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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  • Adam

    This seems to miss some obvious points. You concentrate on fatality, but how many of those that survived so far required hospital treatment to do so? We’re seeing intensive care units reaching capacity in parts of the world now, *with* restrictions in place. Evidently if we removed all restrictions chaos would ensue and more people would die. It also assumes it’s actually feasible to effectively shield all vulnerable people. Does he want old people to fully isolate and only be visited by people wearing full PPE? And finally, it also assumes that the sector of the population with a higher fatality risk from COVID-19 is well-defined. While the overall trend is that older people are more vulnerable, there are also younger people with no underlying conditions who experience severe symptoms and require hospitalisation, in a way which is not easy to predict.

    • Brianborou

      Craig could have actually went further because besides having a fatality rate of 0.06% and the median age of death is about 80 ( the average life span is about 80) plus 95% of the fatalities had one or more serious illnesses which meant they died primarily not of Covid19 but with it. He could also have included that on average every year 166,000 people of all ages die of cancer and it’s not the biggest killer in the U.K. dementia has increased substantially over the last few years. Therefore, because of the insane policy of lockdown which not only will throw millions out of a job but also dramatically increase deaths from cancer plus many other diseases due to cancelled operations and delayed treatment whilst many many hospitals wards were closed due to a potential pandemic based on Professor Ferguson and Imperial colleges woefully inaccurate predictions which they have a long track record of making.

      • David

        Agreed. I’ve not seen the study Craig mentioned but from what I’m reading 0.66% is way too high a figure. 0.1-0.05 is more likely (Cut Craig’s 300k deaths into six and you get roughly where the UK is at).

        Craig: you should check out Euromomo and Dr Malcolm Kendrick’s blog (he has some good articles from a Swedish doctor on there, amongst other things). Lockdown skeptics also has very telling analysis. The long and the short of it is that the pandemic is over (look at the headline graph on euromomo and tell me that isn’t true) and we’re being taken for a ride by power hungry politicians and money hungry pharma companies.

    • M.J.

      +1
      The main reason for restrictions may well have been to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed, not merely by deaths, but non-lethal admissions, a minority of which may need intensive care, the latter which might be double the number of deaths, if 50% of them survive. The so-called “long COVID” could add considerably to demand on the NHS as well, both inside and outside hospitals.
      Perhaps we need the proportions needing hospital admissions and longer term “long Covid” care that would place real demands on the NHS. That may well be 5% or higher (for all we know), and have necessitated the construction of the “Nightingale hospitals”.

      • M.J.

        An article in the Guardian by Spegelhalter said that while the risk of a schoolpupil dying of Covid may be almost nothing (1 in 50,000) it doubles for every six years extra age, so that it may be 20% among the very old. So the danger of emergency facilities being overwhelmed and the need for standby Nightingale hospitals clearly comes mainly from the illness in older people, as we might expect.

  • Tim Glover

    Thank you Craig for providing an opportunity for rational debate on this extremely important topic. I have not read all the comments and I do not have time so this is likely to be repetitive…

    First of course, it sounds as if you should sign the Barrington Declaration (if you can find it in the fog of obfuscation created by MSM). FWIW this is what I said all along ;-P

    Second, most people dismiss the “Cases” graph as manifestly misleading, but few point out the corollary for the deaths graph. From simple arithmetic it is clear that most of the “Cases” are not cases at all, they are either false positives or people who have recovered. But the deaths graph is not people who died of covid; it is people who died after a positive test withing 28 days of death; and from the “cases” graph it is clear that most of these not only did not DIE of covid, they didn’t even HAVE covid.

    SO the big question is, why have governments all over the world worked so hard to deceive us? Looking at the huge effort to suppress and falsify the fact that (dirt cheap) hydroxychloroquine is effective and(very expensive) remsevidir is useless, I detect the hand of billionnaire psychopaths here, for whom making money is the only imperative (cf the campaign to dismiss the dangers of smoking etc)

    • Brian c

      You are right, the difference with what is prescribed in the Great Barrington Declaration is negligible.

      “I detect the hand of billionnaire psychopaths here, for whom making money is the only imperative..”

      Check who is bankrolling the Great Barrington Declaration movement.

    • M.C.

      Are you saying that all those doctors and nurses lied to us about the massive influx of patients and deaths they had back in spring/early summer) or that there wasn’t substantially more deaths than usual at that time of year?

      The -not everybody recorded as a covid death died of covid- meme can only stretch so far.

      • Tim Glover

        Well actually – yes! At least the doctors and nurses didn’t lie; I know staff at more than 1 hospital in East Anglia and they say it was very quiet, and they had nothing to do all day because there were few covid cases and everything else was cancelled. But they were not reported on the media. I don’t know where the story came from that the hospitals were in crisis, but it wasn’t from medical staff.

        Although I said nothing about spring – I was only talking about now. I personally know 2 people who died in the spring and several who were very ill. So it is real, nasty, dangerous and very infectious. But we have been egregiously lied to by the state and it;s organs.

          • David

            Forget public health England and look at euromomo. All mortality across 24 European countries. Yes, there was a large spike in excess deaths, but now it’s over. You can even see the post-lockdown blip in September (to be expected when protecting those who are actually vulnerable has been very poorly done, but no cause for real concern).

            Where is the spike in excess deaths in Sweden? No hard lockdown to start with, and now maybe only 1/100 wearing a mask on the metro. They should be skyrocketing if Ferguson and the other bozos advising the government were right.

            Also note the departure from mentioning excess mortality by the government and media. That was all we heard about to start with (as a way to avoid awkward comparisons with countries doing better than us), but now there’s hard data we hear nothing about it! Instead there’s new scaremongering, e.g. “long covid”.

          • Tim Glover

            Your replies to me are non-sequiturs. Nothing I have said would allow you to conclude that I think doctors and nurses or the ONS have been lying. I did not say anything about excess deaths in the Spring. You seem to constantly add 2+2 and get 5.

      • nevermind

        They might not have lied, but the ONS has clearly explained that the NHS is short of many nurses and doctors, who left since the referendum, 40.000 of them and it is inevitable that the remaining staff is overwhelmed by the extra pandemic work they have to carry out due to the cut thrust and control Tories who got nothing at all right from the start. They are responsible for every excess death, not PHE who clearly pointed to the lack of staff and preparedness in 2016 and is merely a bouncing body for politicians to fund or not to fund.

    • giyane

      Tim Glover

      Is there any evidence that Hydroxy chloroquine’s benefits outweigh the possible side-effects?

  • Mary

    Comparing influenza to Covid-19

    How does the new coronavirus compare to influenza?
    11 MARCH 2020
    We were asked by readers how the Covid-19 and SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes it, compares to influenza, in terms of both its infection rate and its death rate.

