QED

One Dozen Dissenting Second Opinions

It spreads out invisibly. It spreads along the streets and train tracks, over the counters and tables, the packaging and surfaces. And it spreads above all about what makes us human: closeness to each other. Confidential conversations, joint efforts on the sports field, tender touches – all of this helps the new corona virus on its way through the world . Hands, nose, eyes, mouth: For SARS-COV-2, people are open wounds waiting to be infected. Some people simply cannot afford it.

The quote above is the translated opening paragraph of an editorial in Tagesspiegel (Daily Mirror), the main newspaper of Berlin, but could have been written anywhere in the world, especially in Australia. The message of fear, of an unknown and invisible killer, is designed to condition the citizens to accept unquestioningly the repressive measures prescribed for them by their betters. Measures imposed without justification.

Germany, surprisingly, turns out to be very similar to Australia, despite having more than three times the population and surrounded, not by water, but by other populous nations. It has gone onto the highest alert level under its Infection Protection Act, but more sensibly nuanced than Australia. Schools and daycare centres were closed, distancing of 1.5m was prescribed, and people were required to stay in their apartments and leave only with good reason and in no more than pairs, as for shopping or exercise. They are free to visit parents and old people and attend funerals. There are no fines for disobedience; Chancellor Merkel’s threat of severe punishment for ignoring the rules seems to be enough.

As of March 30, Germany had recorded 62,435 infections and 560 deaths, a mortality rate of 0.89 per cent. Australia, by March 31, had 4361 infections and 18 deaths, a mortality rate of 0.41 per cent.

Of the 18 Australians whose demise has been attributed to Covid-19, 17 were over 70 years of age and nine (half) were more than 80. What pre-existing illnesses or diseases did these people carry? What was the real cause of death? We now know that Italy’s statistics have been inflated by counting every hospital death as if solely attributable to the new virus — those died with the disease as well as those who died from it. Are those 18 very senior Australians who died really victims of Covid-19? Would they not have succumbed to this season’s ‘flu?

Thirty people die every day in Australia from influenza, pneumonia or chronic lower respiratory disease – a total of 11,000 in 2018, the latest figures – but never before has a government plunged the country into recession and then mortgaged its future to $320 billion dollars for a ‘flu epidemic. There are eminent medical scientists who believe the over-reaction by bureaucrats and politicians living a long way from the life and death reality faced daily by practising doctors, and anxious not to be castigated for inaction, is unnecessary. Here is a list of twelve whose opinions contradict the popular narrative:

Dr Sucharit Bhakdi, microbiologist and infectious disease epidemiologist, formerly of Mainz University Germany: “All these measures are leading to self-destruction and collective suicide based on nothing but a spook.”

Dr Joel Kettner, Professor of Community Health Sciences and Surgery, Manitoba University, Canada: “I’ve seen pandemics, one every year. It is called influenza, and other respiratory illness viruses. I’ve never seen this reaction, and I’m trying to understand why.”

Dr John Ioannidis, Professor of Medicine, Health Research and Policy and Biomedical Data Science, Stanford University USA: “If we had not known about a new virus out there, the number of ‘influenza-like illness’ would not seem unusual this year. At most, we might have casually note that flu this season seems a bit worse than average.”

Dr Yoram Lass, former Director General of the Israeli Health Ministry: “We all forget the swine flu in 2009. That was a virus that reached the world from Mexico and until today there is no vaccination against it. At the time there was no Facebook. The coronavirus, in contrast, is a virus with public relations. Whoever thinks that governments end viruses is wrong.”

Dr Pietro Vernazza, infectious diseases specialist, St Gallen Hospital, Switzerland: “In Italy, one in ten people diagnosed die, one for every 1,000 infected. Often – similar to the flu season – it affects people who are at the end of their lives … If we close the schools, we will prevent the children from quickly becoming immune … We should better integrate the scientific facts into the political decisions.”

Dr Wolfgang Wodarg, physician specialist in pulmonology, Germany: ”Politicians are being courted by scientists – scientists who want to be important to get money for their institutions. Scientists who just swim along in the mainstream and want their part of it. And what is missing now is a rational way of looking at things.”

