SARS cov2 and Covid 19

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  • #54733 Reply

    Ferguson has already been scapegoated. It started at Off-Guardian and UK Column, and now it’s in the Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Sun. Ferguson’s presence on the SAGE Committee is about all that averted utter carnage. The corporate sector took to hating him for shutting down much of the economy and set a team of “reporters” after him, just waiting for him to put a foot wrong. Those “reporters” must have all been breaking the stay-at-home order too, but no mention of that…

    The ICL model seems pretty good to me. It has served its purpose by dissuading the government from their murderous “herd immunity” plan. ICL’s “total infected so far” figure seems to match post-peak antibody studies within a factor of two, which is damn good modelling for a brand new disease. So if the UK has ~40,000 dead and ~6% infected so far, and infection would reach say 75% before causing the epidemic to self-limit, we could expect:

    40,000 x (100/6) x (75/100) = 500,000 – Spot on the ICL figure!

    ICL did very well indeed. They weren’t asleep when covid-19 cut through Wuhan. They collected their data and tweaked their model, and had their output ready to present when it arrived.

    #54734 Reply

    It’s lose/lose for the ICL team though. The 500,000 dead scenario assumed no social restrictions. The media now can bray “but the real deaths were less than a tenth of that”, but that’s with social restrictions, and after decades of dumbing-down and stupid “scientists say” stories, most of the public are gullible enough to regard the restrictions as unnecessary and “Ferguson” as needlessly alarmist.

    My take on what happened is a bit different from yours, SA. I think the government were preparing to let covid-19 rip through the population, and orders were issued and preparations made hastily on that basis. Thus we got emergency mortuary plans, the Nightingale hospitals, and a crisis/overload policy of discharging back to care homes. But Ferguson put the ICL output on SAGE’s table, and the majority view was that such carnage couldn’t be permitted to happen. The SAGE committee were witnesses that the government had seen the numbers, denying the government the option of claiming ignorance post-disaster.

    Widespread testing wasn’t possible at first because manufacturers were still gearing up to supply test kits. What should have happened was early, forceful restrictions, accompanied by a very clear message; “this disease spreads very fast, so we have to slow the spread with these restrictions until we’re ready with test kits, quarantine facilities and PPE”.

    We have two curves; a rising curve of test-kit supply, and the curve of infections. Restrictions should have been applied forcefully – you brake hard immediately in a potential collision scenario – and then eased as test kit supply overwhelmed infection numbers.

    #54735 Reply

    How many tests per day are required to contain a given outbreak? This looks like a modelling problem to me. Obviously more tests are required than there are infections, but what’s the ratio? It probably depends on lots of things. 100 infections in one village are easier to contain that 100 infections dotted about all over the UK. 100 infected travelling salesmen would be a lot worse than 100 people working from home.

    #54741 Reply

    Of course, the corporate media and covert PR fronts have been attacking mathematical modelling for decades as a means to discredit climate science. The public were primed to distrust models. But remember that the planet Neptune was discovered through primitive mathematical modelling.

    Modelling doesn’t affect underlying facts; greenhouse gases trap heat, and infections spread. But we want to know more than that; how will the world change with additional heat? How fast will a given infection spread? You can attempt a static calculation but you can only extrapolate so far without gross changes to your initial assumptions; a warmer world has different cloud cover, a more widespread outbreak has access to different population centres. This is where models become useful, running the same calculation over and over again, each run’s output being the next run’s input. This also makes models susceptible to accelerating divergence from reality, but it’s a modeller’s job to understand and allow for this, just as it’s a doctor’s job to understand symptoms from more than one cause, and interactions between drugs.

