Monday, March 30, 2020

COVID-19 - Countering the Current Narrative

During the current pandemic, the mainstream media, government and experts all seem to be reading from the same script.  Hundreds of millions/billions are going to be infected by COVID-19 and a relatively high proportion of those are going to die.  The only thing that will "flatten the infection curve" is to lock yourself indoors, have no contact with any one outside your household, self-quarantine if you travel anywhere and report anyone who you suspect is not obeying the law.  You would never know from the current media coverage of the outbreak that there are dissenting voices.

Since I have always been one to "swim against the current", let's look at comments by a few experts and see how they feel about how this pandemic is being handled by governments:

1.) Dr. Joel Kettner - Associate Professor at University of Manitoba (has a Masters of Science in Epidemiology) and former Chief Provincial Public Health Officer in Manitoba.  Here are excerpts from a telephone call with Dr. Kettner on March 15, 2020 with Canada's public broadcaster, CBC:

"First, I want to say that in 30 years of public health medicine 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. I have to say that I really feel for my colleagues that are in public health practice. it is easy for me to sit in the armchair of my office and look at this and observe it, and be critical and have ideas. But I really feel for them for three reasons.

One is that the data they are getting is incomplete to really make sense of the size of the threat. We are getting very crude numbers of cases and deaths, very little information about testing rates, contagious analysis, severity rates, who is being hospitalised, who is in intensive care, who is dying, what are the definitions to decide if someone died of the coronavirus or just died with the coronavirus.

There is so much important data that is very hard to get to guide the decisions on how serious a threat this is.

The other part is we actually do not have that much good evidence for the social distancing methods. It was just a couple of reviews in the CDC emerging infectious disease journal, which showed that although some of them might work, we really don’t know to what degree and the evidence is pretty weak.

The third part is the pressure that is being put on public health doctors and public health leaders. And that pressure is coming from various places. The first place it came from was the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) when he said “This is a grave threat and a public enemy number one”, I have never heard a Director-General of WHO use terms like that.

I worry about the consequences of social distancing. I worry about people who are losing their jobs. I worry about interruptions with the healthcare system itself. There are many doctors in Manitoba in quarantine right now, because they have returned from other countries. I worry about the message to the public, about the fear of coming into contact with people, being in the same space as people, shaking their hands, having meetings with people. I worry about many, many consequences related to that.

If you look at the data for what we are actually dealing with, I want to give this example. In Hubei, in the province of Hubei, where there has been the most cases and deaths by far, the actual number of cases reported is 1 per 1000 people and the actual rate of deaths reported is 1 per 20,000. So maybe that would help to put things into perspective, as to the actual rate and risks of this condition, because it is a lot lower in any other part of the world, including Italy, and certainly in Canada and the United States." (my bolds)

2.) Dr. Yoram Lass - An Israeli physician and Israel's former Ministry of Health Director-General.  Here are some quotes from an interview with Dr. Lass on the Globes Israeli business website from March 22, 2020:

"Italy is known for its enormous morbidity in respiratory problems, more than three times any other European country. In the US about 40,000 people die in a regular flu season and so far 40-50 people have died of the coronavirus, most of them in a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington."

The characteristics in every country are different. In Italy the median age of those dying of the coronavirus is 81 and the population is very old and frail and smokes more and among the dead are more men. In Korea, in contrast, more young women and non-smokers have been infected. In every country, more people die from regular flu compared with those who die from the coronavirus.

… there is a very good example that we all forget: the swine flu in 2009. That was a virus that reached the world from Mexico. But what? At that time there was no Facebook or there maybe was but it was still in its infancy. The coronavirus in contrast is a virus with public relations….

Even so I say that the numbers do not match the panic. That's because in China they stopped the virus and because of natural immunity, which they've forgotten to talk about. What stopped the swine flu pandemic and what generally stops viruses? Whoever thinks that the government ends viruses is completely wrong. What really happens? The virus, which nobody can stop, spreads throughout the population and then the population, not those at risk, are exposed to the virus and simultaneously the body creates antibodies to shut down and prevent the disease." (my bolds)

3.) Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi - Head of the Institute for Medical Microbiology at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz.  In an interview on March 18, 2020, he states the following:

"When patients concurrently have other illnesses, an infectious agent must not be held solely responsible for a lethal outcome. This happens for COVID- 19 but such a conclusion is false and gives rise to the danger that other important factors are overlooked. Different mortality rates may well be due to different local situations. For example, what does Northern Italy have in common with China? Answer:

Horrific air pollution, the highest in the world. Northern Italy is the China of Europe. The lungs of inhabitants there have been chronically injured over decades. And for this simple reason the situation may not be comparable to elsewhere….

