NZ academics argue over Covid-19

There are a number of contentious aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic, in particular how stringent restrictions should be on travel and on home isolation, and the economic management and effects. There is a lot to debate.

Some New Zealand academics have been doing their debating in public, which is generally a good thing, these are important issues that need to be openly discussed.

Newsroom: Navigating a public spat between scientists

A scientific spat over Covid-19 reached peak contrarian yesterday thanks to the country’s contrarian-in-chief, Mike Hosking.

Following a Stuff opinion piece that said “We don’t want to squash a flea with a sledgehammer and bring the house down”, University of Auckland senior lecturer and epidemiologist Simon Thornley explained his views on Newstalk ZB.

He told broadcaster Hosking overall mortality figures in heavily affected countries haven’t gone up, concluding: “These deaths are occurring in people who are running out of time.”

“Exactly,” one-man-reckon-machine Hosking responded. “They were going to die anyway and something was going to get them. It just happens, now, to have been this. Or maybe it wasn’t. Or maybe this exacerbated it. Or maybe this complicated it.”

(Or maybe the fact these people were going to die “anyway”, of something, sometime, is a statistical irrelevance in a society that cares about preserving life and protecting the public from preventable causes of death.)

Thornley’s column angered arguably our country’s most prominent scientist, Siouxsie Wiles, who tweeted on Tuesday: “For anyone who comes across the opinion piece of an epidemiologist suggesting lockdown is like using a sledgehammer to hit a flea: he studies diet not infectious diseases. Don’t listen to his reckons.”

She later apologised for making it personal, albeit without naming Thornley. Not before Auckland University of Technology Professor of Public Health Grant Schofield jumped in to back Thornley. Schofield, too, made it personal.

Accusing someone of being out of their scientific “lane” without discussing data wasn’t acceptable, he said on Twitter, adding: “Some would criticise you a microbiologist in public health.”

Wiles tells Newsroom it’s fair to question her credentials. “But I am doing my best to stay on top of the literature, which it would appear others are not. And have also changed my position as the evidence has changed and explained why.”

She says her frustration was sparked by “a piece that used old data disingenuously to strongly push a message that has the potential to lead to people’s deaths by undermining the lockdown”.

Thornley, meanwhile, says science, at its heart, is about open and honest debate. “That is what I intended to bring to this discussion, which, I believe, has been very one-sided.”

Schofield maintains he’s all for the lockdown but he’s also for robust, and civil, scientific debate. He was disappointed that Wiles used her authority not for scientific argument but to dismiss science she didn’t agree with.

“There is considerable uncertainty,” Schofield says. “[Thornley] is the single smartest guy I know, and he does have some challenging and possibly inconvenient truths about the uncertainty.”

The article then goes on to ‘weigh the evidence’ in some detail.

One aspect of Thornley’s article was quite questionable due to being too soon to call about the far more relaxed approach that Sweden had taken – see Sweden’s different Covid strategy looks shaky.

After making his “squash a flea with a sledgehammer” comment, he wrote in his Stuff story that he believed other countries, such as Sweden, are steering a more “sensible course”. He linked to a Guardian article, which mentions schools, kindergartens, bars, restaurants, ski resorts, sports clubs, and hairdressers remain open, unlike in neighbouring Denmark and Norway.

The Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, has said coping with Covid-19 is about commonsense behaviour. “We all, as individuals, have to take responsibility. We can’t legislate and ban everything,” That country’s Public Health Agency’s position has been criticised in a joint letter from 2000 Swedish university researchers.

On Monday, in another Guardian article, Professor Cecilia Söderberg-Nauclér, a virus immunology researcher at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, said: “We’re not testing enough, we’re not tracking, we’re not isolating enough – we have let the virus loose.” She concluded: “They are leading us to catastrophe.”

Comparing Sweden, Denmark, and Norway on coronavirus counter worldometers.com shows a concerning trend. Norway (4651) has more confirmed cases than Sweden (4435), but fewer deaths – 39 versus 180. Seventy of those Swedish deaths were reported on March 30 and 31. Denmark, meanwhile, has 90 deaths but far fewer cases than Sweden, at 2860.

