the sins of boris johnson & co, yet further amplified

The Government’s Ten Biggest Coronavirus Lies Unmasked
Stephen Colegrave, Peter Jukes, Byline Times, Jul 13 2020

Since the Coronavirus arrived in the UK, Boris Johnson’s Government has often contradicted itself, often within days, from one press conference to the next. Some of these contradictions were half-truths, U-turns on policy, or the result of missed targets. But among these contradictions were lies so big they are symptomatic of an entire populist political project. Here are the ten biggest so far.

Lie 1: The Government Never Pursued ‘Herd Immunity’
Downing Street has denied that ‘herd immunity’ was Government policy. However, on Mar 13, the Government’s Chief Scientific Officer Sir Patrick Vallance joined other members of SAGE (the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) and the Behavioural Science Unit by telling BBC Radio 4 Today that the Government’s approach to tackling COVID-19 had the benefit of creating ‘herd immunity’ across the UK. On the same day, according to Channel 4 Dispatches, Boris Johnson told the Italian PM during a phone call that ‘herd immunity’ was the UK Government’s aim. The Italian Health Minister Pierpaolo Sileri said Guiseppe Conte had recounted the conversation to him:

He told me that he’d spoken with Boris Johnson and that they’d also talked about the situation in Italy. I remember he said ‘he told me that he wants herd immunity.’

At the time, up to 500k deaths were being forecast in the UK.

Lie 2: The Government Initiated a Speedy Lockdown
At the first Coronavirus COBRA meeting Boris Johnson attended on 2 March, he was told there were already 11k COVID-19 infections in the UK and that Imperial College modelling indicated that 250k people could die without a severe lockdown. The Government ignored the call for another three weeks. Meanwhile, Imperial College and Oxford University modelling indicates that infections soared to 1.5m before social distancing measures were introduced. In the week before lockdown, large events such as the Cheltenham racing festival went ahead, attended by 250k people over four days. On Mat 18, Johnson was still prevaricating. When asked when the virus’ epicentre London would be shut down, he said:

We’ve always said that we are going to do the right measures at the right time.

Lockdown was eventually enforced on Mar 23. Statisticians have argued that, if the Government had instituted these measures just seven days earlier, as many as 27k deaths could have been avoided.

Lie 3: The UK Wanted to be Part of the EU’s Ventilator Scheme
On Mar 19, the Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said that the UK had joined the European Union’s procurement scheme for ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE). He told BBC Question Time that the Government had “engaged with that process today.” However, on Mar 26, the Government said it was not part of the scheme because “well, we are no longer members of the EU.” That was amended later the same day by a Downing Street statement that claimed an email inviting the UK to join the scheme had not been received. On Apr 21, the Permanent Under-Sec of the FCO reported to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee that “it was a political decision.” That evening, Hancock stated at the daily COVID-19 briefing that there had been no political decision. Later that night, the Permanent Under-Sec issued a retraction, stating that ministers had not been briefed by the mission in Brussels about the scheme.

Lie 4: 100k Tests A Day
On Apr 2, Matt Hancock stated that the Government would conduct 100,000 COVID-19 tests a day by the end of April. He said that the 100k target was “audacious” but that testing was required to get Britain “back on her feet.” By the end of April, the Government claimed that it had miraculously reached its target. However, 40k of the tests included in its figures had been sent out to people’s homes and not yet taken. Soon after, official testing numbers dropped below 100k. In July, the Government quietly published figures revealing that it was regularly overstating figures by as much as 200,000 tests during May.

Lie 5: ‘World Beating’ PPE Procurement
The Government’s handling of PPE procurement is at the centre of multiple scandals and allegations of incompetence. On Apr 20, Matt Hancock boasted that he had secured 400k gowns from Turkey. It turned out that he had not received clearance from the Turkish authorities and, when they finally arrived in the UK, many of the gowns were revealed to be faulty. A promise of procuring four million pieces of PPE was only reached by the Government counting gloves as two separate pieces, for example. It also continues to use emergency procurement rules to pay large amounts of taxpayers’ money to dozens of companies with no track records of producing PPE.

Lie 6: A ‘World Beating’ Test and Trace System
In mid-May, the PM promised a world-beating ‘test and trace’ system by Jun 1. An NHS team spent four months and nearly £12m developing a centralised version of a contact tracing app and trialled it on the Isle of Wight. Matt Hancock then announced that the Government’s new focus would be on a decentralised app using the Google Apple toolkit, but it was unlikely to be ready for months. On the manual element of the ‘test and trace’ system, statistics indicated at least a third of people were not providing their contacts to contact tracers. Only 10% of the people that the Office for National Statistics calculated were infected had been contacted.

Lie 7: COVID-19 Death Statistics are Accurate and Transparent
For the first month of the Coronavirus pandemic, daily death reports from the Dept of Health and Social Care and NHS England only recorded hospitalised COVID-19 deaths. Care homes were not included in that figure until Apr 16. For seven weeks, the Government publicised slides comparing UK death tolls with other countries. These were dropped on May 12 when they showed that Britain had the highest death toll in Europe and the second highest in the world. Due to limited COVID-19 testing, initially confined to hospitals, the UK has an estimated 65.7k ‘excess deaths’, 49% above the historical norm, one of the highest in developed countries. Most of these are likely to be unrecorded COVID-19 fatalities. Britain has the highest case fatality in the worldaccording to a study by Johns Hopkins University.