To avoid COVID-19 entering the scene instead of the other Corona viruses, extreme measures are installed…. 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…they (the measures) are grotesque, absurd and very dangerous.

Our elderly citizens have every right to make efforts not to belong to the 2200 who daily embark on their last journey. Social contacts and social events, theatre and music, travel and holiday recreation, sports and hobbies , etc, etc, all help to prolong their stay on earth.

The life expectancy of millions is being shortened.  The horrifying impact on world economy threatens the existence of countless people. The consequences on medical care are profound. Already services to patients who are in need are reduced, operations cancelled, practices empty, hospital personnel dwindling.  All this will impact profoundly on our whole society.

I can only say that all these measures are leading to self-destruction and collective suicide because of nothing but a spook."

Here is the interview on YouTube with English subtitles (use the CC button in the lower right of the YouTube screen to see the translation):


I believe that is enough to digest for today.  If you are interested, here are some additional experts who believe that the COVID-19 panic is not warranted (you may have to use Google Translate to read the comments in English):

Professor Hendrik Streek - his comments are found here.

Dr. Peter Goetzsche - his comments are found here.

Professor Michael Osterholm - his comments are found here.

Dr. Frank Ulrich Montgomery - his comments are found here.

As Dr. Yoram Lass explained, COVID-19 is the only coronavirus with its own public relations team.  The world's politicians and media are not presenting us with a balanced viewpoint of the seriousness of the current pandemic, voicing only the narrative that the 2019 - 2020 version of the novel coronavirus is unprecedented and extremely deadly.  Instead of balance, they are rushing into decisions and implementing policies that may be more dangerous than the virus itself.  As I have said before, I feel like I am caught in the world's most extensive social and monetary experiment.  One thing that we do know for certain is that the world will not look the same once we exit from this nightmare.

14 comments:

  1. Perhaps we need some calm. From Dr. John Lee, an English physician and epidemiologist writing in the Spectator:

    https://spectator.us/deadly-coronavirus-still-far-clear-covid-19/

    “Statistically, we would expect about 51,000 to die in Britain this month. At the time of writing, 422 deaths are linked to COVID-19 — so 0.8 percent of that expected total. On a global basis, we’d expect 14 million to die over the first three months of the year. The world’s 18,944 coronavirus deaths represent 0.14 percent of that total.”

    That does not sound like justification for pushing the World’s economy into a full-blown second Great Depression, fully the equal of 1929. Nor does it sound like justification for putting whole cities and states under house arrest.

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  2. Thanks for this post. I have tried to make sense of the panic, and the only reason I could find that maybe, just maybe, sars cov2 spreads faster, and so it can overload insufficiently resourced health systems with severe cases that come in faster than with a regular flu pandemic. And of course - while China was fighting the spread rather successfully in one region mainly, the West kept sitting on their behind instead of taking care material to protect its health care workers.

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  3. @ petermMarch 30, 2020 at 10:34 AM

    sars cov2 spreads faster, and so it can overload insufficiently resourced health systems

    Exactly. We get flu season every year and are roeady for it, including a massive international immunization drive.

    At tho moment we are getting hit by something that looks fairly contageous and it is behaving just as a green-field epidemic can be expected.

    A wildly more dramatic and deadly but slightly similar experience was the smallpox and measles epidemics that ravaged the native inhabitants of the Americas when the first Europeans arrived. They were far more deadly but the idea of a brand new bug attacking applies.

    I tend to think of it as somothing like rainfall. If we get normally 60cm of rainfall a year spread over 12 months we are ready for it. If we get 60cm of rain in 12 hours we are #$%#@.

    VP is certainly correct that the data is dirty and noisy but in situations of high uncertainty you go with what you've got.

    In a case like this if the overall expert consensus among those who have spent their entire professional lives studying or working on pandemics say "Panic", it is probably a good idea to panic.

    BTW someone like John Lee sounds like an idiot.

    If we go back a couple of weeks or so we probably could have said that only 400 deathswere linked to SARS-CoV-2.
    in Italy. Oops, we are now up to ~700 a day.

