Backing the Wrong Horseman 1598

Nobody knows how many people died as a result of the UK/US Coalition of Death led destruction of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and, by proxy, Syria and Yemen. Nobody even knows how many people western forces themselves killed directly. That is a huge number, but still under 10% of the total. To add to that you have to add those who died in subsequent conflict engendered by the forced dismantling of the state the West disapproved of. Some were killed by western proxies, some by anti-western forces, and some just by those reverting to ancient tribal hostility and battle for resources into which the country had been regressed by bombing.

You then have to add all those who died directly as a result of the destruction of national infrastructure. Iraq lost in the destruction 60% of its potable drinking water, 75% of its medical facilities and 80% of its electricity. This caused millions of deaths, as did displacement. We are only of course talking about deaths, not maiming. This very sober analysis from Salon makes a stab at 2.4 million for Iraqi deaths caused by the war.

The number of Iraqi casualties is not just a historical dispute, because the killing is still going on today. Since several major cities in Iraq and Syria fell to Islamic State in 2014, the U.S. has led the heaviest bombing campaign since the American War in Vietnam, dropping 105,000 bombs and missiles and reducing most of Mosul and other contested Iraqi and Syrian cities to rubble.

An Iraqi Kurdish intelligence report estimated that at least 40,000 civilians were killed in the bombardment of Mosul alone, with many more bodies still buried in the rubble. A recent project to remove rubble and recover bodies in just one neighborhood found 3,353 more bodies, of whom only 20% were identified as ISIS fighters and 80% as civilians. Another 11,000 people in Mosul are still reported missing by their families.

For a vivid illustration, here is a photo of Sirte, Libya, after it was kindly “liberated” by NATO aerial bombardment. NATO carried out 14,000 bombing sorties on Libya.

Sirte, Libya, after NATO bombing

The neo-con drive to dominate the Middle East, in alliance with Saudi Arabia and Israel, has caused an apocalyptic level of death and destruction. It really is very difficult indeed to quantify the number of people killed as a direct result of the policy of “liberal intervention” in these countries. Bombing people into freedom has collateral damage. There are also the vast unintended consequences. The destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria launched a wave of refugee migration which led to politicial instability throughout Europe and contributed to, among many other consequences, Brexit.

For the purposes of argument, I am going to put an extremely conservative figure of 5 million on the number of people who died as a result of Western military intervention, direct or proxy, in the Middle East.

Now compare that to the worldwide death toll from coronavirus: 220,000. Let me say that again.
Western aggressive wars to coronavirus: 5,000,000 : 220,000.

Or put it another way. The total number of deaths from coronavirus in the UK so far is about half the number of civilians killed directly by the US military in the single city of Mosul.

Makes you think, doesn’t it? There are four horsemen of the apocalypse, and while of course I do not blame people for focusing on the one which is riding at them personally, do not forget the others. Coronavirus has not finished killing. But then nor have western wars.

The sight which I cannot stand is the mainstream media which cheered on the horseman of war as they argued for the invasion Iraq on the basis of lies – and still defend it as a “liberation” – who now pretend massive concern for human life. The hypocrites are disgusting.

I was wrong when I initially wrote about the coronavirus.

Before I detail where I was wrong, let me say where I believe I was right. Large general population sampling antibody studies are now just beginning to emerge, and I feel reasonably confident that I was in fact correct that the mortality rate of coronavirus is under 1%, and probably not too different from the 0.5% generally quoted for Hong Kong flu. The term “infection fatality rate” is now being used to describe this true mortality rate. The “infection fatality rate” is the percentage of those who get the disease who die.

These are very early days for whole population sampling antibody studies, and the true picture should become more plain over the next month or two. I must say I have found it alarmingly difficult to explain to people the rather simple concept that you cannot infer a mortality rate among everybody who catches the disease, from the results you get when by definition you have only been offering tests to the most acute cases presenting as needing serious treatment. Of course a fair proportion of the worst cases don’t make it through the disease. But there is a population of millions in the UK (and nobody has a serious idea how many) who have had the disease with no or mild symptoms, and who do not figure in the statistics.

The very large majority of people in the UK who have had coronavirus have never been tested. That is simply true. How many, nobody knows. That is also true.

I do not endorse the extrapolation from New York to the UK, in this Daily Mail piece, to try to calculate how many people may have had coronavirus in the UK. But buried in there is the best collection I can find anywhere of what sampling antibody studies are indicating for the “infection fatality rate” across various US and European locations, and there is a strong clustering under 1%. Now these are preliminary studies, though almost all from reputable institutions. Proper, large scale, antibody testing programmes to produce peer reviewed and authoritatively published studies are on the way, but not here yet. I repeat, though, that I think the infection mortality rate is somewhere below 1%.

Where I was wrong, was in not realising that what is different about this disease from a flu is that it is really very, very contagious. So a far higher percentage of the population get it, all at once. Over two seasons, only about 30% of the UK population got the Hong Kong flu. Unchecked, it seems this coronavirus can spread very much quicker than that. I do not know why, but it appears that it can. So the lockdown policies to prevent health services being overwhelmed are needed and do have my support.

I do not however support the level of alarmism and panic. Of course the disease is really appalling for those who get it badly. It is a painful, protracted and terrifying experience. But a similar level of scrutiny of extreme illnesses of other kinds would bring similar stories. I have had three brushes with death in my own life.

In 2003 I had multiple pulmonary emboli (bloodclots in both lungs), which left me in a coma for days, was incredibly painful and I understand very similar in terms of experience to the end phase of this coronavirus. In 1986 I was actually declared dead in a hospital in Kaduna, Northern Nigeria (salmonella paratyphoid B), and was woken up on a morgue trolley by a cockroach eating my nostril. In 1974 I had emergency surgery for peritonitis, and was in hospital for 5 weeks and then a convalescent home. Retailing the experience or images of any of these illnesses would be as capable or more of generating the terror being created by the detailed coverage of extreme cases of coronavirus.

Yes the coronavirus is horrible if you get it badly. Almost all severe disease is horrible and death very seldom consists of peacefully stopping breathing, despite Hollywood. I wonder if having lived so much in Africa has changed my attitude to death. We do not see death much in the UK. Did you know the British have a 350% higher propensity than the Italians to put their elderly into care homes? That is why the deaths in Italy were so much more visible, even though the truth is that the UK government is doing not significantly better, and quite probably worse, than the Italian government, at containing the virus. It is only now making a start at adding English care home deaths to the official statistics (Scotland has for weeks).

I do support lockdown, I do support every sensible precaution being taken because the virus is so contagious. I utterly deplore the vast quantities being spent on war, the $220 billion being squandered on Trident missiles while the most basic precautions stockpiling against the much more real threat of a pandemic were not undertaken, because Tories begrudged spending a few millions on the NHS. I get all of that and I repeat it. But we must not be panicked into believing that the threat is greater than it is. You have approximately a 99% chance, (still nobody knows for certain) of surviving this disease if you catch it. If you are under 60, your chance of death is almost certainly at worst 1 in 500 if you catch it. If you are older or like me have heart and lung issues, it looks a bit bleak. But we are not immortal, nor would I wish to be.

But remember this. Your odds of survival are massively better than were those of a civilian in a country that your country chose to invade in recent years. Did you, personally, do enough to try to stop that?