    #54742 Reply

    I am not trying in any way to discredit mathematical modelling. I am just saying that it is one component. Tried and tested public health measures and trust in an international cooperative body is what should have been stressed and acted upon initially and the mathematical modelling follows to refine the response. But what has happened is that mathematical modelling became the lead here and that is wrong in my opinion, and the proof is that none of the basic public health actions to contain epidemics were applied properly. The politicians ignored public health not just advice but systematically over many the years through austerity, deliberate ignoring of advice since 2016 and privatisation and outsourcing with non-joined-up services. The modellers should have pointed this out also. In any case the scientists and the modellers should have made it very clear that their advice was not being followed or were politically interpreted and misapplied. But there has not been any open dissent, no resignations, and no complaints that Cummings and others have been sitting on SAGE meetings.
    The situation of mathematical modelling and climate change is completely different from that of epidemics as many of the elements in climate change are well known and studied. But very little was known about SARS-cov2 when the modelling was started, and still much remains to be known. And on top of all of this it is the political interpretation of this mathematical modelling that the government uses to say that ‘we are guided by the science’.

    #54750 Reply

    SA, I haven’t followed corporate media coverage sufficiently to actually know the propaganda situation, but if I had this government’s motives, I would issue press releases and hold press conferences pushing the modelling to the fore, knowing it would be a prime target for the corporate media. It would draw the media’s criticism away from the government, and it would provide the government with a convenient and essentially defenceless scapegoat after or during the disaster.

    The government of course want it both ways. They want it to look as though the “lockdown” is not their fault, but they want the death toll to look like it’s not their fault either. This is a fundamental weakness of democracy; to get re-elected, a government has a strong incentive to divert blame elsewhere. I suspect that Labour would have gone for strong and early lockdown, accepting that they’d then be ridiculed by the corporate media. There would have been a much lower death toll, but the Conservative’s high death toll would never have occurred for comparison, so the corporate media would then have blamed Labour for the ensuing recession all the way to the next election…

    “Tried and tested public health measures and trust in an international cooperative body is what should have been stressed and acted upon”

    Absolutely! When faced with an emergency, use the tried and tested, reliable, age-old tools. Gain time to develop and deploy more advanced measures, certainly, but procrastinating is inexcusable.

    In practice, the modelling is of very limited relevance. All we needed in order to estimate the eventual death toll was the infection fatality rate. Additionally, knowing that covid-19 was novel implied that the entire population was extremely vulnerable, and covid-19 would spread very rapidly. But all of this was obvious anyway, from Wuhan, Beijing, the Diamond Princess, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea.

    The UK government had more than ample warning from other countries’ experience; it didn’t need the model, not in the slightest. Jeez, if I could see what was coming there’s no way the government could have been taken by surprise, not with all its additional staff and resources. It takes several days for the ICL model to produce output; probably the government just used that delay as an excuse for doing nothing for a little longer. It’s probably all about the Cheltenham Festival in fact, the Tories’ annual Spring piss-up and adultery opportunity.

    #54794 Reply

    The origin of SARS-CoV-2 debate.

    Extensively referenced article in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 27 May 2020, by Milton Leitenberg, a senior research associate at the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland (CISSM):

    Did the SARS-CoV-2 virus arise from a bat coronavirus research program in a Chinese laboratory? Very possibly.

    I reach the same three conclusions as I have done consistently.

    1) Secrecy kills. All surveillance systems point in entirely the wrong direction. They snoop on the public, and deliver that data into the control of organisations. Those organisations are variously private/corporate or governmental. But organisation itself is the greatest amplifier of human ability, for good or for ill. Organisations must be permitted no secrecy, no concealment. If their work produces good, disclosure will distribute that good. If their work results in danger or damage, the people of the world have a right to know that, and understand everything about it. Competition is killing us and our world.

    2) Biological laboratory security is hopelessly inadequate. These facilities must be in remote places, with live-in accommodation and on-site quarantine.

    3) The US political mud-slinging over CoVID-19 is utterly hypocritical because this strongly appears to be yet another outsourcing issue:

    “Details of the most recent National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) grant for WIV bat coronavirus surveillance and WIV bat coronavirus gain of function research are publicly available” – NIAID is part of the US NIH. Article citation number 28:

    Project Number: 2R01AI110964-06


    It seems to me that both the US and Chinese governments are seeding conspiracy theories to divert attention from their own contributions to what was a collaborative project.