    New York state currently is reporting 59,219 cases, presumably most is NYC. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html

    It's too late to panic after its over.


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  4. Interesting stuff on COVID-19

    http://www.preearth.net/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1184

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the link.Indeed very interesting with much new information.

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  5. Most of the time if not all the time ,I like to think critically on almost all topics .From the beginning I have been left wondering ,what am I missing here because what we are being told by government health services do not add up to the statistics . Not being trained in medicine but aware of facts on the ground so to speak, I agree with Dr.Joel Kettner .I dare say the picture is somewhat skewed as too many questions are not answered with few credible answers that make sense.We are told to just trust .Been there and done that .At my age I have heard and seen too much to just do that.

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  6. These precautions will kill millions as apposed to the virus - this is a minor virus, which by the way was bioengineered. It is totally un precedented that these government restrictions to close business, schools, have been imposed to implement the real agender. The world will never recover from this epidemic, as we have done from previous epidemics, which were much worse. The real agender is a single currency and the chipping and vaccination of all citizens.

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  7. Just learned today that "mild cases" (I.E rejected from the hospital two weeks ago in eastern France) can develop lung fibrosis (1/3 for people being put in ICU will develop a lung fibrosis too btw). Fibrosis itself is okay, in most of the cases, you can chirurgicaly remove the damaged tissues. But in case of lung fibrosis, you can't yet.
    I don't understand why lethality is so hyped in the media when it clearly a disease that will crush some people to death in the long run. Time to invest in some ventolin stocks.

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  8. funny how the "official" cases of the virus is taken from Johns Hopkins like an election tally board that is open to manipulation by whoever has an agenda ie Bill Gates et al. search Johns Hopkins & Bill Gates where Bill is working with JsHs on "vaccinations" & BGs holds a talk on their work towards population reduction

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  9. What we really need to know about the coronavirus is how it will affect us as individuals. The fact is, the long latency period before someone shows symptoms makes it is quite possible for someone to be carrying the virus but show no signs whatever when they arrive at the airport and pass through screening.

    A big problem with getting good information about how fast this virus is spreading comes from the fact we simply don't know, how long a person should be quarantined and how long the virus can live on different surfaces is still being debated. More about this subject in the article below.

    https://brucewilds.blogspot.com/2020/03/coronavirus-five-things-we-need-to-know.html

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  10. One of the “known” unknowns is if this virus actually can produce immunity. If not, we quarantine and protect ourselves during the first wave, only to get hit in a possible and probable second wave, like the common cold.

    Does this them mean we have to have a continuous self quarantine?

    I am in the higher risk group at 70, and can comfortably adhere to self quarantine drawing a Government pension.

    Maybe the solution is to self quarantine the elderly, which eliminates a large pool from the severe cases needing hospitalization,

    ” However, after further adjusting for demography and under-ascertainment, we obtained a best estimate of the case fatality ratio in China of 1·38% (1·23–1·53), with substantially higher ratios in older age groups (0·32% [0·27–0·38] in those aged <60 years vs 6·4% [5·7–7·2] in those aged ≥60 years), up to 13·4% (11·2–15·9) in those aged 80 years or older. "

    https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(20)30243-7/fulltext

    The problem is the ascertainment rate, as nobody knows how many actually carry the disease without symptoms. Some estimates go as low as .5%, which would mean that actually 20 000 UK cases would represent a total of 4 million infected residents.

    https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.24.20042218v1.full.pdf+html

    This is among the known unknowns to really get a grip on how virulent this disease actually is, and why our response just might be completely disproportional.

    If we take the figure of 20 000 diagnosed cases only 1/5th actually show severe symptoms (4000 persons).

    A fatality rate of .32% below 60 means only 13 persons below the age of 60 actually die out of a total infected population of 4 million and 19.8% = 792 are over 60 ….where is the problem here that cannot be solved with self quarantine of the elderly?

    The case fatality rate drops from an estimated 3 – 5% to a low of 815/4,000,000×100 = 0,02% = 1/10 of the rate of the flu virus.

    Even if the ascertainment rate was 10 times higher, that would only mean the cfr is at the level of the regular flu.

    I do not say my calculations are right, because as the officials making the decisions I rely on uncertain facts and incomplete data.

    That should make clear that seriously the economy threatening decisions are made without sufficient knowledge of what the facts really are.

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