SARS cov2 and Covid 19

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    From the full PDF:

    “We are concerned by the finding of a sub-lineage of over 350 sequences bearing seven spike mutations across the RBD […] in England. The finding of a long branch to this cluster of cases suggests viral evolution may have occurred during a chronic infection.”

    Chronic means lasting a long time. The significance of the long branch is its lack of ancestry; none of the intermediate steps have been found in the wild, so this long branch developed, change by change, in an environment isolated from the wild, such as a single person.

    Of course another instance of an environment isolated from the wild is a biolab, but papers that suggest lab escapes are, I’m told, unlikely to get past peer review; “too political”. Not that lab escapes are particularly uncommon or anything; remember that the first SARS got out four times; twice from the same lab…


    I tried to follow the link that was posted to Dr.Jim Meehan’s Evidence Based Scientific Analysis of Why Masks are Ineffective, Unnecessary, and Harmful but that page on his website has been removed. I was able to follow some links quoting from it.

    “Unlike the public wearing masks in the community, surgeons work in sterile surgical suites equipped with heavy duty air exchange systems that maintain positive pressures, exchange and filter the room air at a very high level, and increase the oxygen content of the room air. These conditions limit the negative effects of masks on the surgeon and operating room staff. And yet despite these extreme climate control conditions, clinical studies demonstrate the negative effects (lowering arterial oxygen and carbon dioxide re-breathing) of surgical masks on surgeon physiology and performance.”

    There is no additional oxygen added to room air in theatres in UK. They are positive pressure environments and the air is filtered of dust etc with high cycling rates. They are hardly “extreme.” I’d really like to see the clinical studies where they found lowered arterial oxygen and carbon dioxide re-breathing from using surgical masks. If this were a thing I am sure that the thousands of theatre nurses, dentists, surgeons etc would be concerned about it. I have never heard of this and have never experienced deleterious effects apart from the trivial annoyance.

    “Surgeons and operating room personnel are well trained, experienced, and meticulous about maintaining sterility. We only wear fresh sterile masks. We don the mask in a sterile fashion.”

    Fresh sterile masks? What a laugh. In UK hospital theatres (and Australia) masks are in boxes in operating theatres and changing rooms. They are not sterile, just socially clean from the box. I’d be intrigued to know how Dr.Meehan sterilises his face because as soon as he puts a mask on his face sterile or not it is no longer sterile. Because you cannot sterilise your face/head short of sticking you head in a bucket of betadine for 10 minutes. Impractical.

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    “Lowered arterial oxygen” – that means lowered oxygen in the bloodstream, doesn’t it? Surely, that’s very unlikely from a mask; bodily homoeostasis would simply increase the breathing rate to compensate, or the urge to tear the mask off would become unbearable. That, or we’d have people fainting in winter from wearing scarves.

    “If you take a barrel of sewage and add a spoonful of wine, you get sewage.
    If you take a barrel of wine and add a spoonful of sewage, you get sewage.”

    There’s a lot of it about.


    There have been mink running wild in Essex since at least 1962:

    I saw one at Ingatestone station a couple of decades ago.


    Host-mediated lung inflammation is present and drives mortality in critical illness caused by Covid-19. Host genetic variants associated with critical illness may identify mechanistic targets for therapeutic development.

