Covid-19 and the Political Utility of Fear 745


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

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    • squirrel

      There may well be people not wearing masks because they have no principles: others may do the same because they have strong principles.

      • Neil Munro

        220,000 Americans dead, more than 66 ‘911s’ in one year, but it’s no sweat because they were probably old and sick or just fat and were going to die anyway. In fact, the US is a natural experiment in what not doing lockdown properly means. If 70% of Americans get it and the death rate is 0.66 %, that is 1.6 million American deaths. They still have a way to go.

        However that is assuming we only have one pandemic. If we have repeated waves, if immunity does not last, if the virus mutates, then what?

        It seems Craig Murray is the one who wants to sacrifice people for an ideology.

        • Colin Smith

          The US is little better or worse than most other countries in having a lockdown. The US has a major incentive to diagnose a hospital treatment as covid related as their is a massive bounty per patient to be claimed from the government. Best estimates of IFR rates are converging around 0.2%

          The UK has different conditions throughout the country with something like 9 different versions, levels and tiers of lockdown in place simultaneously, much of which is being routinely flouted.

          France has different conditions from it cities to its rural areas and it accepted that it is not being enforced in the heavily migrant banlieus. Similarly Spain and Italy are regionally targeted, Russia concentrating on main cities.

          Nobody is estimating the cost of lockdowns on health and how that will play out over the medium term with missed diagnosis, cancelled and delayed treatments and the compounding effect of a constant ratcheting of fear and despair.

          • pretzelattack

            the u.s. has an absolutely crap social safety net, which is why a lockdown there is worse than most other countries. i’ve yet to see any evidence of this “massive” covid “bounty”, or that hospitals are committing fraud to inflate covid numbers.

  • Stephen Brown

    You are not writing ‘truths that may be unpopular’ but like everyone else stating assumptions about this disease. In putting forward the neo-liberal ‘let it rip’ response to the pandemic – you are at least being honest. What you omitted to mention is the economic cost of the ensuing hospitalisations. I am weary of the covid sceptics (you deny being one but you are) as somehow the ‘truth speakers unto the fearful’. Us on the other side are not fearful – no more than we are of catching AIDS (we wear condoms) or flying through windshields (we wear seat-belts). So stick to politics rather than trying to do epidemiology.

    • Ian

      Yes, I noticed that odd turn of phrase, especially when it’s neither the truth or unpopular. Plenty of people on this blog have pointed the shortcomings of the assumptions and reasoning, as indeed have many experts in the field. If there’s one thing clear from the variety of world-wide responses to covid and all the contested claims, it is that nobody has the monopoly on truth and there are any number of ‘experts’ and statistics to hang your claims on. Everyone’s got their pennyworth, not dissimilar to the novichok cluedo exercises and games.

    • Geoffrey

      Thanks Craig, for pointing out so well what seems to me to be the obvious.
      I am seriously at a loss in understanding the lockdown logic. Surely we can all see that the economic, and health consequences of these measures will be far greater than the few lives saved by lockdowns.
      It would not surprise me if the debt taken in by Western governments ends up in bringing the whole Western democratic system down.
      Some may think that a good thing.

  • John Piliger

    Dr Mike Yeadon has a degree in biochemistry and toxicology, a research-based PhD in respiratory pharmacology, has spent over 30 years leading new medicines research in the pharmaceuticals industry, and founded his own biotech company which he sold to the world’s biggest drug company Novartis in 2017.
    He talks to James about his devastating paper What SAGE has Got Wrong (https://lockdownsceptics.org/what-sage-got-wrong/) in which he says that the Covid pandemic is over, that there will be no Second Wave, that we have already achieved herd immunity and that Sir Patrick Vallance, Britain’s Chief Scientific Adviser, is a liar and that the vaccine is more or less a waste of time. He doesn’t pull his punches..
    Interview here :
    https://youtu.be/sbMJoJ6i39k

    • SA

      What you have to say is, is what he states is right because he says so and because he has a degree? Strange statement. There are thousands out there with even higher qualifications in virology, epidemiology and medicine that know more than him and support the measures.

      • Steph

        No. Please take the time to actually listen to that interview. It is long, 1hr 45 mins, but well worth the time of someone who claims to have a well informed opinion, such as yourself. If you are able to dispute the assertations Mike Yeadon makes, please set out your counter arguments. Only in that way can a sensible discussion be had. Blind refutation of ‘thousands with even higher qualifications’ does not constitute reasoned argument. .

        • glenn_uk

          Really – you expect someone to spare 105 minutes to view an argument that you’re too lazy to make yourself?

          • Steph

            Oh come on. Mike Yeadon makes a number of points in the interview. You expect me to poorly regurgitate them here so you can have them fed to you second hand? I listened to the whole interview to try and learn something from someone more qualified than myself. Why don’t you just drop the pointless hostility, listen to the interview and then make your own counter arguments to it if you have any?

          • Andy

            The article is on Lockdown Sceptics and takes around 20 minutes to read.
            I look forward to the ‘thousands with even higher qualifications’ providing a robust rebuttal with similar footnotes.

          • glenn_uk

            Steph – it’s a bit much expecting someone to spend nearly two hours watching a point you wish to make, presumably making notes, and then come back spending almost the same amount of time countering the points in that video. And all that is in return to the cost of posting a link, which must have taken all of 30 seconds.

            It’s a long known method of wearing your opponent down, for very little effort.

            Of course, SA could counter you with a 95 minute video of his own. You could then spend many hours a day, viewing each other’s videos instead of providing any discussion here. Sorry, no – dueling youtubes is no way to conduct a debate.

          • Steph

            Glen-uk, ‘Whatever’, as they say. The link is in the post by ‘John Pilger’ to which I was responding if you are actually interested. I thought it contained some interesting points, worthy of discussion amongst those who watched it. But have it your way, please.

          • Clark

            The most definitive studies of IFR are the ones that determine what proportion of the population were infected. The best so far were the Diamond Princess because everyone on board was tested multiple times, and Spain and New York because the proportion infected was measured by widespread serology (antibody) tests.

            Scientific consensus is international matter; whether “Sir Patrick Vallance, Britain’s Chief Scientific Adviser, is a liar” is entirely irrelevant.

            The second wave in the UK is gathering pace right now, as can be seen from the mortality figures.

            “Dr Mike Yeadon has a degree in biochemistry and toxicology, a research-based PhD in respiratory pharmacology, has spent over 30 years leading new medicines research in the pharmaceuticals industry, and founded his own biotech company which he sold to the world’s biggest drug company Novartis in 2017.”

            None of these are epidemiology or virology. I know a highly qualified bricklayer who works exclusively in hospital construction; maybe he’d like an interview with “James” as well? For goodness’ sake, science is about evidence not qualifications, even when they’re in the right field!

          • Steph

            Clark
            Frankly I don’t care a jot about qualifications, although I suspect from your comment re bricklayer friends, that you do. I don’t personally have the kind of knowledge, or confidence, to make the case that Yeadon is making myself. Presumeably you, glenn and SA are easily able to disprove the assertions he makes and are therefore able to satisfy yourselves that he is unqualified to make them and he may be disregarded as a dangerous spreader of ‘misinformation’. I don’t have your capabilities. I found the interview informative and interesting. And yes, actually I think it is reasonably relevant whether the chief scientific adviser is being truthful or not, rather a lot is resting on it.

            Yeadon addresses the results of studies in high incidence places like New York that you mention. He also cites the ongoing research of John Iaonnidis, another ‘unqualified’ person you are equally dismissive of. And he explains, in some detail, why he thinks there will be no ‘second wave’, why the current smaller rise in deaths is occurring, and why he therefore believes Whitty is not telling the truth.
            Now I know, from past exprience in discussions with you, that you will constantly refer to ‘the science’ which supports your own perspective as irrefutable and dismiss anything contradictory as ‘non science’. But Yeadon is quite clear in his assertions and I will only need to wait a short while to see whether he, or you, are correct. If he is wrong then he will look very stupid whilst you can revel in the glory of being right all along.

          • Clark

            “Pandemic over”? “No second wave”? Go and look here:

            https://www.endcoronavirus.org/countries

            “I don’t have your capabilities.”

            I’m sure you do. I’m sure you can read some simple graphs. That’s the bulk of what I’ve been doing.

            That, and applying the precautionary principle. The world has had less than a year’s experience with SARS-CoV-2, and that entire, inadequate experience has been gained under emergency conditions. What we already know is that covid-19 is unlike any other disease in the way that it attacks so many human organs and systems. Evidence of longer-term damage (even from symptomless infections) is only just starting to be collated, and years- and decades-term damage cannot be known for years and decades, obviously.

            Steph, I distrust you. To promote your argument about the economy, it is as if you were convincing children that the best way to cross a road is to close their eyes, stop their ears and run; if some of them later die from injuries or are permanently crippled, well, you can’t be blamed because that wasn’t a certainty, whereas the impending bankruptcy of the ice cream vendor on the other side of the road was a danger clear to everyone.

            If Mike Yeadon has points he believes to be valid, the place to make them is in the scientific literature and the associated discussion forums, where they will be read, analysed and challenged by those familiar with and well informed in the appropriate fields; this is how scientific consensus is forged. He should not present his assertions directly to the public in the podcast of a political pundit and well known right wing science denier. That he does so casts suspicion upon his motives; I notice that he has made a lot of money from the biomedical field.

        • SA

          Steph
          You do have a point. Yeadon does present an alternative scientific argument. As a compromise, I have read the transcript of what he said. Of course trying to explain what he said and my reactions to it will take time because I will have to also research some of the background in immunology in allegations he makes. One thing I do agree with him on, is the predominance of modellers in the sage committee, and the prominence given to modelling rather than to reflexive well established public health measures tried and tested to deal with pandemics, such as China adopted and other countries also did. This was a big mistake. In some ways this has lost the chance to contain the virus, as really getting rid of it was a one bite at the cherry effort, it may now be too late. What I disagree with him is his rather sweeping optimism that the pandemic is over. I can’t see this has happened just looking out of the window. I shall try to also comment a bit on some of the other statements he made, if I have time, but there some interesting points.

          • SA

            Steph
            You urged me to listen to Yeadon for about two hours and instead I took the shortcut to read a transcript and comment on it. Unfortunately you seem to have lost interest. Yeadon makes mistakes too by making sweeping suppositions that are postulates based on some disconnected scientific studies and in stating strongly how correct he thinks he is whilst everyone else is wrong. He also makes these allegations on a notorious conspiracy website. There are one or two interesting points he makes but I am afraid his belief that there will be no second wave, is already being proven to be wrong. He, as all the skeptics, also ignores the major effect of morbidity, short and long term, that is associated with Covid-19.

          • John Pillager

            1:46:10 – Doctor Mike Yeadon, “The reason it’s not over is because SAGE say’s it’s not….”

            (me – “Flu seems to have ‘disappeared’ recently”)

        • John Pillager

          +1 Steph
          Mike Yeadon blows the lid off of the UK governments over reaction from listening to SAGEs miss information.

