Jules Adler Panorama de Paris vu du Sacré Coeur 1935
Sometimes the best information comes from unexpected sources. That is certainly true this weekend. Spectator Editor Fraser Nelson had a very revealing Twitter talk with Graham Medley, chair of COVID modeling for UK Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). But first, to get in the mood, a graph on Omicron from South Africa, because that’s what they’re all talking about:
And if you don’t find that convincing (because it’s “only” South Africa), Robert Malone has your back with his take on a Danish study.
Denmark, as of December 9, 2021. Denmark has one of the highest RT-PCR testing capacities in the world and screens all positive RT-PCR tests with an Omicron-specific PCR – allowing screening for Omicron. There have been 785 SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant cases identified in Denmark. The earliest Omicron cases in Denmark occurred before South Africa announced the emergence of this variant. Most cases were fully (76%) or booster-vaccinated (7.1%); 34 (4.3%) had a previous SARS-CoV-2 infection. The majority of cases with available information reported symptoms (509/666; 76%) and most were infected in Denmark (588/644; 91%). One in five cases cannot be linked to previous cases, indicating widespread community transmission. Nine cases have been hospitalized, one required intensive care and no deaths have been registered.
· 1.2% of cases have been hospitalized
· 0.3% in intensive care
· 0% deaths.
· 83% were fully or booster vaccinated, 17% not vaccinated (including 2.6 vaccine started)
· 4.3% had previous SARS-CoV-2 infection
· 91% have no travel history, 9% reported travel
My take: this study is important because although there are studies and spokespeople from South Africa stating similar results, the Danish population in terms of age, body weight, life expectancy, etc. is more similar demographically to the US population. This Danish study suggests that Omicron will affect the American population similarly.
I wrote earlier today: “Mild” is a four letter word. Well, for politicians and media and drugmakers, that is.
Then, the UK. Where word today is that 12 people have died WITH Omicron and 104 are in hospital WITH Omicron. Dying WITH Omicron is not the same as dying FROM Omicron, and being in hospital with it says nothing either, if you don’t know a patient’s age, history, comorbidities etc. And a “case”, as that word is abusively used all the time, is in reality just a positive test with the inherently flawed PCR procedure, and 99.7% of positive tests never go anywhere. Meaningless.
The UK Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, SAGE, predicts “anything from 200 to 6,000 deaths a day” (42,000 a week) from Omicron, and I read somewhere there’s a 2 million cases per week prediction. But there’s something about SAGE’s working methods that you really should know: they only focus on bad or worse scenarios. And it’s not even strictly their fault: good or mild scenarios are simply not their assignment.
Here are Spectator Editor Fraser Nelson and SAGE chair of COVID modeling Graham Medley:
The latest Sage papers have been published, envisaging anything from 200 to 6,000 deaths a day from Omicron depending on how many more restrictions we’ll get – up to and very much including another lockdown. Earlier today I had an unexpected chance to ask questions of Graham Medley, the chair of the Sage modelling committee. He’s a professor at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) which last weekend published a study on Omicron with very gloomy scenarios and making the case for more restrictions. But JP Morgan had a close look at this study and spotted something big: all the way through, LSHTM assumes that the Omicron variant is just as deadly as Delta. ‘But evidence from South Africa suggests that Omicron infections are milder,’ JP Morgan pointed out in a note to clients. Adjust for this, it found, and the picture changes dramatically:-
“Bed occupancy by Covid-19 patients at the end of January would be 33% of the peak seen in January 2021. This would be manageable without further restrictions.’ So JP Morgan had shown that, if you tweak one assumption (on severity) then – suddenly – no need for lockdown. Why was this scenario left out? Why would this fairly-important and fairly-basic fact on Omicron modelling not presented by SAGE modellers like Prof Medley to ministers – and to the general public? I was thrilled for the chance to speak to him on Twitter. It was kind of him to make the time (he’s still going, as far as I can make out). The Spectator data hub has a page devoted to past Sage modelling vs actual, and I wanted to make sure I was not being unfair to Sage in my selection or presentation of those charts.
The latest Sage paper-drop – the 6,000-deaths-a-day one – refers to ‘scenarios,’ not predictions. Prof Medley emphasises the distinction: saying something could happen is not saying that there’s a realistic chance of it happening. But then why do SAGE modellers publish some scenarios and not others? I then jumped to ask Prof Medley.
Revealingly, he seemed to think my question odd: if it’s quite plausible that Omicron is mild and doesn’t the threaten the NHS, what would be the point of including that as a ‘scenario’? He seemed to suggest that he has been given a very limited brief, and asked to churn out worse-case scenarios without being asked to comment on how plausible they are. “We generally model what we are asked to model. There is a dialogue in which policy teams discuss with the modellers what they need to inform their policy.” Might this remit mean leaving out just-as-plausible, quite-important scenarios that would not require lockdown? “Decision-makers are generally on only interested in situations where decisions have to be made.”
Note how careful he is to stay vague on whether any of the various scenarios in the Sage document are likely or even plausible. What happened to the original system of presenting a ‘reasonable worse-case scenario’ together with a central scenario? And what’s the point of modelling if it doesn’t say how likely any these scenarios are? From what Prof Medley says, it’s unclear that the most-likely scenario is even being presented to ministers this time around. So how are they supposed to make good decisions? I highly doubt that Sajid Javid is only asking to churn out models that make the case for lockdown. That instruction, if it is being issued, will have come from somewhere else.
