“As we have learned now, over and over again, this flu is a flu.”
— Dr. Knut Wittkowski, internationally recognized expert in epidemiology, writing April 16, commenting on the coronavirus pandemic
“Our data suggests that COVID-19 has an infection fatality rate that is in the same ballpark as seasonal influenza.” — Dr. John Ioannidis of Stanford, April 17
The Ioannidis finding is from a study conducted in early April in California and has grabbed attention, but in fact merely corroborates the findings of every other serious study that has been conducted in Europe. The fatality rate for those exposed to the virus is now known to be between 0.02% and 0.2%, which is within the “0.1%” estimated fatality rate for “regular flu” and in final analysis could well be below the 0.1% threshold. This is also in line with the best-guesses of experts as of March, and in fact even the upper-bound here (0.1% or 0.2%) hugs the bottom end of the mid-March best-guesses.
It really was Just The Flu after all, maybe slightly worse than the usual strain but not alarmingly so. It is not now, and never was, a mass-killer apocalypse virus. It was never a reason for nuclear-war-like measures, the weeks-long mass shutdowns. And I believe we can now demonstrate that the response, quantitatively measured, is at the least hundreds of times more damaging than the virus threat itself, and perhaps even thousands of times worse by some measures, a policy disaster. This is what the data says.
This is also not an ‘academic’ question. In immediate terms, it means the shutdowns should end immediately, a full re-opening should begin immediately, and soul-searching should be done. Those responsible for this should be identified.
The surprising vindication of Just The Flu.
In this post I am going to present a summary of various lines of evidence that have now vindicated “Just the Flu,” that the novel coronavirus (once called Wuhan coronavirus; the virus that causes a flu-like respiratory disease now named COVID19) is a more-or-less unremarkable flu virus similar to strains that have caused flu-death spikes several times even just in the 2010s.
I recognize “Just the Flu” is a bold claim. The phrase “Just the Flu” or variants were used by the pro-CoronaPanic side to mock the anti-CoronaPanic side between mid-March and mid-April; that is to say “Just the Flu” was almost always used ironically in that period. But it has no come full circle. I would not make this claim if I did not believe the data now supports it.
I have wanted to post a comprehensive assessment of the evidence such as what follows in this post, since late March. I realized the ongoing Corona Big Mistake (shutdowns, panic) by mid-March and independently argued against it. I hoped the dark-cloud of CoronaMadness would pass swiftly, that the nightmare would somehow break by April 1. That did not happen. It is unlikely to even lift by May 1, nor will it likely entirely disappear for the rest of the year and even beyond.
While other sources may do a better or more comprehensive job, this is my attempt to fight CoronaMadness. The data was still partial at that time, as good data always lags reality. But as of this writing, it is now conclusive.
I wrote in the previous post of the supreme importance of actually getting at the Truth (or, “Honor the Truth, Be Steadfast, Defend the Nation — Say ‘No’…to CoronaHysteria“) and here it is, the Truth, as best we now understand it.
(In doing this, I also recognize that many of the most hardened Coronavirus-pushers cannot be reached. Not, at least, until the cult around the virus and the ‘response’ collapses of its own dead-weight of lies, errors, and internal contradictions.)
Where we stood, March vs. April.
In short, the evidence for whether the new coronavirus has been uniquely dangerous and Shutdowns/’Lockdowns’ are potentially justified has always leaned towards ‘No’ (the anti-CoronaPanic side’s position). To use a boxing metaphor, as March proceeded the situation moved from ambiguity steadily towards a decision-on-points-based ‘win’ for the anti-CoronaPanic side. By early- and especially mid-April, we are now very close to a a knockout win for the anti-CoronaPanic side, in the realm of the Data, if we are not there already. If we are not 100% there by this writing (April 18), I am now confident that the (data) “knockout” will be obvious, to all who pay attention, before May 1.
(Whether the knockout win for the anti-CoronaPanic side will be acknowledged is another thing entirely. Why the good news seldom seems to get out, why the CoronaNarrative is subject to a form of tight control is a subject to be returned to later or by others.)
The biggest surprise between this writing (April 18) and the situation as of one month ago is that the best-guesses of the anti-CoronaPanic side of ca. March 18 were generally too high, by up to an order of magnitude. The final fatality rate, fairly measured, now looks likelier somewhere about 0.05%; the loss to society in aggregate expected life-years (point 3 below) is far more minuscule than even the hardliners on the anti-CoronaPanic side would have believed in early March, into mid-March. This may be the best evidence of all for the anti-CoronaPanic side has already scored a “knockout win.”
The pro-CoronaPanic side has waved around high fatality rates based on bad data, and, in any case, has never made its moves based on evidence. CoronaPanic is based on fear, various forms of anecdote-based and bad-data-based fearmongering, self-reinforcing narrative building, on a form of hysteria, and I would be so bold as to say it ultimately constitutes a defacto religious-cult around the virus and the ‘response.’ (The reason I am also willing to make that last, provocative and polemical claim is that the pro-CoronaPanic side puts Belief over Evidence, and has apocalyptic tendencies and other ‘classic’ signs of religious-cult thinking. I hope to publish more on this idea soon.)
