Liberty, the most important fatality of COVID

Regular readers will be in no doubt that I vehemently disagree, with bile rising, with the concept of lock-downs & circuit breakers, indeed any reduction in civil or economic liberty, as a means to manage epidemics or pandemics. I defer to Swedish Head Epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell who said recently ‘most countries have sacrificed science for emotion and are using a hammer to kill a fly’ History will judge the decisions made in 2020 as a watershed for society as we know it – only the most forgiving & misguided will argue that the devastation caused by those decisions to be unintended consequences.   

A potent and divisive debate is now raging across the world pitting those who believe that deep restrictions to civil and economic liberties are the only way to manage a virus set against those who believe that lockdowns as a cure are far worse than the disease itself.  It is also deeply disturbing to see our population seemingly accept movement and behaviour controls & censorship on the freedom of speech. Those who, like me, challenge the efficacy of the entire strategy of the UK government this year must be afforded the same space to talk as those who bathe in the glory of control and prefer living in conditions akin to a pre-1989 Soviet state. We forego our rights to freedom of speech and action at our peril.          

For those of you who agree, perhaps you’ll recognise the 6 most common questions I get when positioning my own opinion:

  1. What do you base your views upon? Emotion (gut feel), conspiracy theory, data or science?
  2. When so many developed countries have adopted a lockdown approach why do you believe it’s so flawed?
  3. What would Western governments have to gain from destroying their economies unless they felt they had no choice?
  4. It’s so easy to criticise, what would you have governments do instead?
  5. Vaccines are now coming, problem solved, right?
  6. But aren’t you a right-wing fascist for holding these views!?  

In this blog, I’m going to try to answer these extremely valid questions in facts and conclusions below. By the way, if you enjoy this sort of content, even if you strongly disagree, please like, share & comment – it really does help.  

Only the analysis of real data can help us here – not predictions, not models, not emotion & certainly not a conspiracy. Any blog purporting to use hard evidence and data must readily share its sources, I have made every effort to do so where required and any errors or omissions are all mines.

FACT: Pandemics occur annually given that seasonal epidemics cross international borders and affect large numbers of people regularly.  

CONCLUSION: There is nothing particularly unusual about a virus that spreads across different countries or continents, it is, in fact, a normal occurrence & certainly not a cause for excessive fear, concern or governmental over-reaction. Source: nature.com 11/20.

FACT: Science and data are two very different things. Data shows what did happen and science often talks of what might happen.

CONCLUSION: Political decisions informed by prediction rather than fact have proven to be fatally flawed.

FACT: If you test more people you get a higher number of positives (& negatives).

CONCLUSION: Therefore publicising the number of positive tests each day is meaningless & serves to promote fear amongst our most vulnerable populations particularly those most likely to follow mainstream media reports and avoid challenging perceived wisdom  

FACT: The more ‘positives’ globally, the more chance that the younger members of society (under 75) can withstand the virus by way of growing immunity whilst we take better care of the older members.

CONCLUSION: So, in point of fact, we would do well to applaud a greater number of positives not laud the statistic as a cause for grave concern. Source:  The Lancet 11/20

FACT: ‘Fear Sells’ and global media outlets benefit comprehensively from reporting in a manner most likely to promote fear & concern.

CONCLUSION Wall to wall coverage of COVID enables the media to increase listener, reader and viewer numbers leading to greater commercial revenue     

FACT: There simply is no clear cut evidence that masks work to witness the recent Denmark study. But there are also plenty of studies showing they might work.

CONCLUSION: Wearing a mask cannot be compared to closing down a business and yet this seeming most simple request of all of us wasn’t requested for 5 months after lockdowns commenced.

FACT: Certain countries like the UK count COVID deaths as those people who died of and with the virus. This is lunacy. The majority of UK people (c10,000 per week) who die to do so in old age and typically with all manner of conditions at the point of death.

CONCLUSION: It is simply mathematically wrong and factually incorrect to publish that 56,500 people in the UK have died a year to date because of COVID. And when was Government going to address the fact that over 100,000 people a year die of dementia and Alzheimers prematurely or that 25,000 people die of flu or that suicide accounts for almost all deaths of men under 40…  

FACT: So far this year in the UK, the number of people who have died is only 6-7% higher than the 5-year average. That is to say, the number of people who have died so far this year is well within the expected mortality rate range for this country. Let’s put this into clearer relief. In 2019 530,000 people died in the UK.  At the time of writing (25/11/20) it is likely that approx. 560,000 will die in 2020.

CONCLUSION: There is no evidence or data to suggest that this year is any worse than any other year when it comes to those sadly dying. Furthermore, any increase may well be a direct result of premature death due to pre-existing conditions being untreated or undiagnosed due to the utterly inappropriate ability of the government to resource the health service to cope with its routine workloads as well as extra patient admissions or to staff the nightingale hospitals not just build them

FACT: 99.7% of people contracting the virus survive, over 90% of people contracting the virus are unaware they even have it. Asthmatics often cited as being an at-risk group are in fact at no higher risk of contracting and suffering from COVID than the general population. Source: European Respiratory Journal 08/20       

CONCLUSION: We are statistically much more likely to be in a car accident than suffer from COVID.  

