Thursday, 26 March 2020

Government downgraded coronavirus, then imposed draconian measures

On the 19th of March 2020 the government decided on the basis of a review of all the evidence that the Coronavirus is not a high consequence infectious disease. Within days of this decision, the government introduced draconian measures to combat the threat posed by the virus. These measures violate fundamental human rights and liberties. There are justified by the government as necessary to protect public health. If this strikes you as odd, it gets even worse.

The government initially classified coronavirus as a high consequence infectious disease in January. Yet it did not secure the borders, but allowed people who might well have been carrying the virus to enter the country and mix freely with the general population. This lack of action ensured that communal infection would occur, as it did.

So, when the government held the opinion that the coronavirus posed a similar level of threat as such diseases as Ebola and SARS, it failed to take the necessary and obvious action to protect the public. Yet, after the government reached the opinion that the virus did not present such a threat it took draconian measures that violated rights and inflicted substantial damage on the economy; a package of measures that will be very likely to cause more harm than the virus would.

None of this makes any sense.

I suspect it makes no sense because it is senseless. As far as I can tell, the elite have gone collectively mad.

Collective madness is nothing new. We have seen outbreaks of it throughout history, over and over again. We have seen it in recent history. People generally emote, rather than think. Scary images and words result in immediate judgement. Having jumped to judgment, they use their intelligence to generate rationalisations to justify their judgement; to persuade themselves that they are right; to pretend that they reached their judgement on the basis of evidence and reason, rather than mere emotion. The educated are even more prone to this than the less well educated because their ability to generate specious arguments is highly developed. Once such a judgement is accepted by a critical core of the elite, it becomes a loyalty test: everyone has to believe (or at least pretend to believe) it. Anyone who dissents is either ignored or punished. This is how whole societies go mad. And it is what has happened with a mere coronavirus.

Friday, 20 March 2020

Coronavirus, mortality and fear mongering

The corporate media's coverage of the coronavirus outbreak is wall to wall fear mongering. Daily we are told about how dangerous it is and how it is completely unprecedented. The number of suspected cases and deaths are headline news. Yet in all this coverage, all cause mortality is completely ignored. I wondered why?

The answer might well lie in the Office of National Statistics. I visited their website and looked for weekly deaths. The number of deaths registered in England and Wales during the week ending the 6th of March (the latest available) was 10, 895. The average over the previous five years for the corresponding week was 11, 498. So, when the elite were hysterically fear mongering about the unprecedented threat posed by the coronavirus to public health, mortality was decreasing. This is the exact opposite of what should have happened if the virus really did constitute a serious public health problem.

Indeed, the presentation of the issue has been almost entirely devoid of any context. The coronavirus has reportedly killed ten thousand people since December; whilst influenza, which no one gets hysterical about, kills roughly half a million people a year, every year. Cars kill more than a million people every year; yet, no demands drastic action to stop all these preventable deaths. Indeed, there is nothing novel about a virus. We have lived with them throughout our history. And there is nothing exceptional about this particular virus. According to the United Kindom's Chief Medical Officer, its mortality rate is less than one percent. This is an estimate and it is probably too high as many people who have been infected have no symptoms. Moreover, many people who have been included in the ten thousand figure have died with, rather than from, the virus. Indeed, many in the ten thousand figure are merely suspected cases of coronavirus. The substantial margin for error in these estimated figures stands in marked contrast to the number of registered deaths, which is a completely reliable figure. Yet, there is no discussion of that figure in the mainstream.

This suppression of the actual mortality figure cannot be a result of ignorance. The government obviously is well aware of it. The Chief Medical Officer and the Senior Scientific Advisor must also be well aware it, as must Public Health England. Similarly, the information is readily and easily available to any journalist. Yet it is studiously ignored by the elite.

This failure to provide a proper perspective has led directly to fear and panic amongst many in the general population. It has resulted in public policy measures which are seriously harmful. Indeed, on any reasonable assessment, it seems highly likely that the reaction to the coronavirus outbreak will cause more harm than the virus itself.