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The cost of vaccine caution What have we learned after a year of lockdown?

Chris Jackson/Getty Images


March 23, 2021   8 mins

Seven million doses of a safe, life-saving vaccine are sitting in warehouses in the US. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not issued a licence for the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, despite about 15 million people having been given it in the UK with no detectable increase in risk. Mercifully, they have agreed to send them to Canada and Mexico, so they won’t go to waste, but people who could have been vaccinated by now have not been, and some of them will probably die as a result.

There’s more. The Moderna vaccine was ready to go last January, within a couple of days of the SARS-Cov2 viral genome being sequenced. But it was not approved in the US until December, after months of testing and regulatory caution. If it had been approved instantly, many hundreds of thousands of lives would have been saved. It could all have been over a long time ago.

But, on the other hand, the history of vaccines is not entirely unblemished. In 1955, a batch of polio vaccine caused thousands of cases of polio, hundreds of cases of paralysis, and 10 children’s deaths. If people had been more cautious then, those lives would have been saved – and perhaps people would be less nervous about vaccines generally. Certainly the incident raised vaccine fears.

Which of these is the lesson we need to draw? Are we too cautious, too risk averse; or is it wise to be risk averse when it comes to vaccines, to avoid driving public panic with rare but real disasters?

A year ago today, on 23 March 2020, we went into lockdown. In the past 12 months, we’ve come to understand a lot of technical concepts – infection fatality rates, vaccine efficacy rates, exponential curves. But the most significant thing is that we have all had to become utilitarians. We all now think in terms of QALYs, utils, the greatest good for the greatest number.

As soon as lockdown began, there were fights over whether it did more harm than good. Both advocates and sceptics of lockdown argued in the same terms. The economic damage would undoubtedly ruin livelihoods; but would it do more harm, as measured in quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), than letting the virus run unchecked?

The argument over lockdown was a version of the famous trolley problem: if an out-of-control train is hurtling down a track towards five rail workers, should you divert it onto another track, where only one person is working? To hugely oversimplify, the utilitarian answer is yes: you save five lives for the price of one.

But not all ethicists are utilitarians. To again oversimplify, deontologists – Immanuel Kant is the best-known example – say you should follow certain rules: some things are always wrong, whatever the consequences. It is generally (though not universally) accepted that Kant would not pull the lever. He would say it is wrong to act to kill the one person, even though it would end up saving four lives on net.

The great revelation of Covid-19 is that we are all consequentialists, or all claim to be. With lockdown, the argument wasn’t usually over whether it was simply wrong to kill people with lockdown but permissible to let them die from Covid. It was whether lockdown saved more QALYs than it cost. We’re not arguing whether it’s wrong to kill one to save five – we’re arguing about the number of people on each track.

Last week, several countries suspended use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine because of fears over blood clots. I think it was a terrible decision.

For that matter, so does the European Medicines Agency. It says that whether or not the vaccine causes some small number of clots (which it may do, in a subset of people), the correct decision is to carry on vaccinating people with it as quickly as possible. “[T]he vaccine’s proven efficacy in preventing hospitalisation and death from COVID-19 outweighs the extremely small likelihood of developing DIC or CVST,” it said in its statement. (It’s worth noting that the US trial has now announced its results, which were very positive, and had zero cases of CVST in its 21,000 participants.)

Again: this is stark utilitarian language. If we pause the delivery of the Oxford/AZ vaccine, we will prevent X deaths from blood clots. But it will also lead to Y deaths from Covid because fewer people are vaccinated. If X is smaller than Y, then vaccinating is a good idea. We’re not arguing over whether it is wrong to kill a small number by giving them a vaccine, even if it saves lives; we’re arguing over how many we would save. Again, we’re not arguing about whether we should pull the lever, we’re arguing about how many people are on the track.

(Of course, X could well be zero, and I think it’s very possible that it is. Certainly, X is much, much smaller than Y. But the principle is unchanged.)

Utilitarianism is absolutely how we should be thinking. For one thing, it’s not clear to me that the distinction between killing someone through action and allowing them to die through inaction is even coherent. If I am driving, and a child runs out in front of me, and I don’t press the brake – is that act, or omission? Or, for that matter, is stopping the vaccine rollout the act, or is continuing the vaccine rollout?

The philosopher Jonathan Bennett argues that things should count as an “action” if, of all the bodily movements I could have taken, only a small fraction would lead to this outcome. So pushing a car down a hill to a cliff would count, because I could have done millions of things – tap-danced, written a sonnet, played volleyball – and almost none of them would have made it roll down a cliff. But not stopping a car when it is already rolling towards a cliff would not, because if I’d tap-danced near it, the car would have rolled over anyway; only a small subset of actions, like putting a big rock in front of it, would have stopped it. Maybe that works as a distinction, but I don’t know if it answers my “not pressing the brake” question.

What’s interesting, though, is that true utilitarianism is extremely complex. In the pandemic, mercifully, it’s often been pretty straightforward to work out which of two actions is better. Lockdown almost certainly saved more lives than it cost, because 1) loads and loads of people were dying and 2) if we hadn’t locked down, the economy would have taken a huge hit anyway (as Sweden’s did, almost as much as its neighbour Denmark, despite the lack of a lockdown) because of all the people too scared to go to the shops or the office while a deadly pandemic was raging. Certainly it’s not the case that countries which controlled the virus better had worse economic outputs.

Similarly, rolling out the Ox/AZ vaccine despite some small risk of a small number of clotting deaths is almost certainly a good idea because 1) the vaccine will save so many lives and 2) it turns out that stopping the rollout scared people anyway. It’s not a finely balanced situation. The utilitarian calculus is fairly straightforward.

But this is by no means always the case. Eliezer Yudkowsky is an AI theorist and arch-utilitarian, who argues that a sufficiently enormous number of people getting dust specks in their eye is worse than one person being tortured for 50 years. When I asked him a rather stupid question about utilitarianism, he said that “most people” (he did not say “especially you, Tom Chivers” but it was, I felt, heavily implied) were not “smart enough” to operate on a utilitarian basis, because the real consequences of any given action are so complex and unknowable.

Here’s what I mean by that. If I leave the house and cross the road to go to the shop, I will slightly change the flow of the traffic. Some cars that would have gone through a green light will now have to stop at the red. That small change will slowly affect the entire road network, like the butterfly flapping its wings and causing a thunderstorm. Eventually it will mean that cars which would have been in fatal crashes will now not, while cars that wouldn’t have been now will. Some people will live who would otherwise have died, and vice versa. I can’t possibly predict the outcomes of even a tiny, inconsequential act like going to the shop.

So instead of trying to predict the outcomes of each action in real time, we ought to behave as quasi-Kantians – to establish rules to follow, and then follow those rules: if we try to compute the best outcomes on the fly, it’ll work out worse, because we’re not very good at it. (For one thing, you might end up sitting in your house, alone, unable to go to the shop in case you kill thousands of strangers.)

For instance, go back to X and Y above. If X is smaller than Y – if fewer people will die from blood clots than would be saved by the vaccine – then we might say that the vaccine is a good idea.

But those aren’t the only numbers involved. What happens if a few people die from blood clots, and that bad publicity scares others into not taking the vaccine? Does that mean we should stop the rollout? Or, as it in fact turns out, would stopping the rollout for minor fears scare more people? Those stark X and Y figures are only the surface froth: computing the real “consequences” of any action is phenomenally difficult.

In non-pandemic times, we seem to have a simple rule for this: when a vaccine is linked to some negative impact, we suspend its use and investigate it. Concerns (baseless ones, as it turned out) about mercury in the hepatitis B vaccine led US regulators to stop using it in 1999. Australian concerns over febrile convulsions in children led them to suspend the use of the influenza vaccine in under-fives in 2010.

Is this the right rule? Not all vaccine fears are baseless: remember the polio vaccine deaths above? But that was an old form of vaccine, made by deactivating a live virus; obviously the virus had not been sufficiently deactivated. Modern mRNA, protein subunit or viral vector vaccines are not biologically capable of causing the infection they are meant to protect against, and the process for deactivating viruses when we use them in vaccines nowadays has been vastly improved. And, also, for the vaccine to have reached the public, it must have been through Phase III testing in tens of thousands of people; hundreds or thousands of person-years of testing.

And following that rule has led to some pretty negative outcomes. Suspending the Ox/AZ vaccine, as we saw above, does not seem to have boosted public confidence – rather the opposite. Similarly, the suspensions of the US hepatitis vaccine and the Australian flu vaccine seem to have been associated in both cases with a dramatic reduction in vaccine uptake. The public doesn’t hear “We’re just checking this vaccine is safe, to reassure you;” they hear “This vaccine is dangerous, and we’re taking it offline.”

In the wider world of medicine, regulatory institutions such as the MHRA, EMA or FDA have a rule in place that says something like “You need to do years of incredibly rigorous trials on new drugs, to prove safety and efficacy to some P<0.001 level, before we will roll it out to the public.” That’s because even if speeding up the process would likely do more good than harm, it only takes a few thalidomide-type disasters to damage public confidence.

That makes sense – even in the pandemic, there were lots of very confident people telling us that some drug or another worked; sometimes they were right, and it was tocilizumab, but sometimes they were wrong, and it was hydroxychloroquine. But this need for perfect data has been far too widely applied, and led us to avoid much lower-cost and easily reversible interventions, such as masks, border closures or a ban on mass gatherings like Cheltenham Festival, for far too long.

We’re all utilitarians now, as I say. The pandemic has forced us to be. But the tricky bit will be learning when to be the short-term utilitarian, working out the pros and cons of the individual case, and when to be the quasi-Kantian rule-follower.

Obviously pandemic time differs from peacetime, but I think we should learn to be a bit less rigid in some of our rules. The panicked need to suspend vaccines at the first sign of danger, for instance, can be relaxed somewhat. Modern vaccines are amazingly safe. In any case, when we shut down vaccine programmes out of an overabundance of caution, in the hope of reassuring the public, it seems to have the exact opposite effect.

I’m not saying we should have immediately rolled out the Moderna vaccine the moment it was available, or that we should have carried on giving a lethal polio vaccine to children in order to prevent vaccine hesitancy. But it is ridiculous that Americans still can’t take the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, that it is sitting unused in warehouses even as it is already saving thousands of lives elsewhere; that whole nations have suspended its use in a doomed attempt to reassure the public of something they didn’t need reassuring about. Perhaps, after a year of this pandemic, we finally ought to realise that when it comes to vaccines, the real danger is in being too cautious.


Tom Chivers is a science writer. His second book, How to Read Numbers, is out now.

TomChivers

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Mark Preston
Mark Preston
3 years ago

 Lockdown almost certainly saved more lives than it cost”. That’s quite a claim. Now prove it pal because I for one am not that comfortable with shafting the entire economy on the basis of speculation. Oh, but you’re a journalist so you’ve not lost your job have you Tom?

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Preston

The opinion ‘Almost certainly’ is a higly regarded scientific measurement – it’s way better than RCTs.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

The new science that has come into fashion since climate scientists made it acceptable. Thinking something now makes it a scientific fact.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

‘Science’ is becoming as orthodox as religious doctrine. South Park did an episode on this once set in the future. The four main characters end up in a world divided into scientific sects each hell-bent on destroying the other because of wrong-think. That episode wasn’t far off the truth as far as what’s happening today within scientific institutions.

Sarah Owens
Sarah Owens
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Preston

Absolutely. Very arrogant to write that, having already conceded, “As soon as lockdown began, there were fights over whether it did more harm than good.” Presumably he is unaware of the Hart conclusion: “The data is in: lockdowns serve no useful purpose and cause catastrophic societal and economic harms. They must never be repeated in this country.” (Link here https://www.hartgroup.org/covid-19-evidence/). Or indeed the many respected academic studies challenging his position: https://inproportion2.talkigy.com/do_lockdowns_work_2021-01-15.html

Last edited 3 years ago by Sarah Owens
ian k
ian k
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Owens

The Hart group are self appointed disparate group. mostly scientists, and debate within a scientific framework, as do the originators of the GBD for example. This does not mean they hold the truth; like all counterfactuals, it cannot be proved. The other link is a single individual who is neither a scientist or medic. His research and opinions carry no more weight than mine.

Sarah Owens
Sarah Owens
3 years ago
Reply to  ian k

The link is not to a single individual’s view, it is to a list of 31 published references, largely academic journals, including the BMJ. I’m not sure why you think that being ‘disparate’ or ‘self appointed’ would undermine the scientific credentials of the Hart group or the GBD authors, this is almost inevitable given they are challenging an entrenched government position.
You’re missing the broader point though, which was that the author claimed it was “almost certain” that lockdowns saved more lives than they cost. This is simply false: there is a high level of uncertainty based on the empirical data. The onus is on the proponents of lockdown to prove their efficacy, not the reverse.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Owens

Excellent points. There’s plenty of published research out there that should at least make lockdown proponents question their views. Instead they treat dissenters as heretics. Recently on here someone confidently ‘struck down’ the Great Barrington Declaration by quoting an MPs twitter account saying “he’d run the numbers”. Nearly as funny as Matt Hancock demonstrating he had no idea about different diseases or herd immunity.

Paul Wright
Paul Wright
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Owens

HART are closely linked to a Michael Yeadon fansite and “PCR Claims”, a group of lawyers encouraging people to sue the government becuase they believe the PCR false positives nonsense. They’ve recently published a report insinuating that the most recent wave of COVID deaths in the UK was actually caused by the vaccine, then denied that was what they were saying. When questioned by the Science correspondent for the Times, the author of that chapter (a businessman, not a scientist) then confirmed that was what he believed. The Twitter thread is fun: https://twitter.com/whippletom/status/1374131018505064448
My conclusion is that they are run by cranks but have pulled in some academics who should know better. As usual, the “sceptics” just can’t seem to help tripping over their own feet, probably because a bunch of them tied their own laces together.

