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.

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