Current numbers on those countries:

  • Sweden 282 deaths, 28 per million (population)
  • Denmark 123 deaths, 21 per million
  • Norway 50 deaths, 9 per million

Note that these are just snapshots and can be misleading as different countries are at different stages on Covid spread and effect.

Sweden was recently looking relatively good but over the last few days has surged as the curves (cases and deaths) swing upwards – see https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/sweden/

It will actually be months before we can really compare countries and try to see what approaches were most successful at minimising health issues and deaths as well as minimising the economic effects.

More from Newsroom: Lockdowns spark bad faith backlash

No one was more surprised to see that Neil Ferguson, the author of a groundbreaking paper on how to stop Covid-19, had walked back his dire projections on the anticipated death toll of the virus than Ferguson himself.

The Imperial College London academic, whose paper changed government policy towards Covid-19 in nations worldwide – including New Zealand – told a British parliamentary committee that, with the advent of the United Kingdom’s lockdown, he expected the death toll to be in the range of 20,000.

Critics then leapt on this statement, arguing that because Ferguson had previously predicted a death toll of 250,000 for the UK, he had now substantially walked back his estimates. Former New York Times journalist Alex Berenson, recently famous for publishing a book on cannabis and violence that was widely-panned as inaccurate, took to Twitter to make this argument.

It then went viral on right-wing websites like the Daily Wire and the Washington Times, the first of which has substantially edited its article in the face of fact-checking from more authoritative sources.

As the Financial Times explains, Ferguson didn’t revise his prediction at all – in fact, the 20,000 deaths figure was directly taken from his original report. This was the estimated toll if the United Kingdom engaged in the strict suppression measures – closing schools and most workplaces – that it ultimately has, whereas 250,000 deaths were anticipated if the UK took no action whatsoever.

Misinformation circulated online is a major problem generally, especially when it influences presidents.

In the United States, an article by highly-cited libertarian legal scholar and climate change denier Richard Epstein has buoyed an anti-lockdown faction within the White House. The March 16 article, titled “Coronavirus Perspective”, sought to contextualise what Epstein saw as a massive overreaction to Covid-19, which he thought would only kill 500 Americans.

Epstein now says he made a minor error while calculating this figure and has offered 5,000 as the final death toll. As of Thursday morning in New Zealand, more than 4,700 Americans have been killed by the virus and there are no signs of this slowing. Even Donald Trump now admits a far higher toll is likely – his goal is to limit deaths to 100,000, although they could rise as high as 240,000.

“Coronavirus Perspective” emboldened the anti-lockdown faction in Trump’s inner circle and lead to musings from Trump of lifting mitigation and lockdown measures by Easter. “We’re opening up this incredible country, because we have to do that. I would love to have it open by Easter,” Trump said on March 24, as the US death toll hit 706.

Evidently, more rational heads within the administration have managed to steer Trump back towards a strategy that avoided opening up the President to accusations of leading a death cult, but Epstein still took the time to defend his work in a March 30 interview with The New Yorker‘s Isaac Chotiner.

In defending his sloppy math, Epstein turned to bunk science, saying there are multiple strains of the virus – a stronger one that kills more people and a weaker one that is less lethal. Epstein believes, astoundingly, that the virus will also evolve to become weaker over time and falsely claimed the same occurred with AIDS, SARS and Ebola. Chotiner ended up having to turn to experts to fact-check Epstein in the text of the interview, lest he accidentally distribute fake news to all his readers.

Trump seems to have swung in behind the conventional concerns and actions over Covid.


I’m still very dubious about even best case projections because they still mention some very big numbers – Trump has accepted ‘successful’ death limitation in the US to a 100,000-220,000 range.

Even the worst hit countries (based on published data , China numbers in particular have to be questioned) are well below projections, Italy currently 13,155 deaths (yesterday +727 but already 760 today) and Spain 9,312 (yesterday +923, 709 so far today).

The UK curve is starting to look bad. The currently have ‘just’ 2,921 deaths, but were up 563 yesterday and have already reached that today (GMT so six hours to go).