    Here’s another article on the same topic, with some simple explanation:

    Lab-Made? SARS-CoV-2 Genealogy Through the Lens of Gain-of-Function Research

    #54838 Reply

    It all still remains circumstantial and all of what this author is saying is pointing out possibilities in an opinion piece, looking at existing evidence.
    But let me add something else to fuel this fire. The Chinese discovered and sequences this virus in record time. They knew very well and feared its potential so much so that they took extreme measures to suppress it and managed to do so.
    Some other countries were slow with much more disastrous consequences. Does this mean that the Chinese new more about the virus from the very beginning than they let on?

    #54842 Reply

    Hmm, there are indications both ways. Yes the genome was sequenced fast, suggesting that maybe they had a head start from existing knowledge of the virus and the way SARS-CoV-2 had been derived, but even China’s extreme measures were late, and if the joint US-Chinese NIAID project was the source, you’d have expected word to have got back to the US, yet the US’s responses have been among the worst. Mind you, maybe word did get back, but the Trump administration…

    #54857 Reply

    There you are. We have just got a step towards getting to the realisation that part of the problem is that there are unknown unknowns and also unknowable Unknowns.

    #54895 Reply

    Yuri Deigin:

    “But possibly, the biggest problem with the 4% difference argument is that it relies on RaTG13 being exactly what WIV says it is. If we are to seriously consider the lab leak hypothesis, we must concede that it does not make sense to blindly trust the data released by the very lab suspected of the leak. If the leak did occur, as is the premise of the lab hypothesis, then the description of what RaTG13 is could be furthering the goal of covering up the leak.

    – Again, I am not claiming with certainty that is what is happening here. All I am saying is that this is what could have happened, and we need a lot more evidence before we can reach a definitive conclusion. One thing that could help rule out tampering with RaTG13 is having independent labs sequence the 2013 Yunnan samples that She Zhengli extracted RaTG13 from. WIV must still have them if they re-sequenced RaTG13 in 2020.”

    #55218 Reply

    Coronavirus breakthrough: dexamethasone is first drug shown to save lives
    In a large trial the drug was found to reduce the mortality in severe cases of covid-19 on ventilators or those needing oxygen therapy by 20-30%.
    Dexamethasone is a steroid which is widely used and cheap and with few side effects. There is a good experience of using this drug in ITU and in some cancers. It supresses the hyperreactive immune response that is seen in patients with severe disease. The drug has no effect in milder cases.

    #55310 Reply

    Some observations on today’s snapshot figures




     O rate


     Pop. Density










































































































    What is apparent is that the rate of diagnosed infections vary between .005 %(China) and 1.2% (Chile).
    The CFR vary from 1.4% (Russia) to 15.4% (France) with UK high at 14%. But so far as these figures show, density of population does not appear to be a major cause of increased infection.

    #55377 Reply

    SA, some questions: what is your source for the figures, and what is the formula for the O rate?

    Perceiving trends in this pandemic has so many problems of variability of accuracy of data; some counties have tested a much higher proportion of the population than others, and most countries’ rate of testing has presumably increased; testing is targetted in various ways, very little of it is random and thus a representative sample of the population; attribution of cause of death probably varies a lot; we don’t have any metrics for either imposition of social restrictions or actual public behaviour in social distancing.

    Maybe proxy data would serve us better. For instance, when considering diverse countries, the overall excess death rate is probably more reliable than the covid-19 death rate.

    Population density is an interesting one because the overall population density of a country tells us hardly anything about, for instance, how often people inhale each other’s breath. England has a population density of 430 per square kilometre, but obviously the potential for cross-infection varies hugely between 430 people out looking for mushrooms compared with 430 people attending a meeting in the village hall.

    What would serve as a good proxy for social proximity distribution? And what about social mixing, ie. unusual meetings between people as opposed to repeated ones? I suppose transport use might help – a distribution curve of number of journeys and their distance.

    It’s frustrating. The things to be considered are so mundane, yet quantifying them is so elusive. I can certainly see the temptation to modelling – just write a program, let the machine crunch the numbers, and ponder upon the output at leisure. But I expect that hammering out good parameters and directly measurable proxies for them would provide a better route to being able to think about the problem directly.