Remember, there are other horsemen.


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1,598 thoughts on “Backing the Wrong Horseman

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  • bevin

    It is interesting to see mention of food rationing: for many of us, of the superfluous generation condemned to DNR notices, Food Rationing is where we came in. Food rationing by the state that is, not Costco, Krogers or the marketplace. There are things much worse than the state, so long as people make sure that it is not used against them.
    The market brings homelessness: the state can build houses and ensure that all have homes.
    The market brings DNR notices: the state can ensure that there are enough resources-from beds to masks to nursing staff- in the healthcare system to accommodate the strains of an epidemic.
    The market teaches us to rely on other peoples’ food- that is why famines are so regular in food exporting countries-. The state can encourage agriculture and ensure self sufficiency.
    In fact the history of the state has largely been one of the use of centralised resources to protect the population from famines, natural disasters and invasions. And when the state failed, and people starved or died in large numbers, it was deemed that the Mandate of Heaven had run out and that a new state was necessary.
    No doubt, as the ‘potato famine’ devastated Ireland and the famines that came with British rule, and export commodity production, to India, raged, there were many who from comfortable vantage points far away from the crises denied that there were crises at all. The Trevelyan family name sticks out in this context.
    Denying that anything could be done about the mass starvation of poor people- most of whom were already half dead anyway and all of whom were mortal- the public was told that to feed the Irish without insisting on their slaving hours for every penny they got, put the entire economy in peril and subverted every principle of society.
    We used to think that such callous and idiotic ideas had disappeared with the Depression, the Beveridge Report and the coming-by popular demand- of the Welfare State which brought the people of the UK unprecedentedly high living standards, opportunities for social mobility and encouragement of the talents and creativity of the nation. But we had reckoned without the cheap intellectual appeal of neo-liberalism and its get rich quick schemes. And now, when everything calls out for enlightened and firm state action, to save lives and provide the foundation for future happiness, these discussions are overwhelmed by lazy minded disciples of Thatcherite economics and sociology for whom the only possible role if the state is the protection of private property and the war criminals who broke the law in its defence.

    • Loony

      Are there things worse than the state?

      The US state decided to infect Guatemalan prisoners with syphilis.
      The British state decided to deliberately expose conscript servicemen to radiation produced by nuclear tests.
      An plethora of states have decided to appropriate citizens money to develop, test, produce and store nuclear weapons
      The German state decided to lay waste to all of Europe and kill 15% of the population of the USSR.
      The Cambodian state decided to liquidate approximately 30% of its entire population
      The Chinese state decided to starve to death somewhere between 26 and 42 million people
      The USSR decided to kill a few 10’s of millions of its own population.
      Various states decided to fight WW1 and kill about 40 million people
      The British state oversaw the Irish potato famine which killed about 1 million people and saw the population of Ireland fall by 25%
      The South African state decided to introduce Apartheid.
      The British state decided to infect hemophiliacs with AIDS
      The Saudi Arabian government decides to execute homosexuals and apostates and pretty much anyone else they don’t like.
      A range of states decided to bomb to destruction pretty much all real estate in Iraq, Libya and Syria

      I could go on and on – it would be a very long list. It encompasses all governments of all political persuasions .

      And then all of a sudden and for no reason at all Governments can be relied upon to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth with regard to Covid-19.

      • fwl

        The German state, whose Supreme Court (unlike ours with Factortame) never accepted that EU courts were superior to their domestic Supreme Court, have ruled that the EU Court of Justice over stepped its powers when in Dec 2018 it declared ECB QE to be lawful. According to Bloomberg the German court have given the EU court 3 months to fix its ruling!

        When I learnt of Factortame many years ago I was really surprised as to how it had happened, but maybe it didn’t have to happen that way and perhaps we could have stayed and just adopted a German approach to the EU. It seems to me in the EU there are countries who obey EU laws, there are countries who say they obey but sometimes don’t and then there is one who is above it. Anyway QE appears to either be crazy or at least in need of serious scrutiny and so at least the Germans are attempting to focus on the rapid forestation of all world economies with Magic Money Trees.

        So what is this going to mean for (1) all the other compliant states who (a) obey the EU Court and who (b) need QE bail out money and (2) for ECB QE bailout funds?

        Is this going to result in other countries re-considering their mass QE state support?

        As usual I have no idea.

      • Ian

        Well I have to congratulate you on your latest spin of the random outrage generator. Well done. Way to muddy the waters with a host of hot button assertions, leading to, guess what, a pseudo claim, which hardly anybody is actually contending.

        • Loony

          Hardly anybody is actually contending apart from the person who postulated that there were worse things than the state – the person to whom the response was addressed.

          By the way they are not assertions but facts.

          • Ken Kenn

            Is this similar to a ‘ fate worse than death? ‘

            No State of any kind is easy:

            It’s Anarchy.

            Now you may disagree Left and Right but in order for Humans to survive individualism is out of the window.

            Have we come all this way through Husbandry of animals – crops etc in order to stand up and apart as human beings against The Powers That Be?

            Can we not be ‘ The Powers That be? ‘

            Or is that too big an ask?

            Nothing wrong with Individualism – but it doesn’t keep the lights on or feed the Starving billions.

            We cann live with Individualism when we can feed clothe – water and house the people of the world.

            Until then – it remains Philosophy and not Politics (action ).

      • bevin

        “The British state oversaw the Irish potato famine which killed about 1 million people and saw the population of Ireland fall by 25%”
        An interesting interpretation. In fact the British government refused to use its powers, and fulfill its duty of protection, when faced with the potato blight. It did so because it wished to minimise the powers of the state for the same reasons that the neo-liberals today want to do the same: where the state refuses to act power is put into the hands of the ruling class, the wealthy and The Establishment.

        The distrust of the state that we see here comes not from an anarchist perspective in which the duties of the state are undertaken by small self governing communities but from the liberal perspective in which the powers of the state are employed for the exclusive benefit of those who own the economy and their agents in the political, media and academic establishment.

        By the way, nobody that I know of trusts the government on the Covid issue, what we believe is that to hold the government to account and to force it to adopt measures that it does not wish to enforce- the ‘lockdown’ quarantines being the best current example- it is best to argue on the basis of established facts rather than to howl imprecations at the ‘state’ and the government, while in fact urging it to take the dangerous and anti-social measures that it wants to take. And which Mr Cummings ideology teaches ought to be taken.

        Public opinion is very rational in this instance, it knows that lives will be saved by restricting activities which lead to the spreading of the virus, and it knows that the government wants to end these restrictions- it is this public steadfastness which is going to control,the spread of the pandemic.
        The nonsense you, Loonie and the other OffGuardian types, are spreading is precisely what Trump, Johnson and the capitalist class want the public to believe. They can hardly believe their good luck when they discover that many of those giving them the most fervent support actually consider themselves to be opposing them, and regard their consent to the state’s abdication of its responsibility to protect the vulnerable as a revolutionary act. l In a sense, of course, they are right- transferring power from a notionally democratic representative body into the hands of the corporations is precisely the revolution desired by fascists.

        • SA

          Loony confuses tthe concept of the state with misapplication a of how certain regimes have distorted that concept.

        • Johny Conspiranoid

          “duties of the state are undertaken by small self governing communities”
          A small self governing community is a small state.

