Covid-19 and the Political Utility of Fear 746

The true mortality rate of covid-19 remains a matter of intense dispute, but it is undoubtedly true that a false public impression was given by the very high percentage of deaths among those who were tested positive, at the time when it was impossible to get tested unless you were seriously ill (or a member of society’s “elite”). When only those in danger of dying could get a test, it was of course not at all surprising that such a high percentage of those who tested positive died. It is astonishing how many articles are published with the entirely fake claim that the mortality rate of Covid-19 is 3.4%, based on that simple methodology. That same methodology will today, now testing is much more widely available to those who feel ill, give you results of under 1%. That is still an overestimate as very few indeed of the symptomless, or of those with mild symptoms, are even now being tested.

The Guardian’s daily graphs of statistics since January 1 illustrate this very nicely. It is of course not in fact the case, as the graphs appear to show, that there are now vastly more cases than there were at the time of peak deaths in the spring. It is simply that testing is much more available. What the graphs do indicate is that, unless mortality rates have very radically declined, cases tested on the same basis they are tested today would have given results last spring of well over 100,000 cases per day. It is also important to note that, even now, a very significant proportion of those with covid-19, especially with mild symptoms, are still not being tested. Quite possibly the majority. So you could very possibly double or treble that figure if you were looking for actual cases rather than tested cases.

I do not believe anybody seriously disputes that there are many millions of people in the general population who had covid and survived it, but were never tested or diagnosed. That can include people who were quite badly ill at home but not tested, but also a great many who had mild or no symptoms. It is worth recalling that in a cruise ship outbreak, when all the passengers had to be compulsorily tested, 84% of those who tested positive had no symptoms.

What is hotly disputed is precisely how many millions there are who have had the disease but never been tested, which given the absence of widespread antibody testing, and inaccuracies in the available antibody tests, is not likely to be plain for some time, as sample sizes and geographical reach of studies published to date have been limited. There is no shortage of sources and you can take your pick. For what it is worth, my own reading leads me to think that this Lancet and BMJ published study, estimating an overall death rate of 0.66%, is not going to be far off correct when, in a few years time, scientific consensus settles on the true figure. I say that with a certain caution. “Respectable” academic estimates of global deaths from Hong Kong flu in 1968 to 70 range from 1 million to 4 million, and I am not sure there is a consensus.

It is impossible to discuss covid-19 in the current state of knowledge without making sweeping assumptions. I am going here to assume that 0.66% mortality rate as broadly correct, which I believe it to be (and if anything pessimistic). I am going to assume that 70% of the population would, without special measures, catch the virus, which is substantially higher than a flu pandemic outbreak, but covid-19 does seem particularly contagious. That would give you about 300,000 total deaths in the United Kingdom, and about a tenth of that in Scotland. That is an awful lot of dead people. It is perfectly plain that, if that is anything near correct, governments cannot be accused of unnecessary panic in their responses to date.

Whether they are the best responses is quite another question.

Because the other thing of which there is no doubt is that covid-19 is an extremely selective killer. The risk of death to children is very small indeed. The risk of death to healthy adults in their prime is also very marginal indeed. In the entire United Kingdom, less than 400 people have died who were under the age of 60 and with no underlying medical conditions. And it is highly probable that many of this very small number did in fact have underlying conditions undiagnosed. Those dying of coronavirus, worldwide, have overwhelmingly been geriatric.

As a Stanford led statistical study of both Europe and the USA concluded

People <65 years old have very small risks of COVID-19 death even in the hotbeds of the pandemic and deaths for people <65 years without underlying predisposing conditions are remarkably uncommon. Strategies focusing specifically on protecting high-risk elderly individuals should be considered in managing the pandemic.

The study concludes that for adults of working age the risk of dying of coronavirus is equivalent to the risk of a car accident on a daily commute.

I should, on a personal note, make quite plain that I am the wrong side of this. I am over 60, and I have underlying heart and lung conditions, and I am clinically obese, so I am a prime example of the kind of person least likely to survive.

The hard truth is this. If the economy were allowed to function entirely normally, if people could go about their daily business, there would be no significant increase in risk of death or of life changing illness to the large majority of the population. If you allowed restaurants, offices and factories to be be open completely as normal, the risk of death really would be almost entirely confined to the elderly and the sick. Which must beg the question, can you not protect those groups without closing all those places?

If you were to open up everything as normal, but exclude those aged over 60 who would remain isolated, there would undoubtedly be a widespread outbreak of coronavirus among the adult population, but with few serious health outcomes. The danger lies almost entirely in spread to the elderly and vulnerable. The danger lies in 35 year old Lisa catching the virus. She might pass it on to her children and their friends, with very few serious ill effects. But she may also pass it on to her 70 year old mum, which could be deadly.

We are reaching the stage where the cumulative effect of lockdown and partial lockdown measures is going to inflict catastrophic damage on the economy. Companies could survive a certain period of inactivity, but are coming to the end of their resilience, of their financial reserves, and of effective government support. Unemployment and bankruptcies are set to soar, with all the human misery and indeed of deleterious health outcomes that will entail.

There is no social institution better designed than schools for passing on a virus. The fact that schools are open is an acknowledgement of the fact that there is no significant danger to children from this virus. Nor is there a significant danger to young adults. University students, the vast, vast majority of them, are not going to be more than mildly ill if they catch coronavirus. There is no more health need for universities to be locked down and teaching virtually, than there would be for schools to do the same. It is a nonsense.

The time has come for a change in policy approach that abandons whole population measures, that abandons closing down sectors of the economy, and concentrates on shielding that plainly defined section of the population which is at risk. With this proviso – shielding must be on a voluntary basis. Elderly or vulnerable people who would prefer to live their lives, and accept that there is currently a heightened risk of dying a bit sooner than might otherwise be expected, must be permitted to do so. The elderly in particular should not be forcefully incarcerated if they do not so wish. To isolate an 88 year old and not allow them to see their family, on the grounds their remaining life would be shortened, is not necessarily the best choice for them. It should be their choice.

To some extent this selective shielding already happens. I know of a number of adults who have put themselves into voluntary lockdown because they live with a vulnerable person, and such people should be assisted as far as possible to work from home and function in their isolation. But in general, proper protection of the vulnerable without general population lockdowns and restrictions would require some government resource and some upheaval.

There could be, for example, a category of care homes created under strict isolation where no visitation is allowed and there are extremely strict firewall measures. Others may have less stringent precautions and allow greater visitation and movement; people should have the choice, and be assisted in moving to the right kind of institution for them. This would involve upheaval and resources, but nothing at all compared to the upheaval being caused and resources lost by unnecessary pan-societal restrictions currently in force. Temporary shielded residential institutions should be created for those younger people whose underlying health conditions put them at particular risk, should they wish to enter them. Special individual arrangements can be put in place. Public resource should not be spared to help.

But beyond those precautions to protect those most in danger, our world should return to full on normal. Ordinary healthy working age people should be allowed to make a living again, to interact socially, to visit their families, to gather together, to enjoy the pub or restaurant. They would be doing so in a time of pandemic, and a small proportion of them would get quite ill for a short while, and a larger proportion would get mildly ill . But that is a part of the human condition. The myth that we can escape disease completely and live forever is a nonsense.

Against this are the arguments that “every death is a tragedy” and “one death is too many”. It is of course true that every death is a tragedy. But in fact we accept a risk of death any time we get in a car or cross a road, or indeed buy meat from the butcher. In the USA, there has been an average of 4.5 amusement park ride fatalities a year for the last 20 years; that is an entirely unnecessary social activity with a slightly increased risk of death. Few seriously want amusement parks closed down.

I genuinely am convinced that for non-geriatric people, the risk of death from Covid-19 is, as the Stanford study suggested, about the same as the risk of death from traffic accident on a daily commute. The idea that people should not commute to work because “any death is a tragedy” is plainly a nonsense.

The problem is that it is a truism of politics that fear works in rendering a population docile, obedient or even grateful to its political leaders. The major restrictions on liberty under the excuse of the “war on terror” proved that, when the statistical risk of death by terrorism has always been extraordinarily small to any individual, far less than the risk of traffic accident. All the passenger security checks that make flying a misery, across the entire world, have never caught a single bomb, anywhere.

