(This post contains introductory material by me, brief comments on the Wittkowski interview of April 1-2, a few words on the suppression of the interview by the combined efforts of Big Tech (and why). A second interview wasreleased after this post was written. The majority of the content here is compilation of Knut Wittkowski’s ongoing, semi-daily updates (Updated May 19) on the coronavirus epidemic, including his answers to questions and criticisms.)
In the hour of need, heroes emerge.
Dr. Knut Wittkowski is one of these.
Let there be no mistake: There are heroes in the (so-called) Coronavirus Crisis of 2020. I am not talking about the so-called front-line workers (including medical staff, but also including grocery store workers and all government-designated “Essential People”). I am talking about men and women who stood up against the madness. I have labeled this the anti-CoronaPanic side, against the against the behemoth juggernaut of the pro-CoronaPanic side that had all-but-total control of the media and government in March and April.
Corona-Skeptics have always counted among their number a surprising number of experts, thanks to the steady stream of evidence in the anti-Panic side’s favor (see Part III of this series) and the long experience with these viruses in the past (whereas most cavers-in to the Panic seldom or never think about flu-virus epidemics).
Of course, normally-low-profile experts and academics getting their views heard is always a problem, due to factors including the usual temperament of academics and their lack of ‘networking’ in the media and/or government. In a crisis, they will also tend to end up rather intimidated by the media and by the group-think atmosphere. Even if they don’t join the group-think outright, they may not speak up; if they do speak up, it is liable to be so qualified, hedged, and meek as to get ignored.
The list of experts who stood up against the madness of the Coronavirus (COVID19) Mass-Hysteria Event of 2020 runs long, longer than you might imagine. It basically consists of those who asked, “Where is the evidence?” The basic question of science. Finding the evidence, the best data as it came in, these are those who had the courage to act, which is to say to speak, in their capacity as experts. To speak the Truth, firmly and directly, against the Panic onslaught, against the media-directed hysteria, against the destructive shutdowns. (A defacto running list of such people and organizations can be found within the stream of regular updates at “A Swiss Doctor on COVID19,” a series at Swiss Propaganda Research).
Among the foremost anti-CoronaPanic figures:
Dr. Knut Wittkowski.
It is to him that this post is dedicated, and from whom most of the content is taken; the long Updates from Knut Wittkowski section, on the epidemic as it has progressed throughout April, including answering many of the public’s questions.
We thank Dr. Wittkowski for his role as a strong voice against the Panic and for his courage and steadfast opposition to the “Corona Shutdowns” (ongoing as of this writing). His expertise and his courage to speak out put him on the other side against the Panic-pushing media, against the Fauci acolytes, against the Doomers of all kinds, against the Shutdown-extremists in politics. All he had we his own expertise, the data, and the truth, the warm-sunlight of reality against the darkness of madness.
The Wittkowski Interview
Wittkowski gave what may be the best single interview (above) on the Coronavirus COVID19 epidemic… (Update, May 2: The interview was recently deleted by Youtube. See comment section.)
His position, based on his thirty years expertise in tracking epidemics, is that the Coronavirus Panic of 2020 (“COVID19”) was and is unnecessary and the Corona-Shutdowns were never necessary. He goes further still: Not only are/were they unnecessary, in his expert opinion the all-population Lockdowns are harmful even in terms of disease prevention via the hindering of “herd immunity” (the mechanism by which every single flu virus is defeated), to say nothing of the disastrous social and economic effects.
He outlines what a rational response would be in the interview and in his series of update.
(Update, April 29): Wittkowski has recorded a second interview with the documentary filmmakers:
(Update, May 19: The second interview was also deleted. Wittkowski’s text-comments left at the video through May 12 are preserved below; potentially several days’ worth are lost but this effort has preserved the great majority of his written comments left from mid-April to mid-May.)
Who is Knut Wittkowski?
Wittkowski is from Germany and has been in the US since the 1990s. His qualifications and expertise in this field are second to none:
He has thirty years of internationally recognized expertise in epidemiology; for almost twenty years he was the Head of Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design at the Center for Clinical & Translational Science, Rockefeller University, New York.
He holds two doctorates (PhD, Computer Science, Univ. of Stuttgart, 1985; PhD, Medical Biometry, Univ. of Tübingen, 1993). In the 1980s and into the 1990s he was also active in HIV epidemic research.
A few highlights:
Reception of the Wittkowski Interview
The interview was well received and an immediate hit. It followed an academic paper Wittkowski published against the Shutdowns (the paper is dated March 31), in which he joined the then-growing dissident chorus of experts against the Corona Panic.
The interview was conducted by documentary film-group Journeyman Pictures on April 1-2 in New York, and released April 3. It got many hundreds of thousands of views within its first 48 hours.
Suppression of the Wittkowski Interview
(Update, May 12: This was written two weeks before the deletion of the interview by Youtube. See comment section.)
The Pro-Panic coalition, feeding off the hysterical atmosphere promoted by the media, was in full force in the first, second, and third weeks of April. This led to a “Big Tech” suppression effort of this interview. They didn’t actually delete it, but they did make it hard to access and therefore ensured it had many fewer views that it would have had, given the burst of attention it got in the April 3-5 period.
Starting about April 6, the video was being successfully suppressed and new views faded. I witnessed this suppression happen and can report the following:
Under pressure from CoronaHysteria and general pro-Panic forces, Google de-listed the interview from its search results, maybe it will be back by now or in the future, but during the critical period they definitely put their “thumb on the scale” and suppressed this interview; Facebook declared it fake news and attached a warning message to anyone who posted it, reportedly saying it was “misleading” (Facebook’s censors are now the arbiters of reality and decide what is right and not, rather than PhDs; welcome to Big Tech-filtered reality…); Youtube itself delisted it, removed it from search results, and made sure no one stumbled on it accidentally as through “Related Videos” links or the autoplay feature.
These are three of suppression strategies I am aware of. Many have reported that Facebook is censoring the interview (along with others like the Ioannidis interviews). They either attach a “this is fake news”-style warning, or they de-list it, or in some cases they delete it entirely. (Update, May 12: Another person reports that Youtube “cut the video halfway through and sent me to some other video when watching it on facebook.”)
I am sure Twitter, which has been known to use similar strategies, got in on this as well.
The interview became hard to find, even via direct searches for Wittkowski’s name and relevant keywords. At one point, an anonymous Youtuber with several dozen followers, who recorded an amateur refutation, had his “refutation of Wittkowski” video ranked higher than the original interview itself.
Another sign that there had been a direct suppression (de-listing) effort against the Wittkowski interview is that a handful of minor-channel re-uploads of the interview has their copies of the interview ranked higher and were getting lots of views, another manipulative attempt to reduce total view count for the original.
After the suppression effort began, all the new views to the original had to come in through direct link traffic. Many views were directed onto re-uploads, most of which were soon deleted, creating lots of dead links and dead-ends in the search. Only the most determined could find the Wittkowski interview. Unable to find the original, there are numerous cases of people posting a re-upload of the Wittkowski interview to Twitter, to which replies like this stream in: “I can’t access it” and “It’s been deleted!” as in when a Peruvian celebrity posted it on April 22; the re-upload he linked to was soon deleted by Youtube.
Youtube also deleted at least one major interview Wittkowski gave in German, potentially at the request of the German government (unspecified “violation of Youtube Community Guidelines”). A one-minute clip of the interview (“Am Telefon zur Corona-Pandemie: Dr. Knut Wittkowski,” KenFM) was re-uploaded April 25 and the interview was re-hosted remotely; because the remote website is much less stable than Youtube itself, at this of this writing the remotely hosted copy of this interview was even inaccessible outright (website very slow loading).
