The reason CV19 was so deadly

Introduction

CV19 didn’t just kill directly although bad enough in itself, there were far more people were killed by the policy response. In a sense, both had one cause: the body (politics) response to the virus, which is to wage an all out war against the virus, but in doing so the body (country) gets trashed by “friendly fire”. But all viruses and other scares have the potential to do that, so why was CV19 so deadly?

The simple answer is that it was deadly, because it by and large wasn’t deadly. To explain, if CV19 had caused a serious infection in everyone who got it, so that 100% were seriously ill and perhaps 20% died. Then the body politic would not only have reacted swiftly but also with the right type of draconian measures. And because everyone was serioiusly ill, it would have been extremely easy to indentify who had the virus, so where it was geographically, and to quarantine those involved. Lockdown measures kill, but when the death rate is very high and the “enemy” is obvious, the deaths can be minimised to those directly at threat.

And, even if the virus had leaked out of the original quarantine area, it would VERY SOON be obvious and VERY SOON contained again. So, there is not the slightest doubt, that whilst a lot of people in the immediate area involved would have died, it would have been very quickly contained and killed off.

That did not happen with CV19 because it now turns out that for every person who has an illness serious enough to see a medic, perhaps 50 to 100 other people have had the virus with either no or  minimal symptoms. Indeed, it may be higher. Sweden is peaking along with most other countries. But early anti-body testing is only picking up around 25% of people with the virus when if it is peaking it should be closer to 50%. That may indicate, that in perhaps the majority of people, the illness is so mild, that the response cannot even be picked up by the testing. This is born out by the total fatality per head of population that is increasingly looking like coming in below 0.1% (the value oft cited for flu). This compares to original death estimates of 1-4%. That indicates that the “medical radar” was only picking up 3 – 10% of all cases.

CV19 is a totally benign virus in the overwhelming not majority, but almost everyone. That made it deadly

Background

CV19 was an ice-berg.

  1. At the “hospital” tip were:
    • ~0.07% (40000) – people who went to ICU the majority of whom died (along with some who died but never got to ICU).
    • ~0.3% (200,000) – people who went to hospital (some of whom ended in ICU/died)
  2. On the medical radar were:
    • 3% who had recognisable symptoms that would have caused them to get tested (although what they were and so what this figure varied enormously between countries)
  3. Detectable afterwards by anti-body radar it seems are:
    1. 50 – 80% who after herd immunity will test positive to anti-bodies. Whether the others have had the virus and don’t show up in the tests or for some reason were immune to it, we may never know

CV19 will be over by June

To put this in contexxt whilst the press has been filled with stories as part of their scare porn, saying we have to lock down till next year, the reality is that the latest trends show the epidemic should be almost completely over by end of June.

Why did governments (and those like me) over-react?

The main reason we over-reacted is because the visible epidemic looked incredibly bad, because the vast majority of the epidemic was invisible. This led to two main issues:

  1. the death rate in the visible epidemic looked like one of the most serious epidemics we had faced, whilst the real epidemic amongst the whole population had a similar death rate to flu
  2. despite the most stringent quarantine measures, and huge early attempts to “contact trace”, the virus just kept spreading.

In retrospect, the reason this serious virus seemed to be popping up everywhere all at once despite all the quarantine, is obviously that most people had a form that even they didn’t know they were ill, so they kept moving around and what was overwhelmingly just a benign virus kept spreading. But in about 0.3% of the population, this virus which very soon many many people had, was suddenly coming to the attention of the medics: apparently out of the blue! In this 03% the virus was extremely deadly, amongst the majority not at all.

The reason it spread so rapidly (I estimated R0 of 10 meaning each person infected 10 others), was because most people with it were not obviously ill and so neither they, nor anyone else, changed their normal behaviour. This rapid spread meant that not only did the virus seem to appear from nowhere all over the place, but the numbers were growing very quickly (about a ten fold increase per week).

What is now obvious, is that the R0 amongst those on the “medical radar” was a lot smaller than those in the general population. The result was that initial models suggested a relatively slow spreading virus as each person only spread it to 2.3 others. As peak infectivity was at 9 days, this suggested a 10 fold increase roughly each month, not week. This explains the initial very tardy policy response. Because they were told (2x per week), they thought they had months to plan, whereas they had weeks (or by the time they finally got around to reacting) days.