Very few have distinguished themselves by a calm, reasonable, rational approach.
The standout, in the West, is Sweden. There was no general shutdown order there. Society remains open. What was their rationale given the international, pro-Panic drumbeat?
“We, the Swedish government, decided early in January that the measures we should take against the pandemic should be evidence-based. When you start looking around for the measures being taken now by different countries, you find that very few of them have any shred of evidence basis…”
— Dr. Johan Giesecke, world-renowned epidemiologist, adviser to the Swedish government, and the man who hired Anders Tegnell to direct the Swedish coronavirus pandemic strategy, speaking April 17
I will return to Sweden in the last point, point 10, of this post.
Where does the evidence stand as of mid-April?
Because of significant and ongoing muddying of the waters, in which the media and other pro-CoronaPanic forces fixate on “deaths over confirmed cases,” a meaningless calculation given that we do not know the true denominator (total coronavirus-positives,which all studies have found is much higher, often 50x higher, than the media-reported figures of “confirmed positives”), there will be a focus int his analysis on total deaths. Have they gone up? When? Where? Why? By how much?
The points made are as follows (clickable to subsections of this post): Introductory: A word on “Scary-looking Big Contextless Numbers;” (1) Total deaths in 2020 are not unusually high; excess deaths in March/April are in line with previous peak-flu periods; (2) A close look at single-country data, Switzerland and others, shows the surprising fact that deaths were well below average for the year before the current flu pandemic; recent deaths have been correction back up to normal year-to-date mortality; (3) In terms of aggregate-lost-life-years, the impact of the pandemic is truly minuscule; surprisingly, the effects of the shutdowns measured in the same terms are worse by factor of hundreds of times at least; (4) Coronaviruses are normal; (5) Flu activity fluctuates year to year, also normal; (6) This pandemic, at least its effect on mortality, is almost laughably minor in long-view historical terms; (7) “Believe data, not anecdotes;” (8) In some places, many/most excess deaths are directly attributable to the Panic and not to the virus; (9) The epidemic peaked before the Shutdowns, and has been in decline for weeks; in other words, “it’s over;” (10) “No-Shutdown Sweden” as the standout Hero of The West in the crisis; Sweden’s imminent vindication considered.
The Deceptive Numbers behind the Corona Panic
Before moving into the evidence, a brief look at the pro-Panic side’s main arguments:
The tactics the pro-CoronaPanic side uses to justify their panic or other sundry motivations, fall in one of two categories: (a.) A move I call “Scary-looking Big Contextless Numbers,” and (b.) Various forms of “cherry-picking” data, only dealing with the worst-hit places. This is highly frowned upon in data analysis for a reason, because it is a kind of fraud.
In the first case, we must recognize that Scary Big Numbers do work, do intimidate enough people who normally don’t think about these things into submission to the Panic, or to the authority of those out to manipulate them. They can be defeated by the two CoronaPanic achilles-heels: Context and Critical Analysis.
Does the number of deaths for the year so far tower over the number of deaths in previous years? What about during previous peak flu events? Who are the people dying? How many of the coronavirus-positive deaths are those who were already deathbed-patients? We can check much of this, sometimes at least by proxy. Numbers only mean something in context.
As for geographic cherry-picking, the very worst of the worst spots may have their own local circumstances that need consideration. Don’t picka single town. Pick a broad area. Pick a mid-line country and analyze what’s going on there, not one of the best-off or worst-hit places. These will be the first two points here, (1) and (2): The overall numbers and a close-in look at a representative, mid-line country’s mortality for the year.
Other points of importance follow in (3) to (10) below, with (3) especially important, a cost-benefit analysis on the “virus threat” vs. the “response threat.” It appears that few made these calculations in the West.
(1) A look at aggregate total-mortality data.
Aren’t an unusually large number of people dying? The answer to that is, in fact, No. Total deaths in Europe in 2020 are at normal levels even more than a month into the epidemic there.The recent deaths are in line with those associated with a bad flu-strain, not an unusually dangerous virus of the kind you see in horror movies. Similar spikes are observed every few years:
The current flu epidemic will also tend to put downward pressure on total deaths in the coming months, as you can observe happened after each previous spike (numbers fall below baseline after an epidemic ends). This is what led Dr. Klaus Püschel, the head of forensic medicine at Hamburg University, to say:
“I am convinced that the Corona mortality rate will not even show up as a peak in annual mortality” (from an interview with a Hamburg newspaper in early April)
As of Week 15 (through April 12), we see that total deaths continue to decline and are following the total mortality profile of the 2016-17 flu epidemic, after the mildest flu season in four years with almost no excess deaths (the area in which observed-deaths exceed the top line, which is the upper-bound for normal deaths):
This graph alone, reflecting deaths over a month into the pandemic in Europe, is enough to disprove the Panic-pushers. All the calculations that have fatality rate at the range of about 0.02% to 0.1%, in line with a typical flu epidemic strain, are corroborate by the observed deaths being in line with 2010s-era flu epidemics.
(2) Specific Places. A close look at several countries’ total death data for the year shows that [a.] 2019-20 had been one of the most mild flu seasons in years, with [b.] an observed deficit in expected deaths in the thousands in many places before the current flu epidemic, and [c.] coronavirus-attributed deaths corrected that number back to the long-run expected-deaths line, [d.] year-to-date deaths are not excessive or alarming.