Populations terrified of covid-19 applaud, in large majority, mass lockdowns of the economy which have little grounding in logic. The way for a politician to be popular is to impose more severe lockdown measures and tell the population they are being saved, even as the economy crumbles. Conversely, to argue against blanket measures is to invite real hostility. The political bonus is in upping the fear levels, not in calming them.

This is very plain in Scotland, where Nicola Sturgeon has achieved huge popularity by appearing more competent and caring in managing the covid-19 crisis than Boris Johnson – which may be the lowest bar ever set as a measure of political performance, but it would be churlish not to say she has cleared it with style and by a substantial margin.

But when all the political gains are on the side of more blanket lockdowns and ramping up the levels of fear, then the chances of measures tailored and targeted specifically on the vulnerable being adopted are receding. There is also the danger that politicians will wish to keep this political atmosphere going as long as possible. Fear is easy to spread. If you make people wear face masks and tell them never to go closer than 2 metres to another person or they may die, you can throw half the population immediately into irrational hostility towards their neighbours. Strangers are not seen as people but as parcels of disease.

In these circumstances, asking ordinary people to worry about political liberty is not fruitful. But the new five tier measures announced by the Scottish government yesterday were worrying in terms of what they seem to indicate about the permanence of restrictions on the, not really under threat, general population. In introducing the new system, Nicola Sturgeon went all BBC on us and invoked the second world war and the wartime spirit, saying we would eventually get through this. That of course was a six year haul.

But what really worried me was the Scottish government’s new five tier system with restrictions nominated not 1 to 5, but 0 to 4. Zero level restrictions includes gatherings being limited to 8 people indoors or 15 people outdoors – which of course would preclude much political activity. When Julian Assange’s father John was visiting us this week I wished to organise a small vigil for Julian in Glasgow, but was unable to do so because of Covid restrictions. Even at zero level under the Scottish government’s new plans, freedom of assembly – an absolutely fundamental right – will still be abolished and much political activity banned. I cannot see any route to normality here; the truth is, of course, that it is very easy to convince most of the population inspired by fear to turn against those interested in political freedom.

What is in a number? When I tweeted about this, a few government loyalists argued against me that numbering 0 to 4 means nothing and the levels of restriction might equally have been numbered 1 to 5. To which I say, that numbering the tiers of restriction 1 to 5 would have been the natural choice, whereas numbering them 0 to 4 is a highly unusual choice. It can only have been chosen to indicate that 0 is the “normal” level and that normality is henceforth not “No restrictions” but normal is “no public gathering”. When the threat of Covid 19 is deemed to be sufficiently receding we will drop to level zero. If it was intended that after level 1, restrictions would be simply set aside, there would be no level zero. The signal being sent is that level zero is the “new normal” and normal is not no restrictions. It is both sinister and unnecessary.

UPDATE I just posted this reply to a comment that this argument amounts to a “conspiracy theory”. It is an important point so I insert my reply here:
But I am not positing any conspiracy at all. I suspect that it is very easy for politicians to convince themselves that by increasing fear and enforcing fierce restriction, they really are protecting people. It is very easy indeed to genuinely convince yourself of the righteousness of a course which both ostensibly protects the public and gives you a massive personal popularity boost.

It is argued that only Tories are worried about the effect on the economy in the face of a public health pandemic. That is the opposite of the truth. Remarkably, the global lockdowns have coincided with an astonishing rate of increase in the wealth of the richest persons on the planet. That is an effect we are shortly going to see greatly amplified. As tens of thousands of small and medium businesses will be forced into bankruptcy by lockdown measures and economic downturn, their assets and their markets will be snapped up by the vehicles of the super-wealthy.

I am not a covid sceptic. But neither do I approve of fear-mongering. The risk to the large majority of the population is very low indeed, and it is wrong that anybody who states that fact is immediately vilified. The effect of fear on the general population, and the ability of politicians to manipulate that fear to advantage, should not be underestimated as a danger to society.

There has been a substantial increase in human life expectancy over my lifetime and a subsequent distancing from death. That this trend should be permanent, in the face of human over-population, resource exhaustion and climate change, is something we have too readily taken for granted. In the longer term, returning to the familiarity with and acceptance of death that characterised our ancestors, is something to which mankind may need to become re-accustomed.

In the short term, if permanent damage to society is not to be done, then the response needs to be less of an attack on the entire socio-economic structure, and more targeted to the protection of the clearly defined groups at real risk. I greatly dislike those occasions when I feel compelled to write truths which I know will be unpopular, particularly where I expect them to arouse unpleasant vilification rather than just disagreement. This is one of those times. But I write this blog in general to say things I believe need to be said. I am very open to disagreement and to discussion, even if robust, if polite. But this is not the blog to which to come for comfort-reading.

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746 thoughts on “Covid-19 and the Political Utility of Fear

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  • Baron

    An excellent reading of the ‘pandemic’, Mr. Murray, but sadly it won’t change any aspect of the Government policy on it, they are in a hole, they have to keep digging for fear of losing face, nobody will ever be able to prove a different approach would have been more efficient, less injurious, more humane. One won’t be able to turn the clock back, try again something else.

  • rob ollis

    I’ve long been uncomfortable with the complexities of this situation. Wondering where and how a public health issue has become so encoded into political dogma, and how easy it has become for cynical actors to exploit any situation for cynical ends. I just do not have the time or stamina to study, research and understand much of what is going on at the moment. I appreciate greatly the effort and hard work that is involved in doing what you do. Not just with the Covid issue, but all the other campaigns that you are involved with. Thanks for your clarity and sheer hard work. I only wish that some of the career MSM journalists would show a fraction of your energy and commitment. Thanks again and best wishes.

    • Johny Conspiranoid

      “Thanks for your clarity and sheer hard work. I only wish that some of the career MSM journalists would show a fraction of your energy and commitment”

      That is forbidden in their contract.

  • Colin Smith

    This echoes to me of the first world war, where a serious but manageable situation in the Balkans was exacerbated by posturing and panicking politicians, whose only plan in the top drawer was for full scale mobilisation that could not be altered due to the complications of the logistics of the train timetables. It led to utter devastation of the continent, back up by a propaganda and black arts campaign that silenced anyone who tried to intervene at any point.

    We have passed the point of no return, and will never get to Level -1 until everything decent about society has been destroyed.

    • Johny Conspiranoid

      “This echoes to me of the first world war, where a serious but manageable situation in the Balkans was exacerbated by posturing and panicking politicians”

      Also exacerbated by their desire to break up the Otoman Empire and sieze the oil fields.


    The inability to conduct public discourse is at the heart of the UK’s colossal mismanagement of the COVID crisis [and others]. It’s staggering how incompetent Johnson and his gang of goons have been and how little they have been held to account by the media or opposition. Coalition governments with numerous parties like are common in democracies using PR seem to be less prone to some loony getting their hands on the ship of state and steering it onto the rocks. In short, I’m all for weak governments.

    I live in Vietnam. We have, at the moment, less than 1200 COVID cases TOTAL and a mere 35 deaths who were all people who had serious underlying health conditions. That’s a death rate of around 0.3% and while the health professionals are dedicated and well-trained, they are limited by what remain basic facilities.

    How can Vietnam have done so well when the UK has done so badly? They key difference is Vietnamese authorities were able to take decisions and act on them rapidly, while the UK dithered and acted from corrupt motives or from a desire to be popular. Now they are facing a disease that cannot be contained and must be coped with.

    I agree now that more harm will come from closing down normal activity than from COVID fatalities.

    Interestingly, Central Vietnam is facing severe storms and flooding that have killed over 100 people in less than a single month. It is all relative.

    Finally, we have to foresee life expectancy dropping in most countries as climate change really starts to bite and the impact of the economic depression that seems to be inevitable takes its toll.

    • Johny Conspiranoid

      ” It’s staggering how incompetent Johnson and his gang of goons have been and how little they have been held to account by the media or opposition”
      Is it a feature or is it a bug?