      • Jack

        Excess mortality is not created out of thin air, it is objective facts. These numbers doesnt say what people died from but its a no-brainer to claim that Covid19 have alot to do with these additional deaths. Or what else do you claim is behind the rise?

        • John+Pillager

          There are 100s of 1000s missing vital procedures and Ops right now.
          People are dying because nothing else is going on in UK hospitals.

          • Clark

            I’m not convinced that’s so. A regular, Tony M, commented on here that he was treated for broken bones just a few days ago. A friend of a friend continues to receive cancer treatment.

          • Jack

            How do you explain additional deaths in countries with no lockdown?

          • michael norton

            My very local to me Urgent Care Center closed on Friday.
            Yet the government say the NHS is now open for everyone.
            The two things seem incompatible.

          • Clark

            Michael, I don’t suppose they said why; it could be cross-infection risk, or it could be staff shortage.

            Yesterday I called a friend of mine who until recently was a nurse. I was specifically asking about the situation in the NHS. A friend of hers is a theatre nurse who has been taken off theatre to do ventilators in a covid-19 ward. She complains that her training on ventilators is utterly inadequate.

            Despite the decreasing death rate, critical cases are still accumulating in wards because many take a long time to either recover or die.

            Staff are complaining about increased work pressure, and shortage of personal protection equipment.

  • Tatyana

    Calm down, dear commentators, the game is over. China has vaccine already. Old good method, inactivated virus.
    Proved effective in mice and monkeys, vaccinated monkeys didn’t fell ill even when the live virus was brought directly in their trachea
    Key word is PiCoVacc

    I know, there’s a lot of work before they are able to offer it to the world, let’s not discuss the procedure

    • Tatyana

      @Clark, I hope you cheer up on hearing this news. Also, I’d like to thank you for advocating scientific approach.

      Do you think we have to stock up on popcorn now, as an new drama will unfold? I expect USA will play “bad chinese vaccine, outdated cheap vaccine, malicious wrecked chinese vaccine” and “good modern expensive US reliable vaccine”. New but boring drama with predictable dialogues.
      Hope russians calmly and silently get vaccinated and move on.

        • Clark

          So I’m hearing that a number of vaccines are being trialled, but the problem is that the test subjects (animals at first, humans later) have to be re-exposed to live virus after increasing time periods, because it is possible for vaccination to make matters worse, on exposure to live virus maybe three months after vaccination.

          So we are definitely not out of danger yet.

    • On the train

      That sounds hopeful Tatyana , though as you say “ let’s not discuss the procedure”. Well done for finding out about it. i expect you are right about the likely western response .

      • Kempe

        As Clark says it’s only one of a number of vaccines being trialled. The US, UK, Australia, Germany and others all have offerings at a similar state of development.

  • ET

    I realised that I made my first comments on Mr. Murray’s blog in this thread and didn’t give a message of support, for which I apologise. I have been reading your blog for a long time now and wish to say how much better informed I am because of that and thanks to your insight and fortitude. I have also read your three books and look forward to your next if you ever get around to it. I hope even in this difficult time for you that you and your family are well and as far as possible, keeping your spirits up. I hope that your legal preparations are going smoothly.Thank you for your great work and may you have many more years of great blogging.

  • Loony

    Perhaps the person most responsible for the UK being in lockdown is Professor Neil Ferguson. Ferguson believes that current measures are essential and necessary to protect the general population.

    Whilst Ferguson is content with the entire population being subject to effective house arrest he is seemingly not content that his advice and recommendations apply to himself.

    • Herbie

      There have been a number of similar cases now. Advisors acting contrary to their advice.

      I mean, how do these stories get out.

      Are hacks watching their homes?

      There are loads of celeb stories of this nature, for example.

      That’s much more trivial.

      You have to ask if there’s a political motivation behind these advisors being “outed”, or is it simply good copy, as with the celeb-outing.

        • Kempe

          Which he should’ve realised before sloping off for a quick legover with his bit on the side.

          He’s now resigned.

          Whether this will signal a change in Govt. policy remains to be seen

  • Loony

    With all things Covid-19 it is important to follow the science.

    When Professor Ferguson ignores his own recommendations he does so based on his own scientific knowledge. Hence he is able to say that although he failed to follow social distancing guidelines but “I acted in the belief that I was immune, having tested positive for coronavirus and completely isolating myself for almost 2 weeks after developing symptoms”

    Ah well bad optics, but a sound scientific rationale to underpin his decision making process. Except…

    Sir Patrick Vallance, another accredited and respected scientist has today opined that people who recover from Coronavirus are not exempt from contracting it a second time.

    Luckily the science is clear and unambiguous – If you recover from Coronavirus then you can act in the belief that you are immune whilst simultaneously acting in the belief that you can re-contract the infection.

      • Loony

        This would be a valid point were it not for the fact that a scientist is citing science as a justification for his behavior, and another scientist is citing science to reach the opposite conclusions of the first scientist.

        A lot of things are about evidence – such as the need to review evidence so as to reach a determination regarding logical coherence.

        • Clark

          It’s still just trivia. It should be no surprise to anyone that scientists talk about their everyday lives in terms of science. This is no more newsworthy than me going sunbathing.

          • glenn_uk

            Ah, but it’s a victory for the likes of Loony. It shows this guy isn’t “pure”, so therefore his message is besmirched.

            Perhaps Loony doesn’t understand that this isn’t how science works, but he certainly understands how to work the ‘Poisoning the Well’ fallacy.

      • Herbie

        Science, these days, like Art, is about funding.

        Modelling is speculative.

        Hypothetical numerical projections presented as highly likely outcomes only to be rolled back enormously at a later stage.

        And there’s a history of this with these Modelers.

        They’re not doing Science.

        They’re Modelling.

        No need to defend them.

        • Clark

          Mathematical modelling is a vitally important aspect of science. I’ve written mathematical models myself; just look at my Gravatar. Computers are mathematical instruments that enabled the solution of non-linear equations; a massive advance. Computers are to mathematics as microscopes and telescopes are to biology and astronomy.

          • Herbie

            Math is but a tool, a functional tool, of rational enquiry, of Science.

            Hypothetical speculation in Modelling, is just that.


            Should the actual numbers be much less by factors. then we reject the Model upon which the prognosis was based.

            At the very least we ought to be looking to better Modelling.

            Don’t see much action on this front.

            I mean, is this fulsome rational enquiry and science, or like a religious faith kinda thing.

          • Clark

            Herbie, the computing device you’re posting from was designed as a set of simulations. It seems to have been working OK when you posted your comment. People moan about the weather forecasts, but it’s like litter, you never notice the girt load in the bin, just the wee bit on the floor. We are surrounded by stuff that first existed as computer models; we never notice.

            The people who usually complain about computer modelling are the ones who want to cast doubt on climate science. They don’t complain about aerodynamic modelling of all the stuff we’re surrounded by. It’s very selective criticism, and rather predictable.

            Do you think science should steer clear of all maths, or just maths done on computers?

          • Bayard

            “I mean, is this fulsome rational enquiry and science, or like a religious faith kinda thing.”

            The latter, it always is. Nobody is really interested in science, because science is about theories and proving them wrong. Religion, however, is about the truth and persuading people to accept that you are right (or abusing them if they don’t).

