Sunday 23 May 2021


No surprises here - but please never lose your sense of shock. It really has got this bad in the UK. My source here is this afternoon's Mirror Politics

Government quietly publishes troubling new India variant data late on Saturday night

A risk assessment rated the increased transmissibility and the reduced effectiveness of vaccines on the India variant as ‘red’ - and warned it had an "increased growth rate" compared to the Kent variant.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus

Public Health England (PHE) was supposed to publish the latest weekly data on new variants of the virus on Thursday.

But the data was eventually published two days later, late on a Saturday night.

Earlier, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) issued a press release - to be published at 10.30pm - putting a positive spin on the figures, with Matt Hancock describing them as "groundbreaking".

Do you trust this man?

Mr Hancock said the evidence "proves just how valuable our COVID-19 vaccination programme is in protecting the people we love."

The release included just one sentence about the first dose being less effective against the India variant.

It read: "Both vaccines were 33% effective against symptomatic disease from B.1.617.2 (India), 3 weeks after the first dose compared to around 50% effectiveness against the B.1.1.7 variant (Kent)".


The Observer today carries a front-page story that has the unsurprising but still shocking title:

"No 10 'tried to block' data on virus spread in schools". Here are some highlights from Carole Cadwalladr's article:

  • Scientists, union officials and teachers said that the lack of transparency was "deeply worrying."
  • The page which contained the data on the spread of the India Covid-19 variant in schools was removed from the Public Health England report that was published on Thursday 13 May.
  • Days later, the government went ahead with its decision to allow the removal of face coverings in schools.
  • Evidence seen by The Observer suggests No 10 was directly involved in the decision not to publish it. 
  • In hotspots such as Bolton, cases are rising fastest among school-age children. 
  • Minutes from the Sage advisory group meeting last week warn the new variants are "capable of generating a wave of infections bigger than previous waves", and that the danger of "overreacting seems small compared to the potential benefit of delaying a third wave until more people are vaccinated". 

Take a look - and then ask why we are still set on following the dates in the roadmap.

The Observer today also carries an article headlined: "Waste water analysis showed rise in cases two weeks before government acted". Here are some highlights:

  • Tests of the town's sewage indicated Bedford had a rapidly escalating problem probably linked to the India variant, but no attempt was made by central government to intervene.
  • Public health officials in Bedford believe that the government chose, instead, to highlight rising cases linked to the India variant in the north-west of England to try to keep its roadmap out of lockdown on track. 
  • By the time surge testing began in Bedford last week the town was recording the second-highest rate of Covid-19 in England, with cases doubling every five days.
  • Responding to the claims, Louise Jackson, portfolio holder for public health and wellbeing on Bedford borough council, said: "We were second in the country in terms of infection rates and they were still talking about Bolton, Blackburn and Darwen. Why on earth would you want to miss Bedford off the list? Unless of course you were doing it because we are so close to London. They didn't want anybody to think it was anything other than a localised issue."
So much for 'We are as ever following the science - it's data not dates that shape this roadmap'. Do please follow the evidence trail - this is misgovernment on an unprecedented scale.

Finally, a reminder of how much damage has been done over and above the 150,000 plus deaths:

The Office for National Statistics last month estimated that 1.1 million Britons have long Covid. It found that 122,000 healthcare workers were affected, more than any other type of employee, and ahead of teachers and other education staff (114,000) and social care personnel (31,000).


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