    • squirrel

      Vitamin D. vitamin D status is the number one determinant in covid outcomes, and sunny countries have plenty of it. BAME communities have the worst of it in northern latitudes (darker skin absorbing less sunlight) and yet Africa is almost untouched. It is astonishing how well this has been suppressed.

      • Ellie

        Fish oil has been stripped from the supermarket shelves too. There has also been a ‘run’ on vitamin C. But you can still find the more expensive ones*.

        *it is always the cheapest that is stripped first. Cost is the limiting factor on shelf-stripping. That is why they are not completely empty 😉 ……..

  • g m

    The fact of the matter is that even if we wanted to counter this argument with a policy to reduce the virus to zero (as was stated by some earlier in the summer), in Scotland we do not have the tools to achieve that. I have slowly come round to the conclusion given here in this article it took a while for me to get there because it took a while to get on how deadly the disease is. I don’t blame the governments for the specific policy of lockdown. Which government wants 10s of thousands of deaths on their record after all? I think governments will be blamed for not reacting and changing course in response to increasing information on The profile of this virus.

    • Penguin

      We had the opportunity to close the border back in February. Then another chance arrived in august when deaths and new cases dropped to almost zero. Then we had a tsunami of english plague rats swamp Scotland. Mrs Murrell has to go. I see cult members blame every death in the USA on Trump while absolving Saint Nicola of any blame at all. Makes you sick so it does.

      I Had C19 back in March. I’d rather have it again than many a bad Cold. Nevermind having Norovirus for an extremely unhappy 48 hours.

  • Rod Webb

    In a world where nobody appears to understand what objective reporting is, I would describe this as the height of objectivity where any subjectivity is clearly signalled.

  • Pete

    Craig you are absolutely right in your conclusions although I think you’re too pessimistic regarding the final death toll. The animation on this site gives a good impression of the brevity of the real pandemic, the length of time since then that death rates have been normal, and also reminds us that increased death rates every winter are a normal feature of human life in Europe. The mindless capitulation of the Left on this matter, their acceptance of immensely increased income disparity between classes and nations, has so disgusted me that I no longer identify myself as “Left wing” despite having been till recently a member of both the Labour Party and Momentum.
    As for the public’s acceptance of the restrictions, my own day-to-day conversations with a wide variety of people suggests that public support is very much less than opinion polls are claiming. I am sure that the polling results derive from leading questions, which can be used very subtly and the more subtle the more powerful.

    • Royd

      ‘The mindless capitulation of the Left on this matter, their acceptance of immensely increased income disparity between classes and nations, has so disgusted me that I no longer identify myself as “Left wing” despite having been till recently a member of both the Labour Party and Momentum.’

      The Labour Party has capitulated to the right wing. It has left you homeless Pete. Personally, I find the camps of ‘left’ and ‘right’ have little meaning now. It’s time for a new way of achieving social justice and income redistribution. The way that the electoral system works is now no longer fit for purpose IMHO.

  • dearieme

    There is no “fatality rate”. There is a “case fatality rate” and an “infection fatality rate”.

    Whether either is known to useful accuracy I’m not sure, but clearly the IFR cannot be usefully estimated until you have the ability to test lots of people. Even then, it’s conceivable that a high false positive rate will lead to underestimating the IFR. My own assumption is that the damn thing is probably about as deadly as an ordinary bad flu season’s flu – i.e. not remotely as high as the Spanish flu, not as low as an ordinary good flu season’s flu. Happy to be corrected though – no expert I.

    • Alex Birnie

      There were reports a few months back of a massive antibody testing programme by the Spanish authorities, in which over 60,000 people were tested. These tests indicated that, at that point, only 5% of people had been infected. Extrapolating that figure to the entire population, and then dividing it by the number of deaths at that point, gave an infection fatality rate of 1.2%.

      I’m not aware of any equivalent testing being done on that scale, but I think Craig’s figure of 0.66% won’t be far wrong, once the dust settles. Treatment of the disease is also now more effective, as the doctors gain a better understanding of how the virus affects the body.

      I get a flu injection every year, and once a vaccine is perfected and distributed, THEN will be the time to start putting sinister motives of “governments” into the conversation, IF they continue to insist on control measures.

      I was with Craig completely, until he started into the conspiracy stuff. Until that point, his arguments were cogent, and I found little to disagree with.

      What is happening to Julian Assange is an atrocity, and we are all aware of the vindictiveness of this and other governments towards those who threaten the cosy status quo for “them”, but this pandemic and its effects here have far more to do with sheer, bloody-minded ineptitude on behalf of the Dominic Cummings sock puppet and his cronies, than a sinister scheme to “control us”. Juxtaposing the crimes being committed against Assange with how this government has handled the pandemic simply allows folk to dismiss what Craig is saying as conspiracy theory.
      It makes it even worse, when he lumps Sturgeon in with the supposed “desire for control”.

      As usual, a thought provoking blog article, and I for one, am grateful to Craig for putting his head above the parapet. He’s not doing himself any favours vis-a-vis his own court case, when it comes to the way he “sticks burrs under the saddle” of the powers that be,,,,,,,,

      • craig Post author

        But I am not positing any conspiracy at all. I suspect that it is very easy for politicians to convince themselves that by increasing fear and enforcing fierce restriction, they really are protecting people. It is very easy indeed to genuinely convince yourself of the righteousness of a course which both ostensibly protects the public and gives you a massive personal popularity boost.

        • AAMVN

          100% correct. Also, we ascribe too much agency to politicians. Too often, they just bend with the wind. It’s a bit like how we view evolution. Genes aren’t trying to reproduce and survive, it is just natural selection. Same with politicians and rulers. They do what keeps them in power, or they lose power.

        • John Monro

          Isn’t your denial of positing a conspiracy theory a bit disingenuous? Headlining your article “Covid 19 and the political utility of fear” can’t fail to be read this way. I have just posted about this, prior to reading your reply here. Do you truly think the Tories have given themselves a massive popularity boost by stoking fear in public.? It’s true, I don’t live in the UK, but somehow I doubt your claim. I have posted about NZ’s experience and how Jacinda Ardern was re-elected with a unique overall majority because the public appreciated her and her team’s competence and her communication, allied to an acceptance of science and public health advice and the present “success” of the policy, as best we can ascertain today. .

      • Fleischgeist

        The “conspiracy stuff” mentioned by Alex comes from other people, mostly those who have drunk right-wing Kool Aid of some description, who are abusing some of the same arguments put by Murray – not from Murray himself, as far as I can tell.

        Nonetheless, I absolutely share Alex’s unease about taking Murray’s argument as a conclusion rather than an argument. I subscribe to a lot of scientific bulletins and the scientists seem to be pretty damn near as unanimous on this as they are on climate change: “HERD IMMUNITY WILL NOT WORK. At best it’s mass human sacrifice, at worst mass human sacrifice that achieves nothing. DO NOT try to return to business as usual before mass vaccination.” The 5% Spanish study that Alex mentions, which indicated that the penetration of the virus in the population at the height of the first wave was actually rather low, is just one of the reasons why they appear to be taking this stance.

        I can totally understand treating politicians and the media with suspicion, but scientists demand a little more of your respect, if you consider yourself rational.

        There are other reasons to be extremely leery of the “open back up and get on with life” argument. I go into one of them in a below comment…

    • Mark

      Well said.
      It is also worth mentioning that the word “case” has been widely misused when reporting Covid infections. The word “case” – when used correctly – indicates the requirement for medical intervention. In general terms it appears that around 10% of Covid infections progress in severity to require medical intervention. And from those around 1% are fatal. This gives a “case fatality rate” of 1% and an “infection fatality rate of 0.1%.
      Now consider how this might be misinterpreted, either deliberately or accidentally, to be a source of fear. When the published figures for positive Covid test results are labeled as confirmed “cases” (opposed to confirmed “infections”), if you then multiply this by the “case fatality rate” you end up with a death toll that is 10 times larger than reality. I think Craig may have fallen into this trap when estimating his 300,000 death toll.
      You can then see how, when the misnaming of every positive Covid test result as a referring to the fear factor has been amplified by mistakenly referring to confirmed infections (i.e every one that has tested positive) By failing to understand You can then see When By conflating ThNoIt DOES NOT represent fer to the does not, , but not all is now being being banded around by poleticians, without

  • KJH

    SAGE, the Government’s advisory body, is packed with pharma company funded stooges (and not one clinical epidemiologist); Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Officer for example, holds £600,000 worth of shares in one. These are not advisors but paid lobbyists who have twisted and exaggerated every statistic, hoping to frighten us into believing that the disease is far deadlier than it is.
    Their dream is that this will become a mutating, ‘cash-cow’ virus which requires repeated doses of highly profitable vaccines.
    Secondly, I’d suggest that the substantial increase in average human life expectancy has been achieved, not so much by people living to great ages, but by the successful reduction in child mortality.

