‘The alleged cure is immensely worse than the disease’

Peter Hitchens on the dangerous folly of the Covid-19 shutdown.


In the past few weeks, society has been shut down, the economy has been put on hold, and civil liberties have been curtailed in the name of fighting against coronavirus. There has been hardly any scrutiny of or opposition against these ever-stricter measures. Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens has been one of the few dissenting voices in the media. He joined spiked editor Brendan O’Neill for the latest episode of The Brendan O’Neill Show. What follows is an edited extract. Listen to the full conversation here.

Brendan O’Neill: We live in a country where parliament has been suspended, our most basic freedoms have been eroded, we are all virtually under house arrest, and there are a whole bunch of new rituals we all have to observe when we encounter other people, which is increasingly rare. Like me, are you a bit terrified by the speed and the ease with which Britain became this country?

Peter Hitchens: I wouldn’t say terrified – distressed and grieved, but not terrified. I am actually not shocked because in several controversies in recent years, where I have thought that the people of this country would stand against the way in which they were being bullied and messed around, I have noticed that there hasn’t been all that much spirit of liberty. I think there is an awful lot of conformism now in this country and people have accepted being pushed around.

I’m not sure parliament has been suspended exactly. It has just folded up or dissolved into a pool of blancmange. If it had any kind of leadership, it could insist on continuing to sit, just as it could have opposed the action or subjected it to anything remotely resembling scrutiny. But it just folded up and stole away in the night. All the institutions of civil society which are supposed to protect us did the same thing. The judiciary, the human-rights lot, the civil service, the media, parliament, Her Majesty’s Opposition and public opinion in general have simply failed to do their jobs. It has demonstrated that we don’t really have a civil society any longer.

In the Soviet Union, where I spent a lot of time, it was clear that there was only one official point of view and that people were being pushed around. I don’t recall ever being compelled to stay at home, and there was at least a pretence made of having a legislative body as well. But the point that strikes me here is that – particularly in the Eastern European countries, but also largely in Russia – most people regarded the Soviets’ rule with a certain amount of contempt and made jokes about it and realised they were being mocked and fooled. In this case, the population accepts what they are being told, without any question. It’s extraordinary. The old USSR would have loved to have had a population like that in the Western world and in the United Kingdom, which genuinely believes the propaganda and does what it is told. You could say, ‘The chocolate ration has gone up’, when in fact it has gone down and people will believe it.

O’Neill: You have written some very solid pieces, questioning the need for this kind of shutdown. Let’s just talk for a moment about the extraordinary situation we find ourselves in. There is this novel virus, which undoubtedly causes great harm, especially to older people and to medically vulnerable people, and in response to it – which is unprecedented in human history – we have closed down virtually the whole of society and most of the economy, and in the process we have stored up immeasurable problems for the future. I think you have found it a bit of a struggle to convince people that this might not be the best way to tackle a virus?

Hitchens: It’s extraordinary. Again, the willingness of people to accept that ‘something must be done, and this is something, so we will do this’. The argument goes, ‘We have a problem, the way of solving it is to shut down the country and strangle civil liberties. Therefore, let’s do that.’

What I have been surprised by is how little examination there has been to whether there is any logic to this. It is as if you went to the doctor with measles and the doctor said that this was serious measles and the only treatment for it is to cut off your left leg. And he cuts off your left leg and then later on, you recover from the measles and he says, ‘This is fantastic. I’ve cured you of the measles, sorry about your leg.’ That is more or less what is going on now. We are being offered a supposed treatment which has nothing whatever to do with the problem.

Other countries have not resorted to these measures. We have modelled ourselves, bizarrely, on the most despotic country in the world, the People’s Republic of China, whose statistics are wholly unreliable and whose media are totally supine, so we can’t really know what is going on there. And in fact, all the countries which have had serious outbreaks of Covid-19, they have almost all reacted differently. Even Singapore and Hong Kong, which are widely praised for what they did, did different things. And yet, oddly enough, the results in Singapore and Hong Kong were quite similar. Japan has done something different. South Korea did something different. And again, the virus actually did not continue to grow at the rates which Imperial College apparently think are inevitable if we don’t shut down our society.

