I believe I have identified a serious, really a fatal flaw in the PCR test used in what is called by the UK Government the Pillar 2 screening – that is, testing many people out in their communities. I’m going to go through this with care and in detail because I’m a scientist and dislike where this investigation takes me.
…In the last 40 years alone the UK has had seven official epidemics/pandemics; AIDS, Swine flu, CJD, SARS, MERS, Bird flu as well as annual, seasonal flu. All were very worrying but schools remained open and the NHS treated everybody and most of the population were unaffected. The country would rarely have been open if it had been shut down every time.
Rising cases of the common cold could be giving a false picture of the spread of coronavirus among children.
Public Health England’s weekly coronavirus report shows a rise of almost 23% in rhinovirus infections, which include the common cold, in the last week.
But where did this one percent figure come from? You may find this hard to believe, but this figure emerged by mistake. A pretty major thing to make a mistake about, but that’s what happened.
In order to understand what happened, you have to understand the difference between two medical terms that sound the same – but are completely different. [IFR and CFR.]
CFR will always be far higher than the IFR. With influenza, the CFR is around ten times as high as the IFR. Covid seems to have a similar proportion.
Now, clearly, you do not want to get these figures mixed up. By doing so you would either wildly overestimate, or wildly underestimate, the impact of Covid. But mix these figures up, they did.
…we’ve had all the deaths we were ever going to get. And which also means that lockdown achieved, almost precisely nothing with regard to Covid. No deaths were prevented.
The main test used to diagnose coronavirus is so sensitive it could be picking up fragments of dead virus from old infections, scientists say.
Most people are infectious only for about a week, but could test positive weeks afterwards.
Researchers say this could be leading to an over-estimate of the current scale of the pandemic.
But some experts say it is uncertain how a reliable test can be produced that doesn’t risk missing cases.
Prof Carl Heneghan, one of the study’s authors, said instead of giving a “yes/no” result based on whether any virus is detected, tests should have a cut-off point so that very small amounts of virus do not trigger a positive result.
He believes the detection of traces of old virus could partly explain why the number of cases is rising while hospital admissions remain stable.
Nine out a 10 people in England live in areas that have not seen a Covid-19 case in a month and new lockdowns are not needed, an expert has said.
Professor John Clancy, from Birmingham University, has warned that fears of another shutdown are based on ‘dodgy data.’
Writing in a blog, he said: ”91 per cent of England (that’s 51million people) live in neighbourhoods where there hasn’t been a recorded Covid-19 case in the last 4 weeks.’
He added: ‘So-called ‘spikes’ are occurring here, there, and everywhere up and down the country because new testing regimes are causing them either with false positives, picking up residual infections or (usually more likely) suddenly increased testing in specific areas.’
CORONAVIRUS hospital admissions were over-counted at the peak of the pandemic as recovered patients returning to wards without Covid were included in the stats.
An investigation for the Government’s Science Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) found that people were being counted as ‘Covid hospital admissions’ if they had EVER had the virus.
Government figures show that, at the peak of the pandemic in early April, nearly 20,000 people a week were being admitted to hospital with coronavirus – but the true figure is now unknown because of the problem with over-counting.
This over-counting mirrors the problems with data for coronavirus deaths – where people who had died of other causes were being included in Covid-19 statistics if they had once tested positive.
Professor Graham Medley, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, asked by Sage to look into the situation, told The Telegraph: “By June, it was becoming clear that people were being admitted to hospital for non-Covid reasons who had tested positive many weeks before.
“Consequently, the NHS revised its situation report to accommodate this.”
Here, it seems that PHE regularly looks for people on the NHS database who have ever tested positive, and simply checks to see if they are still alive or not. PHE does not appear to consider how long ago the COVID test result was, nor whether the person has been successfully treated in hospital and discharged to the community. Anyone who has tested COVID positive but subsequently died at a later date of any cause will be included on the PHE COVID death figures.