  • Paul Garrud

    The Ioannidis et al study ( likeLy did not miss people who were infected, but asymptomatic, since it used seroprevalence studies to estimate the true number of people infected (see for a summary). It has been heavily criticised by epidemiologists, however, for publishing that aggregate infection fatality rate (circa 0.66%), when the IFR clearly varies considerably with age.
    The other two points I’d like to address are the developing evidence that ‘long Covid’ may have serious disabling effects in up to 10% of younger people, and the differential impact on ethnic minority communities in the UK. Finding ways to protect both these groups better is important as well as shielding the older population.

    • Ralph

      Long covid, may this not be caused by those suffering from it having low, or very low, levels of Vitamin D3? This should be checked as a priority. Also, those affected should be given natural vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid, NOT the synthetic D-ascorbic acid) together WITH zinc.

  • willyrobinson

    Mortality rate isn’t the issue. Who cares what percentage of people this virus kills? What matters is ICU saturation, hospitals not being able to treat otherwise treatable patients (not just with covid, obviously), and medical staff abandoning a super stressful workplace.

  • pnyx

    Unfortunately you are partly wrong in this matter. A mortality rate discussion is useless because mortality is not a constant but depends on many variables. It does not really matter how high or low it is estimated. These discussions are only about the controversy whether C-19 is equal to a seasonal flu or worse.The fact is that globally, a seven-digit number of people have already died of C-19 and a significantly higher number have suffered permanent damage. It is also a fact that the chances of having an effective vaccination available in a few months are high. It therefore makes sense, and is ethically the only justifiable thing to do during this time to keep the infection rate as low as possible. Even if it hurts.

      • John Monro

        The chances of a helpful vaccine being available before too long, by that I mean starting to immunise health workers and the vulnerable within the next six months are reasonably high, but not guaranteed. But leaving the virus to do its work is guaranteed to cause untold misery and won’t stop the dire economic and social consequences of this pandemic. It’s a rational plan of action to keep the virus at bay as much as possible for the moment – the UK, much of Europe and many other countries have failed to do this. They could have done, but chose to act chaotically and reactively. . The article you refer to is giving something of a worse case scenario. He may be an expert but I think if a population is given the choice of a vaccine or continued serious disease in many members of their society, why can’t one postulate a 90-95% uptake of the vaccine, after all that’s what we aim for with measles immunisation, and many countries achieve. (I am an informed but not expert commentator with 47 years general practice medical experience). Even if not totally effective, it could substantially reduce the death and illness toll, and allow a return to more normal, if not completely care-free activity. And if it only gives temporary immunity, so what, so does the flu jab, and we just have an annual immunisation schedule for those at risk. or Cautious optimism and working towards this goal is not irrational.

    • Nick

      Good one pynx
      You and your family go first
      This virus has the same demographic of fatalities as any other respiratory infection
      So why would perfectly healthy people require it if it really worked to protect the vulnerable?

      • John Monro

        Rubbish, Nick, you cannot be serious. “It has the same demographic of fatalities as any other respiratory disease” Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish. There are many tens of different viruses and their varieties that cause respiratory disease, we meet them all the time. Children probably get six or more in a year and younger and middle aged adults several times a year. Coxsackie, adenovirus, rhinovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, parainfluenza, coronavirus (not Covid 19), enterovirus, influenza – all are common infections that mostly cause common cold symptoms, occasional more serious illness in vulnerable population with preexisting disease or in the very young or very old. Even influenza is probably about 10 times less likely to cause death than Covid 19. Please don’t contribute such appalling ignorance. . There is a significant death and serious illness rate in the adult healthy population from Covid 19 and there’s a random element of unpredictability to this – you cannot be sure that your “healthy” state doesn’t mask some underlying or developing significant medical disorder. Indeed some very athletic young people are experiencing serious heart inflammation from this virus. Honestly, I don’t know how otherwise presumably intelligent adults can get things so seriously wrong..

    • Uzmark

      pnxy mortality rate is the ONLY thing we should be looking at. “Cases” recorded with a dodgy PCR test (the inventor of which said should not be used for this purpose) is meaningless. Overall mortality is not particularly high in 2020 in the UK. In January 2018 20,000 people died of the flu in one month in the UK. Most people did not even know.
      We do not need a vaccine for this – one that has been rushed through or not. Hospital admissions and overall deaths this autumn are so far exactly in line with the average for recent years

  • pasha

    Yes, it all sounds perfectly logical and reasonable. Yet to release the coronavirus into the general population, as Craig proposes, would be a disaster, because the chances of shielding any proportion of the population from the consequences–whether old, infirm, obese, anything–is precisely zero. Not to mention the psychological damage it would inflict upon those persons being “shielded”, a nice-sounding term for what would effectively be locking them down in a high security prison. Not that they would be asked their opinion beforehand. Is this really where we want to go as a society? The best we can do for all, not just for the benefit of the majority?

    • craig Post author


      you appear not to have read the article very thoroughly. It states at great length that nobody should be shielded or incarcerated against their will.

      • pasha

        Then please explain how vulnerable populations are supposed to be protected. Epidemiologically, what you propose is nonsense unless you isolate them.

  • Sid+Falco

    5 (actually 6 as you point out) tiers is just another example of Sturgeon’s control freakery and micro management.
    Jason Leitch needs to wind his neck in as well.

  • Aletho News

    “There has been a substantial increase in human life expectancy over my lifetime and a subsequent distancing from death. That this trend should be permanent, in the face of human over-population, resource exhaustion and climate change, is something we have too readily taken for granted. In the longer term, returning to the familiarity with and acceptance of death that characterised our ancestors, is something to which mankind may need to become re-accustomed.”

    Three contra-factual presumptions designed to inure us to the decimation of humanity. All condensed neatly here with the designer’s aim plainly stated.

    In actual fact, we are approaching peak population not “peak oil”. Impoverishment is imposed by our elites amidst abundance. Climate has always changed and is not necessarily changing for the worse.

    • nevermind

      Thanks for daring to take this serious subject on Craig, but you might have to do this for years to come.

      Aletho, when your write”In actual fact, we are approaching peak population not “peak oil”. Impoverishment is imposed by our elites amidst abundance. Climate has always changed and is not necessarily changing for the worse”. You are mistaken, climate change will devastate millions of peoples lifes, and rising sea levels will inundate places such as London Manhattan and New Orleans something rotten,. not to speak of the Innuit communities in the northern hemisphere, who have to move on an annual basis.

      This virus will be followed by others as human animals decimate more and more habitats, more and more mixing with/eating species they never mixed with/eaten before. This virus is unlike others who infect you in two days and you are flat on your back. This virus can hide in young people with hardly any symptoms and infect others for over a week before showing only light symptoms. It morphs and changes on a daily basis, adapting all the time to the changing hosts and coming back in a slightly changed form.

      Here is a graph which roughly shows the developments by country and regions. Hope this helps to make it clear that humanity is on a downward curve.

      • FlakBlag

        Broadly agreed nevermind.

        My original response was (properly) disallowed by mods as off-topic, it was at least as much about the environment than about covid. It’s available here for anyone who’s interested.

        The gist was: covid seems to be more about control than about public health, which raises the question: why is such control being implemented now?

    • Royd

      ‘…and is not necessarily changing for the worse.’

      How would you define ‘worse’ Aletho News?

    • Penguin

      Wrong! The wrongest statement ever uttered on here, and that takes some doing.

      We are well past peak humanity. Decimating the current horde of bipedal locusts won’t be enough.