As of this writing, the original Wittkowski interview is still de-listed. Several re-uploads by minor channels are still listed, but these will probably end up deleted.
As of this writing, Youtube’s “suggested searches” also all point to anti-Wittkowski queries: “knut wittkowski credibility,” “knut wittkowski wrong,” “wittkowski debunked,” and “knut wittkowski crazy.”
As a result, the true view-total for the Wittkowski interview when including uploads to sum total on other platforms and clips posted to social media, the impact will be much higher than the view count at its original-upload, which is now at 1.25 million.
(An aside: “Why did Big Tech suppress Wittkowski?” The easiest guess: They had a strong group-think and pro-Panic (to repeat myself) element in their ranks and so it was not such a leap to censor Wittkowski (who was, inconveniently, one of the most qualified people in the United States on this matter, along with such anti-Panic figures as Ioannidis). Second, and overlapping, is that what Youtube and the other big players want is to be seen as patriotic during the Panic, and Wittkowski seemed somehow “unpatriotic.”)
(Likewise, if you watched network TV during the height of the Panic, you saw a disturbing number of commercials by mega companies not advertising anything, but all saying some variant of: “Our company is patriotic, we Social Distance, and you should too.” Most of them didn’t even identify themselves until the very end of the commercial. Uber had a commercial saying, “Thank you for NOT riding Uber during the Coronavirus Crisis”… These companies were all buying time on air to say two things, I think: “We are patriotic” (I think this one is uncontroversial) and “Obey the Panic!” in They Live-style. It is all as might happen in some form during a war (or war panic, or drive to war). And here comes Inspector Wittkowski: “I have looked into it and I can say with certainty there are no WMDs!” This gets into territory of what I call the Corona Coup d’Etat, a topic on which I shall give no further space here but hope to return to later.)
With the suppression effort underway, pro-Panic forces began to put pressure on Rockefeller University, probably by late in the week of April 6-10 as the original interview approached one million views despite the suppression. On Monday April 13, Rockefeller University released a statement denouncing Wittkowski for his scientific opinion that the government-line on social distancing may not be the best strategy for the epidemic. It also unleashed a strawman that “Wittkowski never served as a professor” at Rockefeller University, which he never claimed. Wittkowski addresses this charge in his own words within the series of updates that follows.
(Update, May 12: The first interview was deleted entirely on May 8. See comments.) (Update, May 19: The second interview was also deleted recently. Many of Wittkowski’s written-comment-replies at both videos are preserved below.)
Updates on the Coronavirus Epidemic from Knut Wittkowski
Following his April 1-2 interview (see above), Wittkowski has written a series of updates in the comments-section at the original Youtube video hosting his interview.
I have compiled these updates — which are mainly answers to questions and criticisms — in this post, for convenient reference, for visibility, and for the record. Otherwise they would be very difficult or impossible to realistically access. It would be a shame if they got less attention than they otherwise might, given Wittkowski’s expertise. Besides being difficult to access in the medium of Youtube comment-replies, and definitely not visible to search engines there, there is also a good chance that Youtube deletes the entire video at some point and all these comments are lost forever…
(Update, May 19: Both interviews are now deleted, as I predicted here. Fortunately, most of his comments are preserved below.)
Find below updates from Knut Wittkowski between April 14 and May 10, across both his first interview (deleted by Youtube May 8/9; material recovered through April 30 before deletion by Youtube, which was probably almost all the comments there) and his second interview (released April 27; comments current as of morning May 12; Youtube deleted the second interview on May 19).
I will try include more going forward as long, as he keeps writing. (Update, May 19: With the videos deleted, this is the end of the updates in this form.)
Last updated: May 19
Topics covered include (internally clickable to the relevant part of this post):
- Since this was a new virus, wasn’t it necessary to react with this Panic? Wittkowski’s simple response;
- No sign that social distancing helped; by mid-April, it was clear the epidemic was declining on its own;
- No sign masks were the reason for the epidemic’s decline;
- Updates on the situation in the United States, including whether or not the number of deaths is alarming for a flu virus;
- Was Wittkowski wrong on the total US death toll?;
- Isn’t re-opening schools risky?;
- When was the virus transmission phase’s peak in the US and when the decline begin? Wittkowski says early March, before social distancing;
- What about the higher number of COVID-attributed deaths in New York?
- Thoughts on why the epidemic is weak in Australia;
- On Singapore and whether they will make the same mistakes on shutdowns;
- The good news out of No-Shutdown Sweden;
- On the other hand, what does Wittkowski say to the fact that Sweden has more deaths than its neighbors?;
- Comments on the role of political leaders; in the US case, what about Trump vs. anti-Trump?;
- Wittkowski questions Anthony Fauci‘s understanding of basic epidemiology;
- Several challenges to the concept of herd immunity; also on how many deaths there could be under the Wittkowski/Swedish strategy. This is the longest sub-section. In one of the exchanges, Wittkowski says: “From all that data, this [COVID19 coronavirus pandemic] may be a similar to the 2009-10 Swine Flu, but not worse;”
- What about the role of vaccines in herd immunity?;
- Lockdown or no-lockdown will look similar in the end, lockdown just take longer;
- Did Wittkowski say it would only last two weeks?;
- On the press release by Rockefeller University that denounced him;
- It seems German state-funded media has been attacking Wittkowski;
- What the public can do to protest the shutdowns;
- Who is “Dr. Frankensson“? This is Wittkowski’s nickname for Neil Ferguson. Like Doctor Frankenstein, Ferguson created a “monster” (Corona-Lockdown-Mania);
- Is Neil Ferguson the problem? If not, who is?;
- Is Wittkowski our only hope? No, he says, the people demanding their rights is the only hope;
- Wittkowski endorses the comments of Indian expert Dr. Muliyil;
- Wittkowski gets attacked by a USA Today fact checker;
- On recommendations for what to do now (this is a long exchange with a commenter who elicited much good material from Wittkowski);
- The critical period or “point of decision” for the US case was March 10-15; what Wittkowski believes happened is experts were ignored and extremists took over);
- Didn’t China successfully stop the virus with their shutdowns?;
- On whether it is possible to protect the elderly without a shutdown;
- How is the coronavirus flu of 2020 different from the 1918 pandemic;
- Can people be reinfected?;
- What does Wittkowski see as the media’s role?;
- A critic asks why Wittkowski won’t discuss the Reproduction Number (R0);
- Stress (as from Lockdowns) and lack of exposure to antigens both undermine the immune system;
- On whether there will be a major “second wave,” or not;
- Is it true people are not getting immunity from this virus?
- How long does immunity last?
- Is Wittkowski “hurting humanity’s ability to survive a pandemic”?
- Are children getting “kawasaki disease because of the coronavirus?
- What is a ‘phenotype’ for the flu? What does it mean for whether to close schools or keep nursing homes open?;
- Will Wittkowski debate epidemiologists with other views?;
- Are Fauci and Bill Gates “power-hungry“? What is the role of the opera writer Puccini’s avaricious character Scarpia in Corona?;
- Spring weather means the end of the epidemic, as the government has reluctantly admitted;
- On the Shutdowns as the “Second Prohibition;”
- On what makes a good scientist;
Among his other English-language appearances in April, Wittkowski was a invited as panelist to be on an April 23 webinar, “Covid-19: Must We Choose Between the Economy and Health?” hosted by the American Institute for Economic Research. It was posted to Youtube:
The two experts slam the Corona Panic in all of its aspects, they say the Corona-Shutdowns make no sense at all and should end. They call for immediate re-opening, say all findings point to the virus being a typical flu.
(Update, April 28: On the evening of April 27, hours after this posting, Youtube deleted the Erickson COVID19 Briefing video, which had 5 million views. See the comment section for more.)