    It is difficult to get a precise infection or death rate for either illness. Covid-19 is a new disease, and data on the number of infections is imperfect. The number of influenza cases, meanwhile, can vary a great deal year-to-year, depending on various factors including which of the many strains of the virus are spreading. However, the World Health Organisation has attempted to compare the two.
    /..
    https://fullfact.org/health/coronavirus-compare-influenza/#

  • SA

    Some clarification is needed:
    Positive PCR tests for SARS-cov2 tell you that someone has got infected with the virus, but may be asymptomatic or have disease, or just got over it. These people are infected and feature as the denominator in the Infection fatality rate (IFR).
    Covid-19 cases are those who have symptoms, of whatever severity, related to being infected with SARS-cov2. These people are ‘cases’ of Covid-19 and are the denominator of the case fatality rate (CFR). Therefore the IFR is always lower than the CFR.

    “CFR rates are subject to selection bias as more severe cases are tested – generally those in the hospital settings or those with more severe symptoms. The number of currently infected asymptomatic is uncertain: estimates put it at least a half are asymptomatic; the proportion not coming forward for testing is also highly doubtful (i.e. you are symptomatic, but you do not present for testing). Therefore we can assume the IFR is significantly lower than the CFR.”

    The quotation above is from an an article from a website called The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine CEBM, and is from early on in the epidemic.
    https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/global-covid-19-case-fatality-rates/
    It is a very good analysis which would clarify some of the confusion.
    In every new pandemic the CFR is initially high but eventually drops and the SARS-cov2 pandemic is no exception. It is important to remember that part of this drop is related to measures taken, increased identification of those infected, effective isolation, proper isolation, not half hearted voluntary isolation, early detection, improved treatment and development of new treatments and finally vaccination. The increase in testing and also the improved treatment and also the preventive measures such as social distancing, etc.. are part of the reason why the IFR and CRF are falling. Therefore to then say that we now need to relax, risks a rebound.
    At present, as far as I gather, we are in a stage of understanding the epidemiology better, at isolation more serious cases and at some improvement in the supportive treatment in hospital with improved survival even of serious cases. but most of this information has not been published yet. There are suggestions that for example, that CPAAP is better than induced coma and ventilation. Also the use of steroids, and the better understanding of dealing with the cytokine storm, and hypercoagulability in these patients and other supportive measures are important factors for improved survival. There is little evidence chloroquine or Remdesivir are effective. Monoclonal antibody treatment is under investigation and is promising, also because the methodology and side effects are well known. Vaccines are further down the line and there is no guarantee that they will work. It is not known whether the virus might mutate and therefore relaxing measures now is foolhardy and risks a major disaster.

    • Minority Of One

      >> It is not known whether the virus might mutate and therefore relaxing measures now is foolhardy and risks a major disaster.

      We already have a major disaster, an economic one. Two weeks ago the UN estimated globally 500 M people have lost their jobs. 500 M plus families. Many of those, even in this country, are going hungry. In the meantime, the economy seems to be headed for a dark place.

      • SA

        It is not either or. If the virus is not controlled the economy will suffer and there will be many dead people.

      • pretzelattack

        yeah at least in the u.s. with it’s extremely porous “safety net” (screen door in a submarine level of effectiveness) it’s been a double whammy, taken advantage of by the wealthy to enrich themselves further and devil take everybody else.

  • Crispa

    I think that there is no doubt that Valance and Whittey deliberately played on the fear factor when introducing their “what if” rates doubled every 7 days scenario to help justify the latest government interventions. As CEBM points out https://www.cebm.net in their tracking of this, the actuality falls far short.
    Also in their recent assessment of deaths to we 09 0ct CEBM have this to say.

    “Excess deaths remain low in England, with 112 observed in the most recent week reported – one percent higher than expected. Across the regions, excess deaths do not show a consistent picture.

    In terms of death by an underlying cause, ischaemic heart disease and stroke continue to show excess deaths, and diabetes mellitus has seen excess deaths in all 29 weeks of the PHE reporting window. In contrast, Dementia and Alzheimers have seen deaths lower than expected for 19 consecutive weeks with 139 (12%) fewer deaths than expected this week. There are also notably fewer deaths for chronic lower respiratory conditions, other respiratory conditions and acute respiratory infections.

    Deaths in own homes have seen an excess of 23,619 since week 14, a similar number to the 23,005 excess deaths in care homes. Both far exceed the excess noted in hospital. While the majority of COVID-19 deaths have occurred in hospitals (n=32,275), the excess is only 8,486 or 7% higher than what would be expected.

    The deaths of people in their own homes are predominantly due to other causes: 2,421 (roughly 10%) are COVID-19 deaths. In care homes, COVID-19 deaths make up 65% of the excess (n= 14,999). “

    I think this supports the argument that the intense government focus on Covid-19 with botched methods is having a heavy cost on people’s lives in other ways and there should be more debate and action about how these effects should be addressed.
    Covid OCD is itself distinctly unhealthy and dangerous.

    • William Bowles

      Hmmm…. Here’s a quote from Whitty, back in May 2020:

      [T]he great majority of people will not die from this [virus] and I’ll just repeat something I said right at the beginning because I think it’s worth reinforcing:

      Most people, a significant proportion of people, will not get this virus at all, at any point of the epidemic which is going to go on for a long period of time.

      Of those who do, some of them will get the virus without even knowing it, they will have the virus with no symptoms at all, asymptomatic carriage, and we know that happens. – Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England, 11 May, 2020

  • Leslie Carlyle

    Thanks for this, Craig – you’ve reflected many of my feelings on this. What scares me the most atm is the fact that any discussion of the science has become so politically polarised. I’m generally on tribe left, but the left has almost totally bought into the case figure emphasis and I’m having to go to right wing outlets for rational consideration of the data on deaths and hospitalisations – to say nothing of other possible causes of death, and worries about our loss of rights under these restrictions. And all most of the left does is try to shout them down, rather than engaging with the facts.
    I’ve been skeptical of lockdown since the beginning, mainly because it was not accompianied by public health messages about how to boost one’s own immunity to any disease (closing parks was actually antithetical to that) or acknowledgement that the body has a frontline system (t-cells) to fight off illness which hopefully kicks into action *before* antibodies are created. Now a lot of evidence is in, it looks like lockdown was far too late to have any effect, and test and trace (even if it weren’t handled in such a hideously corrupt and incompetent way) is also way too late. We need to open up and let people get on with their lives while sheltering those who want and need to, otherwise we’re looking at a winter of famine, deaths from many other causes, suicide and domestic violence. Do those who say ‘every death is tragic’ re covid really want to privilege covid over all other potential causes of death?
    Those concentrating on this one disease over everything else that kills people need to wake up to the catastrophe they’re enabling.

    • Bob Bage

      Mr Murray says: “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.”