      • Deepgreenpuddock

        SA
        to be fair he says that about himself.Admittedly it is aired through james dellingpole the well known contrarian and ‘denier’ but he said something that resonated with me. He said he wasn’t a great methodical type scientist for say reporting, or lab technique but he said he had an ability to pick out anomalies or trends or interesting deviations in sets of data. I also had this as my strong point in my career and could spot relationships, sometimes causal, by poring over obtuse or arcane data and looking for the patterns. I know I was good at that because quite often my intuitions were fruitful, if in small ways
        I ,like him was a ‘sloppy’ scientist(as he admits) but we are all different with different skillsets. I dabbled a little in epidemiological research after Uni. The genetics department I was in had access to a very remarkable dataset which had been built up over decades by a ‘methodical/data collector observer’ type of scientist. We knew that the data could yield insights into genetic conditions but it just needed someone to who didn’t mind the rather turgid task of looking at the fine detail. That was me. Using this I managed to tease out a number of linked conditions related to mental health which had previously been routinely aggregated together in error. I was looking for genetic markers. mostly This kind of work is an utter bore for the majority of people.It Is like trying to discern which locomotive(and which driver) was used, by looking at train timetables, and how many minutes behind schedule the trains had arrived. I think it probably spoke to my ‘autistic’ spectrum nature.
        Epidemiological research at that time was unbelievably laborious and therefore expensive. Huge man hours/not much resources Lab based research sometimes looks as if it must be expensive because it can be resource intensive but quite often turns out to be cheaper than analysing results.Of course much is now done by the enormous processing power of computing, , which really begs the question why are we not more ‘on top’ of this pandemic? We have the knowledge, we have the human resources. Personally I am of the opinion that neoliberal ideology has skewed the direction of travel because monetising is now paramount.The kind of incisive grafting thinking required is mo longer promoted because it doesn’t pay. People who CAN do it are either sidelined by managerial types, or become cynical and demotivated because they know that their ‘superior’ is a shyster, and seeing the terrible fraudulence, won’t actually exert themselves on behalf of a dishonest master. At one time we had an collective ethos of working for a common good but that notion has been discredited, dissolved and washed away down the sewers.

        • Steph

          I agree it is a little off-putting that it was on Delingpole’s channel. But he had very little input, and to his credit gave all the space to Yeadon. I thought Yeadon made a very good job of explaining some quite complex scientific/biological principles in a manner which I could understand. Very interesting stuff!

        • SA

          I agree with the gist of what you say. Why did we get it so wrong? Because the politicians took the prominent part of decision making in what is essentially a public health and medical problem. The Tories since 2010 decided to monetise the NHS and milk it for their friends as a cash cow. The process actually started with Blair.
          Countries more people centred and disciplined managed it but as we value ‘personal freedom’ more than public health we managed to mess it up.

          • Elvis Legg

            Personal freedom for the wealthy to do as they please, specifically. People on Universal Credit, zero hours contracts or minimum wage don’t have much personal freedom.

            Neoliberalism is at the core of most of what’s wrong in this country.

    • Stevie Boy

      There are a lot more informed people out there than myself and the great majority of people commenting on this highly emotive subject. IMO people need to first educate themselves by listening to the real experts, as opposed to the government shills, and then act accordingly. The government and their sponsors are benefiting greatly from this situation, the ordinary people aren’t. While we fight among ourselves the government is selling off our land, our health services, our defence capability, our manufacturing, our economy and our freedoms – normal has been lost.
      I highly recommend these:
      40 minute presentation from Ivor Cummings – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UvFhIFzaac
      A doctor concerned with data manipulation – https://drmalcolmkendrick.org

      • glenn_uk

        Why do you like the presentations from these two individuals, SB? Is it because they make a fascinatingly compelling case, or simply because they’re saying what you want to hear, and dress it up in language that sounds appealingly scientific-like.

        There’s so much nonsense about “doing your own research”. Do you do your own research when it comes to the compounds of rubber in your tyres, or are you happy to conclude it meets required safety standards since it’s being sold – assuming you gave the slightest thought to it at all.

        What about your water supply, building codes for where you live, the components in every piece of electronic apparatus that you use, the wiring of your house, the same for all the food you ever consume – do all your own research, do you? What a well informed and busy chap you must be!

        Let’s be honest. You accept what you’re told is good for you by experts all the time. With this, C-19, there are impositions you don’t like, a lot of colourful conspiracies out there, and suddenly you think you can see the truth despite what the real experts are saying.

        • Ian

          There is no single, definitive truth about Covid, or the attempts to deal with it. But people insist that their ‘truth’ is the truth.

          • SA

            There are also scientific findings and then interpretations of these and then political manipulation and application of the interpretations, and despite the claims, these are rarely ‘guided by the science’.

    • Ken Kenn

      If people are still dying now can that be put down to very very long Covid?

      As in; it is a residue of the first wave?

      That will be a comfort to those grieving over the latest deaths.

      Have you got a bin?

    • John O'Dowd

      Thanks for the link to Yeadon’s paper.

      I have read it and found it very plausible indeed (I have a PhD in Molecular Pathology).

      He also makes some quite clear and testable predictions based on his analysis and data. This will be tested by events in the next few months. If true, it is very good news indeed.

      He also asks some very hard and pertinent questions about the SAGE group – and the fact that they are overwhelmingly social scientists, computer scientists, mathematicians with some medics – but NO-ONE at all with science degrees and PhDs in clinical immunology – and who have therefore made some truly fundamental errors in assumptions about viral behaviour and the human immune response to it.

      A very important contribution to the debate.

  • Dom

    Hmm. All the countries that have effectively beaten the virus got it all wrong it seems. They instead should have just let it rip and hoped that worked out better.

    • Elvis Legg

      On the contrary, countries like Sweden, Nicaragua, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Belarus, got it right. No or minimal lockdowns. effective track and trace measure and far less damage to their societies. We’ve had the worst of both Worlds, a huge ramping up of public fear followed by nonsensical and politically motivated, authoritarian lockdown measures. And still one of the worst in the World for excess deaths. It’s quite crazy that many people are still calling for more of the same.

      • Dom

        All the societies with the lowest infection rates adhered to strict government instructions on lockdowns, mask wearing, social distancing, etc. None of them carried on as normal, making exceptions only for pensioners. There is no society where that has been an effective strategy.

      • Enquirer

        However it appears that Sweden didn’t get it right, and probaby hasn’t achieved “herd immunity”.
        This NY Times article reports that “thousands more people died than in neighboring countries that imposed lockdowns, but Sweden’s economy has fared little better.” “https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/07/business/sweden-economy-coronavirus.html?fbclid=IwAR3-OODlgrROUOxCFaCt6Vvgu0DgrvK8NJHG8O6vfsl02JUSnXmLWUgMLZY
        “They literally gained nothing,” said Jacob F. Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “It’s a self-inflicted wound, and they have no economic gains.”

        Schools in Sweden have only half their students in school at a time, with plenty of distancing, and the other half doing remote learning from home, with alternate weeks in school and at home, while senior schools (16-19 years) were closed for at least some months.
        https://www.tes.com/news/have-swedish-schools-really-carried-normal

        Modelling indicates that, on average, Swedes have around 30% of the social interactions they did prior to the pandemic. In late July, only 6% of the population there was known to have antibodies, according to Swedish Public Health Agency research, so it very much remains to be seen whether they have more immunity than other countries.
        https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-53498133

      • Enquirer

        Sweden was late with test, track, trace and isolate and so had many deaths, but Taiwan, South Korea, New Zealand made it work – in New Zealand’s case by locking down hard when they had just 100 cases for long enough to get cases down to zero – and they are knocking on the head any resurgences – one from someone visiting from the UK, who was allowed to leave the quarantine centre early to go to a funeral, and another from infection carried in on frozen food. Only 25 deaths in all, and society has been able to open up again in ways we can only dream of in the UK

        • mrjohn

          I live in Japan, we did not carry on as normal.
          This pandemic has demonstrated that open borders are great, except when they aren’t.

  • Bob Bage

    Countries which did not lock down, or had minimal lockdowns, have fared no worse than those which did. They include Sweden, Belarus, Japan and Nicaragua. Not everyone knows about Nicaragua, a peasant rural-based economy, and it simply could not afford to lock down, although tracing measures were used. Nicaragua has actually done better than all its neighbouring countries which did lock down. Here a local, Jorge Capelán, explains (in English).

    https://off-guardian.org/2020/09/30/nicaragua-the-country-that-didnt-swallow-the-covid-blue-pill/

    What are they doing right that we are doing wrong?

    • Dom

      It’s hardly a secret anymore that Sweden has had far more covid deaths than the other Scandinavian countries. Who do you think is reading this stuff?

      • Bob Bage

        The link is about Nicaragua. Sweden may have had more covid deaths than its less densely populated neighbours but we have had a lot more per capita than Sweden. Density of population is a factor. Look at the Isle of Man and Jersey. But surely it is better to have a similar rate of deaths and keep your economy going, Wouldn’t you agree, Dom?

        • Dom

          Sweden has experienced as much economic harm as Denmark and Norway since the pandemic. The only thing it has gained is four times as many excess deaths.

          • Stevie Boy

            Comparing the UK to Sweden indicates our lockdown is ineffective, I would suggest.

            Country Tot Deaths Population % Lockdown
            UK 44,998 68,000,789 0.066 Muddled
            Sweden 5,918 10,119,508 0.058 No (some)
            Denmark 709 5,798,782 0.012 short sharp
            Finland 354 5,543,503 0.006 short sharp
            Norway 279 5,434,840 0.005 short sharp
            NZ 25 5,002,100 0.0005 Hard

        • Pigeon English

          Denmark is much densely populated than Sweden. Denmark 137 Sweden 25. Denmark 120 death per mil Sweden 580.

      • squirrel

        If you look at Ivor Cummin’s research he points out that Sweden was ripe for a bad flu year, while its neighbours were not, and that explains the difference.

    • SA

      I am looking forward to hearing how Taiwan and Vietnam have managed being two of the countries least affected.

    • squirrel

      I would also be sceptical of this report about Nicaragua as I am about lockdowns. I’m in Costa Rica to the south, and the stories I have been hearing (many Nicaraguans are here) are that Nicaragua was badly hit but the bodies were simply buried and not put on the statistics.

      • Bob Bage

        That’s what the corporate-owned media want you to think. There were scare stories about evening funerals but these were denied by the Nicaraguan government as having been filmed outside of Nicaragua. Even US-funded opposition figures still put it way ahead of Costa Rica,

        Jorge Capelán was on the ground and I think his report is as accurate as it could be.

  • Steve

    Craig, I would hate to see you succumb to any virus so please read this from the Swiss Policy Research Group ( https://swprs.org/on-the-treatment-of-covid-19/ ) .

    For some unfathomable reason the ‘authorities’ don’t want us to take care of our immune systems, but fortunately you can find out how to treat yourself.