Even if you went for the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy that because A happened, and B happened after it, B happened because of A, there isn’t even a basis for that – let alone anything remotely resembling research showing a causal relationship between a Chinese-type shutdown and the defeat of the disease. There are rational responses to this. And of course it seems to me, the crucial test of any policy, and indeed almost any human action, is not absolute right or absolute wrong – which very rarely arises in practical life – it is proportionality. Is the action in proportion to the problem?

If you look at the past and the problems which this country and its medical system have almost every winter, for instance with influenza, the complications of it are considerable. In one year recently, 28,000 people died of influenza because the vaccines didn’t work and it was a particularly virulent strain. The average number who die of influenza every year is 17,000 in England alone, and this does not cause the country to be shut down. It is doubtless tragic for all those involved, but you can’t use emotionalism to justify policy.

I have a quote here from Jonathan Sumption’s interview on The World At One on Monday because it simply hasn’t been stressed enough in the coverage of what he said. They have gone on about what he said about the police, which was a marginal part of what he said. His key point was this:

‘The real question is, is this serious enough to warrant putting most of our population into house imprisonment, wrecking our economy for an indefinite period, destroying businesses that honest and hardworking people have taken years to build up, saddling future generations with debt, depression, stress, heart attacks, suicides and unbelievable distress inflicted on millions of people who are not especially vulnerable, and will suffer only mild symptoms or none at all?’

Actually, that’s exactly what I think. But I’m not a former Supreme Court judge. I’m not one of Britain’s most distinguished lawyers. And I’m not one of Britain’s most distinguished historians. I’m not the deliverer of last year’s Reith Lectures. This is a perfectly valid sentiment expressed by somebody with considerable authority and wisdom. And it isn’t even reported by the media when he says it. They leave it out of the reports of what he says because no one is prepared to confront this.

There is an omertà – a total, supine, consensus over this matter. The complete failure to debate it is astonishing to me. And it’s the lack of proportion that Sumption is stressing there. Even if this were an effective policy, could it possibly be justified, given the disastrous results?

As I say, if you had a disease from which you might or might not recover, and you were offered the amputation of all four of your limbs, and perhaps your head, and were asked to sign a consent form, you would probably say no, even if it would kill you, because you would recognise that the cure was worse than the disease – a phrase which repeatedly occurs to me, even though Donald Trump has used it, which always puts people off. But it is the case.

The alleged cure – and it is only alleged in this case – is immensely worse than the disease, because what happens to a society which trashes its economy? I will tell you what happens. It is unable to afford proper health provision, all of its standards decline, its food gets worse, its air quality gets worse, its housing gets worse, its water quality gets worse, and everybody gets iller.

The other point is one made by the extraordinary Professor Sucharit Bhakdi of Mainz University in Germany, an absolute genius in the microbiological method, who is utterly against these measures. He has said, what about the healthy old now they have been deprived of all the things that make life worth living? He reckons that this shutting down of their lives will be catastrophic, and almost certainly cause large numbers of deaths. So you can’t just say, ‘Oh, you don’t care about people dying’. That’s not what the argument is about. I care about people dying unnecessarily as much as anybody else, and my motives are as good as anybody else’s. It is just that my emotions are also driven by more intelligent thought, more reason and a better grasp of the facts.

O’Neill: I think Sumption’s intervention was very useful for a number of reasons. But one of them is what you have just touched upon, which is this really poisonous accusation that has been made against anyone who criticises the shutdown of society, which is, ‘You don’t care about old people,’ or even, ‘You want old people to die.’

Hitchens: Well, during the Iraq War, if you said, ‘Actually this war is wrong’, people said, ‘Oh, so you support Saddam Hussein’s fascist regime, do you? You believe that Saddam should be allowed to torture people, do you? That’s the sort of person you are, are you?’. And because of that shutting down of serious debate on a major matter, I think this should probably be called VMD – the virus of mass destruction. It is so very similar in the attempts to crush dissent.

O’Neill: They make this completely false distinction. They say this is a question of lives versus the economy. They talk about the economy as if it’s just some kind of abstract machine, just numbers and money and profits, when in fact the economy is people’s lives and their livelihoods. It’s how we create things, it’s how we produce things. Dr John Lee made a very good point in the Spectator, which is that this is lives versus lives. And that’s the kind of debate we need to be having.

