We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

“In the first week of October, there were 91,013 cases of coronavirus reported in England and Wales, and 343 Covid-related deaths. That same week a total of 9,954 people died from various causes. Of those, just 4.4 per cent of the death certificates mentioned Covid-19.”

Annabel Fenwick Elliot, writing in the Daily Telegraph about the UK experience.

54 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Peter MacFarlane

    When she says “cases” she actually means “positive PCR tests”; they’re not the same thing at all.

    Most of those “cases” have no symptoms, are not ill, and won’t be (or at least, not from this).

    It’s time more people understood these numbers better, but as the fellow said, a moment is a long time and thought is difficult.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Most of those “cases” have no symptoms, are not ill, and won’t be (or at least, not from this).

    That may well be true (depending on whether one agrees with the DT columnist’s understanding of what “cases” means) but the fact is that out of those who have tested positive for covid, a very small percentage died. She then pointed out the number who have died from other causes, hence putting the issue into perspective in terms of how serious this is, or isn’t.

    It’s time more people understood these numbers better, but as the fellow said, a moment is a long time and thought is difficult.

    Doctor, heal thyself.

  • staghounds

    The real question is, how many people died in the first week of October 2019?

  • John B

    @ Johnathan Pearce (London)

    ‘… but the fact is that out of those who have tested positive for covid, a very small percentage died. ‘
    ________________

    That is not what was said nor may you infer it. Since it takes about 21 days from infection to death from COVID19, those 343 victims must have been infected in early September, so they cannot have been a percentage of the cases reported in the first week of October, whatever is meant by cases, but they would be a percentage of COVID disease cases (real meaning of cases) in early September. That percentage we already know as published by the WHO, without any help from the DT – Case Mortality Rate is 2% to 3%.

    The Infection Rate Mortality on the other hand, the total number of people infected as revealed by WHO, is 0,16%.

    That (only) 4,4% of all deaths were accredited to COVID gives no indication of how serious it is as it depends on the average (usually five year average) of excess deaths – not actual deaths which vary from week to week.

  • John

    https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/deathsregisteredweeklyinenglandandwalesprovisional/weekending9october2020#main-points

    For the week ended 9th October.

    9,954 deaths.
    9 more than the comparative week last year.
    Anyone care to guess how much the population has increased in that time?
    I suggest, statistically speaking, that represents a zero increase.

    The facts are freely available.

  • John

    Please ignore. I was reading the report incorrectly.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Nope. The policy favouring lockdown and all the rest is based on reducing infection rates as much as possible because it is presumed to be so deadly. Infection rate mortality of 0.16 % doesn’t seem like the Apocalypse.

    As for attribution to covid as cause of death, given it’s largely focused on the elderly with underlying health conditions, the DT writer’s point stands.

  • John

    FAO Staghounds

    https://www.ons.gov.uk/file?uri=%2fpeoplepopulationandcommunity%2fbirthsdeathsandmarriages%2fdeaths%2fdatasets%2fweeklyprovisionalfiguresondeathsregisteredinenglandandwales%2f2019/publishedweek522019.xls

    Here’s the dataset I should have used. Week 41 total deaths in 2019 were 9,973 which is 19 higher than for Covid affected 2020 – assuming I haven’t messed up again.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “The Infection Rate Mortality on the other hand, the total number of people infected as revealed by WHO, is 0,16%.”

    Do you have a source for that? Because it’s not the number from WHO I’ve seen.

    https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/estimating-mortality-from-covid-19

    Serological testing of a representative random sample of the population to detect evidence of exposure to a pathogen is an important method to estimate the true number of infected individuals [7,8,9]. Many such serological surveys are currently being undertaken worldwide [10], and some have thus far suggested substantial under-ascertainment of cases, with estimates of IFR converging at approximately 0.5 – 1% [10-12].

    Estimates vary wildly, especially when dealing with small populations and low death rates. The figure in the UK is about 1%, as is easily calculated from seroprevalence figures and total deaths.

    The implication of a 0.16% IFR is that total deaths in the UK from 80% of the population being infected would be 84,500. We would have had well over half the deaths expected from 80% infection already (43,579 based on confirmed lab testing, 57,690 mentioned on death certificate), but only 7% have antibodies indicating they have been infected. Or to put it another way, 7% of the population being infected should result in only 7,400 deaths! That is indeed about the level for a year’s worth of seasonal flu.

  • Stonyground

    I thought that this was interesting. Not a single person has died from flu since early in 2020.

    https://newtube.app/user/TonyHeller/D84FACc

  • Plamus

    NiV, here you go.

    I included 61 studies (74 estimates) and eight preliminary national
    estimates. Seroprevalence estimates ranged from 0.02% to 53.40%. Infection fatality rates
    ranged from 0.00% to 1.63%, corrected values from 0.00% to 1.54%. Across 51 locations,
    the median COVID-19 infection fatality rate was 0.27% (corrected 0.23%): the rate was
    0.09% in locations with COVID-19 population mortality rates less than the global average
    ( 500 COVID-19 deaths/million people. In people < 70 years,
    infection fatality rates ranged from 0.00% to 0.31% with crude and corrected medians of
    0.05%.