    To save you reading too much, the bottom line is that people with high levels of serum vitamin D3 survive much better than those with low levels and the combination of quercetin zinc and vitamin C reduces the ability of viruses to enter cells and replicate whenever they do get in. Vitamins D3 (10,000iu a day in winter 5,000iu a day in summer) C (1gm/day) Quercetin (500mg/day) and zinc (40mg/day) are quite cheap at around 50p/day. [Quercetin is the natural replacement for the chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine zinc ionophore that has been banned in the UK for entirely fictitious reasons that were the subject of fraudulent publication (since withdrawn) by several prestigious journals].

    • SA

      Lets do away with evidence base to manage disease and just revert to herbal medication and prayers, shall we?

      • Elvis Legg

        There’s quite a lot of evidence that Vitamin D3 in particular plays a large role in a healthy immune system, if you can be bothered to look for it. You certainly won’t get it spoonfed to you by the media though.

        • SA

          There is no hard evidence that Azithromycin and chloroquine work to prevent death from Covid 19. I have commented on this above.

          • laguerre

            Your wording is poor. Hydroxychloroquine works on the virus itself, but death is not caused by the virus itself, which I believe disappears in the late stages of a severe case, but by the auto-immune response, if I understand correctly. Less people reach that late stage, if they’ve taken the Hydroxychloroquine medication programme. On the other hand, taking Remdesivir is entirely useless, and somewhat dangerous, if I understand correctly, but it is still highly recommended by our lords and masters.

          • SA

            Laguerre
            What is poor about my wording? Having any effect on the virus should ultimately prevent death no? If you wish better wording please apply and I shall attempt to do so in simpler language. BTW I am fully aware that death occurs at later stages, often after the virus has cleared and that this is due to host reaction, a phenomenon called a cytokines storm.

      • SA

        To all who commented not just Bage. The site referred to is advocating self treatment collected by selecting a cocktail of vitamins and some potent antibiotics and so on that sounds of quackery. Potent medicines such as Azithromycin should not be used willy nilly just because a website has said so.
        On the use of vitamins. The best way is to eat a healthy balanced diet than to enrich pharmaceutical companies to get pharmacological doses of vitamins which swell their coffers. Vitamin D can be a problem though especially in dark skinned people because the inactive vitamin is activated by sunlight in the skin, something that happens far less efficiently in the northern hemisphere. But any deficiencies should be tackled rationally.
        There is zero evidence that low immunity plays a part in the pathogenesis of severe Covid 19. In fact hyper activation of the immune system and also the coagulation cascade do, that is why dexamethasone and aspirin are now being utilised in very sick patients with some results.

        • Bob Bage

          It is not advocating self-treatment. Where does it say that? You haven’t read it have you?

          Linus Paul won the Nobel prize for his work on Vitamin C and the Common Cold. If you are not getting enough you need supplements.

          These papers embedded in the link are from medical professionals. It is common sense to protect your immune system with vitamins if there is a deficiency.

        • Lapsed Agnostic

          The line between conventional medicine and quackery is more fuzzy than many people would imagine. Rightly or wrongly – I would say wrongly – azithromycin, along with hydroxychloroquine, was being used on Covid patients in Spain, and probably several other countries as well.

          A fairly well balanced diet might not provide all the vitamins and minerals required. In the UK winter, you’d need to eat several portions of oily fish a week to get even the recommended amount of vitamin D. It’s also difficult to get sufficient selenium and boron for example. As they’re not patented, the margins on vitamins and many other supplements are small.

          In general, the immune system deteriorates significantly with age, probably largely due to telomere reduction. The fact that the Covid-induced cytokine storms tend to affect older people, rather than young people as with the Spanish flu, and men rather than women (or people with two X chromosomes I should say these days) tends to suggest they’re caused by a poorly functioning immune system rather than an overactive one.

          Sources available on request.

      • Lapsed Agnostic

        Recently published results from Cordoba, Spain involving 50 patients (median age of 52) admitted to hospital with Covid-induced pneumonia who were given the equivalent of around 6000 IU (150 micrograms) a day of calcifediol (the precursor to the active metabolite of vitamin D3) showed that only one of them needed to go to intensive care and none died, whereas around half of a group of a similar age range not given calcifediol – just the standard ‘treatment’ of consisting of hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic – needed intensive care and two died. In the light of these results, our Scots readers in particular may well be advised to stock up on high-strength vitamin D this winter.

        Vitamin C and zinc are well known for being intimately involved in the immune system. There’s less evidence for quercetin, but as it’s a flavanol, it probably does you good. Many atheists would concede that prayer can have a measurable placebo effect. As an ex-boron chemist, I would add that 3 – 6 milligrams a day of boron supplements (available from Holland & Barrett) may well have a positive effect in suppressing any potential cytokine storms.

        Sources available on request.

    • Bob Bage

      One drug they appear to have left out in that report is the mite-treatment drug Ivermectin. This was known about at the beginning of April.

      https://pharmafield.co.uk/pharma_news/life-sciences-covid-19-testing-and-diagnostics-statement/

      The reason I suspect they did not want to use drugs, however effective they might have been, was to make way for a vaccine, which could not be proved to work if other treatments had been used. If the effective drug treatments had been used widely there may not have been so many deaths. Try telling that to bereaved relatives,

      This is quite damning.

      • squirrel

        If there is a recognized treatment, then it is far harder to mandate vaccination. That is most definitely on the agenda of Bill Gates and others.

        • glenn_uk

          If you think a genuine cure was covered up by all medics on behalf of Bill Gates, you are absolutely paranoid. I suggest you desist watching Q-Anon videos, and head on down to a real doctor to get your head examined.

          • squirrel

            Weasel words, glenn_uk.

            There are medics recommending HCQ + zinc, as a cure.
            There are medics recommending vitamin D, as a cure.
            There are medics also recommending warfarin, and high dose intravenous vitamin C as a cure.
            There is a study about to be reported on IV vitamin C here https://www.patrickholford.com/blog/vitamin-c-cuts-covid-deaths-two-thirds
            Very early on in this, Dr Pierre Kory presented wonderful results in New York City ICUs, using IV vitamin C, corticosteroids, and warfarin, and proclaimed that it was ‘unethical’ for doctors to wait for establishment approval before saving lives with unproven treatments. You can hear his testimony to the US senate here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jabZo9JMm0

          • squirrel

            So, what do you really mean when you say ‘all medics’?
            You really mean the medical establishment. Not the doctors.

            And yes, the medical establishment is precisely in the business of covering up cures. Especially ones that are natural or otherwise out of patent. And I will say that as loudly as I can. Pharma runs the show, and they earn money from chronic illnesses which they have an interest in creating with vaccines and toxic drugs.

          • Clark

            A link to Patrick Holford’s blog! Classic! This is the same Patrick Holford who claims there is no vitamin C in supermarket oranges. He also recommends vitamin C for AIDS. And his companies (partly owned by the very pharmaceutical companies he accuses of conspiring against him) sell loads of vitamin C pills.

    • Helena

      Interesting I will have a look at that link. Thanks. The subject of VitD came up quite early on, and research which in fact I think it was Lesley Riddoch did a report on some time back, concluded that most people in the northern hemisphere are in fact suffering from VitD deficiency. We just don’t get enough time outdoors in the sun. VitD is essential to general health inclduing mental health! I know someone who tested very low VitD levels and needed supplements in order to counter depression and ill health, definitely helped them.

      Re Covid19, not worth taking any chances, it’s so infectious it’s unreal, but it is very real. I don’t want anyone close to me getting it, especially with underlying health issues. We know at least two people with ‘long-Covid’, not particularly old, one who was very fit before it.

      The research, and unknowns about this virus change all the time, but it’s worth keeping up with it all.
      One thing, the economy, good government should be able to ride the storm, but Scotland is up against huge barriers, effectively sanctioned by the gov in England, re PPE and indeed finances. Really, Scotland is always sanctioned by way of having their resources and huge revenues removed by the EngGov, and a few crumbs thrown back with great reluctance! The ScotGov are doing an effective job against the odds, it could have been so much better had the four nations approach not been so very catastrophic and control of the border of course being a reserved power to the EngGov. With the EngGov awarding £billions of contracts to their pals right now, rather than helping actual people who need it, there will be devastation and poverty for many, it’s quite deliberate though, and unecessary, and quite criminal.

      To have normality is not an option now, there needs to be structured, sensible strategy, and options to deal with this pandemic, that will not be forthcoming from the EngGov in any way. Scotland is in great peril as a result, money must be very stretched indeed, let’s hope we don’t have a very bad winter because there will be few if any funds to deal with it.

      The consequences for peoples’ livelihoods is terrible, that is what should be the focus, how to support people through this. Social life is at a standstill, that can’t be helped, but is a struggle for many perhaps more for young folk. That can be rekindled, but only if people abide by advice, keeping people from being infected en masse is crucial, the EngGov are not bothered about that, because when the NHS cracks due to high numbers in the wards and ICU, they can wheel in the US private companiers without any protest. Yes, protest that is very convenient, people shut out of that ‘freedom’ must be a gift to rogue companies and governments. That is a massive worry.

      To read up on latest research is important, because it does change, one day it’s not good to have too much humidity, the next too dry! Eh? So here is a link and scroll down for more articles on this.

      Stay safe, wear a mask, take Vits. Avoid crowds, it’s simple and will help reduce the spread of this deadly virus. It will be curtailed but for now, sadly life cannot go on as ‘normal’.
      Hope this link works…
      https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-10-covid-distancing-masks.

  • Komodo

    You may regard this as no recommendation at all, but I agree with the conclusions of that thoughtful assessment, Craig. But I guess we had to work through all the Boris crony-enriching wheezes and misunderstood data to get here.

  • mark golding

    Many insighted folk have become quite good at discerning and dismantling so called terrorist attacks. For instance the train time anomaly and inconsistencies of the London underground bombing or the strangeand bizarre shooting of a man on London bridge. These operations are far too resourceful as well as short-lived in our docile social mind. Even a ‘magic’ nerve agent use has to be repeated to move towards compliance from a yielding public.Thankfully a virus pandemic has multiple strands to steer against personal liberty.

    We call this tyranny, social engineering. Craig’s insight tells us the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically widened the economic gap between average people and the wealthy elite, with billionaires raking in trillions of dollars in so many months, this together with small companies gobbled up by multi-nationals and worsening poverty.

    Just a perfunctory examination of how these far reaching illness strands advance moves towards a grandiose globalist plan tells us that for instance money is dirty; better to have digital ID’s and healthy (sic) banking services. Healthy of course means an ability to punish for insubordination or mutiny.

    We are sleeping towards assimilation into a hive mind created by the elite where resistance is futile. An example of this betrayal and forced conformity is 5G internet. Data collection as Matt Hancock promotes is key to monitoring our every move and 5G provides the speed to capture information. In fact EE doubled the price of my monthly internet access. When I complained they tried hard by phone and cold-calling to enrol me into 5G internet. Tall 5G masks are popping up everywhere. This strategy covers infrastructure, skills, rules and ethics of big data use, the digitization of industry, and digitization of government all needed to allow the automation of social engineering and social rule with increasing use of artificial intelligence.

