Momento Mori – Unpopular Thoughts on Corona Virus 648

I have always been very fond of this photo, for reasons which are perhaps obvious. We are left to right Celia, Stuart, Neil, Craig and throughout our childhood we really were that close and that happy. The reason that I post this now is that my mother always told me she was amazed how good we looked in the photo, because it was taken when we were all off school sick with Hong Kong flu.

The Hong Kong flu pandemic of 1968/9 was the last really serious flu pandemic to sweep the UK. They do seem extraordinarily regular – 1919, 1969 and 2020. Flu epidemics have much better punctuality than the trains (though I cheated a bit there and left out the 1958 “Asian flu”). Nowadays “Hong Kong flu” is known as H3N2. Estimates for deaths it caused worldwide vary from 1 to 4 million. In the UK it killed an estimated 80,000 people.

If the current coronavirus had appeared in 1968, it would simply have been called “flu”, probably “Wuhan flu”. COVID-19 may not be nowadays classified as such, but in my youth flu is definitely what we would have called it. The Hong Kong flu was very similar to the current outbreak in being extremely contagious but with a fairly low mortality rate. 30% of the UK population is estimated to have been infected in the Hong Kong flu pandemic. The death rate was about 0.5%, mostly elderly or with underlying health conditions.

But there was no massive panic, no second by second media hysteria, over Hong Kong flu. Let me start being unpopular. “Man in his 80’s already not very well from previous conditions, dies of flu” is not and should not be a news headline. The coverage is prurient, intrusive, unbalanced and designed to cause hysteria.

Consider this: 100% of those who contract coronavirus are going to die. 100% of those who do not contract coronavirus are also going to die. The difference in average life expectancy between the two groups will prove to be only very marginal. That is because the large majority of those who die of COVID-19 will already be nearing the end of life or have other health problems.

Let me make this important statement. I write as somebody whose heart and lungs are damaged and in poor condition, following the multiple bilateral pulmonary emboli which nearly killed me in 2004, which mysteriously appeared at precisely the time the UK and US governments were desperately trying to get rid of me as Ambassador, just a couple of weeks after I had been finally cleared of all the false charges with which the British government had attempted to fit me up. I was in a coma for days and subsequently given a maximum of three years to live (read Murder in Samarkand for the full story). If I get COVID-19 I expect I shall be fairly quickly gone off on my next adventure.

But I am OK with that. I have lived an incredibly full and satisfying life. I have no desire whatsoever to die – I have a wife and children I love deeply and I have important political battles I wish to fight. But human beings are not supposed to live forever and one day my time will come.

What worries me about the current reaction to coronavirus, is that it seems to reflect a belief that death is an aberration, rather than a part of the natural order of things. As the human species continues to expand massively in numbers, and as it continues casually to make other species extinct, it is inevitable that the excessive and crowded human population will become susceptible to disease.

As we see the catastrophic effects of human beings on the environment, including on other species and the climate, I am genuinely perplexed as to what are the underlying assumptions and goals of humankind. Do we really believe that medical science could and should eliminate all disease? There are numerous, well-funded medical scientists working very hard on research into the idea that ageing itself is a process that can be prevented. Because that is a notion very attractive to wealthy westerners, more money is being spent on preventing ageing than on fighting malaria and other tropical diseases. Where does this end? Do we really want a world – or at least a wealthy word – where everybody gets to be a centenarian? What are the effects of that on overall population, on demographics, economics and the allocation of finite resources including food and housing?

The mass hysteria around the current coronavirus is being driven by a societal rejection of the notion that the human species is part of the wider ecology, and that death and disease are unavoidable facts, with which it ought to be part of the human condition to come to terms. Let me offer a comforting thought to those of you who have bought into the hysteria. I have no doubt whatsoever that mortality rates from the coronavirus are being exaggerated. They are all based on extrapolation from those who have been tested, but there exists a very large population of people, worldwide, who have or have had the coronavirus, whose symptoms have been those of a cold or non-existent, who have not put themselves forward for testing. The Hong Kong flu had a mortality rate of 0.5% and I believe that ultimately COVID-19 will prove to be very similar. Just like flu once you get it, the only difference being it is more contagious so more people will get it.

Yes wash your hands, bin your tissues, keep things clean. Don’t hang around someone who has the flu. Take advantage of everything modern medicine can do to help you. But don’t be too shocked at the idea that some sick people die, especially if they are old. We are not Gods, we are mortal. We need to reconnect to that idea.