Isn’t that the craziest thing? I think Nelson may be right, and politicians may not be looking for deliberately misleading (to the downside) studies. But those are still all they get, and base their policies upon.
And for some people involved, I am not so sure. Like for Anthony Fauci, and for Pfizer. And of course, the problem with SAGE modeling is probably repeated in 100 other countries, by all the so-called experts, and they feed off each other. Count your blessings.
Meanwhile, the UK increased its PCR testing by some 65% recently, so what are we really talking about, if not apples and bananas?
Reported infections in the U.K. have suddenly spiked in the last three days, up from 59,610 on Tuesday to 78,610 on Wednesday, 88,376 on Thursday and 93,045 on Friday. Looking at the data regionally, the spike is currently much more pronounced in London, the South East, the East of England, the East Midlands and the North West than it is in the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, the South West and the West Midlands. It’s not clear at this point if it is going to continue to rise, though the last three days’ counts don’t appear to indicate continued sharp growth. It is also so far largely an artefact of massively increased testing, as the graph below with data for the U.K. up to December 16th shows. Similar is true for Scotland. Positive tests have spiked.
But positivity is up only a little due to the large increase in testing. How significant is it that the spike began on Monday December 13th, the day after Boris Johnson’s Sunday press conference when he warned everyone about Omicron and told them to get their booster jab? There was a huge surge in demand for booster doses starting that Monday and continuing throughout the week. Could the fact that this surge coincided with a similar surge in both testing and positive tests be more than coincidence? Perhaps people got tested before getting their booster, or just because of the dire warning of a new threat.
The CDC doesn’t like the term “mild”, and neither do the media. because it makes for poor clickbait. They all prefer terms like “grim”, “soar”, “rocket”, “leap”. And they love the words “patients” and “deaths”. As US deaths were down by, what, 30%? (Note in the graph how deaths decreased).
Grim new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have predicted that US COVID-19 deaths will soar by 73 per cent to 15,600 a week by January 8, and that cases will rocket to 1.3 million a week by Christmas Day. The agency revealed projections on Wednesday afternoon that show America will suffer up to 15,600 new Covid deaths a week as of January 8 – or 2,228 deaths per day – a 58 per cent increase from 8,900 deaths currently being recorded each week, equivalent to 1,285 deaths a day. Another CDC prediction estimates that between 620,000 and 1.3 million Americans will have been diagnosed with Covid by the week that ends on December 25 – Christmas Day. That represents a 55% leap on the 840,000 cases that have been recorded over the last week.
Omicron will likely become the dominant Covid strain in the coming weeks, and cause a massive surge of cases shortly after Christmas, one expert has warned, likely fueling the surge the CDC predicts. Dr Gregory Poland, a top epidemiologist at the Mayo Clinic told DailyMail.com that an Omicron-fueled surge in cases could be right around the corner. ‘As best any of us can model, we will have an explosion of cases after the holidays in the in the early-to-mid-January timeframe,’ he said. ‘This variant is hyper transmissible, it spreads exponentially in an environment of cold weather, massive holiday get togethers, no masking and insufficient immunization.’
He believes it will become the dominant strain in the UK – which recorded a record 78,610 cases on Wednesday – in the coming days, and that the U.S. will follow around two weeks later. Cornell University in upstate New York is suspected to be home to the first US Omicron cluster, after 930 students were diagnosed with the virus in recent days. The college says every one of the positive tests it has sequenced so far has been the Omicron variant. A Cornell spokesman hasn’t said exactly how many Omicron cases have been identified, but added that they expect most, if not all, the 930 cases to be caused by the new variant.
And Tony Grinch Fauci is not about to be outdone by the CDC.
Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, said on Sunday that record-breaking death rates could occur as the COVID Omicron variant spreads across the U.S. Fauci made an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, where host Jake Tapper pressed the leading infectious disease expert on where he believes the pandemic is headed. Tapper asked, “Do you expect new record high numbers for cases? And what about hospitalizations and deaths?” “Yes, well, unfortunately, Jake, I think that that is going to happen,” Fauci replied.
“We are going to see a significant stress in some regions of the country on the hospital system, particularly in those areas where you have a low level of vaccination, which is one of the reasons why we continue to stress the importance of getting those unvaccinated people vaccinated.” [..] “It is going to be tough,” Fauci said. “We can’t walk away from that, Jake. We can’t, because, with Omicron that we’re dealing with, it is going to be a tough few weeks to months as we get deeper into the winter.”
If and when you’re suffering under yet another lockdown and/or any other restrictions, you should know they are for naught. There is no indication to date that Omicron will fill up hospitals, or ICUs, or that it will kill millions of people.
But that for now refuted scenario is still why those restrictions are being put in place, why you are being told not to hug your intensely lonely grandma for Christmas. Useless. And why everyone is told to get a booster, and soon another. Also useless.
It’s time for all of you to grow a spine and a pair of balls (sorry, ladies, just a manner of speech) and start living your lives again. Time to get rid of Fauci, and of Pfizer, and SAGE, and fill in your local/national bunch of experts. Because as long as they are there, they will hog the limelight, and you will never be able to start to live your life again.
A simple Christmas message.
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