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A Monopoly On Misinformation: Government Officials now the Main Source of Covid Misinformation

Government Officials are now the main source of Covid Misinformation, and government is unwilling to do anything to stop them.


· Most Covid misinformation emanates from Governments. This is because official information is reported far more widely and trusted more than conventional ‘fake news’ such as Social media Posts.

· Governments have been spreading Covid Misinformation throughout the Pandemic. However, there has recently been an upsurge.

· Covid Misinformation is now emanating from the highest levels of government.

· The UK Government has cracked down hard on unofficial sources of Covid misinformation: (COVID-19 misinformation - POST (parliament.uk)), but refuses to apply the same tough sanctions to government sources (see Appendix).

· As we outline below, neither the Government nor the WHO has procedures for reporting, sanctioning or preventing official Covid misinformation. The UK Parliament has ruled out doing so in spite of being responsible for much of the recent fake news.

Just like Partygate, it appears there is one rule for top officials and another for everyone else.

· Fact Checking Services are not willing to scrutinise official sources: there are no examples of them doing so in spite of requests to do so. The majority of Fact-checkers rely on direct government donations and via their charitable status.

· A Danish newspaper has apologised for circulating official Covid misinformation without subjecting it to appropriate levels of scrutiny. Many other leading media sources - and particularly fact-checking services - may need to issue similar apologies and change their procedures. The fact that official Covid misinformation is being discovered routinely by the public or branches of government themselves, suggests the media are failing to fulfil their public purpose.


Selection of Recent Official Covid Misinformation:


These are examples. There are of course far more.

· Imperial College: 17th/18th December: ‘No Evidence Omicron Milder than Delta’

This was in spite of numerous studies and the testimonies of respected healthcare professionals across Southern Africa and Europe:

Subscribe to read | Financial Times (ft.com)

‘No evidence’ Omicron milder than Delta, British researchers say | Coronavirus pandemic News | Al Jazeera

· Sajid Javid and UKHSA claim 200,000 new Omicron infections a day.

This claim was out by a factor of 340%, leading to an extraordinary intervention by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) — the statistics watchdog. It transpired there was no hard evidence to support this alarming figure.

PROF BRENDAN WREN looks at the dodgy data and flawed forecasts from the doom-mongers | Daily Mail Online

· In order to oppose shortening the self-isolation period, the UKHSA claimed that 10-30 per cent of people may still be testing positive on Day 6. There was no evidence to support this assertion.


· Dr Jenny Harries, Sajid Javid & UKHSA falsely claimed there is typically a 17-day large between patients becoming infected with Omicron and requiring hospitalisation. ONS data pointed to a delay of 9-10 days.

‘Dodgy data’ used in push for tighter Covid restrictions (telegraph.co.uk)

· Dominic Raab exaggerates Omicron Hospital Admissions by a factor of 25.

COVID-19: Omicron hospital figures clarified by officials after Dominic Raab gets numbers wrong in two TV interviews | UK News | Sky News

· Repeated Dissemination of Flawed models from Sage, LSHTM and Professor Neil Ferguson. In spite of poor forecasting records (typically out by 200-1000%), flawed methodologies, opacity, lack of peer review or any quality controls, official pandemic forecasters have repeatedly disseminated inaccurate models; often applying the same outdated inputs behind previously flawed models. More rigorous modelling from unofficial sources has been routinely dismissed as misinformation, in spite of proving more accurate.


· Exaggerating the surge in Covid cases in breach of WHO guidance.

In December 2021, Government scientists and Ministers relied on alarmist figures showing growth in reported Covid cases. What they did not report was that the surge in Covid cases was accompanied by an unprecedented surge in Covid testing, as public panic ramped up. When more testing is done, there are inevitably more cases found. WHO guidance has been consistently clear that case counts should be presented and interpreted alongside the positivity rate (the percentage of tests taken that are positive). When actual cases really do surge, the positivity rate will surge too. However, it did not do so: rising from 9.7% at the beginning of December to 10.4% before Christmas - a move that is barely perceptible compared to previous waves. When read alongside the more accurate Covid infection Survey, this suggests the surge in cases was not as severe as reported and may not have occurred at all. Why did the government and its scientific advisors spark panic and alarmist headlines in breach of WHO protocols?


Appendix: Refusal of Parliament to apply Covid Misinformation sanctions and procedures to official sources:


From: Post <POST@parliament.uk> Sent: 11 January 2022 12:09 To: Andrew Hunt <andrewcchunt@hotmail.co.uk> Subject: RE: covid misinformation

Dear Andrew

Many thanks for your email. We’re not currently planning any updates to our COVID-19 misinformation briefing. However, in case we revisit this topic in the future, you may want to stay up to date with our published work by signing up to POST alerts.

Thanks and best wishes

Lorna

Dr Lorna Christie

Digital and Physical Sciences Adviser

POST | Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

christiel@parliament.uk | +44 (0)20 7219 5829

I advocate and practice flexible working. I have sent this email at a time convenient to me, but I don’t expect a response outside of your own working hours. Most of my emails are composed using dictation software - please excuse any errors.

From: Andrew Hunt <andrewcchunt@hotmail.co.uk> Sent: 10 January 2022 10:21 To: Post <POST@parliament.uk> Subject: covid misinformation

You have written extensively about covid misinformation, but done nothing on Covid misinformation from official sources, including Dominc Raab, Jenny Harries and Imperial College London.

What are you doing about this, and shouldn’t you put out a briefing paper?

Should you not encourage social media and mainstream media, to shut down accounts of officials spreading misinformation too?

Let’s face it when someone posts something on Facebook, maybe 50 people read it, when an official routinely lies, millions see it.

Thanks

Andrew Hunt

Sent from Mail for Windows

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