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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Thursday Open Thread

When more borders means more freedom

The bickering in Australia over borders is a prelude to the world

Australian states are fighting about borders. The WA premier swatting down the NSW calls to open with two words “Ruby Princess” — the disastrous failure to allow a cruise ship of coronavirus cases to spread from Sydney to every state of Australia.

The border debate is bizarre. From a pure medical point of view there is zero, no, nothing, none, not one reason to open borders between states when one of those states has a highly infectious, deadly new virus present in the community. There is only risk.

The decision about opening borders is all economic. Is it worth it? The problem is that none of the economists know what the cost is, so we end up with Medical Swamp Experts, who don’t know the answer either, making economic judgements and calling it “medical advice”.

Which borders to open? Within the hard borders is real freedom from both the virus and Big Government.

Virus free states are Golden Zones of freedom

The view from within a Golden Zone is very different. In a state with no virus (as far as we can tell) — the costs of [...]

UK Expert-Swamp Sabotage: close borders 3 months and 10 million visitors too late

The British government is finally putting a two week quarantine on arrivals, after about 12 million people arrived in February and March, and nearly 100,000 came through in April. Nearly every country on Earth closed their borders except the US, UK and Sweden and parts of Africa and a few ‘istans’. This closure is so late, by the time it takes effect other countries are planning to open.

Coronavirus: After 34,000 dead, UK to finally shut borders

Jacquelin Magnay, The Australian

The secretive Scientific ­Advisory Group for Emergencies has refused to detail to parliament its reasoning for introducing ­border closures now. Britain has recorded 34,000 deaths but infections have peaked.

This is how not to do quarantine:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson signalled the border closures ­earlier this month.

The warning allowed farmers time to fly in seasonal crop pickers from eastern Europe and gave pharmaceutical companies time to bolster stock levels, with many having factories on the continent.

It’s important to give travelers lots of warning so that infected fruit pickers can fly germs in without that pesky two week isolation. As for flying in “stock levels”, the rest of the [...]

“It’s just the flu”: China is locking down 100 million people after 34 new cases with Covid-19

We know everything about Chinese Communist official figures can be adjusted. So we watch what they do, not what they say.

In February, 80% of the entire economy of China was shut down and non-productive. Electricity use was down, coal use was low, container ships sat in ports, and satellite tracking of aerosols showed the air over China was cleaner than it has been, probably for a century. Locking down the nation must have been wildly expensive, and yet the Chinese still behave as if this is a plague and it’s worth doing everything humanly possible to avoid.

They said it was preventable and treatable, only infected the old, and was like the flu. What do they know that they are not saying?

CCP autocrats are known for organ harvesting not for compassion, so we could assume that culling off a few old folk would be deemed “useful” in a nation with older demographics.

They are incompetent, communist management, but they are not stupid. This reaction speaks volumes about how seriously the CCP views Covid-19:

They’ve found 34 new cases and they’re locking down 100 million people Over 100 Million in China’s Northeast Face Renewed Lockdown

Some 108 [...]

Tasmania may open borders to safe states, not “sick” ones…

Travel bubbles are coming:

Tasmania’s premier is looking at opening up travel between WA, SA, NT, and possibly New Zealand.

If the selective borders do open, it won’t be popular with the two biggest states which still have outbreaks. (Queensland has only had four new cases in the last week, but NSW has 23  and Victoria 50+. Indignant commenters at The Australian talked of High Court Challenges using s117. BUt I can’t see anyone rushing to fund those.

Coronavirus: Apple Isle’s selective reopening would shut out tourists from ‘sick’ states

Mathew Denholm ,The Australian

Some Australians craving a long-promised Tasmanian getaway may have to wait longer than others­, with the holiday isle’s Premier considering a selective border relaxation favouring states most on top of COVID-19.

Options included restoring direct­ flights to cities in jurisdictions that had the virus under control, such as Adelaide and Perth, or even New Zealand. This would avoid the need for tourists to travel via Sydney or Melbourne, cities still experiencing multiple new daily coronavirus cases.

A few days ago three Baltic States opened borders with each other.

On May 15 Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia decided their Coronavirus situation [...]

Coronavirus pushed climate change off the NZ budget

How times change. Last November Jacinda Ardern announced a zero carbon plan for New Zealand.

Six months later, after Coronavirus, saving the planet barely gets a mention.

Once the luxury money is gone, the golden gravy train will dry up. Crazy ideas about changing the global weather are a boom time activity.

NZ Budget 2020: trading coronavirus for the climate crisis

Analysis: In responding to the Covid-19 crisis, the Government appears to have completely forgotten about the climate crisis.

In announcing the 2020 Budget, which creates a $50 billion Covid-19 recovery and relief fund and pumps billions into health, infrastructure and wage subsidy extensions, Jacinda Ardern said.

The climate is hardly mentioned in the Budget – the word itself is used just four times in the entire document and not at all in Ardern’s speech to Parliament.

h/t  RicDre,  Eric Worrall at WUWT who found the gentlest spin:


New Zealand’s COVID-19 budget delivers on one crisis, but largely leaves climate change for another day


Weekend Unthreaded


Evidence grows that Coronavirus was man-made: the bat virus it “evolved” from appears to be faked

The claims that the current pandemic Coronavirus is natural all rely on it being 96% closely related to a natural bat virus known as the RaTG13 virus. But new analysis suggests this “natural” virus only exists as a fake creation on a Chinese computer.

