Facts About SARS-COV2
What we see when we ignore the narrative and look at the data instead
As we all know, SARS-COV2 (aka coronavirus, aka covid-19) has been traveling the world since at least last December when the first cases began to be reported in the Wuhan district of China. To date approximately 480,000 people have died while infected with the virus. According to the standard narrative, it was necessary to implement lockdowns, shut borders, throw 1.5 billion people out of work, and seriously disrupt essential global supply chains in order to save lives.
Most people today believe the standard narrative because they’ve been bombarded with it endlessly for months. Furthermore, the idea that most of the actions undertaken may have been both unnecessary and stupid is anathema. No one wants to think they were stampeded into mindless panic merely because the mass media fed them a line. No one wants to think that governments around the world responded to this mass hysteria by implementing self-harming policies. It’s much more comforting to tell ourselves that we saved millions of lives.
Even if, as the WHO keeps pointing out, our actions will likely kill far more than SARS-COV2 ever could. Why is this? Because our reactions to the nominal threat presented by the virus have thrown the world’s poorest and most vulnerable into abject penury, causing many of them to starve to death. Because our lockdowns interrupted essential vaccination programs, causing millions of children to lack resistance to pathogens infinitely more lethal than SARS-COV2. Because starving people’s immune systems weaken dramatically, leading to a significant increase in death from other causes. Because many people have died due to their essential surgery being postponed in order to keep beds clear for the expected deluge of covid-19 patients. A deluge that in many places never came.
But the good news is that the majority of these unfortunate people, who are bearing the heavy costs of our rush to “safety,” have dark skins and live in faraway places so it’s easy to ignore them. It’s even easier thanks to Western media studiously avoiding mentioning the costs of our actions. In the standard narrative there are only benefits resulting from our actions, never any costs.
Not for us, at any rate…
But hey, we’re sure we saved lives. So that makes other people’s suffering worthwhile.
Except the data tells a very different story. While the media keeps terrifying us with context-free death numbers, even the simplest charts reveal the truth. Let’s look at the death rate for Switzerland, which began to ease its partial lockdown (there were never any restrictions on movement, hardly anyone bothered with face masks, and all essential shops remained open for business) on 11th May. I happen to be living in Switzerland and know that at best 3% of people are wearing face masks and hardly anyone is observing “social distancing.” The terrible result? Here’s the chart:
Of course we all know, because OpEd pieces and the standard narrative tell us so, that naughty Sweden is being decimated by SARS-COV2 thanks to their refusal to implement any kind of lockdown. Must be true, right? Well, here’s the chart:
OK, there must be some terrible news somewhere! We know the USA is suffering enormously with bazillions of deaths. Here’s the chart that proves it:
Well, what about the Netherlands? Like evil Sweden, it never implemented a lockdown and like Sweden it didn’t close its borders. So Dutch people must surely be dropping like flies. Here’s the chart:
Oh dear. Turns out the data doesn’t support the standard narrative at all. Not even a tiny bit.
But what about all those deaths?
Let’s look at the UK, which was hit harder than any other European country because it has a higher rate of obese indolent citizens and it is turning out that obesity is a major risk factor. To date, the UK per capita mortality rate of those who were infected with covid-19 at the time of death is 0.067%. Yes, that’s right: less than one tenth of one percent of the population, assuming all those deaths were because of the virus (which in fact, as a highly detailed study by Oxford University showed, they weren’t).
And as we see in the above charts, it’s difficult for the UK to claim that the death toll would have been higher but for the lockdown and border controls that were implemented, because Sweden and the Netherlands didn’t have lockdowns and border controls but their per capita mortality rates are actually lower than the UK’s, at 0.062% and 0.035% respectively.
What about that famous study that appeared in Nature on 8th June (Estimating the effects of non-pharmaceutical interventions on Covid-19 in Europe) claiming that European lockdowns saved at least 3 million lives?
For those who bothered to read the Nature article rather than simply accept at face value the media reports, the first thing that stands out is the hopelessly naive use of Baysian Inference in the statistical treatment of early data sets. But for those unconcerned with the minutia of statistics theory, it is enough to point out that if the model used by the researchers was accurate then Sweden should have experienced at least eight times as high a mortality rate than what has actually been seen. Likewise the Netherlands and Switzerland.
In other words, the model is rubbish and its projections are totally worthless. Pons and Fleischmann could hardly have done worse.
The situation in the USA is compounded by the fact that reactions to SARS-COV2 has become a political litmus-test. But here’s the thing: reality doesn’t care if you’re a mindless Trump supporter or a terrified liberal. All that matters is the hard data. Your political opinions are irrelevant.
While all deaths are sad, let’s not forget that millions more people will die of obesity-related diseases this year than will succumb to SARS-COV2. But we’re not getting hysterical about obesity because the media can’t sensationalize that problem. Indeed, we pretend it’s “fat shaming” even to mention the fact that three million people a year die simply because they eat too much.
In short, once again we’ve failed to understand relative risk. We’ve allowed ourselves to be stampeded into mass panic by a media entirely reliant on creating sensationalism to capture eyeballs and thereby generate revenues. We embraced supposedly “scientific” models without checking their validity. We were told that we were all at risk of dying from the invisible killer virus and so we rushed into all manner of deleterious actions because we thought they would keep us safe, and damn the consequences.
And it’s especially easy to say damn the consequences when those consequences are mostly being born by the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, who are conveniently ignored by us as they starve to death. Hey, it’s not our fault, right? We were only protecting ourselves.
Except, as the data clearly indicates, that narrative has more holes in it than a colander.
Maybe we should all spend more time looking at the data and less time being terrified by sensationalist reportage. Maybe that way, we’d end up hurting fewer people.
Or maybe we’re so attached to our own self-comforting tales that we simply can’t give a damn about those who are dying out of sight and unrecorded because of our self-centered self-indulgent unnecessary foolishness.
Or maybe we simply can’t understand what the data is actually telling us.