The rest of the content below will Knut Wittkowski’s updates to the April 1-2 interview, delivered mainly in the form of the pubpic’s questions and his written answers (links provided to originals; Youtube comments):
Someone asks a non-science question about the interview:
Seriously, what’s he chewing?
Knut Wittkowski sets the record straight (April 18):
I had a bar of nuts for breakfast because NY diners are shut down.
On the uniqueness of the Wuhan coronavirus (re: “This is no normal flu!”) Someone, whose other comments support the “Wittkowski Strategy,” writes:
[T]he virus was new so they needed time to study it to know how to treat it.
Knut Wittkowski responds (April 18):
Every respiratory virus that spreads is new, otherwise it wouldn’t spread.
Knut Wittkowski (April 15) on the status of the epidemic, two weeks after his interview. He says social distancing and the shutdowns/’Lockdowns’ were not effective:
[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 on mere band aids.
My conclusion that this epidemic is very similar to other flu epidemics, and, thus needs no hurtful interventions, was obviously correct.
Saying this on April 15, Wittkowski was taking what seemed to be a extreme position, given how much the media was promoting Fear at the time; Wittkowski knows epidemics, and he knows the data vindicates him. If he had any doubt about being firmly on the anti-Panic side during the April 1-2 interview (he didn’t; but maybe he did say ca. March 15 or 20 before the data came in), there was no more room for uncertainty: all the new data pointed in the anti-Panic direction by April 15.
What about masks?
it’s dropping thanks to masks and social distancing.
Knut Wittkowski responds (April 29):
Here’s a question, and it’s a serious one: How do you know it’s “because of” M&SD and not “in spite of” M&SD? It’s dropping everywhere, irrespective whether and when M&SD were imposed and, maybe, followed. Is there some proof for causality?
UPDATES and COMMENTS on the Coronavirus epidemic in the US
Knut Wittkowski says the shutdowns in NYC were unnecessary because the peak had already been reached and was declining on its own:
CDC data shows that there were three flu epidemics during the 2019/20 season, two influenza and one coronavirus epidemic.
In New York City, restrictions were implemented on 03-17..19, more than a week after number of infections peaked (a week before hospital visits 03-16..22). Hence, the restrictions were painful to New Yorkers, but an L’inutile precauzione (Rossini 1816).
L’inutile precauzione means “useless precaution.”
He refers to this CDC graph:
Someone says we are observing more deaths than Wittkowski predicted in his April 1 interview:
Very interesting perspective, good to get a non-biased view.
But I am confused about his estimate of deaths. Between 6:00 and 7:00 the doctor breaks down death estimates if the government had done nothing and estimates about 500 deaths per day. Yet with massive quarantines and social distancing etc etc we are seeing 3500 deaths per day. I feel like I am missing something.
Knut Wittkowski responds:
I was talking about death OF the virus, while the definition (in the US and some other countries) now have changed to first death WITH the virus (heart attack while infected) and then to death DURING the spread of the virus. This alone can explain a lot of the difference between the 10,000 mentioned and the 45,000 estimated currently. Both of these numbers, however, are well within the range of normal flu deaths and thus, would not have justified shutting down the economy at the cost of 22M jobs and trillions of dollars for mere band aids.
The shutdown was apparently based on Neil Furguson’s estimate of 2,200,000 deaths, which the President still referred to in yesterday’s briefing.
Two US-focused commenters get into what I call “Corona Coup d’Etat” territory sudden ‘shutdown’ decisions of mid-Marchand what may have motivated them:
So when Trump told the US not to worry. We will be find. Business as usual. He was right.
Yes, and Fauci in February and also the NYC health commissioner too. Somehow there was a sudden about-face based on fraudulent computer models.
To which Knut Wittkowski responds:
And the New York City mayor del Blasio when he refused to close schools, before the governor Cuomo forced him to do exactly that.
Someone on the number of reported coronavirus-positive deaths:
2 weeks later [after the interview], more than 30K deaths in total in the US, 3 times the predicted number already…. Not just a normal respiratory disease is it? Will you get the esteemed gentlemen’s response?
Knut Wittkowski responds (April 18):
Sure. The CDC predicted 24,000-62,000 deaths for the 2020 flu season ( https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/preliminary-in-season-estimates.htm ) This flu season seems to have been bad (three flus), but not unusual.
A further update on flu activity in the US (dated April 18) from Knut Wittkowski:
(1) Nothing was unusual (except, maybe, more deaths among the elderly) about the third flu this season.
(2) No more hospital visits for “Influenza-like-Infections”. We don’t need models anymore, we have the data: TGIO (and that’s why we now have to wear masks in NYS, the schools and businesses are closed. …
What data is Cuomo looking at?
And Wittkowski adds this (April 18):
Here are the CDC’s data presented at yesterday’s WH briefing:
[Link to same image as above].
The number of infections (one week before people go to the hospital) peaked 03-08..15, ie, the epidemic was almost over when NYC closed schools and businesses from 03-17.
A critic calls Wittkowski a “another stable genius,” a reference to Trump, and then claims “40,000 Americans have died”:
We seem to have another stable genius here. “10.000 people will die and in 4 week it is over”. Not even three weeks later already more than 40.000 Americans have died and no end is in sight. “I’m entitled to actually do science”. What a heap of vanity and self-aggrandizing crap that manages to attract over a million likes.
Knut Wittkowski responds April 20:
First, the US changed its definition of corona death from OF, to WITH, to CONTACT OF SOMEBODY WITH the virus.
Second, they did “flattening”, which shifts the burden from school children to the elderly, …
However, both 10,000 and 60,000 deaths are within the range of a normal flu and, thus, do not require shutting down the economy, which was based on one person’s guestimate of 2,200,000 deaths.
(The “someone’s guesstimate” of 2.2 million deaths appears to refer to the March 16 Neil Ferguson (“Dr. Frankensson“) study at Imperial College, which is now discredited but which did a lot to continue the international chain reaction of Panic in mid-March that led to the retreat of anti-Panic forces most places in the West, except Sweden. See also a full-post on Sweden’s full-vindication here: Graphing the actual coronavirus epidemic in Sweden against the pro-Panic side’s wild projections.
Several people ask, wasn’t Wittkowski wrong in his claim about the death toll? One requests of the filmmakers a follow-up interview with Wittkowski, again because of the apparent “ten thousand US deaths prediction” made on April 1 (Update: a second interview was released April 28):
Dear Journeyman Pictures, you have to make a follow up interview with Mr. Wittkowski and may be Ioannidis, but esp. with Wittkowski, he estimated 10k deaths in US but now as of 20th April, 18k just in NYC and 41k in US? What is the problem with the fatality rate of this yet another flu-like respiratory disease?
Knut Wittkowski (April 20) responds:
It’s a moving target, because the US have changed the definition of CORVID death from death OF the virus, to death WITH the virus (car accident while infected), to death DURING the spread of the virus (death in somebody who looks as if he might have been had a contact with the virus).
The message, however, is still the same: The number of “related” deaths is still within the range of what’s normal for a “flu” and, thus, doesn’t require any [more] precautions […] than what’s normal for a “flu”.
Someone else says the “normal flu range” deaths estimate was wrong:
In Knuts first video interview he said if the USA did absolutely nothing different to usual, COVID 19 would blow through in about 4 weeks and kill about 10 000 people, within the “range of normal” for the other influenza strains annual lethality and year to year variance. USA is above 70 000 deaths and counting, and that is even WITH all the extra effort, isolating and otherwise.
