When is an epidemic not an epidemic?
Whilst the current pandemic affects the whole world, this article is going to take a look at the experience in Europe, and particularly the UK, which is just going into another lockdown, which many people do not feel is justified.
As I write this, The Times, (a major UK National Daily newspaper) features on its front page an article headed “Lockdown could last to next year, ministers warn.”
The article states, ‘The number of new confirmed cases of coronavirus was 23,254, a rise of more than a third from the figure of a fortnight ago; there were 162 deaths bringing the British total to 46,717. [i]
There are a number of people who would question what “new confirmed cases of coronavirus” actually represents. Some scientists suggest that the tests are highly unreliable and are blowing out of all proportion the true state of the nation’s health. The reason for this is due to the testing procedure used to test for this. The test currently used is the PCR (polymerise chain reaction). This test was invented by Kary Mullis and he was given a Nobel Prize for his discovery in 1993. However, this procedure was never intended for testing for viral infection, it was intended as a manufacturing technique that was able to replicate DNA sequences millions of times.
Industry understanding gives some idea of the challenge using this technique, here are the views of Chloe Kent of Medical Devices Network, ‘It’s worth noting that PCR tests can be very labour intensive, with several stages at which errors may occur between sampling and analysis. False negatives can occur up to 30% of the time with different PCR tests.’ She quotes Dr James Gill who suggests, “During the course of the outbreak, the PCR testing has been refined from the initial testing procedures and with the addition of greater automation to reduce errors. As such, we now have an 80-85% specificity – i.e. the chance the test is detecting the virus.”
Dr Malcolm Kendrick doesn’t much like using the medical terms ‘sensitivity’ and ‘specificity’ he prefers to refer to false negatives, and false positives.
- A false negative is a result which informs someone that they do not have the disease, when in fact they do.
- A false positive is a result which informs someone they do have a disease when they don’t.
Dr Kendrick explains: ‘Ideally, a test should never give a false negative (100% sensitivity) nor give a false positive (100% specificity). There is no known test that does this. In general, there is a trade-off going on between these two measures.’
He reveals ‘With COVID-19, there are a lot of false negatives, with some studies quoting figures as high as 50%. That is, half of those told they are not infected with COVID19, are probably infected. A systematic review got figures between 2% and 29%. So, we could call that an average of 16%?’
This is obviously concerning that the figures can vary so much, but this is much more important regarding false positives, here are his comments on this:
‘More troubling, right now, than the very poor sensitivity of COVID19 testing (high number of false negatives) is the knotty question of how many false-positive tests there are? This is important because we are told that cases are rising and rising as we suffer a ‘second wave’ of COVID19.
However, if we have a high rate of false positives, then the rise in ‘cases’ could be driven by a rise in testing – and nothing else. And you don’t need a high percentage of false-positive tests to do this. If the false-positive rate is as little as just one per cent (1%) this means the majority of people told they are positive for COVID19, do not have COVID19!’
This is really significant. Let me indulge you a little further. Most people will not understand how a 1% false-positive rate could actually account for the majority of the so-called cases that we are experiencing currently.
Dr Kendrick explains how it is directly linked to the prevalence in the community, that is the total number assumed to be infected. He uses the figure of 67,000 cases in a population of 67 million just to illustrate the maths more simply—this would equate to one in a thousand people infected. He suggests, ‘Using this one in a thousand figure. This means, if you randomly tested ten thousand people, you would expect to find ten COVID19 cases [forgetting the false negatives for now].
On the other side of the coin. If the false-positive rate is one per cent, you would have an additional one hundred false positives cases. (10,000 x 0.01 [1%] =100).
Putting this another way. With a prevalence of one in a thousand, and a false positive rate of one per-cent you would have ten true COVID19 positive cases, and ninety false positives. Ergo, the vast majority of people told that they have COVID19, do not. Is this actually happening?’
That is a fair question and Dr Kendrick is certainly not alone in raising this critically important point. He quotes an unnamed source who suggests that with 99% specificity you would expect to get 3,500 false positives from performing 350,000 tests. He works in a lab that does the tests but he believes ‘that it is totally inappropriate to use RT-PCR as a screening test for a virus in an asymptomatic population when the prevalence of the infection is very low… Politicians and Health Officials are basing their numbers of cases entirely on the results of these tests, which are not fit for this purpose.’
How Accurate Are the Tests We Use?
The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM), based at the University of Oxford referenced a publication (September 18th) by The Artic University of Norway titled “PCR positives: what do they mean?” In it, they suggest “PCR detection of viruses is helpful so long as its accuracy can be understood: it offers the capacity to detect RNA in minute quantities, but whether that RNA represents infectious virus may not be clear” [my emphasis] The CEBM further state “Viral culture [acts] as reference test against which any diagnostic index test for viruses must be measured and calibrated, to understand the predictive properties of that test.”
This is a critically important guide to inform just how accurate the PCR testing results are. If the PCR detects a virus in any given sample, this detection may correspond to a virus or even just a particle that is incapable of infecting cells and reproducing. The authors suggest, ‘Biologists can tell if the virus is infectious by injecting it into cells (culture cells). If these cells are not affected by the virus and the virus does not reproduce in them, then the PCR test found a virus that is no longer active.’
