From The Telegraph: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/politics/britains-grip-coronafear-and-dangerous-virus
"Well done, Matt 'we’re doomed!' Hancock – Covid fear is now a bigger threat than the virus itself
Once upon a time we were Blighty not Frighty. It's time to get a grip or there will be irreversible damage to our national health
I despair I really do. The powers of the wretched Coronabeast are waning fast. “It has burnt through the dry grass, mainly those who would have died anyway in the next few months, and now it is infecting younger age groups but not harming them,” says a scientist friend. Admissions are only a fraction of the level compared to peak of the pandemic despite warnings of a second wave rolling across Europe. “Covid has gone from our wards, has been for weeks” reports the head nurse at one of the UK’s largest hospitals, “I can’t understand what the Government are going on about.”
Boy, are they going on. And on. England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van Tam - a Chieftain tank in human form - was deployed this week to warn that the public has “relaxed too much”. Relaxed? How much generalised anxiety, cyclists wearing masks, children instructed not to turn around in classrooms, empty trains, cancelled holidays, people solemnly washing groceries in Covid-free areas and all the other pointless pantomime of panic would be sufficient for the Professor? The nation’s a complete basket case and he wants us to keep weaving.
And then there’s Matt Hancock. Like Private Frazer in Dad’s Army, our Secretary of State for Health has a lip-smacking relish for doom. As children settle back in the classroom after almost six months without friends or lessons and young people prepare for university, Matt had a few uplifting words to give them the confidence they so desperately need: “Don’t kill your gran!”
I can’t believe he actually said that. Either Hancock doesn’t understand the science or he is wilfully misinterpreting the data to keep the population as terrified as possible.
Yes, there were almost 3,000 new “cases” on two successive days this week. But PCR tests, like all medical tests, are not perfect and can be unreliable. Covid “cases” sound alarming, but a case can be anyone with a few remnants of virus on a swab test who presents zero risk. ICUs are still, in the main, eerie ghost towns. Corona deaths are down to a handful a day out of a population of 66 million. Basically, I have more chance of marrying Brad Pitt than you have of dying from Covid19.
As Dr Carl Heneghan, the director of the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University, protests, “The norms of clinical reasoning are going out of the window. A PCR test does not equal Covid19, but in some definitions it does.” The Office for National Statistics has resorted to paying people a staggering £450 to have a series of nasal swabs. Those volunteers were never ill. They are among the silent millions who probably had corona without noticing and have boosted community immunity, making us all safer.
This news should be a cause for cautious celebration. Just a small glass of Harvey’s Bristol, Marjorie. Yet the remorseless campaign of fear to which the British people have been subjected since March refuses to let up. However infectious Covid19 may be, it is a mere amateur compared to the contagion of dread which has insinuated its way into our lives like a noxious gas. According to a recent poll, the British public believes the death toll from the virus is 100 times higher than it actually is. Forget Keep Calm and Carry On. That defiantly bloody-minded, worse-things-happen-at-sea, cheer-up-love-it-may-never-happen nation we all felt glad to belong to is now an unrecognisable land of paranoia and paralysis.
I asked my followers on Twitter a question: “How many people do you know who have been so scared by government behavioural psychologists that they are unlikely to resume a normal life even as Covid recedes?” The replies came thick and furious:
Sebastian: “My mother-in-law – 70, ex mayor of her town, strong woman, will hardly leave the house now. Her friends are the same and all their social groups have disbanded.”
Lisa: "My sister still requires her husband to strip off at the door after work and get straight in the shower"
Sara: “I know someone whose mother even sleeps with her mask and gloves on. Her blood pressure went to 240. She’s killing herself!”
Valerie: “Friends don’t read the Sunday papers until Wednesday. And all post and parcels are left for 3 days before opening.”
Elsa: “My neighbour goes to her own shed in her own garden with mask and gloves on. I wish I were joking.”
Danny: “My mother is panic-stricken. So much so my father has bought a treadmill for the house so she can have some kind of walk.”