      Although, with exceptions, I treat mainstream media with extreme caution this article from the Daily Mail has been one of the very few that have actually called the government scaremongering out for what it is. The article largely uses figures from government sources.

      https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8845533/Coronavirus-Soaring-infections-death-rates-claims-justify-lockdowns.html

      “Claim: The Covid-19 death rate is actually high
       
      Reality: It really isn’t
       
      Such fears date all the way back to March, when the World Health Organisation morosely announced at a press conference that the virus had a mortality rate of 3.2 per cent.
       
      But that figure was based on a crude calculation that divides the number of deaths by the number of confirmed cases of infection.
       
      As we know from antibody tests, which show that many people have had Covid-19 without knowing it and without being tested, most cases have actually gone unrecorded.
       
      To accurately work out the death rate, we must focus on something called the Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) – which is the number of deaths divided by the number of actual cases.
       
      Scientists at Imperial College London originally estimated the IFR for Covid at 0.9 per cent, and an updated estimate has put it at 0.66 per cent.
       
      And many even believe the figure to be far lower.
       
      One paper published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organisation this week by John Ioannidis, a Professor of Medicine at Stanford University, reviewed 61 studies from around the world that have calculated the IFR.
       
      His analysis shows that their median – the middle figure – value for the IFR is 0.27 – suggesting that only four in every thousand people who have been infected with Covid-19 have died from it.”

      So there you have it 61 studies suggest the death-rate figure show it to be no worse than a bad flu. For that we have locked the country down, caused numerous fungal and bacteriological face conditions from wearing unhygienic masks, and treated one another as though we had the plague. Indeed, the plague killed one in three people. Who do you know who is falling down in the street? And don’t refer me to those fake videos from China.

      • Robert Wilson

        I would be wary of using John Ioannidis data at present; at least one of his earlier publications has been rubbished due to misinterpretation of data : I would refer you to a YouTube clip by “medlife”crisis called “covid: where science goes to die”

    • Minority Of One

      Well put Leslie.

      >>otherwise we’re looking at a winter of famine, deaths from many other causes, suicide and domestic violence

      Given the amount of damage already done to world trade and jobs, and the end of cheap, easy to extract oil, I think this winter will be just the beginning of famine etc, unfortunately.

    • FranzB

      Lesley – ” but the left has almost totally bought into the case figure emphasis ”

      So has the MSM. It’s not cases in any case, it’s positive tests. Most people don’t notice they’ve got it or have mild symptoms. The structure of these ‘cases’ would be interesting. 1,000 ‘cases’ in student halls of residence = so what. 10 cases in care homes = give them the best care possible. Quite why the left want to wreck working people’s livelihoods is a mystery to me.

      As is the hysteria over Covid – UK Covid deaths to Aug 1st was 41,000; since Aug 1st it’s 3,500 (In 3 months approx 150,000 die of all sorts of causes).

  • John Wilson

    The infection fatality rate (IFR) is thought to be nearer 0.1% than 0.66% by many experts ( Dr Malcolm Kendrick).
    The public needs to be offered an alternative strategy if they are going to willingly accept the ending of all the rules and restrictions that they now consider “protect” them. This should be more than saying the most vulnerable will be guarded while the rest of the population returns to normal.
    A lot more is now known about treating Covid. Trump quickly received an assortment of vitamins and drugs when he tested positive. He recovered in a few days despite being obese and in his seventies.
    The general public should have broadly similar treatment available when they get ill with Covid. Patients could be quickly visited at home by a health professional. Their circumstances assessed an appropriate steps taken. For the vulnerable this means prescribing vitamins D and A, Zinc, aspirin and probably HCQ. Most people will recover within four days those that don’t can then be prescribed medication to treat the next possible phase consisting of a cytokine storm and thrombosis. Dr Peter McCullough has a produced a good Youtube video – Ambulatory Treatment of Covid-19 – that describes best practice for treating cCvid.
    By reassuring people that when they get ill they will quickly receive the best treatment available a return to normal could be made acceptable. Society could afford to do this by stopping investing in pointless exercises like Track and Trace.

  • Andy McGeeney

    An interesting take on the pandemic and well argued. I have a problem with what appears to be the individualistic perspective though. We live as social beings. I have been shielding nearly all the time since March. I am over 70 receiving cancer treatment. My physical and mental health is affected by my ability to socialise, hug friends and family etc. I didn’t feel safe to go out until people were forced by law to wear masks in shops. Non compliance has dragged out the pandemic. That’s to say the less vulnerable, by their antisocial individualistic non compliance kept me at home. It’s not enough to say: protect the vulnerable keep them indoors over winter while everyone else gets on with their lives. We all live as social beings embedded in relationships. Our response has to be a collective sharing of responsibility. To me that is one of the foundations of socialism.

  • Father O'Blivion

    While Nicola Sturgeon’s management of the Pandemic has justifiably received plaudits when compared to the chaotic miss-management of Johnson, I remain perplexed as to why she sticks with the FACTS message. FACTS has been extensively vox pop’ed and it’s just a terrible acronym. Personally, I get lost at C (which is apparently Clean your hands (which even the Government’s own experts now rate as a minor protection for a virus substantively transmitted by airborne particles)).
    When Sturgeon is questioned on the effectiveness (lack of) of FACTS, she replies, “yeh, but I stand here every day and repeat it”.
    If the message don’t work, change it!

    • Bramble

      Well, if clean your hands gets people to clean their hands, I am all for it. There are plenty of diseases that are transmitted by dirty hands.

    • Jane in France

      The only difference between Nicola Sturgeon’s “management” of the pandemic and Boris Johnson’s is that Sturgeon looks as though she believes the rubbish she’s spouting whereas nobody can take Johnson seriously.

  • Barbara Murray

    Thank you, Craig. A calm, rational approach that is so sorely lacking almost everywhere these days. I am also in the ‘vulnerable’ group and fully endorse your view that life is always full of risks, that dying is a natural part of life that we/society/culture need to face, and that society needs to function freely, i.e. businesses open, people working and earning a living, for us to live life. It may never be possible to assess the number of deaths caused by the extreme measures and promoted high levels of fear of covid but my guess is that number will be higher than actual covid deaths, not to mention the mental illness and destitution resulting from the lockdowns. The swamping of the news by covid is disgraceful. There are so many important things happening that are just not getting any attention while this covid hysteria goes on. It seems yet another form of censorship. And the banning of buying books in Wales? Because ideas and information are “non-essential”?

  • Gerry Mohan

    Thanks for that Craig. “So you could very possibly double or treble that figure if you were looking for actual cases rather than tested cases.” I’ve been trying to make sense of this for months, using only official figures. About 6 months ago the Robert Koch Institute here in Berlin estimated that the “Dunkelziffer”, the number of real cases “out there”, was probably between 11 and 20 times higher than the number of positive tests. About 10 days ago the WHO’s “best estimate” was that 10% of the world’s population have been infected, which makes 22 times the recorded numbers. Assuming that the recorded deaths figures are reasonably accurate, this adds up to 0.12% world death rate, 0.236% UK, 0.1% Germany. The extent to which recorded deaths are “with” rather “from” Covid19 would reduce these percentages. In the bad flu year 2017 the death rate in Germany was about 0.34%. This number is very likely “from” flu because as one doc pointed out nobody would have written death from influenza on a death certificate if the patient died from something else but happened to have flu. On their own these percentages aren’t enough to make sense of it all. You’d have to have some way of measuring the effect of the lockdown, wearing of masks etc, though they’d have to have been pretty effective to have brought the figures down from, say, the bad flu year of 0.34%. Another interesting statistic is the 10,138 deaths in Germany from? or with? Covid19. In 2017 almost 25,000 people died from influenza. Thanks for your great articles and good luck, Gerry.