Currently there are ‘just’ 5,600 deaths in the US. But deaths have recently surged, currently to about 1,000 a day.

But, if there is a widespread staggered hit from Covid around the US, that death rate over 100 days comes to 100,000 so that number doesn’t look out of reasonable expectations. And the daily death rate could easily climb quite a bit higher before it peaks and comes back down.

And it should be remember if lockdowns are relaxed there’s a high chance (it’s expected) that there will be ongoing surges in infections and deaths for many months, until vaccines become available – if effective vaccines are developed.

There’s a lot for academics and the rest of us to discuss and debate for some time on this.

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67 Comments

  1. lurcher1948

     /  3rd April 2020

    We should ALL pray that that rich fella mike hosking doesn’t get covid-19,as the rightwingers would sink into dispear.

    Reply
  2. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  3rd April 2020

    In late January Siouxie Wiles was assuring the Public that NZ wouldn’t get the Pandemic..
    https://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/on-air/mike-hosking-breakfast/audio/siouxsie-wiles-on-why-we-are-unlikely-to-see-a-coronavirus-outbreak-in-new-zealand/
    This was at the same time that Prof Michael Baker was warning our Health Authorities to get prepared.

    In Mid March Siouxie Wiles said we didn’t need to close schools … at the same time teachers and parents were calling for schools to close and Prof Baker was informing us that up to 30% of virus transmission could be at schools.
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/120362894/coronavirus-48-hours-enough-time-to-decontaminate-dunedin-school-expert-says

    The woman is just a mouth-piece of the Labour Party.

    Reply
  3. David

     /  3rd April 2020

    The lockdowns will have to last until either there is a vaccine or 90% of the world has had it…or there is a better way of treating it which seems the most hopeful.
    As soon as the lockdowns are eased the virus spreads again so you end up with the same stats over an elongated period but your economy has been destroyed and you have the extra deaths that come from not being able to provide a normal health system.
    If this virus is allowed to spread we will in effect just reverse the last 15 years progress in increasing life expectancy for a year.
    Tough choices.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  3rd April 2020

      I have read similar comments , the US would have been far better to invest $2 trillion in their health system and have far better results than deliberately stopping the economy and paying to keep in going in the meanwhile. Parts of their health system are very high standard but thats not replicated for a lot of people.

      Reply
    • Griff.

       /  3rd April 2020

      As soon as the lockdowns are eased the virus spreads again so you end up with the same stats over an elongated period but your economy has been destroyed and you have the extra deaths that come from not being able to provide a normal health system.
      If this virus is allowed to spread we will in effect just reverse the last 15 years progress in increasing life expectancy for a year.

      j
      No.
      If you allow it to spread unchecked you overload the health system.
      As has happened where it has spread unchecked like Wuhan, New York Spain and Italy.
      This results in many needless deaths from not just covid 19.

      The economy is not “destroyed” we know from earthquakes here it recovers in time. The economy is just people doing stuff after all . It may take a year or two after this is over but I see no evidence of the long term catastrophic effect as many are claiming .

      Your guess about the effect on our death rate is just that a blind guess.

      Reply
      • David

         /  3rd April 2020

        There are middle roads to take between total lockdown and destroying parts of the economy, we could let far more businesses operate but keep pubs etc closed, stop gatherings, supply face masks, distancing etc. and slow the spread so the health system isnt overwhelmed.
        The health systems seem to be only getting overwhelmed in a couple of places, NY, North Italy, parts of Spain everywhere else seems busy but fine. You need better triage seeing as 70% of patients on ventilators die so why bother putting an already sick 85 year old on one because it will kill them anyway, doesnt get done in normal times.
        The earthquakes are different as they only happened in Christchurch then 40 billion dollars of insurance money flowed in and everyone got busy rebuilding broken stuff.

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  3rd April 2020

          Agree with that. The different levels of alert allow proportionate response.
          Sweden has shown , based on their Public health Agency having the say rather than politicians, there is an evidence based approach thats different to shutting it all down

          Reply
          • Griff.