  • thefat tomato

    (343/91,013)*100 =0.377% COVID deaths percentage SARS COV2 cases, not accounting for the lag between infection discovery and death, which pushes that percentage up
    (9,954/66,650,000)*100 =0.149% all causes of deaths percentage of all population
    SARS COV2 is more than twice, (maybe three times, once you account for the lag between infection and death) as lethal as all causes of deaths combined, is another way of looking at that data.

  • Nullius in Verba

    Plamus,

    Thank you very much!

    That’s Stanford University publishing in the WHO journal – hence my confusion. But an excellent study!

    The IFR numbers are listed in Table 4 on page 31 along with the number of deaths that went into that estimate. So Argentina reported 44 deaths and got 0.16%, Belgium reported 7594 deaths and got 1.09%, and so on. There are lots of studies with very small numbers of deaths. Shenzhen 1, Shijiazhuang 1, Chongqing 6, Guangdong 8, Faroe Islands 0, Germany (Gangelt) 7, Iceland 10, Japan (Kobe) 10, Japan (Tokyo) 189, Kenya 64, and so on, giving very low numbers.

    There are some instances with larger sample sizes, though. Spain 26,920, England 38,854, New York 18,610. Figure 3 shows that in places where overall deaths/million is low (i.e. not much of an epidemic) the values are spread fairly evenly and randomly between 0 and 0.7. But for places with significant epidemics, values are more tightly clustered around 0.8 to 1. It would be better if Ioannidis had plotted against sample size, or confidence interval width, but it gives some indication of which are the more reliable results.

    Interesting study. And thanks for providing some actual numbers!

  • Sigivald

    “SARS COV2 is more than twice, (maybe three times, once you account for the lag between infection and death) as lethal as all causes of deaths combined, is another way of looking at that data.”

    Wat?

    I assume that’s trying to say something sensible and either I’m reading it wrong or it got mangled in the transition from brain to post, because “more than twice as lethal as all other causes of death combined” is a strange formulation.

    The surface reading would be “is killing two or three times as many people as all other causes combined”, which is OBVIOUSLY not true, and thus I presume not what was meant.

    But I can’t suss out what the intended meaning was.

  • John

    There has been much arguing about percentages and rates but one known, albeit inconvenient, truth remains and I will restate the actual numbers.

    Despite Covid there were actually fewer total deaths in the UK during week 41 than during the corresponding week in 2019.

  • Plamus

    NiV, you’re welcome.

    To note, eyeballing the numbers (I may miss something) the highest IFR’s reported with samples of more than 1,000 are Belgium, Spain, England, Connecticut. The lowest are Brazil and Pakistan. I cannot be bothered to convert the table to some usable format and run a regression, but it seems to me that GDP/capita will be a pretty strong predictor. Richer countries have higher life expectancies, and higher life expectancies mean more elderly people living with co-morbidities that would kill them in a different country.

  • Fraser Orr

    According to this:

    The UK has indicated that 6.6% of Covid tests are positive. If we assume that the testing is randomized, then we would expect 6.6% of death certificates to mention Covid. However, according to the OP only 4.4% do. So I’d call that a win.

    Now, are the tests a truly random sample? I’d say probably not, there is both bias toward people who are more likely to be sick (presenting in a hospital for example) but also bias toward people who are not likely to be sick (for example, school teachers and school children.) So I can’t say it balances out without more data, but there is certainly pull in both directions.

    One of the most misleading aspects of data is that covid deaths are reported as people who died WITH Covid, not OF Covid. It is not by any means a bright line, but there are strong incentives to report that any death that might have some tiny correlation to Covid be reported as a Covid death. So many people who would have died anyway (at the same time) are reported as Covid victims when they really aren’t. For example, one guy, Covid positive, died in a motorcycle accident and was initially reported as a Covid death. (They did reverse that because apparently there is SOME limit to their chutzpah.)

    So the death rate is massively exaggerated, and Covid is nothing like the crisis it is reported to be. Which isn’t to say it isn’t a dangerous disease. But it is to say that the governments of the world have definitely decided to “never let a crisis go to waste”.

    They have absolutely destroyed millions of lives for the advancement of their own political goals. It is the ultimate in selfishness, and the apotheosis of politics.

  • itellyounothing

    But normal for bought politicians to pump out their voters……

  • APL

    Stonyground: “Not a single person has died from flu since early in 2020.”

    Lol!

  • staghounds

    Thank you! The numbers match what I suspected. Coronavirus isn’t adding many to the genuine numbers of dead at all.

  • Fraser Orr

    @staghounds
    Thank you! The numbers match what I suspected. Coronavirus isn’t adding many to the genuine numbers of dead at all.

    I don’t think that is true at all. There is a massive pent up set of deaths coming as a result of the repsonse to coronavirus. I was theorizing about this and then I remembered myself. I was supposed to go for a colonoscopy in March, but it got canceled, and moved, and rescheduled, and I still haven’t had one. Now I am not too concerned, it is just a regular part of a physical when you get to my age, nothing to do with any symptoms or reason to believe I have a problem. But imagine if I had colon cancer and it had been given an extra six months to grow. That can easily be the difference between curable cancer and terminal cancer.