By this PHE definition, no one with COVID in England is allowed to ever recover from their illness. A patient who has tested positive, but successfully treated and discharged from hospital, will still be counted as a COVID death even if they had a heart attack or were run over by a bus three months later.
A positive test result shows you may have antibodies from an infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. However, there is a chance a positive result means that you have antibodies from an infection with a virus from the same family of viruses (called coronaviruses), such as the one that causes the common cold.
Regardless of whether you test positive or negative, the results do not confirm whether or not you are able to spread the virus that causes COVID-19.
According to government guidelines, the public will be asked to provide their names and phone numbers to the venues and businesses they visit from Saturday 4th July 2020.
Be aware that this is done on a voluntary basis. You are under no legal obligation to leave your details or provide correct information. The business should not refuse to serve you if you do not wish to provide your information.
The relevant section of the government guidelines is shown below.
The complete text for the guidelines can be found in a document that can be downloaded from the GOV.UK website: Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace
If you choose to provide information as a customer, government guidelines state that only the following details should be collected:
- The name of the customer or visitor. If there is more than one person, then you can record the name of the ‘lead member’ of the group and the number of people in the group.
- A contact phone number for each customer or visitor, or for the lead member of a group of people.
- Date of visit, arrival time and, where possible, departure time.
- If a customer will interact with only one member of staff (e.g. a hairdresser), the name of the assigned staff member should be recorded alongside the name of the customer.
Booking and reservation information
The information you provide when making a booking or reservation may be shared with NHS Test and Trace. If you do not wish your details to be used for this purpose, you should inform the business that you wish to opt out of NHS Test and Trace.
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
NHS Test and Trace is subject to GDPR. This means that the business is legally obliged to handle your details in accordance with the regulation. However, be aware that under GDPR, the business is not required to:
- Individually inform customers about how their information will be used.
- Seek consent to collect data from individual customers.
If in doubt, make sure you explicitly inform management that you are opting out and any details you provide should not be used for NHS Test and Trace.
Why you should opt out of NHS Test and Trace
While we cannot give you advice about leaving your contact details, we believe that opting out of NHS Test and Trace is the right thing to do. This is because:
- The tests for COVID-19 are known to be inaccurate, resulting in high false positives and false negatives.
- These inaccurate results may be used to justify local lock-downs which will have a severely negative impact on your area.
- You will be traced and told self-isolate if anyone you have been in contact with during your visit tests positive, even if it is a false positive.
- The tracing system rollout was rushed and did not complete mandatory privacy checks. NHS Test and Trace is facing a legal challenge because it does not have strong enough safeguards.
- Your data will be held for 20 years. There is no way to know how the information collected about you will be used by a future political administration.
The UK operational false positive rate is unknown. There are no published studies on the operational false positive rate of any national COVID-19 testing programme.
An attempt has been made to estimate the likely false-positive rate of national COVID-19 testing programmes by examining data from published external quality assessments (EQAs) for RT-PCR assays for other RNA viruses carried out between 2004-2019 . Results of 43 EQAs were examined, giving a median false positive rate of 2.3% (interquartile range 0.8-4.0%).
Alistair Haimes interpreted these results in this way:
2.3% false positive rate with 0.04% virus prevalence rate (ONS) means that if you test positive you have only a 4/234= 1.7% chance of being infected. We’re flying blind.@AlistairHaimes. 3 July 2020
if the false positive rate is that high, surely they just know that it is ‘about nothing’; 0.04% must be false precision?
HIQA found that the officially-reported COVID-19 deaths likely overestimates the true burden of excess deaths caused by the virus. This could be due to the inclusion within official figures of people who were infected with SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) at the time of death whose cause of death may have been predominantly due to other factors.
The way the data are analysed and presented currently gives them limited value for the first purpose [of understanding the epidemic]. The aim seems to be to show the largest possible number of tests, even at the expense of understanding. It is also hard to believe the statistics work to support the testing programme itself. The statistics and analysis serve neither purpose well.
