“Intensive care units are getting empty, the wards are getting empty, we are really seeing a decrease — and that despite that people are really loosening up. The beaches are crowded, social distancing is not kept very well … but still the numbers are really decreasing. That means that something else is happening – we are actually getting closer to herd immunity. I can’t really see another reason.”
“I can’t say if the Swedish approach was right or wrong – I think we can say that in one or two years when we are looking back. You have to look at the mortality over the whole period.”
“I don’t think that we have more new cases, I think we are just detecting more cases”
“We found that if you have a mild case you can be negative for antibodies afterwards … in those almost all of them had strong T-cell activity. This study says that there are cases that you can have a strong T-cell response even though you have not had antibodies, meaning that you have encountered the virus and built up immunity.”
Professor Paul Dennis, a geologist and isotope geochemist at the University of East Anglia, compared the deaths in England, Sweden, Spain. He found near identical dynamics, which supports the theory that COVID-19 appears to follow the Gompertz curve in every outbreak region. This implies that social distancing and lockdown has no effect.
Stockholm is the best population to test Covid theory whereby it was hit hard early and did not have lockdowns. Nobel Prize winner Dr Michael Levitt postulated that the virus burns out when it has infected 15-20% of the population. According to this, he’s right.
So what does this mean? Lockdowns were a waste of time and resources. Minimizing deaths just delays the inevitable. Those countries which were not hit are most likely to see continued spikes and outbreaks. Maybe less during the summer but a second wave later this year.
- Far from following the science, the government turned its back on all available data.
- Until mid-April, with the escalating deaths in care homes agonisingly clear across Europe, government policy was still for patients to be discharged to care homes from hospitals without requiring negative tests. And so the toll: around half of UK Covid-19 deaths are care home residents, despite them accounting for only 0.6 per cent of our population.
- Germany, whose population is roughly 25 per cent bigger than ours, has suffered approximately a quarter of our Covid deaths.
- Ministers have deferred to scientists who themselves deferred to the projections of models, even when data on the ground told a completely different story.
- Statisticians on social media had a field day pointing out the chasm between modelled outcomes and reality, but it is not clear that the models on which SAGE relied (both their input parameters and mechanical dynamics) were continually refined with on-the-ground data (or simply discarded as wrong).
- Why weren’t Oxford’s team, who specialise in zoonotic viruses and who looked at the same data as Neil Ferguson’s modelling-led team but came to wildly different conclusions, on SAGE’s panel to provide an alternative view?
- Why were there no economists on SAGE? Economics is not the bloodless pursuit of money but the science of decision-making under uncertainty where resources are finite; could they really have brought nothing to the party?
- In mid-March, Stanford’s Nobel laureate Michael Levitt (biophysicist and professor of structural biology) discussed the “natural experiment” of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, a petridish disproportionately filled with the most susceptible age and health groups. Even here, despite the virus spreading uncontrolled onboard for at least two weeks, infection only reached a minority of passengers and crew.
- The data towards the end of March clearly showed we were already near the tipping point of the bell-curve (meaning the disease is on the wane). We were already past the point where lockdown could have made much difference.
- Knut Wittkowski: “respiratory diseases [including Covid-19] . . . remain only about two months in any given population”.
Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s state epidemiologist, said he advised against such restrictions on movement because of the detrimental side effects they often entail.
“It was as if the world had gone mad, and everything we had discussed was forgotten,” Tegnell said in a podcast with Swedish Radio on Wednesday. “The cases became too many and the political pressure got too strong. And then Sweden stood there rather alone.”
The sad but unavoidable fact, that the disease is little danger to most young and healthy people but is especially deadly to the old and ill, is also now beyond dispute…
The ceaseless assumption of the Government and the BBC that the shutdown ‘protected’ the NHS is simply not borne out by any facts. The NHS was never going to be overwhelmed. Covid deaths in this country peaked on April 8 – an event far too soon to have been caused by the shutdown announced on March 23 and begun the following day.