Hitchens: That’s assuming, again, that the fundamental premise that shutting down the country will do any good is true, which I believe, is seriously in doubt. I’m a Christian, and there’s this wonderful part of the scriptures in which we are said to live and move and have our being in God. But in a material way, we live and move and have our being in the economy. If nobody is buying, if nobody is selling, if nobody is working, if nobody is serving, if nobody is being served, then there is nowhere for people to live, how do we pay for our houses and our meals? How do we raise our children? How do we support an education system? How do we pay doctors or build hospitals? If we have no economy at the moment, I would reckon, if we could only know the sums, we are probably throwing three or four district general hospitals into the sea or their equivalents in money every week.

Peter Hitchens was talking to Brendan O’Neill in the latest episode of The Brendan O’Neill Show. Listen to the full conversation here:

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Marvin Jones

7th April 2020 at 11:38 am

Why does ANYONE even contemplate giving Hitchins any air time? He is like a runaway express train
running on full speed without brakes. AND! everything that pours out is raw sewage.

Geoff Bridges

5th April 2020 at 11:27 pm

Hitchens is wrong with his figure of 28,000 flu deaths.
It’s much more than that.
According to the ONS etc. there were 55,707 Excess Winter Deaths in the UK between December 2017 and March 2018.
Far, far more than Covid-19 will kill.
Apart from that everything else he says is true.

Gee Jaybee

5th April 2020 at 1:02 pm

Just pop across to the comments sections of many of our so called news outlets and you’ll see people now practically begging for all outside activities to be banned and for the police to enforce it aggressively.
The populace have been cowed into abject submissiveness by a hysterical media campaign to instill fear so that even social distancing is now not regarded as enough and we must totally isolate in our own homes.
The supine acceptance of these Draconian measures do not bode well for the future.
If Hancock does ban outside exercise I will not comply and I’ll be wearing a sign and making a fuss as I’m arrested and carted off.


5th April 2020 at 3:35 pm

Hancack is frightened of getting the blame-Rishi Sunak disagrees with him and apparently Peter Hitchens column is being read by some politicians .What do some people (who write in comment section of Daily Mail ) think this strange virus is that makes them think that a person cycling or sunbathing is going to give ‘it’ to ‘them’?We are all going to die apparently (no we aren’t ) unless we live in lockdown the rest of the year , 2 years? There has always been some people, old ladies mostly, who really enjoy a crisis, so long as they are alright. I think some of this fear is manufactured- the media is loving this -most people are absolutely calm but wonder what is going on. I think we all knew there is an inner circle of people-mostly public sector but some charity, education ,arts who move from post to post ,with no expertise and expecting a huge salary who except for dreaming up ridiculous stunts are completely superflous. That PHE could not organize to put aside enough masks etc (which usually cost NHS literally pence) in light of Ebola , SARS etc shows how utterly useless they are-they could have forfeited just one year’s wage and filled a warehouse.If these people worked in a supermarket and forgot to re-order they would get the sack.


5th April 2020 at 8:40 am

@Jonathan Yonge
I am not suggesting we go round killing off old people-just that someone who reaches and dies (naturally )a very great age has ‘had a good innings’ and we don’t feel the same sense of grief as when a baby or a child dies. In fact a lot of old people make living wills asking to be ‘killed by kindness’This whole situation is being driven by sentimentality and anyone who is a realist ie ‘we are facing the biggest financial crash for 100 years’ is told they put profit before people. Well ok then’-go to hell in a handcart’ but later ‘don’t cry over spilt milk’


5th April 2020 at 10:40 am

Also to use Hitchens Body Politik analogy-if you took your baby to the doctor with mumps and the doctor said unless I amputate all this child’s limbs they will get meningitis -you would reluctantly agree (assuming he was saving your child’s life). If the doctor later told you he actually meant viral meningitis not bacterial meningitis but he had been reading an interesting booklet on the subject from Italy and you signed the forms anyway-what would you feel?

Jonathan Yonge

5th April 2020 at 1:20 pm

Kathleen I can tell you have not been around old people very much, otherwise you wouldn’t write such stuff.
That’s OK, you don’t know. But you should know that you don’t know.
I have looked after old people for many years. That doesn’t make me an expert or even knowledgable, but I know a bit.
Don not wait to grow old yourslef to find out. Treat old people as you would anybody else.
Remember, the old people built the society you live in now.
Old people built the London of today when they lived there yesterday. It wasn’t built by people like O’Neill or Hitchens.


