The novel Coronavirus, aka SARS-CoV-2, has completely saturated the airwaves of the world’s mass media in recent weeks and months. As ever, governments and the corporate media appear to be fathoms ahead of the actual story. But that’s alright. Because those who are paraded before us know that they’re often afforded total impunity to say and do as they please. If they incite hysteria, so be it.
Let’s apply some basic logic to this ongoing farce. Reports of this lethal virus first emerged from China back in late December. But by then, of course, it was very likely to have been spreading through the population undetected for several weeks and months. Because experts have claimed that:
- This novel strain has an incubation period of up to 3-4 weeks;
- About 80.1% of those infected will experience only mild symptoms;
- Up to 20-30% of people infected will be asymptomatic;
- Asymptomatic carriers can still infect others;
- It would obviously take a number of serious cases in an identifiable cluster before the local health authority would have suspected anything unusual.
- Allow for the usual delay for testing, results, conferring with higher orders, and so on and so forth.
- We should also allow for the inevitable delay of the Chinese authorities admitting to the wider world that its population is being ravaged by a pathogen it’s struggling to contain.
A conservative estimate, then, would be that at least 4 months have passed since first transmission.
The World Health Organization (WHO), its virologists and medical experts, and those from affiliated organisations, repeatedly tell us that this virus is highly contagious, far more so than just the ordinary flu. And that it’s deadly. Researchers and public health officials determine how contagious a virus is by calculating a reproduction number, or R0. The R0 is the average number of people that one person will infect, in a completely non-immune population. WHO believes the R0 to be around 2.5. And of those infected, they estimate the mortality rate to be 3.4%, with risk increasing with age and for all those who have, for whatever reason, compromised immune systems. But if the WHO’s figures are correct, as of early to mid-March, we would surely expect to see more cases of COVID-19 and more deaths.
Wuhan is a travel and trade hub of 11 million people. In 2018 Wuhan Tianhe International Airport served about 25 million passengers. It was shut down by the authorities on January 22nd. So, in those key months at the onset of community transmission, millions of passengers were travelling unrestricted from the outbreak’s epicentre to all 4 corners of China, and to destinations in neighbouring countries and major airports around the world. This at a time when traffic was higher than usual on account of the Chinese New Year.
With all that in mind, let’s look at the latest global figures of this ‘highly’ contagious and lethal virus (as of the morning of 12/3/2020):
- Total confirmed cases: 125,851; Total Deaths: 4,615
- China cases: 80,921; Deaths: 3,046
- Italy cases: 12,462; Deaths: 827
- Iran Cases: 9,000; Deaths: 354
- Then comes Republic of Korea with 60 deaths, Spain with 54 and France with 48.
- China have had 3046 deaths in just under 2 months (53 deaths per day);
- Italy, 827 deaths in 18 days (46 deaths per day);
- Iran, 354 deaths in 28 days (13 deaths per day).
I stress again that these are the countries worst hit by the outbreak. (All figures are subject to positive tests and presumably, some sort of Coroner’s report – in the UK all deaths are subject to a post-mortem if the individual has not seen a doctor within 2 weeks of death. It’s highly likely infection figures are much higher than recorded. In which case, WHO’s claims of a 3.4% death rate are questionable from only a cursory look at the current data).
For some perspective, let’s compare these to the mortality rates of the common flu (influenza). Which comprises strains that are said to be far less contagious – lower R0s – and far less deadly – 30-40 times less deadly than SARS-CoV-2 according to WHO figures (the studies will be linked below):
The WHO estimates that globally between 290,000 – 650,000 die every year from influenza, with 3-5 million severe cases. This is obviously including deaths that have been precipitated by influenza (as the SARS-CoV-2 deaths have been precipitated by contracting the virus – which is why the elderly with underlying health conditions are the most vulnerable). Influenza’s peak months are winter through to spring. The death toll changes every year, some years being worse than others. In many places this figure is quoted as being around 500,000 deaths annually.
The global population is estimated to be 7,800,000,000.
China’s population is estimated to be 1,439,323,776 – about 18% of the world’s total population.
We would therefore expect that about 90,000 people, which is 18% of 500,000, will die every year in China as a result of contracting influenza.
We recall that China has had 3046 COVID-19 attributed deaths in just under 2 months (53 deaths per day). At that rate there would be around 19,345 deaths over the year, significantly under what we would expect from the far less contagious and deadly common flu.
People will say that because the country is in lockdown mode, it has been somewhat successful in averting much higher numbers. This is self-evident. However, because these measures have no precedent, we have nothing to compare them to. We don’t know the impact, for example, these measures have had on seasonal influenza numbers. (In fact, throughout all of this current seasonal influenza numbers are conspicuous by their absence).