Sarah Owens
Sarah Owens
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Wright

That may be your conclusion, but it’s also possible that the academics whom you think ‘should know better’ than to be ‘pulled in’ have studied the data and come to their own conclusions.
Attacks on academics challenging the dominant narrative always seem to be based on allusions to political affiliations or groups, very few people actually want to engage with the data analysis.

Paul Wright
Paul Wright
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Owens

I am less than impressed by the data analysis skills of a group who can’t work out that the false positive rate can’t be more than the actual positivity rate.
The thread with Tom Chivers and Tom Whipple has one of the misguided academics acting outraged when someone @’s him, for assuming he’s associated with a document with his name on the front. He then says he hadn’t read it. I realise academics can be a bit other-worldly, but really.

Attacks on academics challenging the dominant narrative always seem to be based on allusions to political affiliations or groups

None of this refers to political affliation, just to crank/shyster affliation.

Sarah Owens
Sarah Owens
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Wright

I am less than impressed by the data analysis skills of Neil Ferguson (spectacularly wrong on almost everything he’s ever modelled) and Chris Whitty (presenting a slide at a press conference clearly showing a decline preceding lockdown and claiming it’s been caused by the lockdown). I could give very many more examples of the dubious use of statistical analysis by scientists advising the government over the last year.
If you have the skills to analyse the data yourself – cutting out any middlemen you might dismiss as cranks or shysters – you will see it is very far from clear that lockdowns have proved an effective and appropriate response (and, yes, I do have the academic background to do so, before you throw that back at me).
Interesting as it is to debate, this is proving a distraction from work, so I’m signing off now. Feel free to have the last word if you would like.

Paul Wright
Paul Wright
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Owens

What, specifically, is wrong with the model used by Fergusson?
As I keep saying, you don’t really need fancy models to work out the consequences of an unrestrained pandemic, just our IFR and R gets you alarming numbers of deaths before HIT. If you claim that something else would hold the virus down (focussed protection, say), you need your own model to justify it.

(and, yes, I do have the academic background to do so, before you throw that back at me

Really, are you a statistician? What’s the definite integral wrt x of e to the minus x squared between negative and positive infinity?

Kay Bush
Kay Bush
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Wright

Mark Twain said all that needs to be said about statisticians. Ferguson’s modeling as with all other modeling is psycho babble akin to clairvoyance. In fact, he gives clairvoyants a degree of respectability.
There is plenty of real world data throughout history to use as a basis for policy making that can destroy whole societies and millions of lives. We don’t need geeks with laptops on furlough changing variables at a whim to come up with ludicrous scenarios.
But of course, you’re last question shows that you’re far too intelligent for the plebs to ever understand just how intelligent you really are. Really…….

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  Kay Bush

Ferguson’s modeling as with all other modeling is psycho babble akin to clairvoyance. 

Modelling is of course capable of providing valuable insight and actionable analysis, both qualititative and quantitative, when used correct. Like most powerful techniques, if is also capable of being used incorrectly. In this particular case, namely the Reasonable Worst Case scenario of 500,000 deaths, as Paul Wright says, it’s hardly a question of modelling at all. The only figures you need are R0 and IFR, and the outputs are demonstrably robust.

Paul Wright
Paul Wright
3 years ago
Reply to  Kay Bush

Mark Twain said all that needs to be said about statisticians. Ferguson’s modeling as with all other modeling is psycho babble akin to clairvoyance. In fact, he gives clairvoyants a degree of respectability.

General burbling, and doesn’t answer the question: what specifically is wrong with the model?

But of course, you’re last question shows that you’re far too intelligent for the plebs to ever understand just how intelligent you really are

If someone says “I’m a statistician” on here, they’re probably lying, as illustrated by the lack of response, so it’s wise to check (I’m not a statistician either, but A Level Maths should be beyond a real one).

Last edited 3 years ago by Paul Wright
LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Wright

The implementation of Ferguson’s model was not falsifiable/testable, the use of random without dependency injection, first-class citizen function or function reference to allow testing. There are other unwise hacky techniques to do this, but they weren’t used either. This is hardly surprising given that the entire codebase breaks even the simplest rules.

The cloak and dagger release of the code (further translated into a superset language by Microsoft engineers after a month) and the refual to make parameters used public are further prove that this is bad science.

Reviews of the model’s implementation have been overwhelmingly damning, multiple bugs, lack of testing, no structure and so on – the response of the creators to the reviews show a mixture of lack of knowledge and arrogance.

Yet one single obscure academic review claiming that it’s awful, buggy but not ‘incorrect’ is held up as evidence that it’s good. And even then they mentioned that this was relative to the implementation, not the model or the parameters.

The model has made multiple massive errors historically too. Off by nearly a million fold for swine flu.

For Covid compare Califorrnia with Florida. Of course if you’re convinced that lockdowns are great it’s probably best not too.

Last edited 3 years ago by LUKE LOZE
Paul Wright
Paul Wright
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

the use of random without dependency injection, first-class citizen function or function reference to allow testing

I’m not sure what this means: I looked at the earliest code (tagged v0.7.0) available in github, on the assumption that’s closest to Paper 9. It does not call random(), it’s got its own RNG for producing samples from various distributions. It’s effectively in C (despite the .cpp suffixes on the files, you’ll search in vain for use of the class keyword), it’s not OO, so I’m not sure why you think DI would help.
Typically one would regression test code using an RNG by using a known fixed seed, which is what the model does. There’s no advantage to mocking the RNG when you’re calling it millions of times to do Monte Carlo simulations: what would the mock return? https://xkcd.com/221/ maybe? 😉
I agree that it should have been published earlier, but the parameter sets to reproduce paper 9 are now in the paper9 directory (though they weren’t in v0.7.0), so they have not refused to make them public.
It’s also a shame they didn’t release the original code. If it was that bad though, I don’t expect John Carmack would have said what he said (on Apr 27, 2020): “The Imperial College epidemic simulation code that I helped a little on is now public. I am a strong proponent of public code for models that may influence policy, and while this is a “release” rather than a “live” depot, it is a Good Thing.
Before the GitHub team started working on the code it was a single 15k line C file that had been worked on for a decade, and some of the functions looked like they were machine translated from Fortran. There are some tropes about academic code that have grains of truth, but it turned out that it fared a lot better going through the gauntlet of code analysis tools I hit it with than a lot of more modern code. There is something to be said for straightforward C code. Bugs were found and fixed, but generally in paths that weren’t enabled or hit.”
I can’t speak to the model’s worth as a pandemic model, as I’m not an epidemiologist or other modelling type. Another modeller (though not of pandemics) got it going and pointed out that, when modelling the first lockdown, it was actually underestimating the deaths we’d seen by June 2020: http://clivebest.com/blog/?p=9590 criticises Ferguson’s (and others’) initial complacency.

Last edited 3 years ago by Paul Wright
LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Wright

First class citizen is where the function can be passed as a parameter, in C you’d use function pointers/reference. Why they stuck it in C++ and not use DI and composition is beyond me.

If you’re not testing at unit level then you’re pretty much screwed. A few ‘regression’ tests for a code base that size and complexity isn’t sufficient. If you tried to test everything at that level you’d literally need 10,000s of tests for good coverage. So it’s not proven in the slightest. When you’re so using goto, something Edsger Dijkstra’s famously challenged on 1968 you know it’s not great.

Any of this is pretty much useless when the functions are over 1000 lines long. The cyclomatic complexity must have been in the 100s of not 1000s per function. A figure of 3 is gold standard.

Why they were keen to keep the original code is beyond me. The testing regime has got to be painful.

ian k
ian k
3 years ago
Reply to  Kay Bush

If you live in a subsistence village economy, or a hunter gatherer society, you do not need modelling. I assume you do not. Modelling ensures the bridges generally do not fall down when you drive over them, that there is stuff in super markets for you to buy, the internet works for you to make posts that would not be possible withour modelling etc etc etc. If you break you leg tomorrow, you will be glad that the local hospital has some supplies to deal with you, thanks to modelling. Be realistic.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  ian k

Anyone interested in seeing the power of mathematical modelling might like to look at the Mathematics Matters case studies published by the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, or the websites of the Royal Statistical Society and the Operational Research Society.

Last edited 3 years ago by Richard Pinch
LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Owens

There’s an awful lot of these ‘cranks’ out there too, including a huge number respected academics. Take Dr. Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard University, a biostatistician, and epidemiologist. He’s very sceptical of lockdowns, but probably ‘a crank’ to some.

One of my favourite (dissected by an academic) was an Imperial paper showing how UK government NPIs had a great affect on cases and deaths. In their modelling they took the reduction in cases and deaths and only considered the NPIs. They then concluded that the NPIs caused all the reductions. This is of course inline with the Imperial model which had no concept of anything except NPIs, so it was NPIs or massive infections and deaths.

I can’t decide whether I prefer that one or their claim that the R rate was at 5 until March 23rd, then dropped overnight to well below 1. It may not fit any other dataset, but hey.

A modeller Mark Woolhouse (Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh) suggested tentively recently that we should perhaps sometimes consider real world data over models.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

References are rather necessary here … I find to hard to believe that any published peer-reviewed paper claimed that “the R rate was at 5 until March 23rd, then dropped overnight to well below 1”.

we should perhaps sometimes consider real world data over models

Of course: assuming that we have that data. Even then, modelling may well be part of the analysis of that data.

Last edited 3 years ago by Richard Pinch
LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

Apologies it was around apparently around 3.5-4 with other measures having tiny impact.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-53414363.
This clearly doesn’t fit the death rate pattern which suggests that peak infections would have been around March 20th latest. This would have required R to be reducing down to 1 by this date. I would also presume that the shape of the graph post peak deaths
https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/details/deaths
shows near a month of straight line decline, so I’m guessing this would require R to continue dropping off to support this, rather than drop to .7 and remain there.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

Well, this is a bit of a change from sneering at academic papers on modelling, isn’t it? Suddenly it’s a bout a BBC News item which reports the data, but for some reason you don’t agree with the data.

As it happens, the death rate peaked over the period 08-21 April (7-day average peaked on 13 April), suggesting a peak in infections around 23-30 March: that is, around the time lockdown started. ZOE figures suggest a peak around 01 April. That’s all consistent with the graph shown in the news article.
I also don’t think you’re interpreting R correctly. R is already a measure of rate of change: R less than 1 means infection numbers going down, R greater than 1 means numbers going up.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

Ah for a moment I thought you were serious, obviously not. I described the Imperial graph showing an overnight massive drop in cases, you doubted this, I produce it, you then ignore your previous scepticism. Dissapointed, bit perhaps not surprised.

So if you view the governments own site you’ll see a peek around the 8th-11th based on deaths. Of course feel free to ignore this data and pick and choose to fit your model. Perhaps the earlier deaths were ‘with’ Covid, or maybe their deaths in the wrong place for you were false positives from over sensitive PCR tests – pick and choose your own truth, Apps trump deaths today it appears.

Thanks for your patronising thoughts on R, my point was that the month of R0.7 in the Imperial graph should not describe a linear reduction in cases (with deaths the only reliable proxy we have) as related to that period. I’d expect a fixed R0. 7 to plot an exponential decay.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

a peek around the 8th-11th based on death

The ONS figures show three peaks, on 08, 12 and 16 of April, before a clear falling away.

the month of R0.7 in the Imperial graph should not describe a linear reduction in cases

… and it didn’t. The decline in deaths from late April to mid-August shows a good fit to an exponential decrease (straight line on a log plot) at a rate of about 4% a day.

Last edited 3 years ago by Richard Pinch
Mark Walker
Mark Walker
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Preston

I agree with you Mr Preston. That comment by TC is totally against published evidence. UK and Belgium enforced strict lock-downs. But Sweden just protected the vulnerable. The actual data says the opposite is true TC.
Please try to analyse Facts not publish your own Fiction, Mr Chivers (Science Editor?).

Last edited 3 years ago by Mark Walker
Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Walker

You do know that the Swedish approach is now subject to intense criticism in Sweden? Even from the King:
Coronavirus: Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf says coronavirus approach ‘has failed’ – BBC News
The Swedish economy suffered to much the same extent as its Nordic neighbours but its death rate was five times higher.

Sarah Owens
Sarah Owens
3 years ago

“Even from the King”? Prince Charles supports homeopathy, that doesn’t make it scientifically credible…

sallydo
sallydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Owens

Indeed, many Swedish people were not immune to panic-demic.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  sallydo

Exactly, there are a lot of Swedes who did not know how good a deal they were getting.

Richard E
Richard E
3 years ago

Don’t cherry pick. Look at deaths per capita in europe and sweden is just below mid table. Lockdowns were pointless.
I call it lockdown logic.
Lockdowns don’t cure anyone, nor do they make people immune. They just slow the spread. That’s it.

rbrown
rbrown
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard E

They just slow the spread. EXACTLY. Lockdowns do not reduce the spread, or the deaths. Maybe slowing the spread helps prevent hospitals being overwhelmed. Maybe.

Last edited 3 years ago by rbrown
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago

The death rate was higher in Sweden than its Nordic neighbours because their care homes are much bigger, their demographic is different and their care homes have largely end of life residents. Also very instructive is that their all cause mortality for the last decade is near flat.

Mark Walker
Mark Walker
3 years ago

Deaths per million population only rational measure for Europe.
Belgium = 1,955 d/mill
UK = 1,853 d/mill
Sweden = 1,313 d/mill
Belgium/UK – hard lockdown
Sweden – light lockdown
Economic data is not available til end of 2021.
Facts not opinions………………..

ian k
ian k
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Walker

This is not correct. The Swedes themselves acknowledge they did not protect the vulnerable as they should have done. Their cumulative covid deaths are 1316 per million, not far behind spain (1556) and US (1661), and many orders of magnitude higher than their 3 nordic neighbours.

