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September 11th 2020
Published: September 11th 2020
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Covid-19Covid-19Covid-19

Trump or Putin; which one would you trust?
“Myth is an attempt to narrate a whole human experience, of which the purpose is too deep, going too deep in the blood and soul, for mental explanation or description.” – D.H.Lawrence

Interesting times to say the least! Here we are in early Spring still trying to figure out how a virus could possibly have hijacked this year’s late summer, winter and then autumn seasons. Spring is a month of renewal when plant life recaptures it’s calibrated growth DNA and the animal kingdom looks to the urgent task of reproduction to ensure the survival of each particular species. Homo sapiens, on the other hand, has endured months of a rampaging pandemic which to date has recorded 27.9 million infections and caused 905,426 deaths. Bizarrely, the daily updates and incessant chatter on TV networks about Covid-19 have slipped off the front page and are seemingly no longer centre stage. Most countries around the World have eased pandemic-related restrictions and there is no doubt that a mood of relief prevails. People are no longer preoccupied with chattering incessantly about the various protocols and all the personal safety measures applied since March of this year. It seems as if the virus is a
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Boris; a stand up comedian as PM. Whither England and BREXIT?
thing of the past! This is patently incorrect as infections continue to grow exponentially in India, Russia and Brazil. Infections have flared up in Spain and South Korea. America’s infections roll on with mixed messages prevailing in almost every State as to what protocols make best sense to contain the beast. And, to add an extra twist to the tale, Trump and Biden have woven Covid-19 into their respective Presidential campaigns which simply adds to the confusion. All the while America ratchets up close to 50,000 new infections daily. Stage 3 vaccine trials have started for the early biopharmaceutical vaccine developers but anecdotal evidence suggests that it is unlikely a proven vaccine will be ready before mid-2021. No news on Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine which is not entirely surprising given the cloak and dagger style of the Russians. Maybe, washed down with a slug of vodka, it simply scares the hell out of any spikey little virus. One would assume that if Sputnik V was proving effective, Putin would be all over the news like a rash.

At times of great confusion, fanned by endless myths, it does make some sense to look to the “outliers”. Those who chose
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The tainted seating at the WHO. Will there ever be accountability?
to do things a little differently. Sweden is undoubtedly the best example of a country that opted for a different approach to Covid-19. They never went into complete lockdown. People continued to go to pubs and restaurants, schools remained open and most Swedes never bothered with wearing face masks. The virus smacked Stockholm in March and hospitals quickly filled with infected patients. During their peak period about 100 people were dying per day but, after a few months, the hospitals emptied and by late August, fewer than 10 Covid-19 deaths per day were being recorded. This country of 10 million has recorded 5,842 deaths to date. The obvious question is; did Sweden achieve this mythical thing called “herd immunity?” In an article written by a Swedish doctor, he states the following: “Well, if herd immunity hasn’t developed, where are all the sick people? Why has the rate of infection dropped so precipitously? But the size of the response in most of the world has been totally disproportionate to the size of the threat. Sweden ripped the metaphorical band-aid off quickly and got the epidemic over and done with in a short amount of time, while the rest of the world has chosen to try to peel the band-aid off slowly. I am willing to bet that countries that shut down completely will see infection rates spike when they open up.” Thought provoking stuff.