Knut Wittkowski responds (May 9, second interview):
All models are wrong, but some are useful. Both 10,000 and 100,000 are close to the range of a normal flu epidemic. Hence, you don’t need to shut down the schools and the economy. The country was shut down because of a 2,200,000 estimate that was in an entirely different ball park.
Someone else, writing May 10 (second interview) says Wittkowski’s April 1 “predictions” do not “hold up”:
The stats now do not hold up to his predictions..
Knut Wittkowski responds (May 10):
They do. The number of hospitalizations in NYC is down from >1500/d to <200/d: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-data.page . “Flattening the curve” prolonged the epidemic to 2 months, but now it’s (essentially) over. The number of new infections (hospitalization – 14 days) peaked around Mar 15 and since Apr 15 there are (almost) no more infections in NYC. Just look at the data.
A commenter says it is too risky to open schools in the US:
I get what this professor is saying in general, especially about herd immunity – but when he said let the children go back to school and just separate the elderly, I feel like he is also forgetting all the vulnerable children and adults that die because their immune systems couldn’t save them. […]
Knut Wittkowski responds (April 25)
As of April 24, only 2% of all NYC cases were 0-17 years old, all 5 cases 0-17 years old who died had preexisting conditions ( https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-data.page ).
You don’t need to close schools, just allow children with preexisting conditions to stay home. It’s called common sense.
Knut Wittkowski says (April 29) new infections peaked in early March. The decline started before the Panic began in earnest, and before the Shutdowns began:
I consider my point pretty boring. According to the data from the CDC’s ILINet, the number of hospital visits for this flu season in the US was down to normal around 04-10, which means that the number of new infections had substantially dropped by 03-15 and ceased around 04-01.
Elsewhere he wrote (April 29):
From the data collected by the CDC ( https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/ ) nobody was visiting hospitals anymore by April 10. Hence, there may still have been some patients in ICUs, some of them dying, unfortunately, but there were (almost) no more infections by April 1.
And again Wittkowski makes the same point, that the epidemic’s transmission phase was already over by early April, and the government knew it, which raises questions:
The key is the CDC’s graph of hospital visits for influenza-like illnesses (seen 10 days after infections), shown in the 04-17 WH briefing ( https://app.box.com/s/wm0x6ptvjlxkk638wdhfhswq608spo5u ). In early April, it was known to the government that the epidemic was essentially over (no more circulating virus). Hence, we must were face masks (bowing before Gessler’s hat)!!!!!
Gessler refers to Albrecht Gessler from the legend of William Tell. Gessler wasa tyrannical ruler who demanded all his subjects ‘bow’ before his hat, until William Tell refused. (See also Wittkowski’s comments on political leaders’ roles.)
Someone asks about New York’s deaths; aren’t they unusually high?
But 17.000 dead people in New York are lot or not?
Knut Wittkowski responds (April 29):
In 2017, NY State had 155,191 deaths, which is 13,000/month. COVID was here for two months and the definition of what is counted as “COVID death” is now pretty broad (no test or diagnosis required, …).
We have more deaths than normal, but most of these deaths are among the elderly with comorbidities, who are at a high risk of dying anyway, so the number of deaths in May may be lower than usual. Does that justify all the unemployments, bancruptcies, … ?
On AUSTRALIA (a much-asked question in mid-April: “What is Australia doing right?“), someone writes to Dr Wittkowski the following:
What else did Australia do, Knut?
That’s right, they enforced social distancing, banned non-essential travel, closed down businesses like bars and clubs, banned in-restaurant dining, banned public gatherings of more than TWO people, mandatory 14 day quarantines for not only people entering the country from overseas but also for all people travelling INTERSTATE…
A lot of essential workplaces are directing staff to work from home, stores are imposing limits on the total amount of customers that can be inside the store at any one point in time… The list goes on and on, and Australia is having great success in limiting deaths as well as the spread of infection despite taking the exact opposite approach that you recommend.
Knut Wittkowski responds (April 17):
Actually, the Australian provinces didn’t do all of this and not at the same time. I’m still trying to understand which province did what and when.
On Singapore, Wittkowski writes (April 16):
[T]here is a recent spike in Singapore. If it’s the same virus (as one might expect), I hope the Government in Singapore is not making the same mistakes as many others and driving the economy against the wall.
As we have learned now, over and over again, this flu is a flu. Protect the elderly and vulnerable; otherwise let it run its course and (if it’s not just one of the many reporting artifact we have seen) it will be over in three weeks, tops (Turgidson 1964).
This line, “As we have learned now, over and over again, this flu is a flu,” serves as one the opening lines for Part III here, a compilation post of the evidence against Coronavirus as uniquely and shockingly dangerous. (“Just the Flu” Vindicated, Or, Why to End the Shutdowns Now, April 19).
On SWEDEN, someone writes:
To everyone that is using Sweden as an example of how the United States should handle the pandemic: Sweden has the 11th highest death rate in the world.
If the United States modeled it’s response after Sweden, there would have been over 49,000 Americans dead by April 3rd (That is the date that matches the number of days after the 100th death in the country that Sweden is currently on because it’s important to note that Sweden is also 15 days behind the United States in it’s curve). It’s currently April 18th and there are 37,289 Americans that have died from Covid19.
On April 3rd, there were 7,139 deaths in the United States from Covid19. If you apply the same growth rate in deaths that occurred between April 3rd-April 18th in the United States to Sweden’s death rate, there would currently be 194,771 Americans that have died from Covid19. I don’t think it’s wise to hold Sweden up as an example of how to mitigate the Corona Virus.
Knut Wittkowski responds (April 18):
Deaths are not a good measure for spread of an age-related disease. Many other criteria can play a role whether somebody dies or not. For instance, Sweden has 20% of people >65 years, the US only 16%. The death “rate” (proportion) also depends on whether you count deaths “of”, “with”, or “during spread of” a virus.
One of the best data I have seen (in the US) is the number of hospital visits for influenza-like-illnesses:
Draw your conclusions!
On April 20, Wittkowski points to the evidence for Sweden Was Right, citing this article:
Sweden Says Controversial Virus Strategy Proving Effective
By Niclas Rolander | Bloomberg News | April 19
(See also, at this website, Part VII [on the Vindication of Sweden’s Corona-Response] and Part XI [showing that with Sweden’s Epidemic in Decline, they are set to lose 0.025% of total population, in line with previous flu waves]. These posts include this graph, which shows the epidemic arc in Sweden:)
A critic says Sweden has more deaths than its neighbors:
Knut Wittkowski responds (May 8):
I don’t think that deaths are that informative about the spread of a disease, but, if you insist, let’s not just do some cherry picking, but add a few more countries.
Sweden, the US, and Europe are somewhere in the middle, Belarus, Iceland, and Hungry, who also didn’t impose prohibition on its citizens are among the countries with the fewest deaths, while Belgium, Spain, Italy, UK, and France, who imposed prohibition, have the most deaths. Could you comment?
A Corona-skeptic commenter blames “our leaders“:
Its not the internet reporting false numbers its our leaders and who plus the rest involved in locking the world down
Knut Wittkowski responds:
I agree, but why are the “leaders” killing the economies? I can see fear spread via the Internet as a contributing factor, although I’m not sure who would have the motive and means to do so.
Someone else says Trump’s enemies got exactly what they wanted:
I am a Trump supporter…or was…and I think the way he’s handled this is on par with being one of the worst policy decisions ever made. Those who despise Trump should feel right at home with him because he’s given them everything they wanted. A mass lock down and a cratered economy. So, imo, they should be linking hands because there is not much daylight between them.
Knut Wittkowski responds (April 30) that it is not a partisan-political issue but the leadership failure that lead to more deaths is puzzling:
A virus doesn’t care if you are red or blue, and if we want to fight a virus we shouldn’t either. The right thing would have been to keep schools open and close nursing homes. That would have prevented most of the deaths. The politicians decided to do it the other way round, causing those deaths. Go figure.