    Here we report the results of the GenOMICC (Genetics Of Mortality In Critical Care) genome-wide association study(GWAS) in 2244 critically ill Covid-19 patients from 208 UK intensive care units (ICUs). We identify and replicate novel genome-wide significant associations, on chr12q24.13 (rs10735079, p=1.65 × 10-8) in a gene cluster encoding antiviral restriction enzyme activators (OAS1, OAS2, OAS3), on chr19p13.2 (rs2109069, p=2.3 × 10-12) near the gene encoding tyrosine kinase 2 (TYK2), on chr19p13.3 (rs2109069, p=3.98 × 10-12) within the gene encoding dipeptidyl peptidase 9 (DPP9), and on chr21q22.1 (rs2236757, p=4.99 ×× 10-8) in the interferon receptor gene IFNAR2. We identify potential targets for repurposing of licensed medications: using Mendelian randomisation we found evidence in support of a causal link from low expression of IFNAR2, and high expression of TYK2, to life-threatening disease; transcriptome-wide association in lung tissue revealed that high expression of the monocyte/macrophage chemotactic receptor CCR2 is associated with severe Covid-19. Our results identify robust genetic signals relating to key host antiviral defence mechanisms, and mediators of inflammatory organ damage in Covid-19. Both mechanisms may be amenable to targeted treatment with existing drugs. Large-scale randomised clinical trials will be essential before any change to clinical practice.

    This is an important new paper from an international collaboration showing the importance of genetic factors in the pathogenesis of severe Covid-19. 5 genes were identified that could protect or increase susceptibility to severe disease. This may help guide specific targeted therapy that may enhance or suppress the function of these genes and thereby improve the management of these patients. I guess it could also mean that it could predict whether someone has a higher chance of developing severe disease.


    Reference here, and here.


    Consider this directed to you :

    Sage expert rebukes Matt Hancock by saying ‘people should leave the virology to scientists’
    George Martin
    George Martin
    Tue, 15 December 2020, 0:54 pm GMT
    Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock hosts a remote press conference to update the nation on the covid-19 pandemic, inside 10 Downing Street in central London on December 14, 2020. – London is to move into the highest level of anti-virus restrictions, the health minister announced Monday. The British capital from Wednesday will go into "tier three" restrictions, which force the closure of theatres and ban people from eating out at restaurants or drinking in pubs, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock told parliament. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / POOL / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
    Matt Hancock announced changes to the tier system on Monday. (Getty)

    A health expert has made an apparent dig at Matt Hancock after the minister caused widespread alarm over the discovery of a coronavirus mutation.

    Hancock announced a raft of further coronavirus restrictions on Monday and said the new strain of the virus may be behind soaring infection rates across parts of England.

    But Calum Semple, professor of outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool, said on Tuesday that more information was needed on the COVID variant and urged people to “leave the virology to the scientists”.


    “Ignorance killed the cat; curiosity was framed.”

    “A little knowledge may be a dangerous thing, but ignorance is fatal.”

    What’s up, SA? I could stop commenting on the science of SARS-CoV-2, but doing so wouldn’t stop Duck, nothinuptop or Paul Barbara etc. The corporate media’s treatment of scientific matter is appalling; by treating science as almost entirely a matter of authority, “my expert versus your expert”, “journalistic balance”, it has confused and disempowered the public, alienating us from science, discouraged us from assessment of evidence, until a large minority has ended up thinking it’s all incomprehensible, and could be a vast conspiracy. I hope and try to reverse that a little bit.

    If you disagree with any of my interpretations of papers cited here, post your disagreement, we can discuss it and readers can decide for themselves. I readily admit to taking the side of caution with this very new and apparently very unusual virus.

    I live in south east England where the new variant is spreading; near Chelmsford actually, where infection numbers are going through the roof. I imposed lockdown behaviour to my own life as soon as I found out yesterday, before Hancock or Whitty had said anything – I consider that to be my social responsibility. I have been warning my friends. In this, as in the climate and ecological crisis, the government has broken and continues to break the social contract. The government lacks legitimacy to govern, for it serves money over and above the people, and so we the public owe it no allegiance.

    I do not intend to “leave the virology to the scientists”, no more than I’ll let Duck post conspiracy theory unopposed. I have already stated my position that we all do science every day, when we shake the sugar tin, or when we flip a light switch to find out whether it’s a power cut that’s preventing the computer from starting. Equally I oppose insulating the public from the dangers we face. Authority can never be trusted, and never should be trusted; therefore it must be scrutinised, and that requires learning enough to do so.

    So what’s up, eh?

