTIRE US ECONOMY.
** The fraudulent model predicted 2.2 million American deaths from the coronavirus pandemic
** The authors of the Imperial College Model shared their findings with the White House Coronavirus task force in early March
** Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx then met with President Trump privately and urged him to shut down the US economy and destroy the record Trump economy based on this model

But the Imperial College model Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx pushed was garbage and they recommended the destruction of the US economy using this model.

Today we now have empirical evidence that the WHO, Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx were all wrong.  They were charlatans.  They lied.

Robert F Kennedy was right: authorities DO lie.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was also correct. His maxim about fear still holds true today.

Be careful out there with statistics. Question today’s ‘science’. Today’s technology is not there primarily for our benefit, either.

Yesterday, I made a case for plastic carrier bags.

Shops in England were supposed to stop using single-use bags earlier this year and switch to paper. However, coronavirus has put paid to that because … getting a new plastic bag from the shop has next to no germs on it, compared with reusable totes.

On March 14, 2020, the New York Post published an article about the positives of plastic bags: ‘Using tote bags instead of plastic could help spread the coronavirus’.

The article appeared originally in City Journal, where the author, John Tierney, is a contributing editor.

Highlights follow, emphases mine.

Everyone’s going green not only with tote bags, but also reusable cups. I can’t think of anything more distasteful than asking for one’s reusable cup to be refilled. What is going through retailers’ and legislators’ minds? Talk about a disease multiplier!

This is what happened in New York State in March:

a new law took effect this month banning single-use plastic bags in most retail businesses, and this week Democratic state legislators advanced a bill that would force coffee shops to accept consumers’ reusable cups — a practice that Starbucks and other chains have wisely suspended to avoid spreading the COVID-19 virus.

John Flanagan, the Republican leader of New York’s Senate, rightly objected. He:

has criticized the new legislation and called for a suspension of the law banning plastic bags. “Senate Democrats’ desperate need to be green is unclean during the coronavirus outbreak,” he said Tuesday, but so far he’s been a lonely voice among public officials.

No doubt everything is suspended for now. You can imagine how New York got such high infection rates. Perhaps this will be examined later when the pandemic has died off.

We’re supposed to wash our tote bags regularly — admittedly, I do not, but I consider myself to be very careful. No doubt everyone else with tote bags does, too!

The COVID-19 virus is just one of many pathogens that shoppers can spread unless they wash the bags regularly, which few people bother to do. Viruses and bacteria can survive in the tote bags up to nine days, according to one study of coronaviruses.

The risk of spreading viruses was clearly demonstrated in a 2018 study published in the Journal of Environmental Health. The researchers, led by Ryan Sinclair of the Loma Linda University School of Public Health, sent shoppers into three California grocery stores carrying polypropylene plastic tote bags that had been sprayed with a harmless surrogate of a virus.

After the shoppers bought groceries and checked out, the researchers found sufficiently high traces of the surrogate to risk transmission on the hands of the shoppers and checkout clerks, as well as on many surfaces touched by the shoppers, including packaged food, unpackaged produce, shopping carts, checkout counters, and the touch screens used to pay for groceries. The researchers said that the results warranted the adaptation of “in-store hand hygiene” and “surface disinfection” by merchants, and they also recommended educating shoppers to wash their bags.

Another study found that single-use bags were hygienic at the time they were provided at the point of sale:

An earlier study of supermarkets in Arizona and California found large numbers of bacteria in almost all the reusable bags — and no contamination in any of the new single-use plastic bags. When a bag with meat juice on the interior was stored in the trunk of a car, within two hours the number of bacteria multiplied tenfold.

Yes, there are all sorts of dangerous bacteria lurking in reusable bags, including e. Coli:

The researchers also found that the vast majority of shoppers never followed the advice to wash their bags. One of the researchers, Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona, said that the findings “suggest a serious threat to public health,” particularly from fecal coliform bacteria, which was found in half the bags. These bacteria and other pathogens can be transferred from raw meat in the bag and also from other sources.