  • Los

    The actual Infection and Mortality Rates in the UK are obstructed by the abysmal failure of Test and Trace.

    Boris Johnson is playing Russian Roulette with other peoples’ lives, but that’s a sacrifice he’s willing to make.

  • Mike Cobley

    a pretty rational, level-headed appraisal of the situation – exactly the kind of analysis which the corrupt UK news media is now functionally incapable of carrying out and presenting to the general public. While of course the most callously incompetent government in living memory keeps blundering along it path towards oblivion and collapse; no wonder there`s no national consensus on Covid19 when the rotten Tory government exhibits its sociopathic, poor-despising nature for all to see. In 10 years Tory governance has mutated into an evil vaudevill act where a succession of grotesque, diseased characters lurch onto the stage to harangue and taunt a miserable captive audience.

  • SA

    But Craig, you seem to have come in on this rather late, there is a website that has devoted the most of its time saying similar things to what you have said, but in a more conspiratorial way. You also appear unaware that there has been a big controversy around exactly what you say because a group of scientists have published what is known as The Great Barrington Declarations (GBD).
    There is of course a lot of truth in what you and the GBD have said, and the rather poor application of the lockdown that our government has been doing. In fact it has been argued that the way the crisis has been handled here has ended by giving us the worst of both worlds, badly managed lockdown and possible economic ruin. Badly applied measures do not discredit the measures themselves, they discredit the bad applications. Some countries have been successful in combatting the virus, noticeable amongst them is China where the number of cases currently stand at very low levels, because they applied lockdown as proper lockdown. They pursued a policy of rigorous testing and tracing and curfews, both local and into the country. As a result the Chinese economy is rebounding and figures of growth of 5% are being quoted with minimal lockdown now.
    The application of the lockdown here has been a total farce. It should have been a one bite at the cherry thing, which should have been followed by very concerted effort to test and track and proper isolation, not this rubbish voluntary self isolation, which merely meant that those who got the disease went home to infect all members of the family. To this day we do not have a properly functional test and trace, and it is probably too late anyway. Just to show how this works, there is a recent example in China where there was a small outbreak in the city of Qingdao and the authorities managed to test the whole population of 10.8 million in 5 days “Qingdao finishes city-wide testing, finds no new COVID-19 cases”
    So some of the measures you and the GBD have advocated instead of a lockdown are actually not easy to implement. As you have noticed, there has been no attempt by our government to do any meaningful ‘isolation’ at the outset of the pandemic, let alone provide groceries for the elderly and cordon off nursing homes properly. In proposing idealistic unachievable measures, you are actually not also considering the high probability that it is beyond the ability of this incompetent government to implement it, and the inevitable costs of failure. And maybe this has been the aim throughout, because what the GBD advocate is a controlled form of herd immunity. I will leave you with this website where some scientists make scientific arguments about the problems with the GBD.

    • Nick

      So why would focused protection be less sensible than house arrest for people with a 99.8% chance of surviving the virus if they catch it?

      • Robyn

        And then there’s Peru which reportedly had a very early and very severely enforced lockdown but which has the highest number of deaths per million of population. There are so many variables in the equation that simple lockdown/no lockdown comparisons between countries are useless.

      • SA

        Because an accelerated transmission of the virus increases the chances of everybody, including those who self isolated becoming infected.
        The real problem is that unless you provide proper and safe isolation of mild cases, rather than voluntary and unsupervised self isolation, the policy will fail.

    • John Monro

      Thanks SA. A very well written and cogent opinion. I have posted a couple of time myself, saying much the same thing as you, and some others also contributing to this site. I am a bit dismayed by how much ignorance and misunderstanding is displayed by others including still promoting quack hydroxychloroquine. Vitamin D also being promoted – I’m not sure, certainly Vit D deficiency is noted in a high percentage of hospital admissions, but as many of these will be elderly of whom a high proportion do have some vitamin D deficiency in any case, we don’t really know whether it is a factor in the severity of the disease or merely an coincidental finding. I am not aware of any reasonable study that shows vitamin D is helpful other than insuring that patient’s health is robust as possible. Then there are all the conspiracy theories, which despite Craig’s denial, is being stoked by the tenor of Craigs article. It’s a bit depressing really. So it’s very useful to have sane and rational postings from people such as you, SA.

  • Father O'Blivion

    Any attempted comparison between Infection Fatality Rate now and that in the Spanish flue outbreak is entirely fatuous.
    The “wonders of modern medicine” created a great deal more fragile, elderly citizens (aka, fuel for the fire). The “better” our NHS is managed, the higher the IFR. This is perhaps best illustrated in Northern Ireland where the “best” per capita fatality rate in the UK can in large part be attributed to the longest NHS waiting lists in the UK. In short, folk in NI died on the waiting lists for routine but life extending operations before Covid could get them.

    • Brian c

      Maybe better to wait til we’re through winter or even just the autumn before dismissing any comparison with the Spanish flu and its fatal second wave. Certainly not the ideal time of year to start experimenting with herd immunity.

      • Roberto

        It’s easy to compare because they’re completely different. The Spanish Flu killed young people, whereas in the current Covid 19 event young people are mostly immune. Children pretty well zero risk, 20-40 slightly elevated risk, 40-60 elevated but not seriously at risk. There is presently herd immunity in something like 80% of the population in which the infection passes without notice by the infected individual because the infection is defeated by the natural immune system. Herd immunity is not an experiment; it’s how the human race has survived, each individual defeating innumerable attacks every day without noticeable effect.
        As a matter of interest, there is estimated to be 380 Trillion viruses in the human virome. They constantly evolve, and periodically we get a nasty one.
        To date, 1.1 million attributed deaths, current fatality risk is .00015 for world population, or 1/64th of one per cent. For the UK: .0006, or 1/16th of one percent. For the Spanish Flu, world fatality risk was .04, or 4% at the high end of the estimated deaths. Two percent at the low end (50 Million), an incredibly high rate considering that world population includes large numbers of remote and remotely dispersed populations.

        • Brian c

          No, herd immunity is s terrible idea, especially with the weather getting colder. The more people that have the virus, the more likely it is to mutate into something much, much worse. And in any case, there’s no proof that herd immunity is even achievable. There have also been numerous reports of individuals getting covid twice, sometimes with increased severity.

          • Roberto

            Herd immunity is not an ‘idea’, or a theory that has just developed in 2020, it is a reality, developed in the biological history of all living creatures.
            Infections are not ‘cases’. Most infections are defeated without intervention, or even symptomatic evidence of infection.

          • Penguin

            Herd Immunity is the observable effect of organisms developing immunity after surviving an infection and reducing the rate of spread throughout the remaining population .

            Nothing more and nothing less.

            Stop with the scaremongering. Also please to be listing all of the viruses which have mutated to become more dangerous and deadly. I’ll be waiting.

          • forthestate

            “The more people that have the virus, the more likely it is to mutate into something much, much worse.”

            If viruses had a tendency “to mutate into something much, much worse” then we’d likely all have died from the common cold a long time ago. Fortunately they don’t. A virus mutating to become more dangerous is very rare.

            There’s an awful lot of people spreading panic through ignorance right now. We can really do without it.

            And once again, herd immunity is not an idea, terrible or otherwise – it’s a scientific phenomenon; in other words, a fact.

          • John Monro

            The Covid virus could mutate to something worse, but the usual history of major epidemics and pandemics is that the virus tends to become just a bit more benign as it transmits through the vulnerable population, though this is sometimes associated with an increased infectivity. This may be evident with a reducing case fatality rate. But of course nothing is guaranteed, and a bit more benign is not much help to the individual who becomes seriously ill.

        • John Monro

          Your statistics are meaningless and the 380 trillion viruses in the human genome, even if true, irrelevant. Current fatality rate has to be measured by rate per hundred of those infected, not the total population at risk who have yet to get the virus. We don’t know what that number is, it’ll be a lot higher than those we actually know about or have confirmed, certainly. It’s also likely deaths have been under-reported in many areas. So the figures continue to be in a state of flux. But “herd” immunity in the UK for instance, would mean about 70% infected with most recovering but likely (just an informed estimate) 1-2% dying and many more left with serious residual illness, as the UK has a large elderly population and a pretty large number of obese, hypertensive and otherwise not fully fit adults. 70% UK population is about 50 million, 1-2% of those about half to one million. You may be prepared to accept this, but a large number of your fellow citizens might rightly be just a bit concerned.