  • Robert Dyson

    This was my view in March after reading work by Prof Michael Levitt and Prof Sunetra Gupta. I spread it to all my friends some of whom remained sceptical. Here is a very good, recent summary from a Swedish medic:
    https://sebastianrushworth.com/2020/10/24/how-deadly-is-covid-19/
    His death rate estimate is much lower than Craig estimates. I too am convinced there is some non-medical agenda in the tiers and lockdowns.

    • douglas clark

      Robert Dyson,

      You say:

      “I too am convinced there is some non-medical agenda in the tiers and lockdowns.”

      In whose interests might that be?

      Please elucidate.

      • SA

        It seems to me that any non medical reason should involve a conspiracy between Russia , China, US Venezuela, Iran UK and France amongst others. It also involves capitalists who want to crash the economy as well as the CCP.

      • Robert Dyson

        I think that the UK government messed up big in March both medically and economically. Now it is in the ‘look how we are protecting you’ to avoid too much thought about the early mess and actual corruption. Knowing the way D Cummings thinks I suspect there is also some experiment in controling people by fear of something they cannot see. If you think governments cannot be so foolish just consider the absurd self-defeating austerity for the masses that started in 2010 that tanked the economy and got the credit rating downgraded.

    • giyane

      Robert Dyson

      Prof Sunetra Gupta, the lady with balls? This is the darling of Boris Johnson’s Herd Immunity idea.
      ‘ If you’re clever enough to do it ‘ is a feature of Craig’s attitude to diplomacy, that we should be engaged as a country in changing the world to suit our ideas. If you’re clever enough to avoid the headlines about covid deaths in care homes and clever enough to ignore reports recently about hospital beds filling to capacity after the virus is supposed to have peaked, and clever enough to admit that schools are the main reason for that increase, yes you have balls. Go ahead, sacrifice the older generation for the sake of the younger generations .

      With the accompanying effect of eradicating the concept of socialism with the extinction of the post-war generation. Thatcherism in the purist flame. Why not at the same time put Syria and the Middle East under the benign vice -regency of the Muslim Brotherhood and Israel? Extend US hegemony through Myanmar to the East coast of the Pacific. If you’re clever enough to do it. The people who stand in your way are all dead.

      • Robert Dyson

        Read the Rushworth article. You have to look at the big picture of all deaths and health problems. As I am ~80 years you can see that I am not avoiding personal sacrifice if it comes to that. The care homes deaths could mostly have been avoided and Gupta argued for that by protecting the elderly but the government pushed the NHS to discharge elderly people showing positive for covid into care homes.

  • montfleury

    As regards the 0-4 scale there is another explanation: a desire to match levels 1-3 to the English ones so that cross-border travellers are less confused than they might be.

    I quite agree that a -1 level is then required to indicate an absence of restrictions.

  • Dungroanin

    I have been spending a bit of time debunking the ‘Debunking’ at that now classic Fake ‘Alt’ site 0077th-Gee!

    They have little time for CM/Assange/MoA etc – so will no doubt revel in this seeming support of their anti-covid reality, anti- mask crusade.

    I won’t get expansive on this but will list the following points.

    1. The actual IFR is probably going to end up in the 0.1-0.2% rate.
    2. The 3.4% rate is the CFR that Came out of the reports in Wuhan.
    3. Neither are inconsistent with each other.
    4. SC2 is novel and is attacking cells in a different way than a ‘flu’
    5. Flu has a general background ‘herd immunity’ and a safe vaccine regime for some strain of it that tends to become wide spread during winter months as people spend more time indoors.
    6. That flu results in annual spikes in deaths.
    7. Flu is not usually subject to ‘flattening’ by distancing, mask wearing and quarantine measures – as it will be this season – resulting no doubt in fewer flus and colds and lower deaths because of the Covid measures!
    8. Even a normally low flu season ends up getting the NHS intensive care units upto the high 90’s % loaded – where no more capacity exists to deal with patients and they start dying because of it, as do patients with other conditions who may need these ICU’s.
    9. There is no further valid comparison of flu with Covid
    10. Total Excess Deaths from all causes are the only real data – the U.K. had over 70k in the first wave! Germany a lot fewer. Due to the political choices.
    11. Which brings us to WHY?

    Back in March Bozo and his clowns were desperately trying to concentrate on getting their demented BrexShit Bills through, Covid gave them cover, they also got their games at Twickenham played and the big Cheltenham races done!

    Right now as they push for the hard BrexShit and the chaos that will ensue on 1st January – they have enrolled the Covid second wave as further cover – Starmer has not mentioned the Hard BrexShit once! He spent two years thwarting May on it. These are his true colours showing.

    12. Money is not a problem – Germany and other European countries have much more generous measures in place to see people through to the end of the second wave and closer to better treatments and ultimately to some vaccinations which will NOT be safely available for at least another year!
    All these laid off should be generously supported through to March/April no if’s/butts.
    It is a simple political decision.

    13. The restrictions of pubs/restaurants/indoor masking measures are a price worth paying for this winter, if you want schools and colleges to stay open.

    14. The numbers of positive tests in London are being artificially REDUCED – the ONS study which is being used to drive policy in the regions has been curtailed in London in the last two weeks – fewer tests are taking place , hence fewer positives , hence no lockdown, hence unnecessary Excess Deaths.

    Yes I know the difference between absolute positives and positive RATE. Which the study will be showing as increasing. Hence the urgent measures.

    This isn’t about just the UK – it is happening across all parts of the world in their winters.

    The politicians are using it -Sturgeon for obvious reasons; Bozo for Hard BrexShit.

    As we head into our triple whammy new year ! Please let us be pragmatic and cautious as the new virus less than a year old In humans, makes its rounds and strains become less virulent hopefully.
    Let’s support all financially- it is easy.
    Let’s not party and break precautions and keep the ICU’s and their staff open and unbroken.

    I can link to a lot of stuff to back all of the above up.

    • laguerre

      Yes, I know Johnson and his cabal are evil and incompetent, but very similar developments are taking place in Europe. In France the situation is almost identical, except in Marseille. So, I don’t think you can make a big issue out of blaming politicians, however awful they are. They just add an additional layer of pain, when we have enough trouble anyway.