Lie 8: Care Homes Didn’t ‘Follow Procedures’
With more than 20k of the UK’s confirmed COVID-19 deaths having been in care homes, the PM claimed in early July that this was because “too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have.” In late February, Public Health England said that it was “very unlikely” care homes would become infected. The guidance was not withdrawn until six weeks later on Mar 12. By then, many untested patients had been discharged from hospital into care homes and the sector was at breaking point because of the number of infections and the lack of PPE for staff. Up to 2 April, the Department of Health and Social Care confirmed that, when it came to hospital discharges, “negative tests are not required prior to transfers/admissions into the care home.” It was not until May 3 that the Government launched a national delivery system for personal protective equipment to care homes, admitting that it would not be operational until the end of the month.

9: Dominic Cummings has Poor Eyesight but Great Foresight
The PM’s chief advisor Dominic Cummings claimed that he drove 60 miles during lockdown from Durham to a nearby beauty spot at Barnard Castle and back, with his wife and child in the car, to check his eyesight after having suffered COVID-19 symptoms. The chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, John Apter, was forced to write on Twitter:

If you’re feeling unwell and your eyesight may be impaired, do not drive your vehicle to test your ability to drive.

Cumming was eager to return to work to combat the pandemic. In his Downing Street rose garden press conference, he told reporters:

Last year I wrote about the possible threat of coronaviruses and the urgent need for planning.

The only problem was that this was added to his blog just after he broke lockdown on 14 April 2020. This rare case of retro-superforecasting was spotted by Jens Wiechers, a data scientist, using the internet archives’ ‘Wayback Machine.’

10: The Government Always ‘Followed The Science’
The Government promised to ‘follow the science’ at every turn. But the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies it relied upon had a shocking lack of relevant expertise with no molecular virologists, immunologists, intensive care experts and (more importantly) public health experts. A former WHO director Professor Anthony Costello said that “this could have cost thousands of lives.” Most experts agree that there is no one science, that there is a continuing array of evidence that needs to be reviewed. However, SAGE was over-represented by modellers and experts who were not independent as they were paid by the Government. Until recently, the SAGE minutes were unavailable to independent scientists.

England & Wales has Second Highest Coronavirus Health Worker Deaths in the World
Sam Bright, Byline Times, Jul 13 2020

England and Wales has the second highest number of health and social worker deaths from Coronavirus in the world, according to a new report by Amnesty International. With 3k recorded health workers deaths from the virus worldwide, England and Wales accounts for almost 17% of the total, logging 540 fatalities. This only trails Russia in the Amnesty league table, with Vladimir Putin’s Government overseeing 545 deaths. Calling for an urgent inquiry into the Government’s handling of COVID-19, Amnesty notes that black, Asian and ethnic minority health workers “appear to be significantly over-represented in the total number of COVID-19 related health worker deaths.” As Dr Meenal Viz and Dr Nishant Joshi noted recently in Byline Times, 20% of the NHS workforce is from black and ethnic minority communities, yet more than 50% of healthcare workers who have died with the Coronavirus are from these backgrounds.

Health worker Coronavirus deaths

  1. Russia: 545
  2. England and Wales: 540
  3. USA: 507
  4. Brazil: 351
  5. Mexico: 248
  6. Italy: 188
  7. Egypt: 111
  8. Iran: 91
  9. Ecuador: 82
  10. Spain: 63

Figures compiled by Medscape and analysed by Byline Times similarly confirm the UK’s place as the unwanted international leader in COVID-19 health worker deaths. The total number of health worker deaths in the UK (minus social worker fatalities) is comfortably the highest in Europe, 50% greater than in Italy, which is second on the list.

On May 19, the UK had 121 health worker deaths, in comparison to Italy on 120. Since that date, Italy’s toll has risen modestly to 138, whereas the UK’s has shot up sharply to 206. It is also worth noting that Pindostan, a nation with five times the population of the UK and a laissez faire approach to disease, has recorded 276 health worker Coronavirus deaths. The Amnesty report acknowledges that there are disparities between the reporting methods of different countries. Indeed, it is likely that authoritarian regimes are massaging the figures (or not collecting data whatsoever). However, its figures confirm a common story about the UK Government’s handling of the Coronavirus. Last week, Johns Hopkins University in Pindostan found that the UK had the highest case fatality rate in the world, the proportion of people infected with Coronavirus who end up dying. It’s little wonder that the UK leads the world on health worker deaths. As late as Mar 12, just a week before Coronavirus cases spiked and the country went into lockdown, the Government was continuing to insist that “it remains very unlikely that people receiving care in a care home will become infected.” It was also not until mid-April that the Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock changed the rules so that everyone returning to a care home from hospital had to be tested for the virus.

One in five Coronavirus patients caught the virus in hospital, according to papers produced by Government scientists, yet care home residents were allowed to ferry the virus into a high-risk setting for more than a month before the Government intervened. Health workers also faced a daily struggle at the onset of this crisis to acquire personal protective equipment. Doctors, nurses and consultants were reporting dangerous shortages across the country, not helped by the fact the Government’s pandemic stockpile didn’t contain any gowns, visors, swabs or body bags when Coronavirus hit the UK. Yet, never one to take responsibility for his own Latin-infused cock-ups, Boris Johnson is now trying to pin blame on the very health workers who are dying from this disease in unprecedented numbers. On Jul 6, the PM said that “too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures” when dealing with the virus, even though the Government’s guidance was belated and muddled. It has been pointed out many times, but Johnson stands on the doorstep of 10 Downing Street and claps for the carers who are suffering the fatal consequences of his policies, and are now being scapegoated for this crisis. The hypocrisy is mind-boggling.

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