Dr Yanis Roussel, speaking for researchers at the Mediterranean University Hospital Infection Insitute, Marseille: “Systematic studies of other coronaviruses have found that the percentage of asymptomatic carriers is equal to or even higher than the percentage of symptomatic patients. The same data for Cov-19 may soon be available, which will further reduce the relative risk associated with this specific pathology.”

Dr David Katz, founding director of the Yale University Prevention Research Centre: “I am deeply concerned that the social, economic and public health consequences of this near-total meltdown of normal life will be long-lasting and calamitous, possibly graver than the direct toll of the virus itself … The unemployment, impoverishment and despair likely to result will be public health scourges of the first order.”

Michael T Osterholm, director of the Centre for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, University of Minnesota, USA: “The best alternative (to a shutdown) will probably entail letting those at low risk for serious disease continue to work, while advising higher-risk individuals to protect themselves through physical distancing. With this battle plan we could gradually build up immunity without destroying the financial structure on which are lives are based.”

Dr Peter Goetzsche, professor of clinical research design and analysis, University of Copenhagen, Denmark: “Our main problem is that no one will ever get in trouble for measures that are too draconian. They will only get in trouble if they do too little. Remember the joke about tigers: ‘Why did you blow the horn?’  ‘To keep tigers away’. ‘But there are no tigers here.’ ‘There, you see!’”

Frank Ulrich Montgomery, radiologisst, former president of the German Medical Association: “I am not a fan of lockdown. Anyone who imposes something like this must also say when and how to pick it up again. You can’t keep schools and daycare centres closed until the end of the year. Because it will take at least that long until we have a vaccine.”

Professor Hendrik Streeck, epidemiologist and clinical trialist, director of the Institute of Virology, Bonn University, Germany: “The new pathogen is not that dangerous. Covid-19 replicates in the upper throat area and is therefore much more infectious because the virus jumps from throat to throat, so to speak. SARS-1 is not so infectious but it replicates in the deep lungs, which makes it more dangerous.”

Of the dozen, Dr Bhakdi has achieved more worldwide notice for his calm, unemotional analysis of the Covid-19 hysteria in a series of YouTube broadcasts. Nevertheless he could not resist describing the lockdown measures  in Germany (milder than Australia’s) as “grotesque, absurd and dangerous”. In his latest broadcast, an open letter to Chancellor Merkel, he makes the point that infection is not disease or illness. “The daily numbers of registered infections is indeed exponential” he explains, “But they cannot serve as a reliable basis for any calculations on the possible burden on medical care. We need the numbers of genuine clinically relevant Covid-19 cases to arrive at any sensible prediction.” He revealed that this month French teams had completed the first comparative study which showed that Covid-19 was not more dangerous than other Corona viruses. Dr Bhakdi wants to know just what Germany is doing to inform its society about the differences between Italy and Germany, to tell the people that they need have no fear that a similar scenario threatens their country. That is a question we need to be asking of Canberra.

Why should Australians be content to be told merely that decisions which bankrupt their businesses, throw hundreds of thousands out of work, shut down all social life, criminalise petty transgressions and incur a vast national debt are “based on the best medical advice?”

What is the basis for projections of patients, hospital beds, ICUs and respirators that promise chaos? Are they extrapolated from the experience of China? Italy? Spain? Are the “best medical advisors” aware that the real death rate from Covid-19 is likely not the gross 18 counted today. Do they care? Or is it more convenient to continue to pretend that the vicious restrictions will “solve” the virus problem in time.

Australians are being taken for a ride by well-meaning but blinkered bureaucratic experts and subservient politicians. How can the curtailment of human rights and freedoms be justified? Where is the Marc Antony we need to remind us that we are not “men of wood” and call for the very stones to rise and mutiny?

17 comments
  • DG

    I like the Czech solution: everyone continues as normal but wears face masks in public. Not to stop you getting, but to stop you giving.

    Ah, if only Aussie ingenuity had come up with that: simple, cheap, practical, and you could still go to the coffee shop.