    The future of mankind is at stake and all we can do is yadder and remain complacent as if all of this is rather trivial. Our affability is severely challenged so have a cup of tea and hope times will get better.

  • mrjohn

    In the age of the curated internet search engine we are all instant experts. What do we actually know for ourselves?
    But this is all moot. You have complied with the obliteration of your civil liberties, and they are not coming back, so get used to your muzzles, to living in fear that your neighbour is a toxic granny killer, that it is now a criminal offense to be sick, that only the government can protect you from the invisible enemy floating through the air, get used to it, because this is how you live for the next 30 years.

  • David Matthews

    “The true mortality rate of covid-19 remains a matter of intense dispute”

    What is not disputed is that since the end of the general lockdown total UK mortality has been around and at times even below the 5 year average. There is no pandemic in the real sense of the word. Pandemic of tests – yes, but the tests are completely unreliable; pandemic as per the WHO’s dodgy definition, which they changed to exclude the need for high mortality rates some 10 years ago – possibly. But there is currently no excess mortality, no sane reason for further butchering of the economy and jobs unless that is actually what you want to do ie, you’re a billionaire and probably doing very very nicely just now and / or you have a large investment in vaccines eg the UK’s Chief Medical officer or you are otherwise in bed with Gates and Big Pharma.

    Regarding the earlier excess mortality which started abruptly with the lockdown, most of those deaths are probably lockdown rather than covid19 deaths – withdrawal of medical treatment for cancer, circulatory problems etc, fear and isolation. These are just some of the very good reasons to be skeptical of the governments covid-19 narrative and policies.

  • Coldish

    Commenter David (October 26, 2020 at 13:34) advises taking more notice of the MOMO data, and suggests that ‘the pandemic is over’.

    What is MOMO? In its own words “EuroMOMO is a European mortality monitoring activity, aiming to detect and measure excess deaths related to seasonal influenza, pandemics and other public health threats. Official national mortality statistics are provided weekly from the 24 European countries in the EuroMOMO collaborative network, supported by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), and hosted by Statens Serum Institut, Denmark.” It publishes its weekly reports at http://www.euromomo.org

    All larger countries in western Europe are included on the MOMO site, although only 2 of the 16 German federal states (Berlin and Hessen) are represented, along with Hungary and Estonia from former ‘eastern’ Europe. Deaths from all causes, including accidents, are combined without distinction, and cover each week from January 2016 until the present. The interactive country graphs for each country/territory show weekly variations from the expected total mortality by age group in the form of ‘z’ numbers, which are equivalent to standard deviations from the expected mean.

    Epidemics which cause large numbers of excess deaths within a limited period show up as peaks on the country graphs. In recent years western Europe as a whole, and some, but not all, individual countries, have shown distinct peaks in mortality centred in midwinter (roughly December to February). These peaks are attributable to recurrent influenza and colds. However midwinter 2019-2020 was comparatively mild in western Europe both in weather and in excess mortality.

    The Covid-19 epidemic shows up on the graph for the whole of western Europe as a marked spike, taller and sharper than the midwinter peaks of the previous 4 years, centred in mid-April and extending from mid-March to late May. This spring spike is not equally tall in all individual countries. It is most obvious in Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy (where it started earlier), Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and all 4 countries of the UK. It is these countries which account for the bulk of the spring spike in western Europe as a whole. Over the same spring period variations in excess mortality in other countries in the report produced only minor spikes or were indistinguishable from noise.

    Since the 2020 spring spike there have been further minor peaks in mortality, notably in several countries in mid-to-late August. However it is not clear which if any of these later peaks can be attributed to Covid-19. None of them have reached the severity seen in the midwinter mortality peaks of 2016-7, 2017-8 and 2018-9, and in a normal year they might have passed un-noticed.

    David (comment cited above) suggests that ‘the pandemic is over’. In my view this assessment is premature. We don’t yet know what effect a sudden cold spell (which can have fatal effects on the poor and the homeless) or the traditional Christmas Party season (when workers congregate loudly and intimately in enclosed spaces) may have on transmission of the virus.

    • andic

      I cannot reach the MOMO website, it could be due to internet speed or maybe its blocked by the CPC. So I will be careful what I say and how I say it.

      I think your comment makes sense, it is the kind of logic that anyone can apply – you really don’t need to be an expert, just rigorous in checking for inconsistencies in your thesis and make sure all factors are considered. These excess death figures are completely raw so as you say the summer spikes cannot definitively be attributed to the virus. Do you wonder if they could be due to illnesses not treated due to COVID19? And what about the contribution of untreated illness to the spring peaks; is it possible that some but not all of those deaths were due to missed operations or diagnoses?

  • Anonish

    I think the problem for me (as evidenced in the article and comments) is that this situation has become so riddled with politics, anecdote and distrust that short of becoming an expert in the field and conducting my own studies, I don’t know who to believe. As far as I’m concerned everyone could be right – but as someone who’s very risk-averse, I’d personally rather err on the side of caution. Of course I’m in the very fortunate position that I can abide by the lockdown measures with very little economic impact (for a year at least…) but I do very much appreciate that this is a luxury most don’t have. Balancing the economy and social / mental support against pandemic measures is certainly important and a difficult task. I certainly don’t feel informed enough to comment – though I do agree that the former are just as important as the latter.

    The “you could be hit by a bus” fatalist logic doesn’t sit right with me though; if you could see the bus coming, would you not step out of the way? If you knew that standing in the road would increase your chances of being hit by a bus, would you not walk on the pavement?

    Darwinist viewpoints on life and death are all very easy to have until it’s someone you love.

    My other concern is long-term health impacts such as chronic fatigue, which still don’t seem to have much data available besides online anecdotes. I’m pretty sure I’d survive it, but those secondary effects would have a huge impact on my ability to work and lead a normal life too. I really don’t want to take that chance.

    Unfortunately I think we’ll only get a clear understanding of this virus long after it’s resolved.

  • Kim Sanders-Fisher

    In the summer the distraction tool pimped by the BBC and the media focused on ‘bums on beaches;’ where could we go on holiday without facing quarantine after returning to the UK. This non-news rubbish I called ‘handyfloss’ flooded the airwaves to detract from the grim reality of job losses and the prospect of reduced support on furlough before an inevitable redundancy. Now the handyfloss is an obsession over pub closing times and punitive localized lockdowns, necessary because the masses failed to unflinchingly obey the strict orders of the wealthy elite who are of course exempt from any curtailment of their unbridled privilege. The wrangling between Johnson and city Mayors over his policy to disproportionately punish Labour supporting northern cities through forced lockdowns, where minimum wage earners are expected to subsist on just two thirds of their income, was just a raucous distraction to obscure the stripping away of our human right with powers that allow police and other agents to function entirely outside the law.

    The necessary protective restrictions to reduce the spread of Covid 10 and limit its damage would be far less complicated if we first focused on logical evaluation of personal risk driving responsibility for individual behaviour within a strong framework of pragmatic national guidelines. This personal risk assessment is exactly what I did at the beginning of March; it included the following:
    • Personal Health Risk Factors: advanced age, underlying health conditions, comorbidities, gender and ethnicity are all factors.
    • Location risk: Living in London, any other major metropolitan area or within the regular commuting range of same, places with large Students populations, localities with a high propensity for overseas travel within the local population.
    • Contact & Proximity Risk: elderly housing or care facilities, multigenerational homes, overcrowded accommodation including Student Halls, frontline work assignments.

    From this it is possible to gauge your own potential risk and modify your personal conduct accordingly within nationally accepted regulations. Although you may feel that none of the first category applies to you, where you live, the personal circumstances of your accommodation or your work assignment might still put you at risk or someone you care about at serious risk. Your ‘Contact & Proximity Risk ‘ is quite high if you cannot work from home due to a frontline job; the Tories know that wealthier Tory voters evade many of these risks. The Tories also know that their manipulation of the housing market to turn it from provision of liveable homes to an investment for the wealthy, has forced many of the working poor into cramped multigenerational accommodation arrangements were physical separation is impossible. The punitive crippling of young people with lower pay and a diminished access to benefits, huge student debt and high rents has forced many of them to postpone independent living beyond age 30!

    The Tories are relying on school children to act as vectors for Covid 19, by becoming asymptomatic carriers who will pass Covid on to those targeted by the Government cull of the elderly. The success of their plan to use schools as breeding grounds for Covid is being reported by Skwawkbox, but elsewhere the Tories have kept their vile agenda under wraps. This is the reason why the Tory Government remain so determined to keep schools open and have forced their Trojan horse Starmer to wholeheartedly endorse the plan. Meanwhile they distract and annoy us by closing pubs knowing those who can’t meet up can’t gripe or organize a protest. Nationwide risk will increase despite the Government imposed three tear unworkable plan that is really just a subterfuge. Pubs and restaurants could improve their safety measures by increasing air flow, fitting highly effective Hepa filters and installing ultraviolet LED lighting close to floor level to kill off viruses: Government grants for this would help cover the cost of retrofitting.

    The Government could have created an online algorithm for people to self assess their own personal risk and modify their conduct to compensate. If they had done this in February, plus set up checks and restrictions at points of entry and invested extra money in local test and trace, that was already a well established function of local health authorities, we could have greatly restricted the few cases arriving from hot spots. We should have reassessed our stockpile of PPE and access to ventilators and made up for the shortfall by stocking up fast in preparation. If we had done these things we would not be in this mess, the UK would be like New Zealand. Despite the warped agenda of their news coverage the BBC have a global reputation for program excellence; they could have started putting together educational materials for at home schooling for all age groups. Children who do not necessarily have a computer still have a TV, but even if it wasn’t needed at all in the UK, such programs could have been sold to countries overseas.

    If the UK had acted swiftly following this tactic we really could have been ‘world beating,’ using our high tech sector to produce the supportive equipment and work on a vaccine, while we used caution to prepare and protect our entire population at the same time developing televised teaching materials well before any need to consider closing schools. Instead the PM, influenced by ‘Herd Nerd’ eugenicist Dominic Cummings and warped by Corporate financial interests, an obsession with power and personal greed this rabid Tory cabal exploited the Covid crisis to plunder public money. Having seized control by fraud they enriched the wealthy elite by driving millions of the working poor into destitution while deliberately exterminating the elderly and disabled to reduce any future burden on the state. Tinkering around the edges over restrictions will not stem the carnage as the Tories complete their ‘Slaughter of the Sheeple’ because that is their intended policy for the UK in the lead up to solidifying their Dictatorship after crash-out Brexit.

    Most of this post has already been shared in my daily writing in the Discussion Forum ‘Elections Aftermath’ where I rant about the general direction this corrupt Tory Government is moving in their plan for absolute control after taking power in what I refer to as the “Covert 2019 Rigged Election.” Even if you do not share my view that Johnson achieved his unfathomable ‘landslide victory’ via meticulously well calculated industrial scale fraud involving outsourced postal votes, the use of public funds to pay the ‘Integrity Initiative’ to fabricate defamatory propaganda targeting the Labour opposition would be enough to charge them with corruption in a functioning democracy. We have a perilously short window of opportunity to derail this catastrophically destructive dystopian nightmare scenario, fully expose the truth and remove this corrupt Tory Government from power. We could start organizing very loud personalized protests right from our doorsteps just as we did with “clap for Carers:” how about “Sound off Saturday at Six?”