    Like I say, I’m not too worried about myself, but there are a lot of people in far worse position, and we are going to be paying with premature deaths caused by the lockdowns for at least the next ten years. And that doesn’t even factor in the deaths we are going to see from alcohol and drug abuse caused by people having nothing else to do.

    FWIW, I think Covid is dangerous, and does kill people surplus to what would have happened anyway, especially in at risk populations, but the cost in lives, wealth, poverty, capital, depression, lost opportunity, destruction of all that people have worked for never seems to be accounted for, even though this is surely one of the most costly events in human history.

    Of course it is the classic political ploy, trading visible costs for hidden costs, visible lives lost (with a clock counting them on CNN) and ignoring the cost completely because it is less visible. It is what politicians do. It is why politicians are among the worst human beings on earth, and why I have often said that the desire to become a politician should automatically disqualify you from being one.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Here is a good article by Liam Halligan, also in the Daily Telegraph, today:

    Excerpts:

    Salient facts (for example, so far this month the UK weekly deaths from respiratory diseases have been around the five-year pre-Covid October average) are muscling into circulation, not least via social media.

    The occupancy of ICU beds across the country is currently just 60 per cent, suggesting the NHS is in no danger of being overwhelmed. National ICU bed usage is a fraction of what it was in early April, and that’s before we crank up now well-rehearsed emergency measures.

    These are the kind of statistics you increasingly hear on radio phone-in shows, but not the TV news.

    While lockdown had over 90 per cent support in March and April, now we know Covid-19 overwhelmingly harms the elderly, and with the economy itself on life support, the public is more sceptical. Even polls driven by loaded questions, conducted amid a climate of fear, show backing for lockdown has halved.

    Indeed, the public is engaged in a debate far more sophisticated and nuanced than the dogmas being sold by the vast majority of politicians. This Manchester row, by forcing anti-lockdown arguments to the fore, has brought that debate fully into the open ­– and not a moment too soon.

    Manchester has long been a citadel of dissent. The city’s 19th century campaign to secure lower food prices through free trade ultimately overturned the landowner-backed corn laws. Yet again, the capital of the North has unleashed much-needed public discourse.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “One of the most misleading aspects of data is that covid deaths are reported as people who died WITH Covid, not OF Covid.”

    That’s why they prefer to use the “excess deaths” measure – the number of deaths more than normal for the time of year. According to that measure, about 65,000 extra people died in the UK over and above the normal at the time of the epidemic. That kinda suggests Covid deaths are being strongly under-reported.

    “The occupancy of ICU beds across the country is currently just 60 per cent, suggesting the NHS is in no danger of being overwhelmed.”

    Exponentials are tricky that way. The numbers go from 1 to 10, to 100 to 1000 to 10,000 to 100,000 to one million. At the start the numbers are all low. One case doesn’t even make the papers. Neither do 10 cases. 100 cases is still pretty small, and 1000 is scarcely going to overwhelm the system. And we’re already half way through the list! So what’s the issue?

    But at every step, the current step is always about nine times more that the total of all the steps that have come so far. 90% of the problem is always piled into the last number. The numbers are all small and nothing to worry about, until suddenly they’re not. It looks like nothing is going on, until suddenly it erupts through all the limits ‘out of nowhere’.

    And worse, there’s a three week delay between any measures you take to stop infections, and that showing up in the deaths. There is always some of that exponential rise already in the pipeline. So when deciding what to do and when to act, the situation is always about 3 weeks worse than you think it is.

    You can see the current exponential rise here. Between the middle of September and the Middle of October, the dotted red line has followed a straight line from 10 to 100. If it carries on along the same straight line, where will it be three weeks from now? Where would you project it to be by Christmas?

    For comparison, UK deaths in the Second World War were about 450,000 over 5 years (roughly 5×365 = 1825 days), which would be an average of 450,000/1825 = 250 per day, rounding up.

  • Penseivat

    “….just 4.4 per cent of the death certificates mentioned Covid 19.”
    Would that mention be “of Covid 19” or “with Covid 19”?
    If it’s “with” then I think the death certificate of the old lady down the road, who died of cancer (because treatments had been halted due to the CCP virus) should have “with bunions” added.
    Statistics can mean anything people want them to mean and, if those people have a vested interest in continuing the panic, unemployment, and national bankruptcy, their statistics will certainly be slanted in their favour.

  • Paul Marks

    As many medical doctors (for example Dr Brian Tyson in a recent interview with Dr Simone Gold) have pointed out for months…..

    Many doctors have had great success treating Covid 19 EARLY (stage one – well before hospitalisation) with a combination of hydroxychloroquine, zinc sulphate and (for non Covid problems that may develop with the lungs in a weakened state) either azithromycin or doxycycline.

    This has been reported by many medical doctors for months – but has been kept from most people by a massive campaign of censorship and smearing disinformation.

    The reason for this massive campaign of censorship and smearing disinformation is POLITICAL – this pandemic is very useful to a lot of very powerful forces in the world, the forces that want “Build Back Better”, “Sustainable Development”, “Stakeholder Capitalism” FACISM.

