Did Lord Sumption really …? Yes, he really did! He used ‘that’ word in the title to his opinion piece which the DT published last night: “It’s inhuman that we’ve been left at the mercy of Sage’s garbage Covid models” (paywalled link). Applause all round, especially as he twists the knife in his subtitle: “Ministers and scientists are trying to cover their backs, ignoring the fact that social interaction is not a luxury”. Just so!
Here’s how he kicks off his critique:
“The modellers have been at it again. The modelling committee of Sage (which goes by the unlovely name of SPI-M-O) has produced a report projecting the consequences of ending restrictions in accordance with the Government’s Covid Roadmap. The projection which has attracted the most attention, and was surely designed to, is that on “pessimistic but plausible” assumptions there will be a third wave in the summer if the restrictions are eased, leading to hospitalisations as bad as at the January peak.
Does that seem odd? It should. The January peak reflected the situation before vaccinations took effect. So we are being told that it is “plausible” to think that the vaccines may make little difference to hospitalisations.
When Imperial College produced its modelling report last March, which pushed the Government into the first lockdown, they pointed out that unless restrictions were kept in place until there was a vaccine, infections and associated hospitalisations and deaths would simply surge again once the restrictions were lifted.
The goalposts are now being shifted. We are being told that the restrictions may have to be kept in place even though there are now highly effective vaccines. Hospitalisations and deaths are at rock bottom. Almost all of the more vulnerable groups have been vaccinated. Even accounting for the MHRA’s changed advice regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine, a high proportion of the rest will have been inoculated by June. If the vaccine is not an exit route, then what is? The logic of the modellers’ more extreme projections is that the restrictions may have to stay in place indefinitely.” (paywalled link)
So far so good. This is something we’ve been talking about for months – but, peasants that we are, our opinions don’t count and those who did post comments in the MSM were swiftly ‘cancelled’ by the covid moderators.
Next though the former Supreme Court Justice really lays it on the line:
“It is time to be honest about documents of this kind. As aids to policymaking and public understanding, they are at best useless and at worst extremely misleading. The problem is that they are not evidence. They are just painting by numbers. A model will produce any result you care to name, depending on the assumptions fed into it.” (paywalled link)
Detailing the assumptions which fed the various SAGE models, the good judge writes about those numbers, then stating that:
“These are wide ranges. The higher figure in the range is the modellers’ “central” projection. The lower figure is the “pessimistic but plausible” projection. Neither has any greater validity than the other. It depends on what you feel like.” (paywalled link)
Ouch. It gets even better – or worse, if you’re a SAGE modeller:
“But the real eye-opener is the comparison between the modellers’ assumptions about vaccine efficacy and the real world. We do not need to make assumptions about the efficacy of the vaccines. We have the results of the clinical trials. […] This makes a critical difference. If the modellers had taken their assumptions from the real world, the projected hospitalisations would have been far better than even the most optimistic projection.
Why are the assumptions of the three modellers so different from each other? And why are they all so different from the empirical results? On the face of it, these assumptions are arbitrary, and the results based on them no better. Garbage in – garbage out. What is missing from all this number-crunching is an injection of judgment or common sense. The public is entitled to ask what is going on.” (paywalled link)
Excellent, Lord Sumption – just so! Not that there’s much common sense around in the SAGE’s minds and in those of their willing supporters in Whitehall or the editorial offices of the covid MSM. It’s gratifying to see next that we’re not alone in our interpretation of what is happening inside the covid politburo:
“What seems to be going on is that every one is covering their backs. Ministers want to pass the buck to the scientists. They want to be able to say “What a triumph for our policies” if things turn out fine; and “We followed the science” if they turn out badly. The scientists don’t like being made to carry the can for what is basically a political judgment. They want to be able to say “These were only scenarios, not predictions” if things turn out fine; and “We told you so” if they turn out badly. Each group is trying to manipulate the other. Balanced assessments based on actual evidence are sadly missing.
There are more important things at stake than the reputation of ministers or their advisers. Human beings are social animals. Interaction with other people is not a luxury. It is a basic human need. It is also the foundation of our mental health, our social organisation, our leisure activities and our economy.” (paywalled link)
Well said, well said indeed! Lord Sumption next really rams home his critique. It’s in essence what I’ve been pointing out, carefully, for months. However, I’ve been a bit more cautious in my wordings, not being a former Supreme Court Judge, after all. So do savour this paragraph, and, when quoting, point out that these are the actual words of Lord Sumption, not those of us unwashed plebs:
“There is a breed of public health officials who are indifferent to these things. They have never reflected, at any rate in public, on what makes life worth living. As far as they are concerned, human beings are just instruments of government health policy. They will be lining up to tell us that it is dangerous to return to normal life because we cannot be absolutely sure that normal life will be risk-free. They will quote the gloomier speculations of modellers as evidence of what “might” happen if the Government stops treating us like caged animals or inert specimens in some ghastly sociological laboratory.” (paywalled link)
Finally, it’s gratifying to read the points he makes in his concluding sentences – these are the questions I’ve been asking for weeks:
“The Government must now make up its mind whether the vaccines are effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths, or not. If they are effective, then the restrictions on our lives are unnecessary and should be lifted. If they are not effective, then they should still be lifted, because in that case we are going to have to live with periodic surges of Covid-19, for the only alternative is to prolong the current assault on our humanity indefinitely.” (paywalled link)
Amen to that! Lord Sumption’s essay has not only provided us with ammunition for further quotes, he’s also supported the arguments we’ve been making for months. If he’s not wrong – and he clearly isn’t – then neither are we. Our opinion can be brushed aside by those ‘in power’ – that of Lord Sumption cannot. They better heed him, now that he’s come out in support of all of us voiceless, unheard citizens.