    Please sign my Petition calling for an investigation into the Covert 2019 Rigged Election: https://tinyurl.com/w4u9dwm

  • squirrel

    Do people here actually believe that governments care about old people? Craig?
    I would find this a rather quaint notion if this wasn’t all so disturbing.

    They do not. The reality is, they want them to die having collected as little pension as possible
    In 2001 Philip Morris actually made an argument to the Czech Government that smoking was beneficial to the economy as it helped older people on their way.

    Yet, now we are supposed to believe that the government cares about Grandma and Grandpa?

    They do not. And as Sherlock Holmes says, once you eliminate the impossible the truth lies in what remains. So one must conclude that what is happening here is social engineering. It is highly disturbing and none of it should be trusted.

    • Steve

      Lord Sumption thinks that we now have a police state. I think I should be advised to take his word for that.

  • Muscleguy

    Craig, we MAY know the death rate from the virus but we did not know it at the start and the numbers coming out of China were truly frightening. This is also a virus NOBODY has immunity to. Kids have some immunity simply because they get the most colds most frequently and a quarter of cold viruses are coronaviruses.

    Many of us have immunity to flu whether from vaccines or being exposed to it seasonally. Yet flu regularly kills close to 1% of people, every winter.

    Also the current death rates are based on actually only small proportions of the population getting the virus. The random antibody tests find 4-5% at the peak, now declining. IF the people exposed now are not a representative sample of the population then we cannot know if the proportion of deaths will not increase if we follow your plan.

    University students don’t just pose a risk to their fellows or their lecturers. There are cooks, cleaners, janitors, shop assistants, librarians etc. etc. etc. Students are a naturally gregarious lot. The outbreaks in Halls of Residences would if not checked spread wildly into the wider community. Students also gather from all over the country, and abroad. Such mixing always exposes people to viruses, bacteria, fungi they have never seen before. They are prime disease mixing vessels.

    Evidence from the Southern hemisphere which is coming out of winter shows that flu infections have fallen significantly from previous years due to measures taken to halt the spread of Covid. That means fewer elderly and vulnerable people there died of flu.

    I had both flu and Covid (not at the same time). Flu put me at much higher risk since it filled up my lungs. I escaped pneumonia by a whisker. I have had a flu vax this year having made enquiries and discovered that mammalian cell culture raised vaccines are now common. I had a nasty allergic reaction in 2003 when given a fertlised chicken egg raised flu vaccine so had given up flu vaccines as a result.

    But increasing age and being asthmatic has clearly made me more vulnerable to the effects. I’m seriously thinking about wearing a face covering when in shops etc even when the risk is low or I have been vaccinated. I can do without being ill. It gets in the way of the running which keeps me healthy, happy and non obese (provided you use an athletic table, lean muscle and dense bones are heavy, fat is actually quite light).

    • Elvis Legg

      You’re wide of the mark in saying that nobody is immune to SARS-CoV-2. About 30% of the population are thought to have prior immunity thanks to cross immunity they have gained from previous coronavirus infections.

      https://lockdownsceptics.org/what-sage-got-wrong/

      Follow this link for a throughly researched and referenced article by Dr Mike Yeadon that explains why the idea that nobody has immunity to SARS-CoV-2 is fundamentally wrong.

  • Mairi Stones

    I am relieved to read another honey account of the state of affairs in this country. I applaud your courage in stating what many find an unpalatable truth. Sadly as you say the fear levels have been emoted and continue to be so, coached in political rhetoric about protecting us and keeping us safe. What twaddle!
    I was relieved to see your comments about Nicola setting the lowest political bar. I am astounded at the popularity she has gained for her draconian rules and agree that fear will have a populous applauding almost anything they perceive as keeping them safe.
    The tiered system is particularly worrying and as with so many of the rules leaves me wondering what the exit strategy actually is. It would appear there is none and we are in fact being moved towards some other agenda.
    Thank you for a comforting read. It is always good to know others are out there questioning the current paradigm or fear driven insanity.

  • N_

    The actual physical plague in Britain is practically non-existent at the moment (in this very early stage) insofar as most who have died would have died soon anyway. Far worse is the mental plague. Many are saying “they should have another lockdown”, “they should cancel Christmas, etc.” And the LOOKS you get if you walk on the “wrong” side of the pavement! But those who wear masks and leave their nostrils uncovered, which is about a third to a half of everyone who is wearing a mask, don’t even get a second glance. C***s who tell people they’re walking in the wrong place, or who stop proletarians from consoling each other at funerals, don’t use logic where masks are concerned. They wouldn’t dare. The “rules” say “wear a mask”, so as far as they are concerned everyone who is wearing a mask is obeying the rules. Phew! What a relief! They aren’t a social wrecker. No need to make a call so the antiterrorist police can fast-rope down from a helicopter. There’s little logic, full stop. It’s all about obedience. If the rules said everyone had to walk along with their thumb stuck up their bottom rather than “wearing” a plague mask, most people would probably feel safer doing that instead.

    Anyway a cloth mask is for DUST PARTICLES, etc. Did a cloth mask EVER stop more than 1% of viruses or bacteria? Funny how nobody who works in a hospital wears a cloth mask. Basically if you wear a cloth mask you’ve got sh*t for brains.

    • N_

      Then there are the “hand drying” machines in public toilets, and in toilets in supermarkets, etc. They’re great for spreading germs, as are supermarket trolley handles. And what on earth is the point, other than to make money for universities and the evil banks, in universities maintaining residential facilities when most undergraduate tuition is now online? Do so many young people really get on so badly with their parents? Got to wonder how on earth they passed their A Levels if it was impossible for them to study in the parental home.

    • N_

      Some of that came out wrong. I don’t really have such a dislike for people who wear their masks wrong, at least not unless they are tinpot Hitlers, which most aren’t. Many are innocent and like lambs to the slaughter.

      If one could travel back in time to a year ago, one could imagine telling one’s fellow social critics, “You think things are schizo now? Just wait for what they’ll be like in a year’s time!” That may not exactly be a controversial statement. But things are likely to get far worse, and a clued-up traveller from October 2021 might say the same to us now, and with great emphasis.

  • BrianFujisan

    Well Done Craig.. Made me think of areas I hadn’t thought about. Given the nature of this Virus…I think you must be correct on the numbers affected, and not ever knowing it.

    This Blog is an Amazing place…Comments are excellent…Thanks Craig n All

  • Muscleguy

    Craig you have in addition failed to take into account these:

    1. The strain on the NHS of TWO deadly viruses in circulation at once. They often struggle to deal just with seasonal influenza. Add in Covid and things may well collapse.

    2. Long Covid, perfectly healthy people having mild cases of Covid have found themselves debilitated by it. It infects the brain and can have bad effects, it infects the heart and can damage it severely, it can cause auto-immune syndrome where the body attacks its own tissues. Economically active people are being rendered dependant invalids from this virus. The rates of such things from influenza are much lower since we have lived with it for much, much longer.

    By ignoring these issues in your demands you show that you have only thought shallowly on this issue which I find disappointing. Listen to the medical experts especially when they warn of Long Covid. Listen to Prof Devi Sridhar here in Scotland who is advising Scotgov. She knows an awful lot more about the science than you obviously do.

    Yours Muscleguy BSc PhD.

    • Spoiler

      It’s true that Craig doesn’t have a PhD. But is yours in something of relevance to covid-19?

      • glenn_uk

        Since his PhD is in the field of medicine, well – yeah, I rather think it is relevant.

  • ET

    I have listened to Dr Mike Yeadon’s podcast linked to above on YT. He has the academic credentials to make comment. From listening I get the feeling that he is genuine and sincere in his argument and not trying to be contraversial for the sake of being so. I’ll try and summarise the arguments he makes for what it’s worth.

    He bases his argument on what he terms as basic immunology derived from the study of other viruses and immune responses. He states that members of SAGE/Sir Patrick Vallance would have studied the same immunological science and therefore know it to be true.
    His point is that Sars-Cob-2 is behaving exactly as other respiratory viruses have behaved in the past. Initially, in China and Italy, It was a new disease and best treatments were not yet worked out yet and perhaps there was an overuse of ventilation as a treatment. Also initial testing was directed at those that were ill and that both of these behaviours lead to an initially high case fatality rate. Now that we know more and treatment modalities have improved and there is wider testing the CFR has dropped. I’ll come back to the testing later.

    He points out that ventilator beds were under used in the Summer because so much elective surgery was cancelled. He is definitely correct about that. A lot of ITU admissions are planned after complicated surgery etc.

    The meat of his argument relates to testing, known behaviour of viruses etc. When the virus was first presented to the population there was an initial very steep rise in deaths because the pool of susceptible people was large. This was in March/Aprl when testing was somewhat restricted to those who were symptomatic or presenting to hospital. As more people became infected (whether tested or not) the pool of susceptible people became smaller and therefore there was less transmission and the deaths started to fall at a slower pace eventually down to small numbers in the summer. He argues that this graphical curve is a Gompertz curve, the same curve that describes the behaviour of all other respiratory viruses bar none. This is a curve found often in biological events much like say the gaussian/bell curve and fits the data well. He further states that if the measures taken had any effect there would have been signifcant troughs and peaks in this curve of deaths which there isn’t. I think he is saying that like it or not SARS-Cov-2 has behaved like any other respiratory virus and measures that were taken such as lockdown etc had little or no effect on the virus’s eventual course.

    He also argues that viruses don’t do waves. The virus “moves” from one area (say London) when the pool of susceptible people has been reduced (because of prior infection) to areas where the pool of susceptible people is high. So people further from the initial epicentre get t later. Hence the spread initially from London out to other parts of the country. He makes the argument that much of the London population is already immune. See below.

    He tackles immunity and the mechanisms for acquiring immunity in humans. Mainly here he is talking about T-Cell immunity. T-Cells recognise cells infected with virus and cause that cell to suicide, breaks down the viral RNA within found in that cell, presents those snippets of RNA to the common T-Cell memory pool where a “match” or partial though effective match may be found. Therefore the virus doesn’t get presented as antigen to B-cells to provoke making of anti-bodies. Hence a large proportion of those who have been infected will be immune through this T-Cell response even though they don’t show an antibody response. The implication is that relying on antibody testing isn’t suffcient to determine immunity. He cites a number of reputable studies from various respected immunology boffins that demonstrate the T-Cell response. Furthermore he argues that it has been well demonstrated that a significant proportion (30%) of the population will have cross immunity via the T-Cell response derived from other endemic coronaviruses that have shared sequences of nucleotides ie. common cold. He argues that if you survived an infection you will be immune via the T-cell response. If your T-cell response fails to deal with the virus only then will your immune system throw it’s last ditch effort to cope via B-Cell antibody response. If you had been infected and you were not immune via one of these mechanisms you’d be dead because you’d not have mounted an effective immune response to the virus. He argues, I think, that the T-cell response is more important/potent. There is a point to this dry stuff. He argues that 30% already have cross immunty, 30% have been infected and survived and are therefore immune despite not showing antibodies. Here he states that 6-7% of the population as a whole show antibodies from seroprevalence testing, 25% of known infections show anti body response. He states that between 3-5 time that number of infected are immune despite no antibodies because of the T-cell mediated immunity. That’s 60% of the population already immune. He states more likely 70% as kids don’t seem to get infected mostly. I am not quite sure where he gets the extra 10% from to be honest or maybe I missed something. He adds that Sars-Cov-2 is a slowly mutating virus (unlike Influenza virus) so that immunity is likely to be long term. His main thrust here is that Vallance and others in the SAGE group know all this already because it is basic immunology science but still say 90% of the population remain vulnerable. He believes that it is impossible to have a large exponentially growing second wave because there is not the population of susceptible people to sustain it.

