X Close

Which epidemiologist do you believe? The debate about lockdown is not a contest between good and evil


April 27, 2020   5 mins

The past week has been a tale of two epidemiologists. First up was Swedish professor Johan Giesecke, whose interview with UnHerd a week ago caused quite a stir. Disarmingly blunt, uninterested in percentage points, Giesecke brushed aside the coronavirus pandemic with words that electrified sceptics and horrified his detractors. “I don’t think you can stop it,” he said, “it’s like a tsunami sweeping across Europe.” The real death toll, he suggested, will be in the region of a severe influenza season — maybe double that at most — so we should do what we can to slow it so the health service can cope, but let it pass.

 

 

Then, this weekend, it was the turn of Professor Neil Ferguson to answer the Swede’s critique that his overly pessimistic forecasts had tilted the Government into Chinese-style dirigisme. He cut a very different figure — more cautious, more media-trained, lacking the charismatic heft of the Professor Emeritus but making up for it with precise deployment of the facts and figures. Much as he’d love to be proved wrong, he said, the UK fatality rate of Covid-19 is likely to be 0.8-0.9%, which means that even letting out only the young and healthy will lead to more than 100,000 deaths later this year. We need to prepare for a long fight, a new socially-distanced normal, potentially for years to come.

 

 

In theory, theirs is a purely scientific disagreement that boils down to Infection Fatality Ratios, seroprevalence assays, and R0 numbers — and one or other of them will eventually be proved right. But somehow I suspect there will always be enough controversy around how deaths are counted and the economic and health impacts of lockdown to defer that judgement indefinitely. It’s also quite possible that one of them could end up being right in spirit while wrong on the numbers.

Alongside all the metrics, and the vital assessments of the human cost of different policies, where you stand on this wretched virus also comes down to attitude — your world view. Are you more Giesecke or Ferguson? The expert that most resonates is unlikely to be entirely down to your assessment of the science — more likely a complex combination of your politics, your own life experience, your attitude to risk and mortality and your relationship to authority. Perhaps each of us have elements of both instinct within us — but what do they really represent?

What they are not, despite the attempts of some social media voices to make it so, are good and evil. Clearly, both experts are highly accomplished scientists doing their best to understand a complex threat. Likewise, the wider debate around lockdown is not a contest between rational, good people who value life on the one hand and the cavalier and cynical who care only about economics or themselves on the other. If the do-gooder class try to push that narrative, they will simply lose the argument.

There is not even an in-principle disagreement about the sacredness of every human life, despite attempts to slur those in favour of a speedier timetable out of lockdown as “pro-death”. The principle that some level of increase in infection, and therefore more deaths, is tolerable for the wider good is not often said publicly but is already accepted on both sides of the argument. Denmark, the poster-nation for early and stringent lockdown, has now brought back junior schools alongside published modelling that showed what level of increased infection (and therefore deaths) they expected it to lead to. Nobody raised an eyebrow, because the education of children is so obviously a moral good. It’s really a question of where you fall on a spectrum: how much death would you tolerate, for which wider goods?

In UK policy terms, the ‘landing zone’ now lies in the space between these two experts. At the Giesecke end, we would define success simply in terms of ensuring the NHS is not overwhelmed — this means slowing the spread and protecting vulnerable people as much as practically possible but moving to lift lockdown measures and only reintroducing them if the health service is challenged. At the Ferguson end, we would attempt to keep the outbreak at such low levels that we can wage a long-term ‘test, track and trace’ suppression of the virus, with elements of social distancing to minimise transmission until a vaccine is found.

The appeal of the first of these options is that it has a clear rationale and an end-point when the virus has passed and life can return to normal. But it suffers from seeming callous and is highly dependent on the quantum of deaths. If we have 100,000 additional Covid deaths within the year, as Professor Ferguson warned, but could get fully back to normal after that, would that be acceptable? At two people in every thousand, most people would then know somebody who died. What about only 20,000 more? Or 200,000?

The Ferguson end of things will likely be more attractive to politicians as, while sidestepping this difficult question, it carries with it a clearer sense of virtue and action. As Gov Cuomo of New York is now fond of saying, “we’re not going to accept the premise that human life is disposable.” There is a strong appeal to society pulling together to protect our most vulnerable, and we know from polls that the public continues to support the more cautious approach.

But it is dangerous because it has no clear measure of success, and no way out: if the goal is just to “keep transmission low”, how low is low enough? Any move away from total lockdown potentially takes you further from your goal, and back towards a relentless fear of cases starting to creep up once again.

In the ‘Giesecke’ worldview, this would amount not to a victory but to a surrender. The world becomes a place of indefinite anxiety, with the constant threat of curtailment hovering over all that is best and most human in life — family get-togethers, religious worship, children playing, plans for the future, creative projects – it risks becoming a conscribed, smaller, more fearful world. At its most extreme, a long-term ‘suppression state’ really could start to feel like oppressive regimes of history, from the Puritans to the Communists, that misguidedly tried to remake the whole natural order in pursuit of a single definition of virtue. People who recoil from any move in this direction can hardly be dismissed, or called immoral.

Somewhere in between these two opposing instincts lies a wise way forward; a path has to be found between not just different assessments of the facts but different world views.

In between his careful words, I detected something of the idealist about Neil Ferguson — the younger of the two scientists was keen to break new ground and win a battle. “We’re in a horrible place, aren’t we,” I said, expecting him to agree, but he immediately countered that, on the contrary, the world has achieved what he never thought he would see in this century, and has collectively stopped a highly infectious respiratory virus in its tracks. The South Korean model offers hope for an unprecedented new technology-driven response to an epidemic. For an expert who has spent years looking at fatality rates and modelling outcomes this must feel like huge progress: the entire world united against a disease.

Meanwhile, somewhat ironically given the laser-targeted threat of this disease on the old and vulnerable, the Giesecke approach felt imbued with the more philosophical perspective of later life. He has seen many pandemics; we live in a world full of various threats and dangers, and we can’t stop everything to try to run from one new one. Young people must be allowed to do what young people do, and older people, without the luxury of unlimited years ahead of them, must be allowed to choose to go back to seeing their grandchildren and living a full life even knowing the risks.

Whether you’re more Giesecke or Ferguson, it’s time to stop pretending that our response to this threat is simply a scientific question, or even an easy moral choice between right and wrong. It’s a question of what sort of world we want to live in, and at what cost.


Freddie Sayers is the Editor-in-Chief & CEO of UnHerd. He was previously Editor-in-Chief of YouGov, and founder of PoliticsHome.

freddiesayers

Join the discussion


Rejoignez des lecteurs partageant les mĂȘmes idĂ©es qui soutiennent notre journalisme en devenant abonnĂ©s payants.

Subscribe

To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

142 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
David Bell
David Bell
4 years ago

Everything in life is a risk from crossing the road to eating a new food that might give you anaphylactic shock. This is the inherent problem with the Ferguson approach, he starts from the point that all risk can be eliminated but it can’t. People are dying from the lockdown. There is an increase in mental health issues, people are not going to GP or A&E with serious medial issues, cancer patients aren’t getting treated, etc. That’s before we get to the grim toll of suicides which will result from the financial distress caused by loss of jobs, income, house, etc.

Then we come to the “elephant in the room”. What if we don’t get a vaccine?
Everything out there says we probably won’t get a vaccine for some time, it probably won’t be that effective and there is every likely hood it won’t work at all. What then? If there is no vaccine or one that only protects for a short time we will have to go back to normal life and accept the consequences ie deaths!

The lockdown was designed to slow the spread of the virus until the NHS could create the capacity to cope. It’s been created. Now the goal posts are being moved to one of trying to defeat the virus. We can’t defeat any virus, we need a reality check. Life won’t stop and the lockdown will be gone long before the virus!

keangkong
keangkong
4 years ago
Reply to  David Bell

Did you the March 16, 2020 projection from the Imperial College of London? It specifically talked about the large numbers of life that would occur if the goal was simply to mitigate the spread of the virus in order to overwhelm overusing health care resources. It mentioned another strategy–suppression–aimed at reducing the numbers to close to zero. The goal posts have not changed.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
4 years ago

That’s a very fair-minded assessment, Freddie, but far too kind to Ferguson in my opinion. My understanding is that he was instrumental in the grotesquely disastrous response to foot and mouth (which was handled far more rationally in the Netherlands) and that he was far too alarmist about SARS.

Moreover, evidence seems to be growing that countries and US states that did not impost severe lockdowns have seen fewer infections and deaths per million etc. Shutting people up in enclosed spaces has probably caused more deaths than allowing people to go out and get sunshine and fresh air – while quarantining the vulnerable and banning mass participation events, of course.

Matthew Freedman
Matthew Freedman
4 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

The U.K. didn’t really impose a very strict lockdown.

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
4 years ago

Whose definition of ‘very strict’?

Schools, nurseries, care homes, universities, public parks, libraries, hospitals, hotels, pubs, cafes, clubs, bars, restaurants, gyms, swimming pools, football stadiums, concert halls, building sites, museums, art galleries, shops, markets etc.. etc.. all closed.

“Stay at Home” -one hour exercise per day etc…

I grant, more draconian measures could have been attempted but at the very least this is an unprecedented event. When we start mitigating against it by creating ‘degrees’ of lockdown then I think we’re embarking down a very slippery slope.

Russ Littler
Russ Littler
4 years ago

The UK didn’t need to impose “any” lock-down. It was all based on a lie.

Paul Carline
Paul Carline
4 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Ferguson is primarily a statistician and a computer modeller – much like the IPCC ‘climatologists’ who gave us overheated projections which have not materialised.
Ferguson’s and Imperial College’s dependence on large-scale funding from the Gates Foundation does not exactly create confidence in the accuracy and objectivity of their projections.
As with the IPCC, the projections serve a political and social-transformation agenda.

danny.zbrusi
danny.zbrusi
4 years ago
Reply to  Paul Carline

Well Paul you know the saying – Statistics don’t lie, Statisticians do!!

oldgrampa70
oldgrampa70
4 years ago
Reply to  danny.zbrusi

and the statisticians get upset when the data doesn’t fit what they want. that is when they start juggling the numbers and reclassify what is used in the dat to get the results they want. an example is all the deaths in new york were classified as due to the virus when the actual conditions the people had were only worsened causing death. were the same people healthy the deaths were much lower with similiar situations. while no two people are never identical with a responce to the virus. conditions that can cause death and caused fatalities by the virus shouldnt be counted as a virus death. they wanted the numbers to match the data predicted by the models. I think they need to use this to pass laws to expand government powers in crisis. my questions become who will determine what a crisis is? I hope I have explaned my thoughts ok because my pain medication is starting to take hold and it leaves me thinking fuzzy . so I ask your indulgence should I sound somewhat off at times. It is terrible to deal with because it is fuzzy or pain. both inflict a toll on my thoughts. ——-Grampa

Michael Yeadon
Michael Yeadon
4 years ago
Reply to  Paul Carline

Prof Ferguson is a theoretical physicist by training. He calls himself a “mathematical biologist”, but as a professional biologist myself, I’d advise him to call himself a mathematician.

Nick Faulks
Nick Faulks
4 years ago
Reply to  Michael Yeadon

As a mathematician myself, I would be appalled if he were considered a mathematician.

danny.zbrusi
danny.zbrusi
4 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I agree Fraser. The question is not of believing these so called experts but analysis of the FACTS. The US facts on positive cases (numerator) over total tested (denominator) reflect a rapid percentage drop in the deaths against population. As to Ferguson, his views are as dangerous as his forecasts:
2002 – 50 000 CJD deaths revised upwards to 150 000 if sheep were infected. FACT, CJD Research Surveillance Unit at Uni of Edinburgh report 178 since 1990
2005 – Up to 200 MILLION (!!!) deaths from Bird Flu (H5N1). WHO reports in 2006 78 out of 147 reported.
2009 – Swine flu would result in 65 000 deaths in UK. Ended up at 457.
Clearly he is deluded, stupid or his crystal ball ain’t working.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

How is it that Ferguson has not been ‘rumbled’ by Sturmbannfuhrer Cummings?
Even before the advent of Chinese Death Flu, Ferguson’s frankly alarmist, predictions, as you say, seem to have been accepted without challenge, why?
Cummings’s awe of science in well known. However the miasma produced by Ferguson & Co seems to have deceived him.
Undoubtedly in future years the Lock Down will be regarded as a great British triumph, akin to say Dunkirk. Nothing will be learnt in the subsequent orgy of smugness and self congratulation. It was ever thus.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

It is hardly surprising that the Government is in thrall to Ferguson & Co given the normal British aversion to ‘science’.
Despite inventing the first workable steam engine (in Cornwall) since Heron of Alexandria, thus kick starting the greatest event in human history, the Industrial Revolution;The British treat scientists with contempt, regarding them as ‘oily’ members of the lower deck.
Whitehall and Westminster are dominated by Arts and Humanities graduates, many flaunting ludicrous, esoteric degrees, such as PPE or Media Studies. Because Science is ‘hard’, they despise what they cannot understand.
However, come a time critical crisis, they have an immediate, damascene conversion, and science becomes the new god and saviour. Sadly this process leaves little time for logical evaluation, thus we blunder into the morass.
Perhaps the reason the Fatherland is doing so well, is their extraordinary reverence for Science and all its wonders.
Germany respects its scientists, whilst many of ours are regarded as autistic geeks.
It was ever thus.

tmglobalrecruitment
tmglobalrecruitment
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

perhaps tehy could have picked one less interested in self

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago

Could you expand on this?

tmglobalrecruitment
tmglobalrecruitment
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Ferguson who went today, was more interested in getting his face on TV than any reality in his numbers. 500k prospective death claim, and an adviser, Ferguson, is all over the screens, loving his moment in the sun.

