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News

Academic behind startling ‘circuit breaker’ study which found half-term lockdown could save up to 100,000 lives by New Year admit their death figures are wildly over-estimated and say they wish they’d never used them – Daily Mail

Professor Matt Keeling said he wished he ‘hadn’t put these numbers in the study’

Paper said about 107,000 Britons could die by January without a circuit breaker

Study’s findings already been used as ammunition by scientists and politicians

The academic behind a startling study which projected a two-week ‘circuit-breaker’ could save thousands of lives by New Year has today admitted his figures were wildly over-estimated.

Professor Keeling told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning: ‘I really, really wish I hadn’t put these numbers in the paper because they were there for illustration.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8838727/Academics-circuit-breaker-study-admit-death-figures-estimated.html

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Opinion

Making an apocalypse out of a pandemic – Spiked

The great 20th-century pandemics, comparable in so many ways to their 21st-century heir, accounted for myriad private tragedies. Yet, unlike this novel coronavirus, their public, political significance was negligible. They were treated as public-health challenges, problems for clinicians, virologists and epidemiologists. And there were arguments at the time that more should have been done to mitigate their harm. But there was no sense of a world ending. No talk of a new normal. No attempt, that is, to reorganise the entirety of societal life around the threat they posed.

https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/09/18/making-an-apocalypse-out-of-a-pandemic/

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News

Anders Tegnell and the Swedish Covid experiment – The Financial Times

As coronavirus cases rise in pretty much all other European countries, leading to fears of a second wave including in the UK, they have been sinking all summer in Sweden. On a per capita basis, they are now 90 per cent below their peak in late June and under Norway’s and Denmark’s for the first time in five months. Tegnell had told me the first time we spoke in the spring that it would be in the autumn when it became more apparent how successful each country had been.

https://www.ft.com/content/5cc92d45-fbdb-43b7-9c66-26501693a371

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News Opinion

Let children be exposed to viruses, says Professor Gupta – Prof. Sunetra Gupta, Evening Standard

Gupta, who is a professor of theoretical epidemiology at Oxford, told The Londoner that alongside huge social and educational benefits, the “evidence is mounting that early exposure to these various coronaviruses is what enables people to survive them”.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/londoners-diary/the-londoner-let-children-be-exposed-to-viruses-says-professor-gupta-a4538386.html

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News Opinion

UK lockdown was a ‘monumental mistake’ and must not happen again – The Express

LOCKDOWN will come to be seen as a “monumental mistake on a global scale” and must never happen again, a scientist who advises the Government on infectious diseases says.

Mark Woolhouse said lockdown was a “panic measure” but admitted it was the only option at the time because “we couldn’t think of anything better to do”.

But it is a crude measure that takes no accounts of the risk levels to different individuals, the University of Edinburgh professor said, meaning that back in March the nation was “concentrating on schools when we should have been concentrating on care homes”.

https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/1320428/Coronavirus-news-lockdown-mistake-second-wave-Boris-Johnson

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Publications

Diagnosing COVID-19 infection: the danger of over-reliance on positive test results – medRxiv

Unlike previous epidemics, in addressing COVID-19 nearly all international health organizations and national health ministries have treated a single positive result from a PCR-based test as confirmation of infection, even in asymptomatic persons without any history of exposure. This is based on a widespread belief that positive results in these tests are highly reliable. However, data on PCR-based tests for similar viruses show that PCR-based testing produces enough false positive results to make positive results highly unreliable over a broad range of real-world scenarios. This has clinical and case management implications, and affects an array of epidemiological statistics, including the asymptomatic ratio, prevalence, and hospitalization and death rates. Steps should be taken to raise awareness of false positives, reduce their frequency, and mitigate their effects. In the interim, positive results in asymptomatic individuals that haven’t been confirmed by a second test should be considered suspect.

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.26.20080911v3

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Opinion

The Key to Defeating COVID-19 Already Exists. We Need to Start Using It – Dr. Harvey Rish, Newsweek

As professor of epidemiology at Yale School of Public Health, I have authored over 300 peer-reviewed publications and currently hold senior positions on the editorial boards of several leading journals. I am usually accustomed to advocating for positions within the mainstream of medicine, so have been flummoxed to find that, in the midst of a crisis, I am fighting for a treatment that the data fully support but which, for reasons having nothing to do with a correct understanding of the science, has been pushed to the sidelines. As a result, tens of thousands of patients with COVID-19 are dying unnecessarily. Fortunately, the situation can be reversed easily and quickly.

I am referring, of course, to the medication hydroxychloroquine. When this inexpensive oral medication is given very early in the course of illness, before the virus has had time to multiply beyond control, it has shown to be highly effective, especially when given in combination with the antibiotics azithromycin or doxycycline and the nutritional supplement zinc.

  •  As a result, tens of thousands of patients with COVID-19 are dying unnecessarily.
  • An inexpensive and be highly effective treatment, especially when given early: Hydroxychloroquine in combination with the antibiotics azithromycin or doxycycline and zinc.
  • The article, “Early Outpatient Treatment of Symptomatic, High-Risk COVID-19 Patients that Should be Ramped-Up Immediately as Key to the Pandemic Crisis” was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology (AJE). It analyzed five studies, demonstrating clear benefits and safety of this treatment.
  • Other studies include:
    • an additional 400 high-risk patients treated by Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, with zero deaths;
    • four studies totaling almost 500 high-risk patients treated in nursing homes and clinics across the U.S., with no deaths;
    • a controlled trial of more than 700 high-risk patients in Brazil, with significantly reduced risk of hospitalization and two deaths among 334 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine;
    • and another study of 398 matched patients in France, also with significantly reduced hospitalization risk.
  • “Natural experiments:” northern Brazil state of Pará used hydroxychloroquine to reduce deaths.
  • Hydroxychloroquine has shown major success when used early in high-risk people but, as one would expect for an antiviral, much less success when used late in the disease course.
  • Delays in waiting before starting the medications can reduce their efficacy.
  • FDA concerns about the drug did not announce is that these adverse events were generated from tens of millions of patient uses of hydroxychloroquine for long periods of time, often for the chronic treatment of lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
  • The harms are minuscule compared to the mortality occurring right now in inadequately treated high-risk COVID-19 patients.