5th April 2020 at 3:48 pm

That would be the old people that the staff call ‘bed blockers’ or ‘goners’ and who suffered wholesale death at mid-staffs? The old people whose loving relatives turn up once a year with a cheap gift.? Yes I have been ‘around’ old people and the staff can rate from being excellent to the diabolical.


5th April 2020 at 4:11 pm

As my reply is being moderated I would say that the London of today was built by gangsters-actual older Londoners (bus driver/dinner lady ) like my relatives were forced out in the 1980’s to make way for them. Historically London was re-built after Great Fire in 17th century and then re-built and added to in subsequent centuries -bar a little bit damage in WW1 and WW2 and a lot of damage since 1960’s which have help make it the ugly and unpleasant place it is today.

Marvin Jones

7th April 2020 at 12:42 pm

You really have a lot to say, and some of it is pure single cell thinking. On the point of bed blocking.
This should never be a problem for the NHS as a whole. I have been very healthy until I got to my 60s, and then spent a lot of times in hospitals for various reasons, my genetics seem to have a vendetta. I have made note of the demise of this NHS since Cameron and his deluded group took over, and I voted for them. They got rid of care for the elderly and the homes that existed and shoved the poor souls into the wards with everyone else. I have been in a ward with 5 dementia patients who needed 24 hr care to feed and clean, they slept nearly all of the time. Recently, I was in hospital for the most of Feb, and in 3 weeks I was shuffled around 7 wards to make space for incomers who required these particular wards. People soon forget how we are duped by the powers that rule , and too soon forget the deceit and lies of Cameron, Osborne and May.

michael harris

4th April 2020 at 4:38 pm

We need to be very, very careful. Read, in the ‘Spectator’ the piece by an ER surgeon about ventilation. Essentially; two thirds of all intubated C19 patients die. Of the survivors many will never lead a normal life (serious lung damage, grave psychological trauma).
Then, please, go to ‘worldometers’. Of closed C19 cases thus far 20% ended in death. OK there are many untested, symptomless cases. but why, in the absence of new treatments, should the 20% death rate go down?
Furthermore consider that most of the announced death statistics do not include deaths in care homes. There are half a million people in care homes in the UK.

With all this in mind – let alone the potential for the virus to become more dangerous, not to mention the emerging evidence that it can hang around in the body for weeks – do consider what amount of economic pain (which can more easily mitigated than the illness) is ‘worth it’.

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4th April 2020 at 4:28 pm

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4th April 2020 at 4:27 pm

@Glenn Bell
China has boasted that it has a ‘roaring’ economy due to the global demand for medical equipment. I’m sure we all wish to congratulate them on their success on capitalizing on this virus , though in their rush to fulfil orders their quality control isn’t quite (reported 80% failure rate )what it might be.

Kent Willumsen

4th April 2020 at 1:09 pm

I’m happy for Brendan and Peter to do their own thing and ignore public advice.
However, once they get COVID19 and are in need of a respirator, they should have none.

Jimbob McGinty

4th April 2020 at 1:42 pm

because their point of view differs from yours?

Kent Willumsen

4th April 2020 at 2:18 pm

Understand me right; read my post again, please.
What I’m saying: if you want your freedom, you have to take the consequences as well.
A bit like: if you don’t want to donate your organs, then you should not expect to receive any either.


4th April 2020 at 2:32 pm

No, because they’re irresponsible idiots.

Jonathan Yonge

4th April 2020 at 4:16 pm

But such a ‘devil take the hindmost’ attitude is precisely what they are arguing for.
The only way to make such people see sense is to forgive them.

Dodgy Geezer

5th April 2020 at 9:44 am

“However, once they get COVID19 and are in need of a respirator, they should have none.”

That’s fine.

So long as you, in your turn, accept being thrown out of work, having all the services disconnected from your house, being unable to get food and finally being murdered by a roaming gang looking for what they can steal while the police force and army collapse and civil society breaks up.

You see, they are arguing that the policies currently being followed run the danger of causing this. And logically, if you believe that they should accept the downside of not following your advice, then you should accept the downside of not following theirs….