The study emphasizes this problem:
“This detection problem is ubiquitous for RNA virus’s detection. SARS-CoV, MERS, Influenza Ebola and Zika viral RNA can be detected long after the disappearance of the infectious virus. … because inactivated RNA degrades slowly over time it may still be detected many weeks after infectiousness has dissipated.”
They further caution, PCR positives on asymptomatic people should be treated with care since it is possible that the asymptomatic people are not infectious. This is even when the PCR tests or the antibody tests are positive. This is because viral culture is required to establish if the viral RNA is capable of infecting cells and “reproduce. They also inform us that PCR manufacturers typically remind the users that “the detection result of this product is only for clinical reference, and it should not be used as the only evidence for clinical diagnosis and treatment”
True Cases May Not Be Rising
Professor Carl Heneghan is Director of The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine and Director of Studies for the Evidence-Based Health Care Programme which wrote in August that cases in England were not rising and published his reasons for saying this when the official media were informing us all of the rise in ‘cases’. He wrote, ‘Now all things being equal, the increase in cases is about 250 per day over a month – not an exponential rise, and no sudden jump. But is this a real increase or could it be down to something else – can an increase in testing explain the rise?’
Professor Heneghan did an analysis are reproduced his results in a number of graphs, what he found was critical to get a clear picture was to adjust for the amount of testing undertaken. Here is what he found:
‘The next graph shows what happens when you adjust for the number of tests done and then standardise to per 100,000 tests. Pillar 1 [pillar 1 represents hospital and healthcare workers] is seen to be still trending down, but Pillar 2 [pillar 2 reflects testing in the community and care homes etc.] is now flatlining. The increase in the number of cases detected, therefore, is likely due to the increase in testing in Pillar 2.’
He further adds: ‘The potential for false-positives (those people without the disease who test positive) to drive the increase in community (Pillar 2) cases is substantial, particularly because the accuracy of the test and the detection of viable viruses within a community setting is unclear… Inaccuracies in the data and poor interpretation will often lead to errors in decisions about imposing restrictions, particularly if these decisions are done in haste and the interpretation does not account for fluctuations in the rates of testing.’
The graph clearly shows that there is a decline.
He further adds: ‘The potential for false-positives (those people without the disease who test positive) to drive the increase in community (Pillar 2) cases is substantial, particularly because the accuracy of the test and the detection of viable viruses within a community setting is unclear… Inaccuracies in the data and poor interpretation will often lead to errors in decisions about imposing restrictions, particularly if these decisions are done in haste and the interpretation does not account for fluctuations in the rates of testing.
This finding is no real surprise, it as many more sceptical observers have been suggesting all along.
The Numbers Just Don’t Add Up
Dr Clare Craig, a pathologist believes ‘we are over-counting Covid deaths’. She suggests ‘Accurate data is a basic prerequisite for good policy choices. The remedial steps needed are simple and relatively inexpensive. Central government should mandate them to be done immediately.’
She notes that, ‘it appears that we are over-counting deaths because there are not enough severely sick people from Covid to account for them. In other words, there are proportionately more Covid deaths per case and per hospital admission since the Summer.’ She published a paper called “How Covid deaths are over-counted” (27th October), explaining ‘This paper explains this phenomenon and calls for proper scientific cross-checking to be instituted before a Covid outbreak is declared.’
In her paper, she points to a number of contradictions that do not make sense and point to a significant number of false-positives playing a role. For example she cites how deaths have been ‘increasing out of proportion to the total officially diagnosed cases and of total Covid patients in hospital.’ She draws attention to a serious anomaly: ‘the number of severe cases, as measured by hospital admissions and ICU occupancy continue to fall as a proportion of all cases diagnosed. Together this evidence points to a paradox developing since September: more people are dying of Covid than appear to be seriously ill with Covid. So, we have a contradiction. More deaths should be preceded by more ITU admissions and more hospital admissions but we are not seeing a proportionate rise in severe cases to account for the increasing deaths, currently being labelled as Covid.’
She cites a number of reasons that would lead to false positive readings in the above paper. In another paper she cites some of the more basic issues that many people have already cited;
- ‘Contaminant viral RNA can be found because of viruses which many of us carry around obliviously.
- Symptomatic patients may have a cross-reaction with another coronavirus which has been reported with SARS 1.
- Contaminant human DNA from the X chromosome has produced false positive results for other coronavirus PCR testing.
- A common cause of false positive rates in the real world is cross contamination.
Dr Mike Yeadon, former Chief Scientific Officer for Pfizer (he worked for Pfizer for 17 years), he has a first-class degree in biochemistry, toxicology and a PhD in pharmacology. He was the vice president for allergy and respiratory research. He is concerned with the way the pandemic is being currently portrayed, as he feels that the pandemic is effectively over and he also suspects that the huge ‘case’ rise is due to false positives. In an interview with Anna Brees (October 29th 2020) he points out the situation he is aware of in the UK:
- ‘there have not been any excess deaths since the end of June, and there are not excess respiratory deaths now’
He takes up a point made by Jeremy Hunt who said ‘It’s not even clear that having been infected with Covid-19 leaves you immune, it’s very uncertain.’