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    SA, It’d take me months to learn enough technical terms to understand the first two thirds of your quote at 16:38; I have tried to make my technical quotes comprehensible to everyone. Two things come across; there is some hope of new treatments from this genetic study, and SARS-CoV-2 has been found to affect yet further parts of the immune system.


    They found that both low and high gene expression of certain genes was associated with severe disease. Basically by using drugs to either supress or promote the proteins these genes code for or perhaps stimulating or supressing the gene expression itself might help in treatment. I shouldn’t hold my breath though, they would still have to identify any suitable drugs and trial them.

    Glossary :D: Gene expression is the process by which information from a gene is used in the synthesis of a functional gene product.


    My post above was said tongue in cheek. I have no desire whatsoever to discourage you or anyone else from commenting, it is great that people take the interest to find out for themselves and understand what is being said.
    My second apology is that I have not said much about the paper from Edinburgh, that was laziness on my part, will try harder next time, and thanks to E.T. who has explained it very well.


    ET and SA, thanks.

    No, I don’t wish to discourage anyone from commenting either, and I regret that Steph has stopped discussing, apparently not just with me, but with everyone. However, I do wish to prevent the disinformation from proliferating; it is, after all, a matter of life and death.


    ” However, I do wish to prevent the disinformation from proliferating; it is, after all, a matter of life and death.”

    It is important to analyse this because this is the cause of the misunderstanding. Each person perceives the world and analyses information in a different way. There is usually a consensus and a spectrum of facts and truths from those that are axiomatic to those that maybe have a 50% chance of being right or wrong. One man’s (or woman’s) disinformation is another man’s truth in this spectrum. If your thoughts belong to the 99.9% consensus then you are more likely to feel vindicated that your beliefs are closer to the ‘truth’. This of course is more likely to occur in things like politics or other social ‘sciences’, but is less likely to apply to real sciences which are more verifiable but also more obscure to the layman, but also with instances of being falsified.

    This is unfortunately how doubt is sown and how conspiracy theories can thrive to give the impression that the consensus is flawed and that the spectrum of ideas is equally valid. They base their theory on things like the fact the the earth was flat was the accepted truth and those that argued for a round earth were a minority, or that until 1880 when Laveran discovered Plasmodia as a cause of malaria, that prevailing thoughts were that it was caused by foul air arising from swamps. But the current situation is very different because facts can be verified much quicker now.
    The major problem with Covid-19 is that it has both popularized and politicized science and there is a muddle between science and its application and interpretation through the different prisms. This is what gives rise to this wide spectrum of Covid deniers and trivializer’s trying to equate the faulty application of scientific findings with political actions and tarring them with the same brush.

    Perceptions can also be deceptive because they are personal interpretations and for the person who is suffering from delusions, are real, even if they appear to be easy to dismiss for others. I am not saying that Covid deniers are deluded but they possess a sense of fixed perception that easily converts all happenings as a proof to confirm their beliefs and perception. That is why it is difficult to indulge in fruitful conversation sometimes with doubters. But importantly, direct challenges, including emotionally loaded ones to their beliefs is unlikely to produce any positive effects and must be resisted in my opinion.


    I have read through this thread again over the last 2 or 3 days. I am gonna make some observations for what it’s worth.

    I think it’s best to avoid assigning motivation to people who post except in very clear circumstances. If you say or promote opinion x then you want horrible thing to happen doesn’t encourage discussion but rather counter insinuation and thus derails the train of posts. You cannot really know people’s motivations so best to stick to facts in your argument.

    Also assuming insult where it wasn’t really intended. You say you care about x therefore you are insinuating I don’t care about x. This isn’t helpful either. Better to explain that you can care about both aspects.

    Restricting free movement and association is a political quagmire. It has and will have effects on folk. It is important to keep a weather eye on it even if you feel the restrictions are valid under the circumstance.

