JoNova

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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Sweden is trapped in an interminable deadly half-lockdown

The Swedish soft lockdown will cost a lot more in the long run

Despite the relaxed approach, Sweden still had major changes in behaviour and movement patterns. The “half lockdown” may have stopped the exponential growth, but it wasn’t enough to reduce the spread. So Sweden is now trapped into maintaining some kind of isolation measures for months while other countries open up around them, and possibly, fly right over.

Norway’s sharp hard action and closed borders cost more in the short run, but they are now tracking towards zero cases and recovery beckons. Sweden has twice as many cases per capita as Norway, and ten times as many deaths, and there’s little sign the new infections are declining, nor that herd immunity is close. Antibody tests show that by late April only 7% of Stockholm may have been exposed to the virus, much less than the 20+ percent that the Swedish Chief Epidemiologist was expecting. 

In the graph below the number of cases are on the same scale, though Sweden has twice the population. Given that viruses grow and decline on exponential scales, the Swedish curve could have still shrunk almost as fast as it rose — like [...]

Like sabotage? The UK has locked down its people but still has open borders

Figure that UK residents can be fined for gathering in a group of three in the park across the road, but can legally travel to Tehran or Moscow if they reckon it’s essential (though the Russians might not let you in). Coronavirus is raging in Moscow but Russians can fly to Heathrow for a bargain next week.

For seven weeks of lockdown people have been flying straight in without even a temperature check. Though Healthrow just announced it will trial some thermometers and ask people to wear masks. Bravo, eh?

The idea of keeping people in their homes but letting planes come and go is so bizarrely strange it didn’t even occur to me.

The US appears largely the same

The good news is this explains why the UK is stuck in Viral-Neverland, with cases not declining, despite the lockdown. It’s something that can be fixed. The bad news is that Brits have been wasting weeks in lockdown running to stand still, instead of crushing the curve.

The awful news is that it says something dreadful about the health advice Boris is getting. The rot run deeps in the hallowed institutions.

In the UK, 18 million people arrived from Jan [...]

Mysterious, amazingly low oxygen levels, a pulse oximeter may give the first warning of coronavirus

A pulse Oximeter     | Image Thinkpaul: Wikimedia

A cheap device might keep people off ventilators and be the first warning of trouble

In coronavirus blood oxygen levels can silently drop to unheard of levels. People may be unaware they even have coronavirus as oxygen levels fall to the point, medicos are rewriting the record books. This is a hypoxia crisis — it’s a defining feature of the disease. In the UK, the demand for oxygen at hospitals is so great that the NHS is running out, rationing it, and asking docs to lower their blood oxygen targets.

People are monitoring their “blood oxy sats” at home so they get an early warning that they need more serious medical help. Normal blood oxygen levels are 95-100% saturated. Doctors used to get uppity at levels below 92%, and hospital alarms often go off if children with asthma fall below 90%. At 88% doctors are putting people on continuous oxygen therapy. Levels below 80% are considered dangerous enough to start causing organ damage. But medical staff are finding conscious covid patients with levels so low they are unheard of — an unbelieveable 50 percent. I read somewhere an ambulance medic found someone [...]

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 [...]

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

Worldometer

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 [...]

Viral numerology: Coronavirus fades after 6 to 8 weeks due to magic or something

Virus follows fixed mysterious pattern

An Israeli Prof is claiming to be “shocked” to find that tough lockdown quarantines made no difference. He claims the virus fades after 6 weeks in the “exact same way” everywhere –  which it does if you wear a welding mask while looking at the data. When asked why this extraordinary text-book-breaking shift happens he says “I have no explanation” but that doesn’t stop him concluding that hard quarantines are unnecessary.

When asked, he apparently suggested the exponential growth of viruses ends because of “the climate” or maybe “the virus has its own life cycle”. (How does he think this works? Telepathy?)

Israeli Professor Shows Virus Follows Fixed Pattern

Professor Yitzhak Ben Israel of Tel Aviv University, who also serves on the research and development advisory board for Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, plotted the rates of new coronavirus infections of the U.S., U.K., Sweden, Italy, Israel, Switzerland, France, Germany, and Spain.

The numbers told a shocking story: irrespective of whether the country quarantined like Israel, or went about business as usual like Sweden, coronavirus peaked and subsided in the exact same way. In the exact, same, way. His graphs show that all countries experienced seemingly identical coronavirus [...]

The first Synthetic Pandemic? Man who discovered HIV says Coronavirus is man made. CCP destroyed the evidence.