Here is a snapshot of total deaths since Jan. 2016 for several European countries, from the European Monitoring of Excess Mortality for Public Health Action, which compiles official death data from national health authorities:
We see that in some countries, the coronavirus has hardly caused any movement in deaths through March. In others (here, Belgium, France), its epidemic profile basically matches previously peak-flu-activity spikes.
That this is a normal flu epidemic, and in many ways unremarkable (if somewhat notable to public health experts, specialists and researchers) is seen in all the data we have even at the level of single-country analysis.
What about the close-in analysis of a single country’s all-deaths data? We do now have comprehensive, full, final year-to-date mortality data for Switzerland through April 5, 2020. Switzerland is about a mid-line country in Europe for magntiude of the epidemic, according to the EuroMOMO data. The data through April 5 is months into the epidemic cycle there. It’s unclear when the virus started circulating in Switzerland, which could well be weeks before the first reports, but several coronavirus-positive deaths began to be reported by mid-March, suggesting the virus was beginning to circulate widely (as all flu viruses do) at least by mid-February.
What does the total mortality data say for Switzerland? The entire dataset is below. It turns out to be yet another full-vindication of the anti-CoronaPanic side. Switzerland had just about exactly the expected number of deaths for the year by April 5, not close to high-normal mortality, and nowhere close to entering territory of alarmingly high mortality at all. This despite thousands of coronavirus-attributed deaths and all the media hype.
How can this be? Thousands of deaths, but no rise in total mortality? “It must be some kind of trick by the Nutty Flu Hoaxers,” the believers might say. It’s not so hard to understand, though, as it’s partly explained by two things: (1) The “deaths with the virus vs. deaths from the virus” problem, and (2) The notably mild winter and the lack of any high flu activity this the winter, i.e., flu-virus strains were unusually weak this year. The numbers are conveniently summarized in this table, via Swiss Propaganda Research’s excellent “A Swiss Doctor on COVID19” series, to which I’ve attached English labels at the bottom:
Up to two months into the coronavirus epidemic-cycle in Switzerland, total deaths for the age 65+ group were at 17,398 for the year, which is +28 above the baseline (17,370). In a year with high flu or other kind of mortality activity, deaths might reasonably be expected to ‘hug’ the upper-bound line (18,637). Switzerland hadn’t approached that by April 5. For under-65s, year-to-date deaths were at 2,387, only slightly above the baseline (2,364) and well below the upper-bound (2,833).
Recall that the Novel Coronavirus, formerly called the Wuhan Coronavirus, later confusingly given the dangerous sounding name COVID19, was marketed by alarmists, Doomers, and the media as a Mass-Killer Apocalypse Virus so dangerous that it demanded the most extreme measures be taken totally unprecedented. Many experts, who were ignored, were known to openly dissent, saying throughout March that this coronavirus being nothing more than a bad flu strain was the most likely scenario. Some said they had seen these kinds of epidemics many times (every year, in fact, to some degree).
So what was this? Mass Hysteria? The Hoax of the Twenty-First Century? The Corona Coup D’Etat of 2020? Or is that jumping the gun? “That’s just Switzerland,” “And what about the days after April 5,” some will say. “Maybe even in Switzerland deaths will rise alarmingly and prove that coronavirus was a mass-killer terror virus after all.” Never mind that flu epidemics don’t work like this (See Dr. Knut Wittkowski’s April 1-2 interview). It is worthwhile to wonder what the extension of the same dataset for the rest of April would show.
Here is what we know, to tentatively make best-guesses at what Week 15 and Week 16 will show for the same dataset. From April 6 to April 17, there were reported to be another 585 corona-positive deaths in Switzerland. At the same time, the epidemic there is in clear decline (there as elsewhere) and new deaths are also now declining. This tends to happen anyway with the onset of spring and the build-up of Herd Immunity to any particular flu strain, so there won’t be any surge in new deaths on the down-slope.
Where will the next few weeks of Swiss data fit along the lower-bound, baseline, and upper-bound lines? This preliminary data of 585 new reported coronavirus-positive deaths for April 5 to April 17 (at least some of which are subject to the deaths-with-vs.-deaths-from problem, which we can sidestep to a great extent by comparing “total deaths, all causes” data) says the final counts for Week 15 and Week 16 (ending April 19) will still fall short of the year-to-date upper-bound line for statistically expected deaths. The number of corona-positive dead is just not there. Total Deaths will fall short of the upper-bound by hundreds, plausibly even by a thousand. Or, if total deaths do reach the upper-bound line, whatever has caused it cannot be attributed to the virus because there aren’t enough coronavirus-positive deaths to account for such a rise. There may be Panic-attributable deaths of people too scared to seek ‘regular’ medical care die in excess numbers, and they may even exceed coronavirus-attributable deaths (this appears to have happened on New York City).
By the time the smoke clears and we have full data through the end of June and can see Switzerland’s observed deaths in the first half of 2020, that number is more likely to be be closer to the Baseline than to the Upper-Bound.
