“Those centrally involved in this can no longer be trusted to provide accurate, reliable information. This isn’t an accident … Those involved have no defence at all. So today I am calling the following to resign their roles or immediately to recuse themselves from any role whatsoever in management of this pandemic”. Oh? Who might he have had in mind?
“Mr Hancock, Health Sec; Sir Patrick Vallance, Chief Scientific Advisor; Prof Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer; Prof Neil Ferguson, Imperial College (in all capacities including modelling of pandemics & vaccine requirements)”. This stance drew in others, such as Alex Berenson: “This is technical but I wanted to point it out for anyone who wants a longer read - it's from a former top scientist at [Pfizer] so Team Apocalypse can't dismiss it”.
And Brexit Party Chair Richard Tice, who claimed “[Matt Hancock] telling huge untruths to nation, either knowingly or more likely through stupidity. Supposed cases are 90% likely false positives; he doesn’t understand the calculation. To [sic] embarrassing to admit, so will refute. Ask your MP”. And John “live long and prosper” Redwood: “When will the government‘s scientific advisers tell us about the accuracy of the tests and how many false positives they think there are?” Then came the supposedly reputable press.
Although this did mean the increasingly alt-right Spectator magazine, demanding to know “How many Covid diagnoses are false positives?” To which the answer is probably “none”, because a test result and a diagnosis are two different things.
But the wacko fringe was off and running, such as Kate Shemirani (“natural nurse in a toxic world”), who claimed erroneously “The tests are false positives, picking up our own fragments of DNA, masks do not stop virus transmission. No science! Yet we have a ‘Doctor’ ... I use that title loosely, calling for both. He is in breach of the Terrorism Act 2006, Part1. Criminal”. The dog lovers were not far behind.
And one of them claimed “So it’s official, Dominic Raab states that PCR test has a very high rate of false positives! So many that only 7 percent of people tested will actually have coronavirus! This test is being used to rule our lives!” Wibble. Hatstand. But Michael Yeadon had an admission to make. “While I’ve not run this kind of test, I have been a lab worker in & later supervised high volume testing”. Oh, HELLO?
Former Telegraph man Tom Chivers, meanwhile, has written a pice for UnHerd which bears careful scrutiny. His one-line summary? “Sceptics who talk up 'false positives' are engaging in wishful thinking … On the ‘false positives on Covid tests mean that there's no evidence of a second wave’ theory … and why that is, I'm afraid, flat wrong”.
Also, Chris York at the HuffPost has told readers “No, 90% Of Coronavirus Tests Are Not 'False Positives' And This Is Why … Experts explain why a theory doing the rounds about the number of people wrongly diagnosed with Covid-19 is simply not true”.
Moreover, the ONS has produced an explainer which sets out the reasons why the “False Positives” idea does not hold water, telling “The percentage of individuals reporting no symptoms among those testing positive has remained stable over time despite substantial declines in the overall number of positives. If false-positives were high, the percentage of individuals not reporting symptoms among those testing positive would increase when the true prevalence is declining”. So it may be a thing, but not the kind of thing some believe.
Will we get a retraction from Michael Yeadon, his #1 fan Ms Hartley Dooda, the loathsome Toby Young, and all those at the Spectator? But you know the answer to that one. Their claims will be quietly dropped in the hope that no-one notices. But they have noticed.
The responsibility on those in charge of the broadcast megaphone not to shout “Fire” in a crowded theatre was never clearer. It’s a pity that the usual suspects have shirked it.
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