That is why so much of the government response was ill thought out knee jerk reactions, such as announcing on the day that all bars and clubs would shut from that day. This kind of knee jerk fire-fighting behaviour led to panic amongst the population. Because without any idea how government planned to react, the only rational response was to prepare for the worst imaginable (which given how little we were being told was very bad).

And all this: over-estimating the seriousness, the rapid spreading, the ineffectiveness of quarantine, the panic and knee jerk government reactions all stems from a single facet of the virus: the large number of asymptomatic carriers. In other words, the chaos was caused because the virus was so benign.

The role of censoring social media

Before the epidemic it was reported that despite the already massive censorship by those like Google ensuring that blogs such as this are not found without specifically searching for them, google & undoubtedly others INCREASED this censorship. So, e.g. Youtube (owned by google) removed a video by doctors explain that the epidemic was not nearly as bad as the press reported and that the lockdown was killing people. This censorship, not only increased the dominance of the media and its scare porn, but it removed the people who most likely to question the insanity of the politicians: ordinary people who blog. Google literally censored common sense. Google etc. promoted alarm and removed calmer voices and that undoubtedly directly caused the alarm which killed so many people.

Deaths caused/saved by lockdown

More people will die from the lockdown than could ever have been saved by it. But before going into how it killed, lets look at how it could save people:

Deaths saved by lockdown

These come from two reasons:

Not Crashing NHS (7200)

At the beginning, the best reasonable estimates suggested the NHS would “crash” (that was as far as public knowledge was available to me, but in retrospect I suspect in the position of SAGE it may have been obvious even before lockdown that it was not necessary). The critical point was not ordinary beds, but that there was nowhere near enough Intensive Care Beds and ventilators** The early estimates suggested that perhaps 9 out of 10 ICU patients would not be treated. If my figures above were right, that might be 36,000 patients who would not get treatment. However, that is not 36,000 deaths that could be saved. Because perhaps 80-90% of ICU patients died. In fact the worst possible scenario was that 7200 patients who could be saved by ICU would have died.

Flattening the curve (zero lives saved)

In theory the number of people who are infected by an epidemic is 1 – 1/R0. Where R0 is the number of people on average each person passes the virus onto. This is because as more and more people get infected and so immune, the chance of it being spread reduces and if it is only being passed onto a few people to start with the epidemic is supposed to end sooner leaving some people who don’t get the bug.

If R0 is 10 then the number infected is 90%. If R0 is 3 then this is 67%. If R0 is 2, this is 50%. If R0 is 1 (or less) then this is 0%. So, it sounds as if you can reduce the number of fatalities by reducing R0, so reducing the average social contact.

But that is rubbish. In a real society there is not a single R0, instead we live in social groups of various sizes with various degrees of “connectivity”. Within social groups the R0 value is very high, so that for example if one family member gets a bug, the chances of the other family members not being exposed is very low. Likewise a school, or a church group. But whilst a village may seem a lot less well connected, because it is comprised of many smaller bridging social groups (friends, churches, clubs, sports, workplaces), whilst there may be only a few people conneting each group, the number of different connections within a place like a village, means that even if one connection is broken, there are so many other ways that people can pass the bug around, that sooner or later most will get it.

Let us take a simpel example like a supermarket. 90%+ of those with CV19 have no symptoms so will go to the supermarket with the bug. Which is near enough everyone. As we saw on the cruise ships, the bug gets blown around the air conditioning, the bug travels at least 4.5m in still air and lingers for at least 30minutes. With most people having no idea they have the virus, and with 100s visiting the supermarket, because there are so many people, so so many ways, the chance of not being exposed at some point is incredibly small.

But can we hide from it? The only way to not get the bug, is to behave in an extreme way, avoiding all visits outside the house & all visitors into the house and sterilising all food, post, etc. coming into the house … and living well away from anyone else. In those circumstances there is a good chance, with extreme measures, that you will not get the bug.

So, let us suppose that you have for 3 months sat in your bunker trying to stop the virus, then, as eventually happens, you come out. Because a lot of other people will be thinking the same way (even if we all think we thought of it ourselves), lots of other people are also coming out of their bunkers at the same time the virus then has a fresh population to infect. And people who think the same way – tend to be similar in other ways – and so tend to have the same interestes, so go to the same shops, work in similar places, or attend the same clubs (if old) or visit the same attractions. So all these people coming out the bunkers will more than likely meet each other.