    Steph related a story about her elderly neighbour with dementia who sadly died during lockdown. The lockdown had a huge effect on that person’s last days and an ongoing effect on those family surviving him. I am not so sure that was the best thing for that particular man and perhaps more thought would have allowed visits to that household. I am reminded of my respect for people who refuse aggressive cancer treatments because of how they can impact what life remains. In this case the covid threat may have been the lesser evil to restricting family visits.

    On conspiracy theory. It’s a term often used by MSM and politicians to deride people and obscure truth. If I discuss media bias or deliberate obfuscation such as say chemical weapons in Syria or big tech data collection I often get called conspiracy theorist by my own fecking family. It is a loaded terminology. Best to be careful and judicious with it.


    “On conspiracy theory. It’s a term often used by MSM and politicians to deride people and obscure truth.”

    Yes, this is true; many terms are abused this way, eg. “hacker” to mean criminal, “Anti-Semitism” to discredit those who criticise Israel. Abuse of such terms is a major aspect of propaganda. But there is such a thing as conspiracy theory, and it has a recognisable structure. I haven’t come up with a definition, but I can describe it, and common behaviours of its adherents: see my comment November 13, 2020 at 02:38 and the one that follows it, and the comment that shows where Yeadon invoked conspiracy theory to popularise his pseudo-scientific assertions because he knew they’d be rigorously refuted in any scientific forum – start from the link and follow my argument down the page.

    ET and SA, you both treated Yeadon’s arguments as if they were science. They are conspiracy theory disguised as science, intended to trash science and raise suspicion of both the scientific process and the scientific community. You really do the public a disservice by treating them seriously at all.

    People have little difficulty recognising political or religious arguments, but they don’t recognise conspiracy theory, and they need to.

    Anyway, my heart isn’t in this; I feel too negative. Humanity probably has no future, because human ingenuity at ignoring and denying facts will ensure that we will damage the biosphere so much that civilisation will collapse. So why should I even bother?


    Look, Steph was cheating; she probably didn’t mean to, but bad examples to follow vastly outnumber good ones. Her objection was to social restrictions, but she therefore tried to discredit the statistics, the facts. And herein lies humanity’s problem; wishful thinking, eg. we don’t want to change our lifestyles, so most of us pretend that global warming isn’t happening. As a species, we are insane:

    Jonathan Cook – I Am Greta isn’t about climate change. It’s about the elusiveness of sanity in an insane world


    “ ET and SA, you both treated Yeadon’s arguments as if they were science”

    I don’t think I did. I looked at what he said because he is a trained scientist and unlike the main COVID deniers he uses scientific methods to construct an alternative narrative. It is not quite the pseudo science used but rather a distorted selective interpretation of science which outwardly can be more deceptive and more dangerous. Another I think also dangerous are the signatories of the Great Barrington declaration.


    [ Mod: From the moderation rules for commenters:

    Contributions which are primarily just a link to somewhere else will be deleted. You can post links, but give us the benefit of your thoughts upon them.

    Regards. ]


    So this is a caution from the WHO that you can have an increased false positive rate as the number of positive cases, or the incidence, of infection is low. This is not surprising and is nothing new. The WHO caution is just pointing out a very well known fact and asking laboratories to be aware of this problem and to make sure that they do not get false positives. Many labs carrying out this tests have a high degree of stringency and would already be doing the procedure according to the caution. So Steph, if you have a point to make, then please make it directly.
    Whilst I have your attention, I think that trying to prove that there may be problems with diagnosis at this level and also trying in other ways to reduce confidence that the problem is a real one by this constant attitude of micro criticism is what is upsetting. The general point for discussion is, do you believe that SARS COV2 is a serious threat or not? The minutiae then of saying that the figures are inaccurate because of this or that is a very separate matter. So let me ask you again: do you think the virus is a real threat or not? This is irrespective of whether you think that the response to the virus, and the measures taken are appropriate or not.


    And Steph
    I welcome your comment on this news item
    “Northern Ireland hospital forced to treat patients in parked ambulances as Covid-19 cases surge”
    Apparently many ambulances were seen in the hospital grounds and patients were treated in the ambulances because the hospital was full. Do you think these patients probably had false positive tests for SARS cov2?