             /  3rd April 2020

            April 2 (GMT)
            621 new cases and 69 new deaths in Sweden [source]
            April 1 (GMT)
            512 new cases and 59 new deaths in Sweden [source]
            March 31 (GMT)
            407 new cases and 34 new deaths in Sweden [source]
            March 30 (GMT)
            328 new cases and 36 new deaths in Sweden [source]
            March 29 (GMT)
            253 new cases and 5 new deaths in Sweden [source]
            March 28 (GMT)
            378 new cases in Sweden [source] [source]
            March 27 (GMT)
            229 new cases and 28 new deaths in Sweden [source]

            Early yet but.
            Sweden is trending up rather quickly compared to country’s that have taken more actions .

            Reply
        • Griff.

           /  3rd April 2020

          I think that is where we will go once we have a handle on the numbers in two weeks.
          Maybe open up regions if they have a low case count and use more precision in targeting regional outbreaks rather than an all encompassing lock down .
          Test test test is the only way forward .
          Tourism is not going to recover to its former numbers for a decade or more .
          Cruise ships are dead as an industry.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  3rd April 2020

            Wanganui has no cases at all.

            Reply
            • Maggy Wassilieff

               /  3rd April 2020

              Gisborne- East Coast still has just one case.

              Neither W(h)anganui or Gisborne are full of trendy young things jet-setting across the globe.

  4. Duker

     /  3rd April 2020

    As came up earlier as this was discussed on YNZ , Prof Siouxie Wiles is an expert in infectious diseases in mice….but in the sense that mice are used because they cant infect people to study. Still common viruses which replicate and spread similar to Covid 19 such as existing human corona viruses, influenza and pneumonia give a far better study of people than caged lab mice.

    Reply
    • Would it be too much to ask you to argue on the issues being discussed without diverting to personal discrediting?

      Wiles has made some good contributions and made some good points on this specific issue. The other academics likewise. Attacking credentials to speak is degrading the quality of discussion (Wiles fell into that at one stage but mostly argues important issues).

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  3rd April 2020

        The title of this post is NZ academics argue over Covid 19, and the newsroom article goes into the details in depth ( but misses Wiles published specialist expertise)

        The heart of the story is the personal conflict between 2 scientists- especially from Prof Wiles
        You earlier published Wiles personal pushback as an update in which she said Thornley only studied ‘epidemiology of food’ so was it then Ok to promote ‘personal discrediting’ ?

        Maggie has a source for
        “In late January Siouxie Wiles was assuring the Public that NZ wouldn’t get the Pandemic..”
        Sure she didnt have perfect foresight, but we now know she was wrong but following the academic herd wisdom at that time ( The Editor of the Lancet said the same sort of things but hes having it both ways now by criticising UK government for ‘not acting earlier). Ie they had been following his advice

        I dont see any reason why Wiles cant be criticised for her comments and her research expertise which are relevant . Its not personal as I too think shes a very good ‘on camera’ science communicator.
        But I see her as ‘following the herd’ on the likely effects and outcomes.

        Reply
        • Do you not understand the difference between criticising things she says (legitimate debate) and trying to discredit her credentials to say anything (personal attack)?

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  3rd April 2020

            How come you ran the update when Wiles discredited the academic credentials of an other wise competent( epidemiologist) university colleague . Is the real reason you agreed with her view and the same way you dislike criticism of her expert background.
            Like I said referring to Maggies source shes already been wrong in her comments. Sure she was following ‘herd opinion’ at that time ( another reason to not give her views much credence)

            Wiles has no credentials in epidemiology – shes a microbiologist, and probably a good one. Her mice studies ( which I mentioned in detail) with colleagues must have been good enough to get promoted to Associate Professor. In my view shes out of her depth in regard to virus spread amoung populations

            As you know on other occasions when experts opinions are given Ive questioned their ‘expertness’ based on their background. Sames as Wiles so Im not picking on her.
            In my view view real experts know what they dont know. and when they do know its not just repeating ‘herd opinion’

            Reply
    • duperez

       /  3rd April 2020

      I would be pleased if you could outline the nature of the various research Wiles has done and the scientific significance of it.

      The reference ‘as was discussed earlier’ and mice as a low ball effort to give some credibility and validity to your previous facile comments about Wiles’ work. You outlining her work might dispel any suggestions that your remarks are emotional and ignorant.