Richard E
Richard E
3 years ago
Reply to  ian k

The onus is on the supporters of lockdown to show they worked. Sweden and japan didn’t lockdown. The urban population of sweden is a higher % than in the uk. So how can you say lockdowns worked when swedish deaths per capita are close to the european average.
It was forecast they would have 85,000 deaths by not locking down. They currently have around 13000 and every day that passes improves their position against most european countries.
Then factor in the great economic risk of lockdown. And the undiagnosed cancer deaths that will roll in over the next few years.
Our population of imbeciles backed lockdown – even into the summer when it was better for people to be out in the sun and getting vitamin d – and our morons were clapping the closing of the nhs. In a way we deserve what we get.

The whole thing will be remembered as one of the greatest hysterias of all time. 2.7m deaths out of 8000m people. 1 in 3000 approximately. In the uk, average age of death 82, 95% plus with pre existing conditions, very few below the age of 65, 40% were already ill in hospital when they caught it, of the most sick from covid 70% were already ill in hospital when they caught it…. You need a test to know if you’ve had it, hardly anyone knows anyone who was healthy who has died from it.
Oh and flu happened to disappear and 32000 of the dead had dementia.

A joke when you think of it.

People are not thick but just don’t have the courage to think for themselves, or don’t want to put in the effort to think, and would rather follow the crowd – just like in so many other issues these days.

Last edited 3 years ago by Richard E
michael.ekinsmyth
michael.ekinsmyth
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard E

Japan restricted international travel – and that allowed domestic track and trace.
The UK’s standout failure was that it continued to allowed international travel.
If it had rigidly restricted international travel, as did Australia, domestic suppression efforts would have had a chance.
Call it the Boris failing.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  ian k

Swedish care homes are much larger than their neighbours and have mainly end of life residents…. many were privatised. Yes, they graciously admitted they could have moved faster. They have moved from an almost static 8th on death per capita last year to 26th this year. Spain is 16th. With a near flat all cause mortality for the past decade they have done VERY well.

Bob Honda
Bob Honda
3 years ago
Reply to  ian k

This is not correct. Anders Tegnell (swedish chief epidemiologist) acknowledged that the TARGETED protection of the elderly had failed in Sweden. He was not in any way implying that they should have locked down “harder”. Also, it seems petty to correct 1313 D/mill to 1316 D/mill, that’s practically the same figure.
The main reasons Sweden had a higher mortality rate than their neighbours are:

  1. Significant below average mortality in 2019, causing a number of deaths to occur in 2020 (“shifted” mortality between years)
  2. Demographically different, and more dense population in population centers – Sweden has a large immigrant population compared to it’s neighbours
  3. Care-home structure is completely different in Sweden (bigger units, more privatization).
Last edited 3 years ago by Bob Honda
Stephen Collins
Stephen Collins
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Preston

Let’s review this again in ten years time, after the impact of economic devastation on life expectancy has been felt, and millions of newly impoverished working age people have killed themselves, like they did in post-Communist Russia.
Actually, no, let’s review this now, because there is plenty of evidence that lockdowns are neither sufficient nor necessary conditions to bring about a reduction in “cases” and therefore deaths – so indeed, the whole ludicrous charade of the last 53 weeks has been for naught.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago

This may be a bit off beam but Bill Gates ( according to DM article) wishes to shoot vast quantities of chalk into the atmosphere in order to stop the sun’s rays. He is starting in June in Sweden. This sounds like a recipe for carcagenic particles of dust in atmosphere for years. Maybe all this mask/stay indoors etc is to protect us from his crazy schemes and nothing to do with a virus-as if masks stopped people getting flu (very low figures according to experts) why didn’t they work to stop covid?

Kay Bush
Kay Bush
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

He needs to be stopped immediately. He is a psychopathic, narcissistic lunatic.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Kay Bush

I know , it seems the world is now ruled by a lot of crazy billionaires who have watched too many Bond films-the only vaguely sane one seems to be Elon Musk.

David Bell
David Bell
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Preston

Agree. It’s a rather wild claim, based on published evidence of global comparisons. Only those of us safely salaried would probably make it. UNICEF have just estimated 228,000 additional child deaths in South Asia in 2020 – more than the total COVID-19 deaths (in old people) reported there. We know poverty in Western societies reduces life expectancy. We know that cancer deaths (of which there are already far more than COVID-19) will rise significantly in far younger people.
Sweden’s economy reduced – it’s an export-oriented economy – but did better than nearly all other countries in Europe. They will reap the benefits in health for years to come. Their 2019-2020 combined all-cause mortality was normal.
It’s become unpopular to stick to facts in ‘science’, and easy to denigrate those that do (though thankfully not in this article), but the fact remains that all previous pandemic guidelines said don’t do ‘lockdowns’ for a reason. We copied China, where we had no transparency on the actual results nd damage. We would do well to stop pretending they are proven and orthodox.

Ian Herriott
Ian Herriott
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Preston

I think the fact that covid suicide rates in children are higher than actual covid death rates of children should point the fundamental flaws of lockdown policy…and lest we forget the 10s or 100s of thousands of less fortunate family’s that will be destroyed through the rest of the world because of the west’s lockdown actions…we’ve become unashamedly selfish through this whole process under a sickening guise of virtue

michael.ekinsmyth
michael.ekinsmyth
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Preston

Mark, the UK economy has shrunk, the ‘entire economy’ hasn’t been shafted.
Indeed, some of the results – rapid growth of online retail for example – may prove to be long term benefits.

Kay Bush
Kay Bush
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Preston

This study seems to indicate no real difference in lockdown versus non lockdown. Of course, the full negative effects of the various governments’ responses to this event will not be known for many years to come as those effects have not all occurred yet.
https://c2cjournal.ca/2021/03/do-lockdowns-make-a-difference-in-a-pandemic/

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago

This author hasn’t the first clue as to the damages of lockdown and lives lost (to date and future) because of lockdown. Poor and dangerous article.

Last edited 3 years ago by Lesley van Reenen
Alison Houston
Alison Houston
3 years ago

I think Tom is autistic. Here he is writing about what decision governments should make, which is different from what decisions individuals should make, but he seems thinks of other human beings as statistics, nevertheless.

Bill Eaton
Bill Eaton
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

Autistic? Please explain the connection between the views expressed in this article and autism.

Alison Houston
Alison Houston
3 years ago
Reply to  Bill Eaton

The inability to imagine what it is to be another person, to sympathise, to see from someone else’s point of view. Of course I don’t mean he has the illness in its most severe form .

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

Exactly. The years of quality of life lost is never considered in relation to the young and healthy whose lives, businesses and educations have been destroyed by the lockdown. This would surely vastly exceed the QALYs saved by lockdown, many which might have been saved anyway, with more effective protection.
Moreover, there is never any mention of the fact that the vast majority of people below the age of 70 don’t even need the vaccine.

Last edited 3 years ago by Fraser Bailey
Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

The years of quality of life lost is never considered in relation to the young and healthy whose lives, businesses and educations have been destroyed by the lockdown. 

As stated, this is incorrect. Take a look at DHSC/ONS/GAD/HO: Direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19 on excess deaths and morbidity, a paper prepared by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Office for National Statistics (ONS), Government Actuary’s Department (GAD) and Home Office (HO).

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

It’s hard to take seriously when one of its predicted benfits (lower deaths) of lockdown was lower alcohol abuse.

Last edited 3 years ago by LUKE LOZE
Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

one of its predicted benfits (lower deaths) of lockdown was lower alcohol abuse

… for which they provided evidence. Do you have better evidence?

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

alcoholchange.org.uk and others have documented that whilst overall consumption fell by a little, this was largely confined to low alcohol consuming groups – those who had the odd social glass of wine or a pint, people at zero risk of alcohol related ill health. The top 20%+ of drinkers consumed more, moving more people into the problem drinker category.

Nick Faulks
Nick Faulks
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

Is there reason to believe that any notice was taken of that paper?

Tim Gardener
Tim Gardener
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

This paper was published in July and based much of its analysis on the modelling. There is now data available so the analysis should really be refreshed. One problem with the paper is that its “Reasonable Worst Case Scenario” (Annex G) is not reasonable. It takes the Imperial College figure of 504,000 Covid deaths as the RWCS. This is barely credible. The fact that it was deemed reasonable is important – because in addition to the 504,000 Imperial dead, there are other indirect deaths modelled which leads to the the RWCS assumption of 1 million excess deaths in a single year. This would frighten any numerically ignorant politician.
The analysis must now be refreshed with the data that is available and credible estimates of the IFR. If, as appears possible, we see the excess deaths for 2021 consistently below zero then that will help to estimate the QALY impact with substantially more credibility.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  Tim Gardener

This paper was published in July 

.. and revised in September. I agree that a further update would be desirable.

Marianna Kunna
Marianna Kunna
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Yes Fraser. That fact, apparently, is a taboo subject in the MSM. Lifestyle, diet, exercise and a healthy immune system are huge factors in protecting individuals. I for one will take charge of my own health and will make an informed choice about any pharmaceutical interventions.

Alison Houston
Alison Houston
3 years ago

The government should not have done and should not do anything in relation to Covid. If the government taking action had ever been demonstrated to improve a situation then perhaps we could have allowed it to build the Nightingale Hospitals. But since the government had supposedly been providing effective healthcare for the last 72 years and yet had to close the system down as a way of managing illness we cannot say that even the main service it provides in relation to the ill health of the population is fit for its purpose.

If everyone had been left to use their own wisdom and to seek advice from professionals personally, in relation to Covid, people would have chosen to protect their loved ones. Everyone in this country knows the elderly and vulnerable are at risk of dying from some illness totally unrelated to the one they were admitted with if they go into an NHS hospital. If people had not been given one size fits all, advice from the government, but told the truth that it was likely to kill the elderly, obese, and already ill, and that it was up to them where possible to keep them safe, then, with the exception of a few people who hate their elderly relatives, every son and daughter in the country would have made a hundred times better job of keeping them safe than the state has made. What utilitarian decision did the government make when it chose to follow the advice of Professor Pantsdown Cattle Killer and J.V Tamiflu? Was it based on sound statistical analysis of their past records?

So don’t go telling us about the utilitarian arguments the government should make and whose lives it should consider worthless in the scheme of things, on the basis that it has the best interests of the many at the forefront of its mind. The government never makes a better job of anything it undertakes than individuals make. And governments only ever considers what is best for its cronies, donors and those likely to benefit its members with vast remuneration when finally kicked out of office.

Bertie B
Bertie B
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

Wow, you seem to have a highly elevated opinion of the ability of the general population to make informed ration choices based on little evidence – but at the same time a deeply sceptical view of anyone in authority making ration decisions based on the best evidence available.
If people were left to their own devices they would have taken the view that it was in their own elder relatives best interest for them to have as many visitors as usual – as the death rates in old peoples homes went up more people would have gone to visit their loved ones before it was too late.
On the NHS – no it wasn’t fit to handle a once in a 100 year pandamic, but then again it never could be as the cost of maintaining a service at the level required to ensure it continues to be effective in times of extreme events is far to high.
Generally speaking the government (and all polititions) do have peoples best interests in mind, if not always at the forefront – simply because thats how they get re-elected. They may be incompetent, they may be mildly corupt, they may game the system, but then again so do the vast majority of people in other professions. If your waiting for a form of government free of these things then I suspect you’ll be waiting a long time.

Elizabeth W
Elizabeth W
3 years ago
Reply to  Bertie B

The government never get it right because they are always chasing their tails and getting in on the photo ops and worrying about the next election. Sweden, for the most part, gave their people a wide lane to go about living their lives and yes there were many deaths but many deaths here too in full lockdowns.

Simon Baggley
Simon Baggley
3 years ago
Reply to  Bertie B

No doubt – you were a Remainer with that world view

Stephen Collins
Stephen Collins
3 years ago
Reply to  Bertie B

“Once in a hundred year pandemic”?! This is at its worst the fourth deadliest respiratory virus pandemic in the last 103 years. We’re going to have to do a damn sight better in future if one of these is going to come round every 25-30 years.

sallydo
sallydo
3 years ago

We’re now have more highly funded virologists who will therefore detect novel viruses more frequently. We will be faced with this dilemma more frequently than every 25 years.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago
Reply to  Bertie B

I’ve worked with government officials. Their attitude toward the general populace is that they are supposed to be managed and do as they are told. They are also not their own bosses; many of them are beholden to organizations with a set agenda.

Andre Lower
Andre Lower
3 years ago
Reply to  Bertie B

Bertie, for certain subjects, UnHerd became a bubble where dissent is taboo. Lockdown and vaccine effectiveness are among those, so I suggest you don’t bother discussing it. Sooner than later you’ll get personal insults (i.e. autist, etc.) and regret having thought that it was OK to disagree with the local majority.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  Andre Lower

That’s because logically lockdowns made no sense…. blunt instruments causing far, far more harm than lives they could ever save. And now with hindsight we can see that the introduction of lockdowns and other measures like masks did not effect the traditional epidemic curve. Take South Africa as an example where there was no hard lockdown, no vaccines, lots of shouty people crowded in taxis – yet the curve plummeted down. Oh of course we had ivermectin, but difficult to quantify because it was all being sold on the black market. Lots of it though.

sallydo
sallydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Bertie B

Put it this way, politicians and bureaucrats have often proved to be wrong. It also also true that they need to be reminded that they are our servants, not our masters. Their job in this instance was to raise the alarm including details about most vulnerable groups and make recommendations. The collective result of individual voluntary actions would in my opinion have come to a better balanced response.