    The general point for discussion is, do you believe that SARS COV2 is a serious threat or not?’

    I am a little reluctant to get involved in this discussion again, so in all fairness should not have posted that link I suppose. I left the link because I thought it was perhaps significant that the WHO have felt it necessary to post such a caution at this time. Even more so if, as you say, it was entirely unnecessary for them to do so as everyone is already following the correct procedures. It is nothing, although I can well understand how you will be suspicious of my motives.

    To answer your question (and I am glad of an opportunity to do so and hope I can post before feathers start to fly again) – I am confident it is a significant cause of deaths at the moment. I am confident it is more contagious than other known coronaviruses. I am confident it has not been ‘planned’ by malevolent forces. I am confident that simple precautions can reduce the spread, as with all bacteria and viruses. That about sums up the things I am 100% sure of I think. I cannot say whether it is a ‘serious threat’ because a) ‘serious’ is a somewhat subjective assessment and b) what constitutes a ‘serious threat’ to us as a species is different to what constitutes a threat to us as individuals. I have not personally encountered any serious consequences of the virus and don’t know anyone who knows anyone else who has (that does not mean I think nobody has). On the other hand I have personally encountered people ‘seriously’ affected, individually, by the restrictions. My concern now, and has been since shortly after the outbreak occured, whether the response is causing more cases of individual suffering than the virus does. Without scrupulous attention to detail it is not possible to assess anything really.


    Sorry that was very abrupt. Ambulances queing outside hospitals is a shocking thing. What must it feel like to be stranded there in a condition which requires and ambulance in the first place, no matter what that condition may be? But it is not a situation unique to the covid-19 outbreak and should not be viewed as a manifestation of its ‘seriousness’. It is a manifestation of a different problem altogether. We should address that problem.


    ET and SA, you both treated Yeadon’s arguments as if they were science

    As there was a lot of discussion about Mike Yeadon on a different thread I took the time to summarise the argument he presented in that particular interview in this post.

    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 controversial for the sake of being so
    That is what I said at the time. I think he has subsequently been shown by events to have been mistaken. There is an ongoing second wave. Here is a link to a good summary of the arguments against his:

    Subsequently Clark, he and 21 others with similar academic backgrounds have submitted a paper to Europe’s journal on infectious disease surveillance, epidemiology, prevention and control. I have no idea how credible this journal is. The paper is titled “External peer review of the RTPCR test to detect SARS-CoV-2 reveals 10 major scientific flaws at the molecular and methodological level: consequences for false positive results

    I also believe he and others have petitioned the EMA ( European Medicine Agency responsible for approving drugs across the EU) for the immediate suspension of all SARS CoV 2 vaccine studies, in particular the BioNtech/Pfizer study on BNT162b (EudraCT number 2020-002641-42).

    @Mods It would be nice to have the ability to preview posts to see if I have messed up


    In fact, ambulances queuing outside hospitals is just one of the thousands of problems which could have been addressed with the money spent on the response to the virus. Whether it ever would have been is of course another question altogether.


    ET – I read that precise article on unherd a few hours ago. Thought it a very fair appraisal. It all moves along at a pace.