          • Clark

            Well I love science, and all sorts of stuff will be disproved about SARS-CoV-2 and CoVID-19 over the coming years. But when you find yourself in the path of an oncoming truck, you take the action you know to get out of its path rather than hanging around to refine your theory.

            Herbie seems to think that models don’t evolve, but they’re being worked on and updated all the time. In the case of covid-19 this takes place in full view of the public. At the link below you can see three major versions of the ICL model each with several modifictions (‘commits’) as it went along.


          • Herbie

            Well, let’s give thanks then that these virus and climate modelers are kept busy and well away from aerodynamic modelling.

            Seems there are useful models and completely crap models, the latter having a documented history of complete crapness. often involving the same modelers and funding network.

            We can all agree, I’m sure, that it is correct to question a history of poor modeling when in other areas modeling is excellent.

            That would be the rational way to proceed.

          • Clark

            If you’re really interested and aren’t just manufacturing doubt, here are a couple of articles about modelling. Non-technical:


            Technical – “Transparency, Reproducibility, and Validity of COVID-19 Projection Models”


            I know that climate models are validated by setting them to initial conditions from the past, and then running them to see how well they follow what actually happened.

  • Loony

    Continuing with the theme of all responses to Covid-19 being led by science it seems that people should be wearing face masks at exactly the same time as not wearing face masks

    It is little wonder that the Government need to be actively involved. The general population are far too stupid to understand the simple principles of going outside whilst at the same time staying inside and wearing face masks contemporaneously with not wearing face masks.

    Nothing could be more straightforward, and just to think the UK government spends over £90 billion per year on education and still the population are unable to understand these very simple principles absent specific government direction

    • Clark


      Anyone wanting to understand the masks issue would do much better to bypass the confusion being peddled by the Graun and go straight to the systematic review of various mask research. It is unambiguous:

      Face masks could offer an important tool for contributing to the management of community transmission of Covid19 within the general population. […] Our analysis suggests that their use could reduce onward transmission by asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic wearers if widely used in situations where physical distancing is not possible or predictable, contrasting to the standard use of masks for the protection of wearers. If correctly used on this basis, face masks, including homemade cloth masks, can contribute to reducing viral transmission.

      Yes Loony, I pointed out that piece of bad science coverage from the Guardian this morning:

      Is that why you reposted it? Just to help undermine public understanding of science a wee bit further? Try to increase the death rate a bit? You’re clearly better at understanding science than the people you’re trying to mislead.

      • Loony

        To suggest that I am seeking to increase the death rate is an utterly disguising accusation disseminated on the basis of no evidence whatsoever.

        There are a lot of things that are either unknown or unclear with regard to both the pandemic and the response to the pandemic. No less a figure than Jonathon Sumption a former Supreme Court judge has urged the public to ask questions, and to challenge assertions so that they may as reasonable people seek an informed understanding as to an issue that effects every aspect of their lives.

        You seem to claim perfect knowledge and according to you anyone that disagrees with you or challenges any of your musings must by definition be motivated by the most base, vile and genocidally nefarious motives. Accusations that are naturally made with complete disregard for any form of evidence whatsoever.

        • Clark

          Oh well I’m terribly sorry Loony, but you do seem entirely capable of understanding the point I made on the previous page, and you were commenting when I posted it, so why did you link to that crap, confusing Guardian nonsense rather than the clear and unambiguous systematic review it was supposedly about? Should I just assume you’re hopelessly thick in future?

        • glenn_uk

          Loony: Your interest in increasing the death rate is illustrated by such sentiments (expressed by you) that “The NHS has to go”.

          If we were to have the shambles of a health system that your American system is currently floundering under, there would be vastly more death. And I agree, that would be utterly disgusting – you should be ashamed of yourself. You will find no support whatsoever in the UK for abolishing the NHS, so why are you expressing such idiotic and extremely unpopular notions?

          You do seem a even more confused than usual though, which is understandable given the unstable lunatic Trump that you’re here to provide cover for. What is your story now, that C-19 doesn’t exist? It’s isn’t a problem, is going away… what?

  • Dave

    Average overall death rate is a guide and the average this year was lower than the preceding 5 years before the lockdown and after the peak had passed.

    So any increase could be due to the lockdown and calling every death due to Covid! But the figures after the lockdown will need closer examination, separating respiratory illness from others, because presumably certain causes such as road accidents will decline (although I have witnessed two near misses on an empty road) and accidents in the home will increase!

          • Clark

            Thank you Brian. I’ll get that old Dobsonian back up to Scotland yet, eh?

          • jake

            Clark, am I missing something? You say the infection rate is is down from 300,000 to 100,000, but isn’t that just a derived number, an estimate generated by the model? Isn’t it the case that from end of March to the present that the actual number of new cases has been pretty much stable at about 4500 a day.

          • Clark

            300,000 to 100,000 is the infection rate per day as estimated by ICL’s model, which is about the best guide we have. The number of confirmed case depends mostly on how many tests get done, and it is always far short of the actual number of infections, because infected people with no symptoms don’t seek testing, and no one else is keen to test them either, because there are too few test kits, medical staff are short of time, and medical staff needing testing.

            While covid-19 is spreading into a plentiful population with no resistance, ie. when it has no trouble finding new hosts, you’d expect deaths to be roughly proportional to infections, because both should increase at the same rate. So if you look at the Worldometers page:


            France, 170,551 confirmed cases, 25,531 deaths
            Germany, 167,007 confirmed cases, 6,993 deaths
            Russia, 155,370 confirmed cases, 1,451 deaths

            Rather similar confirmed case numbers, but lots of variation in deaths. What’s going on is that France has done the least tests, Germany middling and Russia the most, and that’s reflected in the confirmed cases. Look in the columns on the right:

            France, 1,100,228 total tests, 16,856 tests per million population
            Germany, 2,547,052 total tests, 30,400 tests per million population
            Russia, 4,460,357 total tests, 30,564 tests per million population

            OK it’s a rough correlation, but now compare other countries and you’ll find the same rough correspondence.

          • Bayard

            “It’s falling quite impressively now because lockdown decreased the infection rate from around 300,000 a day to around 100,000 a day, and it has continued to fall since then:”

            So how did the death rate manage to fall “quite impressively” in the spring of 2018 without “lockdown” then? We see two peaks, one larger than the other, one where there is “lockdown” and one where there wasn’t, yet, apparently, it is obvious that the shape of the second peak is due to “lockdown” even when the similar shape of the first peak isn’t.

          • Clark

            Could you cite the graph you’re referring to please Bayard?

            Meanwhile, probably you’re talking about flu, and probably it started running out of available hosts. The restrictions do artificially the same as would happen naturally, only sooner; both arrest the rise by making it increasingly difficult for the virus to encounter new hosts.

            The difference is resistance in the population; covid-19 starts out in each new area with no resistance whatsoever in the population, so infection numbers rocket up with nothing to oppose them. By the time half the population are infected, it’s only half as likely for the virus to encounter new hosts, because half are already ‘occupied’ as it were. Its ‘target’ is 100%.

            But flu set off out into a population most of whom have encountered flu before; it couldn’t make 100% infectious, maybe only 20% (I’m guessing here), so it can only get a fifth as far before resistance arrests it.

    • glenn_uk

      Don’t worry about providing evidence, Dave! We’ll just take your word for these assertions.