Hannah: “I’ve not seen my mum in over six months. She only leaves the house at night.”
Jason: “My in-laws won’t come out of their house. My boys have all but given up on ever seeing them again. They sit and await a vaccine that is never coming.” Barrie: “I know people in their twenties who haven’t left their house since March.”
Alex: “My mum is still washing everything, not hugged my daughter since the end of February until Thursday when I made her. She may have held her breath for the entire 5 seconds non-face-to-face hug.”
What the hell have Hancock and the shroud-wavers on SAGE done to us? I really identified with Josiah who joked, “I spent the first month of lockdown persuading my parents to take Covid seriously. And the last 3 months trying to persuade them not to take it seriously!”
That’s it, exactly. Fear, like a coffee stain on a cream sofa, is a bugger to get out. Those of us who try to do what Matt Hancock should be doing - offering encouraging facts, persuading needlessly timid people it’s OK to venture out, are often met with incomprehension, even hostility. So successful is the psychological warfare that victims don’t even realise they’ve been brainwashed. Yet was this horrifying obsessive behaviour planned deliberately?
On the 22nd of March, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) produced a paper for the Government which must rank as one of the most successful and most damaging documents in our history. Options for Increasing Adherence to Social Distancing Measures laid out ways of bringing about behavioural change in the public to get us to comply with Covid19 restrictions.
The Number 1 recommendation was “Provide clear, precise, credible guidance about specific behaviours’’. You can’t argue with that. It was at Number 2 that things began to take a darker turn. “Use media to increase sense of personal threat,” it said. When I first read that sentence I reeled back. It felt entirely un-English, more akin to Stalinism.
But that’s exactly what those behavioural experts did. Instead of relying on people’s good sense and altruism (which proved to be remarkably strong) SAGE said: “The perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent, using hard-hitting emotional messaging.”
Scaremongering headlines of a notably apocalyptic nature duly began to appear. “Coronavirus: I’m digging graves for people who are still living,” ran the ghoulish caption under a photograph of parallel muddy trenches in a field in east London. On TV, Government adverts thundered “everyone is equally at risk”. (Yet, we already knew that the average age of the fatalities in Italy was 82.5).
Tactics that a nation would use against its enemies were turned against our own families and friends. In a hard-hitting interview for this week’s Planet Normal podcast, the former Supreme Court justice Lord Sumption told me that some members of SAGE have since admitted “this was perhaps overdone” but the use of fear was deliberate policy.
“What you have to remember is that when societies lose their liberty it is not because liberty has been crushed under the boot of some tyrant, it’s usually because they’ve been frightened into giving it up voluntarily. And that is what happened. Fear is the number one instrument of every despot. I dare say the intentions of this Government are benign. But their methods have not been.”
Who can doubt the good lord’s judgment in this case? Or the malign effect of Matt “We’re doomed!” Hancock, our very own tinpot dictator who accentuates the negative to keep people in mortal fear and achieve what exactly? What’s the strategy, Matt? The destruction of our economy is pretty much guaranteed if you continue to lock down entire regions at the first Atchoo! Other countries are not in the grip of this existential madness. They view the hysterical spasms of our previously phlegmatic nation with amused disbelief.
Once upon a time we were Blighty not Frighty. We have to get a grip and summon that spirit again or there will be damage without end. If you know someone who is still really scared please let me know. People are going to need help to be unafraid. A lot of help. The Government’s behavioural scientists must put into reverse the disproportionate campaign with which they stole the people’s reason. Here’s one idea: “Use the media to increase the sense of personal safety.”
I’ll go first. The contagion of fear now poses a far bigger threat to our national health than Covid-19. You probably won’t kill your gran if you see her, but not seeing her might just kill her. In my view, you are safe to resume your life. While it is reasonable to be scared of the dark; it’s a tragedy to be afraid of the light."
It reads like satire. Good, though, that a major rag is going against the grain...