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Clark – This information is rapidly evolving and not showing this Tory Government in a positive light despite Boris Johnson’s desperate efforts to distract talk of our imminent release from lockdown restrictions on July 4th and expansive pledges to, “build, build, build!” He came under serious fire again at Prime Ministers Questions on Wednesday which I will report on in a later post. The Skwawkbox Article entitled, “Video: UK government failing to disclose 90% of local positive tests” exposes the shocking fact that, “‘Pillar 2’ data being withheld for local areas, missing 90% of cases in Leicester area.” Another Skwawkbox Article is equally damning regarding the link between schools and the spread of infection in Leicester. They report that, “Howard Beckett is right – the link is obvious, with school transmission studies in France and Germany showing clearly how fast the virus can spread within and from schools – and Hancock was warned, as was his boss. Now he is exposed – yet again – as arrogant, useless and lethal.”
In a recent Byline Times Article entitled, “Johnson’s ‘Science Super Power’ Ignores the Basic Principles of Science,” a writer animalised as the “Secret Scientist” elaborates on “the paradoxical scientific ambition of the Prime Minister and his complete disregard for science itself.” They point out how, “In his ‘bounce-back’ speech yesterday, the Prime Minister spoke avidly of his ambition to make the UK a ‘Science Superpower’ – ironic given that, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government has demonstrated a blatant disregard for some of the most basic principles of science: transparency, quality assurance and collaboration.”
Byline Times describes the dedication and frenetically demanding pace of research and analysis focused on Coronavirus since its emergence with multi-disciplinary projects demonstrating an exceptional level of collaboration between those in diverse areas of the scientific community. They say that, “Their efforts to curate open data sets and promote situational awareness stand in stark contrast to those of the Government, for which obfuscation appears to be the modus operandi of choice. Independent scientists and statisticians have continuously called for transparency around both decision-making and data-sharing.” Relaying how the UK Statistics Authority chair, Sir David Norgrove had written to the Government twice highlighting data shortfalls, they say despite warnings from Scientists that, “the lack of transparency is ‘impeding’ their efforts to understand the epidemiology” and that, “the Government appears to continue to distort data to show itself in the best possible light.”
Alternative news sites flagged up how the number of people tested disappeared from daily reports over a month ago when the Government had felt under pressure to meet a pledged goal; this data never returned with the lame excuse of possible double-counting offered as a reason. According to the writer, a retrospective revamp of the prior daily figures saw, “thousands of tests removed from the cumulative total.” There has been no commitment to sorting this out and displaying correct data at future briefings which are now becoming less frequent. While the Tory Government revelled in the self-importance of these excellent daily PR stunts in the early stages, they have become a lot less manageable of late with tougher scrutiny from the press with a multitude of serious flaws and failures exposed.
Byline Times reports that, “In direct contradiction to Scientists warning that the proportion of positive tests remains a key metric in understanding the trajectory of the virus, the Health and Social Care Secretary has claimed that the key denominator “does not add anything” and ‘is not meaningful’. In reality, in conflating completed tests with unprocessed tests, duplicate tests on the same person, and tests that may never have been done, it is the obscure ‘number of tests’ figure that it is meaningless.” The most recent furore to erupt is over the number of people testing positive in the community with lack of access to the ‘pillar 2 data’ which is the component the Government decided to outsource to private companies reporting to the commercially run Test and Trace system.
Panorama just aired a documentary on featuring the commercially run test sites and it was a real eye-opener. There were people administering the test who admitted having had the most minimal of training and not feeling in the least bit supported by anyone on site with clinical expertise. There PPE was limited to a ‘dinner lady’ style apron, gloves and a very basic face mask with the same kit used for an extended period administering tests to multiple people. Every time you turn on the TV this cursory level of kit is on display while in comparison filming overseas shows testers in white full cover jumpsuits, but then supposedly our science is so much better than their science. There have been numerous reports from the people tasked with the track and trace role who have complained about the pitifully low number of cases they have been asked to contact; they feel frustrated that their services are not being utilized, but the Government tries to spin this as indicative of the success of the program.