  • Peter OBrien

    And Australians are copping it because all these strictures are accompanied by the line ‘you are helping to save lives’. As of today we have approx 450 cases of infection that are not directly related to a returning traveller – so-called community transfer. It would be interesting to know how many of the at-risk group are among this number because that will give us a good indication of how many more deaths we can expect in the near future. So far the death rate within the infected at-risk group is approx 3.4% but all of those deaths are from the ‘returning traveller’ and ‘direct contact with returning traveller’ categories. Our low death rate might have been thought of as a statistical blip if it had lasted only a day or two but not almost four weeks.

  • Peter Smith

    Informative rundown of dissenting views Geoffrey. There are probably many more. I noticed in yesterday’s Australian newspaper that Sunetra Gupta a professor of epidemiology at Oxford Uni takes issue with the (exaggerated) projections in the Imperial College (IC) report, which I wrote about; seemingly an age ago now. My focus was specific and I needed to get something down quickly. What I didn’t know at the time is that Neil Ferguson who heads the IC team has a record of grossly overestimating fatalites due to epidemics in animals and humans. Apparently he predicted 69,000 deaths in the UK from Swine flu yet only some hundreds died.
    I heard Trump today talking about there being up to 2.2 million fatalities in the US if nothing had been done – this is Dr Fauci scaring Trump with the IC projections; which Ferguson has already pulled back on – I understand from the same newspaper report I referred to above. Trump and other world leaders need to bring in medical experts with counter views. They are doing themselves and all of us sheep a disservice if they don’t. And, quite apart from that, they need to start understanding (getting advice on), and balancing, the consequences and costs of what they are doing with the projected benefits. Meanwhile the madness goes on.

  • ianl

    DG

    ” …you could still go to the coffee shop”

    Well, yes – but drinking coffee through a P2 mask is quite a feat. I’d like to watch that 🙂
    While the “herd immunity” concept is superficially attractive, hard data on what really happens to a general population when exposed to this infection is needed before that is tried. I have read that Sweden is doing just that experiment – hard, reliable, demographic data is being collected, though I don’t expect it to be fully released, and this may be sufficient to short-circuit the muddled response here.
    I did notice Berejiklian in this morning’s de rigeur tv announcement showing (for a brief moment) her panic at what the Diamond Princess stupidity of her senior health officials may have wrought.

  • STJOHNOFGRAFTON

    “Meanwhile the madness goes on.”
    Yeah, it would be great if those responsible for steering our path through CV-19 troubled waters took these learned dissenting second opinions into consideration. Surely this is prudent whilst contemplating follow-up radical economectomy to rid our country from the invading viral scourge.

  • Peter OBrien

    If herd immunity is a viable option it would most like;y work in our situation where we got the virus in summer. If we have a different Wuhan virus next year or the year after that or the year after that, it will be our only strategy because there will be nothing in the piggy bank.

  • Peter OBrien

    Peta Credlin just told us that ‘experts warn that it’s there weeks before we get an expected surge’. Does anyone know what is the basis for this projection and what does it mean? And what is the surge – infections or deaths or both?

  • Stephen Due

    Peter O’B. The surge can’t be the number of infections, which is unknown. It could be deaths or reported cases. Meanwhile the authorities are tackling the ’emergency’ in the only way they can think of, which is to tell people to ‘stay at home’. Nothing like rolling out a bit of medieval science. It might work. But then again it might not. Without actual data on the infection rate and distribution it’s just the blind leading the blind.

  • Citizen Kane

    The Deputy CMO in his daily press conference today admitted that there has never been a successful vaccine for a Coronavirus and that he doesn’t expect that lockdowns would eradicate the virus completely. Both points I made in response to Peter Wales article on 30 March. Ultimately herd immunity and by extension the extinguishing of novel in this highly transmissible novel Coronavirus is the only ultimate end game.

  • JohnG

    Thanks for this post – cause for wider pause. On googling, I find that in each year in NZ (5M) 200,000 will get flu, of whom 400-500 die, mostly the 65-79 age group and in poorer areas, unfortunately. On this basis Covid-19 seems to be less/less harmful than normal flu – so far 708 cases, and one death for March.

    Yet astoundingly Parliament has been shut without so much as a murmur from the public – and not even an effort to hold it by video-link as Germany; there is no freedom of assembly, distribution newspapers has ceased; and – I kid you not – the Police have been given new “special powers” although what they are seems not to have been published and nor have I seen any intention to publish them; use of the army has “not been ruled out”. All this seems unconstitutional. Is anyone awake?

