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COVID-19: Now what?

On May 29th, 2020

As many states and countries are beginning to emerge from lockdown, media outlets around the world continue to dwell on the numbers: the total number of cases and death tolls; the R numbers and whether individual countries have brought infection rates down to acceptable levels; a nation’s total stockpile of test kits and personal protective equipment; the number of businesses kitting out with all the protective new gear; the fresh totals of the unemployed or firms going to the wall as a result of the virus.

And, largely based on these numbers, we’ve all made the automatic assumption that we’re going to suffer a second peak and so must rush to put in place track and trace and immunity passports, and fast-track anything that might turn out to be the miracle drug or vaccine to deliver us from this Armageddon-like evil.

What is missing from these daily figures and most news reports is a willingness to back up a step and ask a few basic questions.

Have any of those measures to control the virus actually worked? Will all our ideas about creating great swathes of immunity prevent a second peak?

And will there in fact be a second peak so that all those future measures turn out to be necessary?

Any voices of dissent to the prevailing triad of lockdown-track and trace-vaccinate haven’t received the front-page airing they should have had, as Sherelle Jacobs recently noted in the UK’s Daily Telegraph.

There are, for instance, the quiet and persistent noises made by Nobel prize-winning mathematician and Stanford University professor of structural biology Michael Leavitt, who won his prize for developing multiscale models for complex chemical systems.

He and his wife split their time between the US, Israel and China (his wife researches Chinese art and curates Chinese photographers), and after hearing from Chinese friends during the initial stages of the COVID-19 outbreak in the Hubei province, Leavitt started tracking the numbers.

But he came to a very different view.

He discovered that while the initial rate of the infection in the Hubei province was increasing at first by 30 percent a day – an exponential rise that meant that the entire world should have been infected by 90 days, he says – the path of the virus suddenly changed.

When Leavitt first started examining the figures on February 1, Hubei reported 1800 new cases a day, reaching 4700 a day six days later, before plummeting ‘linearly.’ The same happened with deaths a week later. The curve hadn’t just flattened – the peak had been reached and started rapidly crashing down.

Leavitt predicted that the situation would improve in all of China in two weeks and predicted the death rate stopping at 3,250 deaths. By early March the virus infection would just peter out, he said.

He was right, but no one listened to him. The world continued to be bewitched by Imperial College physicist Neil Ferguson and his doomsday reckonings of the virus infecting 81 percent of the population with half a million deaths in the UK and 2,200,000 deaths in the US unless both governments adopted total lockdown measures, a prediction based on a presumption of viral exponential growth.

Leavitt and his Stanford lab went on to analyze the figures in South Korea, Iran, Italy and New York City (and now elsewhere) and found the same pattern: an exponential peak of just two weeks before the virus slowed down and eventually burnt itself out.

Rather than one year of excess deaths, as has been calculated, Leavitt demonstrated that the figures show only one month of excess death and cases flattening out among a particular fraction of the total population.

So that begs the question: were months of full lockdown needed? A University of East Anglia study of 30 European countries concluded that while closing schools, banning mass gatherings and shutting down certain businesses in the hospitality sector (restaurants, bars and pubs, leisure centers), were effective in slowing the virus, adopting wholesale lockdown measures such as closing the whole of ‘non-essential’ businesses, enforcing ‘stay home’ policies and even wearing facemasks in public, were not.

In fact, the researchers were surprised to find that stay at home policies actually showed a positive association with cases, said Dr Julii Brainard, of UAE’s Medical School. (British higher death rates, like Belgium’s, may also be related to their failure to protect the populations of nursing homes.)

And Oxford University’s Carl Prof Heneghan, a leading epidemiology at the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, has continuously maintained that the Imperial College modeling, at the heart of so much of the  world’s full lockdown policies, was wrong: the virus incidence of the virus had actually peaked a week before lockdown was enforced.

Scientists understand that after four or five days incubation, deaths tend to appear two or three weeks after symptoms first appear. But in the UK, for instance, deaths began to plateau 14 days after lockdown was introduced, following the path of the pre-lockdown incidence, which was already beginning to fall.

As a JP Morgan analysis by Marko Kolanovic and Bram Kalan concluded: “Unlike rigorous testing of new drugs, lockdowns were administered with little consideration that they might not only cause economic devastation but potentially more deaths than COVID-19 itself.”

As for a second wave, the JP Morgan team analyzed individual states and European countries that had relaxed lockdown and found no increase in cases.

The problem with full-scale lockdown turns out to be the same problem with planned vaccination efforts: the prima facie assumption of positive benefit. Of course this is the right thing to do.

The nightly horrors of fresh fatality numbers among the old and vulnerable on the evening news should not prevent us from taking a deep breath and asking a few cold, hard questions.