The epidemic in Switzerland, as in many other places, is unremarkable and bears strong similarities to previous flu epidemics, the same kind observed several times in the 2010s alone. The total fatality rate here is on the order of 0.1%, and very plausibly roundable to 0.0% (<0.05%).
And that is a close look at the Swiss numbers. “Maybe Switzerland has it good,” the pro-CoronaPanic holdouts cry. It turns out the same dynamics discussed here hold true in a lot of other countries. The UK and Italy have both seen a flu-like spike in March and April, but both had very mild 2019-20 flu seasons before this.
Here is the UK’s official total-deaths graph:
The important thing to notice here is how the number of deaths was consistently below the “all deaths, 5-year-average” line every week of 2020 from Week 3 to Week 11.
In the UK’s case, there actually hadn’t been a flu-related spike in deaths since Dec. 2017, a long run of good luck in these things. Not only no spike, but the UK, like Switzerland, was running below average for 2020 by thousands. Coronavirus-attributed excess deaths in the UK made up for lost ground and brought the UK back to a year-to-date average by about the second week April, as the epidemic there continued to run its course
(3) Thinking in terms of aggregate lost-life-years and life-year equivalents reveals how truly minuscule impact of coronavirus on society is even in the realistic worst-case scenarios, and the disastrous effects of the shutdowns. The hit from the shutdowns easily swamps the hit from the virus, in fact by hundreds of times, as is now easy to demonstrate.
With a too-intense focus on overall numbers (body counts, which the pro-CoronaPanic media loves), one might miss or overlook a very important point, which is that the epidemic is very decidedly not hitting the young and healthy at all. It is taking a portion of the very weakest among who were already at high risk of dying. The deaths can be called the Grim Reaper’s “low-hanging fruit.”
In no country or locality on Earth are otherwise-healthy, prime-age people dying in any numbers enough to register. This is a typical flu with a typical victim-profile, as all the data shows.
Given that we know that the typical death is someone in his/her 80s with serious health problems, and that a large shares are nursing home patients and deathbed patients dying of other diseases, and that very few (statistically speaking, basically no one) with decades of expected-remaining-life-years remaining are dying.
(Herein is a key to the success of the whole CoronaMania, incidentally. It is what I’ve called above “Big Scary-Looking Contextless Numbers.” Most people can be forgiven for not taking every factor into account, such as previous flu activity and cumulative year-to-date total deaths (see (1) and (2) above), or, in a word, Context. Instead, they were bombarded with alarmistly wild extrapolations and ‘quack’ predictions that have all been wrong, that were always problematic to begin with. Then the media begins to recklessly “wave bodies at them,” and flash big numbers on screens, and ‘drumbeating.’ The few who shouted “Context!” were quickly silenced as the Panic took over.
At some point, there are x number of people who are ready to cross over onto the other side, their souls set free of their earthly bodies. There is no reason to fear this or panic over it in general terms. Point (3) above makes it clear that because of an otherwise mild season, there was more “low-hanging fruit” than usual as of March 2020, now dragging into April.
A possible calculation to make that is useful would be: “Aggregate lost expected-life-years of coronavirus-positive deaths,” paired a twin calculation of “Sum-Aggregate of all living persons’ statistically expected remaining life-years.” Compare the two. What proportion of society’s sum-aggregate-expected-life-years is the coronavirus epidemic going to take?
If you do this calculation (as I have; I will spare the calculations but can present them if desired), you find the answer is something so low as to actually be stunning, given the media’s drumbeat and the impression of a serious crisis. By my calculation, the coronavirus epidemic’s impact is well below <0.01% of aggregate expected-life-years, something like two, maybe three days of an average person’s lifespan.
In real-world personal terms, this means that if the coronavirus crisis has already cost you as much as a net of three days of lost time, you are already on the losing side.
The insane response leading to unnecessary mass unemployment, and other disruption, will cause lost time for all (and already far exceeding the three-days as calculated above), but will also cause an inevitable rise in prime-age suicides, other early deaths of despair, and worse healthcare outcomes for years as people become too poor or insecure to afford medical care.
This all means the Corona Response will ‘cost’ many hundreds more life-days or life-day-equivalents to be lost than are saved. For many it will ‘cost’ thousands, even tens of thousands of lost life-days (a suicide for a person with fifty expected-life-years left would be more than 18,000 lost expected-life-days.
In the case of coronavirus-response-induced job loss, loss of hope, and suicide by a young adult, the young person who takes his life would be among the biggest net-losers of all. Recalling that the aggregate-life-days-saved calculation could be 2-3 days, and in order to get those ‘days’ the response means others lose life-days (earlier deaths) or life-day-equivalents (e.g., to unemployment), a suicide case means a loss of 10,000, even 20,000 expected-life-days, an outcome literally thousands of times worse than the coronavirus threat for the suicide victim’s case.
And none of us come off well. On aggregate, through playing around with these kinds of calculations, the inescapable conclusion is now that the “Corona Response” is some hundreds of times worse than the “Corona Virus” for society. We have all already long passed the point of the cure being worse than the disease, and the question now is, “how many hundreds of times worse will it be,” when all is said and done.