    #55383 Reply

    Apologies for not explaining more the source of my data.
    The data about no of cases reported per country and of deaths related to Covid-19 come from COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU). The source for population and density come from World Population Review
    The other figures are calculated by me. The Overall rate is the number of reported cases divided by the population of that country. The CFR is the number of deaths divided by number of cases. I guess the number of deaths divided by the population may also be useful.
    Of course this is all governed by the robustness of the data in the first place as you point out and I agree that the excess death rates may be more indicative, but these are not easy to extract from the different countries. Of course the numbers of cases and deaths are also a function of where in the epidemic countries are. For example China is fairly advanced in this respect because they were the first and went through suppression and possible resurgence, whereas Russia and Brazil and other Latin American countries are very much on the steep rise arm.. Another piece of data worth looking at is the daily changes shown in my first link as a bar chart.
    There are different patterns. Take a look at US. The chart shows that what has actually happened is very partial suppression and continuation at a high level.

    Whereas the pattern for Italy shows a good suppression. UK is in between.
    These charts are worth looking at because I think they reflect effectiveness of measures taken by each country. The initial firmness of the lockdown shown by countries like Spain, Italy, France, Austria and other European countries are seen in their charts, whereas the chart for Iran shows how relaxation of measures leads to a rebound.

    #55384 Reply

    Sorry Clark, it looks that the links I tried to post to individual countries does not work it just goes back to the dashboard but you can look at figures by clicking on each country and then click at daily change in the bar chart at the bottom of the page on the right side.

    #55436 Reply

    SA, absolutely no apologies necessary; I asked you to clarify and you did; job done, unlike responses from so many commenters I could name.

    Yes, the bar charts for daily figures show the effectiveness or otherwise of the suppression responses. I frequently refer to the charts at Worldometers, and the following page has all countries classified as red, amber or green by the effectiveness of suppression:

    Something I’m fed up with from the denialists and minimisers are oversimplified legalistic interpretations, the most common of which is “Sweden has no lockdown, but…”. It’s public behaviour that affects the spread; emergency laws have only indirect effects.

    Excellent new page at EndCoronavirus about green zones:

    #55438 Reply

    Thank you. That is a good website and just provides the information I was looking for.

    #55682 Reply

    So. The “Vaccine Contaminants and Safety” thread comes to a shuddering halt. With fireworks…

    #55909 Reply

    Have you seen Dr Edd’s last contribution from 26/06. I think it said it all.

    #55954 Reply

    SA, yes, I saw it.

    I find the situation very sad. Conspiracy theory not only displaces political awareness; those who accept it become so suspicious that they won’t even discuss it, to compare it with other ways of thinking. Anyone challenging any claim of any conspiracy theory that has been accepted becomes themselves suspected of being part of the conspiracy. It is a self-reinforcing belief system.

    It is hugely damaging. Not only does it provide a ready supply of supporters for crooks like Geier and his son, and David Noakes; it also polarises debate, thereby obstructing progress in exposing genuine scientific corruption.

    But always remember that conspiracy theory is a symptom not the cause. Secrecy and opacity in all their forms are the underlying problem. Their form is less extreme in science than in foreign policy, but more widespread.

    #56409 Reply

    So at last everyone seems to acknowledge that SARS-cov2 is a respiratory virus and that the predominant method of transmission is through aerosols and droplets. The predominant thrust of the prevention should have been social distancing, true quarantine in proper facilities of all diagnosed and suspected cases, wearing of face masks and avoidance of indoor crowding. Early diagnoses and contact tracing should then have been instigated but this can only be meaningful if proper wuarantine is implemented. Instead we went for a distraction of concentrating on hand washing and other rituals as a political distraction, being only a minor measure to reduce the infection rate. So much time was spent on sourcing expensive ventilators but little on prevention.
    These are well tried and tested public health measures that are bread and butter of prevention of epidemics. Instead reliance was placed on high profile reliance on ‘data’ and ‘science’. Empty words used by ignorant politicians relying on unproven ‘modelling’ which of course is based on so many assumptions. No wonder the country and the planet are in such a state.

    #56411 Reply

    This was all known by the Chinese and Koreans and other Asian countries in January 2020. Why did it take so long for this to be realised by the rest of the world?