Kay Bush
Kay Bush
3 years ago
Reply to  Bertie B

This was never a “once in 100 year pandemic”. Ever. It’s no worse than previous bad flu seasons.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  Kay Bush

no worse than previous bad flu seasons

Would you like to specify which years since, say, 1920 have seen a flu death rate that’s in excess of the previous ten-year average by over 100,000? I don’t think you’ll find any.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

Not fully true, I’d say that governments also react to the media and mob hysteria, being seen to do something is far, far more important than the actual outcome of the ‘something’. It almost doesn’t matter what that something is, quarantining negative tested people from a small set of countries is one of them.

ian k
ian k
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

Many ludicrous propositions here. Of course governments have a role in health and public health is one of the most important parts of this. It includes all sorts of restrictions and limitations of peoples’ rights – you cannot buy adulterated foods and medicines eg flour cut with sawdust as was once sold, seat belts etc etc. You cannot seriously suggest that pandemics of infectious diseases can be left to anarchy and there be no central government direction. God knows they have made a hash of many things, but many characteristics of this virus were not known at the beginning. I would far rather the government used some sort of predictive modelling than following some random notion of their own. To say the government never makes a better job of anything it undertakes than individuals do is ridiculous. Are you going to construct you own railway line across to see your relative? They may be corrupt, but total anarchy is not really the solution.

Bits Nibbles
Bits Nibbles
3 years ago
Reply to  ian k

How do you know? Have you ever lived in total anarchy? We need to strive for communal anarchy (150 people per village or under) or anarchic communism. Whichever term you prefer, this system allows all people in it to live as they see fit, to contribute to the local village culture and community, to feel fulfilled by working alongside and helping to feed their neighboors. This was the way of life for most Eastern Europeans for thousands of years. Somehow, we’re still alive and here.
It is funny that you mention adulterated foods and give flour as an example.
Do you realize the amount of autoimmune diseases and general poor health (near constant low-grade or higher inflamation, etc.) that government-sanctioned-and-subsidised “modern” flour has largely contributed to?

ian k
ian k
3 years ago
Reply to  Bits Nibbles

Unfortunately it is probably too late to go back to village life. Rural depopulation is a world wide phenomenon, especially now in the Eastern European countries like Romania and Bulgaria. We live in a planet of megacities and slums, and calls to return to a rural idyll are fantasy.
I agree stone ground whole grain flours are much better than steel roller grain and the Chorley Wood process, but these are still better than adding sawdust and floor sweepings to the flour as used to happen.
I

sallydo
sallydo
3 years ago
Reply to  ian k

Lockdown vs anarchy is a false dichotomy Government raising the alarm and and providing data and recommendations is one thing. Mandating extreme, extraordinary unproven mandatory public heath measures on an off for more than a year is another. “Flattening the curve” might have been justifiable initially but severely disrupting the livelihoods and rightful liberties of the population long term is not. Failure to do ongoing rigorous cost vs benefit analysis and adjusting policy accordingly is not justifiable. There was failure to heed studies and scientists that soon questioned the effectiveness of lockdowns in the long run and suggested that focused protection for the vulnerable is more efficient.

Last edited 3 years ago by sallydo
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

In December the government’s message was “think very carefully about what you are going to do over Christmas and NewYear.” After all, this virus can only transmit if people meet one another.
So people had a good think (?) and after almost a year’s worth of experience and information (this preferentially kills the elderly and frail, demented, obese, immuno-compromised etc.) decided to meet up anyway with the inevitable results in January – the surge capacity of a lean and mean NHS almost topping out with all the attendant downstream effects – longer waiting lists for elective treatment, more mortality and morbidity and another lot of restrictions.
The inevitable conclusion is that the model inside your head of how the UK population would have acted with different messaging (more Swedish like ?) did not pan out in January. Your model therefore is rubbish.

johndeery
johndeery
3 years ago

We have had two ‘waves’ this winter. First the second wave of the original virus which peaked in November and as expected was about a third of the original one. However we a had a third ‘wave’ which was the Kent variant and this curve overlaps the second one and surpassed it. This is quite clear in all the graphs. There is no evidence that any human behaviour influenced the third ‘wave’. Incidentally the Scottish Chief Medical Officer describes the 3 waves we have had. BoJo thinks we have had two.

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

The B1117 variant was spotted in September and was circulating widely by November.
This is a respiratory virus it can only circulate and transmit if people meet one another.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago

Christmas occurred towards the end of a steep rise in cases, it certainly wasn’t the cause of the rise. The cases of course peeked prior to the 3rd lockdown.

So much modelling around the pandemic has been flawed, remember the disproven fire break ideas, as tried in Wales.

Casual unproven sneering at the UK public may help you feel better about being wrong I suppose?

See florida vs california for further proof.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

So people didn’t travel before and meet up before Christmas ? The peak was on Jan 8.
How do you think this virus transmits ?

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago

No peak cases was not Jan 8, peak Covid hospital admissions was about then. Cases must have therefore peaked around 2 weeks before then.

https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/details/healthcare

I suppose the public are in on the conspiracy now? Agreeing to not go to hospital merely to disprove the model that exists inside your head?

Btw the virus spreads mainly in enclosed spaces, with much higher possibility if the person is symptomatic. Prolonged exposure is the most likely, sadly carehomes and hospitals account for a huge number of the transmissions due to the profile of the residents.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

No peak cases was not Jan 8, peak Covid hospital admissions was about then. Cases must have therefore peaked around 2 weeks before then.ï»ż

ONS figures based on testing a random sample of the population show that infections in England peaked in the week ending 09 January, having risen since week ending 10 December, and fell thereafter until levelling off in the week ending 20 March.
NHS figures show peak date for hospital admissions was 12 January, with the 7-day average peaking on 10 January.

David B
David B
3 years ago

So they can only be allowed to think for themselves if they come to the correct conclusion? If they wouldn’t do what the government wished, then they cannot be trusted and must be forcibly persuaded otherwise? Really?

Vasiliki Farmaki
Vasiliki Farmaki
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

I would like to join this conversation and firstly admit of how sorry I am.. It is urgent to understand corona is an eye opener.. there is no invisible enemy.. A global mob is playing with people and every one’s life.. They will never stop.. the more people go to the vaccine centers.. they will never stop… It is all so clear, and listen, just a few minutes ago 1st video: The chances of eradicating Covid-19 in the UK or around the world are “as close to zero as makes no difference”, chief medical officer Chris Whitty has said. This is bullying. The Vaccines Do not work…!..They are the medium, the road to pull-apart as many and to comply with their agenda.. out of fear and meanwhile waste everyone’s time.. putting one against another, as they always do.. It is happening all over the world.. They are taking orders from the global shadow entity… They do not serve country and nation.. The 2nd video, Pfizer asks for military bases.. !.. and much more.. 3rd link, Pope Francis made clear connection of the vaccines and mafia.. what does he kwon?.. In other countries they are preparing lawsuits against politicians, doctors etc.. because it makes no sense of how and why those dyeing in hospitals.. Relatives and even nurses and doctors are helping solicitors with evidence. and there are no autopsies.. Is it not suspicious ??.. plus as crimes against humanity.. For how long are we gone accept this lie? The more individuals get vaccinated the more Unlikely they will ever stop..
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5Ehi3zN900
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pope-mafia-idUSKBN2BD0GG
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zoSSHx9QtA

Andrew Harvey
Andrew Harvey
3 years ago

Sorry, but this article is just gaslighting and historical revisionism.

We all now think in terms of QALYs, utils, the greatest good for the greatest number.

Nonsense. The government pointedly refused to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the November lockdown. There has never been a proper cost-benefit analysis done showing the trade-offs between broad lockdowns, a more targeted approach to lockdown, or doing nothing (probably because the data shows that broad lockdowns aren’t any more effective than more limited ones while incurring much higher costs). The entire approach to Covid (outside vaccines) has been based on panic reaction playing to the newspaper headlines, rather than actual cost-benefit analysis. All of which, just coincidentally, has lead to a monumental shift in power towards the state and bureaucratic elites.
Claiming that this was all based on a cost-benefit approach is simply not true.

Nick Faulks
Nick Faulks
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

What is gaslighting?

Duncan Cleeve
Duncan Cleeve
3 years ago
Reply to  Nick Faulks

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
3 years ago
Reply to  Nick Faulks

gaslighting” – New-speak for someone expressing dissent.

Hayden McAllister
Hayden McAllister
3 years ago
Reply to  Nick Faulks

The term comes from a film called Gaslight where a sick women is trapped in bed and her nasty husband keeps turning down the gas lamp a little every day so she thinks she is slowly going blind. She suspects its the gas but hubby assures her it is her eyes that are failing.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

The Great Barrington declaration – protection where needed, was deemed politically incorrect. Blending economic models with infection models was apparently too difficult.

Will Liddle
Will Liddle
3 years ago

The trouble with utilitarianism is the frame of reference. Whoever determines that can, ultimately, justify anything through the assignment of value to the risks and outcomes.
For example, the chance that a vaccine causes serious life-long harm is near-identical to the chance of a vaccine resulting in an event that results in liability for the manufacturer. Curiously, our utilitarian culture will look rather dimly on the parent who is unwilling to take the – unquestionably miniscule – risk that their child will be the exception, even as it approvingly concludes that it is unreasonable for the manufacturer to accept liability for the same level of risk.
The child is acceptable collateral overall, the manufacturer’s insurance premiums are not.
I’m not in any way sceptical about the value of vaccines. But let’s not pretend there is any neutral frame of reference in which utilitarianism produces only one, self-evident course of action. It simply reflects at any given decision point what currently passes for an acceptable limb that might be cut off to save the body.

Last edited 3 years ago by Will Liddle
cererean
cererean
3 years ago

Fascinating. You make the claim that lockdown was a net positive, despite the lack of any analysis to support that claim. If we’re going to go on utilitarian thinking, I think it’s quite reasonable to demand some evidence that there are indeed people on the tracks before pulling or not pulling the lever.
Funny, also, that you should miss vitamin D off your list of low-downside high-upside interventions. Cheap, and pretty much impossible to overdose on, we shouldn’t need 95% confidence before encouraging people to take it. But perhaps the wrong people were advocating for it, and it would pain you to admit they were right…

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
3 years ago
Reply to  cererean

Vitamin D neglect has been remarkable, particularly for darker skinned people in winter. Still unclear why so poorly treated in medical news.

Hayden McAllister
Hayden McAllister
3 years ago
Reply to  cererean

Vitamin D deficiency is a serious problem in most sick people, and those with dark skin. With proper levels, it helps fight off many diseases. At one point the incredibly incompetent Matt Hancock said it didn’t work – when the fact is – it works extremely well! But the elephant in the room here is EARLY USE PREVENTATIVE TREATMENT which unforgivably was NEVER USED because it would have made the profiteering no-liability vaccine agenda totally unnecessarily. Hydroxychloroquine + Zinc (Big Pharma deliberately set up trials to overdose patients to MAKE it fail including a bogus paper submitted to The Lancet which had to be withdrawn.. But by then the damage had been done) Then there is Ivermectin. No doubt the same entities will drag their feet over allowing this life saver. The vaccine agenda is not about saving lives but a form of control via the vaccine passport. An Ivermectin Passport wouldn’t do the trick – would it? Here’s Robert F Kennedy Jnr, exposing the treachery and murderous fraud involved in the demonisation of these early use life-savers. No wonder Big Pharma and Big Tech want to censor him at every opportunity
https://twitter.com/meljennell/status/1344943827317006338/video/1
:

Paul Wright
Paul Wright
3 years ago

Final score: 8.9: The judges appreciated the liberal use of exclamation marks and capital letters, and a mention of Big Farmers never goes amiss. However, we did have to dock a point for failing to mention Bill Gates.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago

‘to simplify the trolley’ problem is to miss the point I’m afraid. What about the next steps in it, do you push an innocent man in front of the trolley to save 4 others? Do you kill one healthy person to use their organs to save 4 people? What if those 4 people are all 90 & the healthy person is 10? Where are your QALY now? And yes lockdown is the conscious action, carrying on like normal or enacting pre approved plans was the track. How many kids are you willing to hurt to stop that trolley killing 1 person? 10, 100, 1,000,000?

Then the standard vague assertions that lockdowns work, compare california and florida. There’s obviously plenty of other examples. If I was pro lockdown I’d try to claim that there was ‘possibly’ a small net benefit to them in terms of lives lost in the short term, though accept it wasn’t proven and had other massive costs.

Finally on vaccines, yes they’re good but you need to talk about IFR. This has been skewed in the UK by our idiotic approach to lockdown, locking up the healthy and failing to protect the vulnerable (don’t forget 20,000 deaths were caused in carehomes by Covid hysteria moving positive patients there). Anyway IFR alters hugely with age, something the article ignores. Once you accept that the vaccines have say a 1 in a million deaths, then IFR per age group is really important. If I was 80 then the vaccine is a no brainer, I’m middle aged, ran my figures in the oxford/ons app – I’m about 55,000/1 including catching it – this was around peak infection. So I’m roughly 19 times more at risk from Covid than the vaccine. Step down to a healthy 20 year old and it’s possibly 5 to 1. With healthy young children the risk factor of Covid is similar to the vaccines, so low that collecting reliable data would be really difficult. We know that in open Sweden school aged children didn’t die. Only hysteria would lead to injecting children without massive further testing

.

Mark Stone
Mark Stone
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

But hysteria rules. What has happened to our population? It saddens me that on mass we have become pathetic. Incapable of rational thought. Boris has played it well. Throw out shrieks and test the backshriek, go for the one that wins votes/support/popularity.
Remember masks? No evidence of actual benefit in use but suddenly you see them on people in the street avoiding you as if you’re a potential flesh eating Zombie.
I spend too much time pouring over ONS numbers and I just don’t understand why the world can’t get a proportional understanding of things. I now know I’m the weirdo. Facts are meaningless.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Stone

It’s a feeback loop of hysteria, remember that a significant % of the population thought that over 10% of the UK population had died of Covid and that was by summer 2020.

