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Opinion

Delaying herd immunity is costing lives – Spiked

The choice we face is stark. One option is to maintain a general lockdown for an unknown amount of time until herd immunity is reached through a future vaccine or until there is a safe and effective treatment. This must be weighed against the detrimental effects that lockdowns have on other health outcomes. The second option is to minimise the number of deaths until herd immunity is achieved through natural infection. Most places are neither preparing for the former nor considering the latter.

The question is not whether to aim for herd immunity as a strategy, because we will all eventually get there. The question is how to minimise casualties until we get there. Since Covid-19 mortality varies greatly by age, this can only be accomplished through age-specific countermeasures. We need to shield older people and other high-risk groups until they are protected by herd immunity.

Among the individuals exposed to Covid-19, people aged in their 70s have roughly twice the mortality of those in their 60s, 10 times the mortality of those in their 50s, 40 times that of those in their 40s, 100 times that of those in their 30s, and 300 times that of those in their 20s. The over-70s have a mortality that is more than 3,000 times higher than children have. For young people, the risk of death is so low that any reduced levels of mortality during the lockdown might not be due to fewer Covid-19 deaths, but due to fewer traffic accidents.

https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/04/29/delaying-herd-immunity-is-costing-lives/

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Publications

Association of contact to small children with mild course of COVID-19 – medRxiv

It is known that severe COVID-19 cases in small children are rare. If a childhood-related infection would be protective against severe course of COVID-19, it would be expected that adults with intensive and regular contact to small children also may have a mild course of COVID-19 more frequently. To test this hypothesis, a survey among 4,010 recovered COVID-19 patients was conducted in Germany. 1,186 complete answers were collected. 6.9% of these patients reported frequent and regular job-related contact to children below 10 years of age and 23.2% had own small children, which is higher than expected. In the relatively small subgroup with intensive care treatment (n=19), patients without contact to small children were overrepresented. These findings are not well explained by age, gender or BMI distribution of those patients and should be validated in other settings.

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.07.20.20157149v1

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Videos

Oxford epidemiologists: suppression strategy is not viable – UnHerd

2:55 – Masks
• Tom Jefferson: “Aside from people who are exposed on the frontlines, there is no evidence that masks make any difference, but what’s even more extraordinary is the uncertainty: we don’t know if these things make any difference…. We should have done randomised control trials in February, March and April but not anymore because viral circulation is low and we will need huge number of enrolees to show whether there was any difference”.
• Carl Heneghan: “By all means people can wear masks but they can’t say it’s an evidence-based decision… there is a real separation between an evidence-based decision and the opaque term that ‘we are being led by the science’, which isn’t the evidence”.

9:26 – Pandemic life cycle
• CH: “One of the keys of the infection is to look at who’s been infected, which shows a crucial difference when comparing the pandemic theory to seasonal theory. In a pandemic you’d expect to see young people disproportionately affected, but in the UK we’ve only had six child deaths, which is far less than we’d normally see in a pandemic. The high number of deaths with over-75s fits with the seasonal theory”.

14:00 – Covid seasonality
• CH: “The stability of the virus is far less when the temperature goes up but humidity seems to be particularly important. The lower the humidity, the more stable the virus is in the atmosphere and on surfaces… It’s now winter in the southern hemisphere, which is why places like Australia are suddenly having outbreaks.”

20:37 – Lockdown
• CH: “Many people said that we should have locked down earlier, but 50% of care homes developed outbreaks during the lockdown period so there are issues within the transmission of this virus that are not clear… Lockdown is a blunt tool and there needs to be intelligent conversations about what mitigation strategies can keep society functioning while we keep the most vulnerable shielded”.

25:20 – Nightingale hospitals
• CH: “They are the wrong structure. What you need is fever hospitals which were here until around the 1980s or 90s. They were on single floors and had isolation within isolation. Theere were no lift shafts and staff were trained, which meant that everyone was protected from each other… It looks like at leats 20% of people got the infection while they were in hospital”

27:30 – Suppression strategy
• CH: “The benefits of the current strategy are outweighed by the harms…When it comes to suppression, only the virus will have a determination in that. If you follow the New Zealand policy of suppressing it to zero and locking down the country forever, then you’re going to have a problem… This virus is so out there now, I cannot see a strategy that makes suppression the viable option. The strategy right now should be how we learn to live with this virus”

32:45 – Response to the virus
• TJ: “I am a survivor of four pandemics and for the other three, I didn’t even realise they were going on. People died but nothing changed and none of the fabric of society was eroded like this response… Do I see steps being taken at a European level about learning from our mistakes and changing policies? The answer is no…

39:30 – Politics of the virus
• CH: “We as individuals are part of the problem because sensationalism drives people to click and read the information. So it’s a big circle because we’ve created the problem — if we put the worst case scenario out there, we will go and have a look. If you want a solution, you’ve got to get people to stop clicking on this sensationalist stuff”.