      The implication for you I guess is that virology and immunology research using animals has no applications to humans. I can imagine someone saying to their doctor, “I hope you’re not giving me an anti-viral drug developed through knowledge of the interactions between the virus and its host cell and the mechanisms of viral replication developed through using mice.”

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  3rd April 2020

        ”The implication for you I guess is that virology and immunology research using animals has no applications to humans. ”

        As a matter of fact it doesn’t. That said, I’m not against animal studies. They can, and do, offer ‘ball park’ predictions as to a possible similar systemic human compatibility/response.

        I was the first to call Siouxie Wiles out. Credentials and opinions sometimes can’t be separated. Call me facile… but the red/ pink? hair was the give away for me. These folk always have this strange aura around them. Nano Girl, Lance O’Sullivan are other examples.

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2746847/
        .

        Reply
        • duperez

           /  3rd April 2020

          Wiles being dissed by someone who saying that research using animals has no application to humans? I’m sure she’ll be so distraught she’ll never utter another word to do with science.😂

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  3rd April 2020

            Wiles biggest misstep was to go on Twitter to run down the Credentials of a colleague who discussed in Stuff story a Stanford study and opinion article by its lead author on the numbers from The Diamond Princess

            “For anyone who comes across the opinion piece of an epidemiologist suggesting lockdown is like using a sledgehammer to hit a flea: he studies diet not infectious diseases. Don’t listen to his reckons.”

            Some people ( me ) have looked up Prof Wiles university bio and found she has a Phd in Microbiology and has recent published research on infections diseases in mice , lab mice.

            Guess who was calling out someones opinion by running down his research output ?
            Maggie had the link to Wiles back in January – following herd opinion. -twice Tell us again why we should listen to her opinions ?
            “because she studies infectious diseases in mice not people”.- to paraphrase he comments on twitter.
            https://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/on-air/mike-hosking-breakfast/audio/siouxsie-wiles-on-why-we-are-unlikely-to-see-a-coronavirus-outbreak-in-new-zealand/

            Reply
          • Corky

             /  3rd April 2020

            I don’t remember saying that? Please explain. I haven’t dissed her. What are you on about? 🤔

            Reply
        • Griff.

           /  3rd April 2020

          As a matter of fact it doesn’t. That said, I’m not against animal studies. They can, and do, offer ‘ball park’ predictions as to a possible similar systemic human compatibility/response.

          Umm not even consistent in the same paragraph.
          Corky has no idea about science after all he really did suggest we should be Dowsing for cases .That level of alt med stupidity is hitting the limits on my crankometer.

          Reply
          • Corky

             /  3rd April 2020

            . ”Umm not even consistent in the same paragraph.”

            I hope not, To be consistent with the link and my views I was using brevity, as I do have a life..and this isn’t a thesis, a formal paper or an essay. It’s a fugging blog.

            ”After all he really did suggest we should be Dowsing for cases .That level of alt med stupidity is hitting the limits on my crankometer.”

            Funny how some people were already in a bubble before it became mandatory.😀

            Yes, I mentioned dowsing. Here’s a little secret…dowsing can be used for many purposes, finding water, while an originally application, is now just a side use.

            So to the context of me mentioning dowsing. The gummint had said random population testing was not out of the question. Neither was random house visits.
            I suggested that wasn’t necessary, all they needed to do was test people in supermarket queues ( saves house visits). Having a dowser would not endanger anyone because it’s random testing anyway. Once the dowser(s) had proved his worth, trust me, will could save the country big time in costs and lives.

            The obstacles to such testing:

            1- Good medical dowsers are hard to come by. They have a 95% plus hit rate.
            Average dowsers are in the 70-90% range. But, again, that’s way better than random hit and miss orthodox testing.

            2- Subjective bias. I would suggest a screen be erected down the queue line so people are shielded from the dowser with only their legs from the knee down showing. Dowsing is a function of the unconscious mind and can be derailed by conscious judgements. For example, if I saw a feral, my belief system would affect the results.

