This Murrination is all about the evidence that should be guiding government polices. The slides are taken from a YouTube briefing by Ivor Cummins who correctly seeks to encourage the application of scientific concepts in creating an effective pandemic response.
As I noted in February, the arrivals of an autumn second wave should be no surprise. The majority of previous pandemics throughout history have had three major waves. On top of that, just as the flu is seasonal, so is the Wuhan Virus. Initially, some cases may be due to inaccuracies in testing compounded by increased testing rates. Despite this, it seems inevitable that we are on the cusp of a real second wave in autumn.
However, we should not panic. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. It is the responsibility of governments to understand the reality and share that with their respective populations to remove the fear that has been instilled.
Our initial global government responses were driven by fear of the unknown. As we face the second wave, we have huge amounts of statistical evidence on which to base an appropriate national strategy. This strategy should swiftly correct the very poor scientific response seen in the majority of countries (including the UK) that followed lockdown protocols that fed political agendas and needlessly destroyed economies and lives. Only Sweden followed the logical strategy to phased exposure and resultantly has benefited enormously.
I suspect that the rule of alternation is at play in Boris' government as they were very late to respond to the pandemic's arrival in March with respect to the initial lockdown. Thus, subconsciously, they have this time done the opposite and pulled the trigger too early without any scientific evidence. This action highlghts the dangers of unconscious collective decision making.
So what do we know?
- The Wuhan Virus is highly infectious and we must assume that once in the population it will continue spreading until we have herd immunity. As I have articulated previously, the probability of a effective and broadly distributed vaccine, arriving within 18 months from the February outbreak was and still is very slim indeed. So, we will have to rely on herd immunity through natural transmission.
- The virus is seasonal. In the northern hemisphere where lockdown seemed to have worked, there is a high probability the summer weather (high UV light levels) and outdoor living suppressed the virus, not the lockdowns. People have falsely believed lockdowns work, making them the response of choice for dogmatic scientific advisors creating a self-inflicted depression that will last for years.
- The obvious reality is that Sweden's policy of phased herd immunity was the correct response.
- Neil Ferguson's fear modelling sent Britain down the wrong path when we were on the way to a herd immunity strategy.
- The natural death rate associated with this pandemic is not that of the Black Death or Spanish Flu, but rather that of a virulent winter flu.
- Like all disease processes, this pandemic kills the most vulnerable. Whilst it can move further down the mortality curve than normal flu, impacting the more healthy victims, it nonetheless is relatively small in actual impact.
- The statistical reporting of the pandemic has been sensationalist. The key number that we should be looking at is excess deaths. In the UK some 45,000 people died naturally each month. From March-August that is 270,000, of which some 41,000 were attributed to the virus. The majority of those deaths were from the susceptible who would have been part of the natural cycle. The excess death curves are shown below. This would mean that the death impact on the population is limited to a certain number of the less healthy population even if the infection spread to the whole herd (.I.e that the mortality rate is limited, just as in certain forms of malaria the infection can only spread to certain young red blood cells limiting the morbidity rate to the host).
- There is a significant risk that the current increase in case reporting is a false signal based on increased testing as mortality rates are not rising commensurably. Having had an excess death spike only recently, perhaps there fewer susceptible people now in the herd.
- I suspect that the path to herd immunity in a human system is unfolding independently of the government interventions as shown by the similar response curves across the world despite different national protocols.
- Human societies have never tried mass intervention policies like we are seeing today to stop a pandemic. I fear that when based on poor science, as they have been, they may actually make the situation worse in the second wave as the summer months have been squandered. This could have been used to accelerate the exposure of the herd when the conditions limited the impact on the population and when we have masses of spare ICU capacity to absorb any surge in serious infections.The result of this misguided intervention could be a larger second wave and blood on the hands of the politicians who chose to follow this strategy.
There is a very convincing argument that the pandemic is running its natural course through various national herds with a very similar mechanism, despite different government intervention policies. If this supposition is correct then the current government lockdown polices including the rather random rule of six have and will fail to impact the mortality rates. Most significantly, they will have butchered the economy with very serious knock-on effects of social hardship.
Unlike our governmental scientific advisors who seem locked in their own paradigm, let us look at the evidence so far that supports the above observations and clearly undermines any case of lockdowns going forward.
- Despite the highly infectious nature of this virus, the deaths in Europe were capped at 10-14 thousand per million. This suggests that there is an innate cross-immunity to coronavirus in up to 80% of the population. The slightly higher number of deaths in Italy, UK and Ireland are most likely associated with a lower than average excess death rate in the months preceding. This article written two days after this Murrination is very instructive. Investigation into Covid immunity would help avert costly lockdowns
- Despite the high infectiousness and government interventions, the Gompertz curve for previous epidemics has followed very closely. This suggests that government interventions have had very little effect. In terms of statistics from Germany, the pandemic in its first wave has been of the same order and path as a flu epidemic.
- The real mechanism we should be following is above-average excess death rates. In the early 2019 winter, excess death rates were relatively low and then spiked with the pandemic, but not to levels that of any order greater than previous flu epidemics or that should have warranted such draconian interventions.
- The pandemic modelling has been disastrously exaggerated (using Sweden as an example as it did not lockdown). The mortality modelling was over 15 times higher than the reality. Thus, the poor modelling has created fear such that the majority of politicians could not go against their scientific advisors because if they were wrong they would have been finished politically. However, now we have the evidence to the contrary politicians will find that they will be finished if they preside over a second lockdown.
- Putting the Wuhan pandemic in proportion, the impact of this pandemic compared to the Spanish flue is unbelievably low. The conclusion is that Western societies have completely blown this threat out of proportion.
- The size of the first wave was related to the relatively low levels of excess death before the pandemic. This explains why Britain and Spain appeared to suffer relatively poorly.
- Similarly, the critics of Swedish policies have used the surrounding nations response to claim the herd immunity strategy was worse that lockdown. However, Sweden, like the UK, possessed a very low excess death rate before the pandemic.
- The exaggerated size of the first wave was related to the relatively low levels, in some countries, of excess deaths before the pandemic.
- Similarly, deaths rates from the pandemic reached higher rates when the preceding two years showed relatively lower excess death rates.
- Corona is seasonal. Below are the season plots for the Northern Hemisphere.
- Should we fear a second wave? If our concepts of excess deaths are correct and the virus does not mutate into a new, more dangerous form then even if there were no government interventions the probability of a spike worse than the first one seems remote.
- The only unknown is coronas possible mutation that would then create a new outbreak. So far, despite the increasing number of types proportional to a mutation rate linked to the total number of infected, we have yet to see evidence of such a shift. As such, it is something that needs to be constantly monitored.
For more information watch this excellent Youtube clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UvFhIFzaac from which these slide were taken.