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Sunday 20 September 2020

Covid Denial And Mail Misinformation

With another lockdown a distinct possibility, the last thing we need is for the Covid-19 denial brigade to cross over into the mainstream press. There are enough wacko conspiracy theories out there without our free and fearless press pushing more of them under the pretext of FREEZE PEACH. But that is exactly what the increasingly wayward Mail on Sunday has done today. The headline tells you all you need to know.

The only 'circuit break' in the pandemic we need now is from the government’s doom-mongering scientific advisers who specialise in causing panic and little else, say PROF CARL HENEGHAN and DR TOM JEFFERSON”. And who are Carl Heneghan and Tom Jefferson? Well, they’re from the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford.

They tell MoS readers “Now we look set to repeat the pattern of what happened six months ago when they first panicked the country into shutting down, except that this time it has been given a fancy title – operation ‘circuit break’ … Whatever the name, it may be a grave error with terrible consequences for the health of the British people and for the health of the country. How can we possibly be making the same mistake - again?

There is more. “Why is it that the Government is once again in the grip of doom-mongering scientific modellers who specialise in causing panic and little else? This nonsensical term ‘circuit breaker’ is not the only aspect of the Government’s rhetoric that needs closer scrutiny. Because it is the irrational, unscientific use of language that is partly to blame for driving Ministers into these mistakes”. This has triggered some of the usual suspects.

Denise Welch has Tweeted out a link to the article, and this has gone down well with those who don’t want to believe that it’s really happening. No doubt Claire Fox, Laurence Fox, Toby Young and the rest will not be far behind. But what the MoS is not telling you is that Tom Jefferson, half of that writing partnership, has significant previous. Here’s Wikipedia.

His views about the effectiveness of influenza vaccines and his outspokenness about them are controversial … He has said that the studies claiming large reductions in mortality rates as a result of the influenza vaccine are ‘rubbish’, and that ‘influenza vaccines are about marketing and not science’”. Then we come to Covid-19.

On 5 July 2020, Jefferson claimed in an interview with The Telegraph that the COVID-19 coronavirus may not have originated in China. His theory was that a virus may simply lie dormant for years before suddenly emerging. As an example of this possibility, he pointed to the isolation of Western Samoa, which lost 22% of its population to Spanish Flu in 1918, and claimed the islands had no contact with the outside world. However, it is well documented that Spanish Flu arrived on board the SS Talune on 7 November, 1918, when six infected passengers from New Zealand were allowed ashore”.

When much of the MoS article tries to suggest Covid-19 is “not so bad”, with comparisons to flu, heart attacks, road accidents and even dementia, complains about the form of words used by Government ministers in broadcast interviews, and otherwise indulges in sneers and insults, you realise this is not peer-reviewed research you’re reading.

It’s just another attempt to sow doubt, make the easily led disbelieve. And who will end up becoming seriously ill, or worse? Clue: it won’t be those pushing the misinformation.

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Malcolm Armsteen said...

Head back to mailwatch forum Tim dear boy. We have no truck with this covid stuff. Clearly all horlicks

Anonymous said...

Is across pretty much all of right-wing media, seemingly an organised campaign.

My favourite piece of recent idiocy was a Twitter exchange, where this young doctor - who has treated c19 patients - gets patronised by world health expert Julia Hartley Brewer:



Brewer's latest wheeze is alleging that most of the increase in cases is due to doctors being idiots and not understanding statistics, and Dr Dominic was explaining (nicely) why she was in error.

Anonymous said...

Actually COVID isn't so bad these days, the problem seems to be it effects different people in different ways and the permanency of it's long term effects are not known. It certainly is no longer anymore a killer than flu.

Anonymous said...

Also note how the comments in nearly all Mail/Express articles have flipped to denialist stuff these past few weeks.

Add in some bitter irony as Tories are now apparently really concerned about the mental health and well-being of the poor. Remember the austerity Tories, Jeremy Kyle, comments about 'so-called sick' from said Tories? Yeah. Those guys. Totally want to help the poor. Oddly not by giving them a little boost in benefits or reducing sanctions or telling the shitbags in the press to tone down their rhetoric. Nope.

They're also suddenly really worried about the mental health of teenagers. Which would be nice if they also hadn't spent years chopping benefits,reducing educational opportunities and completely fucking up the exam system this year.

No mention though of the mental health of healthcare staff who've just gone through a fairly horrendous six months and lost many of their colleagues.

Meanwhile disinformer head Karen, Allison Pearson is promoting denialist stuff on her twitter with all the excitement of a teenager hired to manage One Direction:


So the question is - Tory hacks all pushing the same nonsense, the thousands of troll comments on said articles, the mocking of medical professionals, the z-list celebs tweeting this shit and all-round general stupidity... what's their game? Destroying the NHS to a degree, but they're also going to kill half their voters in the meantime.

Is absolutely baffling. I would absolutely love it if a bunch of senior doctors wrote a letter to all the papers asking exactly what the fuck they're playing at. There must be plenty of Telegraph-reading Tory-voting Sir whatsits of the Royal College of Surgeons types who are seething at the gibberish being thrown at their staff.

Sam said...

I have a good pal who says this: "It certainly is no longer anymore a killer than flu." Said along with "what's all the drama for? 100,000s die of cancer, flu or accidents every year". The problem is Covid is a whole new way of dying in addition to all the others. It's not some virus that by killing people cancels out those other ways of dying including the father of a school friend of mine who died when a pig fell on him in a London street (don't even ask).
I note tragically that a father on Twitter says his 5 year old caught the virus on her first day back at school and died 5 days later. It's unknown and there is no vaccine. There is for Influenza otherwise millions would probably die every year. And I doubt anyone in London keeps pet pigs these days.

Anonymous said...

Is Monday morning and we have a new article in the DM telling us that the only way to save us is herd immunity...


'If the majority of people who are unlikely to suffer much ill effect could catch the infection, and get over it safely, they would be much less likely to transmit it to the vulnerable during the winter.

This strategy goes by the ugly name of herd immunity, an unfeeling name for the most compassionate policy.'

Boris doesn't look too happy in that picture they chose. Maybe he's been reading about ACE2 proteins being the entry point for Coronavirus and ACE2 heavily expressing in the testicles and thinking 'Uh-oh'.

Remember kids, if you infect everyone then rare and nasty virus effects won't be as rare - and those who suffer won't be too happy to know they were lied to by the Tory press.

grim northerner said...

Clearly professor.

BigNoz said...

What is Carl Henghan up to? I do t him. Supposedly a scientific skeptic, dedicated to evidence based thinking. Yet he constantly posts fring covid opinions that are reports by rags like the Mail to stoke conspiracy loons. His Twitter feed is the same and responded to by the same loons who he never corrects.