The problem is that no matter how long you sit in the bunker, you cannot come out until the virus disappears. So, how long does it take for the virus to disappear? Let us suppose we did manage to drop R0 down to 0.5 meaning only one in two people infect just one other. If we start with 16 million cases if each cycle takes a week, then it will take 24 weeks or six months for the virus to completely disappear. But that is in a homogenous society. But if you are sitting in your bunker whislt the rest of society is getting on with life, then society clearly is not homogenous. And as soon as one group starts coming out the R0 in that group increases, the virus takes off again. And if there are a lot of different people isolating this way, then we get a succession of resurgence of the virus, so in order to be absolutely safe, you don’t just have to hide in your bunker fo r six months, but perhaps a whole year. Which, given the risk from the virus for most people is the same as living for one year, makes it about the most stupid thing anyone can contemplate.

The point is, the final infection of the virus, is not determined by the R0 at the peak of the epidemic, but instead by the R0 figure during the decline and particularly toward the very tail end when enthusiasm for things like social distancing disappear because there is apparently no risk to most people.

Turning flattening on its head

So, the way to reduce deaths, is not by flattening the curve but by three types of measures:

Protecting the vulnerable

The dynamics of an epidemic is that a certain perentage will get infected. But that means a certain perentage will not get infected. However, it is possible to manipulate the epidemic so that certain groups will be part of that “not infected group”, and if those people are the ones most likely to die, that dramatically reduces the total deaths. That is relatively easy if the vulnerable people are part of general society, because by removing them from general society until the virus has “blown over”, they can be protected. But unfotunately, it isn’t as simple as that. Because if the virus dies out at 70% infection, if 10% are protected, then the number infected is not 70% but 70% of 90% or 63%. So, as soon as the vulnerable come back, the virus may come back.

Unfortunately, the more that is done to suppress R0 during the infection, the lower the number of the low-risk population that have been infected, so the more likely it is that the virus will sweep through the high-risk when they rejoin society. Instead, we really need the opposite behaviour: during the (tail end) of the epidemic, we want the low-risk groups to socialise as much as they possibly can to ensure they have the highest level of infection possible. Then (when virus again very low) when the high risk goups rejoin society, we want to suppress R0 by INCREASING SOCIAL DISTANCING.

To put it simply: social distancing during the epidemic KILLS! Because it reduces the infection amongst the low-risk groups,  meaning that when the high risk (who protecting reduces the deaths most) rejoin society they will get infected (if any virus still remains)

So to minimise deaths, we want the low-risk to SOCIALISE during the infection, and then when the high-risk which have bene protected, rejoin we want to increase social distancing.

Increasing infection to use the virus’ own flattening against it

So, far from flattening the curve, helping to save lives, it is actually a killer!! Instead we want to use the virus’ own “flattening” of the curve. In that as it makes its way through the population, it tends to flatten the curve and each person infects fewer and fewer people. So, the surest way to reduce infectivity is to INCREASE the number of people infected. On its own this does not help, but if combined with measures to reduce the contact between the general populaton and those at risk, then it can massively reduce the deaths.

Save lives by “Unflattening” the curve

Another problem with flattening the curve, is that it makes the duration of the epidemic much longer. And that is a huge problem, because it is far easier to implement the draconian measures needed to protect the most vulnerable, for a short time and when the epidemic is at its fiercest. Because when the epidemic is at its height it it becomes obvious that the protection is needed. The height of the epidemic is not a problem for convincing people about the need for protection, the problem is in the time when people are being infected and there is no obvious illness, and at the end where it my appear protection can be relaxed. These are when people such as nurses caring after the vulnerable are likely to ignore measure to protect the vulnerable. So a short epidemic with a lot of deaths in a short time is much preferrable to the same number of deaths over a very long drawn out epidemic.

The other problem is that even with the best will people cannot sustain the strictest measures needed over an extensive period. So, the longer the epidemic tkes to pass over, the harder it is to keep the necessary measures in place and the higher the risk to the most vulnerable.

