Alex Davis is a business executive and director of several companies in New Zealand and overseas.
He has included a lot of links to substantiate his opinion. In particular, this Swiss site which contains a large selection of articles on COVID-19. Alex originally offered his opinion piece to the NZ Herald and then Stuff. Both declined to publish it. He speculates that they may not have not published it because “they are afraid of not toeing the government line because they are hoping to get a bail out post the collapse of Bauer media”.
In January when stories of a new virus were emerging from China, global politicians barely reacted. Fast forward just two months and the world has seen the most rapid erosion of civil liberties in history. We have gone from liberal democracies with full freedom of movement and association to economy shattering lockdowns unimaginable just weeks before
The science we were (and are) being told was clear: lockdown now or millions will die.
Except that the science and particularly the data are far from clear. There is a growing list of eminent scientists and researchers around the world now questioning whether our leaders, egged on by irrational panic by among their citizenry, have in fact completely over-reacted to COVID-19, with devastating consequences.
Articles in the New York Times, The Spectator, the Financial Times, the Telegraph and the British Medical Journal, to name just a few, are now asking the obvious question: are we sure that COVID-19 is as bad as we feared?
This question is of paramount importance given that in our desperate attempts to stop or stall COVID-19, governments have overnight completely suspended centuries of basic liberties and in the process decimated huge sections of our economy – actions that we will be paying for over many decades to come.
There is insufficient room in this article to cover all the many valid counter opinions to the current narrative that COVID-19 is an existential threat to our society but there is an entire blog by a Swiss-based non-profit detailing hundreds of articles and studies that have already questioned this narrative. Three here will suffice:
Professor Sucharit Bhakdi, a world-renowned expert in medical microbiology, says blaming the new coronavirus alone for deaths is “wrong” and “dangerously misleading” as there are other more important factors at play, notably pre-existing health conditions and poor air quality in Chinese and Northern Italian cities. He describes the currently imposed measures as “useless”, “self-destructive” and a “collective suicide” that, paradoxically, will shorten the lifespan of the elderly and should not be accepted by society.
A model from Imperial College London predicted between 250,000 and 500,000 deaths in the UK “from” COVID-19, but the study’s authors have now conceded that many of these deaths would not be in addition to but rather, part of the normal annual mortality rate, which in the UK is about 600,000 people per year. In other words, excess mortality would remain low.
The UK government itself has now removed COVID-19 from the official list of High Consequence Infectious Diseases (HCID), stating that mortality rates are “low overall“.
Yes there is dramatic footage from Italian hospitals and body bags in halls in New York which make for terrifying television but – and this is the key point – this is not science and it is not what we should be using to make decisions that are crippling the lives of literally billions of people. This is a time for cool heads and considered decisions, not hyperbole. For the record, there is also mounting evidence that the pressure on the health systems in places like the US, Germany and elsewhere are nowhere near as high as is being claimed, that it is in fact surprisingly quiet – see:
So quiet in fact that CBS used footage from Italy for scenes for a report on New York and then had to admit its “mistake”.
Even the government’s own numbers simply don’t stack up on the dire predictions. To date, New Zealand has had just one death associated with coronavirus – a woman in her seventies with an underlying chronic health condition. As of 11am 5 April, New Zealand has 950 cases. That means the (simple) case fatality rate is 1/950 or 0.1% – roughly the same as seasonal influenza. We should also note that there is no evidence that this unfortunate lady died “from” COVID-19 rather than “with” – this is a critical clinical distinction that the media and the government have conveniently ignored.
But it is worse than that – if we take into account the huge numbers of persons infected who have mild or no symptoms; the British Medical Journal cites data from China showing that 78% of virus “victims” are entirely asymptomatic and therefore are highly likely to never be tested at all and so will never turn up in the official statistics. This under-reporting has been variously estimated as low as 1 in 2 (ie. half of all infections have not been identified) in high testing areas such as Korea and Iceland and as high as 1 in 300 (ie. more than 99.6% of all infections have not been identified) in areas where little testing has been done. Taking these numbers into account, the fatality rate would plunge further. If we take a conservative view and say that 1 in 3 who are actually infected are confirmed as infected then the REAL rate drops to 1 death in 2850 or 0.03%, ie. LESS than the flu.
There is also the question of whether the draconian actions taken to forestall the disease will actually wreak more havoc than the disease itself. The increase in rates of depression, suicide and domestic violence due to the lockdown, the avoidable loss of life as medical procedures are curtailed due to the radical re-orientation of health care systems and the total destruction of our economy (forecasts of unemployment in the United States now run as high as 30% – higher than the Great Depression) – these are all the consequences of the unprecedented actions now being taken by governments based on perilously thin data and analysis. To cite just one example: there is strong scientific evidence (including this study from the University of Otago) that an increase in unemployment is strongly correlated with an increase in suicide.
If, as the data are beginning to suggest, COVID-19 is nowhere near as bad as we have been told, the issue for governments globally is how do we get out of this mess? Politicians have a terrible track record of admitting they have made mistakes, let alone potential mistakes of this magnitude. How can the government, having called “fire” in a crowded theatre and causing mayhem and panic, now admit it was all an error?
The simple answer is that it can’t. It will keep digging. So instead expect to see the government call for increased testing to try to capture the large numbers of people who have COVID-19 with no or mild symptoms (remembering this is over three-quarters of all cases) to try to use the higher numbers to justify their decision (while quietly not reporting that the vast majority of those cases will be mild).
To be clear, this is not calling for a pre-emptive lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. Instead, the government needs to urgently abandon their pre-determined narrative and talking points and rapidly examine all the science around COVID-19, not just the hysteria-inducing headlines. If the threat is real then they will be congratulated for having saved lives. If on the other hand, the threat is not as serious as feared they need to urgently lift the restrictions and get our economy back on its feet before irreparable damage is done. This examination needs to be conducted in public so we, the citizens, their ultimate masters (and those that bear the consequences of their decisions) can have confidence in the analysis and the result.
What they absolutely cannot do is ignore the many voices and data beginning to call into question the mass hysteria and panic COVID-19 has caused. This is the most serious crisis our society has faced since World War II – cool heads must prevail. The stakes are literally life and death.
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