    FASCISM – the coming together of a few vast Corporations (without any real free market based on customer CHOICE) and a vast GOVERNMENT.

    In such cities as San Francisco “Build Back Better” Agenda 21, Agenda 2030 is not some theory – it is already happening, already (this year) a majority of independently owned business enterprises have closed in the city (not “for the virus” – permanently). The same thing is happening in New York and many other Democrat controlled “Build Back Better” places.

    The same thing is happening in much of the Western World – “Sustainable Development” “Stakeholder Capitalism” FACISM – the coming together of a few vast Corporations and vast GOVERNMENT controlled every aspect of society.

    That is what Covid 19 is being USED for – and that is why cheap and effective EARLY treatment is actively being discouraged in much of the Western people.

    If large numbers of people had not died, the totalitarians would not have had the excuse for what they are doing – it is as brutally (and horribly) simple as that.

    First they used “the environment” as an excuse for their totalitarian plans – but that was not working (at least not working as fast as they wanted) so they turned to using Covid 19 as an excuse for their totalitarian plans.

    I do NOT know whether Covid 19 was deliberately developed for this purpose or deliberately spread for this purpose – but it is clear that the international establishment elite (people such as Mr Klaus Schwab and his “World Economic Forum”) have leaped upon Covid 19 as an excuse for things they have wanted to do for DECADES.

  • Nemesis

    Interviewer to a member of the Amish community
    “Can you tell me why your community doesn’t seem to have been affected by the Covid virus?”
    Amish “We dont have television”.

  • APL

    Paul Marks: “Many doctors have had great success treating Covid 19 EARLY (stage one – well before hospitalisation) with a combination of hydroxychloroquine, zinc sulphate and (for non Covid problems that may develop with the lungs in a weakened state) either azithromycin or doxycycline.”

    Please stop asking GP/Doctors/Consultants to make medical decisions based on their area of expertise or experience. These type of decisions should be left up to the bureaucracy, with their models and double blind randomized trials, that provide the results the models project.

    We don’t want any of that real world shit interfering with our models, Paul.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Please stop asking GP/Doctors/Consultants to make medical decisions based on their area of expertise or experience.”

    Goodness me! And I thought all doctors were Mad Marxists pushing the transgender ideology on children contrary to all the Laws of God and Nature? Seems to me I’ve heard something along those lines when the expertise of the medical profession came up in conversation…

    Medical expertise and experience tells us that it’s very hard to tell if a treatment really cures a disease, and incredibly easy to fool oneself, and the only way to tell if it really works in reality is double-blind randomised trials. There are doctors and patients who swear by the incredible benefits of homeopathy, too! But when you test it in double-blind randomised trials, it has no effect.

    But we don’t want any of that real world shit interfering with our beliefs, do we?

  • John

    You are sadly correct.

    The lengthy ONS reports also make clear that the number of deaths in hospital and care facilities are currently below previous yearly levels and gave been do for a great many weeks. In the first category this may be due to fewer people actually being admitted to hospital and in the other due to the most vulnerable of those in care having sadly been killed in part due to Covid in the early months (although many of these would likely have been given the final push by influenza or other causes in any case).

    More worryingly for some time now the total number of deaths “at home” have been above usual levels which is quite possibly due to the lack of ongoing nhs treatments. If that is true then this trend can only increase.

  • AFT

    Pace Paul Marks, Fraser Orr has it right: the dynamics driving the official reaction to Covid-19 are largely about visible costs vs. hidden costs. And these dynamics aren’t really affected by what the best course of action might be (on which I am personally agnostic).

    Put yourself in the place of a government: If you take decision A, the resulting deaths will be blamed on you. If you take decision B, the resulting deaths – even if they are higher in number than would have been the case had you taken decision A – will not be blamed on you, because those deaths aren’t being publicly counted and nobody other than the nearest and dearest of the deceased is paying any great attention to them.

    That’s all it is. There’s no great conspiracy, no cabal taking advantage of an imaginary crisis. There are just ordinary human beings reacting to incentives.

    All we can hope is that the incentives are pushing people in a direction that is objectively doing some good.

  • APL

    NiV: “But we don’t want any of that real world shit interfering with our beliefs, do we?”

    Quite right, UK GP gets six years training, that’s clearly not nearly enough to make a medical decision based on one or more consultations with his patient.

    NB. While there may be little evidence supporting claims for homeopathy, there is a fair number of double blind randomized trials into the placebo effect. Maybe even enough to satisfy you.

  • Interviewer to a member of the Amish community: “Can you tell me why your community doesn’t seem to have been affected by the Covid virus?”

    Amish “We don’t have television”. (Nemesis, October 22, 2020 at 10:41 am)

    That is brilliantly funny and also very insightful; thanks, Nemesis.

  • AFT

    … and if I may add to my comment of earlier, I don’t believe that there is necessarily any conscious weighing up of the visible and hidden costs. Politicians may overwhelmingly be slimeballs but I’m prepared to accept that most of them aren’t actually murderous slimeballs. They persuade themselves that they are taking their decisions for all the right reasons.