    I am glad you are engaging again. I am also glad you posted the links from 2018 and 2019. The NHS ‘winter pressure’ bed shortages have been a chronic feature of the NHS ever since Thatcher started to reduce the number of beds available in the NHS. The number of beds in the NHS have halved since 1986 despite increase in number of patients treated. If you have worked in the NHS or know someone who has then you will know that this is the case. Respiratory diseases are the commonest cause of admissions and those admitted are elderly and have co-morbidities. One of the worst culprits is ‘flu and that is why there is a drive to vaccinate the elderly yearly as the virus does mutate and we need a new vaccine each year. In some years the vaccine does not protect fully or the strain of virus is more lethal and many more patients are admitted and also many more die. NHS hospitals generally have contingency plans to deal with this over the winter months for several weeks. I hope you will acknowledge that this scenario occurred earlier on this year in the UK, when the number of hospital admissions were so increased and number of deaths also increased to an alarming level, and this rise occurred in April and May, usually months when the NHS is recovering from the winter pressures. What was apparent was that SARS Cov2 was much more contagious and lethal than the flu’ virus and came also after the usual deaths from the winter flu and other infections. Because SARS Cov2 is not as seasonal as the ‘flu, if unchecked we would have had a year round crisis in the NHS and continuous higher level of deaths of elderly and vulnerable individuals. This means there is reduced capacity to treat other conditions as the urgent cases with covid-19 will be admitted and there will be no beds to treat other conditions.
    I am sorry if what I wrote is basic but that seems to be the problem when people feel that this virus is not serious, that the implications of this swamping of the NHS is really not taken into consideration. You may not know of individuals who have died or suffered with the virus but know of many who have suffered the effects of the lockdown and the simple explanation is that so far under 1 or 2 percent of the population have had a severe form of the disease whereas a hundred percent of the population has suffered the effects of the lockdown.
    We can argue as to whether the lockdown is appropriate or has been carried out appropriately but that is another discussion.


    All you write is known to me SA! But when you say ‘We can argue as to whether the lockdown is appropriate or has been carried out appropriately but that is another discussion’ I have to say that this is the only discussion I have ever been trying to have! My posts have been entirely related to its appropriateness or otherwise, and using what data we have accurately and usefully is integral to that. But I fully understand now that that discussion is not what your thread about.


    Another one for you Steph. This is from Australia. Interestingly it also shows by a simple fact that can be understood by everyone why the problem is not a problem. If there was a significant false positive rate for the test of say 1% you would expect that to be unaffected by the number of supposedly infected people. So when the pandemic was controlled in Victoria and other parts of Australia, the positive rate became zero, not the expected constant 1% of number of tests performed. Here is the scientific reasoning behind this explained by a molecular biologist.

    The “false-positive PCR” problem is not a problem


    ‘Because SARS cov2 is not as seasonal as the ‘flu’. Do we have evidence of that yet? It obviously doesn’t follow the same seasonal pattern as flu, but does that mean it has no seasonal pattern at all, or that it is ‘less seasonal’ (not quite sure what you mean by that) ? Have we established it has no predictability in such a short period of time? Think plants SA!! Perennial, Biennial, Monocarpic?


    “The number of beds in the NHS have halved since 1986 despite increase in number of patients treated”

    There has been significant underfunding of the NHS for many years and I am not defending that but the bed issue is a bit more nuanced.
    Many procedures for which people were admitted are now done as day cases and the resource has been invested in day procedure units. Instead of 3 days in hospital people spend a few hours instead.
    Post operative days in hospital have reduced significantly after it was increasingly recognised that getting people up and about and home after surgery is overwhelmingly better for their health in most cases. Much more use of minimally invasive surgery (laparoscopic techniques) added to this trend with less post operative morbidity and people fit to go home earlier. Hospitals can be dangerous places for your health. The above has significantly reduced patient in hospital days and consequently the number of beds needed.
    The problem is that there is a 100% bed occupancy policy in use of those in patient beds that are there. Any surge tips that balance. Spill over wards are use to mitigate this somewhat but a decision needs to be made to open them by a hospital manager and staff them with consequent costs. A good argument can be made that savings made in not opening underused beds can be redirected to other aspects of care. Problem is this becaomes unstuck when there is a big surge in patients, like every winter and especially so if the winter surge is higher than usual. It can also happen that one hospital gets overwhelmed on a particular day. This has implications on the safety of care for those patients already admitted. Hence you sometimes get hospitals “closing” and redirecting cases to other local or maybe not so local hospitals. It is a difficult management issue.


