Sunday, 16 August 2020

Political pygmies

The Scottish government is banning music in pubs on the flimsy grounds that people might raise their voice and spread the coronavirus. It is the latest in a series of petty measures from pygmy politicians. I discuss some other articles in this article for the Telegraph


None of these policies, not the ban on smoking outdoors, nor the ban on the sale of e-cigarettes, nor the restrictions on food sales, will have the slightest impact on Covid-19 (except, perhaps, negatively). The only thing they have in common is that political pygmies have always quite liked the sound of them.

Faced with a serious public health problem, unserious people have retreated to their comfort zone of trivial lifestyle regulation. They cannot change the record. They were not made for these times.


I also discuss a recent study that claimed vaping greatly increases the risk of contracting the virus.


Written by three Californian academics, one of whom is the founder and director of an anti-vaping organisation, the study produced the unlikely finding that e-cigarette users are five times more likely to test positive for Covid-19. There is, to put it mildly, no obvious biological mechanism for this and the explanations offered by the researchers were risible.

They suggested that vapers were at greater risk of contracting Covid-19 because they touch their mouth and face more (they don’t), or because vaping causes the same damage to lungs as smoking (it doesn’t), or because vapers share devices with one another (even the authors admit that this was unlikely to happen much under lockdown).

The study’s methodology left a lot to be desired. It was based entirely on an anonymous online survey of 13 to 24 year olds. None of the information could be verified and we do not know how the respondents were recruited. The number of self-reported vapers who self-reported a positive Covid-19 test was so small (50) that it would have been easy for anti-vaping activists to game the system with fake responses.

Moreover, the association between vaping and Covid-19 only existed for people who had used an e-cigarette in the past. Inexplicably, there was no such association for people who had used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days (nor, indeed, for people who smoked).

Do read it all.

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