      After all, it’s just sunshine and fresh air, that’s the ticket for beating C-19, right? Cor Blimey, if only the doctors were as brilliant as you. Have you considered going down to your nearest major hospital and enlightening them?

      • Dave

        Once it was revealed the overall death rate this year was below the average for preceding 5 years, (prior to lockdown) some fiddling the numbers and spin was required, as highlighted by Clark, to cast the figures as worse.

        This was done by saving up the numbers and casting as much as possible as Covid and releasing them to a provide an above average figure for one week only, and then spinning a spike to hide a below average death rate.

        • Clark

          Sure looks worse to me:

          “…saving up the numbers and casting as much as possible as Covid and releasing them to a provide an above average figure for one week only”

          This sounds like the care home deaths that hadn’t been counted, and were initially added into one single day of the ICL model. This distorted the figures for a couple of days, before those deaths were redistributed.

  • SA

    Some like Loony confuse science, hard data, with the interpretation of science by individual scientists sometimes influenced by politics. Others like Dave think that science is what the Advocate of bleach infusions, the idiotic POTUS says we must do. Others like node say that science is what one scientist finds and advocates is the right one Even though hundreds of others disagree. As to Paul, he thinks all science is a hoax and scientists are paid to fake results, but only those who fake results and get paid, thereby becoming ‘whistleblowers’ are to be believed. Rhys wants scientists rounded up and tried, some even locked up and perhaps tortured or killed.

    • Johny Conspiranoid

      You can’t prove anything with science. To prove something in science you have to know that you have all the relevant evidence has been collected and that all other possible explanations have been eliminated. You can never know those two things about anything. That said, the scientific method helps you guess the odds more successfully. It is an attempt to eliminate such things as confirmatory bias, group think, politics and bribary. I wonder how often it succeeds.

      • Brian c

        Johny Conspiranoid
        May 5, 2020 at 18:28
        The people the WHO serve want millions unemployed because they want an economic crash.

        I see …

      • James Charles

        “We don’t look for absolute proof, as that can never really exist in science, we look for what the preponderance of evidence tells us. There is no absolute proof for Gravity, Evolution, Quantum Mechanics, Particle Physics, insert your discipline of choice. There is only what the weight of evidence tells us. Climatology is no different.”
        “Five Characteristics of Science Denial”

        “No one claims “consensus” makes something true. This is a strawman argument and verging on sloganeering. Consensus studies show (a) that, in regards to global warming, a consensus exists {counters the argument the science is divided}, and (b) that it is strong.
        Everything in science is conditional, no better than the next experiment, but a scientific consensus, especially when it is strong, is the only rational guide to policy.
        And of course the science is always open to question–just not by complete an ignoramus with no grasp of the science. That means if you haven’t published in the field, maybe you should focus on learning, rather than correcting the experts.
        Genuine experts will satisfy themselves of the case for AGW. Non-experts who refuse to accept the overwhelming consensus of actual experts, albeit tentatively and provisionally as the experts do themselves, are merely the pathetic victims of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. And of course questions may be asked, though only those asked in good faith deserve answers. Arguments from logical fallacies and fabricated ‘facts’, or from sheer wilful ignorance, do not.”

      • Clark

        “I wonder how often it succeeds”

        Ha! We’re in the process of finding out, the hard way! We are our own lab rats!

        Stay safe Johny.

        But maybe science gets it right quite a lot. Look around at all the successes of our science, embodied in the technologies we use so often that we take them for granted. When I was growing up we had landline telephones and monochrome tellies that an adult could barely lift. I had absolutely no idea that by my 50s I’d have most of humanity’s accumulated knowledge at my fingertips and I’d be able to publish my thoughts internationally in a matter of milliseconds, from a slab of plastic I could rest in my hand.

    • Jack

      I think that its bizarre how many people live in denial about it, their attitude is in part what is making the spread and ultimately the deaths to happen.
      Some of these people argue that there is no pandemic, there is no death, there is no excess mortality, there has been no one dying from Covid19, that it is just a flu or the dead people didnt have much time left anyway.
      But the more wrong they are the more they think they are on to something. Bonkers!

    • Dave

      As you know Trump never said drink bleach which is what the BBC reported via a guest after a cut and paste of the press conference. The fact the reputable BBC pedalled that fake news is evidence of how this virus story and lockdown is contrived for political rather than medical reasons.

      You tube. BBC lies & fakery: editing and manipulating Trump “sunlight and bleach” press briefing

  • Clark

    Looks like we might have the first reliable indications of IFR infection fatality rate, from high-quality antibody tests in New York, city and state. IFR looks to be between 0.5% to 1.25%. Here are some links which I can’t be bothered to check right now; need sleep:

  • John Goss

    Heartwarming news. Professor Neil Ferguson, whose research has been largely funded by Bill Gates, has “stepped down” due to breaking the social distancing rules he imposed on us all. He entertained a lover but that of course is not the real story.

    The real story is he gave bad advice. Now the epidemic has peaked and his way out predictions of 250,000 deaths without lockdown led to the building of Nightingale hospitals and morgues have been shown to be utter bunkum. This is not for the first time. Thank God for the good honest reporting of OffGuardian to make those of us who chose to be aware privy to what was really happening. I even detected a mellowing from the creepy BBC, which I watch to get anger out of my system, this morning.

    Now can we please start to get our lives back and stop listening to the servants of authority. Thank you.

      • John Goss

        Yes well here and in the States they have often neglected all other patients to deal with COVID-19.

        “I fully recognise that looking at human life in from this purely economic perspective can seem harsh, almost inhumane. Can we really stand back and watch an elderly person ‘drown’ as their lungs fill up with fluid ‘Sorry, we are not spending money on more ventilators, because it is not cost-effective.’ Or suchlike.

        However, there is also a health downside associated with our current approach. Many people are also going to suffer and die, because of the actions we are currently taking. On the BBC, a man with cancer was being interviewed. Due to the shutdown, his operation is being put back by several months – at least. Others with cancer will not be getting treatment. The level of worry and anxiety will be massive.

        Hip replacements are also being postponed and other, hugely beneficial interventions are not being done. Those with heart disease and diabetes will not be treated. Elderly people, with no support, may simply die of starvation in their own homes. Jobs will be lost, companies are going bust, suicides will go up. Psychosocial stress will be immense.

        In my role, working in Out of Hours, we are being asked to watch out for abuse in the home. Because we know that children will now be more at risk, trapped in their houses. Also, partners will suffer greater physical abuse, stuck in the home, unable to get out. Not much fun.

        Which means that we are certainly not looking at a zero-sum game here, where every case of COVID prevented, or treated, is one less death. There is a health cost.”

    • John Goss

      The other thing the BBC covered was two COVID-19 cases but for the first time I can recall used more carefully measured terminology, like “displaying symptoms of coronavirus” and neither had been diagnosed. Then a third person was interviewed who clearly had problems before resident GP Dr Rosemary Leonard brought a voice of reason into the arena saying that we don’t know who has or does not have COVID-19 and people with symptoms may have other viruses. In my mind I am going to call today Good Wednesday. Hope the rest of the day lives up to the name. Hugs everyone!