Hayden McAllister
Hayden McAllister
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

Govt’s spending hundreds of millions of pounds on vaccines and pharmaceuticals – and causing untold damage. A cautionary tale from very recent history:: https://twitter.com/i/status/1368176438873100288

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago

The vaccines are great, in particular for those that need them.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago

A perfectly PROVEN case there Chivers, If qualified anyway. All that is needed is to add that the people in your case must have no sense of Honour influencing their actions – that all actions may be reduced so actuarially. Release the Prisoners, Lock up the law abiding…. NO. Destroy the education of the young, destroy the independent business, destroy the job which keeps a person, destroy the physical and mental health of millions collaterally, destroy the economy, and destroy the FREEDOM? NO!

I have suffered to a very great extent over my life time because honour did not allow an action; or required another. This is part of being a man (and Woman) rather than just the addict rat hitting the button for its cocaine pellet over any other choice.

I have a sense of Honour so developed it likely could be called vanity, and so I will not wear a mask, even though it means the price is much higher than just putting it on, as everywhere you are, the feeling of disapproval and distaste from the masked rabbits is almost overpowering – but I will not do it because I am anti-masking, so honour demands I do not wear one. (excepting twice entering a bank of necessity and the armed guard blocked me, and once where a Walmart security woman blocked me with her person, so there was nothing to do but look around the parking lot and find a discarded mask as this was during the hoarding phase).

Honour! You omit that. If some mad doctor said crawling on your belly would protect you from covid, would you crawl around Tesco and in the streets on your belly to avoid the 0.02 chance (or what ever it is)?

“”LiveFreeorDie” is the official motto of the U.S. state of New Hampshire” I throw your JS Mill back at you “”It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, is of a different opinion, it is only because they only know their own side of the question.” — J. S. Mill” “Deathbefore dishonor signifies the wearer would rather die before dishonoring what ever holds great value.”

What about freedom, self determination, being true to yourself, as it were? I know a Liberal just does not ‘Get’ Honour, but I do, and it is paramount.

CL van Beek
CL van Beek
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

i wear it over my mouth only, not my nose. Works fine. Over at CNN you can read an article praising the man they have been calling Deathsantis over the past half year for not locking down Florida. https://edition.cnn.com/2021/03/17/politics/ron-desantis-covid-florida/index.html

Su Mac
Su Mac
3 years ago
Reply to  CL van Beek

Good to read that at CNN, thanks. The man has courage.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  CL van Beek

I love the CNN article, through gritted teeth the plain reality is there for all too see: hard restrictions, lockdowns, mask wearing show no discernable difference. We know world wide now that mask wearing simply hasn’t worked (I presumed logically that it should work), in the UK masks were mandated during low Covid rates and compliance has been very high – still a massive 2nd wave. In jurisdictions with or without masks the ‘best’ place to catch Covid is where you live, be it a house, Care Home or Hospital. In residential settings symptomatic Covid people have caused onward infection 20% of the time, with asymptomatic it’s 0.7% – that’s despite taking precautions when the person is clearly symptomatic.

We gave up following the science a long time ago. Our lockdowns have been unfocused and wrong headed – just look at the messenging in the UK: hands, face, space. Priorities way out, yet no change. Saving face is more important that saving lives.

Elizabeth W
Elizabeth W
3 years ago
Reply to  CL van Beek

And South Dakota too.

CL van Beek
CL van Beek
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth W

I know, Kristi Noem is a hero for not caving in against the pressure from the media and sticking to the plan. Thanks to her we know the truth, lockdowns do not work.

Jonathan Weil
Jonathan Weil
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

You’ve hit the nail on the head: the trouble with utilitarianism is that, even on its own terms, it would never work as a creed for everyone to follow because it misses out on the sense of dignity that one gets from cleaving to something noble and beautiful. That is a good that should be available to the greatest number possible, and one that is very hard to maintain in the Panopticon.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jonathan Weil
Elizabeth W
Elizabeth W
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

What a great reply Sanford! Tom must be working for the vaccine companies because he is always pushing them and how great lockdowns are. It appears obvious to me, he is scared to death of dying.

Duncan Cleeve
Duncan Cleeve
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth W

So scared of dying he’s forgotten how to live, lets not allow the tyrants to normalise this.

Otto Christensen
Otto Christensen
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

What nonsense. You probably believe virus and bacteria are a figment of some one’s imagination and that surgeons wear masks to hide their identity from patients.

John Riordan
John Riordan
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I read a good article on this recently which pointed out that irrespective of the case for utilitarianism, we collectively decided decades ago that the correct outcome of the trolley problem is that it is wrong to intervene. It can be expressed more astutely in the organ donor problem: three Nobel prizewinners are all in hospital requiring various organ transplants without which they will die and certainly humanity will suffer their loss. In the same hospital is a serial killer who is there only because he got beaten up in the prison where he usually resides: he is there for the third spell in a row, previous crimes and their associated punishments having had no effect on his behaviour; he’s a lost cause.

Now, why not kill him, take his healthy organs and save the lives of three people that definitely deserve to be saved?

We have human rights laws precisely because we saw (during the second world war especially) what can happen when strictly utilitarian principles are given as the basis for action: we end up oppressing the innocent for no better reason that they are unlucky enough to form part of a minority at a point where the utilitiarian question is asked, and sacrifice appears to be the answer. The European Convention on Human Rights exists specifically to give a conclusive legal and institutional answer to the trolley problem.

The great irony of 2020/21 is that the pandemic planning we had right up to the point when it became politically awkward was correct: it was not utilitarian, it respected human rights. The failure of our Western governments to respect both the plan and the principles behind it have decimated the moral authority that we in the West have got used to assuming we possess. And we can’t even say we couldn’t have known better.

Last edited 3 years ago by John Riordan
LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Excellent post thanks. Remember less than 2 years ago we were letting known terrorists out of prison – despite the near certainty that they would try to kill again, because of human rights. Now we merrily confine 5 years olds at home for months on end based on very little evidence.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I am not sure what you mean by ‘honour’. You make it sound like doing what you please. Isn’t that arrogance?

Elaine Hunt
Elaine Hunt
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

I think it is being true to your principles, and being prepared to face opprobrium in doing so. Of course , those principles become demonstrably misguided in the case of, for example, shooting sprees. I don’t think the refusal to wear a mask falls into that category, as long as the non wearer he’s no respiratory disease ( in which case, he shouldn’t be in Walmart anyway)

Neil D
Neil D
3 years ago

Jesus. It’s like the war, and 80 years of human rights scholarship that followed never happened and the world is now being run by first year philosophy students.

So you’re a utilitarian. Ok, what about mandatory organ harvesting then? By sacrificing one healthy person, you could save the lives of at least six or seven people, each in need of a different organ transplant. Net 5 or 6 lives saved. So we should do it shouldn’t we? Or is that in fact monstrous and evil?

Tracy Clark
Tracy Clark
3 years ago
Reply to  Neil D

yes monstrous and evil but the chinese do it so why not?
If you boil something complex as peoples rights and moral judgements down to a single trolley problem then that person is showing that they are indeed monstrous and evil

Last edited 3 years ago by Tracy Clark
Bertie B
Bertie B
3 years ago
Reply to  Neil D

Did you read the whole article? Thats what he was saying, complete utilitarianizm is actually far more complicated than most people realise. Your example above proves it – is the net good of your scenario above higher than its net harm?
Would you be happy to know that a person had been murdered to give you a transplant – would you accept it? I wouldn’t.
How about the harm done to the murdered peoples relitives and friends, and the fear created in society at large, the horse trading to ensure it wasn’t your relatives murdered for the sake of other people.
This actually isn’t that complicated, the net harm of mandatory organ harvesting of healthy people is clearly not a utilitarian course of action.

Neil D
Neil D
3 years ago
Reply to  Bertie B

No, Tom made a distinction between rule utilitarianism and act utilitarianism. But he was quite explicit that a utilitarian is what he is.

Under both rule and act utilitarianism, mandatory organ harvesting is the morally correct action, because on both the short and long term, it leads to a net positive in terms of lives saved. If you don’t want to reach that conclusion, you have to confect such a contorted and caveated form of utilitarianism that it essentially folds back into deontologicalism.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Neil D

Absolutely right, interesting discussion. I still remember the 1st time the full ‘trolley problem’ was told to me. I had confidently asserted that I’d pull the switch, but was horrified by the idea of pushing a man in front of the trolley to save the others. I couldn’t explain the moral difference between the two, though felt it should exist.

All I can think of is that flicking a switch has more of a time and physical distance from the victim than physically pushing them onto the tracks, so it’s possible to detach yourself from the decision.

Neil D
Neil D
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

I’m still haunted by Jacob Bronowski’s concluding sequence to Ascent of Man, standing in the pond at Auschwitz into which the ashes of his own family were flushed, justified on the grounds of purifying the health of the German nation, and exhorting against what he called ‘push-button morality’. It’s one of the most eloquent apologies for deontologicalism I’ve seen.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Bertie B

complete utilitarianism requires a complete abandonment of any moral principle.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
3 years ago

Oh lordy… how will we survive without the wonderful vaccines? Oh tell us more Chivers-Gates

Meghan Kathleen Jamieson
Meghan Kathleen Jamieson
3 years ago

Not the most thoughtful thing I’ve read here, by a long shot.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago

Hmmmm, are you saying Chivers is wrong, and that everyone must give up everything and be locked up for a year on the chance it saved some people is not reasonable? Because that sounds like Denier speech to me. And Youtube And Twitter can ban you for saying that. Here is a video by JP Sears showing Youtube Community Guidelines and how they stop doctors from advocating hydroxychloroquine to protect You, or otherwise saying anything against covid orthodoxy by their power of de-platforming. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGxbaxviRVw

AND I got this as a banner across the Youtube page just now wile looking it up! “”To be consistent with data protection laws, we’re asking you to take a moment to review key points of our Privacy Policy, which covers all Google services and describes how we use data and what options you have. We’ll need you to do this today.“”” (they made that part bold) Pretty weird.

Meghan Kathleen Jamieson
Meghan Kathleen Jamieson
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I’m not sure why you’d think I was saying any of those things?
I said it wasn’t a great article. Too many assumptions. Lockdowns save more lives than they cost? We really have no idea and likely won’t and can’t know for years. And much may depend on how long they go on. Utilitarianism is the best way to weigh these decisions? That’s far from universally accepted and much depends on what you count at utility. Etc.
He might be right as to his final assessment but the way he gets there is not particularly well argued.

Jonathan Ellman
Jonathan Ellman
3 years ago

The West failed because it does not really believe in democracy. China succeeded because it truly believes in dictatorship. The Moderna vaccine could have been offered to the elderly and vulnerable with the risks fully explained, as far as they were known. If you’re over 70 with a comorbidity you might well reason that it’s worth the risk. Personally, I would have taken the Pfizer or Astra-Zeneca vaccine as early as November 2020 given the positive results at that stage. I might have been in a minority but probably a sizeable one. We would have been further along the way to herd immunity by January and the third wave and lockdown avoided. But the public wasn’t trusted to make informed individual decisions, democracy wasn’t respected.
Once inoculated, millions would have willingly assisted in a full-blown war effort to produce and roll-out the vaccines; filling vials, distributing syringes, training to give injections. Professor Sir John Bell in the Guardian and an Adam Smith report by James Lawson, Jonathan Kitson and Mathew Lesh reckon the roll-out could have been completed far faster than it was with more public participation. The public was very willing to volunteer in the early stages of the pandemic and could have been used here too. But this spirit went to waste as the government, despite being elected democratically, still felt the need to be in control and to demonstrate its control. Just like China.
If the West really believed in democracy, it could have been instigated through public consensus; over 90% of Britain’s rejected the initial herd immunity strategy and supported the lockdown. I value and respect critics of lockdown, the public debate is essential.  It’s unlikely we’ll have an informed assessment for many years of the worth of lockdown but whatever studies show, it would have been more effective to instigate it with direct public consent and participation. Sceptics would have criticized it but adherence would have been greater with a large democratic majority shown to be in support of it.
It could even be reasoned that had the West believed more in democracy, it would not have facilitated the rise of the CCP to its position of dominance within global bodies like the WHO and the spread of the disease might have been prevented without such bias therein.

Thomas Prentice
Thomas Prentice
3 years ago

China doesn’t believe in dictatorship. It believes in socialism with Chinese characteristics. And the West has come to believe in Inverted Totalitarianism.

Jonathan Ellman
Jonathan Ellman
3 years ago

What China believes and what China says it believes are two not very related things. The West seems to have lost the plot completely and entered its own Cultural Revolution. It might last another ten years before we sort this mess out.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
3 years ago

Chivers is totally off base regarding the rare blood clots (DIC) associated with low patelet counts. The Koch institute in Germany, the agency in charge of looking into this, found the incidence of such clots post-vaccination was an order of magnitude (i.e. around 10 x) greater than expected in the general population and these issues were largely confined to young, healthy women under the age of 50. Let that sink in: not 80 year olds, not 70 years olds, but young health females less than 50. If you happen to be one of those women and you end up with DIC, a condition that is really really hard to treat and get on top of and where the fatality rate is really high (in excess of 50%), you might not have been so happy to take the AZ vaccine for the greater good. That’s especially so since for women under the age of 50 the risk of death from COVID is close to zero (less than being runover by a bus or hit by lightening).
Now, of course, in the very very large majority of cases the AZ vaccine has not had an untoward effect, but to deny that such effects exist is to cover one’s eyes from the truth and simply say, nothing to see here, move on. Every drug on the market from simple aspirin and paracetamol have potential major side effects. Indeed you look at an TV drug advert in the US and they always rattle off a ton of potential side effects, all of which are rare.
It is therefore far better to be upfront and honest about potential side effects. It would also be smart not to vaccinate willy nilly groups that are at very very low risk of anything bad happening following COVID vaccination. Far better to ensure that those over 65 are all vaccinated because they are the ones at risk. They are the ones that provide the rational for lockdowns which have resulted in more deaths and suffering (short and long term) than the virus itself. As the saying goes in medicine: first do no harm. In this instance, vaccinate with caution those at high risk and tread very carefully with everybody else.