            3- Dowsing consumes a lot vital force. 20 minutes is the usual time a dowser can work without affecting results( it can vary).

            So, Griff. That’s another suggestion from me to help my fellow man. Of course, most will find it amusing. What I find amusing is people like you, like talking, writing and being a critic…yet offer no suggestions.

            So, come on. Let’s here your suggestions. Have you any?

            Reply
        • Duker

           /  3rd April 2020

          Duperez asked about Wiles research record -‘as discussed before’
          from her publications on the University bio
          https://unidirectory.auckland.ac.nz/profile/s-wiles

          Ryder, B. M., Sandford, S. K., Manners, K. M., Dalton, J. P., Wiles, S., & Kirman, J. R. (2019). Gr1(int/high) Cells Dominate the Early Phagocyte Response to Mycobacterial Lung Infection in Mice. FRONTIERS IN MICROBIOLOGY,
          Lamb, L. E., Zhi, X., Alam, F., Pyzio, M., Scudamore, C. L., Wiles, S., & Sriskandan, S. (2018). Modelling invasive group A streptococcal disease using bioluminescence. BMC microbiology,
          Sun, Y., Emolo, C., Holtfreter, S., Wiles, S., Kreiswirth, B., Missiakas, D., & Schneewind, O. (2018). Staphylococcal Protein A Contributes to Persistent Colonization of Mice with Staphylococcus aureus. Journal of bacteriology
          Uy, B., Read, H., & Wiles, S. (20/11/2017). Caged infections: Animal work in a PC3. Poster presented at New Zealand Microbiological Society
          Schulz, D., Grumann, D., Trübe P, Pritchett-Corning, K., Johnson, S., Reppschläger K, … Berg, S. (2017). Laboratory mice are frequently colonized with Staphylococcus aureus and mount a systemic immune response – … Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology

          Some other work seemed to be infections during surgery, probably ‘streps and staphs’ again.

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  3rd April 2020

            The 2nd research paper on bioluminescence seems partly involve mice as well as test tubes – in vitro

            Reply
  5. Gerrit

     /  3rd April 2020

    Whilst all the back and forth sniping between faction continues, we are forgetting one thing.

    The Exit strategy.

    One cannot economically and mentally (yesterday a member of our extended family departed our midst on the end of a rope – very sad just got to much, the isolation) carry on a lock down indefinitely.

    Sometime in the future (whether Covis 19 is curable, preventable or not) people will need to be released (or they will release themselves).

    What is the exit strategy? Do we set up internment camps (like leper colonies or TB wards) to treat those who get the virus (many a cruise ship on the market that would make great isolation internment camps (like prison hulks in the days of Nelson) to not kill but to contain the virus.

    Imagine worse case scenario where after 9 months lock down. Hip hip hooray, the Covis 19 virus is beaten and bled out of the populace. One week later Covis 20 appears.

    Back into lock down?

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  3rd April 2020

      Oh, Gerrit, that is tragic news. I am sorrier than I can say.

      I fear that this is only one of many cases of someone for whom the stress and isolation will be unbearable.

      Reply
  6. duperez

     /  3rd April 2020

    Nothing new in scientists disagreeing with each other. Nothing new in scientists getting it wrong

    What is new with the arrival of coronavirus compared to the flu in 1918? For the community, worldwide not just in New Zealand, rapid mobility is one. For scientists?

    I’d suggest it is to do with media, the 24/7 nature of it, the competitiveness of it and the consequent access and involvement of everyone. Instead of scientists having their disagreements in house with colleagues taking sides and the expected intrusion of human nature and professional perspectives, anyone can get on board.

    So we have absolute amateurs who didn’t do science past their second year of high school expert enough to say that some expert who’s studied and researched for 30 years is wrong. And arguing most vehemently.

    And if I were working in the media? On any issue I’d be looking for the expert with contrary views, as along with their opinion they’d bring along the rag tag mob with their baggage. Baggage which had never ever included the most basic science book.

    Reply
    • Pink David

       /  3rd April 2020

      “I’d suggest it is to do with media”

      The most serious virus is the fake news machine that the media has become.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  3rd April 2020

        I dunno whether I’d call their efforts on Covid-19 fake news. The problem seems to me sometimes to be too many cub reporters, reporting on each other’s efforts perhaps?