All human deaths are individual tragedies. I wish all solace and comfort to the grieving, and in no way wish to minimise the pain of individual loss of anybody of any age (I lost my own mother not long ago), or that even a small number of child deaths in particular will be dreadfully painful. My deepest and heartfelt condolences go to all the bereaved, and my warm regards go to all the sick and the worried. But the perspective of the wider place of human life in the cosmos is a help in grieving. The purpose of this blog remains not to shirk from saying what might be unpopular. I do hope people will start to consider COVID-19 in a more measured way.


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648 thoughts on “Momento Mori – Unpopular Thoughts on Corona Virus

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  • michael norton

    As of yesterday the reported total for those countries bordering the Alps came to = 50,358
    while Japan only reported = 882
    and South Korea reported = 8, 413

    The new epicentre would seem to be the Alps.

    Yet Tibet has still only reported a single case?

    • SL

      They would, the EU is basically going to be the biggest casualty of the corona panic, due to the absolute impotence of it’s response while Russia of it’s own initiative is sending tangible help to Italy.

      The Eu was a shaky shack of an institution even in the best of times where Europe is peaceful, stable and relatively prosperous, although the EU has been eroding those aspects for a long time now.

      In the face of proper crisis, it can’t even pretend to be of any value.

      The European Union. The one coronavirus casualty I’ll happily and openly celebrate the passing of.

  • Jack

    4207 new cases and 475 new deaths in Italy. 1084 new recoveries were also reported today

    The resources are simply not there, the italian case must be a warning for other nations to act!

  • michael norton

    Because of Coronavirus world economy nosedives.
    In U.K. Pound at 25 year low, Brent Crude drops to $25/barrel, all car plants cease manufacturing.

    1929 here we come.

  • lix

    I read a lot of your posts, Mr Murray, and there are times when I feel that your writings are coloured by your prejudices, as, I suppose are all authors.

    Nail hit squarely on head here though.

  • michael norton

    United Kingdom
    positive cases 35% up in twenty four hours,
    now more that two and a half thousand have it
    and more than one hundred dead.
    U.K. now much worse than Japan.

    • Jack

      And yesterday in China allegedly no new cases were even reported.
      In 2-3 days the death toll in Italy will be greater than that of China!

  • michael norton

    Almost no food and no booze and no staff in Tesco.

    The Bank of England has cut interest rates again in an emergency move as it tries to support the UK economy in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

    It is the second cut in interest rates in just over a week, bringing them down to 0.1% from 0.25%.

    Interest rates are now at their lowest level in history.

    We are heading for the Great Depression 2

    • Kempe

      My colleague’s 81 year old grannie hobbled to her nearest shop on her Zimmer only to return empty handed and in tears. We’ve managed to source some milk, eggs and bread for her locally but toilet rolls can’t be had for love nor money.

      How do people think they’re going to stockpile fresh produce like normal milk and eggs?

      • glenn_uk

        Same around here – Tesco’s was completely cleaned out, and there was a real nervy atmosphere in there too. No tins, nothing frozen, no bread, toilet rolls, pasta, rice, or much in the way of cleaning products. No fruit/veg either. I didn’t actually look to see if there was booze, since I was keen to get out.

      • Brianfujisan


        Tesco has followed Iceland in having an Elderly hour between 8 – 9 am here in Scotland

        Also one of the town pubs is delivering free hot meals to pensioners

        I’ve been locked at home for the last three days as I am an ‘at risk one ‘ with chronic chest problems.

        Stay safe out there everyone.

        • glenn_uk

          Sorry to hear your chest isn’t good, Brian.

          They had an elderly hour in Sainsbury’s, but people have been crashing through it anyway, jostling the elderly aside. There’s a real lack of community spirit among some people.

          • Brianfujisan

            Glen..Cheers.. I was born asthmatic.. But long distance Running, mountain climbing, cycling, jiujitsu …made me good.. It’s been going backwards for me…but I intend to bounce back.. Stay well Glen keep up the Running.

            P.S… .I was wondering how the Elderly hour could be enforced.

          • Terence Wallis

            Of course there’s no community spirit – UKania is thigh deep in pond life which makes it a deeply unpleasant experience & Covid-19 simply highlights this.

  • michael norton

    E.U. chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier tests positive for virus
    France and Italy could extend lockdowns further, troops on the street

    Almost no food in the supermarkets, yet the government said
    “don’t worry” we’ve got plenty us rich people.

  • David

    I completely agree with your underlying sentiments here.

    The available data continues to evolve and, in my view, does not support the dominant narrative at all. My analysis is that
    – R0 is much higher than has been proposed
    – As a consequence far more people are infected than are being counted
    – CFR is much lower than touted.