      • Bramble

        They have been experimenting with herd immunity from the start. Helped by those eager to get back to “normal” and put the economy before public health.

        • Robyn

          That’s only if you exclude a number of things from ‘public health’ – employment, financial security, smiles, hugs, shaking hands, attending sports etc., entertaining family and friends, shared meals, going to the library, an outing to the beach or countryside, visiting the sick, being visited when sick, being with a dying family member in their last hours, attending funerals, attending weddings, a sense of hope for the future. I could go on but, in brief, all the things that make life worth living.

        • Josh R

          for most people in the Majority World, the economy IS public health.
          Millions of those “unheard” are being literally sacrificed for the irrational, panic induced, self preservation measures of those comfortably ensconced in the communities which disproportionately dictate the terms of World governance.
          But, hey! nothing new there,
          as long as “I’m ok, Jack”, fk the rest of ’em.

      • Nick

        What a fatuous comment
        “Covid19 ” is harming a demographic mainly at end of life…like any respiratory infection
        All cause mortality is almost at the 5 year average
        The “spanish flu” saw a swathe outwith the demographic at end of life die. In my county more people have died from suicide than covid related issues for 3 straight months.

        • jammy codger

          Saw a reasonable case recently for most of the Spanish flu deaths being due ultimately to bacterial pneumonia, Which does for the killer virus meme, will try and find a link.

    • SA

      “Any attempted comparison between Infection Fatality Rate now and that in the Spanish flue outbreak is entirely fatuous.”

      Absolutely agree. One set of data is mature and the other rapidly evolving.
      I don’t agree however with your second argument, you seem to deplore that modern medicine has improved life expectancy!

  • SA

    The obsession with death rate, whether expressed as Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) or Case FR (CFR) has been one of the overriding arguments in this debate. There are many problems with this, because all these figures are averages. The rate quoted by Craig of 0.65 is a figure averaged out between countries, genders, ages, comorbidities, ethnic background, coexisting conditions, health facilities and also time. The CFR in Italy at the outset was 20% in the over 80’s and the overall CFR in UK between weeks 10-20 was 6.3%. It is currently thought that BAME groups are at a higher risk. Averaging out the risk therefore may impose higher burdens on certain subgroups. It may quadruple your risk if you are a Black male than if you are a white female with the same state of health.
    There are many other factors also to consider. Craig has copied the three graphs from the Guardian, the first, is labelled ‘Daily cases’, a misnomer, it should read the daily number of PCR positive individuals, and ideally should also be expressed as a ratio over the number tested which will enable comparison with figures from March and April. The second graph ‘In Hospital’ is actually more important because it shows the burden of disease and the pressure on hospitals. Again ideally a denominator should be ‘Hospital overall capacity’. Even then, resources devoted to treating patients with Covid 19 are more intensive than the average patient, as they require more rigorous isolation and PPI and so on, and also ITU facilities. This figure would be highly significant because it would act as an index as to how soon the NHS facilities may be ‘swamped’ and unable to cope, The third graph ‘Daily Deaths’ is also important but also in the context of the second graph,
    So morbidity and contagiousness as well as sequelae are also very important things to consider, as well as rates of sickness off work, all not accounted for by fixation on crude fatality rates.

    • craig Post author

      But the Case Fatality Rate was never 20% anywhere, unless you take “case” as meaning “those who had a positive test”. If you take that latter definition, there are of course extremely high rates you can quote because in specific situations when there were very few tests available, they were only given to those approaching death’s door. It is meaningless nonsense.

      • Lev Ke

        I have never seen “case” been used unless it meant “those who had a positive test”.
        Is your experience different? What else do they show numbers of?

        • craig Post author

          My point is that in general those who have had the disease is a far greater number than those who have had a positive test, which I believe is inarguable.

          • Lev Ke

            I fully agree with that statement.
            My only point was that as far as I’ve seen, “cases” is indeed used in the statistical graphs to mean “tested positive”.
            Testing has become a kind of sport over the past few months and immense numbers of tests are being done it seems.
            If Operation Moonshot had become reality, testing would have become a new pillar of the economy all in itself I guess…

          • Roman

            In the beginning of the epidemic it was certainly not the case. No epidemic model indicates sudden infection of large number of people. The decrease of CMR over time may have multiple plausible explanations, the number of tests possibly not the most important.

          • Lev Ke

            Obviously I only meant “ever” in the sense of “in the covid context”. If I’m wrong, do correct me. So far, all numbers of “cases” are, as far as I can see, referring to positive tests and nothing else.

        • Roberto

          Cases are infections requiring treatment. Positive infections are identified as ‘cases’ as a scare tactic for the headlines, and technocrat bureaucrats. Anyway, the PCR test was not designed for the purpose it is being employed, diagnosis, as stated years ago by the Nobel-Prize winning creator of the test (Kary Mullis).
          Mass testing is the most useless waste of resources and money that could be imagined – the focus should be on treatment of actual cases of people presenting symptoms. Quite apart from Boris acknowledging that 93% of the tests report inaccurate results (typical – different regions of the world have reported the tests overstate infections by up to 10X), 80% of infections are defeated by the immune system with no symptoms, the next 15% of infected people may present mild or flu-like symptoms which may require a little time off work (a common event twice a year), and only 5% require treatment or intervention of some sort.

          • R.A.

            Your comment is one of the most economical explanations of the corruption of the term “cases” I have seen. Well done, and let us keep repeating this, until the stupid mass media get it into their heads that just reporting “case numbers” is not enough.

          • Uzmark

            Roberto, “Mass testing is the most useless waste of resources and money that could be imagined”
            wrong, they surpassed even themselves with mass general lockdowns and the destruction of economies, but not far off

      • Lev Ke

        Also, why else would there be talk of “asymptomatic cases”? This is exactly because “case” means “someone with a positive test”, in blatant disregard of whether they feel sick or are completely healthy. That’s what all the tracking and tracing is about: it brings out an enormous amount of healthy people that feed into the “cases” numbers.

        • Royd

          ‘This is exactly because “case” means “someone with a positive test…”

          Not so Lev Ke. ‘Case’ is defined as someone with signs and symptoms AND a positive test. Terminology is important, as Dr M McKendrick has written.

          • Roberto

            Dr M McKendrick may write such things, and that would be the desired definition, but the headline number of ‘cases’ are positive ‘infections’ misstated as ‘cases’.
            Here I include ‘infections’ in scare quotes because even those figures given are grossly exaggerated. Samples are simply amplified until a positive result is obtained, which is meaningless, as stated by the creator of the PCR test.

          • SA

            The creator of the PCR test also denies that HIV is the main cause of AIDS and is a climate change denier. He invented the PCR in 1990s I think, but things have moved on since.

          • Nick

            Not so royd
            Plenty of people with zero symptoms are being declared cases
            Certainly many football players,roped into automatic testing, are testing positive with no symptoms and are being called cases

          • Nick

            He won the nobel prize for chemistry in 93
            So his position of asking for proof that hiv and aids were married together have more validity than your smear attempt.

          • SA

            Obama won a Nobel prize also. I know science prizes are less political but it recognise an achievement, Not confer infallibility, that is a matter for the Vatican?.
            You also compare his ability to state garbage as more valid than mine, a fallacy, because this garbage In the case of HIV goes against The evidence of scientists and doctors and experts, Who, unlike him, have actual direct experience in the field.

      • SA

        The cases in Italy in March were presumably only sick enough to be tested. This was the first report from Italy on 27th March showing a CFR of 25.2 amongst the 80-89 year old. The CFR in the whole group of 75000 cases was 9.5%
        What I am saying is that the CFR in an evolving situation is a crude measure because it is subject to many variables. It is not a meaningless nonsense, it is an evolving story and until we know what the actual rates of infection are the IFR remains a movable number. And
        “they were only given to those approaching death’s door” is obviously a gross exaggeration as in fact the death rate was not 100% or even 90% but 25%.