      • SA

        Dungroaning. A bit lonely out there in og. Good post I agree. With you.
        Laguerre: the ideology is driving the policy and death rates are proportional to how far down the neoliberal scale you are. Deaths in U.K. and US top most as well as in bolsanaro’s Brazil. All three leaders caught the virus. The other less neoliberal countries fared better, Russia, generally east European countries and communist countries did best. People focused governments rather than money focused ones is what you need in pandemics.

        • DunGroanin

          Oh-Gee have all but banned me officially.
          They have even admitted to deleting my posts.
          Most are censored on submission. Formatting and linking controls having long been disabled for my posts…

          Their claims of never censoring is proved hollow.

          They have even resorted to straight abuse against my posts and stopped sending notification emails to replies to my posts by their Admin Numbers – who have also claimed my “Be seeing you ?” sign offs to Numbers 1 and 2 is a reference to female sexual parts!
          ?

          • George+McI

            “Oh-Gee have all but banned me officially.”

            “all but” meaning “not at all”

            “They have even admitted to deleting my posts.”

            No they haven’t.

            “Most are censored on submission. Formatting and linking controls having long been disabled for my posts…”

            You actually wrote in lines like “Awaiting moderation” into your own posts to smear OffG

            “They have even resorted to straight abuse against my posts …”

            Never seen that.

            “and stopped sending notification emails to replies to my posts by their Admin Numbers – who have also claimed my “Be seeing you ?” sign offs to Numbers 1 and 2 is a reference to female sexual parts!”

            Nor that.

            OffG rumbled you Dunnie. This site hasn’t. But then again, I guess you fit in right here.

          • DunGroanin

            Pardon me everyone while I deal with this troll.

            GEORGE. You are a f*****g liar.
            I have proved over and over that you are a f*****g liar.
            OO77th-Gee have admitted to deleting my posts – you f*****g liar
            I’ll happily post links to Oh-Gee admitting to deleting my posts and their not so subtle methods of censorship by delayed publication and self admitted deletions.
            They doctor comments – i didn’t.
            So you LIAR – How is your care work going George?
            As you spend all your time stalking me at that shite and it seems here you LIAR.

          • George+McI

            This site is very bad for you DunG. At least on OG you had an appearance of intelligence. Here you just scream.

          • George+McI

            Oh and by the way, I’ve never seen censorship as bad as here. I’ve seen entire swathes of conversation “disappeared” on this site. And John Goss for one said he was being blocked (and I trust him). I daresay this comment too will be deleted. I only hope that, when the mighty moderator shark comes for me, your remarks DunG, don’t also get caught in the frothing carnage.

      • DunGroanin

        In France, Macron is on the ropes.
        He is using political decisions to curtail Gilletes Jaunes ongoing revolution.

        He is also beleagured on Syria and in the EU holding firm against the UK demands. He represents the same forces as Bozo. As do many a politician across Europe.

        The grander geopolitical Anti Russia/China , BRI, and EU/Russia increasing cooperation, in particular Energy security as exemplified by Nordstream2 – being the root cause of just about every sin and evil of these nasty bastards.

    • SA

      Who are these 31000 medical practitioners. Did you know that amongst the signatories there is a Harold Shipman, a Dominic Cummings and some other made up names?

          • Bob Bage

            I took a look at it but was not convinced that it was well argued. It starts in the first paragraph by calling these 31,000, not health care professionals, but medical practitioners, plus thousands of scientists, and hundreds of thousands of ordinary people “COVID-19 deniers, conspiracy theorists, and grifters” which is disrespectful, indeed anything but scientific. The rest of the blog contained nothing convincing as far as I could see, with further attacks on medical professionals right to the end and so little argument in such a lengthy piece.

  • Frances Kay

    Very thoughtful piece. I do recall the shoe-bomber was discovered through airport security measures, preseumably at Heathrow. Otherwise this sounds reasonable. Though, like you, I am in a high risk age group with serious health issues [including bilateral pulmonary embolisms] I would not want to curtail other age groups behaving normally.
    I’m going to put a link to this on my FB page and see what the response is. Thanks again for your thoughts on this troubled issue.

    • Antiwar7

      No, the shoe bomber got his bomb onto the plane. While trying to detonate it, a suspicious flight attendant and passengers subdued him. They were lucky: “The explosive apparently did not detonate due to the delay in the take-off of Reid’s flight. The rainy weather, along with Reid’s foot perspiration, caused the fuse to be too damp to ignite.”
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Reid

      The same with the underwear bomber, which happened in 2009, well after heightened security measures had been put in place. He failed in his detonation attempt on the plane, and was subdued by passengers.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umar_Farouk_Abdulmutallab

  • N_

    Yes, schools spread viruses, and yes, this particular SARS strain is hitting mostly the elderly, probably the majority of its fatal victims being people aged 70+ with heart disease who are admitted for severe respiratory symptoms caused by the virus and who then catch pneumonia (lung inflammation) in hospital which kills them.

    But the reason that schools are being talked about so much isn’t this. It’s likely that it won’t only be “care homes” that get sealed off. (They were largely sealed off in March). It will also be schools, probably starting with one single school which will be carefully chosen for its caste, ethnic, and religious mix. The different “views” that punters will be allowed to have about what is going on in that one school, depending on their social position and their marketing category, will be carefully crafted by central propagandists.

    The whole notion of “free school meals in the holidays” is designed to change the perception and role of schools.

    Why?

    Let me describe the typical Tory view of children who might qualify for “free school meals in the holidays”…

    Here it is… It’s that proles raised in social housing by single mothers who probably don’t know which of several men it was that fathered any particular child, who are very lazy, and who probably only got pregnant so that they could get given socially subsidised housing, could easily have full bellies every day, eating far better than they deserve, the smelly wretches, were it not for their mothers spending most of their “Universal Credit” on cigarettes. That is an absolutely typical British bourgeois and petty-bourgeois view of the lower working class, which you won’t find on the same scale in most other cultural areas in the world.

    In the petty bourgeois massed ranks of the “base” of the Tory party, the view is that dirty chavs always have spokesmen batting on their behalf in the BBC and Westminster etc. (this is what the more “intellectual” Tories and rightists mean by “cultural Marxism”), leaving the poor old “middle” types who run small businesses, or who have big mortgages, to suffer most of all, at least relative to what they deserve in life. “It’s always the people in the middle who suffer the most” is a typical bleating phrase heard from these people who experience the terrible hardship of filling in their VAT returns and having to pay their suppliers.

    Yes, Tories think the world owes them a living… Ironic, isn’t it? They take it as a slap in the face that a working class person “gets something for nothing”, and they feel a similar sensation when they travel in a train carriage in which the majority of passengers are non-white. (Did I mention Brexit?)

    One of the things Tories especially hate (and “hate” is the correct word) about the “underclass” is that it reproduces.

    If most of the left weren’t too busy eating focaccia and guacamole, they’d know all of this.