    Hospitals are getting overwhelmed not because of the virulence of the disease, which may well have a fatality rate no worse, or not much worse, than the regular flu, but because of the speed with which it spreads and the percentage of the population who become infected.

    This has prompted me to write a blog article myself (on the blog I set up a while ago, but was previously too lazy to do anything with) showing how I believe the data supports this view:

    • michael norton

      More people have now died of Wuhan Virus in Italy, than have died in China.
      The death rate in Italy is much greater than in China.

      • David

        I doubt it. Italy has had 3,405 deaths. They claim only 41,000 cases but I suspect that in reality they have a million, and perhaps several million, cases or more.

        • David

          To build on that

          China managed to restrict the virus largely to Wuhan. Italy’s population is much larger than Wuhan’s.

          A week ago Italy had tested exactly 60,761 people and claimed a little over 9,000 cases. Almost one in six people getting tested were testing positive for Covid-19. South Korea meanwhile had tested 210,000 people to find ~7,000 cases.

          Italy is finding only a small fraction of the number of people infected, but a much larger fraction of the ones which are serious enough to need hospital treatment.

          Exactly the same thing happened in Wuhan. They only tested a relatively small subset of the population there, but they are now closing the extra hospitals because the epidemic has peaked. The epidemic can only have peaked if several million people have actually had the infection and become immune.

          • Jack


            Interesting info.
            Also what happens when the virus is spread to other parts of China that do not have the immunity. This pandemic might be multiple year long.

          • michael norton

            Apparently, even though
            The Boris
            has claimed there is food for everyone, even the most lowly among you, this is not what shoppers find, when they enter shops, now it is being considered to have the police installed in shops to stop the fighting of very rare resources.
            Like Bog roll, cider and wipes.

          • Kempe

            There is enough food for everyone or there would be if it were sensibly distributed and not hoarded by stupid, selfish people. The supermarkets are at last doing what they should’ve done weeks ago and restricting how much any one person can buy. At least of some goods. Trouble is there no way of stopping anyone from visiting multiple shops in one day or going back day after day.

          • Jack


            Is really about selfishness? I think the possibllty of living in quarantine for a long time at home is the reason.

          • michael norton

            I would have thought, we should be moving towards an objective of The supermarket sanitizing the shopping trolley, between each and every customer use.
            Supermarkets open for twenty four hours, so as to make the shopping experience more isolated.
            Each shopper, essentially being on their own.
            Not yet even seem Tesco cleaning the toilet door handles?
            Not actually, ever seen then cleaning the shopping basket handles?

          • michael norton

            Bloody Hell the pubs have been ordered to shut for at least a month, people are going to go mental.

          • Kempe

            It is selfish when people are taking more than they need or more than they’ll ever use also stupid when they’re stockpiling fresh food which won’t keep and which can’t be successfully frozen.

          • Kempe

            Get stuff delivered perhaps. They leave it on the doorstep and you come out and bring it in..

  • michael norton

    As of yesterday they had reported 75,000 cases of Covid-19 in those countries bordering
    The Alps

    almost as many as in Hubei Proving.

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    Ideas so far for a Covid19 mix tape.
    Warren Zevon – Splendid isolation
    Morrissey – Every day is like Sunday
    Eric Carmen – All by myself
    The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Cabin fever
    The Police – So lonely
    The Police – Don’t stand so close to me
    Peggy Lee – Fever
    Warren Zevon – Sentimental hygiene
    Joan Armatrading – Me, myself, I

  • michael norton

    Now more than twenty thousand have it in Spain.
    There is an almost complete lack of any action being taken or suggested by The European Union.
    This was be the most serious (triple) crisis the E.U. have ever faced.
    Implosion of E.U. Economy

    • Jack

      I dont understand why they dont use the measures the asians have which have proved more successfull than the ways europeans used.., I guess that is what bother european nations. The failure is obvious to anyone.

  • michael norton

    Virus crisis passes to Europe, very few new cases present in China over the last few days.
    China 81K cases
    Europe 131K cases

  • Peter Webster

    As for “alternative views” about whether cv19 is “serious” or not, we see more than once the comparison with plain-vanilla flu and other diseases that kill far more than the current cv19 toll. (Thus: why are we freaking out over a “far less dangerous” disease? Maybe it’s a hoax, an insider conspiracy to incite fear, take our freedoms, etc., etc.). These are dangerous arguments. The gravity of the cv19 pandemic is a function of whether it saturates and then overburdens hospitals, which then leads to increasing mortality rates as at-risk patients cannot be treated, whether health care personnel then is put out of action by being themselves infected due to limited isolation facilities in hospitals, all of which can then lead to increasing rates of infection and mortality, thus intensifying the situation. Hospitals are then prevented from treating all other patients as well. This view is supported by what has actually happened in Italy.

