Saturday, March 28, 2020
Mike Butler: A lock-down, a model, and the fluLabels: COVID-19, Mike Butler
The model, created by British scientist Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, predicted that 2.2 million Americans and more than half a million Brits would be killed. (1)
He said that that if the US and UK did not shut down for 18 months, and isolation measures were not taken, “we would expect a peak in mortality (daily deaths) to occur after approximately three months.” His “models” showed overflowing hospitals and ICU beds.
However, after tens of thousands of restaurants, bars, and businesses closed in the UK, Ferguson changed his view by saying he felt “reasonably confident” the health care system there can cope when the predicted peak of the epidemic arrives in a few weeks.
Some accused him of “walking back” his apocalyptic predictions while others argued that his apocalyptic prediction was merely one scenario of his model and things had changed because of the lock-down.(2)
Dramatic footage from Wuhan, China, where the virus originated, of people being dragged, kicking and screaming, into quarantine, and troops in hazmat suits spraying buildings, buses, and streets with disinfectant, raised the international terror factor exponentially.
Once a few cases were reported in New Zealand, the Covid-19 virus became perceived as a killer bug that could jump on anyone, anywhere, at any time.
However, Covid-19 is probably must this year’s incarnation of the flu, according to the opinions of dissenting experts in virology.
An expert in medical microbiology, Professor Sucharit Bhakdi, has said that blaming the new coronavirus alone for deaths is “wrong and dangerously misleading”.(3) There are other more important factors at play, he says, notably pre-existing health conditions and poor air quality in Chinese and northern Italian cities. (4)
He condemned the extreme and costly measures being taken around the world as “grotesque”, “useless”, “self-destructive” and a “collective suicide” that will shorten the lifespan of the elderly and should not be accepted by society.
He said that all 3700 people on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship were exposed to the virus, yet only 17 percent contracted it, nowhere near the 81 per cent predicted by the model. (5)
In South Korea new cases have dropped off rather than expanded exponentially, in China they have almost disappeared, and Japan has announced it is to lift its state of emergency, leaving people wondering what happened to the expected explosion. (6)
“We are afraid that 1 million infections with the new virus will lead to 30 deaths per day over the next 100 days. But we do not realise that 20, 30, 40 or 100 patients positive for normal coronaviruses are already dying every day,” he said. (7)
Dr Wolfgang Wodarg, a German physician specialising in pulmonology, said “we should be asking questions like ‘how did you find out this virus was dangerous?, ‘how was it before?’, ‘didn’t we have the same thing last year?’, ‘is it even something new?’ That’s missing.” (8)
Dr Joel Kettner, a professor of community health sciences and surgery at Manitoba University, said “I have never seen anything like this, anything anywhere near like this. I’m not talking about the pandemic, because I’ve seen 30 of them, one every year. It is called influenza. And other respiratory illness viruses, we don’t always know what they are. But I’ve never seen this reaction, and I’m trying to understand why.” (9)
Dr John Ioannidis, who is Professor of Medicine, of Health Research and Policy and of Biomedical Data Science at Stanford University School of Medicine, said “the one situation where an entire, closed population was tested was the Diamond Princess cruise ship and its quarantine passengers. The case fatality rate there was 1.0 percent, but this was a largely elderly population, in which the death rate from Covid-19 is much higher. Could the Covid-19 case fatality rate be that low?” (10)
Dr Yoram Lass, an Israeli physician, compared Covid-19 with the 2009 outbreak of H1N1 (swine flu), and said “in every country, more people die from regular flu compared with those who die from the coronavirus”, “the coronavirus . . . is a virus with public relations” and “whoever thinks that governments end viruses is wrong”. (11)
Dr Pietro Vernazza, a physician specialising in infectious diseases at the Cantonal Hospital St Gallen, Switzerland, said that “if we close the schools, we will prevent the children from quickly becoming immune”. (12)
Frank Ulrich Montgomery, a German radiologist, said “I’m not a fan of lockdown. Anyone who imposes something like this must also say when and how to pick it up again. Since we have to assume that the virus will be with us for a long time, I wonder when we will return to normal? You can’t keep schools and day-care centres closed until the end of the year. Because it will take at least that long until we have a vaccine”. (13)
Professor Hendrik Streeck, a German HIV researcher, epidemiologist and clinical trialist, said “the new pathogen is not that dangerous, it is even less dangerous than Sars-1”.(14)
Dr David Katz, an American physician and founding director of the Yale University Prevention Research Centre, said “I am deeply concerned that the social, economic and public health consequences of this near-total meltdown of normal life — schools and businesses closed, gatherings banned — will be long-lasting and calamitous, possibly graver than the direct toll of the virus itself. The stock market will bounce back in time, but many businesses never will. The unemployment, impoverishment and despair likely to result will be public health scourges of the first order.” (15)
Charles F. Manski, who is economics professor at Northwestern University in Illinois, said Ferguson’s model failed to take economic and ethical factors into consideration. He criticised the epidemiological model used by Ferguson’s team for not considering how a pandemic may generate behavioural responses within the population, and stressed that there is limited empirical basis to assess the accuracy of the model.(16)
We should put the current Covid-19 scare into perspective. In 2009, there were in New Zealand around 3000 cases of H1N1 swine flu and 19 deaths and we hardly noticed it. That was on the tail of the global financial crisis a year earlier which we survived as well.
It appears that our current anti-capitalist climate-doom government has chosen to listen to experts who follow its narrative instead of basing decisions on hard evidence. Perhaps here we are under house arrest and the economy has been trashed simply because this year’s flu has arrived with a greatly heightened fanfare.
at 1:54 PM