    Secondly, in the scenario in which decision B is taken, it isn’t just that the hidden costs, those deaths resulting from taking decision B, aren’t publicly counted; it’s also that they may not have occurred yet. Who knows what the impact of losing a job or seeing a business go under might have on life expectancy in the longer term? (There are, presumably, some studies out there that look at this in normal times but these are very unusual circumstances.) Not to mention the long-term impact of reduced social contact or reduced access to non-Covid-related medical services.

  • thefat tomato

    @sigivald: you are correct that formulation is confusing and mangled, it is supposed to be confusing and mangled. The original QOTD is confusing and mangled, it compares all deaths vs covid deaths, then misleads the reader into looking at only one ratio, 4.4% death certificates mentioning COVID19, that sounds small to a layman, BUT its 4.4% from the fraction of people who had SARS COV2 infection during late September.

    “The surface reading would be “is killing two or three times as many people as all other causes combined”, which is OBVIOUSLY not true, and thus I presume not what was meant.”
    What was meant was that; it COULD kill two to three times as many as all other causes combined, IF the infection runs through the entire population.

    The normal UK death rate is 0.9% from all causes. The WHO has covid as a 2.75% CFR disease as of today, 2.75% is two to three times more than 0.9%, the normal UK death rate.

    Have I explained why the original QOTD is confusing and hence why my response is confusing?

  • Fraser Orr

    @Nullius in Verba
    That’s why they prefer to use the “excess deaths” measure – the number of deaths more than normal for the time of year. According to that measure, about 65,000 extra people died in the UK over and above the normal at the time of the epidemic. That kinda suggests Covid deaths are being strongly under-reported.

    I’m not sure who the “people” you are referring to are, but you are mistaken. “Excess deaths” include both deaths from the disease and the cure for the disease. A lot of people are dying because they are locked up in their house with nothing to do and no access to medical facilities, while watching the destruction of their businesses and the emotional collapse of their children. The number of people living in poverty has skyrocketed worldwide, and, let’s be clear, outside of the west the primary cause of death is a disease called “poverty”. A lot of people are dying from the “cure” for this disease, yet bizarrely, you want to use their deaths as justification to keep on with that selfsame deadly cure.

    I could not disagree with you more.

  • Fraser Orr

    @AFT
    That’s all it is. There’s no great conspiracy, no cabal taking advantage of an imaginary crisis. There are just ordinary human beings reacting to incentives.

    The two are not mutually exclusive. If you think that the American left is not trying to take advantage of this crisis to manipulate the political situation to your advantage then you are nuts. For sure the situation is incentivizing them to push visible over invisible costs, but they have other incentives besides Covid deaths, namely their own power and aggrandizement, and they are using the pandemic to advance their other goals too.

    So there are two separate processes going on here — covering their butts and advancing their goals. Both built on the ruined lives and dead bodies of innocent bystanders.

  • AFT

    @Fraser Orr,

    I was referring to governments, not to assorted radical political groups that don’t hold power (and very much wish they did). I don’t believe that there is any conspiracy involving Western governments.

  • djc

    @AFT
    Yes, short-term v long-term costs. but:
    there are going to be a lot of people living with the consequences for a long time, they may not be willing to forgive and forget.

  • Sigivald

    I feel I must reply to the above to note that “fascism”, in either its Italian or German forms, was never, ever about “corporations”.

    Mussolini used the term, yes, but in a sense utterly unlike modern Anglosphere usage; the “corporate” in Italian Fascst use is things like “the Army”, “the Church”, “Labor”, on the Council of Fasces.

    “Corporations” under Fascist states were never *sources* of power – they did what the State wanted, or the State replaced their controllers with someone who would. Between the occasional ardent Nazi and “go along because the State doesn’t brook argument” it might look at a glance like “Corporations” loved Naziism just fine and were “partners” with the State, giving it its power.

    They were not.

    (Can modern giant corporations exert power in antidemocratic ways? Yes!

    But this is not fascism.)

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I’m not sure who the “people” you are referring to are, but you are mistaken.”

    ‘People’ are the government’s epidemiologists. And this was precisely why I said “kinda suggests” instead of “proves”. A spike in the number of deaths happened at exactly the same time as the epidemic peaked, and was significantly bigger than the official figures attributed to Covid. That *suggests* that the official figures under-counted Covid deaths. You can invent alternatives in which some other effect of the lockdown killed tens of thousands of people just at the moment there were all these people dying in hospital with Covid, but Covid is the easy and obvious explanation with already-existing evidence that it was killing people at that time, while we have yet to obtain any evidence for these hypothetical alternatives.

    It’s just about arguable to say “we don’t know” why the pavement is wet after a rainstorm. It’s not plausible to argue that we can say for certain it wasn’t because it was just raining.

    “A lot of people are dying because they are locked up in their house with nothing to do and no access to medical facilities, while watching the destruction of their businesses and the emotional collapse of their children.”

    That sounds over-dramatic. Boredom isn’t fatal, whatever the kids might say!