In the context of the AZ vaccine, this means seriously looking into the characteristics of those young women who developed DIC post AZ vaccination. Is there anything one can detect that would permit one to predict who was and who wasn’t at risk of developing DIC. That would be the smart and sensible thing to do.
In the meantime you have AZ claiming that there is nothing to see. That’s blatant dishonesty. Reminds me of Merck and Vioxx where the potential lethal side effects (cardiovascular/cardiac) were extremely rare and the drug had to be pulled off the market. But according to Chivers Vioxx should still be available since it was extremely helpful to the very large majority of people taking it.
And finally, just to put this into perspective I am not anti-vax at all. I have had both shots of the Pfizer vaccine, but in my age group (even if very fit and healthy) it’s a no-brainer, but then I’m not a 30 year old healthy woman.

Last edited 3 years ago by Johann Strauss
Dawn Osborne
Dawn Osborne
3 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

As a mother with two thirty year old daughters both with an inherited Factor V Leiden clotting disorder I am deeply concerned.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
3 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Is there anything one can detect that would permit one to predict who was and who wasn’t at risk of developing DIC. ” We are at the dawn of genetic medicine where understanding our genome we can predict our response to medication.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
3 years ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

Perhaps but all depends whether the biological response is chaotic – i.e. you get one thing one day and quite another on another day. Despite a lot of effort nobody has even been able to predict from simple tests which individuals are likely to have a severe run-in upon COVID infection and those who pass it off as a mere cold.

David Slade
David Slade
3 years ago

I remember when this author wrote a very reasonable article about Covid becoming the next common cold. It was rational and calm and cognisant of evolutionary realities.

Then he became a volunteer for the vaccine program and it’s all been downhill from there. I don’t have any strong opinions about a vaccine – so long as it is safe and – equally importantly – genuinely voluntary.

However, I don’t see why promoting the vaccine means having to indoctrinate us with absurdities that lockdown ‘almost certainly’ saved more lives.

It was an experimental mass intervention that completely shut down economic activity, leading to a reduction in the one thing everyone agrees increases public health – prosperity. It has caused physical and mental health problems that were easy to predict and plunged hundreds of millions globally into poverty.

The lockdown has almost certainly contributed to a greater burden on human mortality than the virus has done or – quite possibly – ever would have done even if left with minimal interventions (which would have – after all – been more consistent with previous evidence based strategies).

It may not have been the focus of the article, but such an outlandish piece of trolling that ‘Lockdowns almost certainly’ saved lives – when so many have lost so much and our country has lost its appetite for freedom – is insensitive, stupid and removes the authors credibility at a stroke.

Last edited 3 years ago by David Slade
Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago

Lockdown almost certainly saved more lives than it cost
In the first instance, sure. If however the year+ long lockdowns trigger a global depression of several years, as I believe is now inevitable, once the money-pump gas starts to run out, and the ‘bounce’ peters out, in around 18-24 months I would guess (just my opinion nothing else), then that will plunge literally hundreds of millions across the globe into destitution and cause both actual and aggregated death numbers in the tens of millions (people dying earlier because of poverty, or the west being less generous with disasters because their focus is at home etc).

Jonathan Ellman
Jonathan Ellman
3 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

It’s also possible that lockdowns cost more lives that shielding would have. Not very likely for sure but nonetheless possible and it’s worth considering that if we had focussed our efforts on shielding, we would have done it better and, perhaps, even have succeeded in preventing hospital and care homes transmission. That, possibly, would have brought the death toll down considerable. But even if it’s not the case, it’s important that it gets investigated for future pandemics.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago

The number of 100 million pushed into poverty has already been used. Poverty = death. People in the wealthier countries are shielded from the awful consequences of lockdown playing out and there is a lag, Here in Africa it is immediate.

Duncan Cleeve
Duncan Cleeve
3 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

This was my argument from the beginning Prashant, I was told I cared more about money than lives, some people are in for a very rude awakening.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Duncan Cleeve

People are in denial about the link between strong economies and life expectancy. I suppose it not only challenges lockdowns, but some of their other more political ideas.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago
Reply to  Duncan Cleeve

Ditto. I was labelled as cold blooded by people I know when the first lockdown started a year ago when I suggested it was highly likely that a major economic downturn would ultimately cause more people to die than would be saved by the lockdowns.

Last edited 3 years ago by Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago

The trolley problem distills to a simple binary moral decision and kind of distorts the decision making dilemmas that politicians actually face. In reality, decision making is forced out of people facing multi dimensional complexity, with missing or imperfect data, with multiple inputs, multiple outputs, and the need to balance short and long term effects. Moreover, ramping complexity in terms of ubiquitous STEM usage means decision makers are getting ever further removed from comprehending the nuances of what are in reality deeply technical inputs. So, as it’s impossible to make decisions with full cognisance of all that, decision makers end up following much simpler processes.

Politicians would happily make trolley-problem like decisions, they are much less comfortable if you ask them to decide on, say, the best encryption mechanisms to protect against hacking of tracts of critical data which would have as deleterious effects if they get the decision wrong – they don’t have the expertise to make those decisions and invariably fall back on the inputs of advisors and experts. The problem is, the numbers of such offloaded decisions is multiplying – and I reckon beneath all the buzz and halabaloo of cabinet meetings and reports and committees, politicians end up mere ciphers following simple decision making based on lots of other people’s inputs: nothing a sophisticated enough algorithm wouldn’t be able to do. It’s where such phrases as ‘rules based order’ and ‘spreadsheet Phil’ come about from. The good thing about all this is, except in exceptional circumstances, the the ‘work’ takes care of itself and politicians can concentrate on the politics. The bad thing is, you are stuffed when the exceptional circumstances arrive. I have not idea what the solution is, but it’s no wonder they get so many decisions wrong.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
3 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Part of the decision issue relates to development of better information. Most policy decisions, once made, are nearly impossible to change as information proves contrary. The early lockdowns were well justified but as evidence of non-uniform infection risk became available, the policy didn’t change. The Great Barrington declaration was ignored and dismissed as too difficult compared to continuing the early full lockdown policy.

Saul D
Saul D
3 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

This is why decision making is based on judgement and principles. Principles having been socially learnt over a long time. You can’t know everything now, and you can’t predict the circumstances of the world in the future. So instead of saying what must happen and writing interminable rules that are too specific and too tied to a time or current level of expertise, you write principles and prohibitions.
The most famous medical principle is ‘Do no harm’, and you prohibit doctors from bad practices, but you avoid rules of compulsion. You then trust the people in the framework you set up. The principles are deliberately open – you don’t tell people how to do their job, but you do make it clear when they will have been judged to be outside what’s acceptable. For a comparison look at the difference between GDPR (compulsion based) and the old DPA (principle based). The former is way more costly and onerous with tons of unintended side effects.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

I agree, but the trend in governance across the west has for a long time now been towards compulsion based frameworks. And it leads to poor quality law – for example the mentions of Netscape browser and Mozilla mail in the EU Brexit deal. And you are right, it leads to inflexible, unimaginative decision making. Principles and judgement based governance sounds a whole lot better, but it requires trust at all levels – something in distinctly short supply at the moment.
I also agree about GDPR – having a little familiarity with that in a couple of contexts, I think it will eventually fall apart as unpolicable and unworkable – but not before loading totally pointless extra costs on tech businesses and actively creating vulnerabilities all the while projecting a false sense of safety for end users.

Last edited 3 years ago by Prashant Kotak
Jonathan Weil
Jonathan Weil
3 years ago

One moment where this article contradicts itself: after saying that “we all think in terms of QALYs now”, it goes on to make a cost-benefit analysis of lockdowns in terms of unadjusted lives lost vs lives saved. It would be interesting to see Chivers, who clearly approves lockdowns, make the more difficult argument here.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Weil

He simply can’t – it’s like a mental block. One calculation is this: at 82.4 (average Covid age of death) you could expect to live to about 90 – so this gives us 7.5 years lost per person. Let’s be really generous to lockdowns and ignore the fact that huge numbers of fatalitiies contracted the virus is hospitals and carehomes where they were ill already. Let’s also ignore the 100,000 dead with restrictions in place, or that the 1st wave peaked prior to lockdowns. Let’s pretend the models were correct and that if no restrictions were taken 500,000 people would die of Covid, losing avg 7.5 each, hell lets make it 10 years for easy maths. Let’s pretend that lockdowns would have saved every single life. So lockdowns ‘saved’ 5 million years of life in the most generous possible view of them.

Then on the flip side take the damage of lockdown to the 67 million people. Let’s again be really generous to lockdowns and ignore the 8+ months of lower quality of life for everyone. Let’s also ignore the 10,000s who were killed in carehomes and 20,000+ killed by being scared with Covid hysteria to not seek medical treatment ‘protect the NHS’ – again be generous to lockdowns if it had been enacted with some basic humanity. Now the most optimistic economic assessment says that everyone will end up losing about 1/3 of a years life due to the damage of lockdowns (see Florida, Sweden for far less economic damage). Take that 1/3 times it by 67 million and you get roughly 22 million lost years of life.

Basically if we’re really, really generous about lockdowns they’re 4/1 negative – kind of the exact opposite of his Trolley problem?

Largely borrowed from Bristol Risk Management professors article btw. It does show that even if lockdowns have cost everyone 1 month of their lives – they’re still not worth it. The key though is to talk about dead grannies, sure a lot more grandads died – but not as emotive.

Last edited 3 years ago by LUKE LOZE
Bertie B
Bertie B
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

There is a problem here. The ONS figures show that 2020 compared to the last 3 years the excess death rate in the UK was 70,000. Thats with the restrictions and lockdown in place.
The figures also show that 77,000 people died from Covid.
So from this we can deduce that 7,000 who would have died from “other causes” (traffic accidents etc) were saved.
We however have no data on how many people would have died without the lockdown, at least 7,000 more.
Also QALYs for the locked down vary – some feel they have lost time, some feel they have gained it. What about the change in working patterns that might stretch far into the future requiring people to commute less, gainging hours a day for the rest of their working life. Agruably the value of a year of life at 80+ is higher for the individual than the value of a year at 20, in the same vein as you might frivilously spend ÂŁ100 if your salary is high, but people on low wages would feel the same money had far more value to them.
The lost education for children off set against the extra time parents spent with them.
The point I’m making is that the calculation of the net benefit (or otherwise) of the lockdowns is impossible to calculate. It will always be a fruitless he said / she said argument.

Andrew McCoull
Andrew McCoull
3 years ago
Reply to  Bertie B

Sorry, are you insane? You are comparing the value of 1 year’s very poor quality life of an elderly person with at least one co-morbidity to a lost year of a 20 year old, in their prime of health, and of social and personal growth? There’s no contest, the value for the young person wins out every time. The elderly person in the comparison has already had their 20th year in their youth, and all the enjoyment, growth and opportunity that came with it.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Bertie B

I agree that it’s impossible to calculate fully and accurately – but when there’s a significant chance that the intervention will have a negative over all affect then it’s very dubious to continue with it.
I don’t quite get the 20 vs 80 year old thing, also the 20 year old will have lost 18 months of their life, be facing a more challenging job market, higher taxes and lower public services. Quite frankly if the young start rebelling on mass I won’t be surprised.

Meghan Kathleen Jamieson
Meghan Kathleen Jamieson
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

And then this totally leaves out how we are to think about, for example, elderly people who are still alive, but have been locked into their care homes without visitors for months on end and died there of something else.
What about ongoing damage that might occur to democratic institutions, which is something I’ve come to worry about where I live in relations to the covid response?
It’s not easy to know how to weigh such things and I’d never say that it is a simple calculation. But simply counting lives saved without other considerations seems deeply wrong.

Mark Stone
Mark Stone
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

Very well put. That is the basis of my rant within my head hourly.

John Armstrong
John Armstrong
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

Hold on, why have I (as part of “everyone”) lost 1/3 years of life due to lockdown? I’ve actually lived a fairly full life during this past year, and I’m rather content to think that the inconveniences I’ve had might have contributed to saving a life….

Last edited 3 years ago by John Armstrong
LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  John Armstrong

No, I ignored the loss of quality of life during the last year – though we’ve certainly not lived a fairly full life for most of the time.

The 1/3 of a year of life expectancy is a low range estimate based on the economic damge of lockdown. And it’s not just you that will suffer from it, it’s your children, friends, parents etc. But yeah inconveniences, locking up millions of healthy kids and denying them education, nice

Mark Stone
Mark Stone
3 years ago
Reply to  John Armstrong

I’m guessing so please bear with me. You are probably professional/managerial class. You probably earn or have earned twice median earnings if not more. You probably own your own home. You probably wont be affected at all. Unless you are unlucky enough to suffer an illness whose treatment is delayed by the back log we now face. Then premature death becomes slightly more likely. It’s your life years lost divided by lots like you who will be fine. On the whole, hard to notice.

Adam C
Adam C
3 years ago

Tom looks at the entire history of vaccines, and finds only one example of vaccines causing harm, from 1955.
What a diligent researcher Tom is!
I bet he nearly worked his way to the bottom of the first page on google when he was researching this piece.

Gerard A
Gerard A
3 years ago
Reply to  Adam C

just one word
Pandremix

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
3 years ago
Reply to  Adam C

See The Swine Flu Affair -1976 for the story of a rushed vaccine for what turned out to be a non-pandemic. The BBC had a recent story but the 40 year-old history remains cautionary. Surprised it wasn’t cited.

