Reply To: “Leak” to Torygraph: PM has agreed compulsory vaccination for care home staff

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Josh R, thanks for making matters clearer and a whole lot calmer. The fields you’ve mentioned are very diverse, which is appropriate because the pandemic has affected every aspect of everyone’s lives, globally. So to keep discussion manageable we’ll have to be disciplined in our approach. I suggest something like Wikipedia rules, which work well for subjects that have overwhelmingly large quantities of verifiable information available to the public eg. science, though they fail dismally when the only public information consists of brief and unverifiable assertions from often anonymous political and secret service sources, relentlessly amplified, exaggerated and recirculated by corporate “news” media.

What I’m suggesting is that we attempt to categorise the overall problem into subjects, working towards consensus within each, estimating the limits of what we can know as we go along, and cross-referencing between subjects to progressively narrow those limits. Also we should trace back through the “news” and social media echo-chambers to check against original sources. We’re not going to get it all done today!

Some words of introduction:

“Thankfully, when the world closed its borders, I ended up stranded in a country where we can smile at one another freely, where we can potter about freely, where there are apparently no frightening numbers of corona virus fatalities, where we can socialise and do not keep one another at an anti social distance. So outside of this individual thread, my life is quite calm. But we did lock down twice last year, for a month each time, so I got a taste of that horror.”

I envy you. Most of the world did not close its borders, and that’s what turned an emergency in China into a global crisis. Here in the UK our first lockdown was implemented too late and consequently was prolonged for months. Eventually restrictions were relaxed somewhat, and we had two or three months before the pattern was repeated – “those unwilling to learn from history are condemned to repeat it” – infection prevalence again began to rise, the government again dithered permitting infections to soar, hospitals again overloaded as hundreds of thousands became seriously ill, and tens of thousands died, several of them connected to people I know.

“I tend to imagine that the main difference between our positions is that you are convinced you are right and I just hope I am wrong. In this, I envy you.”

I am unusually fortunate in having a very close friend who has been an avid global catastrophe data-junkie for decades. Among his other interests he had been following virus-tracking web forums etc. long before this pandemic started. He is practised at finding good information and verifying it from diverse sources. He alerted me late January 2020; I didn’t pay enough attention until the 28th, the day that Wuhan locked down. From there he tracked its progress province-to-province and then Asian country-to-country, and I saw it do the same thing over and over again, so I was less surprised than most when it started doing the same in Europe. The UK government’s complacency and inaction were also depressingly predictable.

Covid spreads fast, and that’s a key characteristic in understanding its impact upon populations. It catches authorities unawares and under-prepared, and they let it get out of hand.

“I gave up a long time ago trying to work out how dangerous COVID is or isn’t, it’s an exercise well above my paygrade. As such, I wouldn’t state definitively how dangerous it is, one way or another.”

Infection fatality rate

The linked section of the COVID-19 Wikipedia page (above) seems very consistent with what me and my data-junkie friend have found for ourselves. I have linked to a specific revision rather than the main article so that my link in the context of this thread remains unchanged even though the Wiki page will get updated. I’ll explain and link the evidence I base my trust upon if you wish.

But the Infection Fatality Rate IFR really only conveys the personal, individual risk. The risk to and effects upon society as a whole are more to do with how fast covid-19 spreads. If we take a lower value from that link, say 0.5% as a convenient number, that equates to about 335,000 people in the UK. That’s around half the total usual number of deaths per year in the UK. Unrestricted, covid could kill that many over the course of a month or two, ie. for a month or two the death rate would be several times its usual rate. But almost certainly it would be worse than that. From the introduction of the Wiki page:

“Of those people who develop noticeable symptoms, most (81%) develop mild to moderate symptoms (up to mild pneumonia), while 14% develop severe symptoms (dyspnea, hypoxia, or more than 50% lung involvement on imaging), and 5% suffer critical symptoms (respiratory failure, shock, or multiorgan dysfunction).”

The 0.5% figure for IFR is obtained mostly from populations for whom hospital treatment was available, but there is no way you can get 5% to 14% of any population into its hospital system, all in the same month or two. Without that treatment, at least twice as many would die, and quite probably the entire 5% suffering critical symptoms.

There are also the societal and economic consequences of so many falling ill at the same time and, with healthcare overloaded, people tending their loved ones instead of going to work. Infrastructure would probably start breaking down, leading to further disasters. We really can’t withstand widespread breakdown of systems such as electricity, gas, sewage, water supply, communications etc., each of which can adversely affect all the others.

Of course all the above assumes that the population would attempt to carry on precisely the same as usual, even as increasing numbers fell ill and started dying among them. They wouldn’t. They’d start avoiding infection; they’d effectively impose their own versions of lockdown conditions, slowing the spread and thereby mitigating my worst-case figures above. But having government and media is supposed to be an advantage, though I know the opposite proves true depressingly often, especially when they start bombing far away people. Governments are meant to serve populations by gathering data and understanding, making preparations, and informing the population. Locking down ahead of the arrival of the virus, while we change the way we do things to greatly impede its spread, would be a massive advantage to the people. If the UK government and media had done that, I might have experienced only two months of lockdown same as you.

This comment has so far taken me a couple of hours to compose, so I’ll just touch on one other thing you mentioned and then I have things I must get done. I was concerned about what you wrote regarding Event 201:

“It named the very virus that was to later consume our world for 12 months”

That seemed too much to be coincidence, so I sought out the original source. The Wayback Machine at the Web Archive is a wonderful resource, and it started archiving the Event 201 website about three months before the pandemic started. At the top of the page, and encoded into the web address, you can see that the “snapshot” below was captured on 26 Dec 2019:

Wayback Machine capture of Event 201 publicity page

They were close:

Archived scenario page (Jan 2020)

They got the bat origin and relationship to SARS right, but they had the original human outbreak at a pig farm in South America, overestimated the time until vaccine development, and didn’t predict the name of the virus. But the scenario presented to business and government people was prepared by a section of the scientific community, and they’d been warning us about potential pandemics for decades – which is precisely why my data-junkie friend had been following the virus tracking forums. What immense tragedy that our governments are far less vigilant.