It may well be that this killer virus burns brightly before just fizzling out. But we will never know unless we are willing to ask.

Comments

comments

9 responses to “COVID-19: Now what?”

  1. George S Mycroft says:

    🙏🏼 Thank goodness for (yet again) some calm and (well-)collected, rational information. What was that about "The only thing we have to fear..."?? Please Wake Up, Humanity.

    Mahalo, Lynne and Team, for all you do, be and bring. 😃 🙏🏼

  2. Janet Woods says:

    Thanks Lynne. I am in your camp. Unfortunately, people are so scared out there that they have no clue what is really going on. If they want to mask-up, vaccinate, take more drugs or self-isolate, have at 'er. We don't want to hear about it when all these things don't work. I am hoping that this is a wake-up call to everyone to take care of their health and immune system so that they are prepared for something like this. "In my dreams", I know.

  3. Eadie Miller says:

    Can anyone share a link to RELIABLE statistics, and/or how such statistics are calcuated? It would appear that the statistics vary according to the desire of the reporters who quote those 'statistics' which suit their stories, and which can vary from one end of the spectrum to the other. Are there even any 'reliable' statistics available ?

  4. Eadie Miller says:

    Can we please see some comparisons of total death rates from all causes this year, compared to total death rates inn other years? How many CV-19 rreported deaths were related to other factors and would have happened anyway? How do the statistics compare to other year's respiratory illness peaks?

  5. Enid Pennel says:

    Living in South Africa, Western Cape....going into stage 3...schools...places of worship...prisons...farmers???
    Does any body REALLY KNOW......????

  6. Tim says:

    How many people on here actually know someone who has died from this? Certifiably died from this?

  7. Ferman Smith says:

    Dear Lynne Mc Taggart :
    Well you have done it again! You have introduced a COMPLEX question with NO simple or easy answer! At least that is my opinion.
    If your goal is to stimulate spirited debate and dialogue-- well you have certainly accomplished that.
    My frustration is this : LOTS of activity here at the "Blog" section of the website. Not much activity at the "Intention Candidates Of the Week" section of the website.
    Now I know this is not FULLY your fault. Yet it seems your presence at that section is growing less and less apparent.
    In fact, I and a few others are more present there than you are!
    To be honest : I am growing very discouraged. I miss your presence there. Did I run you away?
    I will leave the website if you will return. Somehow I believe, these "Intention Candidates" would really appreciate a kind word or two from you!
    Just my "gut feeling". So far , the last three weeks , there is only one other person other than myself who has showed up to consistently give support for all the candidates. I know people are out there. When I see others show up ( sporadically) it gives me HOPE... Hope that in our numbers perhaps we can Truly achieve something remarkable in our quest to heal others from a distance.
    So yes, I wish you could somehow establish more dialogue at the "Intention Candidate Of The Week" section. Perhaps you cannot achieve the magnitude of response you have achieved with the "Corona Virus" question -- but I do believe we can do better. This will be my eight week in the "Intention Candidates Of the Week". A couple weeks were VERY ENCOURAGING!! Several "Intention Candidates" dropped by to say Hello. It filled my heart with JOY.
    I really feel for these "Candidates". They are GOOD people , in dire need of our help. I am desperately, trying to find a better way to reach out to them. For the last three weeks I have been printing out the pictures of each candidate. I have nine pictures on my wall above my PC. One of the candidates I googled. Jessica Boesmiller. I found she had a "Go Fund Me" account established by someone. I messaged Jessica on Face Book to ask her if it was legitimate. Jessica assured me it was. I contributed. Jessica did NOT ask me to mention this or even for me to contribute. I did this on my own initiative.
    That does make me a great person?
    No.... just someone who actually cares. Someone trying to do their part. Someone trying to bring comfort.
    Lynne, people listen to you. They need your ACTIVE PRESENCE at the "Intention Candidate Of The Week" site. If my presence there bothers or disturbs you -- I will leave!
    They need you there much moreso than they need me !

  8. Ferman Smith says:

    Dear Lynne Mc Taggart
    If you need a topic to start dialogue at the "Intention Candidate Of the Week" here is a link to a website. It is a commentary in November 2015 about Distant Healing, Intercessory Prayer etc.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4654780/
    The information presented seemed objective and fair. I believe it is worth a look!

  9. Ferman Smith says:

    Dear Lynne Mc Taggart :
    There is a wealth of information from your book
    "The Intention Experiment" to start dialogue between "Participants" and Candidates.
    In fact there is a passage some where in the book about exceptional healers using Negative Intention to heal. Which makes me wonder whether the Intention Statement needs to be revised to include some Negative Intention toward those cancer cells.
    Lynne I truly hope you decide to become more of a presence at the "Intention" venue. They (we) need you there also.

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