Pauline Shimell
Pauline Shimell
3 years ago

Please look at this letter
Doctors for CoVid Ethics
Urgent Open Letter from Doctors and Scientists to the EMA regarding CoVid 19 Vaccine Safety concerns
This was published in late February before the blood clotting concerns were raised in various European countries……but not here although there have been coagulation issues according to the adverse effects list on the government website.
You are just playing number games. We all make decisions based on our experience and my experience is in teaching physiology. I had to know how cells, tissues and body systems work so that people going into medicine, nursing and the other professions allied to medicine and health as mature students, would have sufficient knowledge to start their courses at Uni.
I am 70 years old, overweight but otherwise fit and had CoVid about a year ago with no complications and tested positive for IgG (long term protective) antibodies 6 months after. My CoVid lasted 2 weeks and left me with no after effects and with at least 6 months immunity, probably more if I choose to find out by paying for another blood test. That is my experience of CoVid I used no medications at all for my symptoms, just sweated and coughed it out, lots of it as it turned out.
When injecting your gene with your vector virus as in the AstraZenica or your mRNA in its lipid nanoparticle in your Pfizer into your muscle cell what happens next depends upon a great many variables.The doctors for Covid ethics in the letter are tracing the potential fates of these entities from first principles.
There is the muscle cell itself, which will then express spike protein onto its surface potentially making it a target for the immune system. There is the tissue fluid which bathes the muscle cell, which is part of the lymphatic system, there is the blood supply to the muscle in the capillaries connected to the circulatory system as a whole, there is the connective tissue fascia surrounding the muscle, there is the nerve supply to the muscle to name but a few tissues and types of cell where these pieces of genetic information can end up. Of course the blood and lymph circulate everywhere so the gene in the case of AZ and the mRNAstrand in the case of Pfizer can also end up anywhere in the body. Blood circulates everywhere with every heart beat or pulse so 50-120 times a minute depending on the state you are in! This is first principles stuff easy to work out if you think about it with a basic understanding of the way the body is organised and functions as a whole. How long does the vaccine stuff take to diffuse into the tissues surrounding the muscle cell? Does anyone think about this? How many cells is the vaccine does aimed at penetrating?
Journalists praising the vaccines to the skies but failing to inform as to the contents and mechanism of the vaccine are not doing their jobs. On a can of baked beans we can at least see the ingredients and know how it travels through the digestive system, where a great deal of protection is in place.
Many have trust but those who know more or have experienced other things to make them more wary. This is why the BAME community may be more wary and health professionals in particular are among the most vaccine hesitant. Does anybody stop and wonder why this is so?
Some people will be lucky and all will go as planned by the vaccine makers. Some will be less so and if they have consulted a doctor they will be represented in the adverse affects data. There will be other people staying at home feeling sick but not wishing to discourage vaccine uptake or bother the over worked health system. These people’s bodies are struggling with what has been introduced to work at a much deeper cellular level than a traditional vaccine.
How would Tom feel if it were him or his loved one who made the sacrifice of their life or their health in order that the many might benefit?
As we know, who the vulnerable are, they should be protected by injection of a cocktail of antibodies. This is passively acquired immunity and is what Donald Trump had supplied by Regeneron and also licensed for emergency use at least in the US.
Everyone else can probably cope with having CoVid especially if given proper support, which at the moment is painfully lacking. I phoned the NHS when coughing my guts up and was told I could not speak to a medical professional for 4 hours! Coughing was so exhausting I was asleep by then. Once we had a wonderful service called NHS direct where you got straight through to a nurse………..those were the days.
It is experience that matters not philosophical arguments or political theories, which have nothing to do with immunology, cellular physiology, the value of human life and the pursuit of individual well being. People will make their decisions in accordance with what tales they are told by those around them because to many, stories make more sense than numbers. Many of us try to live our lives as individuals not as statistics. Some will hear that the vaccine was OK some will know of people, who are still sick weeks after. The same with CoVid, I’ve heard of people in their ’80’s with lots of comorbidities sailing through it no problem, I know of younger people with comorbidities, who have died.
Note that CoVid is not a deadly disease for everyone for the vast majority it is just a sniffle, for some like me, it was another respiratory infection. Calling it a deadly disease when the stats don’t support this is misinforming people and engendering fear. Journalists should stop doing this. We don’t call flu a deadly disease although people do die of it but the vast majority don’t, like CoVid. To someone with AIDs the mildest infection can be deadly.
The severity of the disease depends not just on the virulence of the pathogen but also the resistance of the host, was what we used to be taught. Now the focus is on the pathogen to the exclusion of the state of the host and so no one talks about how we can improve it.
People need to approach CoVid in good conditions, free from stress, well exercised before the onset, housed, fed, feeling cared for and loved. As a society we need to think about how we could arrange for everyone to live in such circumstances. Health does not come from pills or needles and those I see walking in the park, riding their bikes, buying their groceries, doing their zoom activities, expressing themselves, meditating and much more are doing their best. It gives me hope for the future.
I am a retired health studies lecturer.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

Lockdown almost certainly saved more lives than it cost,
That keeps being pushed as an article faith. With zero evidence to support it. When the statement requires a qualifier – ‘almost certainly’ – then it’s a guess, at best. There is already a study out about how the US quite likely faces an even higher death toll because of these measures. Because economic harm has this historical habit of leading to health harm. Researchers put the anticipated unnecessary death count at nearly a million in the coming years. Same thing happened after the great recession years back.

John Mcalester
John Mcalester
3 years ago

“we finally ought to realise that when it comes to vaccines, the real danger is in being too cautious.”

I’ll re-write that sentence for you…..

We finally ought to realise that when it comes to lockdowns, the real danger is in being too cautious.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago

What is of particular concern is that data on COVID-vaccine related deaths are being suppressed, while COVID death rates are being inflated. What’s going on?

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
3 years ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

Following Alex Berenson on Twitter is informative. He is a noted skeptic, amazing that he is permitted to post on Twitter.

Saul D
Saul D
3 years ago

This is why morality is a process of social learning based on experience. Contrary to philosophy, we can’t understand the world just by thinking about it. Outcomes quickly become very complex and unknowable as you extend the thought experiments. The best you can do is apply principles known to be effective at the time, based on previous experience. In any new situations you are making educated guesses building on these principles.
For instance, a vaccine might remove the current version of Covid, but due to natural selection, something more deadly and less treatable and vaccine resistant could emerge. It’s fair to say we would currently discount this risk, because vaccinating offers us a high probability of achieving the goal of returning to normal, and we now know we can generate other vaccines quickly. We can’t be sure it’s the best solution without side-effects, but it’s the best option given the knowledge and current reading of the situation. Likelihoods, risk and imperfect knowledge – so judgement and wisdom, not theoretical logical perfection.

S Trodare
S Trodare
3 years ago

Quoting from Tom’s article: Re: Modern mRNA
..it must have been through Phase III testing in tens of thousands of people; hundreds or thousands of person-years of testing.
The truth is none of the vaccines have completed their Phase III testing. People are totally unaware of the estimated end dates for Phase III trials for the Moderna vaccine: October 27 2022, Pfizer vaccine: Jan 31 2023 and AstraZeneca February 21 2023. Under NIH  Emergency Authorisation rules all 3 vaccine manufacturers  have been allowed to release their vaccines on the public without completing their Phase III Trials.  In other words,  these vaccines are having their Phase III trials carried out on the UK population at large while being indemnified by the UK Government for any damage incurred. Imagine the crisis that will arise if this risky decision turns out to have been ill advised.
Tom has failed in his research, what about the ferret trials and the danger posed by mutant strains? See https://doctors4covidethics.medium.com/ It would seem the term ‘scientist’ is all embracing allowing  persons so described to pontificate on all matters classed as science. As the saying goes: “ In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king.”  

Thomas Prentice
Thomas Prentice
3 years ago
Reply to  S Trodare

So they haven’t completed phase three. So what? That is what emergency authorization is for .., for use in an, ummmmm, EMERGENCY.

Simon Latham
Simon Latham
3 years ago

Chivers is almost unreadable, such a proselytizer for Big Pharma he has revealed himself to be. I suggest anyone who believes in the requirement for and efficacy of vaccines against a virus from the common cold family should take a close look at Israel and the vaccine apartheid state it has become. First do no harm. Offering a new prophylactic injected “therapy” to the truly vulnerable (ahead of the completion of clinical trials) may be rational, actively or passively coercing those who are at no risk from the virus to be vaccinated is unethical and should be condemned. Please take part in the Gov’t consultation re Covid certification – vaccine passports. By all means accept the jab if you wish but don’t foist it on the young.
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/covid-status-certification-review-call-for-evidence/covid-status-certification-review-call-for-evidence

Kelly Mitchell
Kelly Mitchell
3 years ago

Oh, now I’m convinced by this vaccine pusher. Where can I sign up for the expiremental, er… life-saving jab?

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
3 years ago

I’m not sure if the author is making a distinction between the philosophical goals of individuals and governments because outside of the obvious ‘don’t get sick and die of Covid’ they aren’t necessarily the same
If your political aim is to reinforce the mantra that the populace must consider themselves dependent on government then lockdowns make sense because the well-documented social, mental and economic effects can be mitigated simply by throwing ‘recovery’ money at them. More government debt is hardly shocking news.
Alternatively, and especially in countries with socialized medicine, overwhelmed hospitals are a political ‘clear and present danger’. Promises of future budget increases or thorough government inquiries are useless when they’re turning people away at the door today. Governments can wriggle out of all sorts of tight spots but what if the narrative becomes “when we needed you, you weren’t there” which could very well spawn other queries such as “Isn’t this why I pay taxes?” and “What other services do you suck at?”. A public inquiry as in a broad-based examination of government by that portion of the public that doesn’t normally question government policy could be very awkward.
One view I haven’t come across is what would have happened if Covid had been treated like most other illnesses in that individuals depend on their own health care providers for guidance?
You see your doctor, he says yes there’s something new going around. It looks like it might spread faster than the flu but I wouldn’t worry too much. Or, you’re over 75 and with your asthma maybe you should lay low for bit and avoid crowds at least until a vaccine comes out. Most people already knew that dragging yourself out of your sickbed to visit Gran at Sunset Acres probably wasn’t good for her, or you.
Working from home because half the office has flu isn’t a radical new concept. Any retail store could have instituted their own mask requirement “just to be on the safe side” or any restaurant could have moved the tables a bit farther apart on their own initiative if they were sensing crowding apprehension among their customers.
So what if we had let individuals make their own decisions about Covid? Would we be better or worse off than we are now?

Epicurus Araraxia
Epicurus Araraxia
3 years ago

Let’s unpack the claim that the new class of “vaccines” are both safe and life-saving. They are not vaccines according to the well-established definition of a vaccine. They are a type of RNA/viral-vectored-DNA therapy that has never been attempted at a population level. We really don’t know what the medium or long-term outcome will be.
Firstly are they truly safe? We don’t know. What will happen when people who have been jabbed encounter the virus in the wild? It’s possible that we’ll see antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) meaning that the wild virus will trigger an immune response that will be life-threatening. ADE is a potential problem for ALL vaccines, and there’s a history of ADE for previous attempts at developing Coronavirus vaccines. Usually, that’s picked up during animal trials, the phase that was skipped in the haste to get these products to market.
Are these “leaky vaccines” that suppress the symptoms of a disease but don’t prevent the disease from spreading and don’t prevent infections? We don’t know that for sure. The trials have been focused on exactly that, i.e. that they prevent severe infections, but not mild infections. There’s the well-known problem with Marek’s disease in chickens. The vaccine for Marek’s was leaky and the vaccine escape of strains that are deadly to all unvaccinated chickens might be good for the sale of vaccines, but it’s a bad outcome and illustrates one of the potential problems of these “vaccines”. These new products may prevent transmission, but that’s not known for sure.
As for life-saving, if you mean that they will prevent deaths, the results are mixed so far. It’s a documented fact that these products cause the immune systems of the elderly to tank for days to weeks. There have been significant Covid-19 outbreaks post-jab in many Care Homes resulting in deaths caused by Covid-19. Did the jab cause those? Well, no, but it didn’t prevent them either. So there’s a period in which vulnerable people need to be totally isolated for anything from a couple of days to three weeks while their immune response normalises after they have been jabbed.
What about the under-65 healthy population? For that group, the risk of getting infected with Covid-19 is minimal, and the risks of hospitalisation or death are tiny. So, unless the “vaccines” are less harmful than the disease for that group, the logic of jabbing everyone with an experimental product is questionable at best.
For the UK, the vast majority of the most vulnerable population has been jabbed. Those who were going to die from Covid-19 because their immune system was compromised by the “vaccines” have died. The surviving elderly are now protected by the induced immune reaction, at least, in theory. So, where’s the logic in continuing the rollout? Given the enormous scope of the unknown medium and long-term effects of these “vaccines” including the possibility of loss of fertility, is it truly sensible to push for 100% vaccination rates especially amongst the population least at risk from the virus, i.e. children and adults of childbearing age?

ian k
ian k
3 years ago

Hopefully you are aware the statement in your first paragraph is incorrect. The AZ vaccine is not an mRNA vaccine, and the RNA vaccines are not DNA therapy as you state. The viral RNA is coated in a lipid to allow cell entry where the RNA is then used to generate antigens. The host cell DNA is not affected.
Animal studies were not skipped in the vaccine development, they were overlapped with human studies.
The under 65’s do not have minimal risks of being infected. They have a lower CFR, but not lower risk of being infected, I assume that is what you meant.
So many posts giving the counter arguments seem so riddled with factual errors as to make anyone turn to standard scources of information.

