Covid, no proper Christmas: why not be miserable together
It won’t be long now to Brexit, ‘deal or no deal’. It will be a long time though until we’re released from the covid tyranny. The headlines in this morning’s papers are about a covid ‘mutant’ – but the MSM are as subdued about that as they are about Brexit. It’s as if they have no longer got the energy to start a new Fear & Hysteria campaign. As for Brexit: we’ll look at that below.
First though, that ‘covid mutant’. It’s strange that the MSM aren’t indulging in outcries of ‘be afraid – we’re all gonna die’. Perhaps the various editors have grasped the fact that people, like animals, cannot be subjected to prolonged anxiety and fear. ‘Fear fatigue’ inevitably sets in.
Another interesting and perhaps politically significant aspect to this is that Hancock alone seems to be held responsible for the ongoing tier 3 restrictions now also imposed on London – not SAGE. Across the MSM we read that Hancock has used the news of the mutant covid strain to justify his London lockdown.
Old cynic that I am, I immediately thought that Hancock craved to be in the limelight again, after having been relegated from the headlines for a week, thanks to BJ’s Brexit shenanigans. Hancock must also have thirsted for an excuse to put London into tier 3, so that ‘mutant covid’ provided the suitable excuse.
Also, I couldn’t help but think that Hancock tried valiantly to stir up fear when he said that this mutant was ‘more contagious’ even though so far nothing is known about it except that it has been detected:
“The main concern about the new variant is that it appears to spread more quickly than the existing virus, with more than 1,000 cases found so far in 60 local authorities, predominantly in the South of England. Over the past few weeks, cases have been rising dramatically, particularly around London and Essex, and epidemiologists have been puzzled as to why new infections increased even during lockdown. This may help explain the rises.” (paywalled link)
No, don’t ask about hospital admissions or any other data – that would be ‘fake news’ and mean that one’s a ‘covid denier’! Lockdown Sceptics quote the relevant, official PHE announcement in their Newsletter though. This gives away the ‘Hancock Covid Game’:
“As of December 13th, 1,108 cases with this variant have been identified, predominantly in the South and East of England. […] There is currently no evidence to suggest that the strain has any impact on disease severity, antibody response or vaccine efficacy. […] It is not yet known whether the variant is responsible for these increased numbers of cases. PHE will monitor the impact of this in the coming days and weeks.” (link)
Hancock’s own PHE statement says clearly that nothing, as of yet, is known of this mutant, except that it exists – but Hancock knows already that it’s even more ‘contagious’, that therefore more people, more areas, needed to go into the tier-3 lockdown. What he calls ‘being more vigilant and following the rulz’ translates into ‘we have the power to make your life a misery because: ‘precautions!’. One SAGE is quoted in The Times:
“Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, said it was not yet clear whether the new strain was behind an increase in cases or just more common in the areas of fastest spread. He said that new strains of the virus were not uncommon but added: “This one has quite a few more mutations than some of the other variants, so that’s why we’ve taken it particularly seriously.” (link, paywalled)
Ah. So have they discovered other covid variants which they’ve not taken particularly seriously’? One would like to know! There’s more, showing that even Whitty is dithering about the seriousness of this virus. In last night’s press conference he said that ‘it was possible’ that the mutant is more infectious than the unmutated strain but that they don’t know if it was spreading more quickly or was ‘more dangerous’. He then said that “there was ‘no evidence’ it was more dangerous, or that it could slip past Covid-19 vaccines or tests.” (link). So they have no evidence, for nothing except the mutant’s existence, but lock down anyway anything that moves. ‘Tis politics, not science!