An outbreak of viral gastroenteritis among a girls’ soccer team in Oregon was traced to a reusable grocery bag that had sat on the floor of a hotel bathroom. In a 2012 study, researchers analyzed the effects of San Francisco’s ban on single-use plastic grocery bags by comparing emergency-room admissions in the city against those of nearby counties without the bag ban. The researchers, Jonathan Klick of the University of Pennsylvania and Joshua Wright of George Mason University, reported a 25 percent increase in bacteria-related illnesses and deaths in San Francisco relative to the other counties.

And, as I said yesterday, the bags end up sitting everywhere before they pop on top of the supermarket counter:

New York’s state officials were told of this risk before they passed the law banning plastic bags. In fact, as the Kings County Politics Web site reported, a Brooklyn activist, Allen Moses, warned that shoppers in New York City could be particularly vulnerable because they often rest their bags on the floors of subway cars containing potentially deadly bacteria from rats — and then set the bag on the supermarket checkout counter. Yet public officials remain committed to reusable bags.

To get around this, New York has developed an elaborate set of shopping and packing guidelines which, oddly enough, include a greater use of plastic:

A headline on the Web site of the New York Department of Health calls reusable grocery bags a “Smart Choice”bizarre advice, considering all the elaborate cautions underneath that headline. The department advises grocery shoppers to segregate different foods in different bags; to package meat and fish and poultry in small disposable plastic bags inside their tote bags; to wash and dry their tote bags carefully; to store the tote bags in a cool, dry place; and never to reuse the grocery tote bags for anything but food.

You couldn’t make it up.

I agree 110% with John Flanagan:

Disposable plastic is the cheapest, simplest, and safest way to prevent foodborne illnesses.

Instead, leaders in New York and other states are ordering shoppers to make a more expensive, inconvenient and risky choice — all to serve a green agenda that’s actually harmful to the environment. The ban on plastic bags will mean more trash in landfills (because paper bags take up so much more space than the thin disposable bags) and more greenhouse emissions (because of the larger carbon footprints of the replacement bags). And now, probably, it will also mean more people coming down with COVID-19 and other illnesses.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that’s what partly accounted for New York State’s high COVID-19 rates. I hope we will find out one day.

Bottom line: disposable plastic is hygienic.

By now, everyone knows my thoughts on coronavirus.

Every day brings stranger news, especially for children.

This is what schools will look like when pupils return to class in Pinellas County, Florida, home to Clearwater on the west coast of the state. I don’t blame the administrators, because they are only following state guidelines. Nevertheless, this is just wrong in so many ways, even if teachers are the ones who wear masks, not the pupils:

How dehumanising and sad for children to be at the mercy of public health officials — and notional ‘science’.

What bets that we look back at this in ten or 20 years time and say, ‘What were we thinking?!’

I also wonder what the extended effect of these policies will have on more vulnerable children.

I hope they are only temporary and not in place by 2021.

A short post today.

That said, I hope that it provides food for thought.

Most of our leaders are on a losing wicket; they are ‘blinded by science’.

The indefatiguable Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch explains everything coronavirus-related in a nutshell:

That graphic — meme, if you prefer — describes today’s confused thinking surrounding a virus related to the common cold.

This mural in Denver International Airport, the successor to Stapleton International Airport, saw the light of day in the mid-1990s. Strangely prophetic:

It’s time we stopped being Blinded by Science (courtesy Foreigner, 1979), equally prophetic.

Where is it all leading? Few of us know — including our elected leaders.

See Parts 1 and 2 of this series before reading more about Britain’s silent majority who are angry about lockdown.

At present, here we are, unable to shop, get our hair cut and must still practice two-metre social distancing. Masks are optional except on public transport:

Whether we are old or young, we are treated like dirt:

And what if this coronavirus were dirt, rather than a virus?

If that is true — and I’m not saying it is — what then?

It couldn’t be, could it? After all, the First Minister of Northern Ireland, the DUP’s Arlene Foster, has briefed the Queen on COVID-19:

But what about all the deaths in care homes and the lives lost?