Miles Plastic

4th April 2020 at 1:23 am

You do get the feeling Matt Hancock doesn’t know what the hell he’s on about. These ministers seem to go from one job to another totally unrelated job. Hancock will probably end up being something like minister for sport next and start spouting a load of rubbish about that too.

Tom Forrester-Paton

4th April 2020 at 12:34 am

Reminds me of Reagan’s quip – “Don’t just do something; stand there!”

Glenn Bell

3rd April 2020 at 11:15 pm

I want to be free to do as I want as Ive always been but until somebody tells me, categorically, using science not emotion, that the measures UK has adopted to deal with this pandemic, the same measures taken all around the globe, are wrong and are not working and are not going to work, I will carry on following the governments instructions. If it turns out some time in the future the government and their experts were wrong they can be dealt with then, but at this time we simply do not know. Think back to WW2 and the threat of bombing in 1940, the threat of nuclear war in 1963, back then nobody knew what might happen so they acted as they saw best in the publics safety. In 1940 and 1963 it turned out the worst case scenario failed to happen, but that doesnt mean it wont in 2020.

steve moxon

4th April 2020 at 12:17 am

Er, it IS ‘categorically’ false.
* Excess mortality remains not significantly above normal, indicating that people are not dying of the new virus in significant numbers, but instead mainly of their co-morbidities.
* Newest modelling by Oxford Uni and the LSH&TM (backing up many reports of infection starting back in the autumn — including even from such as the relatively remote hilly place where I myself live) indicates that a very large proportion of the population is / already has been infected.
* There is no major significance to the minority of those not deemed ‘at risk’ also succumbing to the new virus: with any illness there are individuals who die despite not ostensibly
belonging to any ‘at risk’ group, either because they were undiagnosed re such risk or through an unusual combinations of factors.
* The impact on the NHS easily can be spread out by those within the ‘at risk’ group self-isolating with government support to obviate them going out food shopping, so that they do not have to mix with anyone indoors or at close quarters.


4th April 2020 at 7:26 am

Also an ‘expert’ has said we could get the virus ‘just by breathing’ . As ‘breathing’ is one of life’s little inconveniences what does he suggest? That we wear a mask 24/7? If this virus was so dangerous wouldn’t there be more fatalities among the young? There are many thousands of drug addicts/homeless people -Edinburgh is said to be the European capital of drug addicts, who you would think , due to their poor health and lifestyle, would be the first to succumb to this virus. The people who have died so far are ,usually, exactly the sort and age of person who normally die and there are,unfortunately, always a number of young people each year who get serious problems from the cold/flu as viruses are unpredictable.


4th April 2020 at 7:32 am

Well you can sit in your living room for the next 30 years ,wearing a bee-keepers clothes if you want to ,emerging to ask if the war is over, I don’t want to. These people you put so much faith in were more bothered about their expenses, than getting their job done.

Glenn Bell

4th April 2020 at 11:57 am

There are probably as many theories about how to beat this thing as there are people who have died from it, but the vast majority of “experts” say what UK and others are doing is the best way to beat it. Its costing a fortune but as long as it works, so what? Or maybe its all one big global conspiracy to ruin the worlds economy; but whos behind it, Russia? North Korea? Luxembourg? The Illuminati? Or maybe its those pesky Venusians! I know where my fivers going.

steve moxon

4th April 2020 at 2:00 pm

Ah, the old appeal to authority: the cardinal sin in any scientific approach.
The opinion of ‘the vast majority of experts’ who are nothing of the kind is supposed to mean we should not challenge the nonsensical notion of anthropogenic climate change.
It always turns out that ‘the vast majority’ of yes-men (a) only think the way they are thought they do based on the very assumptions at issue and (b) aren’t a majority anyway.

Gareth Edward KING

4th April 2020 at 5:44 pm

Kathleen! That’s the attitude. And what’s wrong with wearing a bee-keeper’s uniform? Apiculture’s a very satisfying and profitable enterprise, I have at least one friend who’s a bee-keeper in León. Nice work if you can get it. Not sure though that if even with that kit on it’ll keep this pesky virus at bay. Please don’t let Sánchez get away with yet another presidential decree that’ll make it obligatory to wear those fetching surgical masks ALL of the time!


4th April 2020 at 12:44 pm

‘Think back to WW2 and the threat of bombing in 1940, . . .’