    SA, I’m sure you don’t mean to but you’re guilty of sensationalist fearmongering. There is no substance to that news story. Its a masterpiece of innuendo and misdirection, describing a common scenario in our overstretched NHS and suggesting that it is due to covid without offering any evidence.

    “Hospital capacity across the region reached 104 percent on Tuesday, according to local authorities.”

    Happens every winter in our overstretched NHS, wards are full, patients are parked in beds in corridors.

    “A line of more than a dozen ambulances – still with engines on to keep the patients aboard warm – was filmed outside Antrim Area Hospital.”

    Been happening for years all over Britain. See this 2 year-old Guardian story headlined “16,900 people in a week kept in NHS ambulances waiting for hospital care”

    “Northern Ireland is witnessing a spike in Covid-19 cases after it exited lockdown last week.”

    “Cases” means positive tests, not covid patients. The vast majority of tests happen outside of hospitals and do not affect hospital resources. The more tests carried out, the more positives are found. The story offers no connection between “spike in Covid-19 cases” and “exited lockdown” but allows us to assume it.

    “Varying degrees of ill patients” have been provided care by doctors “in the back of ambulances,” due to there being no room inside the hospital, she said.”

    And these patients are ill from what cause? We are not told but invited to assume covid-19. Nowhere in the story does it tell us the actual number of covid patients in the hospital, despite the implication that the building is full to overflowing with them.

    “the heads of Northern Irish healthcare trusts warned that the coronavirus was putting the healthcare system under “unbearable pressures.””

    I can state with certainty that in my neck of the woods, that pressure is due to coronavirus policy rather than medical concerns. Two wards in my local hospital are reserved exclusively for covid patients. I know for a fact that they have been barely used.

    SA, you put this story forward as evidence for your case. It’s typical of a hundred stories we hear every day which are superficially frightening but contain no substance. Unfortunately the majority of people take these stories at face value and believe they justify ever increasing restrictions on our liberties. That’s what’s truly frightening.


    Unsure why you are assailling me with evidence about the reliability of PCR tests, and I am the first to admit ignorance. The point is, why do the WHO think it necessary to issue a caution at this time? There is quite possibly a reason why they might do so, that has nothing to do with the validity of tests. But what might it be?


    I am sorry you think I misunderstood you but the arguments about PCR positivity and whether they mean anything and also whether long queues of ambulance are significant are at the crux of determining whether what you were directing attention to, when you referred to the WHO warning about PCR and also whether the deaths and sickness figures from the virus are high or are manipulated is what bogged down the discussion and made this a circular argument.

    I agree with you that the lockdown measures taken by our government are not appropriate but not because they are too severe, but that they were not severe and decisive enough at the beginning. They are now detrimental to the economy and to people’s mental well being, but because we were not prepared for the epidemic, we took the wrong decisions, the decisions were late and were inadequate. Dealing with epidemics is something that should be a reflex well rehearsed and well prepared for measure, it should not be subject to political discussions or under the direction of politicians, it is a public health matter. The ideal reaction for a nation prepared for such an eventuality is to identify and isolate cases as soon as possible, to limit movements into and out of the country to prevent spread of infection. Identification of potentially infectious subjects should be done as early and as thoroughly as possible and those identified either on clinical suspicion or by testing when this is available, irrespective of how sick they are, and isolated. Isolation in this case means complete isolation in a facility where all their needs are met so that they do not pass on the infection to others. It certainly does not mean going home in a small flat and inevitably infecting other members of your family. And you know these concepts are not bizarre or outlandish, they were effectively carried out in China and South Korea and other places. This will reduce the transmission at an early phase of the infection, and as in the case of SARS of 2003 and of MERS in 2012 has successfully led to extinction of the virus with no man-to-man transmission. Governments in the West dithered, and in particular UK and USA who had a clear 2 months notice of what will happen and took no action until it was too late. I don’t know whether these governments thought that because we are cleverer than other countries, we were not subject to the same susceptibility. In summary the government was not prepared, there was no PPE for ages, there was a shortage of testing, which was only directed at sick patients. Others were directed to go home and infect their families. Care home residents were decimated and hospital capacity was nearly swamped. The half hearted measures of the first lockdown ‘flattened the curve’ but that merely allowed the NHS a breathing space. It was not sufficient to actually control the virus. Flights to and from Heathrow and other international airports were not limited, and it is estimated that over 20 million travellers came to this country during ‘lockdown’. Even travel from Italy and Spain was not limited when it was known that these countries had high rates of infection.