As we see today he did not even believe his own advice ditto Scotland.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago

Thank you.
What a delicious moment. When you made your first comment Ferguson was at his zenith.
Now, as you reply, he has been, as they say “cast into the pit of eternal stench”
O what joy!

tmglobalrecruitment
tmglobalrecruitment
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Indeed an appropriate and and enjoyable ending

James Buchan
James Buchan
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Science is but one prong though, as this article brings out.
Proper academic disciplines can bring much to the table with the science. Philosophy with its what is a good life questioning, Geography with information on population and environmental factors, History making sure we learn from past pandemics, Economics bringing ideas like marginal benefits, opportunity costs etc and politics making the decisions. They all need science to get the information but they all add to a balanced decision making process. In this,as with so much else, arts humanities and sciences work together

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  James Buchan

What you advocate,correctly,is a balanced approach.This seems to be the antithesis of what has actually happened.
Did you, by any chance, manage to hear the wireless interview with Lord Jonathan Sumption,KS, on the 30th March last? His prescient analysis of this synthetic crisis could not be bettered in my humble opinion.

James Buchan
James Buchan
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

I have to confess that I have neither heard the interview or know enough of the scientific facts to ascertain the quality of Lord Sumption’s analysis but I do think that a blind following of any subject without the insights of other real disciplines lead us to blind alleys

Jeremy Bonington-Jagworth
Jeremy Bonington-Jagworth
3 years ago
Reply to  James Buchan

Sumption is a retired Supreme Court Judge AND a respected Historian in his spare time.

You don’t need ANY science to ascertain the quality of his analysis!

It’s what used to be called common sense.

Which since they started teaching people what to think rather than how to think ain’t so common anymore!!!

Paddy Kay
Paddy Kay
4 years ago

I watched both of these excellent interviews and first should say they they are the best TV media I’ve seen during this pandemic. I recognise I am naturally drawn to Giesecke – like his style and on balance prefer his argument. Watching the body language Ferguson looked defensive, but fortunately Freddie’s refreshing interview style (non accusatorial and non judgmental) allowed Ferguson to develop his argument & left me accepting that he could well be proved right & understanding why the govt had taken his preferred route rather than Giesecke’s. For me it’s still Giesecke but hey – I’m not PM.

Ian Thorpe
Ian Thorpe
4 years ago

The article tells us “Clearly, both experts are highly accomplished scientists”
It might seem so until we examine the track record of Ferguson with his mathematical models of real life events, which is actually on a par with that of Gypsy Rose Fakenitt in whose kiosk you can have you fortune told by means of crystal ball, tarot cards or palm reading.
Danny Zbrusi in a reply to Frazer Bailey’s comment below has kindly saved me some typing by providing numbers that show the extent of Ferguson’s failures.

Michael Baldwin
Michael Baldwin
4 years ago

What needs to be understood most here is that people are going to feel very – and I mean very, very, very – differently about the lockdown, depending on their life situation.

That is, there is going to be a basic divide between the persons who are socially isolated and those who are not.

And this needs to be spelled out very clearly.

I mean, I’m just going to say this once, as I don’t want to offend people with displays of “verbal emotion” that might upset their mental equilibrium, but I am more angry about this lockdown than any other action of the government I can ever remember, and I’ve been round a pretty long time.

I’m not saying that to personally sound off (I could easily not have said it if I thought it unnecessary) but I point it out to illustrate there must be an enormous number of people (I mean millions) in this country who are extremely angry about it like myself – Peter Hitchens and George Galloway have been pretty near raging at times on it, so I think that claim is pretty much a certainty.

So even if (not as I trust polls much) the polls say 60% (I don’t know, that’s just a guess, but I know it’s diminishing) still support the lockdown, of the 40% who therefore don’t, there may be as much as 10% or 20% of my kind – and as I’ll explain, likely of all ages – who are extremely upset and angry about this, and just want life to go back to what we used to call “normal.”

And no, I don’t want any blasted “new normal”, I want “old normal”, where nobody used to feel like a criminal for coughing or sneezing in public or choosing (with a risk one was always aware of) to shake somebody’s hand, or give them a hug, or whatever.

I mean, a lot of us have been doing this stuff for a lot of decades, and we’re not dead yet.

To be honest, if you look at all the horrible ways to die – cancer, strokes, heart attacks, etc. which often take months of even years of suffering, and tend to involve a great deal of debility, degradation, humiliation, apart from the actual physical suffering, which can be immense – a respiratory infection such as covid-19 causes is probably one of the least unpleasant and protracted.

I’m tempted also to quote Jimi Hendrix from the song If Six Was Nine – “

I’m the one that’s got to die when it’s time for me to die, so let me live my life the way I want to.”

I don’t want to debate Neil Ferguson’s scientific views, but just to point out that he seems to come from a generation of people who just don’t understand what freedom is, and therefore do not at all seem to care when what little they have is taken away from them.

I suppose it’s partly we are now in this generation surrounded by so much technology that never existed before – computers and the Internet obviously – it’s no longer just a case of the “couch potato” who used to “vegetate” on the sofa glued to the TV, no doubt with pizza, popcorn and abundant soft drinks at the ready, now it is apparently nearly possible to conduct your whole life from the settee – even shopping, everything delivered to your door.

So I think part of the reason we aren’t yet seeing mass resistance to this lockdown is, due to the Internet, we’re living in this era of “the super couch potato”, and as long as this huge part of the population now that apparently doesn’t care much if it’s allowed out of doors or not still have enough money (but maybe “there’s the rub”, as that may not last) it doesn’t seem much bothered that it doesn’t actually have any freedom in the sense it did for the previous million years, or not much.

Because I’d like to correct someone below who says “there’s no strict lockdown here in the UK.”

Yes, technically so.

But in reality, when you are now scared to go out for whatever reason because “the old bill” might want to feel your collar, ask you where you are going, maybe even inspect your shopping bag to see if you have got anything “inessential” in it, which for all you know might lead to a fine or even an arrest, for anyone that’s at all nervous about the police (which is millions, and with good reason from the stories we’ve heard lately) it is effectively near total imprisonment.

Again, beyond the social isolation, there’s another massive issue that determines how much you feel threatened and restricted by the lockdown, which is whether you have use of a car or not.

Because if you have a car, and you can just zip down to the supermarket and OK, you still have to queue up like everybody else, but what you don’t have to do is social distance both on the streets/roads and or public transport of one form or another, on which latter by the way it is almost impossible to social distance properly.

But by far the bigger issue is the social isolation one.

i.e. anyone who is in a relationship or with children we can safely assume is not practicing any social distancing whatsoever from “their loved ones.”

They know there is no way whatsoever they can not infect each other sooner or later, so you can safely assume, hugging, kissing, etc, is continuing totally as normal between people inside their homes beside closed doors.

So this lockdown is not actually a policy that is having remotely the same impact on different groups of people.

It is having very little effect (until or unless they find out they lost their job or business, which a lot of people are currently assuming they won’t, but may very well be mistaken about) on some people’s lifestyle – again, the wealthier people who have big gardens for example – but an absolutely enormous effect on other people – old people who live in flats alone, whose partner died or are divorced, and are now being made terrified even to see their children or grandchildren.

So I have no idea about Professor Ferguson’s personal background but I’d put quite a large bet and consider it safe on the fact he has some kind of a live-in partner, just as Boris Johnson does.

But it’s not just the old people who may be divorced or widowed or simply single for whatever reasons, it’s also going to massively affect a lot of younger people in this society now in which we have unprecedented masses of “singletons” – so many, we now even have invented a new word for this condition.

Apart from the survival instinct itself, the highest priority in nearly everybody’s life is to find a mate, and realistically to have some kind of sex life, and also some kind of social life.

Exchanging 50 or whatever character messages on Twitter is not a social life – it’s being with people physically, and you cannot have conversations with people from two metres away, and neither does anybody want to have one with a face mask on.

But of course, for most people, social life is desired to go beyond just talking to actual physical contact, whether merely handshakes, hugs, or to actual sexual relationships.

Even disregarding the older people, there’s millions of young people out there who don’t yet have mates and are seeking them of course with especial urgency at their age.

How long do these complete maniacs suggesting the lockdown think they can stop this normal human activity from happening?

Which will inevitably spread any infectious disease you care to mention, never mind covid-19.

Likewise, those couples of families with children, sooner or later they will have to go back to work and school.

How the hell do you think you are going to make children social distance in a playground or whatever? Are you going to tie them to chairs 2 metres apart (and likely they’d do nothing but scream all day long, as would be their right under such tyranny)?

And then they are going to go home and infect their parents, their grandparents probably even – sooner or later grandparents are not going to obey these measure in private spaces they can’t be monitored on.

I mean, Boris Johnson, who I believe because of the pressure he is under even on account of his pregnant girlfriend is not thinking straight right now – this is all too much for him – has surely go to start waking up to this reality that it is simply not possible to control any infections disease of this kind.

I mean, there’s Neil Ferguson claiming “we’ve stopped an infection disease spreading” – how does he know? The population in general hasn’t even been tested yet!

And places/countries I’ve seen more or less random tests they’ve had something like 25% test positive, which in this country would be 15 million or more. So what kind of a “scientist” is he, when he is making all these claims without having done any proper testing!!!.

But let’s not argue about facts (i.e. how many of the public are already infected with covid19 or had it) when we don’t have them.

And why we don’t is a mystery, why random testing has apparently not yet been done – you know, just go into any supermarket and test a 100 people at random (repeat the tests in various locations) and we’d soon know roughly how many people have it or have had it.

Why, when Boris Johnson and many others had this testing done ages ago, has this simple “no brainer” level research not been done?

And though I’m not really a fan of wild conspiracy theory, I have to say this seems sinister to say the least.

My best guess is that the authorities wanted to avoid the NHS staff knowing if they had it or not, as they’d have likely had to quarantine up to half or more of the NHS and then the NHS would have collapsed totally.

So they decided they’d better tested nobody (apart from apparently certain elite people like national leaders and celebrities like Tom Hanks) until the crisis had at least peaked, to cover up the main reason was so the NHS didn’t lose nearly all its staff by forcing them to quarantine.

And so just think about that if it’s true. Yes, the NHS may well have collapsed, but they may well have sentenced a lot of them to death, by effectively not telling them they had it by deliberately not testing them.

I mean, I want to be clear that I don’t think there is any contradiction there between my own belief (which Neil Ferguson mainly admits) that this is not a disease with a high fatality rate.

For this appears to be muddied by the problem of “viral load” – so as the NHS staff who died were possibly getting “multiple infected” by different persons, this may have led to them being at risk of dying that others weren’t – I don’t know – but that’s the science I’ve heard, which sounds plausible.

So just think about that. Just imagine if that is true, and the scandal, the outrage it will cause, if it is discovered that effectively the authorities let doctors and nurses die deliberately to “save the NHS.”

I mean, I’m not even saying that would be a wrong choice under the circumstances.

But the wrong choice was to make such a fuss of this covid-19 in the first place, from which once this “can of worms” is opened, it is in fact more like “opening Pandora’s Box” – a thousand problems rush out that wouldn’t have existed if you hadn’t opened this box, this can of worms, if covid-19 had just been treated as just another coronavirus of which there were and are already many others in circulation.

But once again, let’s just stick with the practicality of this lockdown.

Families aren’t going to social distance. They are all going to infect each other sooner or later. Children are going to go to school. They are all going to infect each other sooner or later and then take it home to their parents and grandparents.

Young and not so young people are going to find one means or another in their millions to find sexual partners or intimate friends and they are going to give each other the virus – we’ve already seen hundreds of “illegal” house parties going on, and surely that must mean thousands more (possibly millions) are going on undetected, and if anybody there has the virus, they are going to give everybody else the virus.

It is the most colossal madness and stupidity in human history to think any virus of this kind can be stopped.

And then, we have these various claims coming out of the authorities which are not much consistent.

e.g. to begin with, we were told it was about saving lives. Then next, we were told it was to protect the NHS. Now the NHS is not overloaded it’s about saving lives again.

But as I’ve just explained, it is not going to be possible to stop infecting everybody sooner or later, simply because you can’t test everybody.

I mean, this ridiculous (it sounds plausible at first hearing, but listen further) idea of “immunity passports” has come up and tracking people who have the virus by electronic means.

The problems with that are so many it would never get past the first round of Dragon’s Den, they wouldn’t invest a penny of their own money in it (unless they thought they could mug government into buying it of course, which is almost certainly the idea).

e.g. it is claimed the standard infection test is only about 70% effective and then there are also false positives, so it might not even be as effective as that.

But let’s accept 70% accuracy. So then if we test everyone, as it misses 30%, that’s about 15 million people can be walking round with the virus and they’ve got an immunity certificate!!!

Are these people crazy, to think this could ever work?

Clearly yes – apart from the makers of such equipment who can only see sums of money with a lot of zeroes after them provide by the government – I mean us, the taxpayer.

The government keeps forgetting it is spending all our money on these things without our permission (I’m sorry, I don’t think FPTP elections, in which most people’s votes don’t count and less than 25% of people’s votes can dominate everybody else (e.g. under David Cameron) amount to permission).

I mean, as to “controlling the virus”, we’ve not even started talking about the illegal immigrants, whom the government don’t know how many there are, and there’s been a deathly silence ever since it was discovered that cats and dogs can carry the virus, but apparently (so we are told) we can get it off bats or pigs but not off our pets.

So think about it – we can get it off door handles, work tops or whatever, but not off warm blooded pets who can even carry it presumably for weeks or months like we can.

The people running this fiasco are making King Canute look not only sane, but even wise.

I am no longer giving Boris Johnson and his kind advice, but a warning.

Stop now – immediately – don’t waste a day. Schools open this Thursday, businesses next Monday, bars & restaurants next Friday.

If anybody is scared of the virus stay home, don’t see anyone, wear Hamzat suits for the rest of your lives but please do not dare to sentence the rest of us – many of whom may not even have another year left to live for all we know (or we may even know) to join your “hypochondriacs anonymous” club and demand the rest of us stay in prison with you.

We demand our freedom.

And if Boris Johnson does not stop now, he will likely dig himself into a hole so deep it will turn out to be a mass grave, and not principally filled by people who died of covid-19 – but those who are going to die of all sorts of other things due to the consequences of isolation on their physical and mental health, and all the tests and operations for everything else they have been and continue to be denied because of this crazed obsession over covid-19, this global pandemic of mass insanity.

Or there is one question I’d like to ask Professor Ferguson.

Let’s say this is finally over by say Xmas, so the lockdown is effectively over.

(and by the way, as to vaccines, no vaccine for HIV has been developed since it appeared in 1981 – that’s forty year nearly!)

So what exactly is going to be “the threshold” for any of numerous viral infections which will be around 100% certain next year?

So if it’s 0.9% or something, or just might be – we can never be too careful, can we – does this mean you will advise locking us all up again?

My guess from the present advice would be “yes.”

So is anybody going to find that acceptable?

Answers on a postcard (or petition) please addressed to Boris Johnson – he took the decision, so ultimately you cannot blame the scientist, it’s Boris Johnson’s fault for blundering into this rabbit hole that he cannot now get out of, so he leaves us stuck down it also, in our millions.

m w
m w
4 years ago

This is a fantastic comment.
Human beings die. Bloody sad but thats how it works. Nobody dies from natural causes ie life just expires. Life expires from disease. This closing of society must stop. Government must stop seeing the population as stupid sheep that must learn to follow.

gbauer
gbauer
4 years ago

I’m with you all the way, Michael. I’m 63 years old and have never felt as politically engaged–and outraged–as I do today. (I live in Canada, by the way. Different toilet, same shit.)

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago

An excellent polemic and all the more tragic because on the 30th March last, Lord Jonathan Sumption, one of the brightest minds in this benighted island, said precisely what you have said in a six minute radio interview that was a joy to listen to.
It was, and will become the defining statement on this appalling synthetic crisis, and certainly rivals if not exceeds the words of the late Winston Spencer Churchill.

Sarah Lambert
Sarah Lambert
4 years ago

I enjoyed reading you and agree. Getting us in lockdown was easy. Getting us out with all of the problems that we now have is going to be very difficult.

ehavenga9
ehavenga9
4 years ago

I agree with Sweden you can not keep the world in lockdown indefinitely till the W.H.O. or the Gates foundation or N.W.O decides they have caused enough fear and poverty so the people will agree to anything

andrew_manners
andrew_manners
4 years ago

I really do not trust Ferguson.

In a 30 March paper he said that 15% of Spain has likely been infected:

https://www.imperial.ac.uk/

at a rough 1% fatality rate (of 15% – or 7m infected) that is 75k.

yet their total deaths is around 22k (less than 1/3 of his projections), which implies a fatality rate (at 15% infected) of 0.25%.

am I wrong? Or is Ferguson not being entirely truthful? I fear it is the latter.

Michael Yeadon
Michael Yeadon
4 years ago

Bravo the author, for their balanced presentation of the options from which we’ve no choice but to select. Do nothing (retain what we call lockdown but is no such thing) with the laudable goal of reducing deaths in one population comes axiomatically with a decision, albeit passive, to permit a non-trivial number of deaths in a different though overlapping population.
Given we’re not about to decide by referenda, our political leadership has a tough job to decide & communicate next steps. The ‘framing’ of this is going to be critical, both to acceptability or otherwise of what’s proposed as well as to their survival as politicians.

Bill Bolwell
Bill Bolwell
4 years ago

The statistics are not accurate. I don’t know the answers, but I do not like governments running roughshod over our human rights.

Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson
4 years ago
Reply to  Bill Bolwell

If you don’t know the answers how do you know the statistics are not accurate ?

Ian Thorpe
Ian Thorpe
4 years ago
Reply to  Lee Johnson

“I can make statistics tell me anything except the truth,” George Canning, British Prime Minister 1827
Most of us knews, and all of us really ought to have known from the moment news reports started to refer to “coronaviris related deaths,” rather than people who actually died of coronavirus, that the figures were being faked.

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
4 years ago
Reply to  Lee Johnson

Well… could be saying ‘I know that the statistics are not accurate but I don’t have the answers to the issue of coronavirus’.

it’s perfectly possible to know the statistics are accurate, or
innaccurate, and to still not have an answer to the problem, or to have
one.

One could say it is the fantasy of being armed with all the statistical data and thereby possessing the truth of things that has led to statisticians overrunning the whole issue in the first place -and to us placing huge overreliance on them

Data gathering and analysis is fraught with inadequacy and insuffiency
and it’s a myth that AI algorithms have the capacity to model human behaviour in any way that actually matches the complexity of human behaviour.

If this were not the case, we would know a lot more than we do.

It’s mostly just oracles and soothsayers.

Bill Bolwell
Bill Bolwell
4 years ago
Reply to  Lee Johnson

The statistics are rigged, that is a fact

Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson
4 years ago
Reply to  Bill Bolwell

and your ‘fact’ is not rigged ?

ccblackburn
ccblackburn
4 years ago
Reply to  Bill Bolwell

They aren’t really statistics with comparison or context, if we are referring to mainstream media, just a bunch of numbers thrown at us from every possible media outlet, spewing hospitalization, infection and mortality.
Not even a recovery number (is Boris Johnson officially dead?!)
It’s almost psychopathic.

Gerry Fruin
Gerry Fruin
4 years ago
Reply to  Bill Bolwell

Statistics; figures used in arguments by idiots!
Except when they agree with your view:-)

accowley
accowley
4 years ago

What is the evidence that Ferguson is a “distinguished scientist”?

The most damning thing I have read about him, so far, was written in the most moderate of language: “The Imperial team has used both agent-based and equation-based models in this pandemic. The 16 March simulations that the team ran to inform the UK government’s COVID-19 response used an agent-based model built in 2005 to see what would happen in Thailand if H5N1 avian flu mutated to a version that could spread easily between people. (In 2006, the same model was used to study how the United Kingdom and the United States might mitigate the impact of a lethal flu pandemic.) Ferguson told Nature in 2005 that collecting detailed data on Thailand’s population was harder than writing the programming code for the model. That code was not released when his team’s projections on the coronavirus pandemic were first made public, but the team is working with Microsoft to tidy up the code and make it available, Ferguson says.” The source for this is not The Daily Mail, but Nature (https://www.nature.com/arti….

As far as I have read he has still has not let anyone outside his control review his 15 year-old code. I wonder why not?

andrew_manners
andrew_manners
4 years ago
Reply to  accowley

Bill Gates is also a major sponsor of his dept. So of course it makes sense that he’d go to Microsoft to help him ‘tidy’ the code before it’s released.

Rickard Gardell
Rickard Gardell
4 years ago

If Ferguson is right about a mortality rate of 0.9%(I believe he is wrong), if you look at sweden’s likely number of deaths of around 3,000(almost 50% higher than today’s number) would imply that only just over 300,000 Swedes were infected. Only around 3% of the population. I thought that this was a highly infectious decease. 3% in a non locked down society where the virus Would have been active for over 3 months. The corona virus is either a higher mortality rate(0,9%) with an extremely slow spread rate(Must be Ferguson’s only logical position) OR a highly infectious decease with a mortality rate similar to flu(0.1%, Giesecke’s position). I can’t see ANY evidence to support Ferguson’s position.

andrew_manners
andrew_manners
4 years ago

he’s lying. he put out a paper saying he believes Spanish infection rate is 15%.

https://www.imperial.ac.uk/

that is extremely low in my mind. but even 15% (his best guess) at roughly 1% fatality is closer to >70k deaths.

so far they have had 22k – which means the fatality rate is around 0.2-0.3%, which is being corroborated by recent studies – Iceland, Germany, California etc.

Silas Faraday
Silas Faraday
4 years ago

“In between his careful words, I detected something of the idealist about Neil Ferguson ” the younger of the two scientists was keen to break new ground and win a battle.” All the idealism here was on the Giesecke side, ie belief in personal freedom and autonomy, in the basic values of liberal democracy over totalitarianism, belief in the value of creating bright, prosperous futures for children and grand-children, and so on. In Ferguson, all I saw was the chilling neutrality of a world-view of autistic technocracy. The consequences of sustained lockdown – spiralling suicide, addiction, depression – barely register with him, because they cannot be so easily mathematically quantified and modelled. “People are adaptable,” he shrugs his shoulders. Perhaps not evil per se, but I think we will greatly rue embracing this technocratic, mathematized world-view over the older, wiser humanism of Giesecke.

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
4 years ago
Reply to  Silas Faraday

‘autistic technocracy’-brilliant description.

I’ve been struggling to frame this idea in words, thank you!

It neatly conveys the controlling, confining, narrowing drive for a ‘black and white’ understanding of the world that is experienced as unnacceptably beyond one’s control. A defence to avoid contact with an intolerable complexity of human existence and an emotional experience (suffering, dieing etc…) that is too hard to bear.

As you observe, once concretised in the technocrat it often comes with a complacent ‘shrug of the shoulders’. A sort of evil in so far as the ‘certain control’ it seeks to impose is often the very opposite to living. Ferguson does idealise but in a different way from Giesecke. He idealises his statistical ‘science’.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
4 years ago

The focus needs to shift from death figures to quality of life and quality of death. We all die sometime, it is how well we live our lives up to that point and when we die the impact that has on those who mourn us.

When the 5 tests were first announced the test was: we must not have a second peak that overwhelms the NHS. That changed to there must be no risk of a second peak – R must not get above 1.

We also need to look at all cause mortality ie the people who are not dying from the virus but because of the measures taken to stop it. How many people are going to have an agonising death from cancer because they are not being treated early enough?

PS I already know someone only a few years older than me who has died unexpectedly from CV 19 – he was only a few years from retirement and will no longer get to enjoy that.

Kenneth MacKillop
Kenneth MacKillop
4 years ago

Reviewing the written article above and Prof. Ferguson’s estimates
for fatality rate of UK and NY state in total, there does seem to be a
conundrum wrt the California antibody studies in Santa Clara County and
LA. Both of these suggest no more than a 0.2% fatality rate, but more
likely 0.1% or so.

In winter particularly, it is very likely that NYers spend much more time
indoors than Californians. Despite the predominantly coastal and
urbanized population of CA, lifestyle probably involves less close contact there. Population density (in terms of # people per unit area) seems to play a large role in
fatality likelihood.

A factor of five to ten of variation between areas is enormous, and
requires explanation. Possibly all of the UK is more like NY state than
CA, but I would doubt this, and the differences between NY and CA do not seem obviously great.

So possibly Ferguson’s estimates WILL yet prove much too high as Giesecke suggests.

I have suggested (in other places online) that with this virus, possibly
uniquely, it may be that most individuals exposed (and recovered) will
not develop antibodies. If there are 2 or 3 of these for every 1 who
does develop antibodies, then a country like Sweden might already be
close to a sort of herd immunity, albeit that many of those resistant to
SARS-2 serious infection will have proven themselves so via innate
immunity more than adaptive immunity. Every characteristic of CoVID-19
IMO suggests an unusually weak antigenic humoral response.

Giesecke has clearly noted this himself. It is in complete contrast to flu for example.
California’s agricultural areas are filled with illegal Mexican aliens who have the
highest percentages of type 2 diabetes in the USA by far (and that is
saying something). And yet these areas so far have much less infection
than the coastal areas which are low compared to NY state for example.
This type of observation cries out for investigation.

In order to get a better understanding of CoVID-19 the molecular biology will have to come into play, and hopefully soon. This is what the models are sorely missing.

davidnk83
davidnk83
4 years ago

What an excellent, thoughtful and well argued piece from Mr Sayers.

The best I’ve seen that analyses the moral, psychological makeup (as well as scrutiny of the data) not only of the two players Fergusson and Giesecke but we the audience.

Like everyone, I have been quick to judgement and comment without fully engaging with the dilemmas outlined here.

I still nail my colours to the Gisecke mast which could lead according to Ferguson 100,00 deaths. But as Freddie would say, that says as much about about me as the facts.

danny.zbrusi
danny.zbrusi
4 years ago

Reading the various comments below is most revealing. I am not an epidemiologist, virologist, medical doctor or scientist. An MSc in Systems is my academic background with a civils foundation and it is apparent to me that too many solutions/judgements are postulated using only PARTS of the systemic evidence.
The intrinsically linked important facts must be treated as a whole not individually. So, some facts:
1. There are huge profits being made by vaccine manufacturers.
2. There are in excess of 90 – NINETY – identified variants of the flu viruses.
3. The vaccinations administered vary from flu season to flu season and will contain a cocktail of ‘stuff’ to give some immunity from 3 or 4 of the identified viruses. Typically, for example Flulaval bring a quadrivalent vaccine to the party. This is mixed using a best mean guess as to which 3/4 of the 90 may be around in the coming flu season; this is crystal ball ‘technology’ and suspect at best. The Flulaval 4 contains 2 Type A and 2 Type B derived ‘ingredients’. Note ingredients – look up Flulaval and you will see why it is an appropriate descriptor.
3. The statistics for the current iLi (Covid-19) are still being gathered but the health impact is heading towards mid-range of W.H.O forecasts (approx global deaths between 250 000 and 750 000).
4. Flulaval state in their literature that ‘… there have been no controlled trials adequately demonstrating a decrease in iLi AFTER vaccination with Flulaval.
5. A peer review article in the Oxford Journal of 15 March 2012 (that’s TWELVE!!) notes that ‘.. there was an increased risk of non-influenza respiratory virus infections associated with receipt (injection) of inactivated influenza vaccines.
6. Further peer reviews have concluded that there is a 4 – 5 times HIGHER incidence of non- influenza viral infections in the vaccinated.
7. Decisions are being driven by fear; nobody understandably wants to be accused of implementing policies affecting life and death of others.
8. One more for the mix – the cost of the societal impacts of the pandemic shut down have been totally ignored.

Given the above simple list of facts, the global planics ( that is panic plans) are based on very poor, discombobulated assessments by the media (too much opinion and not enough fact), W.H.O (far too partisan) and reliance on experts unable to understand the need for systemic analysis. It is analogous with the 1st World War Generals sending the troops into attack without understanding that military hardware required new tactics; up and at ’em no longer worked.

And that’s leads me to finish with a little of much forgotten Latin – O me miserum

Alison Houston
Alison Houston
4 years ago

“There is not even an in-principle disagreement about the sacredness of every human life, despite attempts to slur those in favour of a speedier timetable out of lockdown as “pro-death”

This is a silly statement. If you believe that sacredness is a thing, then you accept Ecclesiastes, ‘there is a time to be born and a time to die.’. You also accept Ecclesiastes, ‘everyone dies’. You believe that the point of life is to live, not to not die, not to prevent death at all costs and to believe that if there is a time to die it is up to the state to decide when that time is.

People either believe or they don’t, if they are agnostic and yet need to borrow Judaeo-Christian thought for a comfort blanket then they should be encouraged to approach things clearly and straight forwardly by publications such as this.

Glenn Fincher
Glenn Fincher
4 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

I am absolutely in the Ecclesiastes “camp” until you define it as “… if there is a time to die it is up to the state to decide when that time is.” That final decision remains in God’s hands, not government.

gbauer
gbauer
4 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

It’s as though people just realized that humans die.

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
4 years ago

Good article. Both ‘sides’ are presenting their own reasonably coherent accounts of this pandemic.

The weakness I detect in Ferguson’s approach was his rather quick dismisal of the ‘idealism’ of organising efforts to isolate large groups of vulnerable people -he said no one had even attempted to do this because it was effectively impossible. I found his rebuttal rather too quick, though interesting -presumably the thinking is that it is too costly, too complex to organise and implement etc… which is of course a real world difficulty.

However, we will very likely be faced with Covid 20, 21, 22 etc… in the forthcoming years, along with other new global pandemics, threatening an ever increasing elderly population who have good enough immune systems (and healthcare) to withstand normal conditions but not more extraordinary attacks on their health. It seems to me that we are going to have to work out some way of doing precisely the thing he conceives of as idealistic.

We cannot simply shut down normal human life every time a pandemic comes along, and there are bound to be many more, in part due to ever increasing globalisation.

This all seems to chime with current debates taking place across the world -with wide ranging parallels -transgender rights and prescribed language for example -how do we protect vulnerable people whilst respecting our own civil liberties and right to normal life? We can’t just subjugate ourselves to ‘the tyranny of the weak’ but neither can we become so dehumanised as to just let them all fall by the wayside and die.

In all things, we are limited by our resources and capacities, but (I think the note on which your article concludes) we can certainly do a better job by engaging better with the true complexity of this reality and using the resources and capacities we have more effectively.

This viral pandemic is a timely reminder that we are all, whether we care to admit it into our lives or not, inextricably linked. At present I feel the world really lacks the sorts of leaders it needs to grapple with this sort of complexity (not just political leaders but leaders in all areas and classes). But it is ultimately a matter for each person to accept the possibilities and responsibilities which come with human interrelatedness. As the song goes, ‘it’s got to start right in your own back yard’ -i.e by one’s own thoughts and acts and sense of moral responsibility (‘moral’ not in the moralistic or dogmatic sense of the word). And one cannot ‘outsource’ this repsonsibility either as people are so often encouraged to do through charities, politics, the media etc… .

I think that if our modern life has lost something, it is the meaning that comes from a sense that we are all part of something more coherent -as with Donne’s poetry: ‘Each man’s death diminishes me, For I am involved in mankind’. Unfortunately very defensive splitting and divisive attitudes seem to reign supreme at the moment.

We will always make an imperfect job of things, but at least some sense of joint enterprise has to be held onto in our core direction of travel.

David Brown
David Brown
4 years ago

I think, given how long outbreaks last, that “Covid 20, 21, 22 etc…” are rather unlikely; Covid 20, for instance, has only another eight months in which to appear as a distinct pathogen, separate from Covid 19. Looking at the gaps between SARS and MERS, and between MERS and what was originally called nCOV 2019, it’s far more probable that we’ll be faced with Covid 26 or 27, and, equally, that the next global pandemic with mass fatalities will not occur for several decades. It took 99 years, this time around, after all.

Kenneth MacKillop
Kenneth MacKillop
4 years ago

Excellent, truly excellent by comparison, pairing of interviews. Both epidemiologists comported themselves well and I cannot find much fault or even disagreement between them.

For myself, I would prefer to be in a society taking Sweden’s approach but am not (I live in Massachusetts, USA). That said, the interview of Ferguson helped clarify what has likely been the guidance influencing American politicians’ decisions so far.
Massachusetts is quite possibly in the vanguard, within the US, of heading down the contact-tracing path. With the virus’s spread so much more developed than I think it is in S. Korea, it will be interesting to see if this attempt will be anything but futile.

Seems to me that there is some hope for it only if the summer offers a lot of help in suppressing contagion, but I expect that it will.

Then once the next school year begins, as I hope it will, in September there will be a much better base from which to build. But nevertheless a 2nd major wave should be expected.

Antigen testing and severe CoVID-19 case interventions capacity should also be much greater with benefit of many more months of buildup.

bonfyah
bonfyah
4 years ago

I do think there is cause to talk about some sense of “evil”, or selfishness rather, among many of our leaders. Mind you, a substantial part of them are baby boomers. They gave us the gift of fiat currency, skyrocketing debt, privatized everything, broken homes and single parents, women’s advocacy turned women’s nazism, mindless open borders policies, ruined cultural heritages replaced with a firm consumer identity. They grabbed what they could and lived life as if all their children got aborted. And as their final gift to humanity, they are willing to throw their children into a potential generational depression with untold consequences. And for what? So that they wont have to take personal responsibility for their health. So that a fairly small chance that they’ll potentially fall sick and die a few years or months sooner than they otherwise would have, potentially becomes a wee bit smaller.

Their parents and grand parents fought through depressions. They sacrificed in wars. They died on the beaches of Normandy so that their children would have a proper future. It is quite the contrast, to say the least.

Johan Giesecke is 70 years old. He is not sacrificing other people, because he is at risk too. But he is not willing to sacrifice the future of his children and grand children. He’d rather sacrifice himself before then.

You have to respect his decision.

alan.coombs2
alan.coombs2
4 years ago

We know that Ferguson works for a “Remain” organisation that would willingly trash the UK if it meant Britain staying in the EU.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
4 years ago

‘As Gov Cuomo of New York is now fond of saying, “we’re not going to accept the premise that human life is disposable.”

But Cuomo is the guy who has directly caused at least 5,000 deaths by allowing patients with Covid to be released into nursing homes etc! What a deceitful fraud he is.

Patrick Cosgrove
Patrick Cosgrove
4 years ago

I watched both interviews and this is a good summary and comparison of them. What frustrates me is that it assumes polar positions with a spectrum in between. The third approach, which is elimination through national isolation, has hardly been considered, but appears to be having some success in Australia and New Zealand. Meanwhile, we let people fly in to UK and hand them a piece of paper with advice on what to do – no testing, no enforced isolation.

https://www.nytimes.com/202

olivps
olivps
4 years ago

“National isolation” means what when the majority of people infected or carrier are among us asymptomatic? Are you going to put 10% of the UK population in concentration camps? This is totally unrealistic.

Kenneth MacKillop
Kenneth MacKillop
4 years ago

Fertile ground for informing best public policy going forward is the apparent order-of-magnitude range of fatality rates depending upon locality. In large urban centers, and especially those with big hospital systems, a death rate of up to 1.0% seems plausibly extant. In larger areas such as the US state of California it looks more like 0.1%.

Subway (or tube), airports and the like are probably one factor. But an over-response by hospitals is likely more important, and this has not been improved by the lockdown measures. An adequate capacity of professional hospice care (in home or in purpose-built facilities) would likely be of great benefit. Ventilation in the institutional facilities should be designed specifically with respiratory disease in mind — such in care homes is likely catastrophically inappropriate as it is, and those uninfected left in these facilities would also be great beneficiaries.

jdcharlwood
jdcharlwood
4 years ago

I enjoyed both talks but being closer to the older of the two tend to take that point of view. the problem with any model is that it depends on the values that you put into it. if it reflects the eventual real world fine but if not just twiddle a few numbers and try again. The thing with covid it seems to me is that overall mortality rates are not so different to usual and because many people with underlying conditions have died earlier ( a loss of course everyone who has died has done so earlier than expected) then overall numbers may not be too different from normal. As you point out the difficulty with lockdown is how to come out from them.
Surely we should try to come out of lockdown with the planet looking as beautiful as it does today. That really ought to be the priority for the future not business as usual.

Joe Smith
Joe Smith
4 years ago
Reply to  jdcharlwood

The problem with models is not just the data you put into them. It’s also whether the model itself is approximately correct and if the software to implement it is working as intended.

Lance Ryan
Lance Ryan
4 years ago

Here on the west coast of Canada there is a distinctive sense of moral judgement being pronounced on individual movement. One starts to resent the feeling of supposed irresponsibe communal behaviour and begins to become more fatalistic.

Rouben TER-MINASSIAN
Rouben TER-MINASSIAN
4 years ago

I noticed that Ferguson didn’t answered about the objection that his main publication has not been published and therefore not peer reviewed. The double TV interview is a small step in this direction, but we really lack a sort of more public and organised “open peer review”. As a citizen i don’t pretend to be an epidemiologist and I think a procedure for establishing public trust is lacking when that sort of thing is absent from “scientific works” themself.
It will not alter moral or political individual preferences but the debates will be more informed. The exemple of schools opening is a good exemple as it seems the facts of viral data for young people are very different from viral facts of other influenza on which the Ferguson style forecating is based.
New Zealand seems to be more inclined to practice this “evidence based” strategy that Sweden revendicate on its own way to re-open schools.

olivps
olivps
4 years ago

The problem is always the risk group. It is the same as advertised each year on the campaigns done by NHS for flu vaccine: >65 years particularly with heart, pulmonary or renal conditions. You can’t protect them unless you isolate them completely from the remaining society. This is not possible because most are in need of care and also they have their own choices. Please be realistic. You can make this sounding possible by mathematics but not on real world.

alan.coombs2
alan.coombs2
4 years ago
Reply to  olivps

Everything we seem to have learned so far points to COVID-19 NOT being a respiratory disease.

olivps
olivps
4 years ago
Reply to  alan.coombs2

What you mean by “not being a respiratory disease”? They die by ARDS which is mediated by the immune system as a response to infection of the cells lining the lung. They don’t die by diarrhoea or stroke or myocardial infarction directly.

olivps
olivps
4 years ago

You can’t compare Apples with Lemons: one is a medical doctor the other is a mathematician. Disease is not numbers; need to be understand in a broad view, that only doctors can provide.

johan_swahn
johan_swahn
4 years ago

Clearly one can’t believe Ferguson. On April 13th his model projected with a 95% degree of confidence that the daily infections in Sweden on that day would be between 30,000 and 260,000. Today he puts the same number on that day at 8-22,000. That’s a 90% reduction in a little more than two weeks. His current high estimate is 25% below his old rock bottom.
I don’t see the value of that type of forecasts. I’m sure his math is correct, but his understanding of the disease and epidemiology is clearly way off.
If you want to understand this pandemic you have to listen to Giesecke, not Ferguson.

stgerje
stgerje
4 years ago

My take – Neil Ferguson is to Covid-19 what Moody’s was to the mortgage market. He created a black box Monte Carlo simulation that is precise but not accurate that, unfortunately, achieved an unwarranted influence on the real world.

Matthew Freedman
Matthew Freedman
4 years ago

I can only say what I want and that is the least I would expect is for the government to keep healthcare demand below healthcare capacity.

This would require some social distancing probably for most of 2020 though some elements of the lockdown could be lifted to raise the reinfection rate to just under 1.

Beyond that it would good if we could delay a lot of people getting it until there is a vaccine by having enough social distancing to keep new infections stable having been reduced to smaller numbers than they are in the U.K. now. So for at least a couple of weeks the lockdown stays.

Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson
4 years ago

Good article
But Freddie Sayers should also add that these discussions are also not entertainment. This seems to have been lost on a lot of comments here.

Saphié Ashtiany
Saphié Ashtiany
4 years ago

The dimension that seems to be lacking in the discussion about modelling arguments is the emerging info about the seriousness of the diseases and conditions caused by covid19. It seems to kill or maim a significant no of people and seems also to mutate. And the evidence is rolling in. Strokes in young fit people, impact on organs all around the body. Just today we have a nationwide warning to GPs in the UK about an uptick in toxic shock-type syndrome in children which is associated with covid. And for the first time in living memory health care workers with little in their armory who are themselves getting ill and dying. So yes I guess caution is a good approach. Dont really know where that puts me on the political spectrum

jornstin001
jornstin001
4 years ago

Ferguson’s route is cursed by self fulfilling failure. If the test of success is the suppression of new cases, then any version of easing lockdown conditions will cause a new spike. And that spike is likely only to be noticed about 4 weeks later. No one has really explained what are the types of activity that are higher risk and those that are lower. What level of exposure to the virus – and for how long – is dangerous. Has there been a study?

Kenneth MacKillop
Kenneth MacKillop
4 years ago

It seems that the major, possibly predominant, vectors of transmission are the hospitals and care homes in countries such as UK, Sweden and USA.

This begs the question of whether policies in these two categories of institution can be altered to reduce the threat of overburden of medical services. Probably not in time to help with this pandemic, but hopefully in time for the next.

Effective therapy, and that which can be applied at home, seems the best hope for CoVID-19. Anticoagulant therapy, specifically, might be the right answer to the SARS-COV-2 virus and its unique characteristics. Passive and even active immunization is likely to be less effective than for influenza IMO, based upon the weak and/or seemingly unimportant humoral response/stimulation of SARS-2 virus.

Tony Davis
Tony Davis
4 years ago

“one or other of them will eventually be proved right”

Strictly, it is that at most one of them will be proved right.

Kenneth MacKillop
Kenneth MacKillop
4 years ago

One striking similarity in the estimates of both Giesecke and Knut Wittkowski (another quite experienced epidemic analyst now retired in NYC) is that both would expect urbanized cosmopolitan societies (e.g. Sweden, UK and NY) to be close to 50% exposure to SARS-2 by roughly now. The antibody studies do not confirm this, even considering the so-far limited sensitivity of the early ELISA designs available, unless most of those already infected have no SARS-2-specific antibodies.

Presumably both epidemiologists apply info from other respiratory viral epidemics, for which there is a lot of data and history.

I cannot think why any respiratory virus should act in airborne transmission much differently. The viral particles themselves are nanometric in scale/size, and I would think H2O, mucus and the like would dominate the mass and kinetics of exhaled droplets and aerosols.

There are “anecdotes” from S. Korea and elsewhere that there may be cases of reinfection with CoVID-19. If these are real, it will become clear in due time.

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
4 years ago

Excellent, thoughtful and balanced take on the present situation, and refreshing to read. Thinking about it, 1.35 million people around the world die in traffic accidents (according to the WHO) every year and we’re not postponing the use of cars until they are 100% safe, or restricting road traffic to essentials like ambulances and food trucks. There’s a boiled frog argument here, since if the car was introduced suddenly and we had casualty rates like that it would probably be withdrawn, but nonetheless gradually or otherwise we have accepted the presence of motor vehicles, and the risks, as the price of living in the modern world. Some form of accommodation with this new virus will need to be arrived at, since it is hard believe that severe forms of lockdown are sustainable ‘until a vaccine is ready’

Jeremy Bonington-Jagworth
Jeremy Bonington-Jagworth
3 years ago
Reply to  Seb Dakin

Actually the accidental death rates from horse drawn traffic never mind the railways and water transport were far higher than from motorised road transport.

Bit hard to brake a horse never mind stop it kicking a child in the head when it’s “parked”!

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
3 years ago

Good point, and one shudders to imagine what a drunk driver of a horse-drawn vehicle was like over wet cobblestones.

rlastrategy2
rlastrategy2
4 years ago

An excellent defining of the fundamental issues that should be being faced. Not tinkering around statistics. A couple of weeks ago another commentator (can’t remember who) put the issue in a nutshell (sadly we have surfeit of human nuts in SA right now.)

Which option would you choose – a 10% chance of dying from Covid or a 90% chance of going broke? I feel certain which option 99% of real people would make – and we’re not being allowed to make it!

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  rlastrategy2

Spot on Sir!
Give this man a Knighthood.

keangkong
keangkong
4 years ago

I believe that many people misinterpreted Johan Giesecke as being more optimistic than Neil Ferguson. He wasn’t. Giesecke accepts that the fatality rate will be higher. It’s just that Giesecke thinks that the only thing we can do to stop it is to limit the spread so that healthcare systems don’t get overwhelmed. Giesecke believes that the suppression that Neil Ferguson aims to achieve will inevitably fail and that higher death rates are inevitable.

David McCabe
David McCabe
4 years ago

Hmm, who would I believe? The man who is consistently wrong? On the issue of swine flu, “Professor” Ferguson confidently forecast global deaths at four million. The worldwide total turned out to be 18,500. In 2005, Ferguson said that up to 200 million people could die from bird flu. Between 2003 and 2009, just 282 people died worldwide from the disease. Why does anyone listen to him?

Russ Littler
Russ Littler
4 years ago

Professor Neil Ferguson is absolutely full of crap. I’m a well researched layman, and I offer an informed prediction that the mortality rate of CV 19 will prove to be 0.27%, despite the nefarious practices of the WHO, the CD, and those criminals known as the Main stream media. When this is all over, we will be looking for these people to be brought to justice. Our government is going to have to do a lot of explaining to the public.

David McCabe
David McCabe
4 years ago

Who would I trust? Not Ferguson who is consistently wrong. On the issue of swine flu, he confidently forecast global deaths at four million. The worldwide total turned out to be 18,500. In 2005, Ferguson said that up to 200 million people might die from bird flu. Between 2003 and 2009, just 282 people died worldwide from the disease.

Robin Taylor
Robin Taylor
4 years ago

An interesting time to be reminded of Boris Johnson’s speech in Greenwich, London, on 03 February 2020:

“”Šwe are starting to hear some bizarre autarkic rhetoric, when barriers are going up, and when there is a risk that new diseases such as coronavirus will trigger a panic and a desire for market segregation that go beyond what is medically rational to the point of doing real and unnecessary economic damage, then at that moment humanity needs some government somewhere that is willing at least to make the case powerfully for freedom of exchange, some country ready to take off its Clark Kent spectacles and leap into the phone booth and emerge with its cloak flowing as the supercharged champion, of the right of the populations of the earth to buy and sell freely among each other.

And here in Greenwich in the first week of February 2020, I can tell you in all humility that the UK is ready for that role”.

Seems to me that Sweden, not the UK, has filled that role and Johan Giesecke has been revealed as the real Clark Kent.

david.siu2011
david.siu2011
4 years ago

I like your interviews very much because, not only they are interesting, they are thought-provoking. Two words have stuck in my mind ever since I watched Giesecke’s interview – “evidence-based”. What is clear to me is that the UK government’s policies are not based on evidence. They have taken into account resources (or lack of resources). I suspect not many governments can form policies purely based on evidence. UK could never follow the Swedish model because the NHS would be immediately overwhelmed. The result of which is that it would increase the number of deaths exponentially which is politically and morally unacceptable. Therefore, sadly politics also plays a part in shaping our policies but it is also the reality we have to accept and that’s why we really need a true leader in a time of crisis. What this pandemic has shown is that our NHS is severely under-resourced. When this crisis is over, we, as responsible citizens, must ask ourselves what are our priorities, and are we prepared to continue to accept an NHS which is starved of resources and investment?

Jeremy Bonington-Jagworth
Jeremy Bonington-Jagworth
3 years ago

the UK fatality rate of Covid-19 is likely to be 0.8-0.9%, which means that even letting out only the young and healthy will lead to more than 100,000 deaths later this year.

So which is it?

The UK fatality rate?

Or the young healthy schoolchild fatality rate!

If the latter are the one’s dying why are we worried about the vulnerable?!

Surely it’s the former, which is across a typical mix of 100,000 of the population:

BUT THE PEOPLE DYING WILL BE THOSE WHO JUST SURVIVED THE LAST FLU EPIDEMIC AND WON’T SURVIVE THE NEXT UNLESS THEIR CO-MORBIDITIES GET THEM FIRST!!

NO young and healthy schoolchildren, students or workers will die!!!

If we let out the young and healthy and protect the old and vulnerable then almost no one will die of COVID19.

But if we lock down:

ON TOP of all the deaths from the Project Fear and the “Save Our NHS” mantra scaring off or at least discouraging people from using hospitals and dying at home when they could and should have been saved:

Lockdown will kill 7,000 in the UK (40,000 in the US):

For EVERY percentage point rise in unemployment:

For every year the effects persist!

A Recession is 1.5% drop in GDP for two consecutive quarters.

A Depression is a 10% fall in GDP.

(Other definitions are available!)

GDP fell 2.5% in the first quarter, mainly in March.

It fell 25% in the second quarter IN APRIL ALONE!

In the Great Depression GDP fell 35% in the US and 25% in the UK.

Some say unemployment is rising from 3.7% last year to Great Depression levels.

Which were 20% in those eligible for benefits though some say it was “only” 15% overall.

Some say “Thatcher’s” closure of the pits and other industries had effects that will last generations.

So say unemployment “only” rises 10 percentage points and the effects “only” last a decade:

That’s 7,000 x 10 x 10 = “only” 700,000 excess deaths from Lockdown!

Say it’s 15% for “only” one generation:

That’s 7,000 x 15 x 30 = “only” 3,150,000 excess deaths!!

ON TOP of those dying as denied or scared off from treatment!!!

And what was the absolute worst case scenario if everything was as bad as it could be and we did absolutely nothing to prevent it?!

Was it a devastating, er, 200,000 deaths!!!

Which would hint that Prof Ferguson is being very selective in the “science” he’s looking at.

As well as being more than a little disingenuous with his predictions if he says the young and healthy die as the fatality rate.

And for those who say that many won’t die from suicide, suicides are only a small proportion of the deaths from unemployment.

The rest are caused by a mix of poverty, depression, poor diet, drink and drugs, lack of exercise, stress, etc, interacting to damage the immune system, weaken and clog up arteries, damage the liver, harm the heart, etc, etc, which combine to vastly decrease life expectancy!

Eva Rostova
Eva Rostova
3 years ago

Sobering to read this 9 months later.

Giesecke said in your interview that covid has an IFR of 0.1% overall, ie the same as the seasonal flu. Whereas Ferguson predicted closer to 1%.

Who was right? And was this not actually pretty clear already back in April?

Surely epidemiologists should be judged by how accurate their epidemiological insights are, not for their opinions on political philosophy and civil liberties. Leave the latter to the politicians to decide, based inter alia on facts and data provided by epidemiologists.

susienevis
susienevis
4 years ago

DOCTORS PROVIDE DIFFERING OPINION ON SHELTER-IN-PLACE ORDER – SAY COUNTY SHOULD REOPEN
video – 69 minutes
Bakersfield, California – DOCTORS DISAGREE WITH SHUTDOWN: Doctors Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi of Accelerated Urgent Care refuse to wear masks outside. They say the longer people stay inside the more their immune system drops. They’re calling for Kern to reopen immediately.
https://www.youtube.com/wat
+
Part 2 of interview here – 12 mins 27 secs – https://www.youtube.com/wat

Tony King
Tony King
4 years ago

Given that there is no clinical proof of imunity or singularity of infection,I would as a non medical person think that any hope of herd imunity is a construct and should be admitted to be such

Michael Yeadon
Michael Yeadon
4 years ago
Reply to  Tony King

I accept your logic, but I think it’s an unreasonable position. I’m a professional biologist with decent knowledge of immunology. We do know that non human primates (monkeys) infected with covid19 symptoms & do develop antibodies to the virus over 1-4 weeks post infection. When the same monkeys were rechallenged with the same virus, they did not develop the infection. That’s pretty common; it’s what primate (& other) acquired immune responses are designed (evolved) to do.
We further know the serological profile of humans after infection. As you say, it cannot be claimed that full protective immunity will always occur. Based on prior knowledge, my default expectation now is that I’m confident that this provides a measure of protection.
Taking the alternative position, which one reasonably might if there was no prior experience in analogous situations, leaves us rather stuck. I’m not sure how you’d ever move forward? Perhaps a challenge study, analogous to the monkey study?

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
4 years ago
Reply to  Michael Yeadon

Thank you -that’s helpful knowledge. Even Ebola survivors develop immunity I gather.

Richard Slack
Richard Slack
4 years ago

This is, of course an absurd way of approaching the argument; that you have to take a side, pick your preferred expert, rubbish the other one on the basis of things they may have done 2 decades ago then blindly follow them. The motto of the Royal Society is “Nullus in Verban”; don’t take someone’s word for it. Covid 19 presents some old problems and some new ones and the science is not something you pick in advance and stick to but a process in which practice is derived from theories and these theories are openly published and capable of being reviewed by those with expertise. It is for these reasons that the SAGE committee should publish is deliberations and should not contain non-experts such as Cummings

Michael Yeadon
Michael Yeadon
4 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

I was with you until the last sentence. I’m a good research scientist but don’t have a dog in the fight on epidemiology. I’m good at surfacing people’s assumptions, upon which much else they say or reason depends. I want a Cummings type in there (given they’re not about to invite me 🙂 to keep them honest and as well to ensure the PM knows the nuances, not just “the science” as communicated to him by Witty & Vallance.

paul.donnelley
paul.donnelley
4 years ago

Michael Baldwin
Michael Baldwin
4 years ago

What needs to be understood most here is that people are going to feel very – and I mean very, very, very – differently about the lockdown, depending on their life situation.

That is, there is going to be a basic divide between the persons who are socially isolated and those who are not.

And this needs to be spelled out very clearly.

I mean, I’m just going to say this once, as I don’t want to offend people with displays of “verbal emotion” that might upset their mental equilibrium, but I am more angry about this lockdown than any other action of the government I can ever remember, and I’ve been round a pretty long time.

I’m not saying that to personally sound off (I could easily not have said it if I thought it unnecessary) but I point it out to illustrate there must be an enormous number of people (I mean millions) in this country who are extremely angry about it like myself – Peter Hitchens and George Galloway have been pretty near raging at times on it, so I think that claim is pretty much a certainty.

So even if (not as I trust polls much) the polls say 60% (I don’t know, that’s just a guess, but I know it’s diminishing) still support the lockdown, of the 40% who therefore don’t, there may be as much as 10% or 20% of my kind – and as I’ll explain, likely of all ages – who are extremely upset and angry about this, and just want life to go back to what we used to call “normal.”

And no, I don’t want any blasted “new normal”, I won’t “old normal”, where nobody used to feel like a criminal for coughing or sneezing in public or choosing (with a risk one was always aware of) to shake somebody’s hand, or give them a hug, or whatever.

I mean, a lot of us have been doing this stuff for a lot of decades, and we’re not dead yet.

To be honest, if you look at all the horrible ways to die – cancer, strokes, heart attacks, etc. which often take months or even years of suffering, and tend to involve a great deal of debility, degradation, humiliation, apart from the actual physical suffering, which can be immense – a respiratory infection such as covid-19 causes is probably one of the least unpleasant and protracted.

I’m tempted also to quote Jimi Hendrix from the song If Six Was Nine – “

I’m the one that’s got to die when it’s time for me to die, so let me live my life the way I want to.”

I don’t want to debate Neil Ferguson’s scientific views, but just to point out that he seems to come from a generation of people who just don’t understand what freedom is, and therefore do not at all seem to care when what little they have is taken away from them.

I mean, I suppose it’s partly we are now in this generation surrounded by so much technology that never existed before – computers and the Internet obviously – it’s no longer just a case of the “couch potato” who used to “vegetate” on the sofa glued to the TV, no doubt with pizza, popcorn and abundant soft drinks at the ready, now it is apparently nearly possible to conduct your whole life from the settee – even shopping, everything delivered to your door.

So I think part of the reason we aren’t yet seeing mass resistance to this lockdown is, due to the Internet, we’re living in this era of “the super couch potato”, and as long as this huge part of the population now that apparently doesn’t care much if it’s allowed out of doors or not still have enough money (but maybe “there’s the rub”, as that may not last) it doesn’t seem much bothered that it doesn’t actually have any freedom in the sense it did for the previous million years, or not much.

Because I’d like to correct someone below who says “there’s no strict lockdown here in the UK.”

Yes, technically so.

But in reality, when you are now scared to go out for whatever reason because “the old bill” might want to feel your collar, ask you where you are going, maybe even inspect your shopping bag to see if you have got anything “inessential” in it, which for all you know might lead to a fine or even an arrest, for anyone that’s at all nervous about the police (which is millions, and with good reason from the stories we’ve heard lately) it is effectively near total imprisonment.

Again, beyond the social isolation, there’s another massive issue that determines how much you feel threatened and restricted by the lockdown, which is whether you have use of a car or not.

Because if you have a car, and you can just zip down to the supermarket and OK, you still have to queue up like everybody else, but what you don’t have to do is social distance both on the streets/roads and or public transport of one form or another, on which latter by the way it is almost impossible to social distance properly.

But by far the bigger issue is the social isolation one.

i.e. anyone who is in a relationship or with children we can safely assume is not practicing any social distancing whatsoever from “their loved ones.”

They know there is no way whatsoever they can not infect each other sooner or later, so you can safely assume, hugging, kissing, etc, is continuing totally as normal between people inside their homes beside closed doors.

So this lockdown is not actually a policy that is having remotely the same impact on different groups of people.

It is having very little effect (until or unless they find out they lost their job or business, which a lot of people are currently assuming they won’t, but may very well be mistaken about) on some people’s lifestyle – again, the wealthier people who have big gardens for example – but an absolutely enormous effect on other people – old people who live in flats alone, whose partner died or are divorced, and are now being made terrified even to see their children or grandchildren.

So I have no idea about Professor Ferguson’s personal background but I’d put quite a large bet and consider it safe on the fact he has some kind of a live-in partner, just as Boris Johnson does.

But it’s not just the old people who may be divorced or widowed or simply single for whatever reasons, it’s also going to massively affect a lot of younger people in this society now in which we have unprecedented masses of “singletons” – so many, we now even have invented a new word for this condition.

Apart from the survival instinct itself, the highest priority in nearly everybody’s life is to find a mate, and realistically to have some kind of sex life, and also some kind of social life.

Exchanging 50 or whatever character messages on Twitter is not a social life – it’s being with people physically, and you cannot have conversations with people from two metres away, and neither does anybody want to have one with a face mask on.

But of course, for most people, social life is desired to go beyond just talking to actual physical contact, whether merely handshakes, hugs, or to actual sexual relationships.

Even disregarding the older people, there’s millions of young people out there who don’t yet have mates and are seeking them of course with especial urgency at their age.

How long do these complete maniacs suggesting the lockdown think they can stop this normal human activity from happening?

Which will inevitably spread any infectious disease you care to mention, never mind covid-19.

Likewise, those couples of families with children, sooner or later they will have to go back to work and school.

How the hell do you think you are going to make children social distance in a playground or whatever? Are you going to tie them to chairs 2 metres apart (and likely they’d do nothing but scream all day long, as would be their right under such tyranny)?

And then they are going to go home and infect their parents, their grandparents probably even – sooner or later grandparents are not going to obey these measure in private spaces they can’t be monitored on.

I mean, Boris Johnson, who I believe because of the pressure he is under even on account of his pregnant girlfriend is not thinking straight right now – this is all too much for him – has surely go to start waking up to this reality that it is simply not possible to control any infections disease of this kind.

I mean, there’s Neil Ferguson claiming “we’ve stopped an infection disease spreading” – how does he know? The population in general hasn’t even been tested yet!

And places/countries I’ve seen more or less random tests they’ve had something like 25% test positive, which in this country would be 15 million or more. So what kind of a “scientist” is he, when he is making all these claims without having done any proper testing!!!.

But let’s not argue about facts (i.e. how many of the public are already infected with covid19 or had it) when we don’t have them.

And why we don’t is a mystery, why random testing has apparently not yet been done – you know, just go into any supermarket and test a 100 people at random (repeat the tests in various locations) and we’d soon know roughly how many people have it or have had it.

Why, when Boris Johnson and many others had this testing done ages ago, has this simple “no brainer” level research not been done?

And though I’m not really a fan of wild conspiracy theory, I have to say this seems sinister to say the least.

My best guess is that the authorities wanted to avoid the NHS staff knowing if they had it or not, as they’d have likely had to quarantine up to half or more of the NHS and then the NHS would have collapsed totally.

So they decided they’d better tested nobody (apart from apparently certain elite people like national leaders and celebrities like Tom Hanks) until the crisis had at least peaked, to cover up the main reason was so the NHS didn’t lose nearly all its staff by forcing them to quarantine.

And so just think about that if it’s true. Yes, the NHS may well have collapsed, but they may well have sentenced a lot of them to death, by effectively not telling them they had it by deliberately not testing them.

I mean, I want to be clear that I don’t think there is any contradiction there between my own belief (which Neil Ferguson mainly admits) that this is not a disease with a high fatality rate.

For this appears to be muddied by the problem of “viral load” – so as the NHS staff who died were possibly getting “multiple infected” by different persons, this may have led to them being at risk of dying that others weren’t – I don’t know – but that’s the science I’ve heard, which sounds plausible.

So just think about that. Just imagine if that is true, and the scandal, the outrage it will cause, if it is discovered that effectively the authorities let doctors and nurses die deliberately to “save the NHS.”

I mean, I’m not even saying that would be a wrong choice under the circumstances.

But the wrong choice was to make such a fuss of this covid-19 in the first place, from which once this “can of worms” is opened, it is in fact more like “opening Pandora’s Box” – a thousand problems rush out that wouldn’t have existed if you hadn’t opened this box, this can of worms, if covid-19 had just been treated as just another coronavirus of which there were and are already many others in circulation.

But once again, let’s just stick with the practicality of this lockdown.

Families aren’t going to social distance. They are all going to infect each other sooner or later. Children are going to go to school. They are all going to infect each other sooner or later and then take it home to their parents and grandparents.

Young and not so young people are going to find one means or another in their millions to find sexual partners or intimate friends and they are going to give each other the virus – we’ve already seen hundreds of “illegal” house parties going on, and surely that must mean thousands more (possibly millions) are going on undetected, and if anybody there has the virus, they are going to give everybody else the virus.

It is the most colossal madness and stupidity in human history to think any virus of this kind can be stopped.

And then, we have these various claims coming out of the authorities which are not much consistent.

e.g. to begin with, we were told it was about saving lives. Then next, we were told it was to protect the NHS. Now the NHS is not overloaded it’s about saving lives again.

But as I’ve just explained, it is not going to be possible to stop infecting everybody sooner or later, simply because you can’t test everybody.

I mean, this ridiculous (it sounds plausible at first hearing, but listen further) idea of “immunity passports” has come up and tracking people who have the virus by electronic means.

The problems with that are so many it would never get past the first round of Dragon’s Den, they wouldn’t invest a penny of their own money in it (unless they thought they could mug government into buying it of course, which is almost certainly the idea).

e.g. it is claimed the standard infection test is only about 70% effective and then there are also false positives, so it might not even be as effective as that.

But let’s accept 70% accuracy. So then if we test everyone, as it misses 30%, that’s about 15 million people can be walking round with the virus and they’ve got an immunity certificate!!!

Are these people crazy, to think this could ever work?

Clearly yes – apart from the makers of such equipment who can only see sums of money with a lot of zeroes after them provide by the government – I mean us, the taxpayer.

The government keeps forgetting it is spending all our money on these things without our permission (I’m sorry, I don’t think FPTP elections, in which most people’s votes don’t count and less than 25% of people’s votes can dominate everybody else (e.g. under David Cameron) amount to permission).

I mean, as to “controlling the virus”, we’ve not even started talking about the illegal immigrants, whom the government don’t know how many there are, and there’s been a deathly silence ever since it was discovered that cats and dogs can carry the virus, but apparently (so we are told) we can get it off bats or pigs but not off our pets.

So think about it – we can get it off door handles, work tops or whatever, but not off warm blooded pets who can even carry it presumably for weeks or months like we can.

The people running this fiasco are making King Canute look not only sane, but even wise.

I am no longer giving Boris Johnson and his kind advice, but a warning.

Stop now – immediately – don’t waste a day. Schools open this Thursday, businesses next Monday, bars & restaurants next Friday.

If anybody is scared of the virus stay home, don’t see anyone, wear Hamzat suits for the rest of your lives but please do not dare to sentence the rest of us – many of whom may not even have another year left to live for all we know (or we may even know) to join your “hypochondriacs anonymous” club and demand the rest of us stay in prison with you.

We demand our freedom.

And if Boris Johnson does not stop now, he will likely dig himself into a hole so deep it will turn out to be a mass grave, and not principally filled by people who died of covid-19 – but those who are going to die of all sorts of other things due to the consequences of isolation on their physical and mental health, and all the tests and operations for everything else they have been and continue to be denied because of this crazed obsession over covid-19, this global pandemic of mass insanity.

Or there is one question I’d like to ask Professor Ferguson.

Let’s say this is finally over by say Xmas, so the lockdown is effectively over.

(and by the way, as to vaccines, no vaccine for HIV has been developed since it appeared in 1981 – that’s forty year nearly!)

So what exactly is going to be “the threshold” for any of numerous viral infections which will be around 100% certain next year?

So if it’s 0.9% or something, or just might be – we can never be too careful, can we – does this mean you will advise locking us all up again?

My guess from the present advice would be “yes.”

So is anybody going to find that acceptable?

Answers on a postcard (or petition) please addressed to Boris Johnson – he took the decision, so ultimately you cannot blame the scientist, it’s Boris Johnson’s fault for blundering into this rabbit hole that he cannot now get out of, so he leaves us stuck down it also, in our millions.

John William
John William
4 years ago

We need to accept the “post-positivist” view of this debate: we all come to it with preconditions and biases, no-one is completely objective and neutral weighing only evidence. It’d be good in some ways if it was not the case but inhuman, in every sense of the term.

Personally I’d like to see some evidence of how long it is likely to be for the excess deaths from the lockdown to exceed the deaths from the virus, or at least some methodology of having a stab at this. Our half-empty A&Es and postponed operations have a price.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
4 years ago

“…But somehow I suspect there will always be enough controversy around how deaths are counted…”
Haha…you would think counting dead people and recording their cause of death would be simple, and actually usually it is. However, after changing the way counts are made, the criteria used to make them and the separation of deaths in to different categories is for no other reason than to obscure and obfuscate. How many fingers and thumbs do you have? 10? Well, that would depend on who wants to know…

“…Are you more Giesecke or Ferguson? The expert that most resonates is unlikely to be entirely down to your assessment of the science…”
No, it is entirely based on Ferguson’s past form, and it is piss-poor.

Also, if all life is “sacred”, then which lives are more “sacred” than others? And there has to be some who are more sacred…

“…Would you give up your job, your savings, your kids’ economic future, your pension, your parents’ current pension, your house, and your mental health, if I told you that doing so may possibly extend my old, sick grandfather’s life by a year or two? I don’t suppose you’d be too keen, would you? In fact, even the most mild-mannered of people is likely to get angry at the sheer effrontery of such a request.

What if I told the world the same thing? What if I told the world that if everyone in every country gave up their wordly possessions, and spent the rest of their lives in grinding poverty, then it’s possible that my grandfather might get to see Christmas? And suppose that there was some bare plausibility to this, based on a computer model developed by scientists at Imperial College. What do you think the world is likely to say to me? The polite response would be, ‘Sorry to hear about your grandfather, but we’re not going to do this’. The less polite response would be more like”Š well, just incredulous laughter, and slammed doors…”

https://hectordrummond.com/

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

I can’t tell you which lives are more “sacred”, but I can tell you those that aren’t. The Fat, the Black, the Old and the Poor.

Russ Littler
Russ Littler
4 years ago

There is no question whatsoever that Ferguson is wrong, (and has been) on every count. His wildly inaccurate, inflated projection model, (on which politicians acted) was woefully wrong, to the point of being criminal. What you have witnessed is the greatest crime the world has ever seen, committed by Bill Gates and Anthony Fauci. https://youtu.be/6NRG59xhA2A

Monica Elrod
Monica Elrod
4 years ago

I was somewhat horrified listening to Giesecke’s interview, would not consider him charismatic by any stretch. He seemed gruff and defensive or hostile at times. Interesting article contrasting these views. I don’t think anyone can say that either side is entirely correct or incorrect. I do agree with Ferguson that stalling the pandemic worldwide was an incredible feat. Yes, many lives have been lost. But what I recently learned is in the US (where I live) influenza typically results in 20K to 60K deaths per year depending on severity of the season. Migitating the spread while scientists work on vaccines and treatments has been amazing. While Geiseke’s approach may work in some countries, his approach would be catastropic in others. With time and good data and science I hope we can tease out the differences and be more ready when the next pandemic hits.

Rob Knell
Rob Knell
4 years ago

I have to say I was thoroughly unimpressed with the Giesecke interview which struck me as a fine example of profsplaining. He

* Claims the Swedish policy is evidence based but then offers a whole bunch of opinions dressed up as fact for which there is no evidence (e.g. that a big %age of the population has already been infected yadda yadda)

* Is rude about the Imperial model (which yes, wasn’t peer reviewed but is closely based on a previous model for influenza which has been peer reviewed) but doesn’t actually give any coherent reason why he doesn’t like it: he just says he doesn’t like the assumptions but doesn’t say which. He doesn’t seem to understand the purpose of a mathematical model and he seems to think that his opinion (which of course is also a model just one without the things he dislikes, such as integral signs) is more reliable. No-one has peer-reviewed his opinion, of course, and his opinion is also based on assumptions that can be criticised ” he just haven’t written them down.

* He doesn’t seem to understand the point about the numbers of ICU beds and keeping the numbers of cases low enough so that when people get really sick they can actually be treated in hospital rather than being left to die.

* He contradicts himself. Firstly he argues that lockdown measures are not having any real effect because the disease, which he believes to be much more like ‘flu than most other people think, has already infected a big chink of the population and that declines in cases are a consequence of herd immunity combined with a big proportion of the vulnerable people dying (his random and evidence-free opinion). Then he says that dropping lockdown in the UK would mean a big spike in cases. Errrrr…

Some of the things he says are sensible of course and his description of how to come out of lockdown with a gradual relaxation along with monitoring of case numbers is entirely rational. It’s the same scenario that the Imperial group has modelled but I guess he doesn’t know that. Overall though he seemed very big on unsupported opinions and very thin indeed on actual evidence.

Dave Weeden
Dave Weeden
4 years ago
Reply to  Rob Knell

Point 1: fair enough, I suppose. I think the expectation that a largish % of the population has been infected is pretty shaky, too.
Point 2: I may have to watch the interview with Professor Giesecke again, but IIRC, he didn’t say that he disliked integral signs; he said something like he couldn’t explain the mathematical model in the context of a video interview because it contained integral signs. I think his point about the Imperial model not being peer-reviewed is perfectly sound. I don’t think he was rude at all.
Point 3: why do you say this? I’d listen again. He seemed to understand perfectly.
Point 4: I think you’re misrepresenting what he argues. He’s arguing the total number of deaths at the end of this will be the same, regardless of lockdown. Even if lockdown were continued for years, this would still be true, because lockdown only slows the rate. So he’s saying that when lockdown ends, the rate will increase again. (At least, thats what I think he’s arguing.) As lockdown has both social and economic drawbacks, he’s saying the pain isn’t worth the gain. (Again, this is how I understood him.)
You don’t have any connection with Imperial, do you?

carl.dalhammar
carl.dalhammar
4 years ago
Reply to  Rob Knell

I politely disagree about the contradiction: he says you cannot lift all lockdown measures right away, as you cannot over-burden healthcare. that is why he advocated the more restricted, ‘managed’, lockdown approach. secondly, he does address the issue of ICU beds as he says we need to manage the spreading in order to not overload ICU beds. but as he believes the majority of the population will get the virus no matter what we do – we can just delay the process – he believes the ICU care will be needed anyway, at some stage…

copy marta
copy marta
4 years ago

Facing a not-well-known threat, would you rather be a citizen of an established democracy where the first response of the leaders is “those who die were weak and would die anyway so let’s carry on like we always have done” or “let’s pull together and try something that appears to have minimised the blow elsewhere”? Even if the death toll of both strategies in the end is the same (which is uncertain), the attitudinal norm set by those in power matters.
Also, Orban did not become a ruler for life because of the lockdown. His party has had a supermajority in the parliament for years now.

Jeff Gleisner
Jeff Gleisner
4 years ago

I was unimpressed by the Swedish Professor. He seemed to subscribe to a diminishing marginal utility view of human life longevity. Well Professor I am 74 and my next holiday, now postponed, would have completed my collection of Renaissance experiences and as such have a greater utility than the ones that immediately preceded it. Ferguson by contrast was very good; I could listen to more of him.

Glenn Fincher
Glenn Fincher
4 years ago

As a non-scientist & a US citizen in the “risk demographic” for COVID-19, I find Sweden’s approach more likely to “win out”. As the US has been unduly influenced by Ferguson & the US equivalent, IHME model, & states that are in no way comparable to NY & NJ or cities compared to NYC adopt the same “data & science” & lockdowns. Ferguson wants to say that he’s “just a scientist” & isn’t responsible for the political meaning of his model while still pontificating on its accuracy. So, I guess that puts me in the Giesecke camp. God have mercy on us all!

Roger
Roger
4 years ago

The author is correct about it being a matter of world view, but it’s not just from a “moral” standpoint. The underlying elephant in the room is the nature of capitalism, which depends on individuals and individual entities making money and can’t just shut down for long periods. What the pandemic exposes even more than a depression is capitalism’s fundamentally inefficient, anarchic and a-human nature. It’s not to say that a largely collectivized economy wouldn’t face big problems, but without the overhead of private profit it would have the advantage of that profit being available for public expenditure. Even Stalinist led China, with it’s “mixed” but still largely collectivized economy, once its bureaucratic leadership got sufficiently straightened out, had a short- and now long-term an advantage over the rest of the world in handling this crisis.

keangkong
keangkong
4 years ago

I trust Ferguson more than Giesecke. Ferguson is much more willing to admit uncertainty as to his conclusions. Additionally, Sweden has done poorly in terms of fatalities compared to other Scandinavian countries and Finland. Giesecke’s plan for protecting elderly people is not practical: If young people get it, then it will inevitably reach the elderly.

Joe Smith
Joe Smith
4 years ago
Reply to  keangkong

And Sweden’s Covid deaths per capita is, AFAIK, lower than the UK.

gbauer
gbauer
4 years ago

Lovely piece. Thank you. As you said, it is never “just” about the science. It is about what we value most in life and what we’re willing to give up for it. I, for one, place a high value on personal freedom and social interactions, and a much lower value on protection from all health risks. Which puts me squarely in the Giesecke camp.

Queenie Trillions
Queenie Trillions
4 years ago

For me it is very simple. I would consider the below. As a person who worked on large complex global projects, we often would do the following in a weekend. Considering the ramifications, getting talent to do complex models is not a bottleneck.

1. You do not base decisions with far reaching economic and health impacts on ONE mathematic model. That is the country’s responsibility, not the group who did the model. If I based decisions on one group’s models, I would be fired.

2. Also, you model scenarios that include the impact on people (both health & economic) of a lockdown versus not having a lockdown.

3. You get models from three highly respected sources.

4. You ask for a range from experts at lest three possibilities: base, low and high scenarios.

5. You have the experts review each other’s models and comment.

6. You share all assumptions with decision makers and the public at large.

7. Decision makers pick a strategy that optimizes key criteria.

Since the data came from one MODEL, its data is much less relevant. There are no checks and balances. As such, you follow a path of protecting the most vulnerable rather than isolating the healthy. This is more in line with Sweden’s approach.

Queenie Trillions
Queenie Trillions
4 years ago

Also, world leaders have created what I call well-being asphyxiation. Our spiritual, physical, intellectual, sensual and emotional states are being drained of breath, of life. Those who are financially comfortable are impacted at one level. Those who are slipping into a lower class or homelessness are in a perpetual prison. Focusing on solutions, I would propose the following to address the key stakeholders of: individuals, small business, large business, government & healthcare workers.

1.Ask voluntarily if those who are most vulnerable would be willing to separate, and then PROTECT them. Put them in a spa like place where they are supported and cared for FULLY. They are also looked after by medical personnel who also live in this community. While in the spas, they would be given protocols to optimize health.

2. Operate as though everyone has the virus and continue well-being protocols such as washing hands, not shaking hands, etc.

3. Lift the lockdown and implement key economic and well being measures. It is best if at home support is optimized before lifting the lockdown. A lockdown is not sustainable and in fact, may increase the probability of people getting ill.

Measures include:

– Have a nutrition maximization protocol (healthy foods and habits) that every individual can access to optimize individual health.

– Put together an at home health kit so that those who get ill and are not highly vulnerable, can be supported at home.

– Make it optional who wants to work remotely.

– Provide economic relief to every individual in proportion to their need.

Impacts:

– Supports every individual.

– Eliminates the shortages.

– Allows hospitals to focus their attention on those who are most ill.

– Removes economic and supply chain bottlenecks.

– Supports economic health.

The focus should be on optimizing every individual’s health instead of a perpetual lockdown. In practicality, we cannot fully control the spread of a virus. That way, regardless of spread, each individual has an optimal toolkit to maximize well-being.

robcpinder
robcpinder
4 years ago

Really – this is one of the most thoughtful pieces about the responses to the pandemic that I’ve read (and believe me, I’ve read many!) Thanks Freddie, and keep up the good work.

d.tjarlz
d.tjarlz
4 years ago

” If the do-gooder class try to push that narrative, they will simply lose the argument.”

The “do-gooder class”? That is presumably the Manichean alt.right in this context.

tmglobalrecruitment
tmglobalrecruitment
4 years ago

The starting point with this virus is accepting that people will die. This virus is not going away and a vaccine could be 18 months away.

If you lock down for 18 months the world will be in a great depression and that will kill more people than this virus, and the cure will be far worse than the disease.

Ferguson worries me his outlandish 500k death claims got him on the TV and in the press, and he ran away from those numbers when Oxford produced more nuanced numbers. He speaks as if he is a member of Govt and boy does he love the attention.

Of course his scaremongering focus, for whatever reasons, ignore the economic affect of this, the lost jobs, the lost production, the huge debt, the other deaths arising from idling the majority of the NHS.

The longer this goes on the greater the unrepairable damage will be. Whilst the non productive side of the economy maybe enjoying staying at home on full pay care of the taxpayer, I wonder will they be enjoying that when depression and austerity bite and they are laid off in droves.

Welcome to the time of economic suicide.

oldgrampa70
oldgrampa70
4 years ago

We see both positive and negative results from the lockdown. the amount of deaths from traffic accidents are down. as are robberies and shootings. general crime. up are family violence and deaths from heart attacks and suicides. what Americans are failing to recognize because of all the distractions from the virus data is the expansion of government powers. while most assume the actions as temporary I urge everyone to double check. they may find that they will be permanent. we must demand that these actions taken have sundown clauses. otherwise what we see as an anoynce, government will classify as a crisis and their temporary laws will be enforced and many people will suffer because they assumed that these laws didnt exist. we must move toremove all of them that violate any part of our rights no matter how small.. If we fail to show government that they have taken powers that are not given they will become law and will be used by government to rule not serve. ———Grampa

robertbutterwick
robertbutterwick
4 years ago

What’s become clearer recently is the means of transmission. It’s bad news for city based life and yes confining people indoors, particularly where ventilation is poor is not good. The sooner this is acted upon the better.
I honestly think that tracking and tracing could work. Not just in the UK but globally. It’ll need cheap reliable and much much quicker tests, but adversity is the mother of invention.
Northumbria university is testing a new test in Europe that gives results in minutes.
The principle of herd immunity is understandable and logical, but it doesn’t have to be. It wasn’t with SARS or MERS. What makes this different is that it’s much more infectious. That makes it more difficult than SARS, but not impossible.
There may be unintended consequences for many of the asymptomatic carriers, particularly the young, which could be triggered later in life. There’s plenty of historical evidence from previous epidemics to concentrate all efforts on eradication.

