Over the past few months, most of us have probably had more time to think than we would have necessarily liked to have had. Personally I’ve been lucky enough to have found a crutch in my work, but many have not been so fortunate.
How do you come to terms with a conflicting inner battle that is fighting between a feeling that we are all being oppressed by rather draconian authoritarian rules and one where you tell yourself that it’s for the good of public safety?
As the data evolves, one would hope that the responses of governments will become more measured. How can nations effectively close their economies based on what have been proven to be inaccurate computer models, such as is the case with the Imperial College of London model led by Neil Ferguson?
The model, spearheaded by a man who went against his own recommendations by admitting that he met up with his mistress during a lockdown, is largely flawed. It has emerged that it ran on thirteen year old, undocumented code, only capable of running on single thread.
Circumstantial technical jargon aside, it was out by an order of magnitude.
Knee jerk decisions were made based on this model, mainly in the UK and the US, but carrying over into the decision making processes of many governments. Up until the model predicted over 500,000 deaths in the UK and 2.2 million deaths in the US from COVID19, the UK were planning to take a similar course of action to the one that has been followed through by Sweden.
Then there is the matter of reporting. It’s very difficult to compare the figures reported by one country, directly to the figures of another, even when demographics and the standard of health care appear to be similar.
Volumes of testing heavily influence both the numbers of confirmed cases and the ability to determine how many people need medical attention or require isolation to prevent further spread.
The declaration of COVID19 deaths is also a major factor in determining the mortality rate. Some countries are more generous than others in how deaths are reported. While keeping track of all of the deaths is important for future records, wouldn’t it make far more sense to split the data out for further clarity?
If deaths were broken down into primary cause, contributory cause or died with COVID19 we would see a far more accurate picture. If a person dies right now of anything, and are found to test positive for COVID19, it’s treated as a COVID19 death in many countries.
A notable example of this was in Italy, where according to an article in The Telegraph, Professor Walter Ricciardi, scientific adviser to Italy’s Minister for Health, the death toll was very high due to a combination of demographics and how deaths were recorded in the country.
He stated that “all people who die in hospitals with the coronavirus are deemed to be dying of the coronavirus”. This is a very important and largely overlooked factor by most of the media.
In addition, at the time of publication of the article in The Telegraph, upon a review carried out by the Italian Institute of Health, only 12% of the death certificates showed a direct casualty from coronavirus, with 88% having at least one pre-morbidity, with many having two or three.
Why then is this not more widely reported and discussed by mainstream media? As a child I wanted to be a journalist. As I grew older I held an idealised view that journalism was about holding people to account and getting people to ask questions. In the past 10 years however, this idealised view was abruptly shattered with the realisation that it’s really more about keeping sponsors (advertisers) happy and not being too controversial.
I’m not really suggesting that there is any sort of cover up happening with COVID19, am I? I still cling to the hope that this is not the case, but I’m lacking the evidence that the media are asking the right questions in order to dispel any notions that something untoward may be occurring. It’s one thing to tell people that they should steer clear of ‘misinformation’, but it’s a whole other thing to provide transparent, detailed and accurate information in order to remove all reasonable doubt as to whether everything is above board. I find myself asking if this is down to an unfortunate drop in standards in journalism as a whole or whether there is a lack of evidence to completely rule out the former.
One thing is certain, we have come face to face with a new virus, regardless of it’s origin, that has disrupted our lives. It’s certain that people have died and this is a horrible reality. This article is no way meant to disrespect those who have died from COVID19. It’s certainly possible to respect those who have been affected, while simultaneously asking questions.
There is much talk about the hope for a vaccine this year. I am 100% pro safe vaccinations. The world has changed for the better thanks to many of the vaccines that we have today. The keyword is safe. There is plenty of evidence that mistakes have been made in the past, particularly in the early stages of vaccine development. A notable example is the early Polio vaccines, where failure to acknowledge the presence of live Polio in the vaccine led to a virulent vaccine being disseminated, resulting in the largest Polio outbreak ever. 200,000 people were infected with 70,000 becoming sick, resulting in 200 children becoming paralysed and ten dying.