The implications of this type of work will affect global politics. The anger towards the Chinese CCP mismanagement, dishonesty, and the coverup will unite the world against the global bad-citizen player. It also drives a pike through the casual globalist academic programs, and the role of people like Anthony Fauci, chief advisor to Trump, head of the Expert Swamp in the US. Why was he sending money to the Wuhan Institute of Virology? Why did the West help train and supply this lab?

h/t ramblingidiot, Choroin, Selwyn, El Gordo, Rob Dinn, Mike Mitchell

The virus that SARS-CoV-2 is supposed to have evolved from looks unmistakably artificial — in sections it contains far too many “mutations” that matter but hardly any of the normal noise of silent mutations which always occur naturally alongside the mutations which change the end product. Like someone cut and pasted multiple photos together with different background noise. Other sections of the [...]

Hokkaido’s second wave was bigger than the first: close those borders

Five million people live on Hokkaido, north of Japan. They went into a lockdown early on Feb 28th. By March 19th Hokkaido looked like a success and was showing the world how to manage Coronavirus (they started early, and used masks).  But then they reopened too soon, when there were still a few cases around and within a month had to lockdown again.

UPDATE: From readers in Japan (or who know people there) we hear that this is voluntary self-isolation, the government can declare “A State of Emergency” but the people are asked to comply, not forced.  The Japanese government cannot order the population to “lock” down. Presumably “restrictions” are therefore “recommendations”.

The restrictions were released just before a three day holiday weekend and the border with the rest of Japan was not closed, which meant workers and students returned quickly and brought infections in. Three weeks later on April 14th Hokkaido closed down again.

The lag is diabolical. Most of the cases in Hokkaido were reported after the second State of Emergency was declared.

h/t David E.

As long as the borders are open, the lockdown cannot succeed until the whole country is cleared.

As [...]

Second wave starting in Iran


Despite doing everything it could to gain herd immunity Iran starts on second wave

Iran was one of the first countries to succumb to the pandemic, and so it is for the second wave. Back on Feb 25th Iran emerged as a new epicentre — whereupon smart nations like Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Oman, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Jordan, Ankara, Georgia and Tajikistan immediately closed borders and flights from Iran. Rich nations with Expert-Swamps, however, would wait until they actually caught cases before they stopped the flights.

Iranian leaders worked to spread the virus: they were slow to close religious institutions, and quick to claim they’d be immune, right up until the day the leaders started catching the virus themselves. They declared quarantine was stone age, and shipped their masks off to China, but like everywhere, when things got bad, they started quarantine.

The peak came and went and things were headed in the right direction so Iran started releasing restrictions from April 11th. By May 2nd, less than a thousand new cases a day were being recorded. But five days later cases had doubled. Now they are back to where they were when they started releasing restrictions.

Just in time to catch the [...]

The mysterious debilitating Coronavirus convalescence

In Northern Italy, people are talking about how some people have not recovered even two months later. Patients with mild infections can recover, feel fine, and test negative, but then slide into debilitating fatigue, with strange aches and pains, bouts of diarrhea, and  burning eyes. Some of them even test positive again.

And these were not the serious ICU cases which are paralyzed and ventilated. The head doctor of a hospital in Lombardy said “the discomfort often seems to last even longer for people with lighter symptoms. “

Surviving Covid-19 May Not Feel Like Recovery for Some

Debilitating symptoms can last long after a person’s body has gotten rid of the coronavirus, a reality Italians are now confronting.

Jason Horowitz, New York Times

The stubbornness of the virus and the length of the convalescence have become topics of conversation in northern Italy where some of the longest-suffering Italians are finding themselves in physical and financial uncertainty, unable to shake sickness and fatigue and get back to work.

But even some of the infected who have avoided pneumonia describe a maddeningly persistent and unpredictable illness, with unexpected symptoms. Bones feel broken. The senses [...]

Thursday Open Thread

Lockdowns work: Influenza cases are 85% down across 17 countries

Lockdowns appear to be reducing all flu-like diseases

This years flu season is smaller than the last five years

Good news: due to the pandemic it’s likely many people are not catching Influenza and other respiratory diseases.This shows a rather  predictable result that quarantine reduces the spread of respiratory diseases. It’s a banal and uncontroversial finding.

Chris Gillham is a part of the unofficial BOM audit team here, and below he looks at WHO data across 17 countries for Influenza. (The WHO Chief of course is a belt-n-debt-trap apologist for China, but this is not their modeled interpretation, just the data). Laboratory indicated influenza cases are down an astonishing 87% in 17 nations compared to the five year period.

Quarantine is textbook microbiology, and for most of history, the best way to reduce the spread of disease. In many countries 12 days after major isolation measures started, viral growth flattened off the dreaded exponential curve. Despite that, some commentators still wonder if the lockdowns achieve anything for Coronavirus. And so it is, that we reach this strange point in the debate, where it is worth stating the blandly obvious: that lockdowns slow the spread of respiratory viruses. This is not [...]

Large antibody study on US baseball teams finds only 0.7% infection rate

With 1.4 million confirmed infections about 0.4% of the United States has had a known infection. But we know testing is inadequate given that there is such a high positive test rate (14% of all tests so far are positive). So we know the real rate of infection is higher than that.

The group that did the Santa Clara antibody test have run another test on 5,600 baseball employees and this time found only 0.7% carry the antibodies. The researchers were surprised.

About the only message we can really draw from this is the US is a long way from Herd Immunity, and as the US reopens there are twenty to fifty times as many people who could still catch this.

LA Times: Fewer than 1% of MLB employees test positive for COVID-19 antibodies

Of the 5,603 major league employees who submitted to what researchers called the largest national antibody study to date, only 60 tested positive, researchers said Sunday.

The researchers announced an estimated positive rate of 0.72% after adjusting the results for what they said were false positives and false negatives.

Still, the minute percentage of positive tests provided a data point as scientists [...]

Tuednesday Open Thread

OK. It’s late Tuesday somewhere in the world.