United Kingdom

PETER HITCHENS: So is this really an epidemic of despair? 

What if this is in fact an epidemic of despair? I wrestle daily with the maze of figures advanced by all sides in the Covid-19 debate. They are hard to fathom.

How many actually die on any given day, as opposed to how many are recorded or announced? How many Covid patients in hospital have other major diseases but tested positive for Covid after arriving there? 

How many caught Covid in hospital? How reliable are Covid tests anyway? I know personally of several people who have tested positive only to get a negative result when they were retested. 

I wrestle daily with the maze of figures advanced by all sides in the Covid-19 debate. They are hard to fathom. Police are seen patrolling Trafalgar Square in London

Other potentially fatal diseases are just not being tested for in the same way. And there are serious questions to be asked about the registration of cause of death, going back many months.

There is also a strange drop in influenza this year. Amazingly, lockdown enthusiasts are crediting this to the closure of our society. But if strangling almost all normal life is so effective against flu, why is it not working against Covid?

Or is it perhaps that flu is still in our midst, but under a different name? I believe figures are also showing a reduction in excess deaths from Alzheimer’s and dementia. Why is that?

At the beginning of this, on March 18, the distinguished professor of medical microbiology, Sucharit Bhakdi, issued a warning.

His credentials are impressive. An infectious medicine specialist, he is one of the most highly cited medical research scientists in Germany. He is a former head of the Institute for Medical Microbiology at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, one of Germany’s most distinguished seats of learning. He is also a prophet.

He said that older people had the right to make efforts to stay fit, active, busy and healthy. But he warned that the shutdown of society would condemn them to early death by preventing this. 

He is a former head of the Institute for Medical Microbiology at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, one of Germany’s most distinguished seats of learning. He is also a prophet. He said that older people had the right to make efforts to stay fit, active, busy and healthy. A warning sign is seen in Wakefield, Yokrshire

‘Social contacts and social events, theatre and music, travel and holiday recreation, sports and hobbies, all help to prolong their stay on earth. The life expectancy of millions is being shortened.’

In a prediction that has turned out to be terribly accurate, he added: ‘The horrifying impact on the world economy threatens the existence of countless people. The consequences for medical care are profound.

‘Already services to patients who are in need are reduced, operations cancelled, practices empty, hospital personnel dwindling. All this will impact profoundly on our whole society.’

Who can doubt it? How many have seen parents and grandparents, deprived of the social contacts and interests that until March kept them busy and well, fade into shadows of themselves? What effect do you think this change has had on their resistance to disease?

Great escape from our dark world

In an attempt to escape from the darkening misery of now, I am plunging into the recent past by rewatching the marvellous French spy TV series The Bureau. Yet the escape only partly works.

I am reminded by the programmes themselves of the extraordinary freedom to travel the world we have now lost (East German pensioners had more freedom to travel than I now have). And I am reminded, by recalling my life as it was when I first watched the series in 2019, how the dark cloud of unfreedom and intolerance has climbed high into what was once a clear sky, in the past ten months.

The riddle I’m at a loss to explain

Others may not know what this means, so I will explain. You sign up with a few simple clicks. Then you see tweets in which I frequently comment on current events, defend my ideas and draw attention to what I think are interesting articles, books, programmes etc. If you don’t like it, you can then ‘unfollow’ me – though few do, or rather did. A good number of followers gives my words a bit of extra weight.

Over many years I’ve built up a reasonable number of such followers. But in recent weeks a very strange thing has begun to happen. People who follow me report that they have ‘unfollowed’ me mysteriously in the night. Or rather, they didn’t. Someone else took me off their list. I have no idea who is doing this, or why. I do know that several others who dissent from the majority view on Covid are having the same experience. It gives me the creeps, on quite a large scale.

Halt this ‘green’ peril 

Many foolish things are slipping through during our general madness and the death of Parliament. One is the legalising of electric bikes and scooters, which I predict will injure many and kill quite a few once they become as common as their (brilliant) lobbyists want them to be.

An idiot, Kyah Jordan, was last week convicted of drink-driving one such vehicle on the Isle of Wight, where they can be hired in an ‘experiment’. But once they become general, there will be thousands of such idiots. Many will be drivers who have already been banned but need no licences to ride vehicles which can be engineered to travel at dangerous speeds.

Their PR men say they are ‘green’ but their batteries need metals dug from slave-mines in Africa and they are charged using electricity generated by gas and diesel. So this is baloney.

I think it rather pathetic that the Blairs have ended up fabulously rich. My suspicion is that life after the Iraq War has been horribly empty for the Blair creature himself, giving lifeless speeches to lifeless audiences and accepting colossal fees for worthless ‘consultancy’ from dubious plutocrats. There he is, all the money in the world, and he cannot buy back his self-respect. 

I note that the BBC has got its reward for pretty much suppressing any indication that there is any opposition to the Government’s virus policy. The Government has abandoned plans to decriminalise non-payment of the TV licence fee. If the subservience continues, I wonder what other help the State Broadcaster will get.   

This is deadly serious

Imagine, if you will, a person arriving in a town on an empty train, at the empty station, for the meagre, distanced and strictly limited funeral of an old friend.

He asks his way to the crematorium. The only available stranger replies: ‘Take the right fork at the dead cafe. Go past ten dead restaurants, three dead pubs, a dead shopping mall, a dead bookshop, two dead cinemas and a dead theatre. 

Turn right at the dead museum, and right again at the dead gym. Cross the road when you get to the dead swimming pool. Walk through the first dead university. At the dead covered market, turn right until you reach the dead library. 

Then take the empty bus up through the other dead university, through the dead suburb and past the dead school. Watch out for the dead surgery. At the roundabout, turn down the hill by the dead church and keep going for half a mile. 

You can’t miss the crematorium, as it is one of the few places where there are any signs of life.’

Football news:

Cavani has returned to training and is likely to play against Crystal Palace
Fabio Capello, Juventus played Rugby against the Port. Only Ronaldo and Chiesa can make a difference in this squad
Neymar: I posted how I was recovering from my injury, and I didn't get any messages saying, Wow, what a professional. No
Ole Gunnar Solscher: The work of the judges is very difficult and without additional pressure. We have to make their decisions
Joan Laporta: I'm sure Messi won't stay at Barca if I don't win the election. He gives the club 30% of revenue
Trent had idolized Gerrard since he was a kid, and he was in a fairy tale: he got Steven's care and the captain's armband. The story of a great relationship
Hazard's recovery from the injury is delayed. He probably won't play against Atletico on March 7