In that instance, Dr. Bernice Eddy, who discovered that some of the monkeys during testing had become paralysed, raised the alarm but her research was dismissed. To add insult to injury, Eddy also discovered that SV40, a cancer causing virus in monkeys, had contaminated ninety-eight million of the vaccine batches.
At the risk of going down a rabbit hole, I only hope that if a vaccine for COVID19 is discovered, that it remains immune from corruption and an urge to be first to patent. Honest, well intentioned science is what will ultimately protect us, while the type of corruption that has been seen on more than one occasion in the past could potentially lead to one of the largest scandals to ever see the light of day, especially due to the likely global rapid dissemination of any such vaccine.
On more than one occasion in this article I refer to an inner conflict, one that is causing me to lose sleep on a regular basis. It’s an inner debate as to whether the type of extreme measures such as the ones that we are currently living through in Ireland are really necessary.
We are entering a phase that has seen the announcement of a slight relaxation of those measures from this coming Monday. As I speak we are entering week eight of one of Europe’s strictest sets of measures designed to curb the spread of COVID19 and to flatten the now infamous curve, which has long since happened.
We are now permitted to exercise within 5km of our homes, up from 2km when the measures first came into force. The extension of this radius already occurred approximately two weeks ago, but little else has changed. Outside of that, we are only permitted to venture further for essential reasons such as going to work, grocery shopping, going to the pharmacy, caring for animals and a small number of other reasons.
From Monday, the only changes are that we can meet as a group of four people from different households in an outdoor setting while keeping two meters apart, as well as the reopening of a number of other types of businesses. The 5km rule will also apply to those social visits. The regulations are Dublin centric and have been inflicted upon those of us living in rural Ireland.
I could theoretically, although currently against the law, walk for 20km where I live and not come even close to within two metres of another human being.
When we drive on main routes, we are subjected to Garda (Irish Police) checkpoints. Whilst I must commend the fine people of the Gardaí for being courteous and professional, it does amount to a less than pleasant intrusion on our civil liberties. I’m sure that if pressed to comment, many of the Gardaí would say that they do not agree with having to encroach on the freedom of healthy, normally free citizens.
I often wonder what the people who fought for the freedom of our state would say if they learned that emergency legislation had been passed, by an unelected caretaker government to forcefully restrict the free movement of ordinary decent people. Many people will find this an absurd comparison and are more than happy with the sense of security, false or real, that these measures have provided us.
Personally, I feel that the types of forced measures that have been put in place amount to a gross overreach by government. That’s not to say that I feel that we shouldn’t exercise caution and use common sense by keeping two meters away from people and avoiding crowds for a while.
The problem for me lies in the fact that we are not given a choice to use our common sense and choose to be sensible ourselves. Instead, we face fines and up to six months in prison if we fail to adhere to the ridiculous 5km radius rule or fail to turn around if instructed to do so if a Garda decides that our journey is unnecessary.
If I drive 100km, don’t come in contact with anyone and go for a hike on a mountain alone, I have done no harm to anyone yet would face the draconian penalties mentioned above.
Benjamin Franklin once said: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”. History has taught us that when we give up privacy or freedom in exchange for perceived safety, despite promises to the contrary, we rarely have them restored to their previous levels. I lay awake at night, hoping that I am wrong.
Italian Deaths – The Telegraph, ‘Why have so many coronavirus patients died in Italy?’, March 23rd 2020
Polio Vaccine Issues – Plague of Corruption: Restoring Faith in the Promise of Science, published by Skyhorse, April 14th 2020
Neil Fergusson breech of lockdown – The Evening Standard, Professor Neil Ferguson resigns from Government’s Sage committee ‘after breaching lockdown rules to meet woman’, May 5th 2020