      • SA

        Sorry John
        I really don’t want your smug hugs for now. You seem very pleased with yourself and sure in your confidence that Covid-19 is really not worth all this fuss, despite expert advice. Is this state of bliss that you are in purely as a result of ignorance? Or is that you know something the experts do not know?

        • Clark

          This is the story ’bout Bald-Headed John
          (Dong work for Yuda, Dong, Dong)
          He talks a lot ‘n it’s usually wrong
          (Dong work for Yuda, Dong, Dong)
          He said Dong was Wong,
          ‘N Wong was Kong
          ‘N Dong work for Yuda,
          ‘N John was wrong

          Sorry, John, sorry, better try it again
          (Dong work for Yuda, Dong, Dong)
          Sorry, John, sorry, better try it again
          He said Dong was Wong
          And Wong was Kong
          And Dong was Gong
          ‘N John was wrong

      • Clark

        “And for my next trick, I’ll persuade these primary school kids to run blindfolded across the motorway at rush hour. Roll up! Roll up!”

    • SA

      There is not enough information there to make even an informed guess. Usually reagents are tested in the setting for which they will be used rather than taking random controls. Paw Paw contains an enzyme which breaks down proteins and may therefore interfere with tests using protein reagents.

    • Clark

      Of the various antibody tests being sold, most are prone to false positive results:

      Conclusions:The performance of current LFIA (lateral flow immunoassay) devices is inadequate for most individual patient applications…

      Of the 9 widely available rapid antibody tests, only 2 did not generate false positives despite only limited testing. Most tests would indicate 2% – 5% antibody positives if carried out on a population where the true rate of positive was zero. In the worst case it was estimated that there was a 5% chance that the false positive rate was as high as 14%

      Roche CEO calls some COVID-19 antibody tests a ‘disaster’, questions makers’ ethics

      …“It’s a disaster. These tests are not worth anything, or have very little use,” Schwan told reporters on a conference call on the Basel-based company’s first-quarter results. “Some of these companies, I tell you, this is ethically very questionable to get out with this stuff.”

  • Bayard

    “Could you cite the graph you’re referring to please Bayard?”

    It was the one you linked to:

    “But flu set off out into a population most of whom have encountered flu before; it couldn’t make 100% infectious, maybe only 20% (I’m guessing here), so it can only get a fifth as far before resistance arrests it.”

    The reason why you have to have the flu jab every year is that each case of flu is a different virus. I even remember one year where the flu that hit the country was already a different virus from the one in the vaccine. So, no, most of the population haven’t encountered it before, just like they haven’t encountered that strain of cold before.

    • Clark

      Sorry for the delay; I had to ask. You wrote:

      “…each case of flu is a different virus”

      No. There are mostly only two types of flu that circulate but they come around with minor variations, so people have “cross-reactive antibodies” from their previous encounters, which impart some resistance. This reduces the reproduction number R, so with R not much above 1 it only takes some minor change, such as temperature or humidity, to turn the spread into a reduction.

      If R is lower for flu I’d expect the rise shown for flu (left peak, 2017-2018) to be less steep than that for covid-19 (right peak, 2020), so I had a go at measuring them on the graph. It’s a small graph so accuracy isn’t great, but the rise for covid-19 does work out as almost twice as steep as the rise for the flu peak (I made it about x1.96). That’d be easy to check by getting the separate yearly graphs and comparing them.

    • Clark

      “I even remember one year where the flu that hit the country was already a different virus from the one in the vaccine”

      I got an answer to this too, but I’m not sure I remember it right. I think a vaccine against the wrong major type was chosen or something. But no, each flu isn’t a completely different virus.

      On the other hand, covid-19 is caused by the new type of SARS, SARS-CoV-2. The original SARS never got very far before the health authorities contained it, so essentially none of the global population have ever encountered any type of SARS. That’s why covid-19 spreads so fast. The 2020 rise was arrested by the lockdown, not immunity. In the UK it had only infected about 5% of the population, so that 2020 rise had the potential to get twenty times higher. If deaths so far are around 40,000 to 50,000, that could work out at 640,000 to 800,000 deaths if it infected, say, 80% of the population. But it could be even worse than that because if critical cases overwhelm the UK’s few thousand critical care beds, covid-19 kills at an even higher rate.

  • Dave

    @ John Goss

    “The other thing the BBC covered was two COVID-19 cases but for the first time I can recall used more carefully measured terminology, like “displaying symptoms of coronavirus” and neither had been diagnosed”.

    Perhaps after faking Trump says drink bleach perhaps they want to provide some examples of balance if there is a public inquiry/investigation into their coverage of the lockdown! That said I’ve noticed plenty of debunking within the newspapers despite their strident and scaremongering headlines.

    For example despite carrying the Boris could have gone either way story, Sunday Mail and Sun recorded him saying “I never had trouble breathing”, which of course debunks the whole thing. Curiously deep state/CNN reported he never had Covid!

    • Johnstone

      Office for National Statistics
      See graph
      Excess winter deaths and five-year central moving average (based on death occurrences), England and Wales, between 1950 to 1951 and 2018 to 2019
      Current Covid death toll is 30,000.
      This count rarely exceeds the final (highest) of any of the 5 year averages for the last 60 years. Therefore excess deaths could be on track for the same as Germany ZERO. Which I count as the good news oops slight problem 1/2 the population of the world are out of a job! Bad science has lead to bad policy on a monumental scale.

      • Justin

        Nonsense on stilts.

        According to the ONS:
        Total deaths (all ages) in the 4 weeks to 24 April 2020 = 16,387 + 18,516 + 22,351+ 21,997 = 68,395 deaths
        Average of corresponding weeks over previous 5 years = 10,305 + 10,520 + 10,497 + 10,458 = 41,452 deaths

        That’s an increase of 65%, i.e. over two thirds more than the five year average. And you’re trying to suggest that excess deaths are on track for ZERO?

        Maybe we should be more worred about education standards in this country.

        • Johnstone

          The running average deaths (all causes) over 5 year periods over the past 60 years stays the same,
          no matter whether its last years graph or this years graph. The difference is that your graph shows excess Covid fatalities over and above Influence deaths NOT all causes.
          The purpose of the graph I showed is to pick up flu epidemics spikes and to be able to compare them year upon year.
          HERE is the title of the graph I linked to
          Excess winter deaths and five-year central moving average (based on death occurrences), England and Wales, between 1950 to 1951 and 2018 to 2019
          Here is the title of yours
          Figure 1: The number of deaths involving COVID-19 and the number of deaths involving “Influenza and Pneumonia” decreased compared with the previous week
          Number of deaths registered by week, England and Wales, 28 December 2019 to 24 April 2020.
          Different data… you need HISTORIC perspective hence the graph I linked to.

          • Justin

            Yes a historical perspective can be useful, but you aren’t exactly comparing like with like. Evidently quite a lot has changed in the last 60 years. Here are the ONS figures on average life expectancy:

            1960-62: Males = 68; Females = 74.
            2010: Males = 78.4; Females = 82.4.
            2020: Males = 79.8; Females = 83.3.

            Why were people dying around 10 years younger back in the 1960s? Well, the excess death rate over the winter months was much higher so it’s a fair guess that seasonal flu or colder household temperatures were responsible. Luckily we can do a lot more to prevent that now.

            Ah, the Good Old Days! Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.

          • Clark

            What relevance do you see in this to the current pandemic? What point are you making?