          • SA

            Yes we all know that of course but we also do not yet have the deaths from the second wave, can’t base your conclusions on evolving data with built in suppositions.

  • Mistercorzi

    Would it not seem reasonable that 1,2,3 (Scotland’s tiers) were a match (broadly) for 1,2,3 (England’s tiers). Normality would presumably be for an area to not require any tier?

  • Lev Ke

    Very good, Mr. Murray. We all had to wake up at one point, and you are allowed all the time you need.
    The point is that this plandemic is such an immense gamble, it’s such a bluff and an overplaying of the elite’s hand, that it is impossible for anybody who has the least bit of sanity left and a sincere thirst for truth and justice, cannot but wake up due to what has happened and is happening.
    As much as I hate the present situation, it is in fact a total blessing in disguise. We could not ask for a better event to wake people up than one in which the mask and the gloves have come off and the absurdities are no longer even attempted to be packaged into something remotely logical.

    A few more steps and you’ll get to the core of the issue, which is the most wonderful discovery that nature and life are in and of themselves, without the interference of psychopathic “leaders”, beautiful, harmonious, and express unity and caring. The basic, natural state of being of this planet and all its creatures, including and especially the human beings, is love, harmony, unity and happiness.

    Our basic notion that life is an endless struggle for survival, that we are all enemies who have to fight each other for the same scarce goods, that the best and most successful people in the world are those who can climb to the top of the imaginary food chain, screw over the largest number of others and amass most of the scarce resources to the detriment of vasts swaths of fellow human beings, this very toxic and horrible notion is nothing but a cheap, false narrative used by the few psychopaths that roam the earth to keep us all scared and working for their benefit. It reflects their sick mind and nothing else.
    People who lack the ability to empathy and love will never be able to recognise these qualities anywhere, let alone see any value in them. Let alone even more understand that these are the only meaningful values in life.

    We are moving towards a society in which billionaires will be the most pitied persons on the planet instead of the most revered. We will soon live in a society in which it is openly understood that if you have no empathy and feel a pathological need to hoard material wealth, you are the poorest person on earth, as you miss the basic capacity to experience Life: you are unable to feel the immense bliss of making someone else happy.

  • craig Post author

    I have just deleted a comment criticising the Great Barrington Declaration because I have nowhere referred to or based any of my argument on that declaration.

    • Lev Ke

      Censorship can never, ever be anything else but an abuse of power, to suppress views and truths that are unwanted. I’m sure that I don’t need to tell you this, Sir, as I’m learning from your blog.

      If someone says something stupid, they make a fool of themselves.
      If someone says something that hurts, they make themselves disliked.
      If someone says something that is unwanted, they shine a light on a truth that someone wants to keep hidden. For what reason?

      • craig Post author

        Lev Ke,

        You are right of course. It is simply that someone was deliberately trying to confuse people by conflating my arguments with the Great Barrington Declaration. I get fed up with people trying to misrepresent my positions.

        • Lev Ke

          If someone else’s opinions are misrepresented and misquoted and disingenuously attributed, I can agree that simply deleting the stuff is probably the shortest way to sanity and a meaningful discussion 😉

          • Tatyana

            If Author’s opinion is misrepresented and misquoted and disingenuously attributed, I can agree that the Author may simply delete the stuff which is probably interfering with the sanity and a meaningful discussion on the Author’s opinion.

            It is very simple and even logical act in the case when the Author is a source of opinion and has moderator’s power at the same time. This does not work in the case of government, because in a normal society the functions of ‘the source of opinion’ and the ‘executor of power’ must be separated. To prevent voluntarism and dictatorship.

        • R.A.

          As I began to read your post today, I too was reminded of the Great Barrington Declaration. I think there is a general similarity between the Declaration and the policy you advocate–that there is no cause to lock down the young and healthy, that we should focus on protecting the old and vulnerable to the extent we can and allow general society to get back on its feet.

          The authors of the GBD are acknowledged to be first class epidemiologists, especially Dr. Sunetra Gupta of Oxford. So if your arguments are similar to theirs, you are in good company. In any case, I appreciate your efforts and look forward to your further thinking on this matter.

    • SA

      Why is it that you think that your arguments are different from those of the signatories of the Great Barrington declaration? They advocate selective lockdown of the elderly and that schools and universities should remain open.

  • douglas clark


    I have read that the virus may weaken peoples long term resistance to other (respiratory?) illnesses. In other words that people may be compromised in the future.

    I’d be interested in your view on that.

    To be clear, an apparent resistance to coronavirus may not be a ‘get out of jail card’ for ones future health, if it in some way compromises you to other illnesses.

    Perhaps you could address that?

    • craig Post author

      It seems too early to comment on long term effects usefully. As for “long Covid”, given the extreme inculcation of mass fear into the national psychology, I am uncertain how many long Covid symptoms are somatic.

      • Fleischgeist

        Holy shit, did I read that right? Did Murray just accuse chronically ill people of having an illness which is “all in their heads”?

        > “As for “long Covid”, given the extreme inculcation of mass fear into the national psychology, I am uncertain how many long Covid symptoms are somatic.”

        Is there any other way to read this statement than “I think long Covid symptoms may be mental, not physical, illnesses caused by fear of Covid rather than Covid itself”?

        I’m not saying it should be verboten from raising such an idea, but it does seem like both an extreme idea and also exceptionally callous, at least to someone like myself who has known people suffering from chronic illnesses both physical/somatic and “mental”.

        Put together with the clear sentiment in the main blog article that “we are all going to have to get used to death again”, and Murray seems to be heading for “let the weak die” territory. A development that I would never have expected.

        • Elvis Legg

          Have you ever suffered badly from a respiratory disease? I have, I had a bad case of the flu in 2013 and I felt bad for months afterwards, coughing badly whenever I exercised or laughed. I ended up with scarring on my lungs. What I am saying here is that sars-cov 2 is far from unique among viruses that compromise the respiratory system in the respect that it can have long lasting negative consequences in some people. Don’t believe the hype.

        • R.A.

          F, I suspect you overreact a bit. Modern medicine tends to be mechanistic in its viewpoint, without giving proper weight to just how profoundly the mind can affect the functions of the body. And the stress that we have all been placed under, for months now, by the unrelenting diet of fear messaging from the media and government, should not be underestimated. I know how it has affected me, and I am reasonably healthy for my age. This is not a good situation that we are in–constantly wondering when, if ever, things will get back to some sort of normal; remembering all that we have lost, the arts, community, companionship, all restricted or lost altogether. We are not quite in total dystopia yet, but it does appear we on the cliff’s edge of it.

      • Mungo Armstrong

        Craig, I’m an Edinburgh Taxi driver in danger now of losing everything I worked for. A life time’s work gone almost overnight. I reckon I’ve got two more months before I’ll have to sell my flat and move back in with my 80 year old mother. I’m 48.
        I agree with everything you say in the article but what is the answer to those that make the argument, that it’s not about infection or death rates, but the strain on the NHS that ending this current method of containment would create?

    • Nick

      Wow. They worked that out from a virus less than 9 months in the uk? That they haven’t filtrated from antibodies in purified form yet?
      Did by any chance that info come from someone sponsored by pharma?

  • Frank Waring

    Four separate points/questions:
    a. ‘All the passenger security checks that make flying a misery, across the entire world, have never caught a single bomb, anywhere. ‘
    Do you think that passenger security checks should be ended?
    b. Something made unexpectedly clear by lockdown, is that a significant fraction of the ‘economy’ is more a necessary part of distribution, than it is of production. Sports, entertainment, hospitality, air travel, food-consumed-outside-the-home, tourism, luxury shopping, hair/nails/beauty, cut flowers, construction — will all recover far more quickly from a 30% cut, than would mining, primary manufacture, agriculture, fisheries, pharmaceuticals, infrastructure and capital maintenance. The Covid-19 recession is not to be compared with a famine, the Great Depression, or a war.
    c. The proper question is not whether you can devise a theoretical scheme for the creation of a varied collection of protected environments, suitable to the varied needs of those who wish to be protected, and paid for from the public purse — but whether such a scheme would become a functioning reality (literally) here and (literally) now.
    d. Do you have a more realistic explanation for the fact that no country in the world has explicitly adopted this strategy, other than that a malign conspiracy or a universal panic in the face of mortality has deprived the world of its rational senses?