    And everyone still had access to medical facilities for essential treatment. They might not always have taken advantage of it, but if it’s something obviously likely to be immediately fatal then it counts as an emergency and will get treated as normal. If it’s more of a long-term health condition, then I wouldn’t expect the extra deaths to have shown up yet. It takes a long, long time for stress to kill you.

    And again, there are costs and benefits in both directions. While they’re not going out they’re not having industrial accidents, traffic accidents, or getting drunk and in fights on a Friday/Saturday evening. The reduction in alcohol damage to the health will be considerable!

    There are always useful things to do. Read a book. Study. Learn to Code.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Nullius in Verba
    That sounds over-dramatic. Boredom isn’t fatal, whatever the kids might say!

    It is when you fill the time with Fentanyl and Alcohol, or beat your wife and kids for recreation, or end the boredom with a 9mm semi auto.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “It is when you fill the time with Fentanyl and Alcohol, or beat your wife and kids for recreation, or end the boredom with a 9mm semi auto.”

    Well, that should be easy to check…

  • Jim

    ” You can invent alternatives in which some other effect of the lockdown killed tens of thousands of people just at the moment there were all these people dying in hospital with Covid, but Covid is the easy and obvious explanation with already-existing evidence that it was killing people at that time, while we have yet to obtain any evidence for these hypothetical alternatives.”

    You don’t have to invent it. Go and ask the care homes, and look at the stats of deaths in them of people who ‘didn’t’ have covid. The moment to NHS cleared its beds of all elderly patients and sent them back to the care homes it not only seeded covid into those care homes (thus artificially inflating the number of people who died from it) it also refused to take any elderly person from a care home who was suffering from any non-covid illness/medical emergency. Care homes effectively became medical care free areas. If you had a medical emergency while in one during lockdown, you died. The NHS wouldn’t treat you. Thats why the overall deaths above the long term averages are 20 thousand above the covid related ones – the ‘wonder of the world’ NHS condemned old people to die without care, to ‘save’ itself. Its an utter scandal, but because its the sainted NHS, no-one cares. People get shouted at for not wearing masks as ‘killing granny’, the NHS killed thousands of grannies through its inaction and everyone pretends it didn’t happen.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “You don’t have to invent it. Go and ask the care homes”

    Show me.

    I’m aware that the hospitals cleared beds of non-essential cases. So people having hip replacements and so on got sent back. No particular reason to think they were any more or less infected with Covid than the people already in the care homes, but it is a mass movement of people, so I can see there is a possible complaint about the potential for ‘seeding’.

    But the government made it *very* clear that the NHS was still open for business to essential cases. I do vaguely recall one of the journalists asking a question about people not getting essential/emergency treatment at one of the daily press conferences, and the spokesman made it clear that this should not happen, and was not what they had told them to do. Anyone needing hospital treatment should be sent to hospital – just warn the ambulance service that they had Covid symptoms before they set off.

    So it’s certainly possible that there were care homes who misunderstood the rules and did the wrong thing. And it’s also possible that someone from the government or in the NHS bureaucracy had wrongly issued such rules at some point and the spokesman had to correct it. But the policy was always supposed to be that the NHS was still treating all essential cases, and that includes in care homes.

    The basic problem with care homes is that the staff have close contact with lots of the residents. Most of them are there because they need contant help feeding themselves, or washing, or replacing catheters and stuff. The staff move from patient to patient. So if a staff member gets it, it rapidly spreads to lots of residents. They are highly interconnected. And when a lot of the staff are agency workers who move from home to home, sometimes working on one site, and the next day moving to a different site, that spreads it even further. All those staff were ‘essential workers’ and going home to their families, going to the supermarket, picking up supplies, and so on in the outside world. It requires no ‘seeding’ hypothesis to explain why Covid levels exploded in care homes. It’s just the way they operate.

    I know there are a bunch of Lefty Remainer media people who hate Boris, and hated the way his handling of the crisis boosted his popularity, and did everything they could to knock him down by attacking the government’s handling of it – generating an endless series of often mutually contradictory stories in the press about the way Boris was botching it. One day they were attacking them for being too lenient on something and letting the virus spread, the next day they’d attack them for the consequences of the measures they took to stop the spread, making life hard for people. One day they were complaining about the rules being too complicated to understand, the next complaining that they were over-simplified and not covering all the edge cases and exceptions justly. After they had done it half a dozen times, and it had turned out each time on closer examination to be completely bogus, I realised most of the moaning mainstream media coverage of the crisis was uninformed partisan shite and tuned it out. So I may possibly have missed some genuine cases. I’m not saying there aren’t any – cock ups are a part of real life – but I’d be initially very sceptical of any story along the lines of “Heartless Boris drowns puppies”.

    The lockdown rules specifically exempted emergencies and seeking medical attention from its restrictions. The NHS was never shut to emergencies. If anyone thought so, it was probably because they were relying on the anti-Boris Lefty Remainer media for their information.

  • Jim

    “The lockdown rules specifically exempted emergencies and seeking medical attention from its restrictions. The NHS was never shut to emergencies.”