            If, as you say, “the running average deaths (all causes) over 5 year periods over the past 60 years stays the same” (surely there’s some variation?), well, the population has greatly increased over sixty years, so the running average deaths must have decreased as a proportion.

          • Justin

            Clark is right. The graph shows that the 5 year average of excess winter deaths doesn’t stay the same at all. Anything but. There is a wide variance from an extreme outlier of 106,400 in 1950-51 to 23,200 in 2019, and the 5 year trend is steadily downward. Do you want the linear regression value? (I’d have to download the dataset to calculate it, and I’d rather not bother because the evidence is so clear in the graph.)

            So what’s your point, Johnstone? There’s certainly an interesting observation to be made here, but I don’t think it’s quite what you’re implying.

  • Clark

    Covid-19 distribution map for England and Wales, interactive:

    I like maps; they’re informative. If your local hospital hasn’t overloaded, this may help explain why, rather than some colossal international science and medical conspiracy. And each of those little cells is a local authority, where ordinary people working for ordinary councils have compiled mortality statistics, so ask yourselves; are they all “in on it”? Do they all concoct inflated figures because some shadowy figure tells them they’ll be sacked otherwise, and then they go and stand two metre from everyone else in the supermarket queue? And they never turn up on sites like this and say “hey, I got this work e-mail today telling me to record three times as many deaths as my incoming records show or I’d lose my pension”?

  • Dave

    Another difficulty with comparing yearly figures without the lockdown, is the figures for this year went up after and due to the lockdown as we now know virus deaths in care homes were a result of their policy of emptying NHS beds by putting patients into Care Homes.

    • Clark

      MP: Cardboard box?

      TJ: Aye.

      MP: You were lucky. We lived for three months in a brown paper bag in a septic tank. We used to have to get up at six o’clock in the morning, clean the bag, eat a crust of stale bread, go to work down mill for fourteen hours a day week in-week out. When we got home, our Dad would thrash us to sleep with his belt!

      GC: Luxury. We used to have to get out of the lake at three o’clock in the morning, clean the lake, eat a handful of hot gravel, go to work at the mill every day for tuppence a month, come home, and Dad would beat us around the head and neck with a broken bottle, if we were LUCKY!

      TJ: Well we had it tough. We used to have to get up out of the shoebox at twelve o’clock at night, and LICK the road clean with our tongues. We had half a handful of freezing cold gravel, worked twenty-four hours a day at the mill for fourpence every six years, and when we got home, our Dad would slice us in two with a bread knife.

      EI: Right. I had to get up in the morning at ten o’clock at night, half an hour before I went to bed, drink a cup of sulphuric acid, work twenty-nine hours a day down mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our Dad and our mother would kill us, and dance about on our graves singing ‘Hallelujah.’

      MP: But you try and tell the young people today that… and they won’t believe ya’.

  • Dave

    Sad but true, there is public support for the fascist lockdown as I know people who have been taken in by it all and are fearful of going to hospital in case they catch it.

    But as the government has suddenly found billions (after years of austerity) to underwrite the healthy economy, where is the incentive to go back to work for millions of people? In other words the rich and healthy can afford to look the other way and pretend they’re doing their bit, as lives and livelihoods of poorer and vulnerable are deliberately lost to the (political rather than medical) lockdown.

    • michael norton

      One third of working age people in America are now without employment.
      Brazil is going down the tubes at an ever quicker rate.
      The U.K. is going to move into the worse economic position it has been in for three hundred years.
      The oil producing nations will be on starvation rations, shortly.
      Airlines are folding.

      This Lock-Down is not in any way sustainable.
      World wide I expect far more people to suffer from being incomeless than suffer from covid-19.

  • James Charles

    “A patient treated in a hospital near Paris on 27 December for suspected pneumonia actually had the coronavirus, his doctor has said.
    This means the virus may have arrived in Europe almost a month earlier than previously thought.
    . . . Two weeks ago, a post-mortem examination carried out in California revealed that the first coronavirus-related death in the US was almost a month earlier than previously thought. . . .
    Dr Cohen, head of emergency medicine at Avicenne and Jean-Verdier hospitals near Paris, said the patient was a 43-year-old man from Bobigny, north-east of Paris.
    He told the BBC’s Newsday programme that the patient must have been infected between 14 and 22 December, as coronavirus symptoms take between five and 14 days to appear.”
    Unbelievably? There are ‘only’ 9 reported deaths in Beijing and 7 in Shanghai?
    Beijing, China
    Confirmed: 593
    Deaths: 9
    Shanghai, China
    Confirmed: 657
    Deaths: 7

    • michael norton

      Remarkably few deaths in Tibet.
      Remarkably few deaths in Mongolia.
      No apparent cases of covid-19 in North Korea but things are hotting up again in Japan and South Korea.

      What is quite surprizing other than the areas around Wuhan, not that many cases “reported” in the rest of China?

      But it is now thought that there were earlier outbreaks in China, before that which has been aknowledged by the Chinese Regime?

      • Dave

        USA (New York), UK (London), Belgium (Brussels), Italy (Lombardy) and France (Paris) are the hot spots, almost nothing everywhere else. Looks like a very discerning (political) virus!!!

        • Clark

          They’re all centres of international travel. Also notable that various celebs, politicians and sport stars were reported with it before anyone I had any personal connection to.

    • Clark

      The numbers in Beijing and Shanghai seem unsurprising; after Wuhan and Hubei, China was prepared and restrictions were applied.

    • Clark

      “There is a plague and we must fight it”

      The Westminster government doesn’t seem to think so. Its measures are decidedly half-hearted.

  • michael norton

    Chinese authorities plan to test all of Wuhan’s 11 million residents for Covid-19 in a little over a week. After more than a month without newly-recorded cases, the disease has suddenly reappeared in the city.

    Yet we in the U.K. can’t test 100,000 a day?

    • michael norton

      Russia seems to be engulfed by it now, with several senior figures in the government hospitalised.
      They now have more covid-19 victims than does United Kingdom.
      But much, much less deaths, so far.

      • Clark

        It takes a while for the deaths. From what I’ve heard about day ten is critical; a turn for the worse about then is bad news.

      • Clark

        The UK government’s actions have been irresponsible in the extreme. Why aren’t there boxes of masks everywhere? Can’t the UK make masks any more? A permanent shortage of test kits? Restrictions introduced too late, seven weeks with zero attempt to target them, then this shambles. Why the same restrictions across the whole country, when the distribution of deaths looks like this?

        Why is the London Underground permitted to be packed? London has the highest infection density in the country.

      • michael norton

        Russia and the U.K. have almost the same amount of people who have tested positive for covid-19, they also have exactly the same number of hospitalised victims
        but the death toll in the U.K. is staggering, while in Russia ( so far) it is modest.

      • ET

        That depends on how accurate in terms of sensitivity and specificity the baseline test they are using is, which is an RT- PCR test of some kind with a fluorescent marker or other marker that the machine can read when the test is finished running.
        Without knowing the specifics of the underlying PCR test it’s hard to know. Good idea if it works and they can quality assure the reagents etc.