    • Tony Little

      If I may add my own observations, albeit I realize these were directed at Craig.

      a) The normal type of security check was quite sufficient, and imho remains so. the obsessive regulations now do not offer any additional protection.
      b) Yes, and your point is?
      c) If you mean a scheme to focus on the most sensitive groups, I think such an approach would seem to be entirely obvious and productive. It would remain so until such time as a vaccine or other mitigating element was developed.
      d) I don’t, perhaps Craig does. It occurs to me, however, that most govts do NOT have a remote understanding on how pandemics actually work, and too often their “experts” come with predetermined positions, not always but ofter linked to large pharmaceutical companies

  • Wally Jumblatt

    Exactly, level zero still means you are under total control of the whim of Nicola
    -precisely as she wants it.

  • Peter Moritz

    “Elderly or vulnerable people who would prefer to live their lives, and accept that there is currently a heightened risk of dying a bit sooner than might otherwise be expected, must be permitted to do so. The elderly in particular should not be forcefully incarcerated if they do not so wish. To isolate an 88 year old and not allow them to see their family, on the grounds their remaining life would be shortened, is not necessarily the best choice for them. It should be their choice.”

    Funny, ever since I made myself aware of the high incidence of fatality of those over the age of 65 – basically early on when the lockdowns began in the EU – I advocated exactly this by pointing out in discussions the economic nonsense of depriving the majority of earning a livelihood, destroying especially small businesses and basically incarcerating the majority of the population when no need existed.
    But – emotional nonsense prevailed, and I was (I am over 70 and part of the risk group) I was basically called a granny and grandpa killer.

    Here’s some data by the Lancet:

    ” We estimated an overall infection-fatality risk of 1·39% (95% credible interval 1·04–1·77) in New York City. Our estimated infection-fatality risk for the two oldest age groups (65–74 and ≥75 years) was much higher than the younger age groups, with a cumulative estimated infection-fatality risk of 0·116% (0·0729–0·148) for those aged 25–44 years and 0·939% (0·729–1·19) for those aged 45–64 years versus 4·87% (3·37–6·89) for those aged 65–74 years and 14·2% (10·2–18·1) for those aged 75 years and older. In particular, weekly infection-fatality risk was estimated to be as high as 6·72% (5·52–8·01) for those aged 65–74 years and 19·1% (14·7–21·9) for those aged 75 years and older.”

    And as to the estimated actual Infection rate:

    “These results imply that 89% of infections in the U.S. were undocumented. This finding is consistent with a mathematical modeling study that reported that 86% of infections were undocumented using data from Wuhan, China18. The 95% simulation interval for the number of estimated infections in the U.S. was 2,240,740–14,856,756 (Supplementary Fig. 1). This corresponds to an estimated number of SARS-CoV-2 infections 3 to 20 times higher than the number of confirmed cases.”

    “Acknowledging these limitations, based on the currently available data, one may project
    that over half a billion people have been infected as of 12 September, 2020, far more than the approximately 29 million documented laboratory-confirmed cases. Most locations probably have an infection fatality rate less than 0.20% and with appropriate, precise non-pharmacological measures that selectively try to protect high-risk vulnerable populations and settings, the infection fatality rate may be brought even lower.”

    Which of course means that the actual CFR is much lower than the values peddled by the WHO. Because most cases are non-symptomatic, those will not be tested and of course skew the IFR to a higher value. A real accurate figure can only be achieved by testing a representative sample of the various populations:

    “The infection fatality rate is not a fixed physical constant and it can vary substantially acrosslocations, depending on the population structure, the case-mix of infected and deceased individuals and other, local factors. The studies analysed here represent 82 different estimates of the infection fatality rate of COVID-19, but they are not fully representative of all countries andlocations around the world.”

  • Stephen Morgan

    It is correct that there were probably far more cases than confirmed in the spring, due to a lack of testing. However there were also many unaccounted for excess deaths, and a larger number of deaths would obviously have an effect on the death rate.

    It is also the case that young people with no pre-existing conditions are in little danger. They are also quite rare. The country is full of diabetics, asthmatics and fat people.

    • Penguin

      Who will all benefit from a good dose of disease. Or society will benefit from the removal of surplus wastes of space. Remember that’s the aim of all true socialist governments. “For the Many, Not the Few,” remember.

    • Nick

      In April in uk there was 22000 excess deaths
      7000 were covid related
      Could lockdown have caused the other 15000?

  • Sean_Lamb

    Everyone is going to be infected by Covid-19 eventually, the goal of the lock-downs is to create the breathing space until a vaccine can be deployed. But Covid-19 is part of the human virome now and it won’t go away. Either you are going to have to have booster shots every 18-24 months or accept a mild viral infection like the many other respiratory viruses we live with. I think there is every probability that it is only the first encounter with Covid-19 that can be problematic, once the baseline memory cells have been established reinfections will be mild (in some ways most of the unpleasant symptoms of a cold are just your immune defences kicking into gear)

    However, if you don’t lock-down you are going to have quite a miserable winter ahead of you. Melbourne, Australia has recently followed China’s lead and shown it is possible to virtually eliminate the virus if your population shows discipline and compliance. Otherwise you will just have to live with a daily death toll in the order of 200+ for the rest of the year.

    Of course, there are obvious and simple anti-viral treatments that COULD be developed, but the major military alliances have all prioritised their bioweapons programs and are refusing to allow the antivirals that have been known to scientific community for decades become available. The problem has always been these antivirals are very broad-spectrum – cure one RNA virus and you cure them all – and BANG – your entire bio-weaponry is completely obsolete

    • Sean_Lamb

      I guess the point I am trying to make is the more you lock down, the greater the benefit you will receive from the vaccine when it comes available.
      So New Zealand will get 99% of the maximum benefit that a vaccine can deliver. Where as the rate the UK is going it might only receive 20% of the possible maximum benefit (obviously that is only a wild guess – but it is how I think the issue should be framed)

      • Penguin

        Wrong again. The whole point of the lockdown was to cram people together for 23 hours a day in close proximity with no escape.

        A more perfect environment for contracting respiratory disease could not be imagined.

        Also you seem to be saying that the higher the percentage of the population already being immune the worse off they are. Which is just insane.

        • Prue

          The whole point of a well executed lockdown is to reduce transmission as has been the result in New Zealand, Vietnam etc. In New Zealand we now have no community transmission and complete freedom of movement. This is because the lockdown, track and trace, testing, closed border to non NZers, and two week managed isolation for incoming NZers, was carried out effectively, quite differently to the haphazard ineffectual policy in the UK.
          I can’t believe that Craig’s recommendation would be carried out any more effectively than the so called UK lockdown has. If the UK government had the will to, it could implement a strategy similar to that carried out in NZ now, with the result finally that New Zealand has. With the Prime Minister being such a dolt I don’t see that happening though.

          “After several weeks without a case of COVID-19 outside of managed isolation facilities, a new community case was reported on Sunday (Figure 1). Genome sequencing shows that the new case is not linked to any existing local cases, and the source is expected to be an overseas ship that the man worked on in Auckland on 13 October. Close contacts of the case are self-isolating, and two workplace contacts have since tested positive.”
          “The NZ Activity Index indicated a recovery in September, and card spending appears to have recovered following a dip in early October. Business sentiment and activity indicators rose in the September quarter, and indexes of manufacturing and services industry performance showed signs of improvement.”

          So it’s possible to contain the virus without wrecking the economy.

  • Scott

    Dear Craig,
    Your numbers of the infection fatality rate are vastly too high. Current estimates from most experts are now converging around 0.12 – 0.18% range, the bad end of a flu.
    The below is well worth a listen for understanding where we are now. The misuse of the PCR test is – will be – criminal.

    Dr. Mike Yeadon podcast

    Dr. Reiner Fullmich (lawyer who won the VW ‘Dieselgate’ case

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