This page is a summary of the past week, tweets and other pieces of information that I think are interesting and perhaps useful to refer to in the future.
For the latest chart see the Dashboard
A great round-up of covid news can be found at lockdownsceptics.org
See also other "scrapbook" pages
1 How bad is Covid?
Covid is bad, it has ended the lives (as the flu does every year) tens of thousands of people in 2020 and is not yet finished. We should not however get things out of proportion. Twitter user @barlow2021 provides context:
The most recent data from the ONS (combined with data from coronavirus.data.gov.uk):
Here is another view, putting the data in longer context. Compare the so called "second wave" with previous seasonal outbreaks. 2020 winter is not very different from previous winters.
The above picture is taken from an article that explains how covid may entering an endemic phase:
"We may find that the mix of the predominant winter respiratory viruses has changed to have a different character and whether this is permanent remains to be seen. However, the overall impact on healthcare and on the number of lives lost is not, and will not be, that different."
"Why then are we reacting in the way we are?"
Many are interested in Sweden who managed the outbreak with relatively few mandatory interventions. Overall mortality in 2020 was very similar to 2018. Pay attention to the red bar at the right hand edge of the chart
Swedish chart by @jhnhellstrom
The above chart does not reflect the very significant populations increases over the years, if taken into account, the relative outcome of 2020 would improve further (@jhnhellstrom has an updated chart here)
All over the world, people seem to be overreacting to the covid phenomena. Canadian Professor, Donald Welsh provides some basic numbers.
2 Is there a Pseudo Epidemic?
A pseudo-epidemic is a well known phenomena, a vicious circle where heightened anxiety, leads to more doctor visits and testing, which leads to more "cases" which leads to even more testing. Psuedo epidemics have been observed for example in connection with bacterial infections and whooping coughs.
Could pseudo-epidemic be part (it is not all) of the covid picture?
Four German tourists claimed they were "illegally confined" to a hotel in the Azores over the summer. The court found that a positive RT-PCR test cannot be taken on face value.
The judges referred, among other things to French research that found of 179,151 patients studied, 97% of the positives proved to be false.
Many continue to struggle to grasp how easily it is for PCR testing to give misleading results. Some of this confusion depends on some basic arithematic. See this comment from twitter user Ryan and my reply.
Bearing in mind how misleading PCR data can be, have a think about how this might be effecting perceptions about testing, cases and deaths "with" c19. (Recent data from coronavirus.data.gov.uk):
The UK has so many more cases than e.g. Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Is there a reason for this? Could we learn something maybe?
3 Is the Vaccine Safe and Effective?
The UK Government has bet everything on a successful vaccine and failure here is to awful contemplate.
Here are some key observations asked by journalist Patrick Henningsen in response to the claims that the vaccine is "95% effective".
Questions have been asked in the British Medical Journal about realistic expectations:
In a chronology of flu vaccine research the correspondent goes on to point out:
2020: A 14-year study finds that influenza vaccines are associated with an 8.9% increase in the risk of all-cause mortality in elderly men (VE -8.9%, CI -19,6% to 1.8%) During six A/H3N2-predominant seasons their all-cause mortality increase was 16.6%!
We must all hope that the c19 vaccine is more successful!
Some researchers are concerned about the long term efficacy and safety of the vaccine
This study expresses concerns that people who the vaccine is tested on may not know the risks adequately.
"Results of the study: COVID-19 vaccines designed to elicit neutralising antibodies may sensitise vaccine recipients to more severe disease than if they were not vaccinated. Vaccines for SARS, MERS and RSV have never been approved, and the data generated in the development and testing of these vaccines suggest a serious mechanistic concern: that vaccines ... may worsen COVID-19 disease via antibody-dependent enhancement"
Unfortunately indications for the new vaccines, are to say the least concerning. Here are some press accounts sent to me. Links at foot of page.
4 Do Lockdowns Cost More Life than they Save?
An important paper published recently by Stanford professor Ionidies concludes:
"the proportion of COVID-19 deaths that occurred in nursing homes was often higher under mrNPIs rather than under less restrictive measures"
"Some evidence also suggests that sometimes under more restrictive measures, infections may be more frequent in settings where vulnerable populations reside relative to the general population. In summary, we fail to find strong evidence supporting a role for more restrictive NPIs in the control of COVID in early 2020."
"The data cannot fully exclude the possibility of some benefits. However, even if they exist, these benefits may not match the numerous harms of these aggressive measures"
The Stanford Professor's paper is but one of a number that are reaching similar conclusions.
