Lord Jonathan Sumption in the Telegraph Delivers a lightning attack on SAGE’s ‘Covid Trash Models’ and the ever-changing position of the goalposts to break out of lockdown.
The modelers have started again. The SAGE modeling committee (which goes by the nasty name of SPI-MO) produced a report projecting the consequences of removing restrictions in accordance with the government’s Covid roadmap. The projection that has captured the most attention, and surely was designed for, is that on “pessimistic but plausible” assumptions, there will be a third wave in the summer if restrictions are relaxed, leading to such severe hospitalizations. than at the peak of January.
Does this sound strange to you? It should. The January peak reflected the situation before vaccinations went into effect. We are therefore told that it is “plausible” to think that vaccines can make little difference in hospitalizations.
When Imperial College produced its modeling report last March, which pushed the government into the first lockdown, they stressed that if the restrictions were not kept in place until there was a vaccine , infections and associated hospitalizations and deaths would simply increase once the restrictions were lifted. .
The goal posts are now moved. We are told that the restrictions may need to be maintained even though there are now highly effective vaccines. Hospitalizations and deaths are at their lowest. Almost all of the most vulnerable groups have been vaccinated. Even taking into account the MHRA’s amended advice on the AstraZeneca vaccine, a high proportion of the remainder will have been inoculated by June. If the vaccine is not a way out, what is it? The logic of the most extreme projections by modelers is that the restrictions may have to stay in place indefinitely.
Matt Hancock appeared to move the goal posts again sure Monday, saying that freedom could be reclaimed through weekly mass testing (rather than the immunization schedule).
Lord Sumption says part of the cause of Covid’s lingering insanity is a blame game between government ministers and science advisers.
What seems to be happening is that everyone is covering their backs. Ministers want to pass the buck to scientists. They want to be able to say “what a triumph for our policies” if things go well; and “we have followed the science” if they go wrong. Scientists don’t like being blamed for what is essentially a political judgment. They want to be able to say “these were just scenarios, not predictions” if things go well; and “we told you” if they go wrong. Each group tries to manipulate the other. Unfortunately, balanced assessments based on real evidence are lacking.
There are more important things at stake than the reputation of ministers or their advisers. Human beings are social animals. Interacting with other people is not a luxury. It is a basic human need. It is also the foundation of our mental health, our social organization, our recreation and our economy.
There is a breed of public health officials who are indifferent to these things. They never thought about, at least in public, what makes life worth living. For them, human beings are only instruments of government health policy. They will be lining up to tell us that it is dangerous to return to a normal life because we cannot be absolutely sure that normal life will be without risk. They will cite the modelers’ darkest speculations as proof of what “might” happen if the government stops treating us like caged animals or inert specimens in a horrific sociological lab.
The government must now decide whether or not vaccines are effective in reducing hospitalizations and deaths. If they are effective, then the restrictions on our lives are unnecessary and should be lifted. If they are not effective, they should still be lifted, because in this case, we are going to have to live with periodic outbreaks of Covid, because the only alternative is to indefinitely prolong the current assault on our humanity.
It is worth reading in its entirety.
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