Dangerous Folly-Part two

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Unhealthy Consequences

Having a correct diagnosis is critical to our health when we are ill it can influence any prospective treatment and course of action that we choose to take. Correctly ascertaining whether people are infected with a virus or bacterium that is transmissible is useful and in the case of infection with Covid-19 is important, and can be life-saving.

In the previous article (Dangerous Folly) we introduced the problem of using the PCR test—that of its inherent inaccuracy and its ability to kick out large numbers of false positives—leading to provoking the belief that the epidemic is growing when, in fact, we may simply be experiencing a huge number of false positives. The only way of really knowing whether we are creating false positives would be to do further tests—preferably culture tests—and also,  by accurately monitoring covid hospitalisations and deaths.

For those of you who would like a video presentation about the misuse of the PCR testing system click here

Second Wave or Simply the return of seasonal infections?

This time of the year, of course, is a difficult time of the year to do this because we are entering the time of year when we expect a rise in deaths and respiratory conditions due to influenza and the common cold season.

This graph illustrates the cycle of seasonal deaths from 2017 to our current situation for 26 European countries. It shows the smaller rise of 2019 and the rise of Covid-19 in 2020. The black dotted line is the baseline, the dotted pink line is considered a substantial increase. The current projection is so far little different than previous years.

So the question must be are the fearmongering and the severe measures such as lockdowns really justified when we know this is going to have dramatic effects on our respective economies and introduce a whole new set of health issues and other consequences for us all?

Below is a graph showing the weekly excess deaths in the United Kingdom up until October 23rd, which as expected is starting to increase slightly as predicted by the above graph showing the European experience over the last few years.

As you can see the incidence of covid is increasing as would be expected for this time of the year for most respiratory viruses.

Accurate predictions or Scaremongering?

Mortality rates are rising to some degree, is it, however,  any reason to go into a panic and give necessitate the introducing drastic measures like a lockdown? The mainstream media were blitzed with predictions of disaster unless serious measures were taken. Images of graphs illustrating likely scenarios were produced:

A similar graph was distributed to the media without the caveat of it being ‘scenarios-not for predictions or forecasts—shown in the small print. The one in The Times, for example, was with the sub-heading “Warning Signs” and titled “Projected Daily Deaths”[i]

Another UK national, The Telegraph, challenged the data being supplied to the media with an article suggesting that “Death scenarios used to justify lockdown ‘could be four times too high.’ They suggested that data experts say graphs drawn up three weeks ago were chosen to illustrate crisis when more recent forecasts are far lower. They said ‘The modelling presented on Saturday is so out of date that it suggests daily deaths are around 1,000 a day. In fact, the daily average for the last week is 260, with a figure of 162 on Saturday.’ They also quote Professor Carl Heneghan, the director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, who said he was “deeply concerned” by the selection of data which were not based on the current reality.’

Prof Heneghan said his analysis suggests the forecasts could be four to five times too high, adding: “I’m deeply concerned about how the data is being presented so that politicians can make decisions. It is a fast-changing situation, which is very different in different regions, and it concerns me that MPs who are about to go to a vote are not getting the full picture.”

Seeking Openness and Clarity

The article also quotes Sir Ian Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, who called it “yet another example of experts on SAGE marking their own homework and selecting carefully the data they needed to get the government to make the decision to lock down.” He further added “This appears to be deliberately misleading the British public. It should be retracted.”

Theresa May MP

The former Prime Minister, Theresa May MP, in a speech in the House of Commons November 4th, suggested that Parliament has ‘not had a proper analysis’ and that ‘Parliament will make better decisions if it is fully and properly informed.’ She said:

‘I want to comment on the circuit-breaker idea [introducing another lockdown], because I looked at the SAGE paper of the 21st September, and what was absolutely clear, was that this was not a 2-3 week circuit-breaker full stop, end of story. It would have to have been repeated possibly again, and again, and again, and I doubt if any economy could have borne the irreparable damage that would have been done, with the impact on lives that would have been significant…we haven’t had a proper analysis of the impact that it has had. The evidence is from Liverpool that hospital cases are falling. I raised this in a briefing the other day and was told this was due to fewer students coming forward to be tested. But, when you look back at the figures, the actual figures are falling across the age ranges. We need to have that proper assessment of how that tier system is working.’