    Working class people on the left, in general, do know it, although most may not know it especially vividly, given that generally speaking they haven’t come into substantial personal contact with anyone in the ruling class, and they don’t realise that the rulers as distinct from the petty bourgeoisie harbour a hatred for the lower orders which is far more consequential than the hatred that is felt by the idiotic morons who read and believe what’s in the Daily Mail.

    Moreover, in the epoch of mass culture there are defences against recognising the extremely unsettling reality that the rich and their officials think you are a worthless disgusting subhuman piece of excrement, and that they literally begrudge you having a roof over your head and food on your plate.

    There will be a “U-turn” over “free school meals in the holidays”, and the sting in the tail will be enormous. One can think of it as male computer programmer scum might when they apply computer programming methodology to social questions, and when they see themselves as some kind of cool gamer warriors inspired by Californian capitalism and “moving fast and breaking things”. But see how long you can view it that way when the cops start sealing off schools with the children inside. That’s not a toilet paper story any more.

    It is to be noticed that during the seven months since fascism was imposed – cloaked in nationalistic, border-closing “public health” colours – the rulers have not yet played the “terrorist” card. That is likely to change.

    • giyane

      N_

      ” sealing off schools with children inside “

      Come on man, if you are, otherwise woman, you’ve been watching too many US debates about separating Mexican child refugees from their parents, combined with life-size Mme Tussauds of zombies in every extra supermarket. This is Britain, we love children, which is why we run down the economy through austerity to the point where people can’t afford to buy food.

      Years of protest against the introduction of Universal Credit has been scalped by Boris Johnson by means of this crisis leaving us as you say with ” the extremely unsettling reality that the rich and their officials think you are a worthless disgusting subhuman piece of excrement, and that they literally begrudge you having a roof over your head and food on your plate.”

      You describe it how it really is, where the victims of this virus and Tory austerity will be locked down in schools like the children of Mexican refugees. That is the Tory mentality and maybe the reality in 4 days time on Halloween.

  • Andrew Howard

    “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.”

    On reading the above – as a university lecturer – it’s a little disconcerting to find oneself being strangely ‘disappeared’ from the implied constitution of the educational community. So just a reminder Craig, to your otherwise valuable text, that schools and universities are not inhabited simply by children and young people. The people who work there tend to be considerably older.

    • douglas clark

      This is, perhaps, the worst post that our otherwise hero has written. It does suggest that covid is infecting his brain.

      Dear Craig, please get well again.

      • Mr Shigemitsu

        Agree.

        Seeing Craig Murray agreeing substantially with the talking points of the (Koch-funded) Great Barrington Declaration is something of a surprise.

        A good lesson in why it’s always best not to have “heroes”, eh?

  • nevermind

    Thanks to Clark for bringing some accuracy to figures and thanks to Bevin for shining a light on socio-economic aspect. We must point the finger at those who use underhand tactics to bamboozle us with cooked figures. If Test and tracing figures are inaccurate and nobody wants to be accountable nationally for the 3 billion missing from their books, given out but unable to say who got the money, then something else is clearly afoot we are not part and parcel to.

    2019 saw another large chunk of our national asset NHS sold off, after 11 years of annual cuts. Whatever is left of the NHS is slowly being whittled down to the bare bones skeleton soon. My guess is that the 40 hospitals will be a sweetener to the privatisation of the health service to US health regulations and services.

    All those that could not get their routine operations and or treatment, some who quietly died, will still be wanting treatment, a guaranteed clientele.
    FoI question that should be asked is whether all pension contributions are invested, and how much these invested returns amount to, from those who have died before they could claim their pension?

    Nestle is being found out to be lying about ‘cutting down their unsustainable palm oil planting’, but evidence from satellites shows that their false promises are just made to buy time.
    Same with our supermarkets. Raising awareness about plastic doublebagging we went into Tesco’s last Saturday, asking the ‘to lose their plastic, or our custom’.
    All the employees knew we were coming and as I unwrapped my plastic packed goods at the till, the lady next in line said, ‘take all the time you need, I am fully behind your action’, whilst the till operator took it personally when I said sorry about leaving the plastic, she raised her voice and thought I was being sarky.

    On followed a discussion after the manager claimed that ‘they could not force food manufacturers and multinationals to change their habits.’ I countered that by citing that their very own competition stops them to band together, as three, four or five supermarket chains, and demand that they stop wrapping 8 wrapped Mars bars into another extra foil. His answer was a smile.
    There will be no environmental changes and next weekend young people will make their disgust felt to the monied wreckers who can’t even see the future of their own children change and act upon it.
    Some form of rupture will happen next year and whatever the 77th brigade is planning for Scotland and us down here, they will be having to fight young people and children, the future workforce, apparently, of this country.
    Unless robotic labour will make short shrift of unions and workers they do not need anymore, such a move to alienate the next two generations will be disastrously stupid.

  • Olly Perry

    On another, but related, subject, namely mask-wearing, I would say that the current ‘clinical’ type masks that I see many people wearing are potentially carcinogenic. I read an interesting article by someone who has been involved in PPE for over 20 years and they said that these masks were not meant to be worn for such lengthy periods, something about the fibres. It is worth bearing in mind since we are urged to keep these masks on during travel on airplanes and public transport. Like all this stuff, and thank you Craig for coming out and saying it so well, there needs to be a big push back against the accepted mainstream narrative or at least a questioning of it. Blind acceptance of what we are told to do just makes us willing accomplices to our own loss of rights and freedoms. We do so at our peril and if we are so easily led into being meekly obedient then it does not bode well for our futures. What with the worst type of politicians in charge of a pandemic that plays neatly into their hands, we are skating on very thin ice.

  • Eric McCoo

    Excellent article . A TV doctor argued that although tigers don’t cause many deaths they are still extremely dangerous. He didn’t reply when I asked him if he had tiger insurance.

  • Dr Zoltan Jorovic

    What you fail to address is the problem that would ensue as large numbers of ill people required hospital care simultaneously. We saw how this overwhelmed the Italian health system, which was better equipped than ours. Is our health service in a better situation to deal with a large number of Covid cases than it was in March? Sadly, no. Advances in treatment have been made, but the number of staff available has not increased, and the number of A&E beds and ventilators remains limited. The knock on effect of Covid cases occupying much of the NHS resource has been felt across all age groups, and would be again were we to follow your suggestion. If it were only a matter of allowing several hundred thousand older people to die, to ensure the economy carried on untouched, then although morally repugnant, your argument has some sense to it. But, although many are asymptomatic, if we go for herd immunity (which is what you are essentially pushing) many young, active, working people will go off sick. This will impact on all services (emergency, utilities, public administration) that people depend on. There is no solution that doesn’t have severe impacts, economic and health related. To imagine otherwise is delusion. One of the reasons for this, is that Coronavirus is a lot more contagious than Flu – The R of flu is around 1.2, while that of Covid is between 2 and 3. The effect this has, is that one person can pass it to R others, who pass it on to RxR and so on, by the time you get to the tenth instance, if R is 1.2 this amounts to 14 people infected. If R is 2, 1024. If R is 3, 59,000 people are infected. With no restrictions, Covid would sweep through the population within weeks, overwhelming the NHS and bringing many services to collapse. Although the UK government has mishandled things badly, this largely about the failure in imposing the right restrictions quickly enough, and a complete failure of testing and tracing systems. The countries that have managed, have done so by rigorous testing, tracing and quarantine, backed up with lockdown where necessary. Not by letting the virus rage across the population. To say otherwise is to mislead, and is irresponsible. I am disappointed to see you joining with the lunatic right in putting forward this approach.