(And yet there are net-winners. Thy include assorted misanthropes and fantasists living out an armchair doomsday live-action-role-play. Many of the fair-weather opportunists of March are already long past the “net loss” point in their own lives, and their early endorsement of the Panic has backfired, even if they don’t necessarily recognize it yet, or ever, in these terms. More significantly, the biggest winners look to be the forces behind the Corona Coup d’Etat. A topic for another time.)
Incredibly, we have now learned that governments that pulled the devastating ‘Lockdown’ trigger at various times in March did not even bother making these kinds of estimates:
“On Friday, 10 April 2020, at the Coronavirus Daily Update press briefing, Matt Hancock, the [UK] Health Secretary, made a startling admission. He was asked how many people would die due to the economic harm resulting from the government’s response to the coronavirus. Hancock admitted that the government did not know, or even have a ball park figure.
However, he was quick to reassure us that ‘as an economist’ he took this very seriously, and he and the Chancellor of the Exchequer would (future tense) be looking into this.
In other words, the government decided on a policy that could potentially cause hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths without weighing those lost life years against the potentially saved life years of the adopted policy. This is the very definition of irrational policy-making.” (— Steve Hayes, April 14, Off-Guardian).
(4) Coronaviruses are normal. Coronaviruses themselves are nothing to be especially afraid of, and are part of the regular circulation of flu viruses. This has been found by a number of comprehensive ‘flu’ studies that have tried to find what viruses are causing flu illnesses in a population at a given time. This is not usually the subject of great interest except to specialists, but is of relevance now.
The virus mix is shown by this, originally from Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg (website) (who is, as far as I’m concerned, one of the world’s heroes in this affair):
Coronaviruses, and there are hundreds of them known to exist which have been identified, represent a constant 8-15% of flu illnesses.
The two-in-one image (pie chart an bar graph) above brings up another point worth highlighting:
(5) Flu activity fluctuates year to year. It always has, and always will as long as viruses exist, in that they are always mutating. Therefore a “new” coronavirus should never have been subject to the kind of fear-campaign that was created.
This is to say that a peak flu event, such as the one ongoing, even from a “new” coronavirus (there are always new mutations in viruses), is nothing to particularly worry about beyond some basic and sensible measures of the sort you hear every year, cranked up modestly for a peak flu event. That would have been, more or less, the appropriate response, it turns out, as the data now tells us. As we see in (1) above, all indications are this will be a total-mortality spike on the order of the other recent peak-flu-events. As to whether the ‘hit’ was blunted by the ‘lockdown’ orders, see point (9) below (the answer appears to be ‘No,’ the epidemics locally were already on the decline before the lockdowns; the ‘hit’ we observed is just about all it had in it).
Another look at the graph used above, which in part traces flu-deaths per capita in the US from the 1930s to the 2000s:
We see that flu strains have fluctuated in the past ninety years, sometimes being moderately worse than others, and, in the past, much worse than the present (never, in the period shown here, needless to say, triggering economy-killing and livelihood-destroying ‘lockdowns’).
The evidence we now have, from all over the world, is that the current flu epidemic in the US could — if using the same methodology in 2020 as used previously — put 2020 flu deaths at a rate equaling some of the minor bumps of the 1970s, at worst. Yes, that’s at worst. As worst-case scenarios rarely come true, the more likely final count will be all-but-indistinguishable from the usual noise of the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s. I think the numbers now point to a peak-flu-event in line with 1981-82 (shown in the small bump in the graph after ‘1980’), perhaps needing to adjust upward for higher average age.
Given that flu activity fluctuates every year, what is the appropriate response to a peak-flu event like this one, even the “uncertainity of a new virus”? Possibly a ban on large-group gatherings of over 500 people during the epidemic could have been applied, and the elderly and infirm should certainly have been protected. The brakes should have to have been put there.
This is in the data.The self-reinforcing Panic is another thing, and the Panic does have its partisans (what I call the ‘pro-CoronaPanic’ side) who will argue their line till the bitter end, and find ways to inflate the body count and Keep the Fear Alive. But because fluctuations exist, a worse flu strain one year than another, is nothing alarming. As people seldom think about these things, saying this directly is useful. The people saying such things in early March (Just The Flu) were right after all.
(6) Historical perspective. The original paper upon which the graph above is based also has a second graph back to 1905, which includes Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918-19. That graph makes even the highest of the seasonal spikes of the 1930s, and the one large one in the 1944-45 season (probably induced by the war and travel associated with it), which would all be highly alarming if occurring in the second half of the twentieth century or in the present, look like nothing:
None of the spikes of the 1960s, 1970s, or later are particularly visible at all on this expanded graph.
We are arguing over which of the tiniest of bumps in the second half of the graph this Coronavirus Crisis will be, with the pessimists warning it could hit 1968-69 levels. Can you even see the 1968-69 mini-spike on that graph? Do people who even lived through it even remember the 1968-69 flu pandemic?
Ask around, no one who “lived through it” even remembers the 1968-69 flu pandemic. […] It came and went, immediately forgotten except by specialists. Life goes on.
(7) Believe Data, not Anecdotes. Into mid-April, we still hear pro-Panic holdouts saying, “What about the swamped hospitals? Something is/was going on.”