43:30 – IFR
• CH: “We will be down about where we were with the swine flu: around 0.1-0.3% which is much lower than what we think because at the moment we are seeing the case fatality”.
• TJ: “If you look at the whole narrative, it was distorted from the very beginning by the obsession with influenza which was just one or two agents and nothing else existed. We’re no different now”.

Categories
Opinion

Fact Checking. Matt Hancock’s figures on Covid deaths among shop workers analysed – Peter Hitchens, The Mail on Sunday

Ben Humberstone, Head of Health Analysis and Life Events, Office for National Statistics:

‘Today’s analysis shows that jobs involving close proximity with others, and those where there is regular exposure to disease, have some of the highest rates of death from COVID-19. However, our findings do not prove conclusively that the observed rates of death involving COVID-19 are necessarily caused by differences in occupational exposure.’

https://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2020/07/fact-checking-matt-hancocks-figures-on-covid-deaths-among-shop-workers-analysed-.html

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Opinion

Coronavirus: Why everyone was wrong – Dr. Beda Stadler

Professor Dr. Beda M Stadler is the former director of the Institute for Immunology at the University of Bern, a biologist and professor emeritus.

Novelty:

Sars-Cov-2 isn’t all that new, but merely a seasonal cold virus that mutated and disappears in summer, as all cold viri do — which is what we’re observing globally right now. Flu viri mutate significantly more, by the way, and nobody would ever claim that a new flu virus strain was completely novel.

Immunity:

In mid-April work was published by the group of Andreas Thiel at the Charité Berlin. A paper with 30 authors, amongst them the virologist Christian Drosten. It showed that in 34 % of people in Berlin who had never been in contact with the Sars-CoV-2 virus showed nonetheless T-cell immunity against it (T-cell immunity is a different kind of immune reaction, see below). This means that our T-cells, i.e. white blood cells, detect common structures appearing on Sars-CoV-2 and regular cold viri and therefore combat both of them.

…almost no children under ten years old got sick, everyone should have made the argument that children clearly have to be immune. For every other disease that doesn’t afflict a certain group of people, we would come to the conclusion that that group is immune. When people are sadly dying in a retirement home, but in the same place other pensioners with the same risk factors are left entirely unharmed, we should also conclude that they were presumably immune.

Modelling:

Epidemiologist also fell for the myth that there was no immunity in the population. They also didn’t want to believe that coronaviri were seasonal cold viri that would disappear in summer. Otherwise their curve models would have looked differently. When the initial worst case scenarios didn’t come true anywhere, some now still cling to models predicting a second wave.

Asymptomatic transmission:

The term “silent carriers” was conjured out of a hat and it was claimed that one could be sick without having symptoms.

The next joke that some virologists shared was the claim that those who were sick without symptoms could still spread the virus to other people…But for doctors and virologists to twist this into a story of “healthy” sick people, which stokes panic and was often given as a reason for stricter lockdown measures, just shows how bad the joke really is. At least the WHO didn’t accept the claim of asymptomatic infections and even challenges this claim on its website.

Testing:

So if we do a PCR corona test on an immune person, it is not a virus that is detected, but a small shattered part of the viral genome. The test comes back positive for as long as there are tiny shattered parts of the virus left. Correct: Even if the infectious viri are long dead, a corona test can come back positive, because the PCR method multiplies even a tiny fraction of the viral genetic material enough [to be detected]…The crux was that the virus debris registered with the overly sensitive test and therefore came back as “positive”. It is likely that a large number of the daily reported infection numbers are purely due to viral debris.