      • michael norton

        Music venues, nightclubs and pubs shut but holiday venues in full swing in England.

        Thousands of people have been heading to seaside attractions in the sunshine despite government advice to avoid social gatherings due to coronavirus.

        • Marmite

          Just as shocking as the way this disease is being allowed to rip through everything is the fact that the British people are still allowing the rule of a Tory government that is likelier to bail out banks than save lives.

          Well done to all those who voted for Brexit and Boris, allowing yourself to be so duped and distracted from the most pressing issues. If you are not feeling 100% asinine by now, I guess it is because you don’t have all your marbles intact.

          • Marmite

            it’s not about teams, it is about common sense and decency, as always.

            Many of us had already been actively campaigning against ‘coronavirus capitalism’ even before the term began to get used.

            We have protested cuts to healthcare, the dismantling of welfare, the rapacious extractivism licensed under neoliberalism, the extreme levels of cruelty toward animals and other life forms, and so on and so on and so on. It is all connected, and it all lands us in the same shit.

            Klein is right to be talking now of a ‘pandemic shock doctrine’.

            And while everyone is out selfishing raiding shelves of staples and loo roll, and blind to everything but their own fear, more bailouts of the greedy corporate bastards that land us in the shit are in the works.

            This is not about political stripes, but rather about the fact that everything is always already political.

          • michael norton

            what on earth makes you think the indecisive Corbyn would have
            any chance of wading through this nonsense, nobody from any party would have the first clue.
            This is unprecedented within the last one hundred years.

            Different suggestions are being enacted , every few days, to see which is effective.
            This is analogous to someone with Sepsis, when the hospital doctors try one intravenous antibiotic,
            first, wait ninety minutes to see if it works, then move on to a different antibiotic
            and so on, hoping that one will do the trick.

  • michael norton

    We are all in it together, Ms.Nicola Sturgeon, attending member of COBRA

    People have been urged to stop travelling to the Highlands in a bid to avoid the coronavirus.

    It follows reports of people with second homes or those with campervans travelling to the area in recent days.

    The issue has prompted Scotland’s finance secretary, who is also a Highlands MSP, to tell people to stay away.

    Kate Forbes said people should not make the Highlands their “means of self-isolation”.

    • Ken Kenn

      Your Corbyn would have been worse or just as bad as Johnson is wrong.

      Corbyn would not have started at the let’s bail out our chums in the City end first.

      The banks now have a 100% guarantee from the State that any money they borrow is cheap (.25% or lower) and that they can keep their differential interest rates.

      You don’t imagine for a minute surely that the shmucks interest rates will drop – surely?

      Corbyn and McDonnell would have started at the people first and the spivs and lenders last.

      Johnson and his mate Richi work for the rich for goodness sake – they pay their wages.

      Corbyn doesn’t and wouldn’t.

      80% of income is just one chisel this bunch of chisellers (40 years woman and boy ) from Thatcher to the current lot have used to thieve from the people who are ( and always have ) paying for capitalism’s financial fiascos.

      Ironically the Bosses of the world know very little as to how capitalism works.

      Johnson even less.

      Some poor soul commented pre -election: ” He ( Corbyn – can’t be any worse!”

      No he couldn’t be – not even if he tried.

      Some people decided vote in a liar knowing he was one.

      i wonder what they think now when he will cost them not only their incomes and livelyhoods – but possibly their and their loved one’s lives?

  • Lynne

    Thanks so much for your generous calm humorous wisdom. I am 74yrs old, and could not agree with you more. It’s the Boomer Remover, and that’s just fine.

    • Jack


      “boomer remover”?
      That’s callous, besides it is not only the elderly that risk death, more reports prove young adults need respiratory aid and hit hard by the virus. We are all in this together, we need to fight this virus as much as possible.

      • Marmite

        We are not all in this together, and repeating that over and again is nonsense.

        There are many who are standing to gain, the racists of the world are on the rise, certain groups are profiting big-time, banks and airlines and other toxic exploiters and polluters are being bailed out, Trump is in talks with the insurance industry, the rich are withdrawing to their oases with their stockpiles.

        The situation could not be more uneven and unequal, but you can go on parroting the mantra of the Conservatives if you like.

        Why is everyone sleepwalking or looking for scapegoats?