For months there have been rumors that Coronavirus leaked from a Chinese lab. The only P4 (high security lab) in China happens to be in Wuhan, near the fish markets and people there happen to be working on synthetic coronaviruses with S proteins that happen to infect ACE2 receptors in humans. But if Mother Nature wanted to generate her own viruses, it’s hard to beat wet markets in high density Chinese hubs. And there were papers too saying the gene analysis, etc, fitted 96% with the bat-pangolin-human story.

But now we find, long before the CCP was asking for sympathy, authorities were asking the staff to destroy all those lab viruses:

“Existing virus samples must be destroyed. Information about the samples, related  papers and related data are all prohibited from release. “

– Hubei Health committee on Jan 1st. (See the Epoch Times Documentary below).

And told the staff to say nothing to anyone, anywhere, anytime, ever:

“Notice regarding the strict prohibition of disclosure of any information related to the Wuhan unknown pneumonia.

National Health Commission clearly mandates that all detection, empirical data, results and conclusions related to this outbreak [...]

German 15% Herd Immunity study: wasn’t random and may have tested for the common cold?

Studies may not be what they seem We need antibody tests to find the number of asymptomatic Covid-19 cases, but the German Heinsberg study was poorly done. Apparently there aren’t many good antibody tests available yet.

The early results of a small study in Germany on the town of Gangelt suggested that as many as 15% of the town might have caught an asymptomatic form of coronavirus and already had antibodies to it. This would mean that death rates to coronavirus were much lower — a mere 0.37%, not 2% (or so), and that aiming for Herd Immunity was a realistic policy. It was picked up in many newspapers and turned into headlines that may have misled a lot of people, including the Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia.

“Coronavirus: Nearly 15% Europeans Now Immune in COVID-19″

“Many people may already have immunity to coronavirus, German study finds”

“Scientists say many more people than previously thought could have acquired coronavirus immunity after discovering 15% of people in city dubbed ‘German Wuhan’ could be carrying antibodies”

Five different reasons the results may be spurious The test may have detected antibodies to the harmless common cold form of [...]

New York “like mass casualty event”: coronavirus and other deaths up three-fold

Across the US all-cause mortality is down as as people avoid catching the flu, getting run over, and other risks. But in New York where coronavirus has hit hardest, all-cause mortality is at record highs.

This is nothing like the seasonal flu

For the whole month of March, deaths in New York were twice as high as normal. This includes not just extra coronavirus deaths but all other causes. Deaths were even higher than the number of known coronavirus deaths, leaving cardiologists worried that there may have been an increase in other conditions like heart attacks or strokes, because people were afraid to go to hospital or couldn’t get help in time.

This is an underestimate.  The authors expect this number to rise as more paperwork gets completed. It’s still only a small excess in a giant country, but it hints at the scale of the event were no quarantine measures put in place, no flights stopped, and the virus allowed to spread naturally. The current epidemic is stabilizing in New York, but if major action wasn’t taken, this would be the early weeks of a pandemic about to sweep across all fifty states. And this would not be the [...]

Finally, Coronavirus random tests show only 1% infected: Herd Immunity is tiny

Herd Immunity is not realistic

For the first time we have true randomized testing –and it shows that Austria was officially picking up about a quarter of the real number of infections in the population. So when Austria was officially saying 7,000 were infected, the true number was 28,500. Finally, this puts a solid limit on the chance that asymptomatic rate of infection was high. There is no iceberg.

About 75% of cases were mild or truly asymptomatic (and thus not getting officially tested), but it was still only a small slice of the population — just one third of one percent.

Less than 1% of Austrians infected with coronavirus, study shows

Peter Beaumont, The Guardian

The co-founder of Sora, Christoph Hofinger, told a news conference: “Based on this study, we believe that 0.33% of the population in Austria was acutely infected in early April.” Given the margin of error, the figure was 95% likely to be between 0.12% and 0.76%.

99% of the population is still vulnerable

The Austrian chancellor estimates only 1% of the population had had the infection (presumably he is including an estimate of people who had already had the virus, cleared [...]

Urgent new medical theory on Coronavirus: hold the ventilators, stop blood clots instead

For doctors or nurses reading — there’s a call to share this widely

An information event on this online SUNDAY April 12 8pm US Eastern time. (Open, free to anyone who wants to listen). That’s 10am Monday morning EST Australia.

This is not the flu. Most of the time apparently it’s not ARDS either.  Coronavirus it turns out — is a vascular disease as much as lung disease. In fact in 70-80% of ICU patients putting them on a ventilator straight away may make the situation worse.

