Death rates among seriously ill Covid-19 patients dropped sharply as doctors rejected the use of mechanical ventilators, analysis has found.
Patients dying at home from causes other than Covid-19 are fuelling excess deaths across the UK, official figures show.
Care homes have been turned into prisons, with residents “losing the will to live” as they are deprived contact with families, charities for the elderly have warned.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on coronavirus was told that restrictions on visiting homes have become so extreme that vulnerable people are being left distressed and lonely, in some cases unable to recognise their loved ones.
Charities said belated attempts to keep residents safe from the spread of coronavirus were too often creating misery and isolation.
They criticised the Government for acting so slowly to attempt to protect care homes from the pandemic that 6,000 deaths had occurred by the time testing was introduced.
The Imperial College study published this morning claiming that 3.4 million people ( six per cent of the UK population) have antibodies indicating that they have been exposed to Covid-19 provides no great revelation. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has already published similar figures suggesting that 6.5 per cent of the population has been infected. Nevertheless, it is yet more confirmation of how irrelevant are the official statistics for Covid 19 cases – and what a nonsense it is to rely on them for policymaking.
According to the Government’s Covid “dashboard”, updated at 4pm on Wednesday, 313,798 people in Britain have had the disease. This is less than one tenth of the number suggested by the Imperial study. In other words, for all Matt Hancock’s efforts to ramp up testing, the vast majority of cases have not been detected.
If you are starting to feel like the coronavirus epidemic will never end, then you may be correct. A statistical quirk in testing means that Britain may never hit zero cases, even if the virus is wiped out entirely.
The reason lies in the large number of false positives that are almost certain to creep in once case numbers drop very low, yet testing remains very high.
Testing is never 100 per cent accurate, and scientists must factor in the false positive and negative rates when determining infection prevalence. The problem is, nobody knows what those rates are.
The best guess at present is that coronavirus tests pick up around 80-85 per cent of positive cases, and around 99.9 per cent of negative cases.
An uptick in cases hasn’t been matched by an increase in deaths. It’s about time we had a more intelligent conversation about risk
Hard luck to those who switched their holidays to Greece when Spain was put back on the quarantine list. The Greek government has just officially declared a “second wave”. Once holidaymakers have explored the Aegean they face getting to know a lot more about the insides of their own homes upon their return, as Greece is now a favourite to be added to the ever-growing list of countries whose air bridges with Britain have collapsed.
But how real is this “second wave” apparently sweeping Europe? Look at the chart of new recorded infections in Greece and, sure enough, you can call it a second wave. Recorded cases began to inch upwards from mid-June onwards. The figure for Sunday – 202 – was markedly higher than the peak in new recorded infections in Greece’s first wave, which reached 156 on April 21. But then look at the chart for Greece’s Covid deaths and there is not the slightest trace of a second wave.
Here is the good news: No matter how old you are, you are extremely unlikely to die of Covid-19. Even if a lockdown had not been instituted and no social distancing implemented, and assuming Imperial College’s controversial worst-case scenario estimate of 500,000 deaths, there would have been a 99% likelihood of surviving the pandemic.
This is no bubonic plague. That killed very nearly 30 per cent of the world’s population in the 14th century. Here is some more good news: a lockdown was instituted and social distancing measures are now well entrenched in our behaviour. As a result, the chance of surviving the pandemic is more like 99.9%.
If you are fortunate to be under the age of 45, your chances of dying from the virus are negligible. You are more likely to die from a lightning strike. The Office of National Statistics estimates that only 0.07% of the population in England is currently infected by the virus. That equates to about 35,000 people.
Antibody tests may be missing large numbers of people who contracted Covid-19 because they don’t work for people who had a mild infection, new research from Oxford University suggests.
A study of more than 9,000 healthcare workers suggested significant numbers of people were getting ‘negative’ test results, despite probably having had the virus.
Imposing a widespread regional lockdown in the north west was a ‘rash’ decision which is not backed up by the data, an Oxford professor has claimed.
People in Greater Manchester, east Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire were banned from meeting different households indoors, in a move that Matt Hancock, the health secretary said was ‘absolutely necessary.’
But Professor Carl Henegehan, director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford said the figures were skewed by delayed test results and when plotted by the date the test was taken showed no overall alarming rise.
“The northern lockdown was a rash decision,” he said. “Where’s the rise? By date of test through July there’s no change if you factor in all the increased testing that’s going on.
Why is anyone interested in the number of recorded cases of Covid 19? It might sound a daft question, given that we are in the middle of a pandemic, but it ought to be clear to anyone who spends a few minutes digging around the figures that it is a meaningless statistic. Count deaths, by all means, hospital admissions, ICU admissions – but as for the official figures of how many people have tested positive for the disease, it is pointless worrying about them.