Someone asks about Dr. Fauci and his attitudes towards herd immunity:
[What does Wittkowski think] about Dr. Fauci’s statement: we should never shake hands again[?]
Knut Wittkowski responds (April 30) that Dr. Fauci may not understand “basic epidemiology”:
Another Fauci fallacy: “I hope we won’t have so many people infected to have that we actually have that herd immunity.”
This is lack of understanding of basic epidemiology. As many low-risk people (children, healthy adults) as possible should to become infected to get “that” herd immunity. In the meantime, we must isolate the high-risk people (elderly with comorbidities).
The failure to shut the nursing homes is directly responsible for the majority of US deaths.
Later on, a Fauci critic says this:
Dr. Fauci must be locked up! Thousands (if not millions) of people will now die because he made sure to raise panic and to contribute to the economic shut down while being on the leader council for the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation (the very foundation which is now hard at work pushing for a mandated covid vaccine, that will make billions).
Knut Wittkowski responds (May 10, second interview):
Fauci has been reported to be on “modified quarantine”. I wonder if this is akin to being “just a bit pregnant”?
Comments, updates, criticisms, and responses on the topic of HERD IMMUNITY
Somebody challenges Knut Wittkowski on herd immunity, and claims there could be “5.6 million” deaths under that strategy:
HHrrrmmm Herd immunity …sure 80 % is a great number to achieve this state of natural restriction of the virus spread….but the consequence is 80 % of Americans infected and a death toll of app.2 % hhhrrmmm … 80% of 350 mill. Americans =280 mill. infected and mortality of 2 % = 5.6 mill potential deaths in USA…. if that goes wrong it could be a dramatic gamble to take….
Knut Wittkowski responds (April 20, including the replies below):
herd immunity is already building in the US, Ioannidis’ serology study: [Link to Youtube video]
Someone else is not convinced by the herd immunity theory:
That study shows between 2% and 4% of the 3000+ tested showed antibodies for Covid 19. How is that herd immunity?
And that is one specific county (6th most populus) so does not represent the US as a whole.
Knut Wittkowski responds:
I didn’t say that this already “is” herd immunity, I said that “herd immunity is already building”. Once started, this process is pretty fast.
“On 4/3-4/4, 2020, we tested county residents for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2”.
That was more than two weeks ago, enough for, in an epidemic with an R0 of 2.2, R (resistant) goes from 3% to ~25% (that’s why I’ve made the SIR spreadsheet available to you). At that point, the incidence of infections is at about the peak.
In reality, of course, there are always problems with sampling, sensitivity, and specificity so one has to take this with a grain of salt. One thing, however, is for sure: 2-4% immune people 16 days ago means a lot of immune people now, i.e., herd immunity is already building.
The commenter responds:
Then you could say it is “building” even if it was 0.00001%. The figure is low and a study in Iceland showed less than 1% from a sample of 9000 participants. Plus, there appears to be some evidence that we don’t gain immunity, or at least long term immunity, from this virus.
Again, this 2-4% cannot be applied to the US as a whole, because it is one tiny county.
Knut Wittkowski responds:
Again, why don’t you just explore the model a bit, to avoid our time being wasted.
At 0.00001% prevalence, it would take 3 months to get to ~25%. Even 1% (when was it?) gets us into the days, rather than months range. Just remember, exponential is very slow for a long time. The evidence is overwhelming that there is immunity. Re the duration, nobody knows, but more than just a few months is typical for coronaviruses.
In Gudbjartsson (2020, 03-13 to 04-01), most people tested positive had contact with a person known to be infected, but developed immunity without becoming cases themselves. Only 43% had some symptoms (“rhinorrhea and coughing”), which declined together with “other respiratory infections”.
“The virus has spread to the extent that unless …[, but no lockdown,] we are likely to fail in our efforts to contain the virus.” These results, which were based on data collected even earlier, are also consistent with herd immunity already building. Incidence of new has been declining now for over 2 weeks.
Knut Wittkowski on the evidence for herd immunity (April 20):
At least to me, the data from Germany (Streeck 2020), Iceland (Gudbjartsson 2020) and California (Bendavid 2020) show that SARS-CoV-2 is spreading without creating recognizable symptoms, but creating antibodies. Hence, we are already building herd immunity.
Additional support comes from countries or states where incidence of cases or deaths was declining before restrictions were imposed on people. I can’t see anything else causing such a decline than the ratio of immune to susceptible people getting closer to the level of herd immunity.
Another commenter says herd immunity is far too risky:
He states this is like every other respiratory disease – but what if it isn’t? They’re finding that putting people on ventilators actually may be causing lung damage and how knows what else they will find out about this condition over time. This virus is supposed to have a couple of HIV like insertions. Would this doctor feel the same about herd immunity for HIV?
Knut Wittkowski responds (April 21), again saying the evidence is that the epidemic is now past its peak in many/most places, and there is no stopping it:
In most European, North American, and Oceanian countries, the number of new cases per day are declining. The epidemic has run at least half its course.
Over the last three months, we learned a lot about the disease. For instance, we [know] that infection (even minor ones) are causing immunity (which is not the case with HIV, on which I’ve worked before). Otherwise the numbers wouldn’t be declining in all those countries, irrespective of how and when the governments intervened.
There is strong evidence for herd immunity building. From all that data, this may be a similar to the 2009-10 Swine Flu, but not worse.
Another hostile commenter attacks herd immunity theory:
hastening the spread of the virus to create herd immunity will only exacerbate the load and demand placed on the healthcare system. Do you really want to wipe out the entire medical system? THAT”S THE REASON TO FLATTEN THE CURVE
Knut Wittkowski responds:
No, it will not.
Children and young adults don’t end up in hospitals, and isolation of the elderly and vulnerable is more effective the shorter the period of separation, e.g., from their grandchildren is.
Someone else asks, “Aren’t we very far off from ‘herd immunity’?”
So why does he think we’ve already reached herd immunity in these nations? The infected counts as of April 18th are still very low as a percentage of the populations, and even if you estimate 100 times that are yet unaccounted for, that’s still only about 3% of the globe, and I thought we need like 60% infected to have herd immunity? Maybe he explained it and I just missed it.
Knut Wittkowski responds:
Herd immunity is local, developing at different times in different countries, based on the time the virus entered the country.
A study in Heinsberg, Germany, estimated 15% about 3 weeks ago, which is a long time for a respiratory disease epidemic. It could be well above 50% now. The strongest argument for herd immunity is that the number of new infections (a week before the number of new cases) dropped in most countries before any restrictions were imposed. Hence, the ratio of immune to susceptible must already have been rising to the levels of herd immunity.
There are now many completed/released studies that corroborate herd immunity theory and that the virus is nothing to panic about. A commenter cites one:
The study in the Santa Clara county in California, confirms what this gentleman states.
Knut Wittkowski responds (April 22) with a few others:
As do studies done in Germany, Iceland, Sweden, and Israel.
Someone wonders about examples of herd immunity without vaccines:
Can anyone give me any examples of a disease which reached herd immunity without a vaccine? The concept sounds logical but I’m wondering what other examples we have.
Knut Wittkowski responds (April 30) that rather than specific examples, there are rather no counter-examples when it comes to these viruses:
Every respiratory disease ends when herd immunity is reached. Against some flus we hope to have a vaccine, which helps to build herd immunity, but flu vaccines are not very effective. Childhood diseases stopped spreading even before there were vaccines: herd immunity. …
Someone says won’t lockdown and no-lockdown look the same in the end?:
So you have a lockdown, only essential work is allowed. Health care, nursing homes, food stores, logistics, water & electricity, other maintenance. what else? How many % of the country, lives in families with at least on of those workers. They go to work, spread among the workers and bring it home to their locked in family.
