Three facts No 10's experts got wrong
DR MIKE YEADON says claims that the majority of the population is susceptible to Covid,
that only 7% are infected so far and virus death rate is 1% are all false
Earlier this week, my wife and I were congratulating ourselves on being in France,
far from the draconian Covid restrictions now spreading throughout Britain.
Then, on Thursday, with less than 24 hours’ notice,
President Emmanuel Macron announced his plan to plunge the French into a second national lockdown for at least a month.
And if everything I hear and read about the UK is to be believed,
this country is heading in the same direction.
On Monday more than 30million Britons will be under Tier Two and Three restrictions.
We will then have days – a few weeks at best – until the inevitable total lockdown.
While Boris Johnson will be the person announcing that catastrophic decision,
the measures are being dictated by a small group of scientists who, in my view,
have repeatedly got things terribly wrong.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has made three incorrect assumptions which have had,
and continue to have, disastrous consequences for people’s lives and the economy.
Firstly, Sage assumes that the vast majority of the population is vulnerable to infection;
second, that only 7 per cent of the population has been infected so far; and third,
that the virus causing Covid-19 has a mortality rate of about 1 per cent.
In the absence of further action, Sage concludes that a very high number of deaths will occur.
If these assumptions were based on fact,
then I might have some sympathy with their position.
After all, if 93 per cent of the country – as they claim –
was still potentially vulnerable to a virus that kills one in 100 people who are infected,
I too would want to use any means necessary to suppress
infection until a vaccine comes along, no matter the cost.
The reality, though, is rather different.
Firstly, while the Covid-19 virus is new, other coronaviruses are not.
We have experience of SARS in 2003 and MERS in 2012,
while in the UK there are at least four
known strains of coronavirus which cause the common cold.
Many individuals who’ve been infected by other coronaviruses have immunity
to closely related ones such as the Covid-19 virus.
Multiple research groups in Europe and the US
have shown that around 30 per cent of the population
was likely already immune to Covid-19 before the virus arrived
– something which Sage continues to ignore.
Sage has similarly failed to accurately revise down its estimated mortality rate for the virus.
Early in the epidemic Sage modelled a mortality rate of around 1 per cent and,
from what I understand, they may now be working with a number closer to 0.7, which is still far too high.
After extensive world wide surveys, pre-eminent scientists such as John Ioannidis,
professor of epidemiology at Stanford University in California,
have concluded that the mortality rate is closer to 0.2 per cent.
That figure means one in 500 people infected die.
When applied to the total number of Covid deaths in the UK
(around 45,000), this would imply that approximately 22.5million people have been infected.
That is 33.5 per cent of our population – not Sage’s 7 per cent calculation.
Sage reached its conclusion by assessing the prevalence of Covid-19 antibodies in national blood surveys.
Yet we know that not every infected individual produces antibodies.
Indeed, the immune systems of most healthy people bypass
the complex and energy-intensive process
of making antibodies because the virus can be overcome by other means.
The human immune system has several lines of defence.
These include innate immunity which is comprised of the body’s
physical barriers to infection and protective secretions
(the skin and its oils, the cough reflex, tears etc);
its inflammatory response (to localise and minimise infection and injury),
and the production of non-specific cells (phagocytes) that target an invading virus/bacterium.
In addition, the immune system produces antibodies that protect against
a specific virus or bacterium
(and confer immunity) and T-cells (a type of white blood cell) that are also specific.