So as you read, in coming weeks, furious news stories about technical incompetence, citizen non-compliance, threats of stricter enforcement and blame in all directions, as if everything was hanging on the latest government policy, remember the humility of scientists instead of the solipsism of the political class. Yes, the Government action plan will most likely be ineffective, but politicians were never in charge of this anyway. It’s bigger than they are — the best they could ever hope to do is tinker around the edges. Coronavirus is nobody’s ‘fault’.
As an NHS doctor, I’ve seen people die and be listed as a victim of coronavirus without ever being tested for it. But unless we have accurate data, we won’t know which has killed more: the disease or the lockdown?
It matters greatly for two main reasons. First, if we vastly overestimate deaths from Covid-19, we will greatly underestimate the harm caused by the lockdown. This issue was looked at in a recent article published in the BMJ, The British Medical Journal. It stated: “Only a third of the excess deaths seen in the community in England and Wales can be explained by Covid-19.
If Covid-19 killed 30,000, and lockdown killed the other 30,000, then the lockdown was a complete and utter waste of time. and should never happen again. The great fear is that this would be a message this government does not want to hear – so they will do everything possible not to hear it.
The government’s coronavirus contact tracing site crashed on launch this morning amid complaints it has been a ‘complete shambles’.
Doctors and other staff reported major teething troubles as the much-trumpeted scheme finally got up and running, with some saying they had not even received passwords to start work.
US CDC that antibody tests for Covid-19 may be wrong up to half of the time.
The CDC now warns antibody testing is not accurate enough for it to be used for any policy-making decisions, as even with high test specificity, ‘less than half of those testing positive will truly have antibodies’.
There is currently a high level of inaccuracy in the testing, however, caused by how uncommon the virus is within the population.
Currently, over 8 per cent of people who were tested in ‘pillar two’ have been told that their test result is ‘unclear’. Pillar two is the strand of the government’s testing strategy that deals with at-home tests and those carried out at drive-through centres. This pillar is designed for certain key workers and those who have been randomly selected for testing.
Yet the NHS instructions given to Sarah make clear that while the test might be ‘uncomfortable’, patients should stop if they ‘feel strong resistance or pain’. In other words, she was told to stop swabbing if it hurt. The tests may be accurate in a clinical setting but the problem comes when people are expected to try to carry out the procedure themselves in the real world.
Two samples taken from the same patient are being recorded as two separate tests in the Government’s official figures
- Keeping R below one is not the only way to map a route out of lockdown.
- R is an artificial construct and not even a number we know with any certainty.
- R is calculated using mathematical models which have repeatedly been found to reach wrong-headed conclusions.
- R is not a strong enough number to bear the burden of any Government policy.
- Epidemiology models share the same serious problem as meteorology because of weak data.
- Lack of testing means we don’t know how many people have been infected, or have recovered.
- Changes to death certification during this epidemic mean that we genuinely don’t even know how many people have died as a direct result of COVID-19.
- It is becoming increasingly clear that assumptions central to the models that generate R are flawed.
- Worries that R was apparently heading back towards one were missing the point. For some segments of society, including most people of working age, that would be a good thing.
- Another implication of seeing R this way, which is quite a relief, is that social distancing can be consigned to the dustbin of bizarre historical episodes.
- R is calculated in ways that the Government can produce at will to justify a policy that is no longer tenable.
“The two Chinese companies were offering a risky proposition: two million home test kits said to detect antibodies for the coronavirus for at least $20 million, take it or leave it.
The asking price was high, the technology was unproven and the money had to be paid upfront. And the buyer would be required to pick up the crate loads of test kits from a facility in China.
Yet British officials took the deal, according to a senior civil servant involved, then confidently promised tests would be available at pharmacies in as little as two weeks.”
Rapid antibody tests “have limited utility” for patients, the World Health Organization warned in an April 8 statement, telling doctors that such tests remained unfit for clinical purposes until they were proved to be accurate and effective.