What about people’s businesses going to ground?

Thank goodness for the government’s generous furlough, but …

And what about travel?

This is going to be dire:

No more on board delicious dining for you:

What if you cannot reasonably travel with a face covering?

What about everything else in life?

Who wants to live like that?

This is turning the apolitical into political activists:

Is this ever going to end?

If so, how?

Perhaps it is a giant reset.

After all, we are told this is (shudder) the ‘new normal’:

The ‘new normal’ could be green:

Didn’t we all enjoy the bluer skies on those sunny May days? We could keep them. ‘Fewer holidays for you’, the government could say:

One does have to wonder about government advisors from the public sector:

These people do not encounter the everyday man or woman. They live in their own scientific, misanthropic bubble.

They do not care what happens to us. After all, they have a guaranteed salaries and gold-plated pensions.

To be continued next week.

We are now in Lockdown Day No. 4, Friday, March 27, 2020.

Following on from my previous post on the UK, yesterday, Imperial College London changed their estimates of coronavirus deaths. They have now been adjusted to be much lower: 20,000 deaths instead of 200,000+/500,000+ (versions differ). To put that into perspective, 20,000 is the number for a bad flu/respiratory illness year. The latter figure is akin to the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918-1919.

Here‘s the ‘horrific Imperial model’. You can read informed Twitter thread summaries from Jordan Schactel, Jeremy C Young and Sam Coates.

The possibility of collapsing the economy must have finally dawned on Dr Neil Ferguson:

Risk that the economic hit of long-term lockdown could harm health more than Covid-19 is “very valid consideration”, says Ferguson.

Guido Fawkes summarises Imperial’s changes and the reasons for them. The article from The Times is behind a paywall:

The Times’ Chris Smyth explains Ferguson’s findings, namely:

    • Peak demand on ICU is expected in 2.5-3 weeks, and will then decline
    • Imperial estimates post-lockdown fatalities to reach 20,000, though “it could be substantially lower than that”
    • Only “large scale testing and contact tracing” will bring an end to the lockdown

The NHS capacity prediction has been based on the recently-seen NHS ICU surge and Monday’s lockdown.

The British government and Houses of Parliament used the 200,000+ figure to bring in lockdown and emergency legislation, the likes of which Britons have never before seen in living memory. It seems to be an historic first.

My friends and I suspected Imperial’s extreme estimate when their numbers first appeared. We never changed our minds, despite media and government hype.

This lockdown and the Coronavirus Bill are entirely unnecessary.

By the end, though, it doesn’t matter. The government will come up with an escape clause strategy. Imperial’s experts now say:

fatalities to reach 20,000, though they could be substantially lower than that

Plan on them being the latter.

Guido Fawkes’s readers commented on this. Comments below come from this thread on Imperial’s new numbers. Guido’s new commenting system has no hyperlinks to individual comments.

The figure of 20,000 is far lower than the 30,000 for the Hong Kong Flu in 1968 (emphases mine below):

I remember the Hong Kong flu in 1968. We kept calm and carried on. But we didn’t have Piers Morgan on TV then. In fact, we did not have much, if any, daytime TV at all. Life was much better then in many other ways too.

Precisely. No one then would have even thought of a lockdown or emergency legislation, even a Labour government!

It gets stranger, as both Houses of Parliament — the Commons and the Lords — are now hiring their own coronavirus experts:

One of Guido’s readers responded on this thread, saying that we still have very few facts about this virus. Colour him sceptical, and rightly so:

On the subject of the science behind the covid 19 disease. People need to ask 3 questions:

1/ Is there an electron micrograph of the pure and fully characterised virus? 2/ What is the name of the primary peer reviewed paper which the virus is illustrated and its full genetic information described? 3/ What is the name of the primary publication that provides proof that a particular virus is the sole causes of a particular disease?