  • Lacebug

    The Wuhan Virus, is a bit like homosexuality: There are givers and there are takers, and the takers will end up in bed for a few days, wondering what just hit them.

  • en passant

    This is an update on my post of 25th March, as it is even more relevant now.
    – The lockdown cure will DEFINITELY prove worse than the disease. I drove down our local restaurant strip again today and saw FIVE (UP ONE IN A WEEK) ‘For Lease’ signs. Already businesses are collapsing AND THIS CAN ONLY INCREASE.
    – ScoMo, Albo and the Greenfool Crew missed their vocations in US Army PR as they CONTINUE TO declare “We had to destroy Australia to save it”.
    – The only people who can lend us the stimulus ‘sit down money’ are the Chinese – who will soon demand we hand over our assets, land and businesses to pay them back. Like the aborigines before us, we will be pushed aside and replaced.
    – Could this just be the excuse they needed to see how far they could push ‘social control’ on a mass scale to remove individuality?
    – The death toll on Victorian roads so far this year is 85, Coronavirus Nationally = 21. Ban all cars and trucks to save lives”? Honestly, I’m kidding …
    – MORE PEOPLE WILL COMMIT SUICIDE THAN WILL DIE OF COVID-19 AS THEIR BLIGHTED LIVES AND YEARS OF WORK ARE DESTROYED.
    – AUSTERITY AND DRACONIAN TAXES ARE THE LIGHT OUR WELL RECOMPENSED AND GENEROUSLY SUPERANNUATED POLITICIANS SEE AS THEIR ONLY OPTION
    GEOFFREY,
    YOU HAVE PROVIDED THE EVIDENCE FOR THE OPINION I HAVE HELD SINCE BEFORE THIS AFFLICTION (COVID-19, NOT OUR POLITICAL WEEVILS) HIT OZ.
    HOW STRANGE THAT IT IS POSSIBLE FOR OUR POLITICAL LEADERS TO BE ABLE TO MEMORISE THE NAMES OF EVERYONE ALLEGED TO HAVE DIED OF CV-19, BUT THEY WOULD BE UNLIKELY TO KNOW NAME A SINGLE PERSON WHO HAS DIED IN A ROAD ACCIDENT OR OF COMMON FLU.
    THIS IS JUST A TRIAL RUN FOR THE ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT – TO THE BATTLE CRY OF ‘WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER!’
    I’LL OPT OUT, THANKS.

  • March

    NSW Police commissioner today indicated control measures would stay in place for 90 days.
    Let them eat cake!

  • pgang

    March, since when is he calling the shots? Is it just a free-for-all now?

  • Bwana Neusi

    Some poor bastards will have to pay for this and my guess is that it will be the superannuants who suddenly find that they have to “Bail In” the government.

  • Lo

    But we superannuants will have had our lives saved by the house arrest, so we should be grateful. Or so they’ll say, to justify the theft.

  • Mali Taus

    I wish I could share this at work. But I work for an international organisation like the ABC and Australian universities where thinking for yourself or speaking out about the accepted dogma is actively discouraged. Statistics like “0.1% of the population ….” or comparing the mortality rate of Covid 19 with seasonal flu, HIV AIDS, malaria, cigarette and alcohol related, abortion or starvation, (you would die of fright if you looked these up) is “glossing over the thousands of dead and million infected”. One of my colleagues lost an aunt to and his brother is down with C19: I would be labelled (yet again) as being insensitive.
    I tried to rent an AirB&B this week to get away from the in-laws with whom I find myself stranded abroad since mid-March. My request was declined by the host because of the corona fears of other residents in the apartment block. I live around the corner. This really frightened me for it signals the beginning of the end as the social fabric comes apart at the seams, as humans start to mistrust one another.
    Of a similar ilk, there are people dying alone in hospitals because families are too frightened to visit them. In their place, exhausted nursing staff spend time with the dying when they should be tending others.
    I fear another great depression but this time it will be coupled with “the living dead”: too frightened of your neighbours, indeed your family, to help one another. Couple that with an authoritarian and repressive state and the “scourge” of the C19 virus will seem like a happy memory in comparison.

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