    What explains all this then:

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8656957/NHS-told-care-homes-not-resuscitate-orders-residents-height-Covid-crisis.html

    You have a touching faith in the NHS following any ‘rules’. The rules didn’t stop the Gosport Hospital scandal, where a doctor basically murdered patients by putting them on terminal opiate drips that their medical condition did not require. No one has ever been even disciplined for this, let alone prosecuted, so why you think that the NHS takes a blind bit of notice as to what ‘the rules’ say I have no idea. The NHS is untouchable. Any part of it can act as it sees fit with impunity, because it is politically protected at the highest level. Any legal action that is seen to be detrimental to the standing of the NHS is squashed, regardless of what has happened to patients.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “What explains all this then:”

    The explanation is given in the story:

    She told the Telegraph: ‘10 per cent of the respondents raised an issue, because they were either blanket decisions for whole populations, or they were imposed without discussion with the care home or the family or the residents, and that is really worrying.’

    The report comes after the chief of the NHS in April told hospitals and GP practices not to request the orders en masse, banning the use of blanket forms.

    Stephen Powis, boss of NHS England, wrote to staff to ban the forms after it was revealed that doctors in Wales had asked elderly patients to agree not to call the emergency services.

    The government didn’t order it. The NHS senior management didn’t order it. When the head of the NHS found out about it, he banned the practice and took away the forms. It applied to only 10% of the nurses and managers.

    In fact, it didn’t even apply to all of them. They had 163 responses to the survey. 16 of them responded that the rules on DNRs had changed in a negative way. From the report:

    16 were reported negatively. For example, blanket DNACPR instructions from the GP or the CCG or hospitals putting DNACPR in place without discussion with the resident, family or care home. Also, hospitals refusing to admit patients who had DNACPR or blanket ‘no admission’ policy;

    ‘We were advised to have them in place for all residents. We acted in accordance with medical advice and resident wishes, not as advised by a directive to put in place for all by a CCG representative. We challenged this as unethical.’

    ‘Sometimes changed without inclusion of family or the resident (where appropriate).

    Not always made including quality of life rather than disease and age.’

    ‘Put in place without family consent by Trust staff, no consultation with staff in home.’

    So there were a number of different problems, *including* attempts to impose blanket DNRs (that the staff refused to do) and hospitals refusing to take patients with DNRs. Given that the total of *all* the different issues was 16, it’s entirely possible that the number of actual cases of each individual issue might have been only three or four. We don’t know.

    So we have a very different picture when we chase the sources down. They did a survey of care home staff. 95 said there was no change in policy, 39 said things had got better, 16 said it had got worse, with some of those 16 having mentioned specific bad policies that doctors and hospitals had put in place. As soon as they heard about it, the head of the NHS told them to stop doing it. But to hear the media tell it, you would think Boris and the NHS had personally signed the death warrants of every single care home resident as part of the lockdown rules! The newspapers are always doing this sort of crap. And people believe them.

    So was it one, or ten, or a hundred? How many people were affected? What was the outcome in those cases? Who has chased down the death certificates and counted bodies to determine whether the excess deaths are due to this hypothetical cause? No one. We don’t know. We’ve got survey, that in passing lists a handful of reported cases as examples, turned into an sensationalist newspaper story, that we’ve fitted into a convenient political narrative, that gives us the perfect opportunity to dismiss a statistic we don’t like. Nobody bothered to check whether any of it was true. And so it goes.

    This is why I stopped reading newspapers.

  • Paul Marks

    The lockdowns, restrictions and mask mandates in many countries are not about Public Health – they never were.

    Build Back Better, Agenda 21 Agenda 2030, Sustainable Development Totalitarianism, Stakeholder Capitalism Fascism, the Great Reset.

  • Jim

    You want stats?

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-54598728

    26k extra deaths at home from March to September this year, from non-covid related issues. How many of them would have survived, had they either been able to, or felt they could, seek medical attention in the ‘wonder of the world’ NHS?

    There’s 26k actual people, who died at home either because they were afraid to seek medical attention as they didn’t trust the NHS not to give them covid, or because they’d listened to the insane ‘save the NHS’ rhetoric piled out by the politicians and media nonstop and didn’t want to ’cause a fuss’?

  • Jim

    And an inside account of what actually was going on in care homes during lockdown:

    https://lockdownsceptics.org/testimony-of-a-carer-during-covid-19/

  • Nullius in Verba

    “You want stats?”

    I certainly do! 🙂

    “26k extra deaths at home from March to September this year, from non-covid related issues. How many of them would have survived, had they either been able to, or felt they could, seek medical attention in the ‘wonder of the world’ NHS?”

    I don’t know, and neither do you. Maybe none. Maybe lots. We’re guessing.

    The article also says:

    While deaths from these conditions also rose in care homes, hospital deaths from dementia went down – by 40% in England, and 25% in Wales.

    So it appears they’re not all *extra* deaths, it appears that a lot of them simply changed location, from hospital to home. How comparable were the numbers? Well, we can look at Table 1 from the ONS source report here. The deaths lists in that table show an increase in deaths at home for males and females of about 4000 each, and a reduction in deaths in hospital of men and women of about 4000 each. It’s obviously only part of the picture (leading causes of death rather than all deaths), but it seems to indicate that there were no great number of extra deaths – they just changed location.