Why? First, because we are only – and only ever have been – detecting a small fraction of total cases of infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes Covid 19. Take the UK. Officially, as of Monday evening, there have been 300,111 recorded cases of Covid 19. Yet serological tests by Public Health England suggest that 6.5 per cent of the population of England have antibodies suggesting they have at some point been infected with the virus – which works out at 4.2 million. In other words, the official count has only managed to capture one in 14 cases of the disease. Why so few? Because in the vast majority of cases – between 70 and 80 per cent according to some estimates – Covid 19 causes no symptoms whatsoever. Those infected have no reason to assume they are infected, no need to seek medical attention and no reason to seek being tested.
Experts fear people still unable to access medical care even though there are now relatively few coronavirus cases in hospitals
Twice as many people are now dying at home from unexplained causes rather than Covid-19, with experts calling for an urgent investigation into what is causing the excess deaths.
The ONS figures show that deaths in hospitals continue to be much lower than usual, suggesting that many of the home deaths are people who would ordinarily have received hospital care.
But with no sign of a second summer wave nor an autumn eruption reminiscent of 1918, the commentariat has amended the definition. Suddenly, a “second wave” meant Covid’s seasonal return, in winter, a year on. Widespread adoption of a new phrase in the Covid lexicology – “winter wave” – has academically formalised the idea.
But instead of looking us square in the eye, the Tories have chosen Big Brother’s panopticon; No 10’s new Joint Biosecurity Centre, which will drive “whack-a-mole” local lockdowns, is slickness posing as strategy – and, as it happens, reporting into track-and-trace app failure Dido Harding. When the public twigs that the infection is unlikely to be controlled in this way, the sheer panic could send us back into national lockdown. Three scenarios might help avoid the latter: a vaccine comes along; the Government gets its act together with a plan to protect the vulnerable; or we put in place safety valves against mass hysteria.
Imperial College’s research needs to be particularly scrutinised, as its international influence grows. Dr Seth Flaxman – the first author in the paper that notoriously claimed lockdowns may have prevented over 3 million deaths in Europe – this week won fresh funding to model the pandemic across several countries.
Revelations that disrupt the narrative also need to find a stronger voice: within 24 hours, the scandal of PHE’s inflated daily death figures was running out of mileage. This week’s London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine modelling on the impact of the pandemic on cancer deaths never gathered steam. So too a paper by Oxford’s Prof Sunetra Gupta, which elegantly combined those uneasy epidemiological bedfellows – theory and evidence – to find some parts of the UK may already have reached herd immunity.
People with treatable cancers are going to die because hospitals have been laid empty due to Government scaremongering, an NHS nurse has warned.
An NHS nurse called Holly* has said that throughout the lockdown period “hospitals were empty” beyond the ICU units and Covid wards and that people have died as a result.
Shutting down primary schools may have been unnecessary as a Swedish study suggests that keeping them open had no impact on contagion.
There was no measurable difference in the number of coronavirus cases among children in Sweden, where schools were left open, compared with neighboring Finland, where schools were shut, the research showed.
A working paper, published by the Public Health Agency of Sweden and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, compares the two countries’ approach to education during the pandemic.
As national restrictions were imposed, experts from the Department of Health, the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the government’s Actuary Department and the Home Office forecast the collateral damage from delays to healthcare and the effects of recession arising from the pandemic response.
It estimated that in a reasonable worst case scenario, around 50,000 people would die from coronavirus in the first six months of the pandemic, with mitigation measures in place.
[T]he report published in April they calculated that up to 25,000 could die from delays to treatment in the same period and a further 185,000 in the medium to long term – amounting to nearly one million years of life lost.
It is official. No 10 is too entangled in lockdown spin to do what it takes to save Britain. For the sake of our ailing economy, political clarity, and basic scientific honesty, this was Boris Johnson’s moment to declare to the nation that the overwhelming evidence suggests lockdown was a mistake – and we must never lock down again.
The Covid-19 death toll may be less than half what has been recorded because many victims of the pandemic would have died soon anyway, one of Britain’s leading medics has said.
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
On March 25, just a day after Britain shut down, economist Professor Philip Thomas, of Bristol University, made a grim prediction.
If the country remained in lockdown for longer than two months, he warned, any lives saved would be wiped out by those lost from the impact of the inevitable recession.
Britain hit that timeline more than a fortnight ago, but restrictions largely remain in place and there is growing alarm among economists that the cure has become far deadlier than the disease.
Prof Thomas now estimates that 150,000 people could die from Covid-19 over five years under the intermittent lockdown conditions necessary to keep infection rates, or the reproduction ‘R’ number, below one if a vaccine is not found.
The scientific establishment in this country has had a bad war. Its mistakes have probably made the Covid-19 epidemic, as well as the economic downturn, worse. Britain entered the pandemic late, with lots of warning, so we should have done better than other countries. Instead we are one of the worst affected in Europe and one of the last to begin to recover.