And then there’s the vaccine, our covid ‘saviour’! We’ve been told innumerable times that the Pfizer vaccine is about creating antibodies for the covid spike protein. Why Whitty is so confident that there are no mutations there – well, he can, because nothing is known about this covid variant to contradict him, for example:
“No information has been publicly announced about the strain and it does not appear to exist in scientific studies, nor to be linked to any of the other mutations that have been found in Europe.” (link)
A ‘novel strain’, appearing only here in England … how exiting! However, see next what the official PHE statement says:
“This variant includes a mutation in the ‘spike’ protein. Changes in this part of the spike protein may result in the virus becoming more infectious and spreading more easily between people.” (link)
So now what? Is there evidence or is it speculation? Also, if there is a mutation in that spike protein then clearly questions should be raised about the efficiency of the vaccines, especially if, officially, this spike-protein mutation might be the reason for the virus becoming ‘more infectious’. There’s ‘more science’ though – this is interesting:
“A paper in Nature by François Balloux among others provides some helpful context. He pointed out that he and his team had identified 12,000 variants/mutations, none of which increased transmission or led to more severe infections.” (link)
Again – so now what? Are we all gonna die from covid mutations or not? Apparently not. The last quote is from Lockdown Sceptics and I urge you to read the whole Newsletter, as antidote to Hancock.
The DM has an article from Prof Hugh Pennington on this subject and I found his remarks very gratifying because it’s always good to have one’s one political analysis confirmed by eminent professors! He wrote:
“If I were to be unkind to our Health Secretary, I would accuse him of having launched a new ‘Project Fear’ yesterday to justify a further tightening of restrictions – and to buttress the new ‘lockdown’ of London as it is placed under Tier Three restrictions.” (link)
Heh – that’s not unkind, that’s being perspicacious! There’s one more covid observation which caught my eye: “Coronavirus is believed to have jumped into the human population sometime in 2019” (paywalled link). You can’t be too careful when reading the standard covid articles in the MSM! Something important is always slipped in, like this ‘sometime in 2019’. No – we’re not told ‘when’ in 2019. Perhaps all who had a ‘really bad bout of flu’ in 2019 actually did have covid – only nobody knew? Hm …
And so to Brexit … dear me, the EU mouthpieces have been at it again! See this, by the inevitable Mr Crisp in the DT, spinning for Brussels:
“Mr Barnier told EU ambassadors in a behind-closed-doors meeting that, for the first time, the UK had accepted a “rebalancing mechanism”, which means it could be hit by tariffs if it split too far from EU rules. The UK’s chief negotiator, David Frost, had asked the EU to drop demands linking the fishing and trade agreements in return for the concession but Brussels had turned him down, Mr Barnier said.” (paywalled link)
Hold yer horses! There’s also Remain Central. After reporting that Ms vdLeyen and Barnier were optimistic and that only fishing remained as obstacle, they quote a ‘less optimistic No 10’. Downing Street told The Times that “the talks remained “difficult” and that the teams had not made “significant progress”. (link, paywalled). Ah! This next quote however is quite extraordinary:
“In particular they [No 10] were irritated by suggestions from Mr Barnier that the government was preparing to make concessions on fishing. “There is simply no truth in the idea that we have backtracked,” said a Downing Street source. “The inaccurate briefings from the EU side in recent days have made a difficult discussion even more challenging in the short period of time we have left.” (link, paywalled)
In diplomatic language, ‘inaccurate briefings’ means ‘they lied’. Barnier must be desperate to get us to cave in on fish. Thus he’s clearly tried to create ‘facts’ by, ahem, lying. Then there’s an astounding turn-around by French fishermen. At the weekend they complained about Dutch super-trawlers, saying that they’d have to fight them once they were excluded from fishing in our waters. Now it’s back to ‘business as usual’:
“European fishermen have warned that they are prepared to blockade Calais and other ports in the event that a no-deal Brexit excludes them from operating in UK waters. […] Dimitri Rogoff, the head of Normandy’s regional fisheries committee said that his members would prevent ferries carrying British exports from docking at the French port. He added that such a blockade would almost certainly be backed by Dutch and Belgian fishermen who would also face exclusion from UK waters at the end of the year.” (link, paywalled)
What timely threat to us, to Frosty, to give in, to give up, or face a veritable blockade! I wonder if there are rules about that by the WTO. I also wonder what their countries’ non-fishing industries would have to say to that, or indeed their governments. Perhaps they will block our ferries from entering while letting their ferries leave to cross? Hm.
I leave you with one final item of covid gloom. It comes under ‘misery loves company’. While we groan under the Hancock-tiers-boots, across the Channel lockdowns have now also been installed, unto early next year. From Germany to Spain, from the Netherlands to Italy: lockdowns reign supreme. Happy Christmas? Not this year, for no-one.