Continuing with the theme of myths, Brian Pottinger penned a fascinating article entitled; “Who will answer for Covid-19’s dark science?” It is intriguing and in no particular order he lists the ten great myths of Covid-19. Firstly, this virus was so virulent that it justified sitting governments shutting down their economies based on the initial indicated case fatality rate (CFR) from China of 5.7 percent. The latest CFR analysis suggests that it will settle at somewhere between a normal flu outbreak and the more intense viral outbreak every ten years or so. By way of example, South Africa is likely to end up with a CFR of no more than 0,14 percent. Secondly, the epidemiological modellers we all sat watching doe-eyed soaking up their “wisdom” did not have a clue. By way of example, in South Africa our scientific dudes advising Government initially talked about a death rate potentially as high as 350,000. They then revised these numbers downwards but they are currently out by 75 percent. The third myth was that our public health services would be buried by the huge influx of infected people. On no continent have health services been overwhelmed. Think of the emergency hospital facilities built at huge cost which did not admit a single patient. The fourth myth is that Covid-19 patients urgently needed intubation and ventilation but it didn’t take long for the experiences of Europe, Britain and America to reveal the exact opposite which was that the worst possible choice for very sick people was intubation. What did we then do? Huge tender invitations were issued for huge quantities of ventilation equipment and oxygen. The fifth myth and according to Pottinger, the biggest, is that the WHO constantly expanded the symptom definitions and as a result, growing confusion reigned between those who died from Covid-19, those with it and uncertainty about whether some ever had it in the first place. Bizarrely the media chose to ignore the obvious linkage between shifting surveillance and the reporting methods and statistical output. Taking England as an example, the average 32,500 annual flu deaths were simply added as Covid-19 suspects whilst in America the average 61,200 annual flu deaths became 6,426. The difference conveniently slotted in as Covid-19 deaths. In South Africa no recordings this year of normal annual flu deaths. Lags in reporting of infections and deaths has been used by the WHO to promote the mythical “second wave” story board. They earned an official rebuke from Sweden whose experience certainly qualified them to challenge the WHO’s numbers misrepresentation. He makes a telling point; the WHO and similar organisations depend on exaggeration to generate their funding streams. The sixth myth is that our so-called Command Council, comprising seriously incompetent politicians and the coterie of health care and scientific advisors, should be forgiven their collective errors as this was a “novel” virus. Not quite. A 2009/10 Swine Flu inquiry in Europe proved beyond doubt that the WHO had deliberately exaggerated many aspects of this outbreak causing a massive diversion of resources and other wasteful vaccine expenditure. Recent history should have been a lesson. For whatever reasons, our Command Council largely ignored the early lessons experienced by the northern hemisphere when designing our pandemic control measures. Myth seven relates to the enforcement of severe lock-downs which occurred largely in countries with poor health care systems. Emerging research disputes that there is any correlation between strict lock-down and virus containment. New York is the best example; strict lock down and 25 percent of their population were infected. London, 17 percent. Sweden, the real winners, saw 7.3 percent infection BUT their economy is largely intact. Myth eight is that all the restrictions and so forth were to save lives. What is isn’t known and which is conveniently side-lined is that hospital “repurposing” for only Covid-19 patients has created a frightening collateral death toll which will far exceed the real Covid-19 deaths. The ninth myth is that Covid-19 would be a major killer event equal to others. Consider the following; the Black Death of 1348 claimed a third of the world’s population, World War 1 took 1.2 percent, World War 2 accounted for 3 percent and the Spanish Flu of 1918 between 1 and 3 percent. Covid-19 as at end July stood at 0.009 percent. And finally, myth ten is that we would trust that our Government would apply wise and rational thought to our response to the threat. What ensued was a comedy of restrictions being applied and then lifted haphazardly largely in response to a collapsing economy. Brutal enforcement saw seven citizens arrested for breach of regulations for each single reported infection. Promised Government aid failed to be disbursed due to incompetence and looting. The scale of Covid-19 corruption and theft throughout this sorry saga should have had us out on the streets in huge numbers. But we simply shrug our shoulders as “we have seen this movie before.” Pottinger leaves a lingering question; will the WHO, Governments, Public Servants and our own special breed of ANC aligned thieves ever be held to account. Don’t hold your breath!

I am tempted to think it’s time to sign off on this Covid-19 assignment but I suspect I will then be guilty of calling an end to an event which I suspect has some way to go yet. By way of compromise, the musings and muddled thoughts captured in these blogs will continue but reverting to a fortnightly version will keep the fires flickering.

Thanks to those who persevere and read some of this stuff.

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12th September 2020

Thanks Tim, always interesting and a good read.
12th September 2020

Covid-19
Thanks Stephen. Look forward to seeing you all next week.
12th September 2020

Thanks for this Tim, I sis not really understand what Sweden did, understood what they did not do, but what was their secret to success? regards John
12th September 2020

Covid-19
Hi John The Swedes probably by mistake rather than design arrived at herd immunity hence dramatic drop in infection rate while other European countries are still spiking.
12th September 2020

Covid-19
Hi John The Swedes probably by mistake rather than design arrived at herd immunity hence dramatic drop in infection rate while other European countries are still spiking.
12th September 2020

Covid-19
Hi John The Swedes probably by mistake rather than design arrived at herd immunity hence dramatic drop in infection rate while other European countries are still spiking.
13th September 2020

Reflecting on the past is more accurate than predicting the future?
Thank you, Tim! I am in awe of how thoroughly you research, then analyse, the state we humans currently find ourselves in. Fascinating times and, as always, reflecting on the the past will inevitably be more accurate than predicting an uncertain future. For example, whilst we in South Africa are finally emerging from lockdown restrictions, Britain is about to resume harsh distancing rules once again as their numbers of infections are steadily on the increase. Likewise, universities that opened in the US are now closing again due to the rapid spread of infections. Trump wants an enquiry into the WHO because it did not declare a pandemic situation soon enough. New Zealand has reintroduced lockdown regulations. British visitors to Portugal now have to quarantine for 14 days. Is herd immunity more quickly reached in some countries? Do some countries just panic unnecessarily? Certainly I am still of my opinion held before lockdown that it was the responsibility of the vulnerable to protect themselves, not the responsibility of the entire populace to protect the vulnerable. Governments made the decisions but we, the people, tacitly supported them. It was always going to be easy to impose lockdown....so much more difficult ‘unlock’. I look forward to your next installment 👍😊
13th September 2020

Covid-19
Thanks Megs. All I can add is that there are more questions than answers.
13th September 2020

Just as an aside, I recently watched an interview with a Swedish official, who was part of the team that decided on their policy towards Covid. She said that, although there was no enforced lockdown, their relatively small (only 10 million people), relatively homogenous society, was extremely disciplined and co-operative. Most people worked from home, most people wore masks and practiced social distancing, most schools implemented prevention measures. Their death rate compared to their population is in fact higher than SA at the moment....so their decisions, in a country fairly easy to control , were much easier than in poverty stricken, health compromised, crowded populations elsewhere. I do, however, believe that the danger of this virus has been hugely over emphasized, that we have been caught in a spiral of panic and fear, and that, with our more sophisticate health systems, we could have coped without the enormous humanitarian crisis that we now face.

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