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    This is crazy, global, collated figures have a recovery to mortality ratio of 7:1. This sounds about right. America is reporting a mortality to recovery ratio of 2:1.
    Most likely explanation; you can’t “recover” if you haven’t been tested positive and if you haven’t been tested at all then you “can’t have had it”. Conclusion; they’re still not testing (even the sick) in America.

    • SA

      Simple explanation is that a lot of the cases are new cases and there are not many who have recovered yet. This is normal and the more into the epidemic you get, the more cases will recover.

      • Vivian O'Blivion

        Tweet posted on MoA. “If your a regular person in America and you want to know if you have the virus, cough in a rich person’s face and wait ’till their test results come back.”

  • nevermind

    Here comes a fairly brilliant idea. In a time when everyone is worried, the chips are down for many, no cultural diversion, no sport and only a grainy netflix to sdit on our backsides for, we need something to boost global moral.

    1) Announce it worldwide to prepare one act per country, whittled down over two weeks to present the online favorite in each respective country.

    It is then that one camera wo/man films this act in each country, no touching at all. By a certain date, these acts are transmitted on TV for us to vote on, either online or by phone ( free or for a small fee,10n p, to pay for the camera work).

    No need for large halls or bling or any presenters bar one who collates the votes.
    It is open to any country worldwide and it is screened for as many days ( for one or two hrs/day) as it takes to see them all.
    The final vote globally decides the numbers and we have one winner.
    The can be one person or a group, an old or new song, it does not matter, the idea is to boost the moral of people that have been stuck at home for weeks.

    I have talked to many, some who never were interested in Eurovision like me, and they all said its a great idea they would watch.
    This is not about profits, but a cultural move to boost global confidence and moral.

    I have no idea how to organise it as I do not work in the media, but the idea is to make it as safe as possible for all, without the bling, a simple cultural response to this wretched virus.
    If everyone shares this widely, somebody with the nous will pick it up and run with it.
    thanks in advance

  • Tony M

    Frayed knot nevermind, it sounds, to me absolutely terrible. No disrespect intended, you contribute much here and are loved and appreciated, but I would run a mile from such a thing, it would give me the motivation to forego television finally and forever, even the black and white analogue portable I keep in case I ever feel the need to fire up the Sinclair ZX81 to see if it still works, would end up in the tip. Just in case.

    Now some unpopular thoughts on Corona Virus, is this blow-back, in its worst form, blow-back surely must have been entirely predictable Was it unleashed on China, was controlled there by the severest measures but got out into the wild via overseas workers? That dangerous and mad tube Pompeo is still girning on in his usual unhinged way about China, Russia, Iran and so on, quite despicably, as Merkins are wont to do, knowing no better. As I mentioned in another post, the underlying issue might be a long overdue economic collapse and a deliberate cull of the costlier superfluous proles, having failed to get a major counter positive-eugenics war going, taking out the fittest and strongest disproportianately, who’d be the vanguard for any pushback against the elites and a real threat. Just as the 1918 pandemic flu might have had origins in vaccine-testing supposedly for meningitis or whatever on otherwise fit and healthy US troops who then transited through numerous places and returning home carrying whatever they’d got with them. I wouldn’t put anything past the vermin ruling over Britain, American or that middle-east shit-hole StolenLand aka Misrahell. Is this is natural mutation of something else or some Frankenstein gene-spliced laboratory creation, it should be possible to tell, but no-ones saying anything and the best micro-biologists in the world have the unfortunate habit of dying, with statistically highly-improbable frequency, in the most highly improbable ways.

    • SA

      It is a natural virus and related to the SARS CoV of 2003 and more distantly to the MERS virus of 2012. It is thought to be a virus of bats and does not usually infect humans but in this case it jumped to humans. How is not known but it could have transitted through other species. There is actually quite a lot already known about it. For the layman I found that The Moon of Alabama has many articles on this with some knowlegable commentators. Look it up. Sorry haven’t given you any references but I have been doing so in a parallel thread on this blog.

  • michael norton

    The New Normal should not feel normal

    The first minister Ms. Nicola Sturgeon has warned that stringent new measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus should not be considered “optional”.

    Nicola Sturgeon said guidance about social distancing and self-isolation should be regarded as a “set of rules”.

    It comes as she confirmed the number of coronavirus deaths in Scotland had reached 10, with 416 known cases.

  • michael norton

    Merkel in quarantine after meeting virus-infected doctor – spokesman!

    Germany to forbid even small groups of persons assembling.
    Eurozones biggest economy to go in to Full Lock-Down
    from Monday.