Knut Wittkowski responds (May 10):
Exactly. This is how herd immunity builds (see the cases in the White House). With the lockdown it just takes a bit longer until we get there.
Someone asks how long a particular flu virus will last; did Wittkowski really say it was two weeks? Why is it that the Wuhan coronavirus seems to have been around longer than two weeks?
[Wittkowski] said this virus and other respiratory illnesses typically last two weeks only. But this one has been around much longer than that, in each location. Is he suggesting that the lockdown is extending it? In which case, why?
Knut Wittkowski responds (April 29) that it is several weeks, and the point is it follows a curve, rising, peaking, declining:
I said “comes for two weeks, peaks, goes for two weeks”.
But, yes, “flattening the curve”, by design, gives you more time to enjoy the virus being around. (It also helps to broaden the definition to include all cases of respiratory symptoms that may have been caused by some contact with somebody believed to have been infected some time ago.)
Knut Wittkowski addresses the insinuation that he was “not a professor”, following the strawman press release by Rockefeller University (issued under duress by pro-Panic forces?). (He was a professor elsewhere; he was ‘only’ the Head of the Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design at Rockefeller!)
Wittkowski, writing April 15, says:
I had a scientific career even before coming to New York. My field is Medical Biometry, the application of mathematical methods and models to the biosciences and, but modeling the HIV epidemic, while at the University of Tübingen, Germany, I predicted in the early 1990s that the HIV epidemic would never spread within the European heterosexual population. Look it up!
However, the main point here is that The Rockefeller University (RU) is intentionally spreading misinformation.
I have informed RU yesterday that they are misquoting me. As they still do it, it must be intentional […]
And this by Wittkowski (April 14/15):
I don’t understand why some people (and institutions) create a smokescreen by raising formal criteria rather than address the issues at hand (which I consider more important), but if I have to I will engage in that sidetrack as well. I have informed The Rockefeller University (RU) on April 14 that they are misquoting me. As they still do it, it must be intentional, so let me set this straight:
(1) I am not “discouraging social distancing” (breaking the law). I’m asking people to discuss the policy decisions made with their representatives. This are two very different things. Why is RU against an informed democratic discourse between voters and their representatives? (In Europe, some of that discussion took place and restrictions are beginning to be removed. For instance, the German Academy of Science has recommended opening schools as soon as possible, as I had before.)
(2) I have never claimed to have “held the title of a professor at Rockefeller”. Just see the beginning of the video for what I claimed and my LinkedIn page for my academic career before I came to RU. (I’ve also never claimed to be a Martian, which would be equally ridiculous to accuse me of.)
I would understand substantive criticism for having having erred in predicted this epidemic curves to decline soon – but (unfortunately?) they 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 on mere band aids. My conclusion that this epidemic is very similar to other flu epidemics, and, thus needs no hurtful interventions, was obviously correct.
Criticizing people for something they never said, however, is polemic. What are the interests that drive RU to resort to polemic?
Several people bring this up later, pasting parts or all of the press release:
The Rockefeller University releases statement concerning Knut Wittkowski
April 13, 2020
The opinions that have been expressed by Knut Wittkowski, discouraging social distancing in order to hasten the development of herd immunity to the novel coronavirus, do not represent the views of The Rockefeller University, its leadership, or its faculty. […]
I can’t answer the question why Rockefeller distances itself from science. A month after I published the results suggesting that this flu is just a flu, the CDC publishes the data showing that this flu was just a flu:
Wittkowski later reflecting on why Rockefeller issued the statement against him:
Why a press release? Because Rockefeller receives 1/3 of its annual budget from the NIH, including Fauci’s NIAID?
A commenter says an “official German TV channel” has denounced Wittkowski for his anti-Panic views, including by citing the Rockefeller statement:
Rockefeller univ. is now throwing dirt at him, as does the first official German TV channel
Wittkowski responds (April 21):
I never said I was a professor at Rockefeller. I had an academic career before coming to New York.
More importantly, which German TV channel are you talking about? Just curious. (They also threw dirt at me when I predicted in the 1990, that HIV would never spread among Caucasian heterosexuals.)
Knut Wittkowski later reported (April 29) that the German government news program Tagesschau has been slandering him:
In Germany, Die Tagesschau (government funded ARD news) had a criminal case opened against me because I asked them to correct the errors in their reporting!
Later (April 29), Wittkowski writes to someone complimenting him in German:
Vielen Dank! Zu dumm dass Die Tagesschau mich mit Dreck bewirft und sogar angezeigt hat. Go figure
“In building [herd immunity] up, we have to reduce mortality by keeping the elderly people away.”
Are this Indian epidemiologist and myself twins separated at birth?
Facebook and USA Today have declared Wittkowski persona non grata for spreading false information:
Facebook dubbed Professor Wittkowski statements on herd-immunity as mis-information, quoting a USA Today Article Fact Checking Professor Wittkowski. I thoroughly disagree with USA Today “analysis”, but be aware.
Knut Wittkowski responds:
Thanks! The “fact checker” ruled “the claim that herd immunity would stop COVID-19 rather than flattening the curve to be partly false.” I tried to contact the Editor of USA Today to get the facts right, but could not get any response.
(On censorship by Big Tech — other comments in Youtube mention having the video flagged or deleted on Facebook — See above.)
On USA Today specifically, Wittkowski had earlier mentioned (April 19) a USA Today article by Molly Stellino which promoted misinformation in line with the pro-Panic side:
A journalist for USA TODAY, Molly Stellino, just wrote an article claiming that
(1) “herd immunity … is typically attained through vaccination, not widespread infection.” and that
(2) “flattening the curve” would “stop COVID-19”.
It’s amazing how high emotions run and false rumors are being spread.
Someone mentions “acute respiratory distress syndrome”:
This man is not acknowledging the acute respiratory distress syndrome caused by the virus itself, unless he is factoring that in as a rare though real event among deaths, most of which are bacterial pneumonia.
Knut Wittkowski responds:
I’m not an MD, so I apologize if I’m oversimplifying medical aspects of disease. What I’m trying to do is to motivate the assumptions being made in the models used, that there is an infection, an incubation period, and only then symptoms, most of which are caused by an immune system overreaction, not the virus itself.
Among the many negative effects of the immune system is one that is well known and understood, which is bacterial pneumonia, which then can cause the patient to die, unless the patient is treated successfully with antibiotics. Understanding the sequence of events, their duration, and the players involved (virus, immune system, bacteria, … ) are important for the correct interpretation of data (my expertise), but for the details I gladly defer to MDs and other experts. In particular, I do not diagnose or treat patients or give treatment advise to individual.
Knut Wittkowski’s RECOMMENDATIONS for what to do now.
He recommends: Open schools immediately, no exceptions. Open businesses now or soon. Protect the elderly. Stop the social and economic damage.
Within this series of updates he addresses the 1918-19, 1957-58, and 1968-69 pandemic viral flu strains. He says the expected total deaths from flu in 2019-20 season, of all flu strains (he points out there were also other, unnamed flu strains active this year which also took victims, as always), will be significant, a bad flu season. He repeatedly compares the 2019-20 Wuhan pandemic strain will be most comparable to the 2009-10 Swine Flu strain.
He proposes the reason for what I call the Corona Big Mistake was that someone named “Frankenson” [Neil Ferguson] “pulled [a huge number] out of his hat that got everybody scared.” He says the critical period in the Big Mistake as March 10 to 15, and experts were sidelined as the Panic took over.