    On testing he argues that the true infection rate is about 1 in 500 and that the PCR test has a 1% false positve rate. Therefore out of 1000 tests 2 wll be truely positive and 10 will be falsely positive. He argues that because of this mass testing ought to be stopped because most of the positives are false positives and that testing should be reserved for those who are ill. He further argues that the way the testing centres are set up with inexperienced staff processing tests etc there are likely more false positves.

    He states that ultimately coronavirus will pass through the community and subside as the susceptible pool of people becomes less and less.

    So, in summary:
    Most immunity is conferred through T-cell response without development of anti-bodies. Therefore antibody testing not good enough to determine immunity.
    60-70% of the population is already immune through cross immunity and already having been infected. Therefore lockdowns are useless.
    Testing is useless as it is deployed because of the false positive rate vs the infection rate in random population.
    SAGE is lying to you and that they know they are.
    Vaccine will be only useful in vulnerable group and even then only marginally.

    I am neither advocating nor denying what he says. I’ll have to think it through and reference the work he cites. I hope I have represented what he is arguing reasonably accurately, if not I apologise to Dr.Yeadon

    • Dredd

      Thank you for your analysis, ET: it seems to be a balanced summary of his views.

      There’s an ongoing discussion about some of Yeadon’s ideas elsewhere in this thread:

      https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2020/10/covid-19-and-the-political-utility-of-fear/comment-page-3/#comment-962306

      Here is an excellent outline, with clear diagrams, of the numbers and calculations involved in PCR testing, along with an explanation of why Yeadon drew erroneous conclusions about false positives:

      No, 90% Of Coronavirus Tests Are Not ‘False Positives’ And This Is Why: Experts explain why a theory doing the rounds about the number of people wrongly diagnosed with Covid-19 is simply not true.
      https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/false-positives-coronavirus_uk_5f686da4c5b6de79b677e909

      • ET

        Sorry Dredd but I refuse to consent to verizon meda’s data collection therefore I can’t read that huffington post article. If there is a different link anywhere please post it.

      • ET

        Ok I have now read that and the BMJ article. I guess the weakness in their argument is that the pre test probability is at best an educated guesstimate and is going to differ in different testing scenarios/populations. True random testing will have different false positive rates (possibly highish) versus targeted community testing (lower) versus targeted in hospital testing (much lower).
        I think it’s important that people understand that where you have a higher likelihood of infection false positives become much less of an issue and that applying the overall national prevalence to all testing scenarios doesn’t work.

        • ET

          “True random testing will have different false positive rates”

          Badly expressed by me, obviously the false positive rates will be the same for the same test. What I mean is significance in relation to the true positives.

        • SA

          I think this discussion about false positives is a bit theoretical. The PCR if standardized properly and performed in the right way should have a much higher degree of specificity because it picks up a unique sequence of the virus tested. Contaminants can cause ‘noise’ but with appropriate techniques even the noise can be filtered out. Of course manufacturers of a test will not say it is 100% specific, but I would venture that the specificity is more than 99.9% rather than 99%. Of course there has not been the data to confirm this in a systematic way, but there has been one reported episode where the Chinese had an outbreak in Qingdao of SARS-cov2 and managed to test the whole population in 5 days. And what did they find? If there is 0.1% false positive, you would have expected 10,000 positives. The true figure was 0, yes zero, no cases were found.
          https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1203691.shtml

          • ET

            To be honest SA, I thnk one would have to question zero false positives from 10 million plus tests. There isn’t a test in the world that has that kind of specificity. I am beginning to think to myself that the test and trace system as currently implemented is more akin to a screening program than diagnostics. Maybe we should be applying screening test criteria to it.
            https://www.gp-training.net/ebm-audit-statistics/wilson-jungner-screening-criteria/

            Just a preliminary thought for now.

          • SA

            Not so. If you look at this article in MOA
            https://www.moonofalabama.org/2020/10/professor-chossudovsky-is-wrong-here-is-how-pcr-tests-work/comments/page/1/#comments
            More convincingly look at the explanation by Dave Brackett, comment no 37 which explains why.
            In fact it is an easily testable hypothesis. If you look for a SARS cov2 in a naive population you can test a hundred individuals and expect one positive if FOR is 1% or 1000 of it 0.1% (for simplicity I use one positive case, in fact you probably need more). I am not sure that this has been done.

          • ET

            Don’t get me wrong SA, I am not questioning the validity of the PCR test itself. I know how it works and that it is based on sound methodology. Nonetheless, run ANY test 10 million times you are gonna get false positives (and false negatives). Otherwise you are expecting a specificity of 99.9999999%. I don’t think even quantum physicists would claim accuracy beyond 6 decimal places. I am sure they tested and resteted any positives they did get until they were sure they were not positive. But, hey, I am being pedantic. The overall message you are saying is true.

      • mary-lou

        please consider the possibility that the Huffington Post is not your average, objective source (because it itsn’t).

        • Dredd

          It’s always a good idea to consider the motives of any messenger, mary-lou. However, I didn’t rely on the reputation of The Huffington Post (and didn’t even mention its name). The article is especially good because it explains complicated issues very clearly, with animated graphics, and is therefore more accessible than plain text.

          If you can substantiate the smear on its reputation or motives then that would be useful background, but it wouldn’t actually tackle the actual points being made in the article. If you can follow the issues and can offer a detailed critique, then it would be very welcome.

    • SA

      A fair summary given the complexity. I agree with you he should be taken more seriously than some of the other gung ho hoaxters and he certainly gives scientific reasons for his discussion. He has two models, 7% infected already and 93 susceptible, according to Valance and presents an alternative model of roughly a third immune and a third with cross immunity from other coronaviruses, and a third vulnerable. But he gives a binary choice. It may be that both models are right. For example the spread and effect of the virus in the west and S America is much worse than in Asia and Africa and this may be due to many complex reasons. But one of them would exactly be that the cross immunity is more common in Asia because of higher exposure to other corona viruses.
      I would also like to find out more about his allegations about antibodies. But yes it opens other areas of discussion.

      I also think that a lockdown now will not work, it is too late.

        • SA

          Steph
          The divisive power of this issue is amazing, it is like a civil war. I agree that Ioannides, previously glorified as a diety has now been vilified. But I think he has a point, and it is a point of view, The problem in all this is that everyone was caught unawares, despite the fact that this was predicted to happen and there has not been any planning and there is still no proper plan other than on-the hoof decisions. If you are interested I have now posted on the other thread.
          https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/forums/topic/sars-cov2-and-covid-19/page/9/#post-61809

          • John Pillager

            Oh, but there was planning, with Mr Bill (l want everybody on this Planet vaccinated) Gates, The World Economic Forum and the John Hopkins Institute.
            THIS time last year…
            .
            Event 201
            ” The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted Event 201, a high-level pandemic exercise on October 18, 2019, in New York, NY. The exercise illustrated areas where public/private partnerships will be necessary during the response to a severe pandemic in order to diminish large-scale economic and societal consequences.”
            https://www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/event201/

          • SA

            Piliger
            It would be high folly not to plan for a pandemic, whoever does it. In fact the reason why we were caught out is exactly because there was no, or there was extremely faulty planning, or that the planning was not applied.
            Given that since 2000 we had three scares which could have led to serious pandemics, SARS cov, MERS and Ebola, it is really shameful that nobody took the planning by Bill Gates seriously. Unless of course you do not believe in pandemics at all, in which case, of course you are 100% right, the evil Gates was planning for a pandemic which would otherwise have not happened if he had not planned for it.

        • Clark

          “John Iaonnidis, that poor man you all love to hate…”

          Still doing the appeal to emotion Steph? Try spelling his name right.

          It would be more accurate to say that Ioannidis has been unduly promoted by the right-wing media, for obvious reasons. Some of the studies that he contributed to had some clear methodological errors, and so of course were criticised for that.

      • SA

        Talking about immunology, why is no one measuring IgA antibodies. This after all is a virus that infects airways and also evidence of gut epithelium.

  • Jennifer @unchartedworlds

    “The risk of death to healthy adults in their prime is also very marginal indeed.”

    This is true. But the risk of long-term illness or disability is as yet unknown. Personally, I probably wouldn’t die of it, but I don’t want lung damage or ongoing fatigue either. How do we know which of the currently-healthy people is vulnerable to “long covid”?

    I also haven’t yet seen a good answer to how to “protect the vulnerable” when the vulnerable person is, for example, a diabetic working parent of school-age teens, or a disabled person who lives at home but has carers coming in for half an hour most days to help them take a shower.

    Come to that, it’s not easy to fully isolate even a whole care home full of high-risk people; would all the workers have to live onsite forever? Would they ever get to see their own families?

    To me, that whole thing about separating off the vulnerable people is a classic “sounds good on paper”. In real life, the most vulnerable people nearly always have not-so-vulnerable people close to them. How do you unmix the risk to the diabetic mum from the risk to her kids? Do they stop seeing friends, or do they stop seeing their mum?

    More realistic i.m.o: Testing, tracing, supported quarantines (inc financial support), organised by council workers at a local level, from departments which were already experienced at tracing contagious diseases. We know that basically works, and I’m pretty sure it’d be far less expensive in the long run than all the new disabilities and lost business.

    (And bear in mind, not all of the lost business has anything to do with quasi-lockdown laws; some is simply the cumulative effect of how many people are individually choosing to avoid risky places. That’s not going to go back to “normal” while the virus is going round.)

    my 2p…

    • John Monro

      Thanks Jennifer, totally agree. If you read my postings, I say much the same thing, rather more verbosely! Craig has had a bit of a “bee in his bonnet” about this pandemic all along, indeed the title of the posting gives him away, and it’s affecting his wider judgement on this particular very difficult issue.

    • Steve

      You say “I also haven’t yet seen a good answer to how to protect the vulnerable”

      Maybe that is a good case of ‘there’s none so deaf as those who don’t want to hear’ on the part of our lords and master controlling the narrative.