    • Jutta

      no, up to today not a complete lock-down. We can still take walks, go shopping for food and medicine plus drive the car to the country side for running or other exercise. We go out as a family to the park for ballgames or the like! Greetings from the middle of Germany

  • michael norton

    Now more than fifty thousand cases of Covid-19 in Italy

    More deaths in Italy than in China, who have 81,000 cases.

    • Steph

      ‘Now more than fifty thousand cases of Covid-19 in Italy’
      50k? Wow, thats a huge number! Why its… its… its nearly a whole 1% of the population! And just think, around 1% of that 1% have DIED. Thats a whacking great 0.01% or one in every 10.000 people. Yep, people definitely need to understand, we need a complete collapse of the global economy and a total abolition of human rights to combat that.
      Sorry for the sarcasm, but I despair.

        • Steph

          How many deaths caused by hysteria and a global economic crash are OK for you? How many years of misery and hardship are you happy for billions to endure? How many people stripped of privacy, silenced or locked away are you comfortable with? To answer your question, I am in my late 60’s and can reasonably expect to die within the next 0-15 years. I am ‘OK’ with a 1% chance of it being from coronavirus. But I am very unhappy at the prospect of leaving behind an hysterical, repressed and poverty-filled world for my children and grandchildren.

          • Jack


            You value the economy more than you value human lives?
            You worry about yourself because you are in your 60s but all people are affected by the virus, alot of young people end up in hospital because of it, which in turn cost alot by the way.

          • Steph

            Sorry Jack, your response is just too formulaic and shallow for me to bother responding to. Still, it’s a change for you to be worried by something other than people crossing borders.

          • AKAaka

            So infections will stop at 1%? 50K is actually 0.1% of the population, so that’s even better news isn’t it? Infection is going to stop at 0.1% of the population. Where did you get that idea? How does that fit in with the plan of getting 60-80% of the population infected? But that would mean, why it’s… it’s only just started!

            If there’s a 60-80% chance of you getting this, and you are in a higher risk category, maybe it’s best you keep your head in the sand because if you start to correct your mathematics, maybe it will be you who is hysterical.

            p.s. The world economy was already on a knife edge and a bubble bound to burst. You can’t blame the virus or panic for that, it was already broke. You can blame the government for the hysteria though. It was the government who tried to rubbish the virus and precautions, claiming flu was much worse. The sheep of course gobbled this up and parroted it everywhere with confidence, and still do. Now the government are drip feeding truths but the sheep are already committed to their regurgitated lines. Just like you.

            Your strategy of ignore in order to protect the economic illusion is questionable to say the least. So I’ll go ahead and say good luck with that, because your maths is flawed and your morals leave a lot to be desired.

          • AKAaka

            Just a little help because I know maths isn’t your strong point.

            To imagine 60% infected in quick time, look at Italy and times it by 600, but with no increase in medical care or resources. Or just stick your fingers in your ears and shout LALALALALA. You will have to remove a finger now and then though to point your finger and tell everyone how shallow they are.

          • Jack


            You will not stop the virus with that logic, put down the ego and make an effort, that will, if you care about the economy, really curb the economic toll.

          • Steph

            I don’t know what plan you are referring to, but 80% infected? No pandemic has ever come close to that. Even Spanish flu only infected 25% of the worlds population, and not all at the same time!

          • David

            Steph – spot on.

            Many people understandably respond “human lives are more important than the economy”. But I think the problem is that “economy” has become a dirty word, a sort of symbol for rich people.

            But it’s not. The economy is all of our lives. Yes – right now it doesn’t work very well and the rich are getting most of the benefits and that’s wrong and unfair and leads to a lot of unnecessary misery. But none of that changes the fact that if we bring it to a shuddering halt the suffering will be unmeasurable. And the worst of the suffering will be borne by those who are already struggling and living at the margin.

            There will be less of everything for many years, perhaps decades, as a result of the crash we are creating right now by our actions. Less everything means less ambulances, less hospitals, less drugs for many years. People will die directly as a result of crashing the economy, quite possible more people than will die form the virus. Others will be left jobless, or without pensions, unable to afford food, warmth or shelter. And these sorts of economic disaster frequently lead to war.

            We are panicking into measures based on utterly ureliable data and consequently are unable to quantify the benefit, and we are not even considering the cost. This is terrible leadership. To be fair Boris is hardly alone – 90% of the world has made the same foolish series of errors.

            We ignored the crisis when we should have been paying attention, and now we are panicking into an overreaction. What is happening now is akin to the proverbial yelling fire in a crowded theater.