It is worth looking at her speech a little further, as it raises serious questions about how society has been misled.

She continues, ‘But there are other examples where figures are being used that I feel has been unhelpful to parliament and to the public. Let me take the 4,000 figure, it appears that the decision to go towards this lockdown was partly, mainly, to some extent, based on the prediction of 4,000 deaths a day. Yet if you look at the trajectory shown in that graph that went to 4,000 deaths a day, we would have reached 1,000 deaths a day by the end of October. Now, the average in the last week of October was 259 by my calculations.

Each of those deaths is a sadness and our thoughts are with families, but it is not 1,000 deaths a day. So, the prediction was wrong before it was even used. And this leads to a problem for the government. For many people, it looks as if the figures are chosen to support the policy, rather than the policy being made on the figures. So we need these proper analyses. I say that to my Right Honourable friend. We need to know the details behind these models, we need to be able to assess the validity of those models.’[ii] 

Serious Errors Add Confusion and Compound Problems

Professor Carl Heneghan and Dr Tom Jefferson from the Centre for Evidenced-Based Medicine, based in Oxford University in an article in The Telegraph, titled “The Government’s use of data is not just confusing – the errors are positively misleading,

They suggest ‘The data failures in this pandemic have been considerable: continually, they have overestimated the numbers that are going to die, miscategorised Covid-19 deaths, exaggerated the impact on hospitals and missed some 16,000 cases because of an Excel blunder.’

They mention that these failings do not come to light due to Government transparency but through ‘painstaking analysis, eagle eyes and sometimes even the simplest of questions are enough to expose major faults.’

As regards to the notoriously misleading slides that were used by the Government they commented:

‘It wasn’t difficult to spot that the slides used by the government in its press conference on Saturday were out of date, and that the worst estimate – the 4,000 death “worst case scenario” – was not only incorrect (on November 1, just over 200 deaths occurred when the model was predicting 1,000) but also weeks out of date.’

They further noted that ‘There had already been two subsequent available updates that had substantially revised down the estimated number of deaths.’

Let me indulge a little further with another analysis by Heneghan and Jefferson of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, (in my view two of the more reliable scientists that are informing our debate). In another article, this time in The Spectator (25th October), titled “The ten worst Covid data failures.”

Their first item referred to overstating the number of people who are going to die. They mentioned the ‘Imperial College London (ICL) ‘Report 9’ that modelled 500,000 deaths if no action was taken at all, and 250,000 deaths if restrictions were not tightened.’ They also brought up Sweden that did not introduce lockdowns and introduced fairly liberal measures that all and sundry predicted would cause ’85,000 deaths if Sweden did not lock down. It did not – and deaths are just under 6,000.’

Are Lockdowns Really Beneficial?

Their first item referred to overstating the number of people who are going to die. They mentioned the ‘Imperial College London (ICL) ‘Report 9’ that modelled 500,000 deaths if no action was taken at all, and 250,000 deaths if restrictions were not tightened.’ They also brought up Sweden that did not introduce lockdowns and introduced fairly liberal measures that all and sundry predicted would cause ’85,000 deaths if Sweden did not lock down. It did not – and deaths are just under 6,000.’

At this point let’s review the situation here with a graphic illustration of the reality of the death rate in Sweden that had no lock down, and the UK that had a severe lockdown and the introduction of a number of other restrictions and the further introduction of some very draconian laws.

These two graphs show that both countries responded in a very similar pattern. They illustrate a typical Gompertz curve as you would expect. If anyone can see any actual effect on the UK curve when the lockdown was introduced on 16th March, compared to the same curve in Sweden, good luck, you must have special eyesight. For those of you who would like and audio-visual discussion of this Ivor Cummins does an excellent job here. If anything, Sweden seems to experiencing a better outcome, currently, they are experiencing very little in the way of Covid deaths, certainly not any ‘second wave’. Nevertheless, they will be experiencing a rise in respiratory deaths as is usual for this time of the year soon. So, it seems the UK could have been disadvantaged by introducing a lockdown after all. Some believe that Covid entered the population much earlier than was previously believed and most people’s immune systems dealt with it. For some it was an intense experience, many succumbed to it and some sadly were overcome by it.

