Britain ‘Frightened’ into Accepting Lockdown Because of ‘Incorrect’ Scientific Forecasts, Says IDS

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 12: MP Iain Duncan Smith speaks at a rally for Hong Kong democracy at the Marble Arch on June 12, 2021 in London, England. The rally marked two years since a confrontation between Hong Kong police and protesters opposed to the Fugitive Offenders amendment bill, which …
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Former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith claimed that Britons have been “worried and frightened” into accepting lockdown because of “incorrect” scientific forecasts, which did not take into account the impact vaccination would have on the transmission of the Chinese coronavirus.

The Brexiteer and lockdown sceptic quoted recent government figures that claimed current vaccines are “highly effective against hospitalisation” from the Indian strain of coronavirus, also referred to as the Delta variant. Public Health England (PHE) found vaccines were up to 96 per cent effective after two doses and between 71 and 94 per cent effective after one dose, depending on the vaccine brand.

PHE’s paper published on Monday revealed that vaccines had a similar level of protection from hospitalisation for the Delta variant to the Alpha, previously known as the Kent, strain. For some brands and dose levels, the vaccines actually provided better protection against hospitalisation due to the Indian variant than they had against the Kent strain, according to the body’s study.

Speaking of the findings to GB News on Tuesday, Sir Iain suggested that forecasts from the government’s Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) predicting a third wave and mass hospitalisations due to the Indian variant were wrong, saying: “What we’ve got here is a set of forecasts and almost every forecast that’s been produced by some of these who work for SAGE have been completely incorrect on inspection.

“I think we are in that same game now where what’s happening is, we’re getting worried, frightened, by forecasts. But forecasts that don’t seem to have taken into consideration the fact that the vaccines are the big change.”

Duncan Smith added: “The reality is, vaccines are having a dramatic effect on hospitalisation and having a dramatic effect on death. That is the key, the two key figures that are important in this, and somehow they seemed to have disappeared into ‘maybes’ rather than reality, which is where I think we are.”

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson delayed the lifting of all coronavirus restrictions for four weeks until July 19th. Fellow Tory MP Sir Charles Walker suggested that pro-lockdown member of SAGE would be unlikely to back the end of restrictions next month, predicting that the longer it is left, the more likely a return will normal life will be delayed with even harsher lockdown restrictions coming into force in the Autumn and Winter.

Mr Duncan Smith continued: “We get forecasts that seem to frighten everybody rather than reality. And the reality so far that I have seen — and the figures show this, Public Health England’s latest figures show that there is no evidence to date that the vaccines do not work on stopping hospitalisation.”

Despite the UK being under some form of restriction since March 2020, a poll by YouGov released after the prime minister’s statement found that a combined 72 per cent of Britons supported the delay. The findings were largely in line with several surveys over the past year showing strong public support for some form of restrictions and other tightening of measures, a zeal for throwing away freedoms that Conservative MP Sir Desmond Swayne described as “unnerving”.

Britons were not always so embraced by the fear of the Chinese virus, however, as observed by the authors of a paper prepared for SAGE on March 22nd, 2020, on the subject of methods to increase public adherence to social distancing, which suggested that fear, guided through emotional manipulation, could be used to encourage Britons to accept recommended or government-imposed restrictions.

Under a section on options entitled “persuasion”, the authors noted that “a substantial number of people still do not feel sufficiently personally threatened” by the Chinese virus.

“The perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent, using hard-hitting emotional messaging. To be effective this must also empower people by making clear the actions they can take to reduce the threat,” the report said.

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