    • Eric McCoo

      “I am disappointed to see you joining with the lunatic right in putting forward this approach”.

      I am not disappointed to confirm my attitude that doctors are low intelligence, deeply establishment oriented, self serving cheeky sophistry peddlers.

      My brother is a retired senior chief consultant and prolific medical researcher (bacteriology). He despised the medical profession.

      Example

      He said ‘a doctor looks after his patients, a rat looks after his fellow rats’

        • Eric McCoo

          The article itself. That’s my position. His whole comment is sophistry. This however is an out and out lie.

          “The knock on effect of Covid cases occupying much of the NHS resource has been felt across all age groups”

          My understanding is that intensive care capacity is normal for this time of year. I do not wish to go round and round with the argument (because different sources say different things) . His comment was nasty, sneering and dismissive. Not exactly uncommon in the medical profession.That’s why I replied.

        • Eric McCoo

          My neighbour, a paramedic told me the local NHS was overflowing back in March. When I asked for details he eventually admitted he made it up. He probably expected my to join in the hysteria. Drama queen.

      • Dr Zoltan Jorovic

        I take it as a compliment that rather than address the points I made, you feel that an ad hominem attack is your only option. As I said, I am disappointed by Craig’s article, but this is because I have great respect for him and admire his determination to stand up against the abuse of power. That doesn’t mean he is always right, or that he should not be challenged. However, I did not mean to imply he was a member of the lunatic right – clearly he is not. Sadly, he does seem to attract comments from those who are. Of course, everyone has their own opinion (or, at least, chooses someone else’s to hijack) but there are informed, intelligent, insightful and perceptive opinions, and there are those that seem entirely unsupported by any evidence, logic, coherence or rationality. Plus everything in between. Craig’s are always in the first category. A choice example of the second type is the idea that everyone in a particular profession is the same in attitude, approach, character and intellect.

    • Adelaide

      If billions of pounds (as have been squandered on Serco and tory chums contracted to produce PPE with no expertise) were invested in preparing care homes to enable effective protection of those most at risk, along the lines of what Craig suggested, you would avoid a large number of people requiring hospitilisation simultaneously. Most people under the age of 65 do not require hospitilisation. Students returning to university and children going back to school have driven up cases but the hospitals are not overwhelmed treating sick students and children. University students aren’t dying in their droves. They’re not dying at all. So protect the vulnerable and allow life to resume for those who are healthy enough to get through being infected. And infectious rate can’t be that high when it was found that only 12% of people co-habiting with someone with covid-19, went on to catch it from the infected co-habiter. I do believe that viral load is a determining factor for both acquiring the disease and for how sick you become, hence why it is so important to adequately protect and strengthen those on the front line who have prolonged exposure to covid-19.

    • Susan

      Zoltan,
      Leaving aside your last sentence (which you have amply clarified below), I agree with your assessment of the reasons and measures needed to control COVID-19. The ability of the healthcare system to respond to acute cases is of course of the utmost importance (the sight of a lady sitting on the step outside an Italian hospital with her head back, mouth wide open, gasping for air, is forever emblazoned on my mind). But in addition to the issue of treatment capacity, I would like to add another reason why we need to act with the caution you outline, and that is because of “long COVID” (UK) or “post-COVID syndrome” (US).

      Maybe ‘post-COVID’ gets more airtime in the UK than it does in North America, although Craig’s comment questioning whether post-COVID symptoms are actually ‘somatic’ makes me think it is not! I believe ‘post-COVID’ is not only under-reported, but is largely under-estimated as a serious factor in this pandemic. I think it is as important as the reasons you outline, Zoltan. We need to minimize not only the number of hospitalizations and deaths, but also the number of infections and ‘post-COVID’ cases.

      We know that people who have needed hospitalization/ICU treatment are at high risk for post-COVID complications (respiratory, cardiac, neurological, vascular-associated organ damage). However, what we are learning now is that post-COVID syndrome is a potential for anyone infected with the virus, including children, and including those who are asymptomatic.

      COVID-19 Can Wreck Your Heart, Even if You Haven’t Had Any Symptoms
      https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/covid-19-can-wreck-your-heart-even-if-you-havent-had-any-symptoms/

      Neurological consequences of COVID-19: The ‘Silent Wave’
      https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/09/200922172606.htm

      Post-COVID syndrome severely damages children’s hearts
      https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/09/200904125111.htm

      And post-COVID syndrome is not only devastating for the individuals affected, it will also be devastating for the economies affected. A recent study in the US estimates that the long-term additional costs from people who survive COVID-19 but have resulting long-term health damage will be $2.6 trillion.

      As Dr. Bonnie Henry (the BC Chief Medical Officer) says: “Let’s be kind to each other.”

  • Jay

    So far as I’m aware, none of the nations that have most successfully suppressed the virus did so by following the GBD – herd immunity formula.

    • giyane

      Jay

      Herd immunity is not the same as individual immunity. Crossing the desert, many in the herd get lame or are eaten by crocodiles . Being part of a herd offers no immunity at all, except to the survival of the herd.
      We have a vague illusion that our welfare system is there to give us welfare, but again unfortunately that is a misconception. The benefit system is purely a mechanism of wage control for the benefit of the employers, allowing the herd to travel unimpeded across the wilderness when the vulnerable go lame or get eaten by crocodiles. The benefit system allows stability in the mortgage market, which allows the property sector to crank up property and letting prices ever higher, knowing that the welfare system will support the high prices they adore for property.

      What we see now, and I am very pleased to see it, is Rishi Sunak feeling the pain of the inevitable crash in property values if he fails to support the population through this unavoidable crisis. When it blows, like a boiled egg I accidentally left on the gas this morning and went back to sleep, the Tory egg will be on the floor and on the ceiling and the Nasty Party will be put in the bin permanently. Happy days.

  • giyane

    One of the definitions of the Utility is ‘ functional rather than attractive ‘ . in English we use nouns as adjectives all the time like Utility clothing. I think the phrase political utility perfectly describes what this government is doing with covid 19. They are maintaining the illusion of control over the virus which is completely absent in reality , while simultaneously pretending to cater for the financial cost to the electorate of the mini=lockdowns while in completely failing to support anybody who , after a decade of austerity, is in difficulties.