    #56412 Reply

    ‘But always remember that conspiracy theory is a symptom not the cause.’
    It is a reaction not a symptom. But now it is easy for governments to give out half truths and let the conspiracy theories make the rest of the case for them.
    An example here is how incompetent our government has been in dealing with Covid-19 and some spent so much time instead concocting theories that it was just the flu, not only condoning actions by extreme right wing governments, but ignoring or even condoning their actions. We now have the major consequences of clamping down on dissent and secrecy in contract award produced by this emergency, and the anti- Vaxxers and Covid denialists have no comments to make.

    #56429 Reply

    Hello SA, good to see you back. I’ll reply as soon as I have time.

    #56471 Reply

    “This was all known by the Chinese and Koreans and other Asian countries in January 2020. Why did it take so long for this to be realised by the rest of the world?”

    Somebody else’s problem:

    Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Somebody Else’s Problem field theory – YouTube (3m 32s)

    Something I find highly ironic about the modelling is that you reach almost the same predicted number of fatalities just by multiplying the IFR by the population.
    – – – – – – – – – –

    “But now it is easy for governments to give out half truths and let the conspiracy theories make the rest of the case for them”

    I know. So disappointing, isn’t it?

    “…and the anti- Vaxxers and Covid denialists have no comments to make”

    To be fair a couple of the most vocal managed to get themselves banned just in time.

    #56655 Reply

    Australia is leading the way together with US and UK in ‘weaponising’ the SARS-Cov2 pandemic and also now the developement of vaccines.
    “MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia on Sunday added to growing pressure on China over its handling of the novel coronavirus, questioning its transparency and demanding an international investigation into the origins of the virus and how it spread.”
    This was the first shot started by the Australian government and robustly refuted by China.
    But the most recent spat is the recent story that Russia is trying to sabotage or steal research on the vaccine. Apparaently Canadian and UK intelligence have uncovered a plot by Russia. But meanwhile, scientists involved in the actual vaccine research are more wary of the US buying anything for their sole use, and probably then selling it for extortionate prices.

    #56656 Reply

    And Lisa Nandy has jumped on the Russian demonisation bandwagon and at the same time criticizing Corbyn. The woman is shameless.

    #56660 Reply

    Politics is broken, SA; join Extinction Rebellion! (If you haven’t already, of course.) You don’t have to get arrested; there are dozens of useful roles. At any action, the public come up and ask questions or argue or just get into conversations; anyone who can talk accurately about science will be busy all day.

    The governments have broken and continue to break the social contract by not protecting the people; covid-19, climate change, ecological destruction, gross inequality or rampant poverty, it’s all the same thing. Governments’ power over the people has no legitimacy, which is why we peacefully break their laws, those of us who choose to getting arrested.

    UK Rebellion 2020

    Come and join us. Love and Rage.

    #56696 Reply

    Thanks for your answer and invitation. I admire those who give up a lot of their time and comfort in order to endure hardsguke you do. Sadly I can’t join for many reasons but I am with you in thoughts and spirit.

    #56699 Reply
    Lucinda Chalfant

    Craig –
    I follow you on Consortium News and am very impressed with your investigative writing. A public comment posted today to an article by Caitlin Johnstone on 7/19/20 really stirred my interest. The commenter (Antisandman) said that Julian Assange was not targeted for exposing war crimes but for threatening the international private banking cartel. He gave a time-line with very convincing support for his theory. I wonder if you have any particular insight on this. If true, it would be great to see it exposed. Perhaps in an article on CN.
    Thank you

    #56738 Reply

    Could you give the link to Caitlin Johnstone’s article, please. The only article of hers on 7/19/20 that I could find on Medium was about overpopulation.

    On another matter, I did, however, come across this article by Caitlin on the Uighurs in China and the consequent western propaganda –

    and the Twitter thread that relates to her article –

    #56740 Reply

    Sorry, I realise now that you meant Caitlin Johnstone’s article on Consortium News; I didn’t know she also wrote on that site. I still can’t find the article there – her last article is given as July 17th, 2020.