Currently patients in ICUs have about a 50:50 chance of making it out alive. The odds are terrible. Doctors have been reporting how people can degenerate suddenly into a life threatening crisis situation. Now, perhaps this explains it. This kind of hypothesis is one of the reasons we really want to crush the curve, now, because we are so underprepared and there is so much to learn. If this is right it will save many lives.

This could solve several mysteries at once

This virus causes heart damage, it raises clotting factors. People seem fine, then they relapse.

One recent paper found people with high levels of D-dimer, a clotting factor, [...]

Crushing the Curve in Australia — “unknown source” covid cases trending down

Australia remains the star Lucky Country compared to overseas. Infections are low, deaths are even lower. It’s all so much better than the desperate situation in Europe and the US. These are enviable, fantastically small numbers. Politicians are afraid to say so, lest the population relax, and party too much this Easter and the “unknowns” increase. (Which might well happen).

At the moment, the trend that matters most is the daily new cases of unknown transmission and it is trending down. There is community spread, but social isolation is shrinking it. This is what “Crushing the Curve” looks like. Right now there are still asymptomatic spreaders out there, but they are infecting less than one other person each (Ro < 1), so the infection is on its way to extinguishing itself — assuming we keep up the distancing.

But these great figures are not a reason to let up on social isolation, they’re a reason to go harder. We want to achieve the Golden Holy Grail — no new infections, and business as usual with no lockdowns, no curfews and a zone of freedom.

Australia is the Lucky Country, and doing the right thing

Why is the situation so good here:

[...]

Trump threatens funds for WHO because they “were wrong” about Coronavirus

Finally, one world leader calls a spade a turkey. The US is the largest funder to the World Health Organisation, yet the WHO acts in China’s best interests. On January 31 the WHO could have saved the world by isolating China. Instead, the chief raved about President Xi and advised that flights should stay open because it will harm the economy:

“Travel restrictions can cause more harm than good by hindering info-sharing, medical supply chains and harming economies,” the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday. [Jan 31]

As I said then: How many people will the WHO kill with this advice? It was reckless negligence.

Donald Trump has placed a “hold” on funding the World Health Organisation after they got so much wrong on Coronavirus.

Charlie Speerling, Breitbart

“We want to look into the World Health Organization because they really called it wrong,” Trump said. “They missed the call, they could have called it months earlier, they would have known, they should have known, and they probably did know.”

The president noted that the WHO actually criticized his travel ban from China that he set [...]

Make Your Own Mask: DIY No-sew 2 minute and high quality sewn HEPA options

Ignore the mixed, junk messaging, if the WHO tells you not to wear a mask, that’s President Xi speaking. It’s a reason to wear one. We should all be wearing masks in public. It may be the cheapest way to reduce the R0, and get us out of coronavirus-jail fast.

Countries which wear masks have lower transmission. Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea. UPDATE: Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer says Australians shouldn’t use masks because they are not clever enough to use them properly or something like that. Seriously.  Don’t wait for bureaucrats to get the message right. It protects other people from those who don’t even have symptoms who are shedding virus. It protects you: It reduces your chance of breathing in droplets of virus that float in the air. Viruses are tiny, but studies show that masks work, even a thin surgical mask prevented nearly 3 out 4 parents from catching influenza from their infected children. The N95 style are better but any mask is better than nothing. There are no guarantees — the virus can sneak in the side, and still enter through your eyes (wear glasses to reduce at least to stop you touching your eyes). [...]

No doubt about it: 12 days after lockdowns, quarantines and isolation, Coronavirus slows

Ancient technology wins: Not only are quarantine and isolation measures useful, they’re the best tools we have.

Some people don’t seem to realize that the only reason the daily growth of infections is slowing anywhere, is thanks to drastic quarantine measures or changes in human behaviour. We can see this in graphs from Italy, Spain, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland, Germany, and China, but not in Sweden or Brazil where there’s not much quarantine and not much slowing of growth curves either. In all of the former, the big meaningful actions were followed around 12 days later by an obvious slow down.

Willis Eschenbach, for example, wondered If Lockdowns Worked, but counted subdivisions of any quarantine type action as a measure of the severity when it’s more a measure of the wordsmithiness or indecision of leaders.

To see if major action matters, it’s better to look at the dates that borders, schools and shops were closed. The graphs of daily new cases below show that around 12 days later in so many countries, the growth in cases slows too. The delay is due to both the incubation period of Covid-19 and testing. By the time a lockdown is declared (or [...]