This is contained in a series of replies to a Victor Melendez, who brings up past flu-virus pandemics and says better to be safe than sorry:
[Wittkowski] say[s] just go about your business[, that] it will come and go like every other respiratory disease but that’s not true as several have been disastrous.
1918-1920 Spanish Flu – 100mil dead
1957-58 Asian Flu – 1-4mil dead
1968-69 Hong Kong Flu – 1-4mil dead
2009-10 Swing Flu – 500k dead
2017-2018 American seasonal flu – 60K dead
2019-present Covid19 – 170k and counting in 4 months.
They have no way of knowing if this is the next Spanish Flu or just the regular flu. I am not an epidemiologist and I suspect no one is the comments is either so….
The commenter says “I am not an epidemiologist.” Knut Wittkowski, who is one, responds (April 21):
During the 1918/19 “Spanish” flue, the world was still devastated from WWI and there were no antibiotics available, yet, to treat the pneumonia that killed most people. This example doesn’t fit.
Among the others, COVID-19 (which is at least halfway through in the Northern hemisphere) may turn out to be similar to the 2009-10 Swine Flu, but not as bad as the 1957-58 Asian Flu and the 1968-69 Hong Kong Flu.
Nobody talked in 2009-10 about shutting down the economy, which in the US alone cost 22M their job and an yet unknown number of bankruptcies (including many suicides), and $2T-10T for an economic band-aid that could have been used much more efficiently to prevent deaths in nursing centers by improving their funding, among many other worthwhile programs to prevent deaths.
The original commenter responds:
Prof, thank you for responding.
While I am a lay person, the information germane the Spanish flu you wrote said there were no antibiotics for the pneumonia. For this flu, there is no treatment or vaccine for the virus, unlike other flu strains.
The Spanish flu was H1N1 from my research and we have since developed a herd immunity to that at great cost. Regarding Covid19, the first reported U death was on 29FEB20. We have lost 43K in less than 2 months with social distancing measures. If we allowed the open society and pervasive spread of the virus without those measures, is it possible we could have an issue that occurred in Philadelphia for the Spanish Flu?
Dr. John Ioannidis seems to agree with you but Dr. Michael Osterholm shares a divergent view.
Isn’t it also possible that people saw what happened by not shutting down the economy during the Swine Flu with that loss of life and said, “Let’s not do that again.”
Just because it wasn’t done before, doesn’t mean it should be approached the same way. Moreover, the current administration continues to state, no one has ever seen anything like this, save that we have in the aforementioned examples.
Your other points are well-taken. The caveat to that is that those other causes/manner of death are not contagious and are solely the realm and agency of the victim who commits suicide, etc. I welcome your thoughts.
Knut Wittkowski responds. He sees as a main trigger for the caving in of the anti-Panic forces was the 2.2 million deaths “guesstimate” that “someone “pulled out of a hat;” he adds thoughts on how it would have been possible to have avoided the Panic entirely (consulting experts during the critical period) and proposes policy recommendations for what to do immediately, which I have bolded:
Thanks a lot for responding with thoughtful questions, rather than bouts of aggression.
For other flu strains, neither the vaccines nor the treatments are very effective, and it’s not uncommon for a flu to emerge that wasn’t anticipated. So the situation is not that different with regard to flu vaccines or treatments.
Also the duration of immunity is unknown, although it must be long enough for the extinction of the virus and probably lasts longer (about 2 years?).
The expected flu deaths are per season and flu season is typically from December to April. We had three flus this season, so it’s going to be a bad season. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out at 100K deaths for all three flus, or even a bit more. But it will not be the 2.2M that are often mentioned, which was never justified and immediately seen as ridiculous by most epidemiologists.
It’s not that people realized that a different reaction would have been required compared to the Swine flu, it was the number of 2.2M that Frankenson pulled out of his hat that got everybody scared.
The claim that no body has ever seen anything like this is contradicted by the Swine flu. While it was a different virus, the deaths and some other characteristics are comparable. After the first cases were seen in the US, the epidemic in Wuhan had essentially ended and the number of new cases in SKorea had declined by 90% after running 3-4 weeks – without a lockdown that the SKorean government is proud to have not done despite a lot of pressure. The recommended voluntary distancing, though, which seems to have “flattened the curve a bit”, ie, preventing it from reaching herd immunity right away. Hence, there were about 3 weeks of cases until herd immunity was eventually reached.
The point of decision (at least in the US) was around March 10-15. At this time, there should have been a discussion involving epidemiologists who could question the Frankenssonian predictions. If that discussion would have had, we would not have had a shutdown.
What to do now? We need to open schools, as the Leopoldina, the scientific advisopry board of the German government has urged. We should start with children, because they and young adults (teachers and parents) rarely end up in hospitals. At the same time or shortly thereafter we should start opening up businesses. This economy has suffered a lot.
While we let the epidemic run, we should offer the elderly and vulnerable help with isolating themselves for a few weeks. Let the government pay for delivery of prescription drugs, meals, laundry, … .
We should also have paid nurses in nursing homes overtime for staying there around the clock so that the homes could have been completely isolated to prevent the virus from entering. Unfortunately, this was not done, so we have now to find a strategy do the best we can.
A discussion including scientists with expertise in different areas is something that should have been had around 03-10 needs to start now to prevent even more unnecessary damage and unnecessary deaths.
Oops, much to long, but thanks for helping with getting this written up.
A commenter asks how to protest the Corona-Lockdowns:
How can I resist!!!??? Please, tell me.
Knut Wittkowski responds (April 21) by urging people to contact their elected officials to protest against extreme pro-Lockdown policies. Wittkowski again calls Neil Ferguson “Dr. Frankensson”. This is a reference to Doctor Frankenstein; much like Doctor Frankenstein created a monster in the classic horror novel, Ferguson/Frankensson’s “imaginary horror scenario” of millions of deaths created the monster of Lockdown-Mania and social-economic disaster:
Let your representative know that (s)he is not going to be re-elected if (s)he supports politics that cause unemployment and bankruptcies of small companies – for no reason other than Neil Frankensson’s imaginary horror scenario of “2,200,000 deaths in the US”. It’s not even close anywhere, irrespective of lockdown or not. Hence, the lockdown had no effect that would justify driving the economy against the wall.
Knut Wittkowski later also says (May 3):
In a democracy, it is your choice to go back to normal.
Someone joins Wittkowski in criticizing Ferguson’s models. Is Ferguson the problem?
Dr Neil Ferguson has a history of TERRIBLE models ! His model was also accounting for a larger mortality rate.
Knut Wittkowski responds (May 3):
Neil Ferguson is not the problem. The problem are the people who buy into the conclusions without questioning his models’ assumptions.
Later someone says Wittkowski is our only hope:
please help us! […] you are our only chançe…. […]
Knut Wittkowski responds (May 3), saying that the real hope is the people standing up against the Corona-Lockdown extremists, and that he is just a scientist using his free-speech rights to express his expertise and findings:
You, the people, have to stand up. I can only provide results different from Neil Ferguson’s. Democracy gives me the right to present my results and conclusions and you the power to make your representative listen.
Someone asks about the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic:
[W]hat about the Spanish flu. How was that different from Coronavirus?
Knut Wittkowski responds April 30:
In 1918/19, the world was in a disarray because of WWI and there were no antibiotics to fight the bacterial pneumonia that came after the influenza infection and killed people.
A commenter asks says what if you can get the Wuhan coronavirus more than once.
I’ve read things saying that there are people who have had it multiple times.
Knut Wittkowski responds (April 21):
The media usually focus on the exceptional, rare cases. As an epidemiologist, my focus is on the other 99.9%.
(See also further comments on the media directly below.)
