Manchester: Following the Politics, Not the Science

11 January 2023 , categories: COVID, Meetings

What caused the UK to become a 'lockdown autocracy' in March 2020, with one of the worst pandemic outcomes in the world - and were we really 'following the science'?

Our Manchester meeting on January 11th 2023 was said by many who attended to be one of our very best yet.

We had an interesting and informed introduction from Dr. Martin Evison followed by a focused and thoughtful discussion.  As ever, we provide a flavour of the meeting below.

(MEANWHILE our next Manchester meeting is on Wed 15th Feb on Gender Identity Ideology.  It’ll be great to see you there.)

An expert witness

Martin began his presentation with a brief overview of his career in science and IT, including work in the fields of genetics, microbiology, virology, environmental archaeology, ancient DNA and forensic pathology.

From his experience of being called as an expert witness in court, where lawyers check a witness’s authority in terms of their knowledge and expert credentials, Martin felt it was important to lay out his authority before sharing his findings on the UK’s response to Covid.

How does the body react to viruses like Covid?

Martin explained how viruses take over cells in order to reproduce.  The body reacts by initiating an antibody response and other mechanisms including the production of mucus in respiratory passages.  Additional immune response cells patrol the body to find viral invaders, marking infected cells with fragments of viral matter for later destruction.

Initial fear of Covid

Martin talked about his initial fear in early 2020 when Covid first appeared in the news. However, this fear was allayed in March 2020 when Professors Whitty and Vallance reassured the British population that most were not at risk of death or serious illness, that most people would experience mild symptoms, and that masks would do ‘more harm than good’.

The more Martin studied the Chinese mortality data, and the survival rate of infected passengers on the quarantined ‘Diamond Princess’ cruise ship, the more he realised that Covid was not as bad as he had first feared.  He subsequently noted that the infection had already peaked by the time the first lockdown was announced.

Up until this point, Martin felt that the advice to the nation from Whitty and Vallance made sense. Their recommendations for people to wash their hands and stay at home if unwell, complied with the Pandemic Preparedness Guidelines published by bodies like the WHO and CDC.

Insane Pursuit of Extreme Measures

However,  this feeling rapidly morphed into a ‘heart of darkness’ experience when the UK government abandoned its published pandemic response policy and replaced it with what Martin refers to as an insane pursuit of extreme measures – none of which are reflected in the body of literature relating to the Pandemic Preparedness Guidelines – including the decision to ‘lock down’ healthy people.

Martin felt so acutely that the UK’s response was wrong, he went to Sweden.

The view from Sweden

As he had hoped, exchanging the insanity of England – having to consume drinks from a London airport hotel bar in its car park – for the normality of Sweden – open bars, cafes, shops and restaurants – corroborated Martin’s view that there was no reason whatsoever for the UK government to deviate from the Pandemic Preparedness Guidelines.  So why did it?

Studying the pandemic models produced by Neil Ferguson and Imperial College London revealed to Martin that they did not meet the necessary quality assurance standards.  Ferguson’s track record was poor and his models were criticised by professional coders:  in addition to everything else the models were inaccurate leading to unfounded predictions and forecasts.  Much like the data reported from PCR testing…

PCR Tests

Over the course of his scientific career, Martin has carried out thousands of PCR tests.  He explained that the test is highly sensitive and works by detecting viral RNA (ribonucleic acid) rather than disease.  The presence of RNA can mean that disease is currently present – and transmissible – but it can also mean the remnants of an old infection.  Both scenarios can yield a ‘positive’ test result and both were counted in the government’s official Covid statistics.

Martin also described how it is easy to contaminate test results if the proper laboratory procedures for using the test are not fully understood and adhered to.  He thinks it highly likely that the number of ‘positive’ tests was inflated because of contamination.  In addition, the PCR test was never designed to be self-administered by members of the public nor (a) without symptoms; and (b) in the absence of a physician.  Yet all of the flaws in the Covid modelling and testing data were ignored by scientists, politicians and the media.  They patently were NOT ‘following the science’.

Ethics and accountability

Benificence = to do good for the patient

Non-malificence = do no harm to the patient

The Ethics Committee attached to SAGE seemed to abandon these two core principles.

Martin’s view is that even in a public health emergency there is no justification for taking away people’s freedom and democratic rights, not even faulty forecasts.  The threat/risk should not be exaggerated or minimised.  Free debate and robust challenge should be allowed.  Yet these principles were ignored by the UK government despite being part of their pandemic plan.  The Great Barrington Declaration attempted to steer politicians back to the pandemic plan but its authors – respected scientists in their own right – were vilified as a result.

Absence of accountability

Martin believes that an absence of accountability is partly to blame.  The media sent its political reporters to the government briefings rather than its science/health journalists.  Their ‘Covid misinformation’ censorship campaign ensured there was no ‘red team ‘ function to improve decision-making by challenging groupthink and confirmation bias.

In April 2020 Covid 19 became a new category on death certificates coinciding with withdrawal of the need for an autopsy.  In Martin’s view this led to an over-scoring of deaths, which had all the hallmarks of a ‘back-covering’ campaign.

The pandemic guidelines are supposed to reign in politicians’ mania – defending us, the people, against excess in their response to a pandemic situation.

When asked by journalists why Sweden wasn’t introducing the same extreme measures and restrictions adopted by other countries, its state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell referred to insufficient evidence that the measures were effective or needed.  He was heavily criticised for his views.

‘Following the science’ became the virtuous position.  Anyone with an alternative point of view, such as Tegnell and Professor Sunetra Gupta (Great Barrington Declaration) was pilloried and accused of not caring for people.

Why did the UK Government follow the politics?

This is the $64 million dollar question regarding Britain’s decision to pivot away from the pandemic guidelines (which really are based on science) with disastrous consequences.

Martin and Politics in Pubs offered the following suggestions:

  • excessive clamouring and witch-hunts from the press causing weak politicians to throw ethics away and cave in to the pressure to be seen to be doing the same as other nations
  • enlightened self-interest in politicians intent on being re-elected
  • scientists reluctant to rock the boat because of a dependence upon funding from sponsors with vested interests
  • absence of principles and political opposition in Parliament
  • sociopathy and/or narcissism among our leaders intoxicated by power and media exposure
  • an opportunity for the predatory elite to enrich corporations like pharmaceutical companies and banks
  • a trial run of tactics exploiting fear for our safety and respect for authority to secure control of citizens and compliance with unreasonable demands.

There was one final comment from Martin – that pubs are the home of free speech, and the exchange of ideas, and this is a freedom to cherish.  Politics in Pubs couldn’t agree more – cheers Martin!

Dr. Martin Evison is co-author of the linked article: