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Can we eradicate Covid-19? Only two contagious diseases have ever been wiped out — but coronavirus could be next

Eleven-year-old Paul Witzen gets the smallpox jab in 1963. Billions of people are alive today because of the disease has been beaten. Photo: Bill Johnson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Eleven-year-old Paul Witzen gets the smallpox jab in 1963. Billions of people are alive today because of the disease has been beaten. Photo: Bill Johnson/The Denver Post via Getty Images


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December 7, 2020   9 mins
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December 7, 2020   9 mins

In the list of Best Ever Days in Human History, 8 May 1980 surely ranks near the top. That was the day that scientists announced that “the world and all its peoples have won freedom from smallpox”. The smallpox virus, which by some estimations had killed 300-500 million people during the 20th Century alone, had been eradicated, wiped off the face of the planet, with only a few samples remaining in secure labs for future study.

Forty years later, we have a new virus to contend with. Although it doesn’t have a truly terrifying 30% mortality rate like smallpox, the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is vicious enough to have killed 1.5 million people in less than a year, and has shut down economies worldwide. A major reason for those shutdowns, of course, was that we didn’t have a vaccine: there was no option but to attempt to stop people from spreading it by keeping them apart. But now we do have vaccines – several of them, and they’re accompanied by a much better understanding of how SARS-CoV-2 works. Imagine how satisfying it would be — after a 2020 filled with disease, death, lockdown, loneliness, bankruptcy and general misery — if we could eradicate this virus too. 

This might seem like we’re jumping the gun. After all, as we write this, nobody outside of clinical trials has actually been vaccinated against the coronavirus. But the most sophisticated vaccination programme in world history will begin within the next few days. How likely is it that we can get rid of this thing altogether?

First things first. Is eradicating our novel coronavirus even possible? This wouldn’t be the case for, say, the virus that causes influenza — mainly because there isn’t just one major flu strain, but many dozens, each of which is constantly and rapidly evolving. We have to come up with a new flu vaccine every year, and eradicating all the different strains just isn’t viable with our current technology. The Covid-19 coronavirus, on the other hand, evolves far more slowly, opening up the possibility that we could tamp it down with the right combination of vaccines and other measures.

Evolution is actually one of the prime reasons we should want to try to wipe out this new virus. Even though it might do so slowly, it’s still possible that it might evolve a new strain — one that’s deadlier and which the vaccines we’ve just developed don’t counter. This isn’t a far-fetched idea: the closely-related coronavirus that causes SARS has a fatality rate somewhere around 15%, and the even scarier one that causes MERS is worse than smallpox, killing around 34% of cases.

But even setting aside evolution, eradicating SARS-CoV-2 would have clear benefits. It would obviously reduce the suffering caused by the disease, and lessen the likelihood of flare-ups in specific parts of the world — most likely poorer countries where vaccines are harder to come by. It would also save us money in the long run. If the virus is always with us, we’ll always have to vaccinate against it: even if immunity from a vaccine is long term, it won’t be forever, and as populations grow, there will be more of us to vaccinate. Every penny not spent on regularly vaccinating people against COVID-19, after it’s no longer an issue, could be spent on improving health in other ways.

So there’s a clear rationale for eradicating the disease, and it might even be possible in theory. What about in practice?

To date, only two infectious diseases have ever been eradicated — the aforementioned smallpox, and also rinderpest, a particularly nasty cattle virus that can have a near-100% fatality rate, which was wiped out in 2011. That should tell us that removing a disease from circulation is an extraordinarily difficult task.

Smallpox had been endemic in Asia for perhaps 2,000 years. By the 18th century, it killed around 400,000 people in Europe annually. Wars, conquests and the slave trade introduced the disease into the Americas, South Africa and Australia, and records suggest that it destroyed entire tribes in what are now South Africa, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the 19th century, and killed huge swathes of people living in urban settlements.

In the years before a vaccine, authorities quarantined ships to prevent the disease from being introduced into disease-free ports; when that became unviable, some communities practised variolation — a risky procedure where people were deliberately exposed to weakened forms of the virus to protect them from the fatal strain. However, Edward Jenner’s invention of the smallpox vaccine in 1796 — the first ever vaccine, in fact — was a game-changer, leading to the first real reductions in the incidence of the disease. As time passed, techniques used to manufacture, store and administer vaccines improved tremendously, and states initiated vaccination programmes to inoculate their citizens from the deadly disease.

Although smallpox was eliminated in some regions in the early 20th century, the prospect that it could be eradicated across the world was met with widespread scepticism, and was not even considered a serious possibility until 1958, when the WHO resolved to guide a worldwide campaign. The operation was a decentralised undertaking, and it took decades to secure funding and political support for eradication everywhere — for many years, it was simply not seen as a priority, or even an interest, to many governments or community leaders. Where money was available, the strategy began with mass vaccination and shifted towards tracing and containment as cases declined. Eradication was finally achieved in 1980, 184 years after the vaccine was first invented.

The problems that beset the smallpox eradication programme — poverty and a lack of funding — are also major reasons that other diseases haven’t yet been beaten. For example, the Rockefeller Foundation’s early 20th-Century effort to wipe out hookworm, a parasite that can create a drag on children’s development, was very nearly successful, but it didn’t quite penetrate far enough into the world’s least developed places, where poor sanitation and infrastructure help the worms spread.

Hookworm has even come back in extremely deprived parts of the US, where it was thought to be eliminated. A similar story can be told for yaws, a bacterial disease that causes ulcers and physical deformities, and which keeps returning in the very poorest parts of the world.

A more optimistic story concerning a parasitic infection is that of Guinea worm disease, where a worm grows in the host’s flesh and creates an extremely painful wound, stopping them from walking or working, and making them vulnerable to further bacterial infection. Since there’s no vaccine for a non-viral disease like this, education is the main way to prevent it: The Carter Centre, established by the former US president, has been showing people good ways to clean and filter drinking water, among other strategies, and has been the main cause of global disease cases declining from around a million in 1989 to double figures in recent years. We’re many years behind our elimination target, however: the disease remains in very poor countries in Africa, such as Chad and South Sudan.

Poverty has also frustrated attempts to eradicate polio, which infected millions across the 20th century, resulting in death, paralysis, skeletal deformity or confinement to a coffin-like iron lung for weeks, months or years. The plan was to eradicate the three different kinds of wild poliovirus by the year 2000, but it proved trickier than expected. Nevertheless, the virus’s days are numbered: India was declared polio-free in 2014, then Nigeria as recently as August 2020. Presently there remains only one wild type of poliovirus, and it remains endemic only to the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

Other eradication attempts have run aground for other reasons. The effort begun in the late 1940s to rid the world of malaria, for instance, was a failure due not only to ballooning budgets, but to our old friend evolution: mosquitoes evolved resistance to DDT, the pesticide that had previously, and successfully, been used to exterminate them. Now, eradication is back on the table: in September 2019, a special commission put together by the medical journal The Lancet projected that with the right policies, we could still eradicate malaria within a generation.

So whereas there are reasons for hope about freeing the world from polio, Guinea worm and maybe even malaria, we haven’t finished the job on any of them yet, and we’re in some cases decades behind schedule. These are all reasons to temper our expectations about eradicating SARS-CoV-2. And we’re about to see another.

In a word, the problem is animals. The fact that other mammals can be infected with a virus makes it vastly more difficult to stamp out a disease, as the persistance of rabies shows. Vaccinating animals — especially wild and stray ones — is understandably far more difficult than vaccinating people. Indeed, the reason we can’t technically say that we eradicated the SARS or MERS viruses, despite their spread through humans being completely halted, is that they still circulate among non-human animals — and since there’s no vaccine for either disease, it’s quite possible that they’ll reappear in future. 

We already know that the novel coronavirus can infect bats, cats (including lions and tigers), dogs, monkeys, ferrets, hamsters and shrews, among other species. In recent weeks, Denmark had to cull 17 million mink after outbreaks in humans were traced to infections among the animals on farms where they were bred for their fur (and in a rather grim sequel, thousands of them had to be dug back up again). 

Of course, the origin of the virus is bats — they’re one of the major non-human carriers (the technical term is “reservoirs”) of SARS coronaviruses. Virologists have for years made predictions that bats would be the source of new disease outbreaks: they carry a wide variety of coronaviruses, they’re widely dispersed around the world, often live near humans and can migrate easily, and the viruses they carry are likely to cause disease and jump to humans. That suggests that vaccinating just bats — and the particular species that carry human-infectious viruses, rather than all the other potentially-infected animals — would get us quite far.

When authorities began to control the spread of rinderpest, they did so by isolating infected farm animals and restricting their movement, culling them and disinfecting their habitats, all before a vaccine was developed. With COVID-19, we have a head start given we already have a vaccine — and it would be relatively straightforward to develop a bat-version. We could put oral vaccines in bait — a common strategy for controlling disease in wild animals.

There are also other ways to prevent SARS coronaviruses from jumping to humans once again. Most countries, for example, already mandate vaccinations and travel quarantines for animals entering the country. And we could focus on improving hygiene standards for handling wild animals — particularly of the flying mammal variety. In the future, it could even be the case that new vaccines will protect us against multiple strains of SARS coronaviruses at the same time.

There are several other factors that affect whether a disease is eradicable. One is how easy it is to detect: if you can precisely pinpoint who has the virus, you can get them quarantined as soon as possible. That’s not really a check in favour of the eradication of Covid-19, since its symptoms — particularly the cough and the fever — can easily be confused with those of other viruses, such as the flu. On the other hand, better diagnostic tests are being developed all the time, and we might soon end up in a situation where super-rapid, super-accurate, super-cheap tests can help us rapidly isolate people carrying the virus.

Another factor is how easy the disease is to prevent. Although the initial evidence suggests that at least two of the vaccines for Covid-19 developed so far are extremely effective at preventing symptoms, we don’t really know yet whether they also prevent transmission of the virus, and indeed whether they prevent infection itself. Luckily, there are good scientific reasons to think this latter will be the case. We’re also getting better at preventing spread through non-pharmaceutical means: not just lockdowns, but less invasive interventions like masks, ventilation of rooms, social distancing, and contact tracing, all of which improve as we learn more about the mechanics of how the virus spreads. 

This is another area where technical advances will likely help us in future. At the moment, our vaccines are (literally) a shot in the arm. Nasal vaccines, which vaccinate the upper as well as the lower respiratory tract, are more likely to stop transmission as well as symptoms in the vaccinated person, and could well be developed in the months and years to come (we’ll also need an oral vaccine for those wild animals).

Ventilation technology will also probably improve, allowing us to spend more anxiety-free time indoors (as in so many things, hospitals in East Asia learned this lesson well after the original SARS outbreak in 2003). Even simpler technologies, like new types of masks that are more tolerable to wear and thus more likely to be effectively used, could help slow the spread.

Finally, is it possible to eliminate the virus in particular regions of the world? If so, it increases the plausibility of doing it on a wider scale. For COVID-19, the answer seems to be a cautious yes: there are regions that, right from the start of the pandemic, have had extremely low transmission thanks to effective tracing, quarantine and other policies.

For example, from the perspective of the UK, with our population of 67 million and 80,000 deaths, it seems unbelievable that Vietnam (population 96 million) has had a mere 1,358 confirmed cases and 35 deaths. That’s not full elimination by any means, but it — along with the extremely impressive performance of other Asian and Australasian countries, even without a vaccine — goes to show that good policy really can drive the virus down to near-negligible levels.

And that’s probably the best we can hope for: getting things to the point where, like SARS and MERS, the virus is effectively gone, even if not fully eradicated. The fact we have a vaccine means we’re already in a better position than for those two other coronaviruses; but that the virus is so contagious, and has already spread to every corner of the globe, makes things more difficult. The good thing is that the strategies mentioned above will all reduce the burden of disease, with all its associated costs to life and to our economies, even if they fail to completely extirpate the virus. For that reason, aiming for eradication is the smartest strategy.

Even if we can’t win the peoples of the world their freedom from SARS-CoV-2, all our technological advances might render it far less risky to be infected. The model here is HIV: even though there’s no vaccine or cure, with the right drugs the virus is no longer a death sentence. We’ve already seen the novel coronavirus become less deadly as our medical treatments have improved; better steroids, anti-virals, and perhaps even synthetic antibodies could reduce the fatality rate even further.

The Covid-19 pandemic has given us plenty of reason to despair, but all the scientific progress we’ve made in a few short months gives us a lot to feel optimistic about, too. The urgency of the pandemic has meant that we’ve accelerated reviews by regulatory agencies, poured vast funding into research and development, and developed not one but multiple effective vaccines at an unprecedented speed. 

When all the world’s attention is focused in the right way, we’ve seen that the most vexing problems can suddenly become solvable. For millennia, humans had been unable to exterminate any infectious disease. And yet just in the last century, our technology and ambition allowed us to declare victory against two of them, and set us on track to defeat several more. Once the first wave of mass Covid vaccination begins, we shouldn’t rest on our laurels. We should do our very best to free ourselves of this virus forever.


Saloni Dattani is a PhD student in psychiatric genetics at King’s College London.

salonium

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Barry Coombes
Barry Coombes
3 years ago

“SARS-CoV-2 … has shut down economies worldwide.” – No it hasn’t.

Panicky, incompetent governments with no courage or backbone have shut down economies worldwide. If you are looking for a target for eradication, maybe there would be a good place to start.

Derek M
Derek M
3 years ago
Reply to  Barry Coombes

Seconded! I was just going to say the same thing!

Joe Blow
Joe Blow
3 years ago
Reply to  Barry Coombes

Yes, exactly.

Carmel Shortall
Carmel Shortall
3 years ago

I found the tone of this piece increasingly creepy and manipulative as I read through it – the persistent use of ‘we’ and ‘our’ for instance and the constant bland reassurance.
When I scrolled back to the top to see what type of scientist had written it…I found one is a PhD student in psychiatric genetics at King’s College London.and the other is a psychologist and Lecturer in a Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry centre! What is the prpose of such a piece – considering the supposed areas of expertise of the two authors? And why is it appearing in UnHerd?

Russ Littler
Russ Littler
3 years ago

PROPAGANDA.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago

It seemed a generally well-researched, factually accurate article to me. Does anything specific seem wrong to you, other than a supposedly creepy and manipulative tone?
Do you think only recognised, qualified experts in a field should have their opinions published? That could mean the end of Unherd, let alone its comments.

jane.jackman
jane.jackman
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

Articles in Unherd are often good, the comments are very worrying on the whole. I’m not sure I fit in here. I am 100% behind aiming for eradication of the virus, but then I live in the Isle of Man where we have achieved local elimination and we are just waiting for the vaccine to be rolled out. I am fortunate to live in a small island with good governance, like Guernsey. Jersey however have just stuffed up royally as their government is weak and led by the money obsessed.

Ben Scott
Ben Scott
3 years ago
Reply to  jane.jackman

We are indeed fortunate on the Isle of Man, to have unfettered local movement. I am, however, increasingly concerned that access on and off the ‘rock’ will be dependant on a persons vaccination status. As someone in a demographic that is at exceptionally low risk from COVID-19, I would rather face the known risk of the virus than the unknown risk of a vaccine. I would certainly encourage anyone who wants the vaccine to go for it, but I would be very against forced or coerced vaccination.

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
3 years ago
Reply to  jane.jackman

I liked your comment, Jane, and learned something about the quality of governance on the Isle of Man. Don’t worry about fitting in; keep commenting, please.

Derek M
Derek M
3 years ago
Reply to  jane.jackman

What worries you? The fact that some people have different opinions?

Michael Hoey
Michael Hoey
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

Yes, the unqualified assertion that there was no option but ” to keep people apart” is pernicious to me.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago

And this strange duo say Vietnam 0.4 dead per million, UK 903 per
million, two thousand times less!!!!!! And that it is because they
managed it better! Fools bringing their bias in to a supposedly
scientific debate. THEY HAVE IMMUNITY, the mysterious Black Matter
Immunity, as do EVERY West Pacific nation.

What makes this extra stupid is they talk about entire groups who had no resistance
wiped out by smallpox, but cannot put 2 and 2 together and see different groups have different immunity.! I suspect this
very political disease causes Liberals to go all illogical when covid is
discussed. They also failed to mention the 1.5 million third world
children UNICEF said would die from Western lockdowns decreasing
economic activity in their lands. I guess they are angling for some Gates Foundation money.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  7882 fremic

Sorry, 0.4 dead per million, the percent sign was wrongly added..

Anne
Anne
3 years ago

I tried to respond to this earlier, and was blocked! Agree totally. Have a look at this.
https://www.bmj.com/content

d s
d s
3 years ago

Who are the 2 writers of this article ? A Psychologist and a PHd student in genetics from Kings College.

Are they Immunologists ? No. Virologists ? No. Medical Doctors ? No.
So why do we have to read this nonsense ?
There’s no need for a vaccine for this virus. (and, no, I’m not against vaccines).

A vaccine is being pushed because it means big profits for the pharmaceutical companies and the people connected to them. People like Bill Gates, who is behind The Gates Foundation and GAVI, which are the largest funders of the WHO.
(Why is it okay that the largest source of funding for a body entrusted with overseeing global health is a dodgy billionaire who was successfully sued by the DOJ for monopolistic practices ??)
The Gates Foundation also funds Imperial College, The Guardian, The Telegraph etc…their tentacles are everywhere.

Oh, and what a surprise ….! The Gates Foundation has funded research at Kings College London into vaccines that don’t need needles (which probably explains the reason for this article).

The WHO has a history of pushing unneeded vaccines. A similar scam was attempted with swine flu back in 2010, when wild inaccurate predictions were made and large unnecessary supplies of vaccine were purchased.

Comparing SARS-COV-2 to smallpox (as is done in this article) is ridiculous. There’s no comparison.
If you are wondering why countries like Vietnam have not been so affected by this, an interesting point was made by Dr. Mike Yeadon, who said that the original SARS is 80% similar to SARS-COV-2. SARS passed through much of East Asia some years ago and this may have created a co- immunity to the current virus.

The only sensible way to approach this virus is build up immunity in the general population naturally and look after the very elderly.

There will be plenty of new viruses to come in the future-that is part of life- and most of them can and should be dealt with naturally.

Sean L
Sean L
3 years ago
Reply to  d s

Absolutely. Interestingly Yeadon does draw an immunological parallel between smallpox and Corona viruses in support of that point. Jenner inferred from the clear complexions of dairy maids immunity to smallpox via exposure to cowpox. Similarly, argues Yeadon, immunity to Corona viruses derives from previous exposure to other Corona viruses.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Sean L

Benjamin Jesty, a farmer, innoculated his family 22 years before Jenner. It’s an interesting story to look up.

Peter Whitehead
Peter Whitehead
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

I think he might have been using the very risky variolation method which uses a form of live virus. Jenner then experimented with vaccination using Cowpox.
BTW, Sweden was the 1st country in the world to make smallpox vaccination compulsory! Aaaaah!

shinybeast1
shinybeast1
3 years ago
Reply to  d s

Yes I agree. And re: the gates foundation I recently discovered they also fund the BBC and the Lancet. Scary how far the tentacles reach!

Sean L
Sean L
3 years ago
Reply to  shinybeast1

They also sponsor Telegraph.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Sean L

Yes, I read that just recently. It further vindicates my decision not to subscribe to, or buy, the DT.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Because they are lizards.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

I thought it was octopi that had tentacles?

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

No, because there are only one or two DT writers worth reading and it’s full of article about women going on about their weight or their mental health or whatever. And, I can get plenty of informed comment about politics and economics and football on YouTube, from the left, right and centre.

That said, I’ve given The Times a try and, if anything, it’s even worse than the DT. Anyway, if the DT is getting money from Bill Gates it doesn’t need money from me. It’s a shame, I grew up with the DT and have been reading it, on and off, since 1974.

terry.hicks2
terry.hicks2
3 years ago
Reply to  shinybeast1

Where’s that info?

shinybeast1
shinybeast1
3 years ago
Reply to  terry.hicks2

Just look on the lancet website or google who funds them. Same with bbc and the guardian, as well as many others.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  d s

Why is Bill Gates pushing a fake vaccine? Does he need the money? Is his Foundation not really philanthropic? Is your advice backed by your qualifications as an immunologist ?

nick harman
nick harman
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

Because he is a lizard?

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  nick harman

Does that make him immune to COVID?

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

Yes, it does.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

But there was a paper, long since censored and memory-holed by Gates and the NWO/WEF, which conclusively proved SARS-CoV-2 arose in snakes!

James Moss
James Moss
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

True – how else could Giuliani have caught it.

Dan Elliott
Dan Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

I don’t think anyone is saying the vaccine is fake, just unnecessary. For Gate et al, it’s a useful tool for power.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  d s

“So why do we have to read this nonsense ?”
You don’t. You could check out the authors first, and decide to spend your time on something else if you find their qualifications lacking.

John Ottaway
John Ottaway
3 years ago
Reply to  d s

Here here

NIGEL PASSMORE
NIGEL PASSMORE
3 years ago

The challenge, I find, with this article is many of its core questions have already been specifically addressed by substantial peer reviewed research, and some of it is just factually wrong.

For example, on the former, the Fronteirs’ research publushed last week addresses why different countries (160 were studdied) have had different C19 outcomes. On the latter this article states 80,000 have died in the UK. The source for this is a Tweet; yes seriously a Tweet. If the authors had looked at all the official data (ONS, NHS C19 and Gov C19 web sites) they’d know the number in the UK is 61,000 of which less than 10% have C19 as the sole cause on the death cert.

I admire the optimism of the writers, but would suggest if it is so easy then viral influenza is a much better candidate for targetting elimination than C19.

Regards

NHP

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  NIGEL PASSMORE

less than 10% have C19 as the sole cause on the death cert.

This is a popular trope. The same figures show that 93% had Covid as the underlying cause.

NIGEL PASSMORE
NIGEL PASSMORE
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

It is not a trope. You need to go and read the ONS definition of underlying. Underlying just means you have had a positive C19 test within 28 days. Or if you’ve not had a test a single clinician can reccord C19 on the death cert on the basis of symptoms.

Regards

NHP

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  NIGEL PASSMORE

Underlying just means you have had a positive C19 test within 28 days.

That is quite incorrect. The PHE figures are, as you say, for deaths from any cause within 28 days of a positive test. The ONS figures, which we are both talking about, are based on death certificates, where underlying cause means just that.

Alex Camm
Alex Camm
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

Based on inaccurate tests. Your faith in the death certificate as accurate is probably unfounded

play2day593
play2day593
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Camm

More likely due to the Government payment to hospitals for patients diagnosed with covid.
Interesting that of the 1200 daily hospital admissions for covid, 25% with symptoms, 50% give a positive test after being admitted to hospital for another cause and 25% catch it in hospital !!!!!

Paul Wright
Paul Wright
3 years ago
Reply to  play2day593

What is your evidence that the British government makes such payments?

Peter Whitehead
Peter Whitehead
3 years ago
Reply to  play2day593

Are you confusing Covid payments with the USA where, apparently, the hospital does get extra payment?

Anne
Anne
3 years ago
Reply to  play2day593

Haven’t been able to verify financial incentives for what have been cruelly called “shroud stats”, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Clinicians are not incentivised directly, I’m fairly sure, if it happens it must be at management level.

Derek M
Derek M
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

Given the debasement of the system of recording deaths and the death certificate procedure in the last few months, a deal of scepticism is required.

Anne
Anne
3 years ago
Reply to  NIGEL PASSMORE

This is correct. Lest there be any doubt, doctors had a second directive confirming that a test was not required, that clinical suspicion was sufficient for covid diagnosis (for example cough or fever as a terminal symptom) on 9thNovember from the DOH, reiterating what was decreed in April. .

Peter Whitehead
Peter Whitehead
3 years ago
Reply to  NIGEL PASSMORE

80,000 sounds much more scary so why not use it? Who cares about facts when there’s a narrative to push!

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

Although it doesn’t have a truly terrifying 30% mortality rate like smallpox, the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is vicious enough to have killed 1.5 million people in less than a year, and has shut down economies worldwide.
And you were doing so well with an attempt at context, but apparently could not help yourselves. What’s 1.5 million our of 7-8 billion? And of those, how many were 1) elderly and 2) (usually both) dealing with multiple other health conditions so that covid did not so much cause death as hasten it.

Look, the virus is harsh for certain groups, which should be clear, except that shutting down economies goes well beyond any protection for those groups, essentially punishing the whole of the population. And it has effects of its own – more suicides, cases of abuse, overdosing, the massive damage being to children, and so forth.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

In many cases, shutting down economies went hand in hand with not protecting the elderly in ‘care’ homes.

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Governments chose to shut down economies. Covid did not do it. Not all Governments chose to destroy their economy. As to the mortality rate, remember, most deaths counted as Covid are not proven to be caused by Covid – it is enough to be in a nursing home or even show positive with the dodgy Covid test.

But, stick with the stats, still not an exceptional mortality rate.

John Vaughan
John Vaughan
3 years ago

Nice to see you keep giving this student a platform. Having supervised many, I would love to work with her and her enthusiasm. Unfortunately, her reference to “good scientific reasons” just showed tweets between amateurs expressing potential hypotheses. Please remember, in the 7 levels of medical evidence, expert opinion is the lowest and she is no expert, therefore off the scale. Carl Heneghan and the Barrington 3 present data from randomised control trials, followed by their conclusions. More from them please rather than from amateur polemicists.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago

Can we eradicate Covid-19? No. To eradicate covid we would have to eradicate ALL Corona viruses. And we’ve been trying that for over 50 years

Only two contagious diseases have ever been wiped out ” but coronavirus could be next. It won’t be, see above.

I see the 2 “experts” that have written this article have absolutely nothing to do with epidemiology, virology…but are a PhD Student and a Lecturer both in the field of Psychology. So why are they fantasising?

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

We’ve been trying to eradicate all coronaviruses for fifty years? Please could you give some indication as to where I can find out more?

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

The first description of human coronavirus”a family of viruses that now includes SARS-CoV-2, the cause of the current covid-19 pandemic”was published in The BMJ in 1965.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

If that’s meant as another reply to me, I fail to see how it explains your claim that we’ve been trying to eradicate all coronaviruses for fifty years. Sounds more like we’ve only known about coronaviruses for fifty-five years. Did we start trying to eradicate them all a mere five years later, when the only known coronavirus was one causing common colds?

jane.jackman
jane.jackman
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

No because there is no point in trying to eliminate common cold causing viruses as the disease is trivial.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  jane.jackman

You share my scepticism?

jane.jackman
jane.jackman
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

Yes, but I also feel hope from the scientific response to this virus challenge and despair from the ignorance of the swathes of people recently exposed to scientific methodology suddenly thinking their opinions have any weight. People can be very disappointing.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  jane.jackman

Quite.
I notice nobody’s backed up this idea of fifty years of attempts to eradicate all coronaviruses, other than suggesting I google something unspecified. And it’s a new one for me – I hadn’t come across that particular claim before. Was Shi Zhengli secretly trying to eliminate coronaviruses while pretending to collect samples?

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

OUR FLU AND COMMON COLD TRIALS
Our standard clinical trials for people aged 18 to 65.
Our standard clinical trials help us better understand how common cold and flu viruses work, how they affect people, and how they can be treated. By taking part, you are helping advance medical research and aiding the development of better medicines.

The Common Cold Unit (CCU) or Common Cold Research Unit (CCRU) was a unit of the British Medical Research Council which undertook laboratory and epidemiological research on the common cold between 1946 and 1989. It was set up on the site of the Harvard Hospital, a former military hospital at Harnham Down near Salisbury in Wiltshire. Common colds account for a third of all acute respiratory infections[where?][when?] and the economic costs are substantial in terms of sick leave.

Human coronaviruses, which are responsible for about 10% of common colds, were first isolated from volunteers at the unit in 1965. The CCU continually recruited volunteers for research into the common cold until its closure in 1989. The final director was David Tyrrell, whose autobiography describes his work at the CCU from 1957.

If you need any further assistance, I would advise using search terms such as “common cold” “corona virus” & “Research”

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

So far as I’m aware, the CCRU did research into common colds, looking, among other things, for possible cures and preventions. Did they attempt to eradicate cold-causing coronaviruses, let alone all coronaviruses?

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

So, you couldn’t be arsed to look properly on google (which is insanely easy, even for a numpty).

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

I flatter myself that I’m not bad at tracking down such information, but I still can’t find anything about this fifty year attempt to eradicate all coronaviruses. Nor did the piece you quoted from ‘flucamp’ appear to mention any such attempt, even for human coronaviruses.
If you find it insanely easy, could you perhaps name one paper which at least hints at this, since Unherd’s comment machine dislikes links?

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

I think you have a bit of a bee in your bonnet in regard to the word eradicate.
It appears your assertion that we had not been trying to eradicate corona viruses is a little disingenuous. Why else would there have been, and continues to be, research in to corona viruses?
We research in to cancer. Is that not to “eradicate” cancer? If not, what was/is the research for? Just in pursuit of intellectual curiosity?

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

I presume that as you are able to write, you are also able to read?
How about, for once in your life, you actually go and find out for yourself.

You will learn 2 things.

1. How to look something up on the internet.
2. That we have been trying to find a vaccine for the common cold for over 50 years.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

A vaccine for the common cold is hardly an attempt to eradicate all coronaviruses.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

Google…

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

I’ve had a go, with no luck. Could you give a bit more of a clue?

Zhirayr Nersessian
Zhirayr Nersessian
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

If the survival rate of these viruses is over 99.5% why would anyone bother? You do realise that’s roughly the survival rate of the current “corona” virus?

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

You claim we’ve been trying “to eradicate ALL Corona viruses” for over fifty years. I’ve asked repeatedly for some kind of source for this claim, and the best you’ve come up with is an extract from the ‘flucamp’ website, along with suggestions I google it myself.
Well, neither the extract you quoted, nor anything else I see on the ‘flucamp’ site, gives any indication of this project, not even for one human coronavirus (and you did put ‘all’ in capitals). Further Google searches have so far revealed nothing. I suspect you’ve been leading me on a wild goose chase. If not, could you kindly provide some more specific source for your claim?

E. E.
E. E.
3 years ago

Without in any way agreeing or disagreeing with the contents of the article (I don’t feel I know enough about the subject to comment), looking at the comments, I must say that there is a curious tendency among some people to dismiss, and question the credentials of, anyone who writes something they don’t agree with, while suffering no such reservations when it comes to a non-expert who is ‘on the right side’.

Thus, some people think that a PhD student in psychiatric genetics and a psychologist should stay in their lane, yet they treat every tweet posted by Ivor Cummins (who is neither a virologist nor an epidemiologist) as the Holy Gospel.

I am a ‘lockdown skeptic’ myself, as well as an opponent of masks if there has ever been one, but can we show some tolerance for articles that don’t necessarily accord with our opinions without calling said articles propaganda pieces?

William MacDougall
William MacDougall
3 years ago

Of course it would be nice to eradicate Covid-19, but not at any price. Many of us believe the price already paid to reduce its spread is all out of proportion to the harm caused by a disease that is trivial for the vast majority of victims, who don’t even notice they have it. We can expect that with no action it would have become even less serious anyway, and certainly with widespread vaccination it will become a much less grave problem. We can’t eliminate death and risk of death, and there are other diseases which would be better targets for eradication.

Russ Littler
Russ Littler
3 years ago

Yes, we could have eradicated this virus 11 months ago by simply switching off the TV, and hanging Witty, Ferguson, and Valance from a tall tree. Job Done.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Russ Littler

It spreads via TV? I thought it was 5G.

JĂŒrg Gassmann
JĂŒrg Gassmann
3 years ago

Several things to bear in mind:
As the WHO emphasises in its “after action report” on the eradication of smallpox, mass vaccination did not work. It was only after they abandoned mass vaccination, and focussed on isolation and cocooning, did they succeed. They also clearly state that they had to be judicious with vaccinations because of the vaccine’s known high levels of adverse reactions (or, as they are now called “immune responses”). They found that since smallpox had an IFR of 10-30%, the vaccine risk was judged acceptable. We don’t know yet what the adverse reaction profile for the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are, but we know that the IFR is 0.14% – two orders of magnitude smaller than smallpox.
The other – and unique – feature of smallpox was that there was no animal reservoir. Unless the animal reservoir can be eradicated, there is no prospect of a human virus eradication. That is why smallpox remains the only infectious disease in humans to have been eradicated.
Overall, only one other disease has truly been eradicated, and that is the bovine rinderpest. But veterinary measures – which includes the culling of infected herds – are different.
The warning that SARS-CoV-2 could mutate to become more dangerous is not based on experience – on the contrary, widely circulating viruses as a rule become more infectious, but less lethal: That is the direction of evolutionary pressure. Ironically, a successful vaccine might breed a more lethal virus: the vaccine strain is usually the most common one, which at the same time is the least lethal. If the vaccine successfully controls it, a rare but more lethal variant that is not controlled by the vaccine may become more prevalent. That seems to be happening with measles, and is happening with HPV, where there has been a shocking increase in cervical cancers in young women.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 years ago

The IFR for Covid 19 is a moving feast – it depends how many people are infected, (always supposing you can work this out) and the accuracy of your mortality figures ; it depends on the age and co morbidities of the cohort you are looking at; it depends on where you are in the pandemic; it depends on the adequacy of your healthcare system etc.etc.

Just to provide a lovely graphical description of the variations inherent in this statistic I commend to you the Forest plots in this paper :
A systematic review and meta-analysis of published research data on COVID-19 infection-fatality rates Int J Infect. Dis. Meyerowitz-Katz
Overall, from 24 very heterogeneous studies the authors calculate an overall IFR of 0.68% (0.53%”“0.82%) total range of 0.17% to 1.7%. Uncertainty rules and that is OK.

Yep, much more palatable than smallpox but what with all the associated morbidity, enough to strain a ‘lean and mean’ NHS to its limits.

Cervical cancers in young women – yes but it is in the 25 – 29 year old cohort – the last generation before HPV vaccination was taken up en masse by teenage girls (takes an average of 8 years for this cancer to reallly work up steam) + this cohort has been the most cavalier at getting themselves smeared. Great paper goes into all the gory details here : Is the recent increase in cervical cancer in women aged 20″“24 years in England a cause for concern? Pre Med Feb 2018

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago

Surely it is clear that while science-medical knowledge has increased, certainly in terms of the material and mechanical, the system remains still, largely ignorant as to how the human organism functions.

The sorts of experiments we are seeing with vaccines threaten the future of humanity and never more so because they are sold in the name of ‘good intentions’ when the real intention is power and profits.

Science-medicine without caution, ethics and common sense is dangerous indeed.

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago

All pathogens can be resisted with a healthy body. A healthy body, with the help of genetics to some degree, requires good food, good sleep, good hygiene and good sanitation. It was the improvement in living conditions which saw the deadly ‘plagues’ of the past disappear in frequency and their kill rate flatline.

All of this is a matter of public record. It happened long before pills, potions and vaccines. The UK began keeping records around 1830 and other countries like the US, a few decades later. We can see from history what the human organism needs for good health.

Indeed, doctors once knew this and were taught it in medical school, at least until the 1960’s and beyond. In 1960 Macfarlane Burnet, Nobel Prize laureate for immunology, stated that genetics, nutrition, psychological and environmental factors may play a more important role in resistance to disease than the assumed benefits of artificial immunity induced by vaccination. He considered that genetic deterioration of the population may be a consequence of universal mass vaccination and he postulated that in the long-term vaccination may be against the best interests of the state.

And in 1970, -On October 19, 1970, Harvard’s Dr. Edward H. Kass gave a speech to the annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, of which he was President.

In his famous speech, Dr. Kass took his infectious disease colleagues to task, warning them that drawing false conclusions about WHY mortality rates had declined so much could cause them to focus on the wrong things. As he explained:

“”Šwe had accepted some half truths and had stopped searching for the whole truths. The principal half truths were that medical research had stamped out the great killers of the past”Ć ”tuberculosis, diphtheria, pneumonia, puerperal sepsis, etc.”Ć ”and that medical research and our superior system of medical care were major factors extending life expectancy, thus providing the American people with the highest level of health available in the world. That these are half truths is known but is perhaps not as well known as it should be.”

Frederik van Beek
Frederik van Beek
3 years ago

If ever censorship was needed than now is the moment. What is this rubbish…In what Lalaland do they live? Are they even human or are they robots? Haven’t they seen what the so called ‘eradicating’ of this virus does to the world up untill now? Why have they been silent during all these decades when the flu was around making, more or less, the same amount of victims? Who is paying them to open their mouth right now?

Jeff Chambers
Jeff Chambers
3 years ago

If ever censorship was needed

The last thing the modern world needs is more censorship. Society cannot get at the truth of complex matters by means of censorship. The only way to get at the truth is by open investigation and debate.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Chambers

I believe Facebook is going to start censoring anything they deem COVID fake news, and Frederik van Beek’s comment might well qualify!

Frederik van Beek
Frederik van Beek
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Chambers

Jeff, about the censorship I was not being really serious, but since the MSN are censoring the hell out of us I thought, let’s turn it around for once. I do remember what Voltaire said about freedom of speech and I will stand by that. Ian Perkins seems quite serious about censorship btw.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago

I was indeed being serious. I think you might easily be an early victim of the censorship you appeared to be calling for. (As would I, perhaps for other reasons!)

Frederik van Beek
Frederik van Beek
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

What other reason would that be?

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago

Nasal vaccines, which vaccinate the upper as well as the lower respiratory tract, are more likely to stop transmission as well as symptoms in the vaccinated person, and could well be developed in the months and years to come

Is that right? Surely the point of vaccination is to stimulate the immune system, which doesn’t live in the respiratory tract.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

I’m out of my depth, but I think there may be something to it. Unherd’s comment machine doesn’t like links, but try googling “nasal immune system.”
From ‘The evolution of nasal immune systems in vertebrates’ (ScienceDirect):
“The olfactory organs of vertebrates are not only extraordinary chemosensory organs but also a powerful defense system against infection. Nasopharynx-associated lymphoid tissue (NALT) has been traditionally considered as the first line of defense against inhaled antigens in birds and mammals.”
and from ‘Mucosal Immune Response in Nasal-Associated Lymphoid Tissue upon Intranasal Administration by Adjuvants’ (J. Innate Immunity):
“The nasal administration of vaccines directed against diseases caused by upper respiratory tract infections of pathogens, such as the influenza virus, mimics the natural infection of pathogens and induces immunoglobulin A (IgA) production in the nasal cavity to effectively protect viral entry. Therefore, the development of a nasally administered vaccine is a research objective.”

jane.jackman
jane.jackman
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

No good whatsoever for mouth breathers and window lickers though 🙂

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 years ago
Reply to  jane.jackman

Oral mucosa and therfore saliva also contains IgA as a first line of defence along with more than 350 different types of bacteria and the odd virus from the herpes and other familes, acting as a sort of biome barrier (a bit like the lower gut)

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  jane.jackman

Which is why those ghastly mouthwash things are best avoided.

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

It has already been admitted, Covid vaccines will not vaccinate in essence, i.e. reduce infection. They might reduce symptoms, they think, which might mean less severe cases, they think. Since few cases become severe it all seems pointless.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 years ago
Reply to  Athena Jones

“Since few cases become severe it all seems pointless.”

Tell that to the intensive care specialists across the planet.

This is a microthrombotic, muti organ disease.
The best case I know (just from the first wave when no-one really knew what was going on) – a 40 something doctor with no co-morbidites who ended up on a ventilator for 4 weeks and woke up to find both legs and all her fingers had been amputated.

Vic Pearson
Vic Pearson
3 years ago

First may I correct the figure of 80000 deaths in the uk when it is 60000 at the most much less
than the predicted Imperial model forecast of 500,000. I think it has been too expensive economically with collateral deaths to produce vaccines for COVID 19 with a small mortality rate similar to flu. Of coarse the vaccination industry has gained profits which we all will pay for. China has also succeeded in gaining back the USA as an ally if Biden wins.

Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  Vic Pearson

The Imperial 500k figure was not a forecast. It was an assumption about what COULD happen with no action taken at all, by government or individuals. In effect, it was accepted as a baseline for the model, not in any way a prediction. As the government and people did take actions to minimise the spread, the figure cannot be said to be wrong. It might be deemed more or less plausible in the light of later developments. A death rate of 0.5% per infection suggests it would not be that far out if the virus did spread through the population, as we are still waiting for herd immunity to take effect, despite its being forecast to do so many times already.

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Dawson

The Imperial figure was bad modelling. That was admitted. Then it was reworked but Governments stuck with the dodgy modelling.

Herd Immunity can clearly be seen in the fact that the vast majority who test positive have no symptoms or symptoms so mild they don’t count. In other words, because of herd immunity they are not sick.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Vic Pearson

So it’s somewhere between 60k and 80k with some way still to go. Biden has won.

Fernando Gatti
Fernando Gatti
3 years ago

The so call second wave Covis-19 related death was much smaller than the first, this is due better treatment and in some degree from herd immunity, adding a vaccine to the mix will make this disease a minor health problem.
Tuberculosis on the other hand, with 1.5 millon death a year “remains the world’s top infectious killer” (WHO ““ Global Tuberculosis Report 2019) despite having a vaccine and an effective treatment (antibiotic).
Why everything is about Covid-19? Why the media never talk about Tuberculosis? Regrettable I cannot find other explanation that the fact that this is disease that is mainly affecting the poor in Africa, India and China (only 388 death in UK in 2017).
We should all feel ashamed

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago

Why is it consistently ignored that Smallpox, like other infectious diseases, was in decline in incidence and mortality, before comprehensive vaccination programmes? The early vaccines killed more than they helped. What brought the change was improved living conditions. This had been demonstrated by the City of Leicester in the 19th century which refused vaccination and instead isolated the sick and improved sanitation and hygiene. It had the lowest incidence and mortality in the UK during that epidemic.

The constant claims for vaccination efficacy are not supported by historical facts, and to ignore them is dishonest.

In 1912, 60 years after the start of the Leicester rebel experiment, J.T. Biggs wrote “Leicester: Sanitation Versus Vaccination,” a well-researched summary. Not only had the predicted horror of mass death been averted, but the yearly smallpox death toll had dropped to zero for the town’s population. Biggs also concluded that the random smallpox-like infections directly caused by the vaccination survivors had been the main source of infection of infants and children, so when vaccination ceased, overall health and infection rates improved.

In 1980, in Volume 24 of Medical History, Stuart M. Fraser wrote: “Leicester stands as an example, probably the first, where measures other than total reliance on vaccination were introduced successfully to eradicate a disease from a community.”

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago

All pathogens can be resisted with a healthy body. A healthy body, with the help of genetics to some degree, requires good food, good sleep, good hygiene and good sanitation. It was the improvement in living conditions which saw the deadly ‘plagues’ of the past disappear in frequency and their kill rate flatline.

All of this is a matter of public record. It happened long before pills, potions and vaccines. The UK began keeping records around 1830 and other countries like the US, a few decades later. We can see from history what the human organism needs for good health.

Indeed, doctors once knew this and were taught it in medical school, at least until the 1960’s and beyond. In 1960 Macfarlane Burnet, Nobel Prize laureate for immunology, stated that genetics, nutrition, psychological and environmental factors may play a more important role in resistance to disease than the assumed benefits of artificial immunity induced by vaccination. He considered that genetic deterioration of the population may be a consequence of universal mass vaccination and he postulated that in the long-term vaccination may be against the best interests of the state.

And in 1970, -On October 19, 1970, Harvard’s Dr. Edward H. Kass gave a speech to the annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, of which he was President.

In his famous speech, Dr. Kass took his infectious disease colleagues to task, warning them that drawing false conclusions about WHY mortality rates had declined so much could cause them to focus on the wrong things. As he explained:

“”Šwe had accepted some half truths and had stopped searching for the whole truths. The principal half truths were that medical research had stamped out the great killers of the past”Ć ”tuberculosis, diphtheria, pneumonia, puerperal sepsis, etc.”Ć ”and that medical research and our superior system of medical care were major factors extending life expectancy, thus providing the American people with the highest level of health available in the world. That these are half truths is known but is perhaps not as well known as it should be.”

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  Athena Jones

All pathogens can be resisted with a healthy body

This is false, and dangerously so.

Malcolm Ripley
Malcolm Ripley
3 years ago

Why this obsession with vaccinating the world? I never realised, until this year, how utterly obsessed certain groups are with vaccinating the hell out of all citizens on the planet. This has made me deeply suspicious because the “clear benefit” I can see is that certain people and companies will get obscenely rich. Some heads of these companies know the inevitable which is why they have cashed in millions of shares already!

What about the doctors who open their mouths and state that they can treat Covid and then get slated for doing so? The latest one was practically in tears whilst he laid out the evidence in front of a senate hearing.

There are now 3 treatments for Covid. If you combine the success rate of those treatments with the VERY high natural immunity we already have then the disease is practically harmless.

Do those groups obsessed with money know this, too damn right which is why the vaccination program is going into overdrive. Gotta get that money before people cotton on to the truth which is slowly but surely coming out.

Another thing that has become most apparent to me this year is that there are people , like the authors, who have a belief that we can control nature. WE CANNOT, the best we can do is to understand how it works and give it helping hand here and there. With Covid, we can identify who is most at risk and treat them with a preventative theraputic such as Ivermectin. We DO NOT try and stop the natural spread with masks and distancing since we are only slowing the inevitible and in some cases building up bigger unavoidable problems. Hence why harsh lockdown countries suffer the most , I mean DUH!

shinybeast1
shinybeast1
3 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Ripley

I agree. The measures are only going to weaken people’s immune systems in the long term. We need to be close to people and sharing cultures and bacteria’s in small doses to build up immunity. Hand sanitizer, distancing and masks are unnatural and the opposite of what we should be doing. What the hell are we teaching our children? How can we stop this madness?!

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago

From what I have read, the pox virus is very different from the Covid virus. The pox consists of double-stranded DNA which is more stable and can be copied more accurately on replication, than the Covid single-stranded RNA genome. The rate of genetic change in pox virus is thus much lower. Maybe someone can comment on this with more authority?

Frederik van Beek
Frederik van Beek
3 years ago

You don’t need authority for this. Every scientist can confirm that pox is a much more stable virus than SARS-Cov-2. SARS-Cov-2 mutates just a bit slower than influenza.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago

Thanks. Often this sort of post elicits a reply asking if you are a virologist.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 years ago

Nil desperandum.

Sars CoV 2 has the capacity to proof read and remove mismatched nucleotides as it replicates so it is less prone than some viruses to mutate.

A typical SARS-CoV-2 virus accumulates only two single-letter mutations per month in its genome ” a rate of change about half that of influenza and one-quarter that of HIV.

Changes mapped so far have not involved the spike portion which is the section targeted by a number of different vaccines / antibodies

Because SARS-CoV-2 is being transmitted more rapidly than it evolves, the viral population is becoming more homogeneous.

For the moment this is all good news for the vaccine makers.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago

I take some solace from the knowledge that I will die of something.
Unless I can persuade the rest of you to promote me to the HofL, where I may reside for all time.

Sean L
Sean L
3 years ago

Why would any sane person submit to a vaccine for an ailment that statistically is shown to prolong life, given average mortality age exceeds average lifespan? Which only demonstrates how absurd it is to reason from statistics alone. Which is the premise of the Covid fear, with “deaths” reported indiscriminately as if all were at risk of deadly contagion.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Sean L

SARS-CoV-2, the statistically proven elixir of life! Do you think it could be marketed? Move over, adrenochrome!

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

Clearly Covid is the cure for heart disease, cancer, auto accidents and many other causes of death

Zhirayr Nersessian
Zhirayr Nersessian
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

Haha I got this after a few secs

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

yes, remarkable how in the time of Covid the Flu disappeared and death rates from other top killers just disappeared. Wonderful really.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Sean L

Average life expectancy at birth in UK 79 and 83 years for men and women, respectively. Average age of death due to Covid – 80.4 years.

However, the average life expectancy of someone 80 years old is 89. If you’re 50 the average is 84 and if you’re 60 it’s 87.

Admittedly, we’d need to compare stats on the age that people contracted Covid and died from it compared to the average expectancy at each age to really come up with a statement on whether it prolongs or curtails life. I haven’t found that data but I suspect it shows that the older you are the more likely you are to die from Covid. And given that the older you are the longer your ultimate life expectancy I think it’s safe to say that catching Covid curtails rather than prolongs life expectancy.

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

The average life expectancy is an irrelevant piece of data in this instance. Catching Covid curtails if you are very old, already very, very sick and in care. Hardly surprising.

Since the majority of the dead have 2-3 co-morbidities, combined with old age, and are in aged care, where the average ‘residency’ is between 9 months to 2 years, it is how much life they might have had without Covid which is the issue, surely. If we take quality of life into account, probably nothing worth having.

The mortality in 99% of cases are very old people who are also very sick with a few other diseases slowly killing them. An 80 year old in this state, in care, might have a few months. A healthy 80 year old, living at home might have ten years. But the latter is not who is dying.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  Sean L

What an odd form of argumentation. You enunciate what you obviously know is nonsense dressed up as statistics and then tell us that statistics is nonsense.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

Such things do seem to be all the rage nowadays. More than once, I’ve seen an article claiming that COVID is both totally harmless and a genetically engineered bioweapon. And it can be a rather effective form of argument, in terms of rallying the faithful to a cause and leaving opponents speechless, since you’ve no idea how to respond to it other than point it out.

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

Covid could be both. If it did come out of a laboratory it is a dud, unless the plan was to knock off the very old and very sick.

Covid is harmless to the vast majority of people. Professor John Ioannadis, one of the world’s top epidemiologists, used the figure of 95% who are not threatened by Covid and others have gone as high as more than 99%. But, even at the lower figure, Covid is not a threat to most people.

We know that because the majority who ‘test positive’ have no symptoms, the quaint fantasy of a disease which has infected people asymptomatic, never known before in human disease history – gotta love it, anyway, either no symptoms in the majority or symptoms so mild they don’t count.

Add to that, even those who do appear to be sick, with appropriate symptoms, the majority recover. It really is hard to take Covid seriously, given the dodgy nature of the test for it, the dodgy nature of the modelling systems used and the manipulation of information by vested agendas.

Sean L
Sean L
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

It’s impossible to know whether people deliberately misconstrue in order to make what appears in their own minds a crushing rejoinder, or genuinely misunderstand. The point of the comment was the statistical anomaly: “Which only demonstrates how absurd it is to reason from statistics alone.” The statistics themselves aren’t nonsense either: as ever the issue is their *use* or *abuse*.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  Sean L

Ah, I think I see your problem: it’s equivocation. There’s a confusion in the popular mind between statistics in the sense of a number or an accumulation or aggregation of numbers, and statistics as a way of extracting useful information from numbers so accumulated. Of course mere presentation of numbers is not a strong basis for an argument; but statistics as a discipline is capable of finding that basis when judiciously applied.

Iliya Kuryakin
Iliya Kuryakin
3 years ago

Covid19 will be eliminated because of something the authors of this piece don’t mention: herd immunity. Hardly anyone who catches it has virtually zero chance of getting it again and many people have cross immunity from other coronaviruses. Add on the impact of vaccines and we’re sorted.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Iliya Kuryakin

How do you know the chances of reinfection, when it’s only been around for a year?

Iliya Kuryakin
Iliya Kuryakin
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

We know that Covid19 antibodies decline and disappear after a few months, but despite over 50m cases worldwide the number of confirmed second infections can be counted on the fingers of both hands. The odds of catching Covid19 twice are lower than catching it after taking the vaccine (vaccine claimed to be 90-5% effective).

We also know that those who recovered from Sars (Sars-Cov-1) show an immune response to it when exposed to the virus 17 years after the original inflection – this is T cell immunity in action. They also show an immune response when exposed to Covid19 (aka Sars-Cov-2).

So all the available evidence points to re-infection being so low as to be negligible.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Iliya Kuryakin

Time will tell.

Iliya Kuryakin
Iliya Kuryakin
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

We have had more time to observe instances of repeat infection than of the efficacy of vaccines and yet the government is all in on the vaccine.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Iliya Kuryakin

We’re observing more and more cases of reinfection as time passes (rather more than the ten you suggest), and with such large numbers of vaccine sceptics and refusers, we’ll probably get to see a lot more. Or not, if you’re right in general.
“Last month, Sweden launched an investigation into 150 cases. In Brazil, scientists are tracking 95 cases. And Mexico claimed to have 258 reinfection cases as of mid-October”nearly 15 percent of which were severe, and 4 percent were fatal. The nation’s datasets show that people who suffered from serious first cases were more likely to be hospitalized with subsequent infections.” (National Geographic, ‘Already had the coronavirus? You could get it again.’)
Some of these may turn out to be relapses rather than reinfections, but quite a few seem definitely the latter.

Iliya Kuryakin
Iliya Kuryakin
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

Interesting. The Mexican study (not peer reviewed) found 258 reinfections in 100,432 first-time and recovered COVID-19 patients analyzed, a reinfection rate of 0.26%. Patients with more serious primary disease were more likely to develop severe symptoms during the reinfection (39.5% vs. 5.5%, average of 14.7%).

So re-infection rate is very low and case severity correlates strongly with the severity of the first bout. The study can be found here: https://www.medrxiv.org/con

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

But is it re-infection? The test for Covid is so flawed it is not reliable. It does not identify an infection or even a virus, but bits which might belong to what is called Covid, which might come from Covid, or might not. That is the problem.

A clear isolation of what is called Covid has not been done. This is all smoke and mirrors. Any validity the test could possibly have, disappears around just over 30 cycles and yet often 40 cycles are done. So, bits of something which might be Covid are picked up and the individual is deemed Covid positive and is counted as a case when there is no clear scientific proof they are infected with what is called Covid.

Quote: The PCR test analyzes samples by amplifying viral RNA in cycles. Most tests, like the Broad Institute test used by MIT, use a 40-cycle protocol. If the virus isn’t detected within 40 amplification cycles, the test result is negative. If viral RNA is detected in 40 cycles or less, the PCR machine stops running, and the test is positive. Because you received a positive result, we know that the test detected the virus in your sample by the time it reached its 40-cycle limit.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 years ago
Reply to  Athena Jones

Sars Cov 2 has been isolated and genomically sequenced thousands of times during this pandemic.
There is a description of the history and step by step production of probes and primers used in PCR tests here :
Primer design for quantitative real-time PCR for the emerging Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 Theranostics. Published online 2020 Jun 1.

Yes, the Ct values deemed to show a “positive” result is set at 40 for NHS labs (for pillar 1 testing) – they want as sensitive a test as possible – they do NOT want to send a health care worker back into a hospital or care home if there is the least chance of them shedding virions. No idea what Ct values the labs for pillar 2 or 4 testing use.
There are studies where they have cultured lots of live virus from samples with Ct values around 24.

So yes…there is a problem with false positives in an operational setting particularly when the population prevalence is low – nicely shown, graphically in the BMJ interactive calculator :
Interactive dashboard for PCR test and pre test probability. Interpreting a covid-19 test result BMJ 12 May. Operational false positive rate reckoned to be between 0.8 – 4.0% in the UK at the moment. This becomes irrelevant when the prevalence increases. No test is perfect.

If you are concerned about transmission then spotting asymptomatics, presymptomatics and superspreader people/events with this virus becomes much more important.

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

If faecal sewer studies are anything to go by, Covid has been around for a couple of years. The problems began with hysteria and lockdowns.

Adrien
Adrien
3 years ago

This is just bullshit, it takes 25 years to eliminate smallpox. Covid-19 kill actually 0.5% of infected people, the 99.5% are alive and develop a cellular immunity. It is just a matter of time, that the immunity in the population is high enough so that covid-19 will be just another flue.
In addition there is an animal reservoir and it is just impossible to eradicate a virus with an animal reservoir.

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Adrien

Covid is not even a bad Flu threat. The data makes that clear. Quite why so much hysteria is the real question>

I suspect Governments love their models and the original models were off the chart and they ran with that and got it wrong. However, no politician or Government will admit they got it wrong and so they had to have the threat maintained and ensured, with number-crunching, as one can, that it was maintained.

Then, putting their faith in vaccines, for a virus which is no threat to most people, the plan is to vaccinate a lot (hopefully not kill and injure too many) and then claim that the disease which was never a threat to most people, is no longer a threat and so they can justify their hysterical response and trashing of the economy and people’s lives.

It’s all politics. Sadly, when science-medicine becomes such a tool of politics, we are all threatened by something vastly worse than a mediocre virus.

And yes, Covid, whatever it is, appears to be a threat to the very old, who are also very sick and in care, but that group is threatened by the common cold. Clearly we have failed to care for them.

Colin Macdonald
Colin Macdonald
3 years ago

The authors state that good policy can drive the virus to near negligible levels. A bit tautological! But in any case a lot of research suggests no link between lockdown severity and covid mortality. I wonder if the author has considered that prior exposure to SARS might have affected the impact of covid. I mean Singapore has had 15000 covid positives since July and no deaths. Suggests something going on other than “policy”. And Australia and NZ have obvious geographical advantages compared to say, Belgium. I mean in Europe we all live within a five hour drive of 50 million people, not exactly New South Wales.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago

No deaths in Singapore since July?

Colin Macdonald
Colin Macdonald
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

You’ve rumbled another keyboard warrior who don’t check his facts! It’s three deaths and 14151 positives since 1st July. The mortality rate was slightly higher before this but the total number is still only 29.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago

You could nonetheless be onto something. South-east Asia may have had exposure to similar coronaviruses both culturally and immunologically.

Michael Cowling
Michael Cowling
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

Singapore has had practice with other infections, and they really make sure that people who are supposed to be isolating are actually doing so! The low numbers in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam may well have something to do with prior exposure to similar viruses.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago

But in any case a lot of research suggests no link between lockdown severity and covid mortality.

Then there’ll be a lot of peer-reviewed papers in the scientific literature demonstrating that for you to refer us to. Five would do.

Robin Taylor
Robin Taylor
3 years ago

The final sentence, “we should do our very best to free ourselves of this virus forever”, sums up the wishful, muddied thinking throughout the article.

Unfortunately/fortunately Covid is nothing like Smallpox. As Dr John Lee explained in his Spectator article, “The Dangers of a Covid Elimination Policy”, Smallpox “was not infectious until the patient started to develop symptoms ““ by which point they were usually sufficiently ill to be in bed, thus minimising transmission. There were hardly any asymptomatic infections. Very helpfully, smallpox had a typical incubation period of about 12 days ““ meaning that once an index case was identified, almost two weeks were available for tracing contacts and isolating them until they could be shown to be non-infectious”.

Covid is now endemic in most countries and trying to “free ourselves of this virus” comes at a massive economic cost. Luckily, for the vast majority of people across the world, Covid is not deadly. Given that the disease is not a threat to most people, the authors have not explained why it should even be an objective to “eradicate Covid-19”. If it is solely to save lives, then the trillions being spent on Covid globally would save many more lives, let alone quality-adjusted life years, if we redirected the money elsewhere.

lindie.naughton
lindie.naughton
3 years ago

Since SARS Cov2 technically doesn’t exist, which means CV19 doesn’t either, the only people who can eradicate it (unfortunately), are our politicians.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago

Are you sure politicians technically exist?

ccauwood
ccauwood
3 years ago

Why are the poorest parts of Africa and Asia not suffering massive death rates when we are told those BAME people living in the 1st World west are far more prone to C 19 than western indigens? Bob Geldof seems more concerned with Brexit recently.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  ccauwood

Cambodia – zero COVID deaths so far – was recently found to be home to a virus closely related to SARS-CoV-2. Might that have anything to do with it? Pure speculation, but I keep wondering about your question myself.
Nature, ‘Coronaviruses closely related to the pandemic virus discovered in Japan and Cambodia’

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

There is a theory that the reason why the majority of people who test positive have no symptoms or trivial symptoms is because we have already been exposed to SARS virus in the past and most people have some immunity.

The vulnerable group has poor immunity because of age, disease and circumstance.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  ccauwood

Because people in those parts have immune systems that have had the opportunity to practice. Same with the homeless in the US who are NOT falling out in droves. They’re not wearing masks or distancing, either.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

And they were living out in the open and then if they were lucky, in socially distanced hotel rooms (in San francisco for e.g.).
New York homeless less cushy ? :
“As of October 14, the New York City Department of Homeless Services reported that 104 homeless people have died from COVID-19, including 95 sheltered individuals. Because the sheltered homeless population skews much younger than the general New York City population, an age-adjusted analysis indicates that there have been more deaths among sheltered homeless New Yorkers than would have been expected based on the overall city mortality rate.”

Frederik van Beek
Frederik van Beek
3 years ago
Reply to  ccauwood

Well Chris, what massive deathrates are you referring to?

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 years ago
Reply to  ccauwood

Median age is 20 in Africa – a full decade younger than any other region on the planet. Given that your risk of catching the virus and dying from it varies 10,000 fold depending on age means that the population has an inbuilt insurance policy.

Also the climate in large swathes of Africa is probably not to this beastie’s liking

Also there has been some speculation that helminth infections may provide some innate immunity towards Sars Cov 2

Also I am not sure one can expect accurate numbers from some countries, even with their experience with HIV, TB, malaria, Ebola, Lassa fever, Rift Valley fever, Hep B & C etc. etc.

As for Asia, they have had practice with SARS and MERS.

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago

Africa has plenty of old people. And since the Flu does not differentiate in Africa why would Covid-19?

Could it be that Covid is largely a First World problem because of First World hysteria and over-reaction?

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 years ago
Reply to  Athena Jones

If you look at age distribution graphs for Africa compared with say the UK they are very, very different – a sort of tapered pointed cone for Africa (large numbers of young people, very few old people in comparison) whereas it looks like a squashed bean bag for the UK (more even distribution with many more people survivng into their 70s and 80s).
Looking at it another way life expectancy at birth in Africa is around 64 years and about 82 in the UK.
The old people (>60 for instance) who have survived in Africa will be the real toughies – exceptional genetic stock.

Since the risk of getting and dying from Covid 19 varies 10,000 fold with age I would put money on the table that the most important factor for Africa is the age demographic

I am sure there have been Covid 19 deaths in Africa, unreported. Having never lived in Africa I have no idea how pragmatic they are about disease and dying.

The “hysteria” about Covid19 in the West has a practical element – an expectation that if you get really sick you go to hospital and some care is offered. If there are lots of people ending up in hospital all at the same time (which is what has happened repeatedly with this pandemic, everywhere) then those expectations are not met.

If everyone had an advanced directive and euthanasia was legal everywhere this would be less of a problem.

Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
3 years ago

This article is akin to throwing the veil over the real issues. That viruses were our companions in the past , are now & will remain in the future. Both mild & deadly they cannot & perhaps should not be eradicated. The crux of the problem that hasn’t been mentioned is the massive POPULATION , the proximity in which we live and our worsening environment as such. So we can pat ourselves on the back that we have eradicated 2 diseases in the last millennium but we have taken our eye off the real reason for panic . 8 billion people & growing. Diseases have hosts and we will not allow our old to die. Not by disease and not by choice (incidentally this disease is quite merciful as it is short term) . We carry on creating more nightmares in form of lockdowns and vaccines and panic when they don’t work . Maybe we should spend a part of that time trying to work out why our population is exploding !!!

My friends son is foster parent and he tells of circumstances in which the right to bear children is so well protected as basic human right that a woman who is not in her right mind has produced 4 children all taken away from her by social services because of her inability to be a parent owing to her disability but has been continuing to exercise her right to bear children ( even though she is not fully aware of her rights – owing to her disability) .

Wild and farm animals are also hosts and pass diseases on to humans. So you cull them. But human life is sacred and meaningful which I totally agree but we CAN tame the uncontrolled runaway figures!!!

The wild species vaccine is a wild idea & sounds like a moronic thing to do. Further intervention like this is only inviting trouble that you can’t see now and if it rears an ugly head later on, who is to blame but us?

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago

Indeed, viruses are a part of the human organism and some of them as critical to our survival as are the many forms of bacteria which live on and in our bodies.

Understanding of our bacterial and viral natures remains minimal and we meddle at our peril.

Knud Moller
Knud Moller
3 years ago

Among the various possibilities for ridding the world of COVID-19 the writers seem to forget the possibility of modifying our environment. People involved in the building trade-architects and the like – discuss the possibility of buildings including domestic dwellings free of air pollution and using next to no energy. So why not trying to devolve virus-free buildings?
We know that COVID-19 along with other viruses does not like sun-light especially UV-radiation, does not like drought and does not like heat. So would it not be possible to design a building or a house with inbuilt UV-radiation to be switched on and off so as not cause harm to humans in their work place or their residence? Would it not be possible to design a heating installation which could heat the building to the high temperature that would kill the virus? Drought can be created by ultra-effective air conditioning.
I would envisage that such installations could be standard in all public buildings such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, pubs, restaurants etc. and should be subject to approval by a relevant authority before the building is opened for its intended use.
The idea is now yours!!

Mike Post
Mike Post
3 years ago

I always understood that the reason for the failure to eradicate malaria was not that mosquitoes became resistant to DDT but the decision of the USA to ban DDT in 1972. This encouraged poorer countries where malaria was a scourge and where DDT was an essential weapon to destroy malaria to also ban DDT which was a tragedy for the world.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Post

Mosquitoes have also evolved resistance to DDT, and when it is used, the resistant ones proliferate.

Mike Post
Mike Post
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

Maybe, but when I was in Sri Lanka in the early 70s it was suffering from a resurgence of malaria having almost eradicated it with DDT.

Michael Cowling
Michael Cowling
3 years ago

And why do we still have polio in Afghanistan and Pakistan? At least in part because they have conspiracty theorists who see attempts to eliminate it as an attempt to control them.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago

And why have such ideas gained traction?
At least in part because the CIA employed health workers to gather intelligence.

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago

Actually most of it is vaccine-derived Polio. Wild Polio has always come and gone through human history. Indeed, in 92% of cases it manifested as no more than mild Flu-like symptoms. Wild Polio may still be with us but is written off as the Flu. Who would test today for Wild Polio?

The Fifties epidemic of Severe Paralytic Polio was something of an anomaly. There are various triggers mooted then and now as to why it happened. Read up on Polio Provocation. Stephen Mawdesley, Oxford University, has done an interesting report.

D G
D G
3 years ago

The WHO admits that polio outbreaks are caused by the vaccine

worldsbestbrewer
worldsbestbrewer
3 years ago

Oh god – another advert for vaccines. Or a writer lost in his/her own micro narrative. Called heads up your own arses. All three methinks.
Widen your horizons to view the macro. A look at real data may help if you can read/assimilate it. Try Ivor Cummins you tube data based videos throughout this government created epidemic for a more macro perspective.
Yes – there are preventatives and treatments, used by the enlightened doctors with no vested interests elsewhere months ago.
Advice to authors – read more widely.

opotopo
opotopo
3 years ago

“…it doesn’t have a truly terrifying has a 30% mortality rate like smallpox, the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is vicious enough to have killed 1.5 million people in less than a year has a low mortality rate of 0.3% and therefore does not pose a massive threat to the majority of people or justify shutting down the world economy and curtailing our freedoms.

Fixed it.

Anne
Anne
3 years ago

I’ve just been censored and banned from this discussion by Disqus, who want me not to be herd and not disquis anything they don’t approve of. I am a medical doctor, I’ve just finished a shift and I profoundly disagree with this article on the same grounds as many who have already commented. I tried to share an article from this week’s British Medical Journal. Subversive or what? The Stazi would be proud of this. Anyway, here’s the article link. I wonder how long this account will last?
https://www.bmj.com/content

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Anne

What does “on the same grounds as many” mean? Scanning these comments many/most are arguing (without citing medical qualifications) that Covid is harmless and the UK govt response is a conspiracy and/or unjustified attack on personal freedom. Your link shows evidence that members of Sage have large shareholdings in various vaccine manufacturers. Vallance has a large chunk of deferred shares from his previous role as head honcho at GSK – not ideal granted, but not proof of a global conspiracy.
As a medical doctor can you explain why what happened in Lombardy couldn’t happen very easily in the UK, or anywhere else. Sweden for example was, for a while, the conspiracist’s poster boy. 2 days ago Stockholm said ICU beds were at 99pc capacity. Are all the people now in those beds suffering from hypochondria?

shinybeast1
shinybeast1
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

No one has said it is harmless, but i think if you look at the statistics it is clear to see that, even if all the deaths were caused solely by covid, it really seems like a massive over reaction and hugely destructive decision to shut everything down. The cost of lockdown and all the other measures have cause so much more devastation than the virus. Everyone has been impacted by lockdown and the repurcussions will be felt maybe forever. How many people do you know who have died from the virus?
It is quite normal for icu beds to be near capacity this time of year. especially after a few years of very mild influenza (which was the case in both sweden and uk) The measures ARE an attack on personal freedom and they are totally disproportionate and unnatural. we should not be socially distancing. the very idea of my children growing up seeing this madness going on around them scares me.
Human bodies are amazing things. The immune system is absolutely incredible. My faith is in nature.

georgedance04
georgedance04
3 years ago

“the closely-related coronavirus that causes SARS has a fatality rate somewhere around 15%, and the even scarier one that causes MERS is worse than smallpox, killing around 34% of cases.”

So why not try eradicating those, rather than a disease that has a less than 1% fatality ratio?

The idea of making policy on the basis of purely imaginary dangers is what got our economies into trouble in the first place.

Gordon Mackay
Gordon Mackay
3 years ago

I believe this is the fifth endemic coronavirus in circulation. Is that right? We’ve never tried to eradicate the others, nor diseases such as measles which are far more dangerous than COVID. Despite misleading case-numbers, excess mortality retuned to pre-pandemic levels by July. The pandemic is now over, only hysteria (and many, many profiting vested interests) remain.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago

“After all, as we write this, nobody outside of clinical trials has actually been vaccinated against the coronavirus.”
I don’t know when this article was actually written, but hasn’t China already vaccinated a million or so health workers, without waiting for clinical trials to finish?

dandj26
dandj26
3 years ago

Whenever I see the name “Dattani” on here I know I will be in for headscratching fest.
She never fails.
Can we ask the authors to stick to their own specialisations?

James Moss
James Moss
3 years ago

Given a vaccination programme which reduces the incidence of Covid-19 caused deaths to below that of annual flu outbreaks (ie lets suppose it will for just a moment).

Given that Covid-19 affects mainly older people seriously – unlike polio which paralyses many children and smallpox which it was pretty hard to ever have only a mild dose of.

I really doubt that there will be sufficient interest in an actual eradication programme. I’d expect the virus to smoulder away amongst 3rd world countries, the poorer classes in developed nations and a few anti-vaxxers and misguided libertarians for some decades to come.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
3 years ago

My understanding is that one of the main reasons smallpox was eliminated is because it is spread by direct and prolonged face to face contract. But there was a stage of a few days before people became infectious when they were very ill and therefore they could easily be identified and isolated. It is a pity the writers of this article are not aware of that.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

Are they unaware of that? They don’t specifically mention it, but they do say “the strategy began with mass vaccination and shifted towards tracing and containment as cases declined.”

Elizabeth Smith
Elizabeth Smith
3 years ago

There is another issue here almost amounting to an elephant in the room. Unlike smallpox, or Spanish flu in 1919-20, or the other bacterial scourges of mankind, Covid is almost Darwinian in its operation.
It mostly takes the very old and the sick; in the healthy it is generally only a cold or even asymptomatic, and people , and in particular the young and the healthy middle aged, have realised this and assess their own risk.
Many of the precautionary measures required by panicking governments are only observed because the sanction for treating them with the contempt they deserve is criminal and all too many need enhanced DBS to work; someone out in the world doesn’t get too close to granny, and in turn she would probably rather their workplace or school remained open.
Nor are the majority of people anti-vaccine.
They don’t trust THIS vaccine. Not the same thing at all. It’s as far from the gold standard of lifetime immunity as it can be and it’s being administered under emergency conditions.
It is time we acknowledged just what this virus is and rebuild our society while there is time.

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
3 years ago

Good article, but you were a bit dismissive about the prospect of eliminating flu. You say is is not viable at present. There is actually a universal influenza vaccine (seasonal and pandemic flu strains) undrgoing clinical trials right now. It has favourable results iin Phase 1, reported in Nature this week: https://www.nature.com/arti

alec.in.france
alec.in.france
3 years ago

Completely ignores the crucial question: what is the opportunity cost?

Sean L
Sean L
3 years ago

Lol more Covid propaganda- this site isn’t much more than long form Daily Mail at least in terms of truth value. Trash wise the Mail is in a league of its own. But there’s little to choose between any of the media. As Roger Scruton used to say, the parameters of permissible opinion were wider in Soviet era Eastern Europe than in England today. UnHerd lol.

Robert G
Robert G
3 years ago
Reply to  Sean L

Have you been triggered? I get that UnHerd leans right, but I am periodically surprised to find how aggressively the readership reacts to anything perceived as consistent with a leftist agenda. I had thought that the purpose of UnHerd was to present novel, unusual, and/or heterodox perspectives. In the current atmosphere, that leads to greater representation from conservative authors. But not always! And that’s okay.

As a conservative-leaning moderate, I am not offended by a lack of ideological purity. To the contrary, it lends credibility to the site that it allows for viewpoint diversity.

Yes, the overall sentiment of this article is consistent with the mainstream take on COVID as The Worst Thing Ever. But it focuses on a topic I’ve not seen discussed much to date. I may not agree with the essay, but I sometimes find myself reading things with which I do not agree. And that’s okay.

Sean L
Sean L
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert G

Leans right? For me it’s as communist as Daily Mail though similarly leavened with just enough ‘populist’ red meat to antagonise “the left”. You’re no more likely to discover truth about Covid on here than a defence of the right of ethnic Britons not to be an ethnic minority in Britain.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago
Reply to  Sean L

In what ways is the Daily Mail communist?

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

In what ways is Unherd centrist ?

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

Question with a question., but there you go.

Because it has a variety of writers from both the left and right.

A lot of them also have moved here after their original respective publications (on both sides) have got more and more hard line left and right.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

It’s true. I was being a bit facetious. The articles themselves are fairly centrist, but often with deliberately clickbait titles to pull in the angry Right. But down here, in the comments, it’s heavily Right with a good dose of conspiracy nuts.

Sean L
Sean L
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

There is no “right wing” media just as there’s no opposition in Parliament – it’s a charade: media Punch and Judy mirroring Parliament Punch and Judy.

Every media outlet’s Covid coverage follows a comparable pattern. They all give a voice however marginal to so-called ‘sceptics’. The entire debate centres round whether ‘lockdown’ is warranted or not.

The middle-ground fallacy template AKA ‘balance’, where the truth is supposed to lie between opposing viewpoints, is identical to “immigration” or “anti-racism”. In place of Afua / Ash / Kehinde (critical race theory) v James / Toby / Rod (racial equality: guaranteed minority status for indigenous), it’s Larry / Patrick / Boris (Lockdown) v Carl / John / Toby (effects of virus don’t warrant such measures).

The broader globalist agenda passes without mention. Parameters of the debate fixed around the disputed medical facts. What Larry Fink, Agenda Contributor to WEF and CEO of BlackRock Inc has spoken of as the “Intersect between Covid, Climate and Racial Justice” exempt from scrutiny.

Thus anyone anyone invoking the globalist agenda can be framed as “cranks” or “conspiracy theorists”. “Conspiracy theory” stands to Covid as “racism” to Diversity. Dissent systematically or ‘systemically’ even excluded.

nick harman
nick harman
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

Yes, almost as bad as The Spectator BTL. A once great magazine now somehow catnip to the nutters.

Sean L
Sean L
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

In its lies, its anti-white, pro-LGBT etc depraved content. But patriots are persecuted by state and big business alike, even having bank accounts cancelled.

After Jake Hepple flew a White Lives banner as his team took the knee for Black Lives, not only was he sacked from his job but Sun and Daily Mail then went for his girlfriend and got *her* fired, too.

Kin punishment, a feature of communist regimes like Russia, China, North Korea over the last century, now in England. Needless to say not a squeak from ‘right wing’ ‘free speech’ media nomenklatura anymore than from their Parliamentary counterparts.

The current dispensation has found no more succinct summation than that offered by capo di tutti capi, Larry Fink, CEO BlackRock Inc and Agenda Contributor, World Economic Forum in a recent Bloomberg interview:

“Covid, Climate and Racial Justice: the three great issues of our time.”

The mighty GK Chesterton was on the money a century ago:

“Bolshevism and Big Business are very much alike; they are both built on the truth that everything is easy and simple if once you eliminate liberty. And the real irreconcilable enemy of both is what may be called Small Business.”

“Thirty or forty years ago a great newspaper might be owned by about twenty tolerably rich men. But today it is not a question of twenty men owning one newspaper, but of one man owning twenty newspapers.”

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert G

Well said!

Suppose it’s a matter of perspective, but would say UnHerd is pretty centrist on the whole – a territory that’s been an ever growing void for some time now among the more popular outlets.

And long may there be variety in the comments. Without getting all hippy on us all, it would be amazing if we can try and not go down the route of 99.999% of the internet in these comments.

Call out people for their views – but be as polite and constructive about it as possible. A noisier few should not hold sway. Sean L is fully entitled to his views but I am sure they are not representative of many here.Which is fine.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert G

Well said. I’d only suggest one edit “how aggressively the readership reacts to anything (full stop)”

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Sean L

And what attracts you to a site full of trash and propaganda?

Sean L
Sean L
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

I didn’t say this site was trash. My point was that it publishes nothing that dissents from official orthodoxies and to that extent reinforces them. It uses the same middle ground fallacy model common to all plutocrat media. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t good columnists on here. There are some good columnists on Daily Mail which is the trashiest most Cultural Marxist publication on the market. Though on Covid propaganda this site is arguably worse than the Daily Mail – worse in respect of truth value – if that’s even possible.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Sean L

The Daily Mail is the most Cultural Marxist publication on the market? I rarely read its articles, but a quick Google search for “daily mail cultural marxism” brings up several of its pieces denouncing the phenomenon.