The most official international sources undermine our covid narrative

Last week official sources confirmed two of the main things I've said about the COVID-19 pandemic since we entered level 4 lockdown in March:

1. COVID-19 has a similar fatality rate to influenza: The World Health Organization (indirectly, putting their own numbers together - see note for sources and discussion)

2. The effect of lockdowns will be disastrous for increasing inequality: The World Bank.

The other main thing I said, but that the WHO and governments who enacted lockdowns have every incentive to never admit, is that lockdowns were always out of place. They were out of place from the perspective of the actual deadliness of the disease (as opposed to the media hype), and out of place from the perspective of healthcare economics. In other words, that lockdowns were a policy born of fear (and political calculation) more than proceeding from healthcare calculation.

Governments had essentially already determined an acceptable level of risk regarding flu, as well as other illnesses - effectively putting a price on the value of human life, despite the rhetoric about lives being priceless. That's the definition of healthcare economics: there's a limited amount of money to be spent on healthcare, so we have to decide how much should be spent and what should be prioritized.

Not only did the data indicate COVID-19's similar fatality rate to flu, it was even more clear that COVID-19 disproportionally affected the elderly, making it less damaging in healthcare economics terms, which is calculated not only in terms of preventable deaths, but number of human-years added and measures of quality of subsequent life. So here was a disease which, in itself, was probably less dangerous than flu, but which was suddenly worth spending >20x more per life saved than other diseases - and that's assuming the worst-case projections were correct, instead of the actuality of being >30x too pessimistic, so the reality is more like spending hundreds of times more per life saved. Suddenly healthcare spending was no object, debt was no concern - and all non-emergency healthcare was heavily de-prioritized - with doctors terrified from news of Italy and New York, waiting in quiet hospitals for a tsunami of illnesses that has yet to come (and was unlikely ever to, based on experience overseas - as opposed to those worst-case images).

Of course it's much worse than that, because it wasn't actually spending on healthcare, it was spending on a vast swathe of subsidies to attempt (in vain, in many cases) to keep businesses afloat through lockdowns.

So now we have huge debt and a vastly worsened inequality problem for the next generation to deal with - and for that price we are left with strict border quarantine and a population that still doesn't have herd immunity, unlike much of the rest of the world (disease resistance is another topic, but to start with look at the death rate in Sweden, which managed without lockdowns - see "Daily New Deaths" at https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/sweden/).



Note: WHO estimated 10% of people globally have been infected. At the same time they said there had been 1,030,738 deaths globally. Global population is estimated at about 7.82 billion, making a fatality rate of 782/1.03=0.13%. Globally, a typical flu season is around 0.1% (Wikipedia & WHO).

If COVID-19 being similarly deadly to flu doesn't sound right, note that

a. There are good reasons to doubt WHO's infection estimate... but you can't have it both ways - this is the situation according to their figures.

b. In recent years many places such as the US, flu exceeded epidemic levels for 2-3 months annually - influenza deaths have been gradually increasing for the past decade in most places, despite increased vaccinations.

c. This is not the impression media has been giving, but it is what the data has indicated the entire time - actual data that is, not the worst-case predictions of some epidemiologists that governments chose to base their responses on, which were even worse than the WHO's March figure of 3.4% (26x higher than what they're saying now).

d. COVID-19 spread much faster than flu, so in that respect it was more dangerous and did present a greater risk of overwhelming healthcare resources. However it was unreasonable to expect most places to be overwhelmed like northern Italy and New York were, because they were already being overwhelmed by flu in the previous years (yes, overflowing morgues and all - though of course to a lesser degree than with the coronavirus).


(This post was originally posted to Facebook; see further updates and comments there)

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