Sunday 26 November 2023

"The Covid Inquiry gets worse by the day – can no one take responsibility for anything?"

The Telegraph's Allison Pearson has rightly gained a reputation for deep understanding, keen insight, balance and fairness [Sarky bugger - Ed]. Poisonous Ally here gives her thoughts on the malign scientific advisors who are apparently throwing her beloved Boris under a bus (never a good metaphor for a Brexit-ravaged country to hear).

I see they’ve had a fresh delivery of buses to the Covid Inquiry for the key players to throw Boris Johnson under. This week, it was the turn of the Brothers Grim, Sir Patrick Vallance and Sir Chris Whitty. Sir Patrick - "Pat" to his old medical chums - immediately launched into the former prime minister, saying he "last studied science at the age of 15 and would be the first to admit it wasn’t his forte".

As anyone with a D in O-Level Biology would have been able to make better, more balanced decisions than Sir Patrick and Sage, the scientific advisory group for emergencies, this was not quite the slight he intended it to be. Being good at science and rubbish at being human was the problem.

One thing you can be sure this embarrassingly useless inquiry will not be concluding is that our pandemic policy was devised and implemented by a group of spectrummy males, many of them physicists, mathematical modellers and behavioural psychologists who would struggle to pick out their own child in a school photograph. They focused very narrowly on "flattening the curve" and ended up flattening a whole society.

For all his flaws, Boris is blessed with more emotional intelligence than the lot of them put together. Hence his irritating habit of querying "the science" and pointing out that if most people were dying of Covid at an age that was older than the average age of death then, hang on a mo, maybe it wasn’t such a clever idea to stop young people getting on with their lives? This heretical thought became known as "letting it rip". It was actually plain common sense.

When Sir Pat told the inquiry that Boris was "bamboozled" by scientific data, my reaction was, "No wonder, given the nonsensical graphs you and Whitty showed him." I’m convinced that the infamous Graphs of Doom, on display at the Downing Street press briefings whenever the public needed to be intimidated into another round of restrictions, seemed designed specifically to bamboozle.

In his evidence, Sir Patrick accused Sir Chris of being a "lockdown delayer". Funny how this fellow called Patrick Vallance, just 10 days before lockdown, gave an interview to BBC Radio 4 in which he articulated rather well the principles of herd immunity. "To try and reduce the peak, broaden the peak, not to suppress it completely. Also, because the vast majority of people get a mild illness, to build up some degree of herd immunity as well so that more people are immune to this disease, and we reduce the transmission at the same time as we protect those who are most vulnerable from it. Those are the key things we need to do."

Yes, indeed. That is exactly what needed to be done, as Sweden proved. What a shame another fellow calling himself Patrick Vallance bottled it and ordered precisely the opposite.

Disgracefully, it was also Sir Patrick who was involved in quashing the Rule of Six exemption for English children despite the fact there was no "robust rationale" for the policy. The rule, which limited the number of people who could gather in one place, meant that families with more than two kids were effectively kept in lockdown. Scotland and Wales included an exemption for children under 12 but the UK government refused to implement a similar exemption in England until April 2021.

Can you believe it? Children were socially isolated for months on end while adult grouse hunters were exempt from the Rule of Six. You could say, therefore, that lockdown convert Sir Patrick Vallance bears some responsibility for an epidemic of teenage mental health problems, child speech delay, record school absenteeism and vast educational deficits, but you won’t hear that at the Covid Inquiry, where the wider trend is the abject failure to examine any of the scientists rigorously about their incredibly wrong lockdown assumptions.

Never mind, another bus will be along in a minute to throw bamboozled Boris under.


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