    #57023 Reply

    This* is a good update of some of the findings relating to Covid 19 written in an easy to understand style.
    The salient points are:

    1. The virus causes symptomatic disease in only a fifth of those infected and serious illness in only a quarter of those.
    2. The virus can affect other organs either by direct invasion of cells or indirectly by damage to blood vessels or inappropriate activation of the immune system or clotting system of the Blood.
    3. Long term immunity to virus still unknown.
    4. Some people may have long term sequelae.
    5. The multiplicity of organs affected is due to the ability of the virus to invade and multiply in cells using the ACE2 as a docking point, this receptor, involved in blood pressure regulation, is found in many cells and not just airways, the gut and heart muscle and most other organs.

    * “We Thought It Was Just a Respiratory Virus: We were wrong”UCSF Magazine (University of California San Francisco, Summer 2020)

    #57035 Reply

    Excellent, informative article. Thanks SA.

    #57514 Reply

    The Moon of Alabama has a current thread about the Russian vaccine and MSM propagandistic distortions. Of course this was all preceded by the misinformation that the Kremlin had been trying to steal secrets of vaccines from U.K. and others.

    #57652 Reply

    For the RT-PCR test:
    * true positives (“sensitivity”) are around 70%.
    * true negatives (“specificity”) are around 95%.
    This info is from BMJ propaganda to low-level quacks (“Practice Pointer”), but still. So prevalence is being over-estimated.
    The government recently decided to say it had actually tested 1.3 million fewer people than it “thought” it had. That’s 2% of the population.

    #57653 Reply

    Although the 1.3m may have been for a different test. I dunno. I don’t believe a word of what the authorities or big business say about “statistics”. I take a Soviet view.

    #57654 Reply

    ICL’s “total infected so far” figure seems to match post-peak antibody studies within a factor of two, which is damn good modelling for a brand new disease.

    Only a small number of tests (say a few thousand) are needed to estimate incidence (“total infected so far” per population), assuming the test works reasonably well. With the new SARS strain this happened through the biowar defence network and was done covertly. All sorts of tests are done covertly all the time. One can hardly talk about serious biowar defence unless this happens, routinely, even when there is no particular reason to think a particular pathogen is abroad. Otherwise an opponent with good BW offence will wipe the floor with you. Back tests can be run on samples collected earlier too, probably going back several years. I am sure they have had reasonably reliable and constantly updated current figures for “total infected so far” with SARS-CoV2 since March at the latest.

    Officially the authorities probably don’t admit that a single covert SARS-CoV2 test of material taken even from a single individual was ever conducted, let alone tests for other kinds of nasty. “Ethics” and stuff.

    The SAGE committee were witnesses that the government had seen the numbers, denying the government the option of claiming ignorance post-disaster.

    What mechanism would hold the authorities to account? Few who comment on this blog believe the media would. Nor a parliamentary committee either. An inquiry chaired by his ennobled lordship or her ennobled ladyship who spent their career as a “red” judge or a senior mandarin?

    Anyway, wait a while…a cull is coming and not just in what remains of the “care homes” this time.

    “We tried loosening up a bit and giving the dirty proles the benefit of the doubt, treating them like adults, but they all went to Spain and came back with the lergy, and the blacks don’t listen anyway and reasoning with them won’t stop them partying in the streets”. These are the kind of extremely ugly attitudes that are prevalent among low-level managers of different types…

    #57657 Reply


    I meant
    * true negatives (“sensitivity”) are around 70%.
    * true positives (“specificity”) are around 95%.

    Just for background…

    Let’s assume the above figures and that 6% of people are infected.
    A person is chosen from the population at random.
    They test positive.
    Before the test, the probability they were infected was 6%.
    After they test positive, what is the probability they are infected?

    Any NHS medics reading this might like to have a go at answering (without checking any “practice notes” or calling your insurer to check whether you’re covered for ballsing it up) …

    …and the answer is…

    the probability is 16.8%.


    prior odds = 0.06 / 0.94 = 0.0638298
    Bayes factor = likelihood ratio = true positive / false negative = 0.95 / 0.3 = 3.1666667
    posterior odds = prior odds * LR = 0.2021277
    convert odds to probability:
    posterior probability = (prior odds) / (1 + prior odds) = 0.2021277 / 1.2021277
    = 0.1681416

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