      • ET

        No, final data point is April which I was able to derive from the provisional weekly deaths figures for England+Wales and N.Ireland which go to 01/05/2020. Week 13 spans March (4days) and April (3 days) so I derived a daily average from that week (dividing total by 7) and added 3 x that average to account for first 3 days in April. The remaining 4 weeks stats are available. Scotland has available figures monthly up to end of April.
        All the national statistics sites state that figures for 2019 and 2020 are provisional. My estimation is that any revisions up or down will be relatively small and make little impact on the overall trend. It’s only in April that you can start to see the impact of the excess deaths and if you were to remove the last data point none of the graphs would look any different from previous years. I’d like to include Rep of Ireland also but their monthly figures only go to 2017 and I can’t find weekly all deaths figures. If I do I will add them in too.
        What I find striking, though not unexpected, is just how similar the peaks and troughs are for each region over the years. They are essentially the same graph until April 2020. Also 2018 was a bad year for excess winter deaths.
        I’ll try and compile a similar comparison for weekly deaths.

        ps. I am partly doing this out of interest (perhaps morbid) but also to teach myself how to compile graphs on datasheets using Libreoffice. Also been following Craig for some years now and decided to make a contribution to comments. Been reading what you all have to say for a long time 🙂

        • Clark

          It’s good to have another voice that accepts evidence, so thanks for joining in. The recent comment threads about covid-19 have become overrun by commenters who argue only from the motives that they impute to institutions and individuals. Among these commenters it seems that any narrative that contradicts “the official story” in any way is deserving of promotion and special protection, no matter that hardly any of the commenters promoting them have any skill to assess the claims they’re promoting. Dunning-Kruger city, where everyone’s sure they know what they’re doing…

          • michael norton

            I think it is cl;ear our government don’t know exactly what they are doing.
            However it would be amazing if they knew everything and got everything right.

            What is a little puzzling is why we are constantly told not to judge one country against another.
            Yet surely this is how you learn, by judging the response taken by different government and their outcomes.

            If country A puts 10,000 people into Intensive care and 50% live, country B puts 15,000 people into Intensive Care and 70% live.
            What did country B do better compared to country A?

            I know that other factors can be in play, like a fatter population or higher age grouping
            but there must be possible comparrisons.
            Yet we are instructed to make no comparrisons.
            Like we are being instructed to waste no brain power on trying to think anything through.
            Hmm, like being kept in the Dark.

          • Clark

            Comparison aids understanding, but blaming and shaming is distracting and counterproductive.

            At present, by far the most powerful tool humanity has against the virus is slowing its spread. The technical term for this is reducing R, the reproduction rate. The only tools we have for that are all social.

            The most revealing comparison is how soon each government instituted social measures; see table here:


  • michael norton

    This is good

    Boris plans war against Obesity after blaming COVID-19 near death experience on his ballooning weight.
    For some time now, it has been suggested that it is no so much age but diabetes, visceral fat, obesity and an inactive physical lifestyle
    that if more likely to give u
    a worse outcome if you get covid-19.
    Viral load is also very important which is why people in care homes both staff and inmates get it bad.

    • Clark

      “Viral load is also very important which is why people in care homes both staff and inmates get it bad.”

      Yes, this is vital. This is why it is vitally important to prevent covid-19 running riot in society at large.

      • michael norton

        Hello Clark,
        it would be interesting to learn, if people contracting covid-19 in institutions, like mental hospitals, old peoples homes, nursing homes, prisons, asylum hostels, homeless hostels, hospitals, hospices,were stripped out of the nations R,
        what the R would be for walking about outside working age people, who are not locked up in infection pits,
        would be?

  • ET

    The latest spanish study carried out by the Carlos III institute for health and the National Statistics Institute, began on April 27 and aimed to test 90,000 people across 36,000 households for the presence of antibodies generated to fight off the virus.
    Preliminary results show that about 5% of the overall Spanish population has been affected adding that results varied widely from region to region. (in spanish)
    This is, so far, the biggest sampling of a population yet that I know of. Making a big assumption, possibly not valid, that 5% of Spain’s total population have had SARS-Cov-2 and doing some back of a fag packet maths using figures from worldometer that would leave the case fatality rate at about 1%. Ten times more people may have had the virus than is reflected in the total case figures.
    An english article in Elpais:

  • Jeremy Bonington-Jagworth

    Further to the references to numbers of bombs dropped on various countries surely this is a total irrelevance at best and totally misleading at worst.

    After all only one single bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

    We do see the use of equivalent pounds or tons of TNT used to give a perspective of the power of a bomb or destructive force of a raid.

    How about the equivalent of “an area the size of Wales” to more graphically describe the devastation wrought by aerial bombing.

    I propose two measures, the Hiroshima as above and the (London) Blitz.

    So we could have, as I’m led to believe, a Blitz was dropped on Warsaw in the first two weeks of the war or eg a half or three or whatever Hiroshimas were dropped on Libya in the “liberation” by NATO..

  • Brian

    I am coming a bit late to comment on this. Just catching up. I have read the article in full. I normally like to read all previous comments before commenting but there a lot.

    I do not agree that the lock down for the healthy is a good idea.
    The logic that it saves lives is very questionable.
    When we get the flu bad we mostly take to our beds or feel to unwell to go to work.
    We may not wish to spread it to fellow workers.
    So If you have symptoms then you should try not to spread it , especially to the old or vulnerable. Same as if you have the Flu.

    If it is true that it spreads faster with less oblivious symptoms at first. Is this a bad thing. It means that herd immunity if such a thing exists will be achieved sooner.
    It may mean it is harder to protect the most vulnerable.
    But will lock down change that.

    The decision to make room in hospital by moving old patients that needed monitoring and medication to care homes where they would not get it. Is a death sentence.
    With out extra staff the care homes can not cope. Many care homes use temporary staff to fill gaps. But staff are to scared to go in. So no surprise rise in deaths in care homes. As they can be declared covid by care home managers with out checks boosting the false numbers that conflate those who die with plus those who die from.

    Then making room in hospital by cancelling needed operations or check ups.
    Plus people to scared to go to hospital.

    After Lock down (if it ends) mass unemployment , mass dept both individual and government, We have had 10 years austerity already . What next?

  • Lubor

    “Where I was wrong, was in not realising that what is different about this disease from a flu is that it is really very, very contagious. So a far higher percentage of the population get it, all at once. Over two seasons, only about 30% of the UK population got the Hong Kong flu. Unchecked, it seems this coronavirus can spread very much quicker than that. I do not know why, but it appears that it can. So the lockdown policies to prevent health services being overwhelmed are needed and do have my support. ”

    According to this article, over two seasons, about 70 % of the UK population got the Hong Kong flu.

    Epidemiology of the Hong Kong-68 Variant of Influenza A2 in Britain

    “Two influenza epidemics in Britain in 1968-9 and 1969-70, were due to the Hong Kong/68 variant of influenza A2 virus.”
    “Antibody studies showed that about one-quarter of two groups of adults investigated were infected in the first epidemic and about one-third in the second. After the two epidemics about one-third still had no antibody to the A2/Hong Kong/68 virus. “

    • Lubor

      Or, to be strict, 70 % got the virus. They reached so called “herd immunity”…

      As with the novel coronavirus, asymptomatic infections were common in the Hong Kong flu Pandemic.
      “From the combined analysis of mortality, morbidity, and serological studies, we concluded that asymptomatic infections were frequent during the first pandemic season in Europe and Asia and were less frequent in North America.”

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