Unless these three questions are answered correctly, there is no ‘science’ behind the covid 19 virus theory. It is just beliefs. And these beliefs are conveniently sacrificing the small businesses of this country, our freedoms and our lives. For the benefit of big pharma, and big government in general

Which is why there is no proof to back up those outrageous claims…Just saying.

Let’s drill down a little more into what the Imperial experts, led by Dr Ferguson, are now saying:

50% of people who died with CV – not of CV, with – would have died this year. For that, we wrecked the country.

Ferguson said, today, that between half and two thirds of the people who died WITH CV, not of CV, would have died anyway this year. That takes the deaths so far down to a level normally caused by cushions in a bad year. It puts the overall deaths expected smack in the normal range for winter respiratory conditions

You think that is worthwhile? Explain why. Explain in terms that my neighbour, nursing the remains of a business it took him 20 years to build, will understand.

I know other small business owners in the same situation.

Here are a few other business problems occurring during shutdown:

The problem is and this is live experience right now, it is every man for themselves. Customers aren’t paying legitimate contracts which is creating huge problems, and I guarantee that’s happening across the economy. Some companies are taking advantage of the situation, some simply can’t pay and no one wants to catch a falling knife.

This is going to ruin lots of people’s lives. Either through the virus itself or through this cure which will cause untold economic damage.

And most importantly profit and cash are the sustainability of a business. Without them there isn’t any business. And there’s no cash at the moment.

The experts advising No. 10 sold Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his top guru Dominic Cummings a pup:

The virus itself? If you’ve got it, chances are that you’re just feeling “under the weather” just like having a bad dose of the flu, you still go to the pub, restaurant and you certainly don’t stop going to the gym or the supermarket.

Ergo, the economy continues and nobody’s life is “ruined”.

Now, lockdown the country so that pubs, restaurants and gyms are closed.

The economy now grinds to a halt and everyone’s life is “ruined”.

I have enormous respect for Boris (particularly his Brexit efforts) but he listened to the wrong people when he chose to change course……trashing your entire economy is massively worse than the disease.

Just as President Trump said a few days ago:

That said, on March 18, Business Insider reported that, allegedly, Ferguson’s numbers reached the White House and associated medical experts, too. The same article states that Ferguson said he caught COVID-19:

‘Developed a slight dry but persistent cough yesterday and self isolated even though I felt fine,’ he tweeted on Wednesday.

‘Then developed high fever at 4am today. There is a lot of COVID-19 in Westminster.’

Westminster is the beating heart of the nation. It is home to the eponymous abbey church, Parliament, Whitehall (government offices) and more.

I checked Ferguson’s tweet to see what sort of responses he received. Most were supportive. These two, however, were interesting. Portcullis House is a government building in Westminster:

However, as stated above, the UK government will announce success when this is over:

… whatever happens the Government will claim that they saved us all. If it turns out to be a damp squib, the Government will say that their distancing policy saved us all. If it turns out to be more, the Government will say that they were right to run their policy, and it should have been heeded better.

Returning to the economy, the government changed the wording about working:

Ben Goldsmith, environmentalist and son of the late financier Sir James Goldsmith, tweeted:

O’Brien below refers to a left-leaning talk radio host, James O’Brien:

However, the controversy about going into work has a basis in fact.

The morning of Lockdown Day, March 24, a number of photos circulated on social media showing packed Tube trains in London. Good Morning Britain‘s co-host Piers Morgan took issue with the number of construction workers at building sites that day, especially those within close proximity of each other.

Construction workers weren’t only in London. They were also in the countryside working on the new high-speed rail line, HS2. They were not keeping the appropriate social distancing, which, since the evening of March 23 has been extended from one metre to two metres:

In closing, returning to the number of coronavirus deaths, see if this does not come true (a comment from this Guido Fawkes post):

the mortality rate is nowhere near 1%, nowhere near. The death rate of those undertaking treatment – as a whole – might approach 1% overall. But that is a small fraction of the infected. The Oxford epidemiological study published yesterday is probably about right. It looks at end figures and maps them back onto comparable curves – that suggests 70% of us have already had it. Ferguson today poohpoohed that but also accepted one key prediction – that death rates attributable only to this bug would be minuscule. We are not going to have 240k dead just because of this bug. Nor 120k, nor even 20k. We *might* see something like 8-15k additional deaths in end-of-life patients this year, which would otherwise have occurred next year.

