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Victory for Freedom Alliance

12 September 2021 freedom Comments Off

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) has upheld a complaint against the Liverpool Echo newspaper brought by Joanne Allman, who stood as Freedom Alliance candidate in the borough of Sefton in the local council elections in May. The Liverpool Echo is part of Reach plc, one of the UK’s biggest newspaper groups. This ruling is […]

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) has upheld a complaint against the Liverpool Echo newspaper brought by Joanne Allman, who stood as Freedom Alliance candidate in the borough of Sefton in the local council elections in May. The Liverpool Echo is part of Reach plc, one of the UK’s biggest newspaper groups.

This ruling is significant because it undermines one of the major arguments put forward in support of lockdowns, that is, that they allegedly reduce the number of deaths from covid. Research does not support this standpoint. There is considerable scientific evidence that lockdowns are not effective even on their own terms, quite apart from the societal and economic harms they cause.

In April, the Liverpool Echo published an article setting out statements from every political party participating in the Sefton council elections. The statement submitted by Joanne on behalf of Freedom Alliance was prefaced by an introductory paragraph indicating that it contained “incorrect claims”. None of the other parties’ statements was accompanied by an editorial comment.

The introductory paragraph read as follows:

“Joanne Allman’s statement contains incorrect claims about Covid-19, specifically that lockdowns do little to reduce virus-related mortality. The overwhelming scientific consensus, based on evidence from both the UK and other countries, is that lockdowns are the most effective way of cutting transmission of the virus and thus reducing the number of deaths from Covid-19. All three UK lockdowns have significantly reduced the number of Covid cases”.

Joanne lodged a complaint with IPSO against the Liverpool Echo, and was recently notified that her complaint had been upheld. The Liverpool Echo was instructed to remove the editorial comment, and print a correction.

The studies produced by the Liverpool Echo as evidence either relied on computer modelling (as opposed to empirical data), or focused on transmission rather than mortality. By contrast, the 13 studies submitted in support of lockdowns having little effect on virus-related mortality were all based on real-world data.

As well as negating the widely-held assumption that lockdowns reduce covid death rates, IPSO’s decision highlights the dangers of the ‘fact-checking’ culture, which has become so pervasive in the mainstream media, and which is deeply damaging to society and all our institutions, including our democratic processes.

Final take-home message: Don’t be intimidated by bossy authoritarians in the media and other areas of public life. Challenge arbitrary and autocratic decisions using whatever means available. And, in the words of American anthropologist and writer Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

References

Link to IPSO’s ruling: https://www.ipso.co.uk/rulings-and-resolution-statements/ruling/?id=04355-21

Link to Liverpool Echo article and correction: https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/seftons-local-election-candidates-make-20451258

Links to studies submitted to IPSO in support of the argument that “research shows that lockdowns do little to reduce virus-related mortality”:

  1. The Lancet: A country level analysis measuring the impact of government actions, country preparedness and socioeconomic factors on COVID-19 mortality and related health outcomes  
    https://www.thelancet.com/journals/eclinm/article/PIIS2589-5370(20)30208-X/fulltext
    “Rapid border closures, full lockdowns, and wide-spread testing were not associated with COVID-19 mortality per million people.”
  • Oxford Academic Journal: Did Lockdown Work? An Economist’s Cross-Country Comparison
    https://academic.oup.com/cesifo/advance-article/doi/10.1093/cesifo/ifab003/6199605
    “…I find no clear association between lockdown policies and mortality development.”
    “Comparing weekly mortality in 24 European countries, the findings in this paper suggest that more severe lockdown policies have not been associated with lower mortality. In other words, the lockdowns have not worked as intended.”
  • Frontiers in Public Health: Covid-19 Mortality: A Matter of Vulnerability Among Nations Facing Limited Margins of Adaptation
    https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpubh.2020.604339/full
    “Stringency of the measures settled to fight pandemia, including lockdown, did not appear to be linked with death rate.”
  • Taylor & Francis Online:  Government mandated lockdowns do not reduce Covid-19 deaths: implications for evaluating the stringent New Zealand response
    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00779954.2020.1844786?journalCode=rnzp20
    “Whether a county had a lockdown has no effect on Covid-19 deaths; a non-effect that persists over time. Cross-country studies also find lockdowns are superfluous and ineffective” (Homberg 2020).
  • Paper written by the Executive Director for India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Bhutan, International Monetary Fund:  Lockdowns and Closures vs COVID – 19: COVID Wins
    http://ssbhalla.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Lockdowns-Closures-vs.-COVID19-Covid-Wins-Nov-4.pdf
    “No matter what the test, the dominant result is that not only lockdowns were not effective, but that, in a large majority of cases, lockdowns were counter-productive i.e. led to more infections, and deaths than would have been the case with no lockdowns.”
  • Nature journal:  Stay-at-home policy is a case of exception fallacy: an internet-based ecological study
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-84092-1
    “Our objective was to assess the association between staying at home (%) and the reduction/increase in the number of deaths due to COVID-19 in several regions in the world… With our results, we were not able to explain if COVID-19 mortality is reduced by staying at home in ~ 98% of the comparisons after epidemiological weeks 9 to 34.”
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA: Evaluating the effects of shelter-in-place policies during the COVID-19 pandemic
    https://www.pnas.org/content/118/15/e2019706118
    “We estimate the effects of shelter-in-place (SIP) orders during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. We do not find detectable effects of these policies on disease spread or deaths.”
     
  • Social Science Research Network: COVID-19 Lockdown Policies: An Interdisciplinary Review
    https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3782395
    “Lockdowns are associated with reduced mortality in epidemiological modelling studies but not in studies based on empirical data from the Covid-19 pandemic.”
  • Simon Fraser University: Covid Lockdown Cost/Benefits: A Critical Assessment of the Literature
    http://www.sfu.ca/~allen/LockdownReport.pdf
    “Research done over the past six months has shown that lockdowns have had, at best, a marginal effect on the number of Covid-19 deaths.”
  • Frontiers in Public Health: Covid-19 Mortality: A Matter of Vulnerability Among Nations Facing Limited Margins of Adaptation
    https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpubh.2020.604339/full
    “Stringency of the measures settled to fight pandemia, including lockdown, did not appear to be linked with death rate.”
  • Social Science Research Network: Does Social Isolation Really Curb COVID-19 Deaths? Direct Evidence from Brazil that it Might do the Exact Opposite
    https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3706464
    “There appears to be strong empirical evidence that, in Brazil, the adoption of restrictive measures increasing social isolation have worsened the pandemic in that country instead of mitigating it.”
  • Social Science Research Network: A Cross-Country Analysis of the Determinants of COVID-19 Fatalities
    https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3832483
    “…we find little evidence that lockdowns reduced fatalities”.
  • PANDA (Pandemics Data & Analytics): Exploring inter-country coronavirus mortality
    https://www.pandata.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Exploring-inter-country-variation.pdf
    “Lockdowns do not appear to reduce deaths or flatten epidemic curves in any way.”