In fact, the country with the highest number of deaths per head is Belgium (843 per million). Yet Belgium introduced one of the tightest and most severe shutdowns on the planet. Sweden, without a shutdown at all, has suffered 472 deaths per million.
The UK figure of 620 per million may be inflated by our lax recording methods but hardly suggests that we did better than Sweden by throttling our economy and grossly interfering in personal liberty. Japan, which also did not shut down, suffered just over seven (yes, seven) deaths per million…
I believe that forces hostile to our country, its history and nature, have seen this as an opportunity. Probably incredulous to begin with, they realised the British people really had gone soft, accepting absurd and humiliating diktats, believing the most ridiculous claims.
Professor Karl Friston is a computer modelling expert, world-renowned for his contributions to neuroscience. He has been applying his “dynamic causal modelling” approach to the Covid-19 pandemic, and has reached some startling results.
– The differences between countries are not primarily down to government actions, but due to ‘intrinsic’ differences in the populations
– We don’t yet fully understand what is driving it, although there are theories ranging from levels of vitamin D to genetic differences
– In each country, there appears to be a portion of the population that is ‘not even in the game’ – that is, not susceptible to Covid-19. This varies hugely between countries
– In the UK, Professor Friston estimates that portion to be at least 50%, and probably more like 80%
– The similar mortality results between Sweden (no lockdown) and the UK (lockdown) are best explained by the fact that in reality there was no difference
– the impact of the legal lockdown in Professor Friston’s models “literally goes away”.
Neil Ferguson, who became known as “professor lockdown” after convincing Boris Johnson to radically curtail everyday freedoms, acknowledged that, despite relying on “quite similar science”, the Swedish authorities had “got a long way to the same effect” without a full lockdown.
It is becoming clear that the severity of a lockdown does not correlate significantly either with the spread of the coronavirus or the rate of deaths. I noted in this column a couple of weeks back that the states that had remained open had, if anything, fared better than the rest. We can now also see that the states that ended the closures early, such as Georgia, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, are not suffering any noticeable new surge. It is a similar picture in Europe, where Spain and Italy, with very harsh quarantines, suffered worse than the Netherlands and Germany, where the restrictions were moderate.
But none of that will alter the verdict. The counterexample of 1930s Britain does not dent the confidence of New Deal enthusiasts. The counterexample of Iceland, which refused to rescue its bankers and bounced back quickly from the financial crisis, does not dent the confidence of bailout enthusiasts. And the counterexample of Sweden, which left shops and businesses open and told people to use their common sense, will not change the minds of lockdown enthusiasts.
- Professor Karol Sikora says that COVID-19 behaves like pandemics in the past.
- Society is scarred all over the world.
- The virus will go but the fear will do the damage.
Note: YouTube has taken down the video. Please go directly to UnHerd’s site:
Professor Karol Sikora has become something of a celebrity in the UK over the past months for his expert commentary on the pandemic, and his unusual tendency for optimism rather than pessimism.
Virus ‘getting tired’
– In the past two weeks, the virus is showing signs of petering out
– It’s as though the virus is ‘getting tired’, almost ‘getting bored’
– It’s happening across the world at the same time
Existing herd immunity
– The serology results around the world (and forthcoming in Britain) don’t necessarily reveal the percentage of people who have had the disease
– He estimates 25-30% of the UK population has had Covid-19, and higher in the group that is most susceptible
– Pockets of herd immunity help *already* explain the downturn
– Sweden’s end result will not be different to ours – lockdown versus no lockdown
Fear more deadly than the virus
– When the history books are written, the fear will have killed many more people than the virus, including large numbers of cancer and cardiological patients not being treated
– We should have got the machinery of the NHS for non-corona patients back open earlier
Masks and schools
– Evidence on masks is just not there either way so it should be an ‘individual decision’
– We should move to 1m social distancing which means restaurants and bars could reopen
– More schools should reopen in June as ‘children are not the transmitters of this virus’
– We should be getting back to the ‘old normal’ not a ‘new normal’
One reason why the models failed is that they – just like most countries’ politicians – underestimated how millions of people spontaneously adapt to new circumstances. They only thought in terms of lockdowns vs business as usual, but failed to consider a third option: that people engage in social distancing voluntarily when they realise lives are at stake and when authorities recommend them to do so.
