It might seem strange to ask is the pandemic over when Ireland is just about to embark on the strictest 6-week lockdown in Europe. However, a new series of articles[1] by eminent immunologists and scientists have come to that very conclusion.

In a related article here in Gript yesterday, John McGuirk asks why the hospitalisation and death rates have dropped so dramatically since the Spring period with various explanations such as improved treatment being considered an important factor – which indeed it is as the early treatment of ventilating many seriously ill patients has since been recognised as doing more harm than good.

Dr. Mike Yeadon makes the very strong case that the UK SAGE modellers are after making two very serious errors which means their models of dire projections of deaths due to unrestricted virus movement in the population are seriously wrong. The 2 errors he claims they have made are:

1.     Assuming 100% of the population are susceptible to the virus

2.     Antibodies reliably indicate the percentage that have been infected with the virus

Both of these assumptions by the modellers he says ‘run entirely counter to known science regarding viruses and to a significant amount of evidence’. He goes on to present solid evidence that the population percentage in the UK susceptible to the virus is now only around 28% (not 93% as is currently assumed by SAGE) and that, therefore, there will not be another large national outbreak but only limited regional outbreaks where clusters of susceptible people live as populations are not perfectly mixed and fully homogeneous. He goes on to assert that the pandemic is practically speaking over and that endemic equilibrium of COVID-19 in the population is almost upon us (that means people will continue getting it and a few vulnerable dying from it as they do with common colds or the flu every year). Being the scientist that he is he states the thesis as a falsifiable hypothesis and the graphic below presents both models of where the COVID-19 pandemic is at and where it is likely to go to in the coming months.

The media is focussed on the number of those testing positive and the figures for the UK are as follows:

One look at that graph and you can understand why a hard-pressed politician would be loath to argue against a group of scientists and modellers making dire predictions of death and misery in the months to come (more later on these ‘positives’). However, Yeadon’s 1st testable prediction is deaths and not cases and when we look at that graph it paints a completely different picture:

 

It is very clear in the second graph that the number of deaths are a fraction of what they were earlier. More importantly however, the second testable prediction states that deaths will grow more slowly than in the Spring and the graph clearly indicates that deaths are indeed growing at a much slower rate and that is solid evidence for over a month now. The third prediction is that London will not see high death rates again and indeed all of the lock-down action today in the UK is outside of the greater London region.

If the pandemic is over then why are cases numbers increasing today across Europe? Yeadon admits than immunologists don’t fully understand why viruses generally are more active in the winter months but with people being indoors much more where they spread more easily as well as the lack of fresh air, sunlight and exercise weakening immune systems are all likely reasons for increased viral infections in the winter months. Also, we’ve had a lot of social distancing and closed public activities up to a few months ago, and opening them up again recently has meant that the virus can more effectively move through the remaining susceptible population. Another factor is the level of false positives and cold positives (people who are over the infection or have a related corona virus infection). It is not unreasonable to state that possibly as few as one in three of the ‘positives’ are actively COVID-19 infected.

What does this mean for Ireland? Firstly, note the death rate in Ireland is showing practically no growth in deaths in this new ‘2nd Wave’. This is probably due to the already ‘strictest regime in Europe’ we already have as the Taoiseach admitted the other night. But, like the UK, there is no corresponding growth rate in deaths even though our new cases grow at a very similar rate to the UK. Likewise there are indications today that Dublin is the lower growth region but this is in new cases and not deaths and as there are, thankfully, such low numbers dying from COVID-19 nationally no meaningful statistical comparison can be made.

 

NPHET and the Government cannot claim that if hospitalisations and deaths remain low in the next 2 to 3 weeks it is because of the lockdown as they have already admitted that such measures take at least that length of time to have an effect on the numbers of deaths and cases recorded. If the deaths remain very low in the coming fortnight or more it is significant statistical evidence that the 2nd model is likely to be correct and herd immunity is probably already substantially present in Ireland.

Are we in Ireland turning ourselves into the North Korea of Europe for a pandemic that has nearly run its course? Given the damage this lengthy lockdown will inevitably have on people’s physical & mental health, jobs and relationships, and our economy it is important that these hard questions are asked of NPHET and the Government and they are held to account for their far-reaching decisions.

 


 

[1] https://lockdownsceptics.org/what-sage-got-wrong/ and https://lockdownsceptics.org/addressing-the-cv19-second-wave/ and https://unherd.com/2020/10/matt-hancock-is-wrong-about-herd-immunity/

 


 

Joe Henry