https://www.newsweek.com/key-defeating-covid-19-already-exists-we-need-start-using-it-opinion-1519535

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News

Hydroxychloroquine could save up to 100,000 lives if used for COVID-19: Yale epidemiology professor – Fox News

Dr. Harvey Risch, an epidemiology professor at Yale School of Public Health, said on Tuesday that he thinks hydroxychloroquine could save 75,000 to 100,000 lives if the drug is widely used to treat coronavirus.

“There are many doctors that I’ve gotten hostile remarks about saying that all the evidence is bad for it and, in fact, that is not true at all,” Risch told “Ingraham Angle,” adding that he believes the drug can be used as a “prophylactic” for front-line workers, as other countries like India have done.

Risch lamented that a “propaganda war” is being waged against the use of the drug for political purposes, not based on “medical facts.”

Researchers at the Henry Ford Health System in Southeast Michigan have found that early administration of hydroxychloroquine makes hospitalized patients substantially less likely to die.

https://www.foxnews.com/media/hydroxychloroquine-could-save-lives-ingraham-yale-professor

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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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Opinion

Lockdown and social distancing could make our immune system weaker, says scientist – The Telegraph

Prolonged periods of lockdown cocooning the public from germs could leave people dangerously vulnerable to new viruses, a leading epidemiologist has warned.

Sunetra Gupta, professor of theoretical epidemiology at the University of Oxford, fears intense social distancing could actually weaken immune systems because people are not exposed to germs and so do not develop defences that could protect them against future pandemics.

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Videos

COVID19 Never Grows Exponentially – Professor Michael Levitt

Part 1: Exponential Growth is Terrifying

This is my first podcast and they will improve. This is Part 1 and it describes how COVID may grow exponentially and how we flatten the growth curve.

Part 2: Curve Fitting for Understanding

This is Part 2. Fitting viral growth data with simple mathematical functions can give important insights into how epidemics will grow. Here we illustrate two commonly used growth curves, the Sigmoid Function and the Gompertz Function. While superficially similar, they are really very different.

Part 3: COVID19 Never Grows Exponentially

Part 3. The total case numbers in South Korea and New Zealand have exponential growth rates that decrease linearly on a log-scale. This is not ever exponential growth.

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Publications

Complexity of the Basic Reproduction Number (R0) – NCBI (2019)

Although R0 might appear to be a simple measure that can be used to determine infectious disease transmission dynamics and the threats that new outbreaks pose to the public health, the definition, calculation, and interpretation of R0 are anything but simple. R0 remains a valuable epidemiologic concept, but the expanded use of R0 in both the scientific literature and the popular press appears to have enabled some misunderstandings to propagate. R0 is an estimate of contagiousness that is a function of human behavior and biological characteristics of pathogens. R0 is not a measure of the severity of an infectious disease or the rapidity of a pathogen’s spread through a population. R0 values are nearly always estimated from mathematical models, and the estimated values are dependent on numerous decisions made in the modeling process. The contagiousness of different historic, emerging, and reemerging infectious agents cannot be fairly compared without recalculating R0 with the same modeling assumptions. Some of the R0 values commonly reported in the literature for past epidemics might not be valid for outbreaks of the same infectious disease today.

R0 can be misrepresented, misinterpreted, and misapplied in a variety of ways that distort the metric’s true meaning and value. Because of these various sources of confusion, R0 must be applied and discussed with caution in research and practice. This epidemiologic construct will only remain valuable and relevant when used and interpreted correctly.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6302597/

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Publications

DFTB COVID-19 EVIDENCE REVIEW – Don’t Forget the Bubbles (pediatrics blog)

Don’t Forget The Bubbles — a blog for medical professionals specializing in pediatrics — partnered with the UK Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health to track and review studies on COVID-19 in children, according to its website. Using research from 78 of those studies, it released a 45-page report on April 22 that extracts early findings on the epidemiology, transmission and symptoms of the coronavirus in children.

Conclusion:

The role of children in transmission is unclear, but it seems likely they do not play a significant role.

https://dontforgetthebubbles.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/COVID-data-top-10.pdf

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News Opinion

Britain’s Covid-19 lockdown was futile, says Swedish epidemiologist – The Telegraph

Johan Giesecke, a state epidemiologist who advises the World Health Organisation, said the UK’s death toll suggested instating harsh social restrictions was not the best method of tackling the pandemic. 

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News Videos

Coronavirus: Is the government really ‘following the science’? – BBC Newsnight

Throughout the UK’s coronavirus crisis, the government has stressed its response has been guided not by ideology; not by politics – but by the science. So what are the scientific justifications for lockdown?

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Publications

Significant levels of herd immunity in the UK – Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology at the University of Oxford – medRxiv

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.24.20042291v1

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News

Characteristics of COVID-19 positive deceased patients in Italy as of 17 March 2020 – 67/5000 – Epidemiology for Public Health Italy

https://www.epicentro.iss.it/coronavirus/bollettino/Report-COVID-2019_17_marzo-v2.pdf

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Videos

How Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg sees the current Corona pandemic

Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg, an epidemiologist and lung disease specialist, explains coronavirus testing.