Some will remember the UK government's press conference frm 31 Oct. Here are the modelled forecasts for mortality compared with the outcome. The Government never admits to making these blunders but carries on regardless.
Note that the models typically peak at double the spring peak or much higher, off the page. While the blue bars, so far at least have stayed below the spring peak. The Government does not seem to have a clue.
Sweden provides is an important case study as they chose to have relatively mild and few mandatory interventions. Perhaps for this reason many seem eager to portray Sweden in a bad light. The above chart shows that Sweden has done relatively well in 2020, not just compared to their neighbours, but also compared to their own previous years.
People ask if you are critical of the Government's policies on Covid what would you do? I usually answer with "follow the recommendations of the Great Barrington Declaration" ("focussed protection" for the vulnerable and remove restrictions for everyone else.)
It looks like the Government, as the failure of its other policies is increasingly hard to deny, appear to be coming around to this point of view:
Prevention is better than cure: If the virus escaped from a lab, it is a no-brainer to prioritise the investigation and prevention of leaks.
If this is planned by Govt, they keep it very quiet.
Perhaps they don't really think it's a problem - so long as we wear masks and buy vaccines?
Anecdotal evidence is all around us.
5 Collateral Impacts of Lockdown
Here is an attempt by Professor Simon Wood, University of Edinburgh, to estimate the level of harms that will result from the economic fall out of lockdown:
The professor estimates:
Grey: due to general economic deprivation
Black: extra life lost due to the economic crash of 2008
Red : covid with "less mitigation than anyone is proposing"
The deadly impact of 2008 can be estimated but not yet 2020
For lockdown to be justified:
"we require the current economic shock, which is much larger than 2008, to result in much smaller life loss than was associated with financial crisis of 2008"
On this basis Lockdown is a terrible mistake
The Prof's calcs do not reflect shorter term effects of e.g. cancelled cancer screening etc nor the intangible value of liberty.
Those who impose lockdown without factoring in a proper cost benefit analysis are being irresponsible in way that may cause a substantial loss of life
Dr. Ari Joffe is a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases from Canada. He previously supported lockdowns but has now changed his mind because ...
...Emerging data has shown a staggering amount of so-called ‘collateral damage’ due to the lockdowns. This can be predicted to adversely affect many millions of people globally with
food insecurity [82-132 million more people],
severe poverty [70 million more people],
maternal and under age-5 mortality from interrupted healthcare [1.7 million more people],
infectious diseases deaths from interrupted services [millions of people with Tuberculosis, Malaria, and HIV],
school closures for children [affecting children’s future earning potential and lifespan]
interrupted vaccination campaigns for millions of children, and intimate partner violence for millions of women. In high-income countries adverse effects also occur from delayed and interrupted healthcare, unemployment, loneliness, deteriorating mental health, increased opioid crisis deaths, and more.
Initial modelling and forecasting were inaccurate. This led to a contagion of fear and policies across the world. Popular media focused on absolute numbers of COVID-19 cases and deo Sunaths independent of context. There has been a sheer one-sided focus on preventing infection numbers
Many articles have been written about the cost of lockdown:
You Thought 2020 Was Bad: UN Issues ‘Bleakest And Darkest’ Outlook Ever For 2021
United Nations is warning 2021 could be even more awful, with top officials saying the new year could be the worst in terms of humanitarian catastrophes in the organization’s 75-year history.
Pandemic hits poor hit hardest as inequality rises
Unlike Black Death, coronavirus has widened divisions, hurting low skilled, women and the young more than others
Covid: Child abuse referrals up nearly 80%, says NSPCC
The number of referrals from the NSPCC about child abuse has increased by 79% since the UK-wide lockdown was imposed, according to the charity's data.
Live-in care agency finds 1 in 3 elderly people more lonely in wake of COVID-19
Over a three-month period, a lack of any kind of break from the four walls around you may cause serious long-term health damage, both physically and mentally.
Children of Quarantine What does a year of isolation and anxiety do to a developing brain?
The kids who are suffering most in this pandemic are the kids who were already suffering most. Kids with intellectual or physical disabilities, for example, whose lives depend on reliable schedules or in-person care, are disconnected from their lifelines
Canada's COVID-19 strategy is an assault on the working class
The Canadian COVID-19 lockdown strategy is the worst assault on the working class in many decades.
Coronavirus Has “Ruthlessly Exposed And Exacerbated” Existing Inequalities In The UK, Researchers Warn
Vaccines alone won’t be enough to “repair the damage” done to inequalities in UK society brought about by the coronavirus pandemic according to a new report.
This chart from Sky News journalist @EdConwaySky speaks for itself
Links to Vaccine Stories