Anjela Kewell
Anjela Kewell
4 years ago

I think there is more to just believing one or the other. After all Neil Ferguson has three deeply damaging and failed models to his name. The most disgraceful being foot and mouth where nearly 6million healthy animals were destroyed and farmers lost their livelihoods and in many cases their lives. This alone should make even the most malleable question why he was still in position and why Imperial College was still used by the government when Oxford, Warwick and other notable research colleges were ignored.

Most people who have queried the sense, honesty and practicality of this lockdown are the business owners, the people who create the GDP of this country, employ the taxpayers who fund the the public services. These are people who are risk aware, who build jobs, companies and wealth on risk. They understand propaganda and they understand lives need to be lived in order to create safety for future lives.

I think most people need to do their research on both men and when they do, they may be shocked at how all globalist money and influence lead to Imperial College, Government advisers and the media.that is the time to wake up and decide who works for a better world and who works for world government

Colin Sandford
Colin Sandford
4 years ago

I admire the way Sweden has tackled the virus but if it had been done the same in the UK the NHS would have been swamped. The NHS was in no way prepared for an epidemic let alone pandemic.
Fergusons model is partially correct but well over estimated, Giesecke has made the right call for Sweden.

olivps
olivps
4 years ago
Reply to  Colin Sandford

Working in the NHA I must say to you that the mantra of “NHS is not prepared”, is “underfunding”, etc, etc, is not real. Like the war no one is prepared for a pandemic or a mass disaster for as much as we have been preparing or simulating prior. Fergusons model is not wrong, the problem was that the values that were introduced were wrong and as such the estimates went completely out of range. This is normal when you don’t have time to collect data properly and you need to use what is available to take a decision. I definitely believe that the lockdown and the Nightingales were a right decision at the time they were taken. This allowed the NHS time to cope and re-configure in a way that the opposite appeared: wards empty and no patients at the hospitals other than Covid19. The problem now is why the hell are we insisting on maintaining the lockdown when all the data so far points that the benefit of the measures seem to have been of limited effectiveness as the pandemic was already on a natural slope to disappear and data is emerging every day that the consequences of the lockdown will be quite severe at short and medium term?

Scott Allan
Scott Allan
4 years ago

It’s a question of what sort of world we want to live in, and at what cost? Which is exactly what Giesecke said in his first interview. It is a matter of trade-offs. Balance the cost of lives lost now and lives lost later.

When we say lives lost we need to include the generational cost. This is Giesecke’s model has resulted in the victory for the Swedish people’s NHS.

I think you are very niave to believe politics is not clouding these two approaches. Ferguson is clearly a Neo-Marxist because he lauds South Korea’s actions and outcomes. Canada’s health minister and WHO board member, Tam, does exactly the same.

But South Korea is not the country with the overwhelmingly best national outcome. That would be Taiwan. Best prepared, first to suppress the curve, lowest death rate and best/first at calling out the danger to the international community because they disbelieve any propaganda coming from the CCP.

Ferguson is so openly repeating CCP talking points and controls. Authoritarian lockdowns, civil repression and snitch on your neighbour incentives, which is all very, very necessary for the Globalist desire for the “New Normal”.

Open your eyes. Compare any scientific “expert” strategy with CCP propaganda to see who is a puppet or not. This “New Normal” is not going to be normal for me and we as the citizens must reject all of this draconian policy. Sweden has been able to trust it’s citizens with advice and their ability to responsibly implement without repression. That is the normal I desire. How about you?

pweeldreyer
pweeldreyer
4 years ago

“What they are not, despite the attempts of some social media voices to make it so, are good and evil. Clearly, both experts are highly accomplished scientists doing their best to understand a complex threat. Likewise, the wider debate around lockdown is not a contest between rational, good people who value life on the one hand and the cavalier and cynical who care only about economics or themselves on the other. If the do-gooder class try to push that narrative, they will simply lose the argument.”

“The principle that some level of increase in infection, and therefore more deaths, is tolerable for the wider good is not often said publicly but is already accepted on both sides of the argument.” That part has been weird to me, people pretending like we don’t balance lives lost with greater good, because we do it literally all the time with public policy. We could save a lot of lives by making the speed limit of cars, everywhere, 15 mph. We don’t do it because the overall detriment is considered not worth the lives saved. So why is it evil to use this common sense analysis with covid-19? Maybe reopen advocates are wrong, but an analysis that some deaths are acceptable if ending the lockdowns creates less overall harm is not a new idea.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
3 years ago
Reply to  pweeldreyer

Ferguson is not respected. He is a w***e. LOL

Nicholas Taylor
Nicholas Taylor
4 years ago

There is insufficient knowledge about how this virus really spreads and its ‘dose-dependence’ and symptomless infectiveness (which might be associated with long incubation time, but are not usually considered for common colds and flu where infections seem more like a random walk). My instinct is to focus on networks of cross- and re-infection that increase the risk exponentially, compared to just passing someone in the street or even being in an (uncrowded off-peak) bus or train. Thus I think Prof. Ferguson’s more linear view is too pessimistic, while Prof. Giesecke’s downplays the storms of infection that will continue to develop in sites where people are highly (even intimately) interconnected for extended periods.

yumilipehirsch
yumilipehirsch
4 years ago

Ferguson proved wrong by not puting his money where his mouth is its time for another u turn or boris should follow him #borisresign

Andrew Roman
Andrew Roman
4 years ago

There may be a trade-off between deaths now and deaths later, as well as deaths saved from Covid-19 by lockdowns versus collateral deaths cause by cancellation or delays of other essential medical treatments. So we won’t know for perhaps a year which of the proposed courses of action resulted in the lowest total deaths, not just from the virus but from all other sources. If prolonged lockdowns lead to more suicides, deaths from cancer, heart attacks etc. that may mean that Sweden got it right, or vice versa. Now it is too soon to tell, because hindsight is as yet unavailable.

David Barnett
David Barnett
4 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Roman

Preliminary indications about “excess deaths” in the UK are 33% “with Covid-19” versus 67% other causes (i.e. no Covid-19 detected). It might be a year before we know whatthe numbers really are.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
3 years ago
Reply to  David Barnett

Funny to come back and read this. I think we know.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
3 years ago

Well. I think we know. http://inproportion2.talkig

social
social
4 years ago

it is very difficult to answer your question. There is no data and no control over time to be able to say who is right and who is not. Both say right and wrong things. Neither is based on EBM, they are their opinions and therefore respectable. The only reliable data are those that ECDC provides us every day. And if we compare two countries similar in latitude, climate and citizens’ habits like Denmark and Sweden we see the difference in the number of deaths 5 times higher in Sweden than in Denmark. Denmark made a severe lockdown and Sweden did not. If we then take some data from other countries such as New Zealand, where a very severe lockdown was made, there were only 19 dead and after a month they defeated Covid-19, for the moment. However, I believe that to analyze the data it is necessary to wait for the end of everything and do an EBM-based study. For now we can only give an emotional and not a rational answer. Personally I have never seen mass graves for the dead as in New York due to normal flu.

George Andersson
George Andersson
4 years ago

I live in Sweden and Giesecke and Tegnell are responsible for children getting narcolepsy and deaths during he Swine flu they endorsed and ignore the overwhelming reports and advice by peers world wide, no different than now, doing this on a hunch unprepared and side stepping in good political fashion the truth, people are dying fast in Sweden and the peak although they claim has passed is not coming till mid June according to Karolinska, KTH and Uppsala and Chalmers, they also state we will suffer up to 400 deaths per day, not a success story, from the beginning the message has been far from transparent, plain lies, children are not contagious, does not help to disinfect buses, trains, does not help to wear masks, it is just a strong flu, only the old and weak die, only immigrates get it because they don’t speak English and Swedish, if you have a family member at home with symptoms children should still go to school, no testing is needed, no contact tracing, they refused help from industry and society on tests, apps, tracing and data gathering, currently they blame everything to the municipalities and nursing homes, my neighbor died 41 year old, fit non smoker, no existing conditions, in fact competing in CrossFit, was told to stay home like most and 5 days later gone at home, people dying with palliative end of life care in nursing homes or like my neighbor at home don’t®get counted, no postmortem testing, so in reality the death rate is much higher, and once again the bureaucrats are airbrushing the numbers and hence the reason why they don’t want any data gathering exercises, the Covid Lab at Karolinska institute is not being used, KTH Science lab could be testing 14k people per week or more, refused, two other institutions offered their tests for free to test people in elderly homes, refused. Yes, I take Fergusson any day and time, our nincompoop politicians are not telling the truth.

Louise Lowry
Louise Lowry
4 years ago

This seems so very similar to UK’s approach. In UK coroners are told not to mention lack of PPE at inquests. Also only deaths recorded are those which patient has been tested positive- that is why Financial Times estimates UK death toll as in excess of
40 000,

Louise Lowry
Louise Lowry
4 years ago

S. Korea, China, New Zealand, Australia have contained the outbreak and getting out of lock down is carefully & competently managed so that a second wave of large proportions is unlikely. Their economies will benefit
Pursuing herd immunity by Boris /Cummings with Boris saying some of you will lose loved ones & Cummings reported as saying ‘pensioners will die’ have led to UK having highest death toll per citizen in G20 using Financial Times figures. This has led to C 19 becoming endemic in UK & no one knows who has or has not had it. The Tory government looks incompetent & so do government so called ‘scientific’ advisers. When will any country allow people from UK to enter without strict quarantine measures on arrival? Which country’ s students will risk studying in UK? How many foreign tourists will come to UK in foreseeable future? Health of nation & its economy are linked which Cummings did not realise.
Also few other countries have thought it moral or desirable or intelligent to sacrifice their pensioners & others for economic gain.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Louise Lowry

Do you seriously believe a word the Chinese utter?
Everything about this synthetic crisis reeks of Chinese deceit.
Wake up! Or are you teaching your children and grandchildren to speak Chinese, and perform the Kowtow?
If not, you had better start soon, we have only five years left.

olivps
olivps
4 years ago
Reply to  Louise Lowry

I would like to clarify some points on your emotional comment. Viral diseases other than Hepatitis C have NO CURE at all. You mitigate them with vaccination (when available). Your immune system do the rest. Human virus survives because some of us became reservoir without any symptoms at all. To eradicate a disease you need massive worldwide vaccination campaigns to allow time for the carriers of the virus to die naturally and since everyone is immune to the virus due to vaccine it can’t spread any further. We were able to do that for Smallpox and we expect soon to be able to do the same for Polio. Viral diseases associated with low mortality normally disseminate easily because they are mostly asymptomatic. That was the case of SARS-Co2: around 80% of the cases are mild or totally undetected with people symptomless or just having a mild cold. When this happen any contention measure is prone to fail unless we are aware of the disease, it is easy to quarantine and identify the contacts, and we are in an initial phase. Some countries are easier to “quarantine” than others: Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, South Korea because logistically is easy to close the borders (most are islands or work like that, i.e. South Korea) and the cases were expected to arrive from one specific avenue: in their cases China. In Europe it is very different: first most of the population interact and travel between countries in a much more intensive way, there are no geographical borders other than Ireland, Iceland since England (special London) works as a Hub. Further, the demography of the population is overrepresented by old age people and the development of tertiary case in the geriatric population is provided in a much higher % than any of the countries you use as example, in the form of elderly care homes/nursing homes. An analysis from the 17.000 cases with Covid that were in 166 hospitals of the NHS showed that the median age of entry was 72 years and the median age of the ones who died 80 years and in 88% a pre-medical condition was present. This is similar in every European country with most of the differences in death rate per capita related to death certificate, demography, urban density, population genomics, etc. Since the spread occurred when most of the disease was asymptomatic I personally believe that any kind of measure to have been taken wouldn’t matter in terms of the outcome (the data that is becoming available seems to support this but in one or two years we will have a full panorama). When you imply that we are slaughtering the “pensioners & others for economic gain” sorry to say but you are behaving in a “Trump-like” way. The only thing we could do to “protect” the “pensioners & others” would be to lock them in Level IV infectious diseases facilities for the rest of their lives and I am sure the ones who would be able to choose would say NO. We can’t elude ourselves, Covid19 is a medical and scientific problem. The lockdown is different since it is a political decision that is not supported at this moment by any scientific evidence. It’s like the facial masks, people are free to believe on them, science has not prove any benefit unless you have evident symptoms of coughing and sneezing. So far Science has lost the war but will prevail as the recent data starts to emerge.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Louise Lowry

Your otherwise interesting analysis is invalidated by including China.
Surely you are not silly enough to believe a word of what China utters? They are congenital liars, always have been and always will be.
You have also had ample time to answer my very simple question about Pliny. What is the problem?
If the the US acts decisively in this crisis, we will be able to rejoice at the works of Tacitus. You must recall those famous words he put into the mouth of Calgacus, “they make a desert and call it peace”?

.