That’s it.

I full understand flattening the curve, I understand every teensy bit of the government strategy – but it’s redundant. This is not a big deal.

No, it isn’t a big deal. However, we have to wait several more weeks to be proven correct.

————————————————————–

UPDATE — Ferguson says he hasn’t retracted his original numbers:

No comment other than to say: let’s see how things develop in the next several weeks.

As British and American health officials have been saying for the past few weeks, washing our hands is the best defence against coronavirus.

It’s something so simple, yet oft neglected.

Soap and water experiment

The following photos illustrates the efficacy of using soap and water over a hand sanitiser.

Note, in particular, No. 1 (far right) — ‘Wiped on Chromebook’. It’s filthy:

Here is a close up of soap versus hand sanitiser:

This experiment began in November 2019, not long before the initial appearance of COVID-19 in China the following month. How timely.

The New York Post reported the story, which took place in Discovery Elementary School in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

The two teachers who conducted the experiment, Jaralee Annice Metcalf and Dayna Robertson, were even surprised at the results. Robinson:

learned about the experiment on Mystery Science, a website for teachers to share science lessons.

They had students touch the various slices of bread after lunch, according to the conditions illustrated above. The teachers purposely left the Chromebook unsanitised from the day before.

The ensuing weeks unfolded as follows (emphases mine):

Each slice was dropped in a plastic bag, labeled, and hung on the classroom wall. It was about two weeks later, according to Roberston, that they started to see mold growth. At that point, the class took their Thanksgiving break.

After that, says Robertson, “It just exploded.”

“I don’t even think we expected it to look so drastic,” added Metcalf.

The revolting results were “a big surprise” for the class, according to Robertson. While they assumed that the unwashed hands sample might be the most vulnerable to mold, it turned out that the bread rubbed on the Chromebooks turned the blackest and fuzziest of all.

They also didn’t expect to learn that hand washing would be the most effective means of battling bacterial growth, as opposed to hand sanitizer. Shockingly, the bread handled post-gel appeared to harbor at least two different strains of both black and yellow-colored mold …

Word of their alarming assessment spread like a virus. Soon teachers throughout the school came to the classroom with their own students to give “mini-lessons” on proper hygiene using the moldy bread as an example.

Their demonstration yielded even better results than they’d anticipated.

“We have students that will just pop up randomly and be like, ‘I’m gonna go wash my hands,’ and just walk out of the classroom,” says Metcalf, who’s not complaining about the interruption. “We’re like, ‘OK, that’s a good idea!’ ”

I hope that adults who have seen the photos on social media have taken note. I worked with quite a few people during my career who did not wash their hands.

Why soap and water work so well

Dr Palli Thordarson is an expert in supramolecular chemistry and the assembly of nanoparticles. He is from Iceland but teaches at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

He recently published a long thread of 39 tweets about the superiority of cleaning hands with soap and water.

This is the Thread Reader App link.

Below are excerpts from his highly informative thread:

He explains how a virus is structured and how soap breaks up that structure. Lipids are organic compounds that bind together because they do not react to water. Fats are part of a subgroup of lipids called triglycerides. Other types of lipids include, but are not limited to, waxes and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). We need lipids in order to live, but there are bad ones, too — those that cover virus cells:

Viruses can bond with certain types of surfaces. Unfortunately, these include skin, clothing and wood:

This is why we should not touch our faces. Parents and teachers used to teach this fact to children a few decades ago. For centuries, it was a sign of good breeding not to touch one’s face. That advice went out the window, probably in the 1980s. It’s time we rediscovered it for the following reasons:

Now on to the chemistry of soap and water against virus cells:

The professor explains why antibacterial washes do not work as well:

Conclusion

Let’s keep calm and wash our hands — often!