        Gone seem to be the good old daze when a few grizzled, skeptical newsmen or women would delve into a subject quite deeply, spend a bit of time finding contestable sources of expertise, & write a few serious think pieces that might challenge the conventional wisdom being pushed by the govt’s hand picked “go to” “expert”.

        As I’ve said recently, maybe we don’t have as many reporters as we do repeaters.

        That said, I’m just waiting and watching to see what develops in the countries trying their own different approaches. And washing my hands when ever I’ve been anywhere where I might have bedn exposed to this nasty little bug. As a lifetime smoking adict who’s only relatively recently given up – hopefully for good this time – & who has COPD as a result of that highly addictive drug for me – even though my lung function has already improved to a surprisingly significant degree – if I get Covid-19, I’m a prime candidate for a really bad time of it.

        Reply
  7. Alan Wilkinson

     /  3rd April 2020

    Can someone explain how the ultimate UK death toll reduces from half a million to 20,000 simply by reducing the infection rate?

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  3rd April 2020

      presumeably if you are not infected ..you wll not ..die.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  3rd April 2020

        So long as the rate is non-zero the same number will die by the end of it.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  3rd April 2020

          The corollary of that is that the no lockdown approach will have more deaths at the beginning and far less by the end. Is that politically viable?

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  3rd April 2020

            “The current coronavirus disease, Covid-19, has been called a once-in-a-century pandemic. But it may also be a once-in-a-century evidence fiasco.”
            https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/17/a-fiasco-in-the-making-as-the-coronavirus-pandemic-takes-hold-we-are-making-decisions-without-reliable-data/
            Yes its an expert opinion based on good available evidence from a study where he was the lead author
            https://profiles.stanford.edu/john-ioannidis
            C. F. REHNBORG PROFESSOR IN DISEASE PREVENTION IN THE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE

            Reply
            • It’s almost certain major mistakes will have been made in dealing with this in many countries.

              Because it is unprecedented in nearly everyone’s lifetime, and because of the potential scale and severity, and the speed with which action needed to be taken, it’s inevitable that non-ideal actions have been taken and will be taken when looking back on what has happened.

              Just doing nothing would have been the riskiest approach, and short term at least would have resulted in many more deaths. It would be hard for just about any politician to stick with that approach.

            • Duker

               /  3rd April 2020

              Who is saying ‘doing nothing ‘ ?
              I think you answered the question of how much is enough in your comment in “Sweden’s different Covid strategy looks shaky”

              “It’s too soon to tell about a lot of things about Covid. Sweden may prove to have taken a more balanced successful approach than other countries, but if deaths keep rising they may change tack and try to clamp down like many other countries.”

              Sweden’s deaths yesterday or so were 239

              https://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=7443540
              and they are increasing restrictions[gradually]
              The new guidelines are:
              Avoid travelling on public transport during rush hours.
              Avoid gathering in places with lots of people.
              Shops must restrict the number of people they allow in, and either stop queues forming, or make sure people make space in the queues.
              The companies that run public transport must not cut the number of services to save money. They must also limit the number of people in each bus or train.
              Sports organisations have been told to cancel all upcoming matches and tournaments.

              With 10 mill people Sweden in twice that of NZ but probably more concentrated in the bottom 1/4 of the country and Greater Stockholm is 2.2 mill
              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_metropolitan_areas_in_Sweden

            • “Sweden’s deaths yesterday or so were 239”

              That was after an increase of 59. Now they’re 69 more on 308, that figure is as available as yesterday’s. At 30 deaths per million they are the eight highest of the larger countries.

            • Pink David

               /  3rd April 2020

              “Because it is unprecedented in nearly everyone’s lifetime, and because of the potential scale and severity”

              There is nothing unprecedented by C19. The only thing unprecedented is the mass shutdown of the global economy.