Kawasaki Syndrome:

If an infected person does not have enough antibodies, i.e. a weak immune response, the virus slowly spreads out across the entire body. Now that there are not enough antibodies, there is only the second, supporting leg of our immune response left: The T-cells beginn to attack the virus-infested cells all over the body. This can lead to an exaggerated immune response, basically to a massive slaughter; this is called a Cytokine Storm. Very rarely this can also happen in small children, in that case called Kawasaki Syndrome. This very rare occurrence in children was also used in our country to stoke panic. It’s interesting, however, that this syndrome is very easily cured. The [affected] children get antibodies from healthy blood donors, i.e. people who went through coronavirus colds.

Second Wave:

The virus is gone for now. It will probably come back in winter, but it won’t be a second wave, but just a cold.

Face masks:

Those young and healthy people who currently walk around with a mask on their faces would be better off wearing a helmet instead, because the risk of something falling on their head is greater than that of getting a serious case of Covid-19.

Lethality:

People below 65 years old make up only 0.6 to 2.6 % of all fatal Covid cases. To get on top of the pandemic, we need a strategy merely concentrating on the protection of at-risk people over 65.

https://medium.com/@vernunftundrichtigkeit/coronavirus-why-everyone-was-wrong-fce6db5ba809

Categories
Opinion

‘The lockdown is causing so many deaths’ – Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, Spiked

Lockdown deaths:

The really concerning thing is that if all the deaths taking place during lockdown are put down as Covid-19 deaths, we are going to miss the fact that the lockdown policies have caused an increase in deaths from many other things. There has been a 50 per cent reduction in people turning up to A&E. It is clear that people just do not want to bother the doctors. And a number of these people will be dying. If we muddle the Covid-19 statistics in with the other statistics, we might think the lockdown has prevented a certain number of deaths, when it has actually caused a large number of deaths.

NHS capacity:

You hear this idea that all NHS staff have been working 20 times as hard as they have ever done. This is complete nonsense. An awful lot of people have been standing around wondering what the hell to do with themselves. A&E has never been so quiet.

The chances of children dying from COVID-19:

How many people aged 15 or under have died of Covid-19? Four. The chance of dying from a lightning strike is one in 700,000. The chance of dying of Covid-19 in that age group is one in 3.5million. And we locked them all down. Even among the 15- to 44-year-olds, the death rate is very low and the vast majority of deaths have been people who had significant underlying health conditions. We locked them down as well. We locked down the population that had virtually zero risk of getting any serious problems from the disease, and then spread it wildly among the highly vulnerable age group.

On vaccines:

It is not clear that getting the virus actually makes you immune to it in the future, and it is not clear a vaccine would either.

https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/06/26/the-lockdown-is-causing-so-many-deaths/

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News

Under 40s ‘more likely to die from a road accident than coronavirus’ – Metro

People under 50 are more likely to die suddenly because of an accident or injury than from coronavirus, a leading risk expert has said. Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter said people under 25 are more likely to die from flu or pneumonia, while under 40s have a greater risk of being killed in a road accident. The Cambridge University professor looked at the average risk for different age groups dying after contracting Covid-19 and compared it with the most recent yearly data from 2018.

https://metro.co.uk/2020/06/23/40s-likely-die-road-accident-coronavirus-12893218/

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News

School age children more likely to be hit by lightning than die of coronavirus, analysis finds – The Telegraph

School children under the age of 15 are more likely to be hit by lightning than die from coronavirus, new figures suggest, amid mounting pressure for the government to get more to get pupils back into classrooms as quickly as possible.

Scientists from the universities of Cambridge and Oxford have called for “rational debate” based on the “tiny” risk to children and have suggested that if no vaccine is found in the future then it may be better for younger people to continue with their lives, while shielding the more vulnerable.

It comes as the government was accused of “losing the plot” after Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, scrapped the Government’s target of getting all primary school pupils back in the classroom before the summer holidays

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Publications

RAPID RISK ASSESSMENT Outbreak of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) – European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

About 80% of patients have mild to moderate disease (including non-pneumonia and pneumonia cases), 13.8% have severe disease and 6.1% are critical (respiratory failure, septic shock, and/or multiple organ dysfunction/failure). Individuals at highest risk for severe disease and death are people aged over 60 years of age and those with underlying conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease and cancer. Disease in children appears to be relatively rare and mild. About 2.4% of the total reported cases were individuals under 19 years of age. A very small proportion of those aged under 19 years have developed severe (2.5%) or critical disease (0.2%).

https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/sites/default/files/documents/RRA-outbreak-novel-coronavirus-disease-2019-increase-transmission-globally-COVID-19.pdf