Glenn, while the bombing of civilian areas is obviously a dreadful business, there is no doubt that through the inter-war years the Air Ministry and the RAF greatly exaggerated its threat (from at least as early as 1924), partly because they believed their own propaganda and partly because it suited their departmental interests. Had it not done so they might have examined the ample evidence available from WWI (and later the Spanish Civil War) rather than simply churned air power propaganda.


3rd April 2020 at 9:10 pm

Why are the media reporting the Chinese infection/casualty rates unquestioningly?

Melissa Jackson

3rd April 2020 at 10:28 pm

Because it is convenient for them to demand ever more authoritarian measures.

Jimbob McGinty

4th April 2020 at 1:46 pm

it would also require brains and a little testicular fortitude to ask the questions that are needed. its a good while since most journalists did that.


3rd April 2020 at 8:55 pm

We are all locked into this international over-reaction and we will just have to see who blinks first. If they stop the lockdown fairly soon and everything is ok-people are going to question why they were subjected to such severe measures and the politicians and experts will look such fools-the first world war went on for four years even when it was apparent it was a mess and wasn’t going to be over by Christmas (as was first promised). There must be many rural areas with no cases of virus who could open with a sort of quarantine of their own, stopping others going there, but protecting local business,opening schools etc

Jonathan Yonge

3rd April 2020 at 7:59 pm

Why is Brendan doing this ?
OK, so you can discuss and disagree with isolation but surely to do so unemotionally is much more convincing that the language he has used in this. Even Hitchens doesn’t.

Important lesson for journos must be to keep a level head if you want to be taken seriously. Derangement never works out well, as 48% of people will tell you.

steve moxon

3rd April 2020 at 11:18 pm

How about using logic yourself?
I’m still awaiting response to my points to you why the ‘lockdown’ makes no sense and actually is simply damaging longer-term, and may be counter-prodictive in taking focus away from isolating the ‘at risk’ group.
* Excess mortality is still not significantly above normal, indicating that people are NOT dying of the new virus in significant numbers, but instead mainly of their co-morbidities.
* New modelling by Oxford Uni and the LSH&TM, as well as many reports of infection starting back in the autumn, indicates that a very large proportion if not the majority of the population is / already has been infected, so ‘lockdown’ is useless and serves only to wreck the economy.
* There is no major significance to the minority of those not deemed ‘at risk’ also succumbing to the new virus, as with any illness there are individuals who die despite not ostensibly belonging to any ‘at risk’ group, either because they were undiagnosed re such risk or through an unusual combinations of factors.
* The way to spread out the impact on the NHS is simply to isolate the ‘at risk’ group and focus on supporting them with third-party food shopping, so that they do not have to mix with anyone indoors or at close quarters.

Danny Rees

3rd April 2020 at 7:32 pm

“Hitchens: Well, during the Iraq War, if you said, ‘Actually this war is wrong’, people said, ‘Oh, so you support Saddam Hussein’s fascist regime, do you? You believe that Saddam should be allowed to torture people, do you? That’s the sort of person you are, are you?’. ”

Like if you oppose and disagree with a TR you get told you support rape gangs.

Danny Rees

3rd April 2020 at 7:32 pm

“O’Neill: I think Sumption’s intervention was very useful for a number of reasons. But one of them is what you have just touched upon, which is this really poisonous accusation that has been made against anyone who criticises the shutdown of society, which is, ‘You don’t care about old people,’ or even, ‘You want old people to die.’”

Who has actually said such a thing? That if you criticise the shutdown of society you want old people to die? Who has said this or is Brendan making it up?


3rd April 2020 at 9:08 pm

Brendan is setting up a straw man for polemical purposes, so he can play the victim, persecuted sage (Socrates) and be a martyr for freedom.

Jimbob McGinty

4th April 2020 at 1:47 pm

play the ball, not the man

Brian Steere

6th April 2020 at 5:48 pm

What do you think the shaming is based on? Rule breaking natural behaviours become selfish disregard for not flattening the curve – thereby killing old folk faster than they can be nursed. And breaking the NHS and perhaps other hate crimes I missed.
That flattening the curve is asserted as meaningful and practical does not mean that it is. It means government regulations enforce it and media blitz dictates compliance for an issue that is not scientifically debated – but determined by insiders who ‘settle the science and dictate consensus.