            • Duker

               /  3rd April 2020

              I was more interested in the tightning of rules form the link.
              “Sweden tightens rules as numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths increase”
              The Radio Sweden home page doesnt have any headline with death numbers

              Inside their most recent story[Published torsdag 2 april kl 15.04] , they dont have the same death numbers as you do
              ‘The number of deaths is also up, at 282, up 43 in the last 24 hours’
              https://sverigesradio.se/artikel/7444469
              Its the middle of the night now

              Are you using a more accurate source than Swedish Public Radio?

            • This is the most up top date and comprehensive I’ve seen: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

              Usually close behind or the same: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html
              – 1 News use this one

            • New Zealand numbers have just recently been updated online, and have just updated on worldometers, not yet on jhu.

            • Duker

               /  3rd April 2020

              Worldometers isnt a reliable source and who is jhu ?
              WHO is
              https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports

              JHU seem to be using software to screen scrape the numbers from media
              “Why does data here differ from data on other websites?
              The website relies upon publicly available data from multiple sources that do not always agree. “

      • Pink David

         /  3rd April 2020

        “presumeably if you are not infected ..you wll not ..die.”

        For you not to be infected requires you to remain in isolation.

        Reply
  8. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  3rd April 2020

    Wiles was against early school closures..

    I do hope she is reflecting on why our biggest cluster of 57 folk is associated with Marist College, Auckland.
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12317250

    I do wonder why she was voicing opinions about matters contrary to that of the country’s leading Epidemiologist.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  3rd April 2020

      I wonder more why the media gives her such exclusive coverage.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  3rd April 2020

        Shes on Twitter … where the media mavens congregate

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  3rd April 2020

          … AND she has long, curly, pink hair. Classic attention-getting gimmick for the millenial generation & younger.

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  3rd April 2020

            I think its just called…fashion.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  3rd April 2020

              The govt & lamestream media has made her a celebrity. Her hair might be fashionable but it has become her trademark.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  3rd April 2020

              I would call it posing.

    • duperez

       /  3rd April 2020

      I don’t wonder if hysteria and fevered rants would have been the mode if very early on in the piece a decision were made that all schools would close. Don’t have to wonder I am sure that would have been the reaction. The response would have been crazed because of the attendant implications.

      Decisions like that are made to appease the hordes. Half way between too early or too late is how it has to happen. When is that? Who knows? The only certainty is that it’s going to be the wrong time.

      Maybe they should have closed Mt Albert Schools and Matamata bars and eateries and Bluff wedding reception venues a week earlier.

      Reply
  9. Alan Wilkinson

     /  3rd April 2020

    This is the incompetent police state we duffer here:
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/120796969/coronavirus-demand-high-for-game-changer-drug-amid-caution-and-optimism

    There is a drug available (that Trump promoted) that has proved promising against the virus in several small trials and which the FDA has provisionally authorised in the absence of anything else that works. Pharmac has now blocked doctors from prescribing it because it doesn’t have enough stocks.

    Classic socialist ethics. I’m sure seriously ill patients won’t mind dying for the cause.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  3rd April 2020

      Nor will those given a placebo in endless trials.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  3rd April 2020

        Nor will those who die because of the NZ lockdown.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  3rd April 2020

          Cool. PDT is volunteering to be given the placebo when he falls ill.

          Reply
      • Duker

         /  3rd April 2020

        Pharmac is only restricting access to those who met the clinical need and are subsidized by them. Clearly supplies come from overseas ( problem) and international demand is high( problem) , so they want enough in country to meet the normal needs.
        Those who want be in their own self funded drug trial can go ahead and source it themselves.
        There is evidence in Australia dentists are prescribing it for each other so they have restrictions as well.
        I paid the (unfunded ) cost for the 13 part pneumonia vaccine, but now its no longer available as an ‘elective’
        Like moving my Kiwisaver from shares into a ‘cash’ fund and getting the pneumonia vaccine , I was just in time , if I do say so myself.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  3rd April 2020

          Pharmac could buy a lot of doses for the cost of one ventilator.

          Reply
  10. so much shit is talked. wise decisions are required on sound evidence. That is not what has happened. Read here for for a review of the so called evidence http://www.tailrisk.co.nz/documents/Corona.pdf

    Reply
  11. The sheep will follow the bullshit. The goats are off!

    Reply

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