    I hope the electorate punish them severely for their cynical policy of miserliness. I go back to John McDonald deputy leader of the Labour Party at the beginning of the crisis, that this government should remember how many billions they were prepared to spend on re-financing the banks , and do the same accordingly with the victims of this pandemic. A pandemic which as a government they knew was coming but which they took no precautions against. I very much hope people punish them politically for their callousness and irresponsibility. But there again I can hope for sunshine.

    • Mary

      Some months ago now I was informed by a consultant surgeon who treated me successfully for thyroid cancer in 2014 with surgery and with six weeks of daily radiotherapy, that, after five years with negative blood tests, the cancer had returned.

      So far I have only had an ultrasound scan whereas I know I should have had a PET CT scan in addition. The latter enables planning for radiotherapy, etc. I do not even know the result of the ultrasound scan. In the meantime I have heard nothing at all from the hospital and have even been refused a Covid test by the Serco operative in a Glasgow call centre. (Serco have the contract from the local CCG for that testing using the hospital premises.) I was told via the 119 line that as I didn’t have a cough or a raised temperature, I did not qualify even though my GP, a medical professional with long training and experience, had requested the test. Some Tory voting friends have suggested that I should pay for my cancer treatment now. The hypocrisy is that at least three of them (two have private health insurance) have had cancer treatment by the NHS in the past. I have told them that they are total hypocrites.

      (Surrey has 11 borough councils. All MPs are Tory now. Before December there were one or two LDs.

      What do I do? To whom do I go? The GP is remote and only available for online consultations. The hospital is closed up because of the Covid ‘pandemic’.

      Washed up after decades of paying my taxes.

      • Adelaide

        I’m so sorry to hear this Mary. Cases like yours are what make me think there is another agenda at play. There is absolutely no justification for not pursuing your treatment as normal. The NHS, though underfunded for the last 30 years, is not at risk of being overrun by covid-19 cases (by their own admission, in their response to a Sunday telegraph article that had highlighted the scandal of sending elderly patients to care homes who were suspected or even confirmed as having covid-19). It seems to me that the people in power, who have never been known to let a crisis go to waste, are dealing the mortal blow they’ve always wanted to inflict on NHS services under the guise of “protecting the NHS”. It’s dispicable. I hope with all my heart you can receive the treatment you need.

      • Tim Glover

        Mary, I don’t think it is hypocritical to fight for the NHS and at the same time accept the fact that they have been degraded to the point where they cannot fulfil their obligations and that you must go elsewhere to get treatment .

      • Giyane

        Mary
        Please write to the manager of local hospital trust and take no notice of friends. Not only are non-covid sections of the NHS fully functioning but there are numerous charities that can and do find treatment.

        Hospitals are understandably stressed into barely coping with patient needs at entry level. I think you need to talk to the top to see what normal doors can be opened for you.

        Best wishes in that. The NHS is fully functioning as normal, but maybe being thick skinned to protect itself.
        My brother in law recently had a stroke and found himself trapped in a geriatric ward with people wailing for their missing families, but he has now received funding from some charity for brain damage for 3 months of special care.

        Write to the top and remind them of your years of service helping others in the NHS. Or ask somebody else to do it for you. I’m sure you will be able to get the help you need.

  • ariel

    You are not looking under the right rocks. ‘CASES’ is a MEANINGLESS term owing to the inability of PCR testing to discriminate ANYTHING at over 37 amplification cycles. That is how the African president could get a PAPAYA to test positive. The NHS are doing over 45 cycles. Positive cases are part of the normal human genome. This is the BIGGEST FRAUD you have ever seen. Keri Mullis said his Nobel Prize for Chemistry-winning technique ‘MUST NOT BE USED FOR DIAGNOSIS. It is a research tool ONLY’

    • SA

      If you want to test for Covid in papaya then you have to standardise for these conditions. This is the sort of nonsense that gets mileage only in conspiracy websites.

  • Peter Johnston

    .66% of death rates on those getting the virus and then dying. This figure does not take into account long covid. There is strong evidence that all ages are going to suffer from various chronic conditions. This in turn will have an effect on mortality rates. The true mortality rate will not be known for some time maybe in to decades.

  • Antiwar7

    Craig, you are so very principled. It’s amazing. Where does that come from, do you think?

  • Adelaide

    Thank you for this Craig. Was having a discussion with my father in law yesterday and was basically making the same argument for specific targeted measures to protect the most vulnerable while allowing those not at high risk to go back to their normal lives. I’ve also thought the most logical thing to do would be to invest in care homes and facilities for the elderly or vulnerable so they can safely shield on a voluntary basis. It’s a good idea anyway to help reduce winter deaths from other viruses. The scale of fear-mongering on an international level is quite something to behold. I’m actually more fearful of how governments all over the world are behaving and what it might mean for our future freedom than of covid-19.

  • Tim Rideout

    The real solution here is to get rid of the virus. That takes hard work but is perfectly possible, especially in an island like the UK. The Isle of Man now has zero cases and has relaxed all restrictions, BUT the border is closed. China has got rid of it as well, even if there is the occasional and quickly dealt with outbreak. In the UK (and Scotland) we still don’t do the obvious stuff – test all arrivals for example. In Scotland if you take a ferry or fly to the islands you should be tested. It would be really quite easy to keep it out of Orkney, Shetland etc. Have mobile testing centres next to the A1 and M74. With new tests you can get the results in 20 mins, so no more than a tea break for folks. I think Craig is making a case, but it is not a very good or attractive case. It is very very difficult to isolate the over 60s and he is ignoring ‘long covid’. From what I have read there is a substantial proportion of younger people that survive, but have significant damage to major organs. And with no real evidence of any immunity as yet you could end up where we keep on catching it every 6 months or so.

    • Mr Shigemitsu

      Agree.

      This idea of an age- and/or health- related apartheid in an attempt to accommodate SARS-COV-2 is hideous.

      The key issue is that the necessary measures that have taken place in those countries that have (so far…) been successful in effectively eliminating the virus have all depended on governments understanding their role in ensuring and maintaining the well-being of their citizens.

      Our problem is that we have government leaders who see no role for government in society. Like Orwell indicated as the ultimate aim of Newspeak, they literally do not have the language to deal with it – it’s beyond their comprehension. All they know is market-driven policy, and profit-creating initiatives, in particular for the corrupt benefit of their supporters and other cronies.

      So our population is left having to negotiate and bargain with the calamitous fallout of the pandemic themselves, and are thereby highly susceptible to fake-news pumped out by alt-right funded think tanks and academics, because those messages are comforting, and permit individualistic behaviours, with no need for self-sacrifice for the community, or deferred gratification. It’s part and parcel of the americanisation and atomisation of western society.

      The east Asian countries, on the other hand, and New Zealand have been exemplary in their handling of the CV pandemic.

      We should be learning from them.

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