As countries plan how to leave lockdown, they can look at Sweden and ask: what happens if you don’t involve the police, if you don’t issue edicts about how many of your relatives or neighbours you can visit, and just ask people to be careful? Might that work? The Swedish experiment casts huge doubts on the models, and makes the case for trusting the public.
Face masks in public spaces do not provide any greater protection to the population,” Johan Carlson from the Swedish Public Health Agency Folkhälsomyndigheten said at a press conference on May 13th.
Swedish health authorities argue that keeping a distance, washing your hands, not touching your face, and staying at home if you experience any symptoms are still the best ways to halt the spread of the coronavirus. There is a concern that wearing face masks would make people follow these guidelines less strictly.
- There is a risk of a false sense of security.
- The virus can gather in the mask and when you take it off, the virus can be transferred to your hands and thereby spread further.
- Worn properly, masks might reduce the spread of infection if worn by those with asymptomatic infections, even if they might not protect the wearer themselves.
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.
If Sweden stops at about 5,000 or 6,000 deaths, we will know that they’ve reached herd immunity, and we didn’t need to do any kind of lockdown. My own feeling is that it will probably stop because of herd immunity. COVID is serious, it’s at least a serious flu. But it’s not going to destroy humanity as people thought.
It has become clear that a hard lockdown does not protect old and frail people living in care homes—a population the lockdown was designed to protect.3 Neither does it decrease mortality from COVID-19, which is evident when comparing the UK’s experience with that of other European countries.
When foreign commentators discuss Sweden’s light-touch response to Covid-19, they tend to adopt an affronted tone. Which is, on the surface, surprising. You’d think everyone would be willing the Nordic country to succeed. After all, if Sweden can come through the epidemic without leaving a smoking crater where its economy used to be, there is hope for the rest of the world. So far, many signs appear encouraging. The disease seems to be following the same basic trajectory in Sweden as elsewhere.
There has been a repeated claim in media and on social media that death rates from the worldwide Covid-19 outbreak are spiking in Sweden, a country that has not implemented the measures termed ‘lockdown’.
But as I have said repeatedly, I see no evidence for the necessity of lockdown, for two reasons. Firstly because the case fatality rate of Covid-19 does not warrant it (the evidence points to between 0.1%-0.5%, and a recent study from Stanford University suggests it may be between 0.12% and 0.2%). And secondly, because I have seen no evidence to suggest that a lockdown strategy makes any real difference in reducing cases and deaths.
As the world went into lockdown, Sweden opted for a different approach to tackling coronavirus: cities, schools and restaurants have remained open. This was judged by critics to be utterly foolish: it would allow the virus to spread much faster than elsewhere, we were told, leading to tens of thousands of deaths.
I’m happy to say that those fears haven’t materialised.
- UK policy on lockdown and other European countries are not evidence-based
- The correct policy is to protect the old and the frail only
- This will eventually lead to herd immunity as a “by-product”
- The initial UK response, before the “180 degree U-turn”, was better
- The Imperial College paper was “not very good” and he has never seen an unpublished paper have so much policy impact
- The paper was very much too pessimistic
- Any such models are a dubious basis for public policy anyway
- The flattening of the curve is due to the most vulnerable dying first as much as the lockdown
- The results will eventually be similar for all countries
- Covid-19 is a “mild disease” and similar to the flu, and it was the novelty of the disease that scared people.
- The actual fatality rate of Covid-19 is the region of 0.1%
- At least 50% of the population of both the UK and Sweden will be shown to have already had the disease when mass antibody testing becomes available
Summary from 21st Century Wire.