A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).



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Death tolls could be 60% higher than official numbers

Mortality rates show that this is a medical situation we have not seen since WWII

All statistics are suspect but some numbers still tell us something important. In the early fog of a global pandemic, a proper diagnoses is difficult if not impossible. People are dying of heart attacks because they are too scared to go to hospital, but equally, Covid is causing heart attacks and strokes that might never have happened. It’s fair to ask how many deaths are due to Coronavirus and how many are due to the lockdown, but it’s not realistic to expect that we can do an autopsy on every single patient. And as the Financial Times team points out, the excess deaths also occur in the regions of the UK with the highest infection rates — which suggests they are due to the virus, not just collateral damage. Though people will also be less willing to visit a hospital in a zone where there are more cases. On the other hand, in areas with lockdowns but no major outbreaks, the mortality rates are 10% below normal (see many US states). So these peaks could have been even higher but the lockdown saved some people [...]

China has nothing to hide — but don’t investigate Coronavirus or 1 billion people will unfriend you Australia

To show what a good global citizen it is, the CCP in China could have welcomed a multinational independent investigation into the origins of the Flu from the Fish markets (or was that the Bat-Lab?)

Instead, the Chinese Ambassador of the CCP threatens to throw its (huge) weight around:

In reported comments, Mr Cheng described the Morrison government’s proposal for an inquiry as “dangerous” and accused Canberra of pandering to US instructions. He said Chinese people were upset with Australia and if the trend continued they could decide not to come as tourists or students, and not eat Australian beef or drink Australian wine.

Fortunately the Australian Government was not impressed:

[Australian Foreign Minister] Senator Payne doubled down on her call for an independent inquiry into the pandemic’s outbreak, saying it had produced “an unprecedented global crisis with severe health, economic and social impacts”. …

The Coronavirus is an extraordinary threat to communist China. It’s almost the only thing that could coordinate so many factions against China. In a normal world, China could use this kind of economic bullying China to pick off one country at a time.  But this time, all the other major trading nations of the [...]

Tuesday Open Thread

New Zealand win: Community spread of coronavirus eliminated — lockdown eases (a bit) tonight

As so it begins. The first country declares “elimination” success. Today New Zealand announces the effective elimination of coronavirus. Soon hopefully other countries can join and rebuild the “Virus Free Zone” – and the borders that surround them will expand as the infected zone shrinks.

Theirs was a very strict lockdown. Beaches, playgrounds, schools, businesses and restaurants closed. Not even takeaway sales.

New Zealand says it has stopped community transmission of Covid-19, effectively eliminating the virus.

BBC News

With new cases in single figures for several days – one on Sunday – Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the virus was “currently” eliminated.

But officials have warned against complacency, saying it does not mean a total end to new coronavirus cases.

The news comes hours before New Zealand is set to move out of its toughest level of social restrictions.

The shift down to level 3 restrictions means things are still pretty strict:

Level 3 will see retailers, restaurants and schools allowed to reopen on a smaller scale. Schools will reopen on Wednesday for children up to Year 10 who cannot study from home, or whose parents need to return [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

The world watches Australia and NZ tracking to zero — can we extinguish Coronavirus?

Soon after isolation began, Australian and New Zealand cases started to fall as fast as they rose

This is what Crushing the Curve looks like, and if works it will set the new standard, and change the way the rest of the world views this.  It isn’t over yet, but still – something is working and the international press has just started to get excited.

Be aware the figures may jump next week, as testing in NSW has ramped up and everyone can now get a free test. But testing is already high per capita, with a very low positive test rates. (12,000 tests done in Australia yesterday and 99.8% were negative).

Australia has 25 million people and found just 18 new cases yesterday. New Zealand with 5 million people, got five new cases.  Obviously these numbers look great from the US and UK where 700 people are dying every day.

The rise and fall of Australian Covid-19 cases, March and April 2020


Daily Mail, UK:

Australia is steamrolling the curve!

[The] Nation records just 17 cases in one day – including three states with ZERO infections – as the country’s road to [...]

Coronavirus reality check means Australian Green tape is on the chopping block

Now is the perfect time to get rid of pointless green burdens on our economy

Thanks to the rude wake up call from a real global pandemic, suddenly the fluffy luxury of “Green” rules and strangling red tape are put in the right perspective. Few are going to complain.

Despite this outbreak appearing to tick the Green Left fantasy list, any reality check exposes how frivolous most fashionable angst is. There is a great opportunity here to clean out some of the worst of the Big Government burden.

The  Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act is in the government’s sights:

Green tape to be cleared for recovery

Richard Ferguson and Dennis Shanahan, The Australian

Environment Minister Sussan Ley is set to cut green tape in time for October’s post-coronavirus federal budget, as a new report shows restrictive environmental regu­lations have grown 4½ times since 2000 and threaten to hamper the economic recovery.

Think tank the Institute­ of Public Affairs’s new study of federal environment laws found regu­lations have grown by more than 10 per cent each year and have ­delayed up to $65bn in new [...]

Time to lockdown China for its dishonesty

The one thing China may have successfully done with the CCPVirus is to rally the rest of the world to say Enough. Enough of the crass mercenary games, the self-serving lies, and enough of the reckless hygiene or leaky labs.

We all helped to make China what it is, by buying the cheap goods, by selling our manufacturing base, ignoring the ethical quagmire and by assuming that China would follow in the footsteps of Japan, Taiwan and Korea.