The majority of people are convinced by scary pictures, anecdotes, and a drumbeat by the media. And coronavirus stories told and retold these past weeks generally start with something like this: “A friend of a friend knows a guy, who…”
The hype was there, rumors were there, anecdotes were there, and the media’s drumbeat was there. Data was never there, not the kind to justify a Panic. It turns out there never were swamped hospitals in any but a tiny number of places. Even that was false. Hospitals have never been emptier, partly a result of the Panic scaring people away (on which, see point (8) below).
(Update [4/21]: See a comment below on how empty Sweden’s ICUs are, even now, near the height of the epidemic there.)
And this “hospitals swamped” idea, which was so convincing to so many, also turns out to suffer from contextlessness-induced bad-decision-making (the ‘decision’ in this case being deciding to side with the pro-Panic crowd). Hospitals being ‘swamped’ during peak-flu-events is not unusual, and during peak flu-spikes as shown at the top of the spikes in the graph in point (1) above, it is not hard to find local media reports of exactly that going on.
The CoronaPanic, which I have compared elsewhere to an evil beast, or a demonic entity that has entered our reality and has seized control for the time being, suppresses those who talk too loudly in that direction, about context and hard-data. To the extent there is a cult around the Coronavirus, these are CoronaHeretics. Instead, you have people (including those who should know better) offering anecdote as evidence. They are running the show.
Said another way, in Corona Clown World, data is blasphemy. As it says in the CoronaBible, “Do not put the corona-lord your god to the test.”
Back to that widely-heard, ‘end-of-discussion’ anecdote: “The hospitals are swamped with coronavirus/COVID19 patients! Do you have no compassion? People are dying! The swamped hospitals!”
Here is one particular data-set for the US for the five years to April 9, 2020 that challenges some basic assumptions of the Pro-CoronaPanic crowd and their widely-believed / believable “swamped hospitals” line:
That is from the CDC, updated to 2020 Week 15, a month into the epidemic.
Yes, people are dying. But this happens regularly, indeed daily. Was there a national crisis in 2017-18 that we somehow missed, when pneumonia deaths spiked for a time, as you can see there? Why weren’t we informed by the Holy Media about this apocalyptic flu crisis then-ongoing? It looks awfully similar to the one now…
(8) Cases of excess deaths not attributable to the coronavirus. Or, one tangible and immediate reason why Shutdowns are a bad idea; why caving into the Panic was a terrible idea.
The magnitude of how much worse the Coronavirus Response is than the Coronavirus itself, in terms of aggregate-lost-life-years, is discussed above in point (3). The Panic is, with 100% certainty now, going to much more deadly than the virus, both in some kind of a crude body-county measure. Taking into account ruined lives, lost opportunities, disrupted social lives, failed businesses, despair, lost life potential, wasted time, relationships disrupted or not formed, and the “dog that didn’t bark” of the inevitable fall in the birthrate associated with the Corona Recession all make the effect even worse.
Much of that line of thought is abstract, tied to the future, and not immediately quantifiable. What is surprising is how fast the excess deaths due to the response have risem. People were talking about suicides and other deaths of despair rising over a year or many years, and that they ‘may’ end up swamping the coronavirus losses, and that the loss to suicides and deaths of despair will hit those of core-age people and not hospital- or nursing home patient in his or her 80s with several serious health conditions.
“This virus influences our lives in a completely excessive way. This is disproportionate to the danger posed by the virus. And the astronomical economic damage now being caused is not commensurate with the danger posed by the virus. […]”
— Professor Klaus Püschel, head of forensic medicine in Hamburg, early April, interview with a Hamburg newspaper
All of that remains valid.
The surprising thing is that excess deaths caused by the Corona Response may already outstrip coronavirus deaths that the media so loves, and around which the media, the Doomers, and others center their Coronavirus Cult.
The numbers out of the UK (as has also been picked up in the British press), as well as New York City, suggest the top-down Panic has been responsible for thousands of marginal deaths, probably exceeding true coronavirus-attributable deaths.
The mechanism here is that people became too frightened to ‘risk’ seeking medical care, as for heart attacks or other conditions. The victim-profile of these non-corona excess deaths, which have already occurred and been observed/recorded (i.e., are not theoretical and in the future) is also probably younger and otherwise healthier than the usual coronavirus victims, whose average age, in most European countries, is well over 80.
A man of 55 dying of an untreated-but-treatable heart attack may have many decades of productive life left, not to mention roles within his family and community. Meanwhile society has shut everything down to ‘save’ a second man, an 85-year-old man in a nursing home with dementia and cancer, who dies of coronavirus-attributed pneumonia. (This is an evil system with religious-cult-like characteristics; the young are ‘sacrificed,’ as in primitive religious practices.)
The anti-CoronaPanic side predicted this. That this kind of highly negative result would occur was not a hard prediction to make, given the extremism of the pro-CoronaPanic side, and given the overblown nature of the virus itself (an overblown nature which, as discussed at the beginning here, data had pointed to since early March, was decisive by late March, and was all-but-a-done-deal by early April).