What is needed is to try to make the virus disappear as quickly as possible, because the major differences that can be made, are not at the beginning, but at the end. So the most people who are infected, the higher the R0 in the general population at least risk, the faster the virus gets killed off and the less the risk to the most vulnerable groups which contribute overwhelmingly dispropriately to the number of deaths.

Long term measures

The second way to significantly save lives is to reduce R0, not as a measure during the epidemic, but as measures that WILL be continued as part of normal care.  But these need to be thought through carefully. Because regular contact with virus, keeps our immune systems healthy, and we certainly do not want to harm the immune systems of ordinary health individuals.

So, the long term measures need to be focussed only on those who are at high risk of common viruses like flu & pneumonia and they need to be done at a level which doesn’t in other ways adversely affect the quality of life. So, e.g. banning visitors can be totally ruled out. But handwashing, restricting access to those with obvious symptoms and reducing visitors and/or wearing face masks during an epidemic may be sensible measures to implement as permanent features to the care system.

Importantly, because these will be permanent measures, they will be continued right through the tail of the epidemic when social distancing measures have most impact. So, small but effective measures  in the tail can have a significant effect, but high profile “PR” measures during the peak are all but useless and can even increase the death rate.

Deaths caused/saved by lockdown

Wrong focus

The first problem with the lockdown, is that it was entirely the wrong focus. The main people who could socially distance from sitting in their homes, were younger, milder classes with salaried office jobs, with large homes and gardens. They could order items from the internet and almost completely isolate themselves. The vast majority of these were under 50 and the death rate was perhaps 1 in 10,000.

In contrst, the vulnerable who needed daily or weekly help, could not socially isolate, many either could not or did not have the internet, and even if they could, the young had taken all the dilivery slots. So these people either had to go shopping themselves and be exposed to the virus, or they had to ask relatives to do it (who could also pass on the virus) And those in care homes were totally at the mercy of what the care home provider did. And as many seem to have had no PPE, it is doubtful that they increased their “social distance” much at all.

The result, was rather than the virus hitting the young and fit where it would have hardly been noticed, the virus instead was focussed more on the old and vulnerable where it spread like wildfire putting a scythe through this population.

Creating Panic

Churchill was famous for his speech stirring up national resolve to have the courage to fight the Nazis in WWII. Boris Johnson may as well have said:

We shall hide from it on the beaches
We shall hide from it in our towns
We shall hide from it in our homes
We shall always surrender our liberty & economy
(And still get it in the end)

The government’s lack of any clear plan, so no one knew what was going to happen, their knee jerk response such as closing bars and the endless frightening adverts and 24/7 “scare porn” from the media, undoubtedly created the greatest panic ever seen in peace time Britain since … the plague?

The reality is that CV19 is probably less deadly than flu. But the government throught the lockdown and the cessation of normal life, made it appear like the end of the world. In itself the panic did not cause deaths but it led to other behaviours that caused large numbers of deaths:

Unintended consequences: the epidemic of non-CV19 medical deaths

Because of the fear, people behaved in a way that they would not if they had had confidence. The result that many people stopped going to hospital, either because they didn’t want to go where they thought (often correctly) that there would be CV19, but also because medical staff were scared to deal with patients.

Deaths from non-CV19 causes are spiking

The result of the combination of panic, and shutting hospitals, not just for the spike, but over a much longer “flattening the curve” was to dramatically reduce the numbers seeing doctors for important issues such as Cancer detection and treatment and other life threatening diseases like heart conditions. I have already seen suggestions of 18,000 extra deaths from this cause, which is far higher than the maximum lives that could have been saved.

Denial of treatment

Hidden in this epidemic is undoubtedly one of the most disgraceful episodes of UK medical history. There are already reports starting to come out of patients simply being left to die. And the reason is clear: carers scared witless by the government and press barrage of fear, felt their own lives were at risk if they continued to treat anyone known to have CV19. Even the most angel like carers surely hesitated in such conditions, but not all “carers” are angels.

The most obvious facet of this was the huge number of people who were pressured to sign “Do Not Resuscitate” notices. For many these may well have been read as “no need to treat”.

Falsely attributing death to CV19

Because medical staff were convinced by the scare tactics of government and media, that CV19 was far more deadly than it was, many people who had a benign form that most people had, but who died WITH but not FROM the disease had their death falsely attibuted to CV19.