FACT: £280bn in the UK has been spent a year to date on attempts to keep business afloat and overall the UK has increased its debt pile by over £440bn this year. And yet, even after this enormous cheque, a predicted 11.3% drop in economic output will occur this year (UK total output in 2019 was £2.2trillion so the drop this year is equivalent to c£230bn)

CONCLUSION: Even after spending £280bn, this hasn’t prevented a further £220-230bn being lost – That is c£500bn needlessly wasted and a population of nearly 70million placed into long term jeopardy through no fault of their own and for no good reason.   

FACT: When compared to the UK, Sweden, which decided against all lock-downs and most restrictions has only had to announce €10bn of stimulus for 2021 which, population-adjusted, is equivalent to the UK needing to pump only €60-70bn into economic packages and seen just a 5% reduction in economic output. All of this whilst the excess death rate was just 2-3% greater than a normal year.  

CONCLUSION: painful for the Swedes yes. But it places into stark reality the clear success of their policy compared to the UK. And they’re not alone, take a good look at how the South Koreans have handled matters since the Spring.  

FACT: Estimates suggest that £2-3bn of furlough and loan money may have been fraudulently claimed. Even if true, this is considerably lower than the average rate of fraudulent claims for state benefits over the last 20 years.   

CONCLUSION: Focusing precious time, resources and money on tackling a problem that isn’t material serves as yet another distraction from resolving the core problems  

FACT: In 1987/8 there were 299,000 hospital beds in the UK and in 2019 just 141,000.  These days the average number of beds per hospital is 136.

CONCLUSION: Look no further than this fact for the single cause why the UK government couldn’t admit to its population that it along with its predecessors had fatally failed to deliver a healthcare system fit for a modern demographic never mind a pandemic. Asking the population to ‘protect the NHS’ from its own failings is a heinous transfer of responsibility to voters. Source: The Kings Fund 03/20.      

FACT: Each UK hospital costs c£300m per year to run – so far in 2020, to recap, the UK has spent £280bn – enough to set up and run 933 new hospitals for the next 12 months with approx. 125,000 new beds.

CONCLUSION: Even a small part of this new capacity would have ensured that every single patient needing ICU (and all other procedures) was provided for swiftly and efficiently and indeed it is highly unlikely that we would have needed 933 new hospitals, estimates suggest that 75-80 would have been more than sufficient which would, of course, have cost less still…

FACT: It is estimated that just 1 of the vaccines will cost the UK over £600m, to introduce a family of vaccines will cost in excess of £3bn. And these figures will be repeated for years to come.  

CONCLUSIONS: Astounding extra costs to deliver a panacea to a virus that isn’t any more deadly or dangerous than those we already deal with every winter, mostly with no vaccination necessary.

FACT: There are over 2500 separate restrictions, rules & guidelines attached to the lockdowns and tier system in the UK. Most recently, witness the arbitrary limitations on the number of people meeting together at Christmas and definitions of what constitutes a substantial versus insubstantial meal in a bar or pub!

CONCLUSION:  At no stage did I choose, vote or even indicate that I want my government to instruct me on whom to spend time with or what to eat…or to be subject to law enforcement for making my own personal risk-based judgements as to where I go, with whom and when.   

FACT: Despite claiming on many occasions that he would look after those impacted by the Government’s decisions, the UK government’s finance director Mr Sunak has failed to provide any financial support to more than 3million self-employed entrepreneurs – many of whom are micro and small business owners.

CONCLUSION: I see no evidence that a single member of parliament, public servant or civil servant has endured a wage cut, job loss or threat of same. But it is felt acceptable to double penalise our businessmen and women by taking away their ability to work and refusing to compensate them. Shame on you Mr Sunak and your self-serving cronies.     

FINAL CONCLUSIONS:

  • There is simply no data available that supports a policy of lockdown leading to economic collapse saves lives – quite the contrary. The impact on the population’s health & wealth is profound and long-lasting.    
  • The UK government in an effort to hide and obfuscate its woeful underinvestment in healthcare has transferred responsibility and consequence to the private sector. This is unforgivable.   
  • Funding hospital and health care rather than closing down the economy works – there was & is no need for lockdowns, no tiered systems, no economic restrictions whatsoever
  • By funding healthcare, a healthy public debate could have been commenced about how to fund the NHS long term – a topic which no politician since the infamous & fearless British politician Ann Widdicombe has been brave enough to address for over 20 years  
  • The UK will experience a period of severe social unrest, violence and tax evasion as the aftermath of both Brexit and COVID impact jobs, attitudes and livelihoods for the next generation.
  • I don’t believe the ‘Great Reset’ theory that has circulated social media in recent weeks. Far from believing the conspiracy theory that a group of western nations are ‘smart enough’ to use COVID as a way to reclaim lost control, I believe those same nations are guilty of breath-taking & utter incompetence made worse still by an inability to accept what we can all now see – that our public services are nowhere near fit for purpose and that, and only that dirty secret is the true cause of this self-determined economic collapse.  
  • My contention is that governmental decision-makers have found themselves fatally caught up in the trees and unable to see the woods. They have believed there is comfort in numbers – if all countries do the same then how can any one of them be blamed. Except, not all countries have adopted the same policies and those outliers have generally seen much more favourable results.
  • And finally, if we create the worst economic result in 300 years in the space of 9 months will we do exactly the same thing again when the next virus hits, as it surely will…  

This has been a long blog for good reason. All that the United Kingdom represented for me has been soiled, sullied & destroyed.

To conclude, desperate times call for us to seek solace in those whose words have stood the test of time.

‘Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.’ Benjamin Franklin.

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