And as we speak, Chinese military ships are plying the waters of the South China Sea. While China is sending doctors and PPE to Malaysia to fight the pandemic, the Malaysian government is not publicly protesting the prolonged and close presence of the Chinese Navy. (h/t Dave B)

Time to put China on lockdown for its dishonesty amid coronavirus crisis

Glenn Harlan Reynolds, USA Today

China needs to be isolated from the civilized world until its behavior improves. We are in the current situation, with deaths and economic devastation worldwide, because China handled this outbreak with its trademark mixture of dishonesty, incompetence and thuggery. Were China a more civilized nation, this outbreak would have been stopped early…

… wherever [...]

Thursday Open Thread


The moment greens realize they’ve been used by Big Money Renewables — the Michael Moore documentary:

It’s like someone read all the major skeptic blogs in the world and turned them into a documentary.

The new Michael Moore documentary: Planet of The Humans

1 - unapologetically exposes Al Gore, Bill McKibben, Robert Kennedy, etc. for being con artists and hypocrites, 2 - crucifies the Sierra Club and their ilk for being disingenuous and primarily in it for the money and influence, and 3 - also carefully documents how wind, solar and biofuels are scams. — John Droz, jr.

h/t Thanks to Peter  D, AndyG, Michael S, Colin, Willie, and Jim Simpson who enjoyed this “even the credits”.

Richard Branson will allegedly spend $3 billion to fight global warming! Then Branson, sitting next to @AlGore, is asked “Is Al Gore a prophet?” Branson replies “How do you spell “prophet””? [Profit!!!] Everyone laughs! — @tan123


HaroutDSDZ: It’s the moment when Winston Smith realizes that O’Brien is not a revolutionary but a loyal member of Ingsoc… Covering article by genuine environmentalist –

Over the last 10 years, everyone from celebrity influencers including Elon Musk, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Al Gore, to major technology brands including Apple, have repeatedly claimed that renewables like solar panels and wind farms are less polluting than fossil [...]

It’s not just lungs: Coronavirus can affect brains, may increase stroke risk

Sometimes the first sign of a serious coronavirus complication can be delirium and confusion.

Some kind of neurological effect is quite common with Covid-19 (CCP-flu).  As many as 30 – 60% of coronavirus cases may lose their sense of taste or smell. But now we should also look out for stroke type symptoms or confusion. This may be the first sign someone is in trouble with Covid-19.

Coronavirus can infect brain and nerve tissue, causing inflammation. And if it increases blood clotting then it could increase the risk of strokes as well.

Her father’s delirium was a first sign of coronavirus

NBC News

That was when she noticed her father, who had shown no previous signs of dementia, was largely unaware of what was happening around him.

There is growing evidence to suggest that COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, can affect not only the lungs, but the brain, too.

A recent study of 214 patients in Wuhan, China, where the pandemic started, found more than a third had neurologic manifestations of the disease, including loss of consciousness and stroke. Physicians in the U.S. have noted the same.

“We’re seeing a significant increase [...]

Tuesday Open Thread

German editor scathing: Demands €149 Billion In Damages for China’s greatest Export — Coronavirus

And the global pile-on against China gathers speed


Julian Reichelt is editor-in-chief of the Bild, Germany’s largest paper. Their team calculated that China owed €149 billion to Germans for coronavirus damages. China’s embassy shot back that they reported everything according to WHO guidelines, that countries had time to prepare (for something “like the flu“, eh?) and that Bild was stirring up xenophobia and nationalism.

So Reichelt replied and addressed it to President Xi:

 ”You rule by surveillance. You wouldn’t be president without surveillance. You monitor everything, every citizen, but you refuse to monitor the diseased wet markets in your country. You shut down every newspaper and website that is critical of your rule, but not the stalls where bat soup is sold. You are not only monitoring your people, you are endangering them – and with them, the rest of the world.”

… “surveillance is a denial of freedom. And a nation that is not free, is not creative. A nation that is not innovative, does not invent anything. This is why you have made your country the world champion in intellectual property theft.

“China enriches itself with the inventions of others, instead [...]

Californian antibody test finds only 1.5% of self selecting group in highest risk county actually had coronavirus

“Coronavirus may be far more widespread than known”. Or not.

Yet another small non-random study shows “48,000 – 81,000″ people in Santa Clara County had Coronavirus and didn’t know it, but all the study really shows may be the power of motivated reasoning.

The Santa Clara study looked at the county with the highest number of Covid cases in California, then advertised on Facebook  for people  to come forward for an unvalidated test, after which the results were adjusted upwards and converted into headline grabbing ratios and extrapolated to include the whole county and to calculate case fatality rates.

Advertising for participants creates an obvious selection bias straight away –  people who thought they may have had coronavirus are surely more likely to want to go and get tested. But people who knew they didn’t have it (because they had self isolated) might not want to turn up and stand in a queue or even catch coronavirus while they waited.

Basically, they found 50 people out of 3,330 tested positive. About half of which were likely to be false positives. They weighted the sample by zip code, race and sex, but for some reason, didn’t adjust for age, which [...]

Bad citizen China said Covid-19 was “preventable and curable” while profiteering medical gear

The price for the coverup will be huge

Donald Trump crossed the Rubicon by pulling funding from the WHO and asking China to ‘fess up’. Now no respectable politician wants to be left out in the race to demand answers and the WHO is an open target too. The UN agency helped China hide the severity of this disease and advised nations not to stop flights with China. The World Health Organisation failed in the one job they were designed for.

Australia’s Foreign Minister will demand a global inquiry into the spread of COVID-19 – and says the World Health Organisation should play no part in it.

China told her the disease was both ‘preventable and curable’ during a conversation in late January.

As diplomatic faux pas go, it doesn’t get much worse than bringing a deadly disease to a party and telling everyone “it’s just the flu”. But China was scalping the medical gear too. Not only did China hide the true nature of the virus even as it shared the virus around. It harvested all the protective gear it knew the world would need, then held the world hostage. It even took donations from Italy, [...]