His response was to exclaim, ‘You are kidding! When you are… let me just tell you straight. When you are infected with a respiratory virus, it might give you symptoms and it might make you very ill, and if you are very vulnerable and old, it could kill you, like flu. But, when you survive and 99.94% of the country survived the pandemic sweeping through. I assure you, you are immune. [my emphasis]
‘It’s like immunology first lesson, first term, first lesson. And we even know how that happens and you can go back to the people and determine that it’s true. And also, if it wasn’t true, how did the virus leave your body? Did it just give up half-way? This is the point, unless you win the battle, it’s trying to multiply in your tissues which is what it does and you’re trying to stop it. And, if there is a severe battle you can get ill, and you sometimes lose, and you can die. But most of that time that battle is won by your immune system. It’s not the force of will, it doesn’t give up, so, you have to have beaten it. And the way you did it was with your immune system.’
When asked about the false positive rate he says, ‘So, once you accept that the PCR test has a false positive rate, people should demand to know what that number is. You are not being told. If it is a few percent that accounts for all the positives that you are seeing now in the pandemic. Remember I have told you that there are no excess deaths. The folly that is stalking around at the moment is the government, and it’s PCR testing system. Testing the well population, people who aren’t ill is just a madcap thing because almost all of them just don’t have the virus. But, if you run this machine hard enough you will end up with an enormous number of false positives.’
Cases Positive Versus Actual Deaths CEBM
To illustrate just how far the so-called ‘confirmed cases’ are deviating from the actual death rate, a graph sometimes is much easier at illustrating an idea, than just words.
When asked what he felt we should do about the situation we are in, Dr Yeadon suggests, ‘So if you are a member of a professional society, a learned society, have a look at the facts and if you don’t believe that taking further measures right now whilst the mortality is absolutely normal for this time of the year, I think you should write an open letter to the government, saying I believe that SAGE is incorrect in its advice, and you should immediately disband it and begin to speak to independent people.’
He further adds, ‘I do believe, in practical terms, if the PCR testing were to stop, within three weeks the country would be normal. There is no disease, and if you stop testing everything would return to normal. You won’t let the virus get out of control, you keep using it for hospital admissions. Stop testing the massed well people, that’s what you should do’.
This is just a few points that might help you realise that we are not being accurately informed about the true reality of this crisis. There are a considerable number of scientists who disagree with the way this problem is being dealt with. The mainstream media are mostly unquestioning the line fed by SAGE (the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies), suggesting that were are experiencing a ‘second wave’ of the covid virus pandemic and we should experience even more deaths than the first wave unless we introduce severe measures and lockdown.
Time will tell, but I feel history will show that the second wave will not occur in any significant way, other than the normal rise in respiratory infections to be expected for this time of year. What will we say to our children? This is not even the first occasion, this is not the first time this has happened. In 2009 Swine flu kept the world in suspense for almost a year. A massive vaccination campaign was mounted to put a stop to the anticipated pandemic, and Government agencies laid out disaster plans.
The World Health Organisation put out estimates, that suggested between 2.0 and 7.4 million could die — assuming the pandemic was relatively mild. But if the new virus proved to be as aggressive as the one that triggered the Spanish Flu in 1918, the death toll could run to the tens of millions.
Spiegel International reported the story and some of the critical factors that warped people’s judgement: ‘In mid-May, about three weeks before the swine flu was declared a pandemic, 30 senior representatives of pharmaceutical companies met with WHO Director-General Chan and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon at WHO headquarters. The official reason for the meeting was to discuss ways to ensure that developing countries would be provided with pandemic vaccine. But at this point in time the vaccine industry was mainly interested in one question: the decision to declare phase 6.
Everything hung on this decision. At stake was nothing less than a move to supply large segments of the world’s population with flu vaccine. Phase 6 acted as a switch that would allow bells on the industry’s cash registers to ring, risk-free. That’s because many pandemic vaccine contracts had already been signed. Germany, for example, signed an agreement with the British firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in 2007 to buy its pandemic vaccine — as soon as phase 6 was declared. This agreement could explain why Professor Roy Anderson, one key scientific advisor to the British government, declared the swine flu a pandemic on May 1. What he neglected to say was that GSK was paying him an annual salary of more than €130,000 ($177,000).’
‘There was only one thing that everyone was ignoring: The new pathogen was, in fact, relatively harmless [my emphasis], it turned out, it was a relatively harmless strain of the flu virus.’
The hysteria that prevailed throughout this so-called pandemic was easily comparable to this current pandemic. Once the dust settled and the hysteria subsided we were left with a huge pile ox useless expensive vaccines but was any lesson learned from this debacle? It seems as though history may be repeating itself.
In part two of this article, we report on how parliament and the public were deceived by totally inaccurate forecasts by out-of-date models by senior scientists.
[i] Steven Swinford & Patrick Maguire, “Lockdown could last to next year, ministers warn.” The Times, Monday, November 2, 2020.