Mental health deaths

Huge numbers of people have mental health issues. Locking them up all day without a job and bombarding them with scare-porn, is not going to make them better. There will be a huge toll from mental health patients of whom many will die.

Murders

There has also been a small increase in murders directly attributable to the lockdown.

Economic Deaths

After Labour left the UK with £1trillion debt, we had to endure a period of austerity. It is said that killed 120,000 people. The Tories have now lumbered us with £0.3trillion extra debt without paying off the first debt. So now we have two lots of debt to repay and the public services were cut to the bone by the first.

A simple estimate is that 0.3 x 120,000 or 36,000 people will die just from the economic costs and necessary reduction in public services.

Contact Tracing, testing, vaccines and other excuses to extend the lockdown

There are always people who see things like this lockdown as a way to either increase their own wealth or power. This is very clear from the way that a lot of publicity was created about “testing” and “vaccines”. The simple fact is that the trends show this epidemic will be over by the end of June so almost all of these measures are a waste of time. And it’s human nature that as the number of deaths come down, that people will just return to normal life, the epidemic will end naturally long before any of these could have an effect.

Vaccines:
Won’t be ready in time – might be useful for a very few people such as the very few old and vulnerable who did not catch it

Testing
Testing doesn’t save any lives unless it is part of another policy.

  • Testing can be a very effective way to stop a virus infecting a population, when the number of people with the virus is much smaller than a population at high risk. But it is entirely pointless when the majority of people have had the virus and the population are low risk. So there is no point introducing widespread testing
  • In particular testing can be very beneficial in identifying individuals who are caring for others who may infect them. So, testing in care homes or hospitals is a good idea NOT TO PROTECT THE STAFF but to protect the patients. Likewise protective gear is of very little benefit to staff (except in areas with high virus loading) instead the purpose of the protective gear should be to protect the patients and not the staff.
  • Testing is also useful in diagnosis of patients

Testing of the general population is pointless, except in that if the government have scared everyone witless and people are dying from the lockdown as they are, if testing gives people the confidence to come out from their bunkers and face a risk no greater than living for a year, then that may be worth it.

However, testing can be used to reduce the R0 of the epidemic. Trying to do that in the entire population of low risk people is only a policy that an oil rich country run by a moron would attempt, but targetted testing to protect the high risk groups may be effective. So e.g. testing for people in contact with the elderly or vulnerable could significantly reduce deaths. So, in small communities of high risk people or (family groups), regular testing can be used as a strategy to in effect make them appear to the virus as “already immune”.

Contact Tracing

As was seen at the beginning of this epidemic contact tracing was completely useless at stopping the infection spreading. That was because so many people with the virus did not have any symptoms, so finding those with the virus was literally like looking for an invisible pin in a haystack.

For each person that appear with the virus, there will be up to 100 others with it. In order to find that 100, perhaps 1000 – 10,000 people need testing. By the time that testing has been completed there will likely be something like another 99 people with the virus and no visible symptoms. It only takes one infectious person to travel by train, bus, go down a busy streat and it will be literally impossible to find everyone they infected. The only time that contact tracing has any chane of “success” is when so much of the population have already been infected and there are so few cases, that it is going to die out naturally very soon anyway. All contact tracing can do, is “dampen down the fire”, which without getting rid of the fuel of uninfected people, just means it will keep coming back until all the fuel is used.  I have no idea why anyone is proposing it – except that someone sees it as a money spinner or empire building exercise (or political PR)

Cost per life saved

in reality the lockdown killed people rather than saving them. However let’s suppose that all 40,000 who died could be “saved”. The total cost is said to be about £300,000,000,000 so the best possible cost per life “saved” is £7.5million per life. As half the 40,000 deaths have already occured, the best possible is £15million per life. Even an optimistic forecast of “curve flattening” is above £30million/life.

The cost of the lockdown is said to be ~2.4billion/day. So, the first 1-2 weeks (by which time we saw NHS was not crashing) cost us 17-34billion or 2-4 million per life (that was really) saved. A cheaper option whereby under 50s continued to work would have reduced the cost by 75% much marginally increased lives (20%).  So about £600 to £1.2million per life actually saved.


**Ventilators – during the epidemic, medics have changed their view on the utility of ventilators. It is now questionable whether they had much utility, but before the epidemic, the best evidence suggested they were necessary.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.