    I know that you will say you know all this, but the point is that discussions about the mortality rates and the infection rates and questioning them seem to ignore all this background scenario as irrelevant. In stead of focusing on the inadequate response and the real cause of economic and social hardship, prolonged by this inept government, we shift the focus to try and blame scientists for failing to detect that the tests that they produce and work with everyday, are worthless and that we really do not have a crisis at all, just a perception of one.


    December 17, 2020 at 15:47#63455

    I think I addressed these issues in my answer to Steph. Similar problems arose in April and May when NHS capacity was getting swamped before the lockdown, except this was not in the middle of the peak winter pressures but in the beginning of spring. If saying that having winter pressure type admissions all year round and mounting mortalities is fearmongering then I think we are not on the same wavelength.


    Yes I am of course aware that bed occupancy and numbers were affected by the increased use of keyhole surgery and other procedures, but as you point out this has gone beyond this and has increased the occupancy rate and reduced ability to absorb unusual pressures even though some of these are predicted, such as the winter pressures. But number of beds is not the whole story. I am sorry I haven’t got figures but the recruitment of permanent nursing staff of special expertise mix has also drastically suffered. Not only is there a large vacancy pool in most hospitals due to shortage of nurses, but the flexibility required to facilitate profitability of the NHS prior to privatization also extended to the expansion of agency nursing pools which are now a feature of the NHS which increase the cost and also has its own problems of team discontinuity, skill mix and availability.


    With regards to whether SARS cov2 is seasonal or not, please read this.
    Also remember that the first wave happened in U.K. in April and May and that transmission never stopped during summer, just went on at a slower pace. Also the first wave happened also in the antipodes and other in tropical countries countries with different seasons. This may change if immunity within the population increases.


    “why do the WHO think it necessary to issue a caution at this time?”

    I don’t think it is any more than make sure you continue to update your procedures according to the manufacturers instructions for use which presumably get updated and refined with time and use.


    ‘In stead of focusing on the inadequate response and the real cause of economic and social hardship, prolonged by this inept government, we shift the focus to try and blame scientists for failing to detect that the tests that they produce and work with everyday, are worthless and that we really do not have a crisis at all, just a perception of one’.

    This is confusing, and perhaps I misunderstand you again. I think that focusing on the real causes of economic and social hardship is precisely what I have been trying to do. I don’t see covid-19 in itself as being especially high in the list of those causes. It is in there, at the moment, for sure. But it is eclipsing and distorting absolutely everything else and the response exacerbates everything to the enth degree. Which is why (inappropriately on this thread as I have willingly conceded) I have questioned stats etc.

    I accept fully that a swift and ‘effective’ lockdown at the outset would have been infinitely preferable to what has actually ensued, but its water under the bridge now. I am very interested in the train of events at the earliest stages, before it suddenly became a worldwide thing. We all know the story of the doctor who was ‘silenced’ But if true what could he possibly have had to say at that point other than ‘Look, something is happening here. People are infecting each other and a few are dying.’ Hardly new. Then it was found to be a new coronavirus, more infectious but still not significantly more alarming than previous coronaviruses and seemingly rather less likely to kill. So what happened next? How was it that in a matter of weeks the whole world was in a panic? (for it can only be described as that – as you say, governments around the world did not behave in a rational and organised way, they panicked. We panicked. Everybody panicked). Perhaps someone will make a film about how unfolding events all went so horribly wrong one day.


    ET – Fair enough. Let it pass!

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