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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