By Chris York
What’s green and would kill you if it fell out of a tree? A golf course.
And there the jokes end, because this is of course the very serious business of calling out fibs told by those who really should know better.
This week’s edition begins with perhaps one of the most concerning yet to grace this series: the curious case of the health minister with a vast knowledge gap of health issues.
Take a look at this tweet…
If herd immunity existed, measles and chicken pox would have been wiped out years ago. There is no such thing as herd immunity. https://t.co/THC1DC1mJa
— Nadine Dorries 🇬🇧#StayAlert (@NadineDorries) October 13, 2020
Yes, you read that right – Tory health minister Nadine Dorries claiming “there is no such thing as herd immunity” and then backing it up by saying her point is proved by the fact that “measles and chicken pox” have not been wiped out.
Both statements are false.
Herd immunity does not require the absolute eradication of a disease but occurs when a large enough percentage of a population becomes immune so that it doesn’t spread exponentially.
For instance, if 80% of a population have immunity to a virus, four out of every five people who come into contact with someone with the virus will not get sick and further spread the disease.
Herd immunity is achieved either through vaccination or exposing enough of a population to the virus in question. It is supported by decades of scientific research.
Secondly, new cases of measles and chicken pox still occur because people are not born with immunity to them, meaning the disease is impossible to eradicate entirely – but prevalence diminishes gradually over time.
The DHSC did not say whether Dorries’ tweet was an official government line when asked by HuffPost UK.
Nadine, actual doctor here 👋
Measles needs to have a vaccination uptake of 93% or greater for the possibility of herd immunity to kick in, and we’ve never been close.
Also, fun fact: measles vaccinations have saved over 21 million lives worldwide in the last 20 years.
— Dr Meenal Viz (@meenalsworld) October 13, 2020
The Cornish pasty
On a fairly regular basis, a Member of Parliament will say something so out of touch with the average Brit that you wonder if they’ve ever actually ever set foot on this fair isle.
This week it was the turn of communities secretary Robert Jenrick, who made the absolutely ludicrous suggestion that an entire Cornish pasty was not a “substantial meal”.
AND THEN he had the near-blasphemous idea that an appropriate accompaniment to a pasty was a “chips or side salad”.
Perhaps Jenrick has the ability to deflect carbs like a Fox News host confronted with a fact, but the general population was positively aghast.
What barbarian has chips with a cornish pasty? https://t.co/DnxC5KQhc5
— Guido Fawkes (@GuidoFawkes) October 13, 2020
Test and trace
Let’s face it, it wouldn’t be a 5 Fibs if there wasn’t a mention of the UK’s largely shambolic Test and Trace system.
This week’s fib comes courtesy of the Department for Health and Social Care, after it emerged that quite a bit of public money is going into the pockets of private consultants.
The DHSC said: “Every pound spent is contributing towards our efforts to keep people safe as we ramp up testing capacity to 500,000 tests a day by the end of October.”
But Sky News has seen documents revealing Boston Consulting Group (BCG) was paid about £10m for around 40 consultants to provide four months’ work between the end of April and late August.
The broadcaster said the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) received a 10 to 15% discount from BCG, whose day rates for public sector work range from £2,400 to £7,360 for the most senior consultants.
Yes you read that right, per day. So while some of this money has indeed contributed “towards our efforts to keep people safe”, quite a bit of it has also gone to one of the biggest consultancy firms in the world that in March posted revenue of $8.5bn.
Cue justifiable outrage.
What an absolute shower. Yet the government apparently can’t pay social care workers the real living wage?
“Difficult decisions”. https://t.co/FsbOmCxvEc
— 🌈 Angela Rayner 🌈 (@AngelaRayner) October 14, 2020
The Covid app
It transpired this week that the NHS Covid-19 app had been fibbing to millions of people not once, but twice.
Firstly, HuffPost UK revealed the government had been forced to upgrade its app to reassure smartphone users worried by alert messages suggesting they have been exposed to the virus.
The NHS app, launched nearly three weeks ago, has been sending alerts to people with the tag line “Possible Covid-19 Exposure”.
But in many cases, the notification simply disappeared once clicked, and was not followed by any official confirmation of contact with a patient.
Now the DHSC has admitted the so-called “ghost notifications” are a glitch caused by Apple and Google’s own bluetooth technology on their phones and are a default privacy setting that it cannot change.
Then to top things off, potentially millions of people awoke on Wednesday morning to the worrying news that the alert level in their area had changed.
Only it hadn’t.
Overnight the app was brought into line with the new three-tier alert levels and everyone with version 3.7 of the app would have received a push notification, the Department for Health and Social Care told HuffPost UK. (The DHSC couldn’t say how many of the app’s 16m users have this version.)
But anyone not moving into tier 2 or 3 – that is, those in tier 1, or “medium” risk – would have clicked through to find the alert level exactly as it was when they went to bed.
It’s now time to turn our attention stateside and peruse the litany of fibs once again emanating from that bastion of falsehoods, the White House.
This week we focus on one of the junior Trumps, Ivanka in fact, who said this in an interview on Monday.
Ivanka Trump defends her father’s handling of the virus: “Except through the lens of revisionist history, most people were not taking [COVID] very seriously, on the Hill or elsewhere.” pic.twitter.com/oxnFEazJzS
— The Recount (@therecount) October 12, 2020
How is she able to speak with a straight face knowing her father lied and continued to lie since he was briefed on how deadly this virus is?
— Femmetasia (@Verdanne) October 12, 2020
“Look Daddy! I’m sciencing!” pic.twitter.com/9ESEZp5nAn
— Brook No 💩 (@TalexanderSteff) October 12, 2020