            The latest data from China suggests a CFR of 1.4% in Wuhan when the hospitals are overwhelmed with a very clear age related bias both for becoming infected and for risk of fatality. My view is that this is still likely an overestimate based on their methodology. It is also the case that heterogenous mixing models suggest that only 25%-50% of the population will get infected rather than 70%+. The result therefore, even if our hospitals became overhwelmed, would be about 150,000 to 450,000 deaths in the whole of the UK largely amongst the elderly and already ill. This is of course very sad, but the damage wrought by closing down our economy will be far greater.

        • Jack


          Terribly wrong!
          The cost will be tremendous both in lives and on economy if people do not act.
          Imagine if China wouldnt act at all – you would have millions and eventually billions infected in no time. That would indeed crash the economy not only in China but elswhere where this policy would be used.

  • Dom

    Let’s hear some reflections from the elderly Tories on here to how highly Dominic Cummings actually rates their lives. Rhe herd immunity strategy must have come as a rude old shock to some ifelong exponents of Von Misean/Spencerian ideology.

    • David

      Herd immunity is the only strategy. Whether it comes through infection or vaccine (unlikely in my view) it is how epidemics come to an end. And isolating the elderly while allowing younger people to become infected is likely, in my view, to be the strategy that most reduces the risk to the elderly. If you don’t do something to allow the young to become infected at a greater rate than the elderly, then all will be infected at the same rate – which means more elderly will be infected in total and thus more deaths.

      • Jack


        Only strategy? Absolutely not. Not even WHO propose this experiment of herd immunity. Why not look towards the nations in asia that have cut back on the spread? They havent used this policy.

        • David


          I’m not quite sure what you mean by “herd immunity” – so there is a possibility we are talking slightly at cross purposes.

          Four thoughts.

          1. I absolutely agree that we should have acted as did the nations which cut back on the spread. Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, S Korea – quite possibly Germany too. I was extremely angry that we were not doing so two months ago. Sadly I believe that the US and UK now have hundreds of thousands of cases, perhaps millions, and it is too late to attempt to contain the spread in the way that the nations who jumped on this in January were able to do. This is tragically sad.

          2. Herd imunity, in the sense I am using the word, is not an experiment; it is simply a fact. Herd immunity means that enough people have gained immunity to the disease (whether through infection or vaccination) that the disease no longer spreads. Immune people act like boron rods in a nuclear reactor; when they are exposed to the virus, instead of becoming infected and spreading it further, they simply absorb it and don’t pass it on. This is how epidemics end, and since the opportunity to contain and eliminate the virus, if it ever truly existed, has passed, there is no longer any other way. The disease will spread until such time as herd immunity is reached. In other words, whatever the percentage is that must get the disease for us to achieve herd immunity, that percentage of us are going to get the disease. The only question is when each of us will get it.

          3. So what is the best strategy? Clearly we want to try and avoid overhwleming our hospitals so that as many infected people as possible get good treatement as opposed to no treatment, thus reducing the overall mortality rate. We also know that old people both consume more hospital resources and are far more likely to do than younger people. So doesn’t it therefore make sense to try and ensure that younger people get infected and become immune first – in other words devote our efforts to isolating the elderly as best we possibly can delaying their infection as long as possible and allowing younger folks to continue to work? This could have several benefits:
          (a) Younger people place a lower burden on our hospital system as they are less susceptible to infection, require hospitalization at a lower rate, and ICU care at a much lower rate than older people. So we can afford for more of them to become sick quicker than older folks, thus helping ensure that the outbreak is over quicker.
          (b) We can damage the economy less by keeping more people working.
          (c) If younger people catch this earlier than older people, and we can reach herd immunity as a whole population by 70% of young people and 20% of old people having been infected (rather than, say, 50% of each group as will haoppen iof we protect all people equally) then far fewer old people will die in total.

          (4) I really don’t care what the WHO is recommending. They have been consistently recommending bad ideas since the start of this pandemic.

          • Jack


            2. It is a experiment because virus do not always establish that immunity as one think, besides most likely millions would die throughout the world if one are supposed to do nothing against the virus.

            “It is currently unknown whether anyone can get reinfected with the novel coronavirus, which complicates plans to achieve herd immunity naturally. “The only safe way we will be able to get herd immunity against this virus is a vaccine,” said Natalie Dean, a biostatistician at the University of Florida who specializes in infectious disease epidemiology.”


            3. As my link above show young people are also infected by it and need to go to the hospital, they dont die as much it seems but the resource argument you try to use doesnt work. Remember also that the chinese were slow in the start too but didnt use herd immunity to curb their numbers.
            a) Again look at the asians how they managed. They didnt do it this way.