A commenter distrusts the media; what went wrong? (See also comments on the media’s focus, above)
One of the few heroes out there. Mainstream media is not to be trusted.
Knut Wittkowski responds (May 6) with his idea on what went wrong with the media:
Many MSM have invested too much of their ego into going along with the government that they find it difficult to go back to their previous role, which was to critically question the government.
Someone says China stopped this flu virus from spreading to other regions outside its origin (Wuhan):
So Wuhan quarantine had no effect in preventing the virus from aggressively spreading all over China? It’s just the virus naturally didn’t like the other parts of China that much?
Knut Wittkowski responds (April 25):
Blocking trains and cars from leaving Wuhan prevented the spread across China, but not the spread within Wuhan
Someone implies it may be too difficult to take care of the elderly without a shutdown:
So WHO takes care of the elderly for FOUR weeks?
Knut Wittkowski responds (April 25):
Offer every nurse … $1M in overtime to be locked in with the elderly. It would have been much less than trillions of dollars for economic band aids and social security for 26M people who lost their jobs..
A critic attacks Wittkowski and asks why he doesn’t mention the Reproduction Number (R0):
I think Dr Wittkowski is completely wrong […] Why does he avoid the reproduction value discussion? […] Why does he fail to recognize that the only the countries that have successfully stopped this pandemic have done the exact opposite of what he recommends? His ideas are dangerous and if followed will simply lead to more death and misery.
Knut Wittkowski responds (May 10) by saying R0 is useful for modelling epidemics but the data is now in and supersedes any R0 estimate, and the transmission phase is over:
The [Basic Reproduction Number, not reproduction value] is a useful parameter to model epidemics, but it’s difficult to estimate. Now we have the data showing us that there are (almost) no more infections in NYC. It took longer and took more lives than it would if we had just let it run and isolate the nursing homes, but now it’s over. That’s the straight answer to the real question.
(Note also that Wittkowski is the protege of the man who coined the term Reproduction Number (“R0”) in the 1970s, Klaus Dietz.)
Someone else asks about the connection of the transmission rate, R0, to how many will “get the disease”:
Does he mention what he thinks the R0 is? Also does he mention what percentage of the population he thinks will get the disease?
Knut Wittkowski responds (May 4):
R0 is about infections, not about disease. The vast majority of people who get infected do not develop disease.
A commenter says stress is bad for the immune system:
“ Lock down “”””. “ IS “ STRESS “” Which “ALWAYS “LOWERS “THE “IMMUNE “SYSTEMS “. WHICH “ALWAYS BRINGS ON “ ILLNESSES “.
Knut Wittkowski agrees and expands on the point (May 9):
Lack of exposure (adaptation) to antigens also lowers the adaptive immune system.
A Corona-Skeptic mentions the belief that there will be “a second wave“:
Unfortunately “they” say there is going to be another “surprise” attack. Criminals that what these ruling “draconians” are. They need to he stopped
Knut Wittkowski (April 26) on why there will be no huge “second wave”:
With 30% already immune, the next wave, if any, will be minor, at most.
Is the WHO saying people who had the virus are not getting immunity? A commenter thinks so and asks.
Ing. Enrique Garibay
I wish you had asked him about what the WHO is saying about this virus not giving immunity to people.
Knut Wittkowski responds (April 30):
That‘s not what the WHO is saying. They say that there is no guarantee that every person who has antibodies is immune. I agree with them. One in a million may not be immune.
Is it worrying that we might not be immune forever?
Medical experts are saying having the virus does not mean you will be immune in the future.
Knut Wittkowski responds (May 3):
Few respiratory viruses create immunity that lasts forever. A few years is enough.
A commenter asks what Wittkowski means by a “phenotype” for this flu-virus:
The Keto Noob
On isolating the nursing homes when he says that the children virtually never develop a phenotype, can anyone explain what he means by that?
Knut Wittkowski responds (April 30) that this means ‘symptoms’:
Sorry for the jargon. Phenotype means symptoms. Children get no or only very mild symptoms. Old people need intensive care an often die. We should have kept the schools open and close the nursing homes. Doing it the other way round caused the vast majority of deaths.
A commenter wants Wittkowski to debate other experts:
I would like to see Professor Wittkowski on a panel with other epidemiologists who may have opposing views
Knut Wittkowski responds (May 6), referencing the news that Neil Ferguson (or “Frankenson”) had violated the lockdown he demanded to have a sexual tryst with a married female academic:
I’d love to have such a discussion, but – maybe – not with Neil Frankenson, who just demonstrated that he doesn’t believe his own numbers. Update: NF resigned
Another comment follows up on the idea of an expert panel with Wittkowski:
wont happen, experts who support the panic have Sciene against them and cant win
Knut Wittkowski responds (May 6)
Let’s see what the disbanding of the “task force” brings.
A few hours later: It wasn’t disbanded.
Earlier, another person had called for Wittkowski to debate pro-Lockdown figure Dr. Robert Townsend:
Dear Dr Wittkowski, I would love to see you debate the necessity of lockdowns with Dr Robert Townsend aka “Bob the Science Guy”. He in convinced they are necessary and helpful. You obviously, are not. He is also interested in debating
Knut Wittkowski responds (May 5):
I don’t understand what else one needs. The curve of cases in Europe is far down (https://www.linkedin.com/posts/knutmwittkowski_covid19-sars-inthistogether-activity-6663050295628611584-f58B ) and the data in Germany (Streeck), Sweden (Brouwers), … show that there is enough immunity to make sure that a second wave – if any – is mild.
Someone says Fauci and Gates are “power hungry” and that explains Corona-Response:
Sound like Dr. Fauci and Billy Gates are very very power hungry ,but then again so is Satan
Knut Wittkowski proposes another analogy for Fauci (May 6):
… or Puccini’s Scarpia
Scarpia was a corrupt chief of police in the opera “Tosca.” He plots to kill the protagonist and seize his wife.
Knut Wittkowski says spring has spring weather means the end of the epidemic, and criticizes the government for not knowing this, though they now “discovered” it. Writing April 24, he endorses going outside quoting a Goethe poem:
According to today’s WH briefing: sunlight, heat, humidity, alcohol, … are bad for the virus! Who would have thought? Everybody, but the government. Vom Eise befreit sind Strom und Bäche … Enjoy the beer garden! from 19:17 Homeland Security: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zu60uj0_-Nw
Are children getting kawasaki disease because of the coronavirus?
The mainstream media is now spreading this fear amongst the population – children getting kawasaki disease of toxic shock syndrome which is linked to covid-19?
Knut Wittkowski responds (May 10, second interview):
It’s very rare. Some of these children have SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, but not all. It is not clear if and how pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome (PMIS) is linked to SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Is Wittkowski “hurting humanity’s ability to survive a pandemic“?
This guy is spewing BS. These comments have to be fake. This is why Youtube removes crap like this. Because it’s hurting our species ability to survive a pandemic.
Knut Wittkowski responds (May 10, second interview):
Our species has survived all respiratory diseases, so far without shutdowns. We have an app for that: our immune system.
In the late April second interview, Wittkowski is shown apparently at a restaurant drinking a beer. He was asked about this, and says (April 30):
Why do you think the 2nd prohibition would be different from the 1st?
Knut Wittkowski on what makes a good scientist:
Every 4-year old I’ve seen was a scientist: interested, curious, objective, open, … Too bad that some people lose it.
(End, reflecting updates through May 12.) (Note. With both videos deleted by Youtube as of May 19, there will be no more updates in this form.)
“I’m not paid by the government, so I’m entitled to actually do science.”
— Dr. Knut Wittkowski
“[It’s] just ridiculous.”
— Wittkowski on the Coronavirus Panic.