      There are many doctors, who actually treat patients, who have successfully followed treatments many in authority have effectively banned. The attempt by people who it turns out were connected with Gilead (owners of Remdesivir) to concoct and have published a fraudulent ‘study’ into the value of Hydroxychloroquine was beyond the pale. The published ‘study’ was withdrawn by the prestigious medical journals who were conned into accepting it – the Lancet is now undertaking a review of how they accept papers to try to recover lost prestige.
      The reason Gilead does not want the successful use of Hydroxychloroquine, an extremely safe medication with over 70 years of use, to be broadcast (it was recognised as the only effective treatment of SARS 2001 in 2005 after attempts to create a vaccine failed repeatedly -killing lab test animals on rechallenge with the virus) is that they have Remdesivir to sell. The same reason applies to the vaccine manufacturers who cannot be given emergency authorisation for the use of their vaccines before the completion and examination of the results of Stage 3 trials unless there is no other treatment for Covid-19 available.
      And, before anyone throws ‘the vaccines will save us’ line in my face, go and look at the ‘endpoints’ of the study – there is no mention of preventing death, stopping infection, or preventing serious long term effects or hospitalisation. DrMalcolmKendrick.org explains this on his blog.

  • John Monro

    I am adding to a previous comment in which I challenged your assumptions about the severity of this Covid 19 virus and your suggestions as to how we must deal with it. There’s quite a bit more material I could also challenge. . I have a problem with the headline to your post. “Covid 19 and the political utility of fear”. That’s an incredibly loaded sentence and fits in with the right wing uber-liberal stance of untrammelled individualism vs humane social needs. I wonder if there were any writers to the Times in 1939 bemoaning the loss of freedoms of the British citizen from war-time restrictions?

    First, some history. Pandemics have always been one of humanity’s greatest threats – to our economy, our society, our health and our existence. We know this, and we can and should prepare for them. We’ve had plenty of warning. The original SARS epidemic of 2002, I think it was, had me, as a practicing medical practitioner, really, really frightened. We were lucky to escape a pandemic, possibly the virus wasn’t quite as infectious, but it was getting on for ten times more fatal. So why is it then that so many countries were almost totally unprepared? For instance, the UK had privatised its PPE supplies which were proven to be totally inadequate both in number and quality, the public health infrastructure and policies were not ready, having been gradually eroded over years of neoliberal “keep government out of people’s lives” mantra and reduced spending. Many other countries have had the same problem. But those countries that had direct dealings with SARS had indeed learned a lesson, knew that only the most robust test, trace and isolate and quarantine along with simple public health measures as social distancing and compulsory mask wearing in public, was the only way one might actually get on top of the pandemic, and if not eliminate it, keep it such a low level that each case can be tracked and the infection disrupted. They have indeed fared much better both medically and economically.

    In the UK, as in the US, you then ally this near total failure to prepare to several other factors. The WHO is run presently by a less than able and forceful team, but then their finances have been stretched for years. and they were very slow to declare a pandemic status. China, the origin of the virus, is a secretive autocratic state, who were unable to admit the problem for at least one month, when they could have got foreign expertise in from the start. In the UK the citizenry, bamboozled by Brexit, voted in a PM of extravagant uselessness, who in his worst moments thinks emulating Trump with disdain for the virus by not wearing a mask or keeping his distance, but putting himself and others at risk of serious illness. Of course, a useless PM appoints around him pretty useless ministers to help him.

    So the UK never had a chance, and what you’re seeing now is the inevitable consequence of a failure of planning and resourcing over many years, a political, social and economic philosophy incapable of concerted and rational action on a national and regional scale, and a confused and incompetent government who could not make their mind up as a to a scientifically and socially acceptable plan of action and stick to it, unable to communicate in any understandable way with the citizenry they’re supposed to be serving.

    So it is not the political utility of fear, there is no political utility in incompetence and stupidity, and I’d suggest it’s mildly paranoic to suggest this – bordering on and supporting unfortunate and very unhelpful conspiracy theory territory. Why posit such machiavellian cleverness when it’s far more likely what you are describing is simple human folly? That’s the first test for any postulated conspiracy theory.

    Back to NZ. We had a rational and capable government, not philosophically tied to right wing individualism, who made a scientifically informed decision, backed by urgent, firm but fair action with a time frame in mind and perhaps most important, honest communication every day with the populace and their willing consent – it was, like it was for every other country, a public health and social experiment. It was hard, and we’ve had the odd set-backs, but what has been the result is society almost back to normality, a local economy thriving, export industry (mainly agricultural) thriving and a government and popular young PM re-elected with an overall majority, the first time in our over twenty year history of MMP. That should be the take home message for any government, that there is a place for simple competence, honesty, directness, informed action, and public accountability – and the public will love you for it.

    • Geoffrey

      You are right about the verbosity for certain, though I don’t think anything else.
      I can not see why this has become political. The should so far as is possible be a calculation made whether we are better off with lockdown or not.
      Craig has been objective and clear.
      One point Craig does not mention though is that with the increased debt Western government’s have taken on, the future of liberal democracies looks bleak. This may please some.

      • N_

        I heard someone on BBC Radio 4 opining that the huge debts that governments have incurred to pay for “furlough” and so on were nothing to worry about, because once things were back on the straight and narrow again the loans could be paid back over decades “or even centuries”. Got to wonder whether the person had heard of the effects of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles in Germany, or for that matter those of a large number of IMF-imposed “strategic adjustment” programmes.

        The old epoch is as dead as a dodo.

        • SA

          N_
          The treaty of Versailles on Germany in 1919 was imposed by the victors with power. The IMF is run by the powerful who borrow the fake printed paper money. The Ponzi scheme is as usual making more billionaires even richer. Neoliberalism capitalism has perfected the self feeding bubble by protecting it against bursting. Many individual billionaires are now worth more than probably a third of the world’s poorest countries’ GDPs.

          • Opport Knocks

            Spot on… while the population is busily occupied debating the Covid-19 under-reaction vs over-reaction, numerous 2 legged parasites are looting government treasuries via stimulus funds and other public protection rackets.

            The borrowed government money will never be repaid, so they likely believe it to be a victimless crime.

    • Ian

      Good, rational stuff, John. Agree with you about the tendentious nature of the premise and the unwitting play into alt right thinking. The utter ineptitude, the communication failure and constant lying of the UK government has been a major factor in our chaotic and badly mishandled response, and now our floundering mishmash of measures which will in all likelihood not make enough of a significant difference.

  • N_

    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.

    That would without any doubt give a major boost to religion. (Not a criticism but an observation.)

  • Penguin

    Today we had a study showing that levels of antibodies in the bloodstream dropped following a C19 infection. According to the narrative this means that you can’s have a vaccine as you have no immunity.

    Clearly the critical thing is the body’s ability to produce antibodies to fight a specific disease. Which has already been proven in study after study to be the same as every other virus. Infection, body produces antibodies, some work better than others, those are produces in large quantities, disease beaten, useful antibodies logged in the memory of the T-cells which produce them. All very clever.

    • SA

      Not nescessarily . T cell immunity may still play a part and I am not sure that has been measured.

    • Dafydd

      Sometimes I think it can be unproductive to refer to the minutiae of physiological processes to explain the progress of the epidemic.
      There is varying resilience in the population to what life throws at us. young people have more resilience and old people have much less.
      In the winter of 2017/18 there were over 55,000 excess UK deaths. the great majority of these deaths were people over the age of 75 ( over 42,000 ) They had far less resilience to viruses, bacterial infections, cancer, hypothermia etc than the rest of the population. This happens year in year out.
      I lived through the Hong Kong flue epidemic at the end of the 60s when over 80,000 people died (no lockdown then).

      Those who did not die might have had the appropriate antibodies, T cell immunity etc but for Imperial Collage to say that over 90% of the population is susceptible to covid because antibodies do not last, shouldn’t the question be – susceptible to what? Certainly not susceptible to dying as we know that dying from Covid is almost exclusively reserved for the old.

      Personally I believe that Yeadon gives a plausible explanation (I am not a scientist) only time will tell.

  • David Otness

    Craig, I’m gobsmacked. How can you overlook the likely millions now with multiple organ(s) permanent damage (in all ages?) Let alone the known lung scarification far beyond pneumonia! I know people still ill after 9 months! And likely never to recover the life they once knew!
    This is the first and only time I’ve ever had such a sharp disagreement with you.
    Please respond, sir.

  • Michael Joseph

    There are abundant official resources that demonstrate that the IFR for covid is 0.1-0.2% (RKI, CDC, WHO) and that is a number using official figures which are pumped up by our governments. 0.2% is the same as flu. Therefore none of the measures applied in the last 7 months are justified. None. So why is it happening you may well ask? When I look at the WEF website, I see that the wrecking of our economies fits their concept of a reset. That is the reason for covid. Our politicians are puppets. Maybe the Law can save us; I don‘t know.

    • Clark

      As best I know to date, the IFR in areas with good healthcare is around 1.4%. However, those figures are based on around half of critical cases being saved by treatment, which implies a native IFR of up to 2.8% – this is the limit that would be approached as hospitals became overwhelmed. The IFR aboard cruise ship Diamond Princess is 13 deaths out of 712 cases, which is 1.8%, with 40 cases still active, 4 of them serious or critical.

      “Therefore none of the measures applied in the last 7 months are justified.”

      But this is based only on mortality, with no concern for long term damage. A recent study of 100 people who have been infected found 78 with damage to their hearts, including 12 of the 18 people whose infection was without symptoms at the time.

      “There are abundant official resources that demonstrate that the IFR for covid is 0.1-0.2% (RKI, CDC, WHO)”

      I don’t believe this; links please? It is possible that IFR has been confused with CMR, Crude Mortality Rate. CMR is the proportion that died from infection in an entire population, including those not infected at all. In other words, a low CMR is evidence of how effective social restrictions were in preventing death by preventing spread of infection.

      • Vasco da Gama

        There are several sourced here the latest one (first in the table) is a broad meta-study.

        Results I included 61 studies (74 estimates) and eight preliminary national estimates. Seroprevalence estimates ranged from 0.02% to 53.40%. Infection fatality rates ranged from 0.00% to 1.63%, corrected values from 0.00% to 1.54%. Across 51 locations, the median COVID-19 infection fatality rate was 0.27% (corrected 0.23%): the rate was 0.09% in locations with COVID-19 population mortality rates less than the global average ( 500 COVID-19 deaths/million people. In people < 70 years, infection fatality rates ranged from 0.00% to 0.31% with crude and corrected medians of 0.05%.

        • Clark

          That quote is from a paper by Ioannadis; it’s linked above. It’s not a meta-study; the paper says so itself:

          Data synthesis:

          – The estimates of the infection fatality rate across all locations showed great heterogeneity with I2 exceeding 99.9%; thus, a meta-analysis would be inappropriate to report across all locations. Quantitative synthesis with meta-analysis across all locations would also be misleading since locations with high COVID-19 seroprevalence would tend to carry more weight than locations with low seroprevalence.

          Ioannidis’ low figures are also not the position of the WHO. This is merely one of many papers they host on the subject.

