Friday, 3 December 2021

Last Orders with Simon Evans

It's always a pleasure to talk to TV funnyman Simon Evans. He's our guest in the new episode of Last Orders in which we discuss the new Covid variant, the decline of the USA and whether left-wing journalists have a sense of humour. By the end, the conversation had deteriorated into a moan about the state of modern music and why they don't make 'em like they used to. That was mainly my fault, tbh.

Listen here.



Thursday, 2 December 2021

Vaping works in New Zealand

New Zealand legalised the sale of e-cigarettes in 2018 as part of its attempts to be 'tobacco-free' by 2025. The government now actively encourages smokers to switch with messages like this.


If you believe the claims of anti-smoking, anti-vaping, anti-nicotine fanatics, this should have led to a surge in smoking - because of the supposed 'gateway effect' and the supposed 'renormalisation' of smoking.

Instead, figures released yesterday show that it led to a sharp decline in the smoking rate which perfectly mirrors the sharp rise in the vaping rate. 


This is no great surprise to anyone who paid attention to what happened in Britain after 2012 and the USA at around the same time



Unusually large declines in smoking are exactly what happens when vaping is allowed to go mainstream as this recent report explains.

It was only a few ago that Australia had a significantly lower smoking rate than New Zealand. Now New Zealand has the lower rate. Both countries have exorbitant tobacco taxes, plain packaging and draconian smoking bans, but Australia banned the sale of e-cigarettes. You don't need to be Hercule Poirot to work out what's going on here, but the tobacco control cult - including the WHO - will continue to bury their heads in the sand.



Thursday, 25 November 2021

It's a sin

In my column for City AM, I wrote about a shocking statistic about sin taxes...

According to an economic study published last month, 90 per cent of all “sin taxes” on tobacco, alcohol and soft drinks in the US are paid by just 20 per cent of households. Eighty per cent of the taxes are paid by just ten per cent of households. This tax burden tends to fall disproportionately on low income households.




Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Boris Johnson's corona victory?

Another article from me for the Telegraph about the Covid situation which is worsening at a bad time in Europe. France and Germany (to name but two) are making a mockery of the idea that face masks and vaccine passports can keep the virus under control and Boris Johnson's decision to 'let it rip' in summer is looking increasingly sound.

We shouldn’t count our chickens yet, but as restrictions come back into force across Europe, it is becoming increasingly obvious that delaying “freedom day” would have made a winter lockdown more likely, not less. While many countries are facing their first major wave of the delta variant against a backdrop of waning immunity and cold weather, England built up a wall of resistance to Covid in the mild summer and autumn months, which has now been fortified by twelve million booster shots.

This was always the plan, a fact some Government critics conveniently seem to have forgotten. Back in July, the Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, said: "There is quite a strong view by many people, including myself actually, that going in the summer has some advantages, all other things being equal, to opening up into the autumn when schools are going back and when we’re heading into the winter period when the NHS tends to be under greatest pressure."

In the first year of the pandemic, those who favoured more restrictions could usually rely on Whitty and most epidemiologists to support them. But not any more. “We are not behind Europe in this wave, they are behind us,” Professor Paul Hunter told the Guardian earlier this month. “We are not currently seeing a surge of the same magnitude as Europe at present largely because of the high case numbers over recent months, which most of Europe missed out on.”

The “slight gamble” of opening up in July – as Professor Neil Ferguson put it – seems to be paying off. Although the number of Covid cases has been rising for the last two weeks, rates have continued to fall among the over-60s, and the number of people in hospital with Covid has dropped by a fifth since the start of November. In France and Germany, the number of cases reported each day has doubled in a fortnight. In England, cases have fluctuated at a relatively high level but have not doubled since early July, and there have been periods of sustained decline.

In short, the virus is finding it harder and harder to find susceptible individuals to infect. Those who have had their booster shot have strong immunity against symptomatic infection, while those who are unvaccinated have mostly been infected by now and have a similar level of protection.

What’s more, anyone who wants to enjoy a normal life has been able to do so for the last four months. This was a major benefit of “freedom day” that is rarely acknowledged by critics of the Government.


Paywalled but do read it if you can.


Thursday, 18 November 2021

A swift half with Henry Dimbleby

A new episode of The Swift Half has dropped. This week's guest is Henry Dimbleby, founder of the Leon restaurant chain and author of the National Food Strategy. Regular readers will know that we don't agree on everything.






Friday, 12 November 2021

Corona-centrism is the only game in town

AstraZeneca has said it will start making a profit on its Covid vaccine. The company said that they would sell it as cost during the pandemic but that the pandemic is now over. I quite agree, as I say in Spiked today...
 

In the six months between October 2020 and March 2021, there were 3.8million recorded cases of Covid in the UK and 85,000 deaths. In the following six months, during which restrictions were reduced to nothing, there were 4.8million recorded cases and 14,000 deaths. Based on these figures, the case fatality rate fell from 2.2 per cent to 0.3 per cent. Since around half of all infections are not recorded, the infection fatality rate is now around 0.15 per cent, not much different to seasonal influenza. And remember that these statistics include a large number of deaths among the unvaccinated. For fully vaccinated people, the risk of dying if you catch Covid is lower still.

A glance at the Covid mortality figures shows us that we are more or less where we expected to be. After two surges of the epidemic – in spring 2020 and winter 2020-21 – we have reached endemicity. A graph of hospital occupancy looks very similar. The numbers go up a little, they go down a little, but it is nothing a half-decent healthcare system couldn’t handle. Covid will remain a health issue for many years – possibly forever – but it is no longer a civil-liberties issue. Arguably, it should only be a minor news story from now on.

 


Wednesday, 10 November 2021

NHS England's ignoble lie

The head of the NHS claimed that there are 14 times as many people in hospital with Covid than there were this time last year. Many people on social media knew immediately that this was not true but several news outlets apparently did not realise.

The health lobby is not averse to the 'noble lie', as regular readers know, but this was in a different league. I wrote about it for Cap-X and spoke to Tom Harwood about it yesterday.