The blame for these unnecessary marginal deaths is with the extremist preaching of pro-CoronaPanic ringleaders of Endless Shutdowns, the media’s enforcement of the “PANIC NOW!” narrative to keep people in line, and the media’s Corona-Prolefeed stories dominating the media, with no other news being broadcast at all. (As to the “Corona Coup d’Etat” partial explanation for the crisis, this is what a coup faction would do. Substitute coronavirus-saturation-coverage with coverage favorable to the coup).
(9) The epidemic-arc passed its peak before the shutdowns. Put more simple and provocatively, the epidemic was already ‘over’ by early April and deaths have been a lagging indicator.
It may be surprising to many, but the news they hear at any given time on this was subject to a major lag, so much so that it turns out that the entire Coronavirus Response was an extreme case of “preparing to fight a war that is already over.”
This is demonstrated in the latest “R0” (reproduction number, the rate of calculated spread of the virus) data out of Germany. The ‘lockdown’ came days after the R0 had already fallen below 1. In other words, the virus had run its course and followed the normal path all viruses do. It had entered, spread, peaked, and was declining on its own. See graph (source: Robert Koch Institute (RKI); SPR; edited by me):
The Shutdowns (or ‘Lockdowns’ as they unfortunately call them) came too late in most places to have any real effect at all. In other words, it has been a nightmarish lose-lose.
[The] epidemic curves … are declining, as I predicted, including in most European and North-American countries, irrespective of whether social distancing was imposed on their citizens and, if so, when and how.
Hence, there is no evidence that social distancing had an effect that could justify shutting the economy down, causing >22M people to lose their jobs, and spending trillions of dollars […]
— Dr. Knut Wittkowski, April 15
Here is the latest CDC data, in which we can see the peak of the coronavirus epidemic in the US occurring several weeks ago. The third peak this season (red line) suggests new infections peaked a week or more before that, and were in decline before the shutdown orders came in.
This data shows that the epidemic had already peaked and was in decline by mid-March, following the natural arc all flu viruses do. The media was wrong; the Doomers, laughably wrong.
While the smug media thinks of itself as master of the universe, and while we do indeed have a “media-run state,” they are not infallible. They mistook reported cases for actual cases, a mistake they cling to and on which they and the rest of the pro-CoronaPanic side refuse to admit their error, to the extent they even are aware of it. Television screens as of this writing still show “rolling infection counts” which are meaningless, since they are now known to be off by a factor of 30, 40, 50, and even more everywhere.
(10) Sweden as the standout Hero of the West during the time of CoronaMadness and ‘Corona Coup d’Etat’.
“I’d like to congratulate the entire world on making Sweden look like a sane country. They could not have done this without your help.” — Lars Porsena
Sweden is now the great hope of the West, against the continuing madness. Somehow it was that the cards fell this way. “Look to Sweden,” we say.
There is a genuine natural experiment on coronavirus running here. Sweden proves with every passing day that the shutdowns were wrong, the panic was wrong, unnecessary, and counter-productive. Sweden has never closed schools, nor restaurants, nor businesses, nor any other public places (except for gatherings over 500 people; a few of the largest churches reportedly also switched to online-streaming services, of their own accord).
The important data-point here is that “no-shutdown Sweden” has observed a modest number of coronavirus-positive deaths, no worse than the UK, France, and other countries that caved-in to Doomerism. The cavers-in-to-Doomerism countries were doing so against the best data of the time, and by this writing, that tentative data has now been vindicated.
SWEDEN VINDICATED, Updates (April 24). (Further update with latest coronavirus-positive death and coronavirus-positive ICU-intake data, graphed by Hail To You, April 28):
New deaths are now in clear decline without any catastrophe in sight at all. In fact, it looks a lot like a normal flu epidemic. The vindication of Sweden is at hand (see comment section for a series of updates, the findings of which are incorporated here).
Sweden’s coronavirus-positive deaths peaked April 2nd to 19th, averaging 89 per day (breaking 100/day on three separate days between April 7 and 15). New deaths have been steadily downhill since the 19th. ICU intakes, in terms of a moving-average, for respiratory disease patients positive for the Wuhan coronavirus, peaked March 30 to April 14, which is also in line with what we know of epidemiology for respiratory diseases. (Direct from The Swedish Public Health Authority, Folkhalsomyndigheten):
(The second graph, incorporating the Imperial College projections, is based on one by Rob Slane, April 22, which applies the US fatality rate estimate, given that the US and UK have similar population densities, and the UK’s timetable.)
With data now complete or nearly complete through April 25 (as of the April 28, Stockholm afternoon time, daily update), the sustained decline is undeniable.
This latest data indicate that the Wuhan Coronavirus is, and always was, a ‘regular’ flu virus, in the sense that it looks exactly like every other flu virus in its epidemic arc. The “hit” of increased deaths lasted three weeks, which is also usual for a flu strain. It ran its normal course in Sweden, as it started to do in the US, and elsewhere, in Q1 and into Q2 2020.
What it does NOT look like is a Zombie Apocalypse Virus requiring extreme measures. There was no need for this panicked overreaction. Sweden’s measures were correct.
The pro-Panic holdouts will be forced to admit that Sweden was right by early May, at the latest.