So where does that leave us now?

More Creative Strategies

Professor Carl Heneghan

Dr Tom Jefferson and Professor Carl Heneghan come to our rescue again and have produced a blueprint to beat coronavirus which they have handed to Boris Johnson. The Daily Mail published their details (along with a number of other national papers). They apparently presented their plan more than a month prior to this article to the Prime Minister. They suggested:

‘Our strategy would be to tackle the four key failings. We must address the problems in the Government’s mass testing programme; we must tackle the blight of confused and contradictory statistics; we must make real efforts to protect and isolate those who are vulnerable; and we must inform the public about the true and quantifiable costs of lockdown (as if they needed telling).’

They further add, ‘If we do these things, there is real hope that we can learn to live with the virus. That, after all, was supposed to be the plan.’

They inform us ‘Huge resources have been poured into the roll-out of mass swab tests provided by the NHS. In theory, they should tell us who is infectious, how far the virus is spreading and how fast. In practice, the regime is somewhat aimless and indiscriminate. It has wasted precious resources.

In part, this is because the results identify large numbers of ‘positive’ cases among people who are not infectious. In some cases, the swab tests are picking up levels of Covid-19 which are so very low that the patient will not pass the virus on.’ This simply confirms what others have been saying for some time now (and as they have been saying for some time). One of the problems with this testing is ‘The results make no distinction between an eight-year-old who is less likely to transmit the virus and a 75-year-old who could prove highly infectious and is in personal danger, especially if suffering multiple health problems. That is why we must stop relying on yes/no test results alone and start looking at people’s age and symptoms, too.’

Dr Tom Jefferson

They have a proposed objective of controlling the spread of acute respiratory illness while minimising societal disruption. They have listed 4 objectives:

  1. To improve the testing and detection of cases;

 

  1. To identify the vulnerable and reduce their risk whilst enhancing supportive measures;

 

  1. To identify and mitigate the collateral damage of COVID; and

 

  1. To develop a better interpretation of the COVID data.

To further report on their blueprint is beyond the scope of this article, however, they make some further useful comments that are important:

‘We must recognise, too, that a dangerous percentage of infections occur within hospitals themselves and seek to guard against them. Hospital-acquired infections may account for up to 25 per cent of Covid cases on the wards. In the North West of England, they recently made up 24 per cent of all Covid patients.

Finally, we must change the tone and scope of the debate.

There has to be a measured discussion that includes the consequences of lockdown as well as the supposed benefits.

Otherwise, there can be no clear way forward. People are confused, fatigued and starting to understand that crude restrictions targeting the whole of society – irrespective of risk – are counterproductive.

Indeed, they kill people just as surely as Covid-19. There have been 23,619 excess deaths in England in people’s homes since the start of April.

Yet only ten per cent of these are directly related to Covid. The rest, we might assume, are the result of restricting national life and access to usual healthcare. These deaths have largely been ignored.’

Viruses Are Part of Life

I know I am not alone in viewing the new lockdown as being counter-productive to our society’s greater well-being, taking the full implications into consideration. I have little doubt that time will show that these scientist’s warnings should have been headed far earlier. Instead, they seem to be ignored, and priority seems to be given to the fear mongers and doomsayers.

Viruses have been part of our lives from eternity. When babies are born into this world they are born with no viruses in their gut. Within a week their excrement shows approximately 100 million virus fragments PER GRAM! In our entire being, our entire microbiome that makes us human, microorganisms out-number our approximately 40 trillion cells by more than 100 to one. Bacteria alone out-number us 10 fold, and viruses 100 fold! We live in harmony with viruses when we eat a healthy diet, grown in healthy soil. This is what creates real immunity. You cannot buy immunity. A vaccine will only provide an antibody response. Our immune system is so much more than an antibody response. Our gut flora, our vitamin C status, our vitamin D status all contribute to our immune capability. Our T-cells are the true wonder of our immune system, and they are the reason we are alive today. This is all discussed in my current volume How To Survive In the 21st Century.

 

[i] “Grim figures that chart course past earlier peaks.” The Times, Monday, November 2, 2020, p6.

[ii] Theresa May MP,  speech, House of Commons Nov 4, 2020. In full: MPs debate and vote on government’s lockdown restrictions.

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