European countries have been shutting down their borders with the United Kingdom following advice that it harbours a 70% more contagious version of the Covid virus, which has already led to the new Tier 4 lockdown arrangements in Southern England and the effective cancellation of Christmas. Whether the mutation is actually more contagious is a matter for dispute between two Oxford professors. The case that the “strain” is more contagious has been hypothesised by the Nervtag advisory committee led by Prof Peter Horby. According to the Daily Mail Prof Horby, who is Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health, said the figure of 70 per cent was based on 'converging data'.
“He said: 'This is including, but not limited to, the rate of change in the frequency of detection of the variant (the growth rate) and the correlation between R values and the frequency of detection of the new variant.'”
This, however, is disputed by Prof Carl Heneghan of the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine. He told the Mail:
'I've been doing this job for 25 years and I can tell you can't establish a quantifiable number in such a short time frame.'
He added 'every expert is saying it's too early to draw such an inference'.
Professor Heneghan said there was no doubt this time of the year, the 'height of the viral season', was a difficult time for the NHS. But he said failure to put out the basis of the figures was undermining public trust.
But while the mutation is already circulating in other European countries it has led to them shutting down food supplies to the UK coincidentally or not on the very verge of Brexit. Prof Horby had previously been embroiled in controversy earlier this year over the Hydroxychloroquine trial in which inappropriately high quantities of HCQ were given to Covid patients already in a serious condition (the trial was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation). Also on the Nervtag Committee is Prof Ferguson of Imperial College whose controversial modelling led to the UK’s first lockdown in the spring. Ferguson was forced to resign from the more prominent SAGE committee after breaking lockdown rules pursuing a romantic liaison, but not apparently from Nervtag. Ferguson’s Vaccine Impact Modelling Consortium at Imperial College is also funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as the global vaccine alliance, GAVI. Ferguson's group was said to have received $185 million from the Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation between 2006 and 2018.
Converging data or converging interest?