    Figure 9 is also interesting. It shows peaks in excess deaths for all causes (which includes Covid) in all locations at the time of the epidemic. Following the epidemic pulse (after Covid deaths more or less stopped) there is a pretty constant increase in the number occurring each week at home, no change in care homes, and a constant decrease of roughly the same magnitude in hospital. It looks like there are more excess deaths post-pulse than normal overall, but the headline number is clearly much more of a shift in location than an increase in number. In the pulse, we can’t distinguish causes based on this data, but by elimination it looks like most of the excess deaths not identified as Covid-related are during the period of the Covid epidemic pulse. Post pulse, it appears there’s no indication of care homes not sending people to hospital, but where people have a choice they prefer to stay at home. We don’t know why. The data doesn’t say.

    An interesting insight! Thanks for pointing me at the data!

  • Jim

    “I don’t know, and neither do you. Maybe none. Maybe lots. We’re guessing.”

    And that applies to your assertion that the c.20k excess deaths above the certified covid ones are covid related. You have no proof either that is the case, yet you make the same un-evidenced assertion you accuse me of…….I at least have the undeniable evidence that the NHS has refused to treat many people for non-covid related health issues for over 6 months now to back up my argument, you have absolutely no evidence whatsoever that the number of covid deaths is any greater than those recorded.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I at least have the undeniable evidence that the NHS has refused to treat many people for non-covid related health issues for over 6 months now to back up my argument”

    No you don’t. You have evidence that more people are dying at home instead of in hospitals. You don’t offer any evidence that it is because the NHS refused to treat them. The source of that newspaper report about pervasive refusal to treat care home residents itself indicated that 95 had said there had been no change in policy, 39 said things had improved, only 16 reported any problems at all. There are no numbers showing how many people have been actually refused treatment, or for how long, or whether it was just a handful of hospitals briefly getting overloaded at the peak, with the rest of the NHS still open for business.

    “…you have absolutely no evidence whatsoever that the number of covid deaths is any greater than those recorded.”

    I agree. And this is precisely why I used the phrase “kinda suggests” instead of “proves”!

    Statisticians recognise the problems with the data. It’s hard to identify cause of death anyway, and in cases where multiple factors are at work it may not even be unambiguously definable. There are cases identified as Covid that aren’t, and cases identified as not Covid that are, and people who are not even on their radar. People are in a hurry, or uncertain, or incompetent, and sometimes don’t fill the forms in properly. It normally takes around 5 months to investigate, validate, and record death statistics. The statisticians are knowingly using statistics that have errors and uncertainty because they need to make the decisions right now, not in five months time. Life is imperfect, and we all just have to do the best we can.

    Statisticians regard “excess deaths” as the best measure available. Lab testing is known to be be thoroughly incomplete, and lots of people who get a cough and fever never get tested and never tell the authorities, but it is quite hard to hide a dead body. Deaths are a much more reliable statistic. By comparing them against the past average for the time of year, and noting the large pulse of extra deaths at precisely the time the hospitals were full of people sick with Covid, you can get some indication of the actual impact. That number indicates significantly more people than the official numbers are dying because of the Covid epidemic. So the idea that they are simply recategorising other causes of death as Covid doesn’t fly. But it doesn’t nail down whether it was the direct effect of the virus or indirect effects of the lockdown. For that, we have to have a think about how a lockdown could cause thousands of people to die within weeks. Suicide is a possibility, but would be easily detected as such. Stress doesn’t kill that fast. Lots of people take time off work, lose their jobs, have relatives die, and don’t immediately keel over. It’s quite hard to starve to death in a couple of months. People could still go out of their houses for exercise, shopping, and emergencies. It’s hard to see how it can be anything else other than direct infection with the virus. And viruses are well-known for killing people. That’s not definitive, I agree, but it’s currently the most probable hypothesis pending new evidence to explain how/why it’s not.

  • Jacob

    Here is an article in Hebrew that gives graphs (the big one for Israel – the small ones for many other countries) that show the total deaths per week from the start of 2020 – in red line, and the total average deaths per week for the years 2017-2019 in black line. It’s total deaths from all causes 2017-2019 vs. total death from all causes in 2020 including covid19. (scroll down to the graphs).

    You see clearly that – while in some few weeks the total deaths was lower in 2020, for most weeks and most countries it was significantly or even very higher.
    It is also possible that the 2020 lockdowns reduced deaths from other causes such as the old flu or road accidents.
    There is NO DOUBT Covid19 causes many additional deaths. No use arguing about that.
    (After the first, big death spike caused by Covid19, it’s possible to have fewer deaths in the next weeks – maybe because the sickest people already died off).

  • Jacob

    This article in the NY Times cites two studies that show that total deaths in the US 2020 to October were 300,000 higher than average 2015-2019. At the same time only some 200,000 death of Covid19 were reported.
    They have no good explanation for the extra 100,000 deaths.
    Anyhow arguing about reporting practices (“with covid” vs “of covid”) is pointless. Covid19 is real and deadly.

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