Bob Honda
Bob Honda
3 years ago
Reply to  ian k

His statement was not incorrect. Let’s set the record straight:
The original poster claimed that the new vaccines “…are a type of RNA/viral-vectored-DNA therapy…” – This is factually true, suggest you read the wikipedia article linked below on Gene Therapy. It is not a requirement for Gene therapy to permanently alter genes, even the illustrated example on the front page of the article is about the delivery method (vector) used by the AZ vaccine (adenoviral) to create a protein! Sounds an awful lot like what the AZ vaccine does, no?
Fact of the matter is, both the mRNA (pfizer) and adenoviral (AZ, Sputnik) vaccines are gene therapy – by definition. To claim something else is a gross misrepresentation of facts.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_therapy#Vectors

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  Bob Honda

The first sentence of the Wikipedia article cited is

The delivery of DNA into cells can be accomplished by multiple methods.

Since we’re talking about RNA vaccines, it seems that the reference does not support the claim that this is “gene therapy”.

Incidentally, whenever people refer to Wikipedia, I invite them to look up the history of the Baldock Beer Disaster.

Last edited 3 years ago by Richard Pinch
Bob Honda
Bob Honda
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

Sorry, you are wrong. You are confusing the VECTOR with the wider field of “gene therapy”. mRNA is just a vector to perform gene therapy, as is an adenoviral vector. There is a whole section on it in the article 😉
The article starts with the definition of Gene therapy:
“Gene therapy … is a medical field which focuses on the utilization of the therapeutic delivery of nucleic acids into a patient’s cells as a drug to treat disease”

From the wikipedia article on nucleic acids:
“The term nucleic acid is the overall name for DNA and RNA”
The Biontech mRNA aproach is specifically mentioned as a vector in a section in the article.
Here is a (random) research article discussing mRNA based gene therapy (their words, not mine 😉 ). The first sentence of the article reads:

“In gene therapy, mRNA delivery lacks the risk of random integration to host genome in contrast to DNA delivery.”

https://www.cell.com/molecular-therapy-family/molecular-therapy/fulltext/S1525-0016(16)34100-4#:~:text=491.-,Messenger%20RNA%20(mRNA)%2DBased%20Gene,for%20Introducing%20Anti%2DApoptotic%20Factor&text=In%20gene%20therapy%2C%20mRNA%20delivery,in%20contrast%20to%20DNA%20delivery.
Sorry to say, you are wrong. COVID vaccines are a form of Gene therapy. To argue otherwise is mixing up politics (you’d like to avoid calling the vaccines gene therapy) with the facts and the science (by definition, the mRNA and Adenoviral vaccines are Gene therapy).

Last edited 3 years ago by Bob Honda
Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  Bob Honda

mRNA is just a vector to perform gene therapy, as is an adenoviral vector.

Suggesting that an adenoviral vaccine is gene therapy is nonsense.

Bob Honda
Bob Honda
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

You are of course free to believe that without any supporting evidence. The established convention, given fairly clearly with links to wikipedia above, says otherwise.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  Bob Honda

You are of course free to believe that without any supporting evidence.

Ah, the moon is made of green cheese fallacy (show me a reference that says it isn’t!).

ian k
ian k
3 years ago
Reply to  Bob Honda

I think this is splitting hairs. Obviously RNA is a nucleic acid, but is not DNA therapy. Most normal people will understand gene therapy to mean manipulation of host cell DNA. The covid vaccines do not do this.

Bob Honda
Bob Honda
3 years ago
Reply to  ian k

If you believe the wikipedia article on gene therapy is wrong, by all means, submit an edit to have it corrected. Meanwhile, I will relate to the definition as it is written and illustrated in the article linked. That can hardly be called “splitting hairs”.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  Bob Honda

… and if you believe the Wikipedia article on anything is reliable, then by all means read Wikipedia’s own rules which explicitly state Wikipedia is not a reliable source.

Elaine Hunt
Elaine Hunt
3 years ago

Thank you for this response, I have learnt a great deal from it.

Robert Camplin
Robert Camplin
3 years ago

You do seem to spend a lot of time promoting vaccines Mr Chivers. It is impossible to claim the Covid vaccines and genetic treatments are safe because they were so rushed the time was not allowed to assess safety, and they are now in a trial phase being given to the public, where short and long-term effects, negative outcomes, will spread over months and years. More than one science-medical expert has said that. Perhaps you missed those research papers.
This is a virus which is no threat to the vast majority. And the group which is at risk is at risk from everything and is clearly identified, very old and very sick with 2-3 co-morbidities. The vaccines do NOT prevent infection and only MIGHT diminish symptoms, for a virus which produces no symptoms or minimal and meaningless symptoms in most of those who test positive.
These treatments are totally unnecessary for the vast majority. Did you also miss Professor Gupta’s statements saying that not everyone should be vaccinated and in essence, there is no need? Here you go:
A study produced by a team at Oxford University indicated that some parts of the United Kingdom may already have reached herd immunity from coronavirus. A significant fraction of the population, according to the study published last week, may have “innate resistance or cross-protection from exposure to seasonal coronaviruses”, making the proportion vulnerable to coronavirus infection much smaller than previously thought.
The Oxford team is led by Sunetra Gupta, a professor of theoretical epidemiology. In recent months, she has argued that the cost of lockdown will be too high for the poorest in society and questioned the language and quality of debate on the pandemic’s impact. 

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

Coming up with multiple vaccines in a year is nothing short of a miracle. One we should all be very grateful for.
this….”people who could have been vaccinated by now have not been, and some of them will probably die as a result.”
is true everywhere. It’s also true that the AZ vaccine has not been approved in the US.
This article has inaccurate information and should be edited. Specifically the comment concerning HCQ is incorrect.

Last edited 3 years ago by Annette Kralendijk
Andrew Crisp
Andrew Crisp
3 years ago

What we we have learned is that we don’t need an experimental “vaccine”.

Kevin Newman
Kevin Newman
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Crisp

I agree and therefore we won’t get one. All vaccines fall into distinct established groups each containing vaccines that you probably had as a child. The only new vaccines are the mRNA vaccines.

Tom Jennings
Tom Jennings
3 years ago

“We’re all utilitarians now, as I say.” Well I say not. The celebrity expert class and their political masters have had quite a year picking winners and losers. They will argue that they have saved lives but will ignore the despair and physical, drug and alcohol abuse provoked by their lockdowns. They will ignore the economic destruction caused by the shuttering of small businesses and the stunted educational development caused by remote “learning”. They certainly will not attempt to compare the number of human bodies saved to human spirits crushed. They can’t.

John Riordan
John Riordan
3 years ago

The fact that lockdown has become a default response to Covid19 is itself an example of the same sort of overcaution that Tom Chivers describes on vaccination.

After the initial lockdown last year where health services were trying to catch up and adapt to the threat, we should have followed the focussed protection strategy proposed by the the GBD scientists, and permitted Covid19 to spread amongst the majority of people under 55 or 60 who have never been in serious danger from the virus. This would have established herd immunity much sooner, and we would have faced a less serious winter fatality rate as a consequence.

The problem with that approach of course isn’t that it wouldn’t work, but that it would only work imperfectly, having a higher early death-toll than otherwise, and consequently it is politically dangerous: the trolley problem described above comes into play, in which any divergence from the lockdown-as-the-default-position becomes a deliberate act for which someone (ie the government) must take responsibilty. The interplay of the trolley problem and the reality of modern politics therefore creates a perverse situation in which there is no political cost to the mass-confiscation of civil rights and the toleration of an eventually higher death toll, but a huge political risk associated with trying to protect civil rights and trying to save lives but with a higher initial death toll.
The key point to note here is that the trolley problem can’t answer the question when what is deemed to be an action (as opposed to an inaction) itself can flip between the two possible states. It is arguable that the decision to lockdown is the action – or at least it WAS that at the beginning – but that now, having become the default position, the lifting lockdown is the action, and leaving it in place is the inaction that the trolley problem argument supposedly defends.

Last edited 3 years ago by John Riordan
Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
3 years ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Sadly the Great Barrington declaration was deemed dead on arrival.

Robert Malcolm
Robert Malcolm
3 years ago

Sweden lost a quarter less people per million than the UK: lockdowns kill.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Malcolm

New Zealand lost 5.29 people / million with pretty strict restrictions. The UK lost 66.83 (according to Statista). There is a lot more to this than just restrictions Y/N

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago

You do insist on comparing apples and oranges Elaine, don’t you!

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 years ago

The point I am making is that comparing intercountry death stats is a complete waste of time because of the number of confounders – comparing apples with oranges is a complete waste of time.

Tony Lee
Tony Lee
3 years ago

The assumption that lockdown has in effect been a net positive, frankly astounds me. And the various examples given, such as Sweden, to demonstrate that not locking down was no better seem to me overly simplistic. Nature created (as it has before) a deadly threat and people would die, seems to me the only certainty. From there on in we are all guessing as to how things might have worked out better, but no one knows with any certainty. Yet the unofficial ‘official’ enquiries (not yet conducted) have already concluded that we didn’t lock down soon enough. SAGE (pre Italy lockdown and then UK) had determined that a better course of action (not perfect of course, or without risk), would have been not to have had a general lockdown, but to protect the elderly and vulnerable whilst allowing the under 60’s and other less vulnerable to carry on in as normal fashion as possible. But we panicked and followed Italy and were still slow to protect our elderly and vulnerable. Surely that the average age of death from covid (84 and some months) is very near to average UK life expectancy, should also tell us something about the categories most at risk. Whatever we might have done many were going to die, but has lockdown (as initiated) saved many lives? Or might other lives, livelihoods and general wellbeing have benefitted from a different approach.

deborahjrobertson
deborahjrobertson
3 years ago

Safe? Our assistant vicar, who is also a hospital chaplain, had the AZ vaccine about 2 months ago. The night of the jab she started to feel ill. In A&E the next day, where they diagnosed Giant Cell Arteritis. This is a severe auto immune reaction causing blockages along the cranial arteries & veins. It can cause rapid, permanent blindness. Scans showed her blood flowing in the wrong direction in head. On very high dose steroids. Also came down with Covid immediately after jab. She has been through absolute hell and is still far from well. She said to me that she used to wonder what the phrase “Black Dog” meant. Now she knew. She hasn’t told anyone else. They all want to believe that the vaccine will save them. She is not “anti vax” – far from it, but is in absolutely no doubt that the AZ vaccine caused this. It also worsened her pre existing auto immune conditions. Now she has to live with the damage it has caused.

Robert Camplin
Robert Camplin
3 years ago

My understanding was that more than one medical expert had advised that those with auto-immune conditions should not be vaccinated.
I suspect what most believe is that vaccines will make it all go away. The simple truth is, this virus at worst is a bad Flu and is no threat to the vast majority and the pain and suffering has come not from the pathogen but from Government responses.
What remains truly bizarre is that it has been admitted neither the vaccines or genetic treatments will prevent infections and so in essence it changes absolutely nothing.

Elaine Hunt
Elaine Hunt
3 years ago

Every woman I know has suffered some ‘side effect’ from each of the two vaccines, ranging from ten days in bed with full symptoms ( and the hangover fatigue) to a few days of a sore and swollen arm. Very few men have any noticeable effects.

Of course this is anecdotal evidence. – but it is still evidence. None of them have ‘complained’ or reported these effects, so they go unnoticed.

Last edited 3 years ago by Elaine Hunt
Mike B
Mike B
3 years ago

Long story short, like the flu vaccine, it is unneeded. Everybody I know that gets it gets over it and by this time it is quite a few families (a mom and a dad and a couple of kids, not two moms or two dads. . . .) . It is No Big Deal.
YMMV, but this is all about the politicians and media crying wolf/the sky is falling.

magnus1
magnus1
3 years ago

Unsubscribing from unherd. If I wanted my news from vaccine salespeople, I’d watch the BBC. If you endorse the vaccine and masks, and ignore vitamin D, HCQ and ivermectin, you are complicit in murder, as far as I’m concerned.

gwenshannon1
gwenshannon1
3 years ago

Oh dear my definition of a safe vaccine are not these, I feel terrified of them. 30 +( and growing) papers showing lockdowns cost more lives. We do not live in the same universe apparently.

Last edited 3 years ago by gwenshannon1
Rickard Gardell
Rickard Gardell
3 years ago

Sweden had 7% excess deaths in 2020 and uk had 15%. How can you say that lockdown worked. This is Eurostats data. Close the border, track and trace like Norway and Finland works. in the absence of a vaccine it is only living to avoid death …….

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 years ago

“Reduced mortality in New Zealand during the COVID-19 pandemic” Lancet Jan 2 2021. So NZ are looking at reduced excess all cause mortality for 2020 compared with 2015 – 19.
“… the  reduction  in  all cause mortality became apparent in week 17, after 5 weeks of lockdown, and remained below historical levels despite  public  health  restrictions   easing, during a period that is usually marked by an increase in all-cause mortality due to seasonal influenza and  pneumonia.
Finally, potential late adverse effects on mortality, resulting from reduced access to health care, have not become apparent.”

Horses for courses. One size does not fit all. Some people got it right and some didn’t.

beccyroberts1
beccyroberts1
3 years ago

I joined Unherd because of it’s intelligently written articles – this isn’t one of them ………disappointed in you Unherd

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
3 years ago

After the first two paragraphs I didn’t want to read any more. Where is the evidence to support the claim that any of the vaccines will prevent death? I have not seen any. I have not even seen any published trial results giving any details of any vaccine. I have seen a Pfizer statement about their trial which claimed 95% efficacy, but that calculation ignored the number of people on the trial and when an absolute efficacy was calculated it was less than 1%.
This article suggest the Moderna vaccine could have been released instantly for use without any trial. How low can media standards go when this is suggested.
The media needs to force the vaccine manufacturers to conduct independent trials and to publish the results.

Andrew McJekyll