Hurricane Irma continues her push through the Caribbean on her way to the US mainland.

For current information, please check with local and national sources for updates.

British territories are among the islands hit. Prime Minister Theresa May continues to be briefed while the Ministry of Defence sends relief and personnel:

The British Virgin Islands, which saw houses reduced to their foundations and many roads impassable in the wake of Irma, has declared a state of emergency.

Images posted on social media showed entire structures razed to the ground, with debris scattered across the streets.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said aircraft carrying around 230 personnel, made up of engineers, marines and medical specialists, will take rations and medical supplies to places affected including Barbados and the British Virgin Islands …

Theresa May’s spokeswoman dismissed criticism that the UK lagged behind France and the Netherlands in taking care of its territories in the path of the hurricane.

The spokeswoman told a Westminster briefing: “We believe our response was swift. We had a ship pre-positioned. We are getting lifesaving aid now to those who need it.”

True. I read that earlier this week.

The Caribbean

As a Category 5 hurricane, Irma caused ‘catastrophic’ damage to the US Virgin Islands. Three people have died.

Irma pummelled the Turks and Caicos Islands, which had never before experienced a Cat 5 hurricane:

Irma is now downgraded from a Category 5 to a Category 4 ‘storm’. Be in no doubt that the downgrade means nothing much happened or will happen.

Bahamians were evacuated (mandatory) to Nassau. Irma is expected on Friday.

Here’s Haiti:

Eastern Cuba, including Guantanamo — is expected to be hit. Hmm. Finding out what happens to the prison could make for interesting reading.

This is the projection from Thursday:

More information on hurricanes

Vox has an excellent article explaining hurricanes.

I wrote yesterday that most North American hurricanes originate in Africa. That post is useful reading, explaining exactly how the different weather systems in the Sahara and West Africa create hurricane conditions.

Vox‘s ‘How do hurricanes form? A step-by-step guide’ is excellent and comes with illustrations. It relates to Irma in particular and will help to explain the news updates in the next section of this post. Excerpts follow, emphases mine.

Irma:

started out as a wave off the African coast …

This shows how Irma has been plotted by various trackers:

Vox explains that tropical waves originate off the West African coast:

A hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean typically begins life as a lowly “tropical disturbance” — defined as organized thunderstorm activity that stretches at least 100 miles across and maintains its identity for more than 24 hours.

During the summer, these disturbances often start as storms moving westward off the coast of Africa in what are known as “tropical waves.”

Many times, nothing much develops. However, if the tropical disturbance needs to be tracked, meteorologists designate it as an ‘investigative area’ and refer to it as an ‘invest’:

Irma became a disturbance off the Cape Verde Islands in late August, with forecasters keeping close watch as it headed west.

A tropical disturbance that develops further spins around a low pressure centre. It is then reclassified as a tropical depression or tropical cyclone. This is what happens:

The warm ocean heats the air above

Rising warm air evaporates and starts to spin

The air then cools and condenses to form a towering cumulonimbus cloud

Intense low pressure then sucks in air, causing very strong winds

For this to occur, the following conditions must all be in place. Emphases in the original below:

The water has to be warm enough to fuel the system, with temperatures of 80°F or hotter. There needs to be enough moisture in the lower and middle part of the atmosphere. Local winds also have to be arranged so that they allow the depression to spin — too much wind shear can tear an aspiring tropical cyclone apart.

This is why hurricanes develop during the summer into early autumn. The water has to be warm enough.

If the tropical depression or tropical cyclone continues to pick up strength, it is reclassified as a tropical storm and is given a name:

That’s what happened to Irma on August 30, as it picked up speed in the far Eastern Atlantic and intensified.

The US National Hurricane Center makes the call for when a tropical depression officially becomes a tropical storm. It relies on data from islands and buoys as well as from reconnaissance aircrafts that fly into the storms to measure wind speed.