Gareth Edward KING

3rd April 2020 at 6:49 pm

Hitchens is absolutely right. I’m sorry to state the obvious, but death is part of life. If the statistics are clear that the covid-19 mortality rate affects disproportionately people over 60. In Spain 67% of nearly 11,000 deaths the average age is 60+. It’s not official yet, but this state of affairs-the so-called ‘lockdown’, let’s call a spade a spade; these are curfew conditions, is likely to go on in Spain for another three weeks! End of arguement apparently. This supiness is even more striking in a country which was under a miserable dictatorship 1939-75. Maybe this willingess to go along with this is that Spain, along with the rest of the West (with notable exceptions), has lost its sense of dissent mentioned in this podcast. You would’ve thought that its recent history would’ve made the social response different, but no. It’s 45 years since Franco’s demise so I guess all the people who would’ve lived through his regime are all dead, but that can’t be the explanation. At 8PM on the dot people lean out of their balconies and applaud the health workers. It has become an empty ritual. I did actually go quite a way on my cycle today and no there weren’t any cops to stop me. How brave. Yes, how will Madrid get back to its previous effervescent state of affairs? Anybody would think that the economy was in prime nick to bounce back-I don’t think so. How much is the MEDE rescue package that Sánchez along with Conte (Italy) is hoping to get from the EU emergency funds? 450 billion? As you say in Spanish-¡Como si nada!

Jonathan Yonge

3rd April 2020 at 7:15 pm

I look forward to the time you reach 60

Weyland Smith

3rd April 2020 at 8:34 pm

What’s your point, and how old are you?

Serious questions.


4th April 2020 at 8:03 am

Exactly, we don’t want old people to die , but we expect that they will die. The death of a 95 year old lady in a care home is only a tragedy to her immediate family.

Jonathan Yonge

4th April 2020 at 4:19 pm

The internet is pretty extreme, but I don’t think I have ever read such depressing comment.
A vulture is more humane.
I suppose we should learn from what the internet reveals to us, but its very hard

Brian Steere

6th April 2020 at 5:56 pm

Death is tragic for the young in general terms, but all meanings are degraded by misuse.
That the annual flu death figures – which really need further qualifying to make sense – are vastly higher than the deaths associated WITH covid – as a newly recognised and tested ‘viological response’. (within other already classified coronvirus responses), could be the MAIN focus – while the CV19 is kept in proportion, but then you may also give focus to the official THIRD cause of death in UK and USA – and no doubt other developed countries.
Have you any idea what it might be? Way higher than flu.
Medical treatments – period.
Also the Medical Industrial Complex – which with Gates Fdn supplies half the WHO funding is trillion dollar business that no doubt deems itself Too Big To Fail.
Go figure.

James Conner

3rd April 2020 at 5:12 pm

Hitchens makes the classic blunder of treating coronavirus as ‘similar to the flu’. Print this out and stick it on your forehead Peter: “Coronavirus is NOT THE FLU’. Left unchecked it will kill many more people than the fluever could. You’ve criticised the lockdown, but what’s your alternative? How would ‘you’ stop the spread?

Jonathan Yonge

3rd April 2020 at 5:23 pm

Doctor tells me that there is a large % of asymptomatic carriers who cannot be tracked.
A small % of people develop a Cytokine inflammatory storm and die almost an autoimmune death.
So no, not flu.

Pauline May

3rd April 2020 at 10:27 pm

But still not the Black Death that many would have us believe and frightening everybody in the process.

Jonathan Yonge

3rd April 2020 at 5:05 pm

Comments being heavily moderated by Spiked.
Its called free speech apparently


3rd April 2020 at 9:08 pm

Still not as bad as The Guardian.

Jonathan Yonge

3rd April 2020 at 5:05 pm

Well I hope Brendan knows what he is doing. Even if the economy survives in some shape I’m not sure that Spiked will. Peter Hitchens ?
I don’ t now what happened to Brendan’s earlier podcast of this interview (and all the comments), but if you want a better one try Unherd.


3rd April 2020 at 9:09 pm

Unherd is an excellent website – better than S pi k e d in my opinion.

Pauline May

4th April 2020 at 11:41 am

What if you think Messrs. Hitchens and O’Neill are right? Are we to be gagged?

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Deplorables — a spiked film