Despite the lucrative contracts handed out to consistently unreliable private companies, in many ways it seems that our NHS and local authorities are left to do all the heavy lifting in terms of keeping on top of the data and dealing with Covid in general. The article states that, “Public Health England and NHS hospital labs for staff and patients – are now publicly available on a local level, the overwhelming majority of tests are conducted under ‘pillar 2’. In some areas, ‘pillar 1’ data appears to account for as little as 10% of new cases, meaning that local figures may underestimate the true burden by 90%, with no obvious flags accompanying their publication.” They refer to reporting from the Financial Times, “full ‘pillars 1 and 2’ data are being shared with local public health bodies – but not with local councils or local primary healthcare teams. Following the recent spike that lead to the local lockdown in Leicester, its Mayor Peter Soulsby said he had to wait weeks to receive full local data.”
Byline Times say, “If outbreaks are to be pre-empted, the data from commercial laboratories need to be fed into local authorities and primary healthcare teams in real time. Ideally, complete real time local figures would also be made publicly available via the Government’s new Coronavirus data dashboard. As it moves towards a greater reliance on individual judgement, real time population-adjusted hotspot maps would allow individuals to make informed decisions about the risk in their local areas, enabling them to adjust their behaviours accordingly. In the absence of such data, trust and compliance is likely to continue to plummet.” They elaborate on the other type of testing being done to test past exposure to the virus, but warn that “blood tests for antibodies (‘pillars 3 and 4’) have been conflated with nose-and-throat swab tests for active infection (‘pillars 1 and 2’). The distinction is important given that the antibody tests aren’t as informative for monitoring and modelling outbreaks in real time.”
Byline Times stress shortcomings including significant delays in reporting and, “Under ‘pillar 1’, for example, the extent to which positive active cases are primarily patients or staff is unclear, as is the date on which they were swabbed. Under ‘pillar 2’, the proportion of unreturned postal home test kits remains elusive. Under all pillars, the number of void and inconclusive tests is anyone’s guess. Whilst the new dashboard also includes key metrics on healthcare use by COVID-19 patients (hospitalisations and ventilator beds), it does not provide local-level metrics or offer numbers on availability.” Whenever a particular piece of data appears likely to cause embarrassment to the Government or might challenge the speed of their rush to unlock the slide containing that data is omitted from briefings, for example, “Figures for the number of hospitalisations nationally” have gone AWOL.
Byline Times assert that, “Against core principles of scientific integrity, for this Government, data appear to serve a public relations purpose rather than a public information purpose. The aim appears to be to show the largest possible number of tests conducted and contacts traced and, at the local authority level, the smallest possible number of Coronavirus cases.” Examples of this deceptive strategy are obvious, “The Health Secretary’s end-of April target of 100,000 tests was only met by the conflation of tests that had been carried out with tests posted out. His early June statement that 85% of contacts had been traced in the first week of the Test and Trace system ignored up to 75% of new cases that were simply not fed into the system. A more accurate estimate of the figure, based on data from the Office for National Statistics, is 25%.”
When Boris Johnson is challenged at Prime Ministers Questions over the abysmal failure of his Tory Government to get the Covid 19 crisis under control, he just lies and bluffs his way past the established facts. This latest fiasco is emblematic of the deceptive nature of this Tory Government who simply cannot be trusted to put the most urgent priorities of public safety above allocating lucrative contracts to elitist cronies and revelling in their own self-aggrandizement. Johnson has not created a “world beating” track and trace system as it remains a failing enterprise; rather than establishing a “science Superpower” he’s creating a “Disinformation Super Highway!” The more that is exposed about the way this Tory Government is chaotically running this country into the ground while conducting a “Slaughter of the Sheeple” the more urgent their removal becomes. It is not too late to Demand an Investigation into how they stole the Covert 2019 Rigged Election; we must not gig up trying to seek justice as the stakes are now dar too high. DO NOT MOVE ON!