A tropical storm can become a hurricane if the water it passes over is very warm (around 28°-30° C or low- to mid-80°s F) and there isn’t much wind shear (i.e. change in speed or direction). If those two conditions occur simultaneously, the development of a tropical storm into a hurricane is relatively quick. The tropical storm becomes rounded and develops an eye:

A tropical storm with winds of 74 mph or higher is reclassified as a hurricane, according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale:

Irma was a Category 5 as of Tuesday with wind speeds of 185 miles per hour. That’s serious — major hurricanes can do structural damage to buildings, take down trees, and cause widespread flooding.

Irma is now a Category 4.

Two things can happen with a hurricane. They can weaken to return to tropical cyclone status as a result of hitting land or cooler water. Sometimes, though, they can weaken then strengthen if they go out to sea and hit warm water again (emphases in purple mine):

Hurricane Hermine in 2016 was downgraded to a tropical storm not long after it made landfall in Florida in September. But then Hermine moved back over the Atlantic Ocean and hit record-warm ocean temperatures there, gathering to hurricane strength again.

It’s worth emphasizing that even tropical cyclones that aren’t hurricanes can still do a great deal of damage by bringing torrential rain, dangerous surf, beach erosion, high winds, and flooding. In 2012, “superstorm” Sandy was technically no longer a hurricane when it hit the East Coast, but it still proved devastating to the New York and New Jersey coasts.

Record-setting Irma

Irma is likely to set a few records or be in the top list of perfect storms:

Latest Irma news

From what I have read anecdotally on Friday, some Americans who potentially lie in Irma’s projected path are frustrated and angry with news reports. Do they evacuate or stay put?

The sad truth is that no one knows definitively what Irma’s path is.

New technologies developed over the past few years are giving people the best images and projections possible.

As of Thursday, September 7:

Mention has been made of Irma’s eyewall:

Eyewall replacement cycles occur in stronger tropical cyclones (winds greater than 185 km/h or 115 mph) and Category 3 – 5 hurricanes. Wikipedia explains (emphases mine):

Since the strongest winds are in a cyclone’s eyewall, the tropical cyclone usually weakens during this phase, as the inner wall is “choked” by the outer wall. Eventually the outer eyewall replaces the inner one completely, and the storm may re-intensify.

The next two illustrations show unusual movement. Notice how Irma might not affect the Carolina coastline as previously thought. However, Irma will probably go to the centre of the country, towards Tennessee, possibly Nashville. This is unheard of. With regard to Florida, Irma is likely to cut a south to north swathe, which is very rare, as hurricane movement is normally east to west there. This will be bad:

The water in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico is very warm, therefore, favourable to Irma — disastrous for those who lie in her path:

These are the weather alerts:

Here are more specifics on storm surges (see point 3), which seriously endanger life:

Much of southern Florida could be devastated. Let’s hope not:

This is the potential for storm surge damage along Florida’s southeastern coastline:

These are the potential wave heights:

Florida

Meteorologist James Spann issued a detailed forecast on Thursday.

In Florida:

The most severe damage should be on the Atlantic coast from Miami up through Daytona Beach and Jacksonville late Saturday night and into Sunday.

*The Florida west coast (cities like Naples, Fort Myers, Sarasota, St Petersburg, and Tampa) are on the west side of the system, but due to it’s strength wind damage is very possible there Sunday along with widespread power outages and some flooding.

*Hurricane force winds are likely in Orlando Sunday. Potential for structural damage there. I would not want to be in Orlando Sunday; the weather will be much better by Monday.

The whole of Florida is under a state of emergency with mandatory evacuations in certain counties. Mar-a-Lago has also been evacuated.

Relief shelters are open. Broward County is home to Fort Lauderdale:

Petrol is in short supply as people attempt to drive out of state:

People are stocking up and battening down the hatches.

Traffic is crazy. This is from Thursday:

Airports in evacuation areas are closing, including on the west Coast.

People are preparing for the worst:

In closing, this is no time to party:

Prayers and Godspeed to all.

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