          The link is to swprs.org; “Swiss Propaganda Research”. They are not a scientific body; in fact they are entirely unidentifiable and began their covid-19 coverage by misattributing their own compilation of mined quotes to “a Swiss doctor”. Before covid-19 they reported mainly on geopolitics. Since covid-19 they have been relentlessly cherry-picking the lowest figures available, so I expect there also to be a reference to a CDC page in March in which a 0.1% IFR was assumed, with no explanatory methodology provided, in a planning document for hospital administrators.

          • Vasco da Gama

            Fair enough… though I never claimed nor was even implicit from my words that Swiss Policy Research was a scientific body, despite the fact that they do source their material from scientific bodies which is what you were supposedly after. If you already knew about those sources why did you ask? You’ll be fine if you consider those cherry-picked along with the cherry-dismissed. The epithet applied is disingenuous Clark.

  • N_

    How in the world is it possible NOT to be a “Covid sceptic” while at the same time realising that the rulers are deliberately keeping open what are known to be the most efficient institutions for spreading viruses, namely schools?

    Meanwhile, for those who always want a Scottish angle to everything, let’s observe that Nicola Sturgeon’s government is sending SARS-CoV2 infected elderly people back from hospitals to care homes in order to kill the remaining residents – an act that it is impossible for a sane and decent person not to call a crime against humanity. (This has also been done elsewhere in Britain of course,.and very probably is still being done.)

    A big difference between 2020 and say France and Spain in the 1930s is that in the 1930s there actually WERE “popular fronts against fascism”, which usually the ultra-left were correct to criticise. There is no point in criticising them when they don’t exist. Indeed this was also true in the 1930s. In Germany no such front existed, but there should have been one! It is simply impossible in 2020 for the radical critic in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain or any other country I can think of to DENY that a popular anti-fascist front is precisely what we need. It is horribly and terribly sad that such a front is highly unlikely to appear, and especially unlikely in Britain. Britain is the central country for today’s fascism which is deeply Malthusian and scientific in its rabid statist exterminationism. Fascism is only 7 months old this time round, and it is only just getting its jackboots on.

    The truth is that most of the uneducated in Britain WANT the government to impose harsh measures. Many of these same c***s voted for Brexit and don’t much care whether their children can do joined-up writing or write in sentences. I’m sorry to offend some people, but the f*rts of what used to be called the working class don’t always smell like roses. We can debate whether part of the reason for their pro-fascist attitude is that they are enjoying “working from home” or “being on furlough” receiving a large proportion of their former salaries basically for doing nothing, clueless as to what Act Two is going to bring. But what are they using the time for? In most cases it’s for “spending more time with their smartphones”. There is a long history of the peasantry supporting the “old regime”, for example in France, and I would say that much of the “working class” today in Britain (the first country to industrialise) is more akin to that kind of peasantry than it is to the mostly industrial working class which used to have what was called a “labour movement”.

    The long and the short of it is that we are f***ed. There will be big new shocks, and for most people having some toilet paper to wipe their bums on will be among the least of their worries – even if they are Daily Mail readers who saw some black people last month and can’t stop thinking about it. Wait, what’s that in the Sun, just below the Union Jack? Could it be a story about dead migrants? Are celebration parties free from lockdown rules?

    Where in Europe are people resisting? There must be some places. I’ve heard that in the impoverished estates (“banlieues”) around Paris, the first lockdown was soon ignored and the state was unable to reimpose it. This time it won’t surprise me if Emmanuel Macron’s government sends in armoured vehicles – perhaps he’ll deploy the Foreign Legion as some kind of “crusading” force? – in an effort to impose the second lockdown by force of arms, by siege in some places, and then by washing the streets with blood in a sequel to the suppression of the Paris Commune.

    Those who haven’t twigged yet why “schools” and “food” are being woven together in the British national spectacle need to think HARD until the penny drops.

    • Colin Smith

      Utterly depressing that the Scottish Parliament did not have a single serious dissenter, just various questioners wanting to tweak the tier level or government cash handout to suit their particular questioner.

      Nobody pointing out that we cannot have a situation of vast numbers sat at home inactive, or barely productive, no certainty or even an obvious desire to get back to normality which will cripple investment decisions necessary for recovery. Nobody caring to properly evaluate lockdowns, which even the WHO no longer recommend, and which have never been used successfully in the past. Nobody caring about the loss of human rights, and the exercising of powers in a way only previously seen by the harshest dictators. Nobody caring that government is now the largest advertiser across all media organisations, and who are abusing this influence to replace independent editorship with propaganda.

      Even Westminster manages to listen to the occasional rebel and dissenter. Holyrood has descended into a eunuchs convention.

    • Clark

      “How in the world is it possible NOT to be a “Covid sceptic” while at the same time realising that the rulers are deliberately keeping open […] schools?”

      By realising that the rulers are not the scientific community, and have mostly ignored scientific advice whenever it went against their economic ideology. Westminster is keeping the schools open so that parents can attend work, because the government’s overriding priority is to protect profit-making.

      • Dom

        Spot on, Clark, and not just the Tories but people like Blair and Starmer too. Utter contempt for human life.

        • Clark

          Thanks, Dom, but:

          “Utter contempt for human life.”

          I disagree there. These people are ideologues. They honestly believe that the making of profit is the only way to support human life. They have become submerged by thirty years of corporate neoliberal propaganda; “There Is No Alternative”. They do not consider hundreds of years of feudalism, the lives of hunter-gatherers, the 1930s New Deal, or the complete restructuring of the UK economy in WWII. They lack all these other perspectives, but they have studied PPE.

          The only tool they have is a hammer, so every problem looks like a nail.

    • N_

      The French government seems to be preparing for war: civil war. “Islamophobia” and “enforcement of the lockdown” are twining together.

      One of the war aims will be to crush ALL of those who refuse to integrate. Even if they are unlikely to go as far as the Bavarian government and put Christian crosses on all official buildings, you could also describe the French government’s aim as being to crush “those who refuse to believe”. But essentially they don’t care what’s in your head for the time being, as long as you’re no threat to them and you do what you’re told. It all comes down to the same thing – forced obedience. Theodore Roosevelt was right when he said “When you’ve got them by the b***s, their hearts and minds will follow”.

      The effects of Macron’s disgraceful support for the publication of cartoons against the “prophet” Mohammed will have been carefully considered. (Netanyahu will probably have received reports from psywar commanders before giving the OK.) As for the “intelligentsia”, well don’t make me laugh. This isn’t about “free speech”. I don’t care a fig for Islamic or any other religious hierarchies, and I think it’s totally ridiculous to lionise figures from many centuries ago, whether that’s Jesus or Mohammed. Those who commit acts of violence or murder because somebody has insulted their gang colours deserve contempt. But none of that is the point. Nor is anything about the secularism of the state, or “liberal democracy”, etc., or all those idiotic “theoretical” concepts that appear in the sophomoric drivel that gets spewed out by elite grande ecole-educated French “civilisation” heads. Macron and the creeps who follow him don’t mean a word that they say. They mean something else. They want to refight the Algerian war and get a different result.

      Where does the struggle go now? Where are the tension areas? The list includes:

      1. Communication networks in poor areas.
      2. The level of morale and loyalty in the army.

      (Which may actually be quite similar to in the Battle of Algiers, but I will have to think more about that.)

      • N_

        It is kinda crucial to realise that the army is soon going to be heavily engaged on the “home front”. Everything points to this.

  • David Steele

    The IFR is nowhere near as high as 0.66%. the literature supports a range of 0.1% – 0.5% and this is independently corroborated by CEBM. Of course both of these ranges are susceptible to overestimation on the grounds that not all infections have been discovered by testing and will be lower. Perhaps much lower. It is also not the case that 70% of population would become infected. the Herd Immunity Threshold (HIT) due to B cell and T cell immunity, as well as antibody immunity, is thought to be around 20%. All of these things, when considered together, make a mockery of the assertion that governments acted within reason at any time.

    Comprehensive list of literature giving range of 0.1% – 0.5%:
    https://swprs.org/studies-on-covid-19-lethality/

    Link to CEBM estimated range:
    https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/global-covid-19-case-fatality-rates/

    Low HIT:
    https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.07.23.20160762v2

    • ET

      There are four endemic coronaviruses that affect humans and cause the “common cold” that we know of. It has been well established that people do NOT develop immunity from these after infection and go on to be infected multiple times by the same virus over a life time sometimes with as little as 6 months between. Some have been followed up for 36 years. It is not a given that there will be immunity or cross immunity. What reacts in a lab test doesn’t necessarily mean it will confer immunity. At present, we simply don’t know.

  • ardj

    You put forward lucid arguments and try to rely on facts, which I applaud. I hope you will forgive me raising some queries.

    1. Suppose you are right (and you may be) that death rates are low, meaning for instance somewhere around the figure you use of 0.66%. You suggest that lockdowns are an inefficient even counterproductive way to deal with this.
    (As a footnote, the link you give for the Lancet study actually goes to a – very good -Full Fact discussion, which arrives at a figure of 0.9%)

    The problems I have with this are three-fold:

    a) the hospital system in the UK is shortly to be overwhelmed by Covid cases, and little short of lockdown can prevent this. This is the same problem as I see in France, where the Macron government (almost if not quite as bad as Bubo Johnson’s in planning for and coping with developments in the epidemic) has been obliged to go full lockdown as hospitals collapse under the strain. A “firebreak” of some kind makes a lot of sense, even if it comes belatedly.

    b) The alternative approaches of partial lockdowns, whatever they may be called, do not seem to work well, particularly given the levels of mistrust in both countries, not to mention the lunatics who either “don’t believe it” or just wish to go their own way regardless of the safety of others or themselves – mask usage is very widely so incompetent here in France that it beggars belief – sometimes I think they are taking Borat’s instructions for mask use seriously.

    At the same time, the poorer people, especially BME groups, show both higher mortality and symbiotically less opportunity for safe practice, as more constrained to work outside the home with others under pressure or at least constraints amounting to bullying, compounded by less money to manage isolation &c. I was struck that you only mentioned the old as high risk.

    c) The mortality rate is only one of the risks: the long-term sufferers, which may be for periods of weeks or may be for life if lungs, hearts, &c., are damaged, are a low but persistent and so far not adequately measured risk from Covid-19. Personally I would rather die (and I am 76 with serious lung problems) than try to live with some of the reported symptoms. And these do not seem to be particularly true of older people (no, they just die) but people with otherwise many years of useful and enjoyable life cut off. You do mention “life changing illness” but pay it scant regard. Preventing this would seem a useful ambition. And I do not see how it to be avoided by sheltering the old and infirm.

    And finally on this point, shielding the most risky is not always possible (sometimes because they don’t want to be locked up, like me – and I live in a remote tiny village). But does that mean that they should be exposed to a very high level of risk, when it can be reduced, for them and for the rest of society ?

    2. You ignore the possible approaches to alleviating the effects on the economy, by for instance giving money – that is to say, much more money, if on a somewhat more planned and systematically organized basis, to support both workers and companies.

    3. To stop here, I note that at around para10 you write: “Which must beg the question, can you not protect those groups without closing all those places?”
    I suggest you mean “raises the question”, rather than “begs”, as it does not beg any question.

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