Others will say that the Chinese authorities have suppressed figures and there’s every reason to believe that they are much higher than reported. I agree. But with that being said, why should we believe anything coming out of China? Including ‘leaked’ footage of swelling hospital wards, women being pulled out of houses by their hair by men in biohazard suits, and tenement blocks being welded shut in efforts to contain the virus. Meanwhile, international airports remain open across the country. What’s wrong with this picture? (Similarly, Italy is currently on “lockdown”, yet its airports remain open).
China is ruled by an authoritarian regime. Very little comes out without the government’s say so. They have their own social media platforms, and a social credits system, with those displeasing the government losing social points. Lose enough and they can be denied travel, basic provisions and will be named and shamed in public places. We should therefore not apply western standards to a country which is alien to them. As a side note, I should add that another key difference is that, though all countries will be hit by an economic crash, China will benefit in relative terms because western nations are saddled with far more debt.
Over the 4 annual reports in Britain between 2014-18, 84,622 deaths attributed to influenza and “extreme temperatures” were recorded. That’s an average death rate of 21,155 persons per year – equating to an average of 58 deaths per day, with obviously higher prevalence during peak months.
We recall that Italy’s death toll since the first fatality equates to an average of 46 deaths per day. The UK population is estimated at around 67 million. Italy’s, 60 million. The Italian figures are therefore unremarkable. In fact, like China, you could argue that we would actually expect to see more deaths in Italy from the common flu in what is currently peak season, than what has been listed as a result of COVID-19. Especially when you consider that Italy has an older population than the UK. Again, the argument will be that the Italian authorities have probably been successful in suppressing the severity of the spread; but, I repeat, we have nothing to compare these extraordinary measures to, and what may have been their effects in suppressing seasonal influenza.
Short of having the Italian figures, let’s compare Italy to another Mediterranean country. In Spain for the season 18/19, 6,300 influenza deaths were recorded. That equates to 17 deaths per day over the year – with prevalence being higher in winter and spring. Its population is estimated to be 47 million. 78% of Italy’s 60 million. We recall that at an average of 46 people are dying per day in Italy. 78% of 46 is just shy of 36. Significantly higher than the Spanish figure. But nothing out of the ordinary. Because this is peak season and the Spanish figure was a yearly average.
It’s argued that influenza was already endemic when the flu season started, giving it a huge head start on SARS-CoV-2. And unlike influenza, we are dealing with a single geographic origin. There have also been efforts to contain its spread. But we don’t know how successful those efforts have been to also contain influenza’s spread. Because those figures are not being released. Moreover, given that there are obviously far more cases of SARS-CoV-2 than what is being reported, but not necessarily, significantly more deaths, the WHO’s 3.4% mortality rate of those infected seems scarcely credible.
We should also stress that the common flu spreads in a population where many people have either partial or full immunity from previous flu seasons. And for which many others will be partially immunized by taking a vaccine (interestingly, this somewhat aligns with the reported 20-30% asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 cases). This will keep numbers down. However, we can’t say the same for SARS-CoV-2. This highly contagious and lethal virus is purportedly spreading through a population with no immunity and for which there is no vaccine. This should unfortunately raise numbers significantly. Are we seeing this reflected in the current data?
In fact, none of the data looks in any way remarkable when compared to seasonal influenza. Of which there are many different mutating strains of varying severity. So, if this is a crisis, perhaps we should add it to the crisis we experience at this time every year, where hospitals are invariably swelling with patients suffering from the effects of the common flu.
Richard Hatchett, CEO, ‘Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations’, said recently on a television interview that SARS-CoV-2 was “here to stay”. It will apparently rear its ugly head periodically. Still sounds like the flu doesn’t it? He also said that “war is an appropriate analogy”. As has the Italian Health minister. Who has been quoted as saying that “we are at war”, and “a bomb has gone off in Italy”.
This analogy should make us pause for thought. War, and more importantly, the threat of war, has been used since time immemorial to keep the structure of society intact. Former president James Madison said it best:
“Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded…War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes…and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few…No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”
Most wars are entered into under duplicitous means. So, why should ‘this’ war be any different? In a world where politics, science and money can become the same, we should be careful not to be swept up in manufactured hysteria. (I will explore these points in further detail in a follow up article).
I see no convincing data that would support the conclusion that SARS-CoV-2 is radically different to the common flu. But, of course, everyone should still be prepared and should still take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their family. My thoughts are with all those who have lost loved ones in recent times.
Stay safe and God bless.
*Figures are accurate as of the morning of 12/3/2020. We should expect figures to go up. But we are a long away from fears of exponential rises, despite claims that SARS-CoV-2 is spreading rapidly. As stated, after 4 months or more it is currently underperforming typical seasonal influenza figures.