Swedish hospitals had plenty of spare capacity even during the peak, and the recent studies suggest a very large percentage of the population has had contact with the virus, another sign the epidemic is already all-but-over. With the epidemic-arc in sustained decline as of mid-April, deaths stood as 2,335 as of this writing (April 28), perhaps rising as high as 3,000 to 3,500 by the end of the epidemic. This means up to 0.03% of the total population will have died while positive for the virus in a period (mid-March to mid-May) when 0.175% of the total population was expected to die anyway (normal death rate for the same two-month period); without even trying to sort out the possible “deaths with vs. deaths from” problem, this raw number looks unremarkable and like a typical peak-flu-event number.
Why did Neil Ferguson push the Panic?
The underwhelming reality stands in contrast with the alarmists’ predictions in mid-March. Most notorious among the pro-Panic extremists was Neil Ferguson of Imperial College [UK], whose wild projections were recklessly published Monday March 16, leading by that weekend to the UK government’s full cave-in to the Panic, and deflating anti-Panic forces elsewhere. Late March was as dark time for Western Man as any in recent memory.
The Imperial College predictions scale for Sweden to up to 95,000 virus deaths (in the “Do Nothing” scenario) or around 50,000 deaths using a Swedish-style “moderte” response without shutdowns. The true Imperial College projections should be substantially higher still, given they did not even project non-virus excess deaths caused by the “swamped healthcare system” they also predicted for both the Do Nothing and the Moderate Measures scenarios, which would presumably contribute tens of thousands more deaths. This amounts to an over-estimate of probably at least 25x, maybe more.
Ferguson was so wrong as to leave one wondering, how to explain this: A sudden fit of panic and no one fact-checking? Was the report outsourced to team of dunces? Were they drunk or otherwise intoxicated when they prepared it? Was it a conscious hoax meant deliberately to incite panic and empower the “Corona Coup d’Etat” faction?
The authors of the pro-CoronaPanic Imperial College paper have probably single-handedly been responsible for a staggering amount of net human misery, and should be internationally humiliated over this; their Panic-pushing has done so much damage that it should not be forgotten.
The paper predicts hundreds of deaths per day by early May, and is set to be completely wrong; they wildly over-hyped this virus, as the anti-Panic side has been trying to warn all along. If Sweden is not seeing a thousand deaths a day in the first two weeks of May, that is the final nail in the coffin for the Imperial College paper and its extremist advocates.
[End of April 24/28 update.]
It has been easy to find experts who have openly praised the Swedish response since early April, and a dissident strain who have done so all along, since the critical period in mid-March. Here is one from early April:
Professor Ansgar Lohse, Director at the Hamburg University Hospital, explains in an interview:
„In my opinion, the Swedish measures are the most rational in the world. Of course, the question arises whether this can be kept up psychologically. Initially, the Swedes have to reckon with significantly more deaths, but in the medium to long term these will then be significantly reduced. The bill will be paid in a year – if the Swedes can hold out. Unfortunately, the fear of the virus often forces politicians to take actions that are not necessarily reasonable. Politics is driven also by the images in the media.“
An anti-CoronaPanic commenter on the Steve Sailer blog, who posts under the handle ‘UK,’ wrote recently [April 18]:
Sweden will be absolutely vindicated in a year
To this I replied as follows (revised):
Sweden is already vindicated, as we speak [April 19/20], as far as I’m concerned. In fact, probably already by early April it was a done deal. Now that we’re into the latter part of April, there’s just no question.
It’s settled. It’s over.
If there are well-meaning holdouts out there who still believe this is an apocalyptic virus best comparable the 1918 Influenza, I’d just say they need to read more on the matter.
I recommend the series “A Swiss Doctor on COVID19” from the excellent website Swiss Propaganda Research. The website OffGuardian has also truly distinguished itself in this. The website Anti-Empire.com is also excellent for reporting on the CoronaHoax.
The series of updates from Dr. Knut Wittkowski which he has been posting elsewhere and that I have been compiling; I have now (April 26/27) created a thread to host these updates and as a tribute to Wittkowski’s work. Wittkowski, among many other actual experts, knew of what he spoke, and called it right; this is his field of expertise, alas, but no one listened. The media had already made its pact with the devil.
The commenter UK also wrote in part:
Almost everyone else [besides Sweden] will look pretty foolish.
I must say that while a lot of people look bad, at all layers of society, I have noticed that it seems more often than anything Germanic NW Europeans (with Sweden the heroic standout on a national-policy basis) as leading anti-Panic voices. Several Swiss have distinguished themselves. A lot of Germans. The Netherlands did pretty well with resisting the madness, as far as I know. Brazil’s president did well, in a personal sense, but I’m not clear on whether he was able to keep the wackos and Shutdown-fanatics at bay. I also hear Belarus has not caved into the Shutdown-wackos at all.
The English-speaking countries did well for a time, but then caved in. Why? As I wrote on March 26, our achilles heel was and is a bloodthirsty, “Enemy of the People” media, which is as a hostile force attached to a society it hates rather than an organic part of the society. They stoked mass-hysteria, ignored the data, pushed bad data and anecdote-as-data, empowered fanatics, faciliated the Corona Coup d’Etat, and pushed the Corona Panic to be both long and deep, very much against the common good.
What is the lesson of the Coronavirus Crisis? In three Latin words. I’ll submit this one:
MEDIA DELENDA EST.