            4. That is a straight lie.
            Actually WHO proposals have been the policies that have worked, namely the ones used in asia.
            The nations proposing herd immunity is few if any by now makes no sense trying it when other nations have managed by other ways and that quite fast.

          • David


            1. Singapore, Taiwan, S Korea etc. did not follow WHO recommendations. All these nations immediately shut down all flights from China and quarantined anyone arriving from China. They also implemented massive testing, contact tracing and isolation programs even for people who tested negative. Singapore had more than 10,000 people in isolation within a few days of finding its first case The WHO was recommending none of this at the time, and in fact continued to recommend that people be allowed to travel to and from China through the whole period. They also failed to issue clear advice about testing and isolation. The WHO is a throughly corrupt organization, and Dr. Tedros has a long and sordid record of taking bribes and covering up epidemics including three separate cholera epidemics in Africa.

            2. “It is currently unknown whether anyone can get reinfected with the novel coronavirus, which complicates plans to achieve herd immunity naturally.” There is very strong evidence that at least temporary immunity is obtained by the overwhelming majority of patients who recover. There were some anecdotal accounts of patients being reinfected coming out of China early on, but only one actual documented case (which could be just as easily explained by a false test result). In general immunity to a particular strain of the ‘flu resulting from infection is pretty good and tends to be long-lasting in most people. ‘Flu vaccines are not nearly as good and tend to provide immnuity only for a few months.

            But none of that matters at this point. Sadly the genie is out of the bottle. I am as angry as you that it has got to this point. We absolutely should have done what the Asian nations did. But we did not, and now it is too late. There is no way now to stop this pandemic running its course and no vaccine will arrive before it has. It will take 3-6 months, at the end of which somewhere between 25%-50% of us will have caught it (probably not the 70%+ some sources are suggesting), and there may be a second wave too.

            So we can try and help the elderly by adopting policies which protect them differentially, or we can allow everyone to be infected equally. Those are our choices.

          • Jack

            1 WHO recomendations is based on what measures that worked, they propose the policies asians have dealt with it.

            2 That is the issue, we dont know how the immunity works yet so why propose that plan?

            Yes europe in whole has been slow I agree with you.
            But we dont and should not give up, look at the chinese – the chinese were slow in the beginning, now they have allegedly very few cases. If they (and other asian nations) can, so can the western world.

            I think I have said what I want, if you want you can reply with a final response.

      • David

        PS I wouldn’t describe myself as elderly although I’m certainly not young any more. I’m definitely not a Tory, although I am equally definitely not Labour either. I have sympathy with many, although not all, of the views of Von Mises; I have not read Spencer. FWIW My greatest criticism of the Austrians is their acceptance of the absolute ownership of land (and other natural resources) through the admixture of labour. I do not recognize the Tory party’s actions, even that subset who cloak their rapacious behaviour behind a shield of free market justification, as representative of von Mises at all. Privatization, and removal of some regulations while retaining other far more insidous barriers to free and fair competition, is not the same thing as a free market at all. And capitalism, while an essential component of liberty, is not a sufficient guarantee in and of itself.

        I am no blanket defender of Thatcher, but I do think she ended up bearing the blame for many of the sins of her predecessors in the sense that she inherited a dysfunctional economy and that there was no easy solution available to her.

      • michael norton

        How long did it take the indigenous peoples of the Americas, to obtain herd immunity from the disease ravages of the Spanish and Portugues invaders?

        • David


          What’s your point?

          I’m not happy this disease is here – but it is. It’s going to keep spreading until the herd becomes immune. Sadly that’s an unchangeable fact. The question is shoud we try and game the herd immune response to preferentially protect the elderly who are more vulnerable, or should we allow all people to catch it equally?


          • SA

            In order to game herd immunity you really got to understand how it works. Neither Cummings nor Boris do.

  • michael norton

    Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein has tested positive for the coronavirus in prison, according to a report on Sunday.

    Turkey has increased by a third the number of cases in 24 hours.
    This may lead to a withdraw of Turkish military in Syria.
    Which would be a good thing.
    Syria has its first Covid-19 victim, a woman, who moved into Syria, already having it.

  • nevermind

    The assumption, that this issue is not really having much gumption or interest raising abilities here on Craig Murrays thread, is really a LIE.

    Nearly 8 pages of unemotional claptrap juddering, followers of the MSM are creating their very own, bless.

  • michael norton

    Yesterday I asked the manager in my local Tesco, how often they cleaned the handles on their baskets and trolleys, he said he did not know but thought it might be once a day.

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