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



Australian Speakers Agency


The nerds have the numbers on precious metals investments on the ASX

The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper



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 [...]

Victorian lockdown worked: it stopped community transmission of Covid

Science before politics

Some are claiming the Victorian lockdown was too late, saying the rate of spread was already suppressed before it started. But that misses the point that slowing flight arrivals was responsible for most of the suppression up to that point, but that wasn’t going to stop the rising cases of community transmission. To judge if lockdown works, we need to look at domestic spread.

The graph that matters are the new daily cases, and even more so, the graph of daily new cases due to of community transmission (below).

Victoria started a major lockdown on March 24th when schools were largely closed (except to essential workers) and only essential services were allowed to run. We see daily new cases peaked 11 3 days later, almost exactly as expected (We expect a 12 day delay as seen in Japan, Germany, Italy, Spain, South Korea and Norway). The 12 day average expected lag comes from a five day average incubation and then a roughly seven day lag for new cases to get into breathing trouble and get tested as such. In Victoria, the case numbers were  dominated by incoming arrivals, so the timing of border closures determined the daily new cases [...]

Antibody test shows 5% of Spaniards or 2.3 million have contracted the coronavirus

This is not the road to herd immunity

In Spain, after a long battle, a quarter of a million people have tested positive to coronavirus and 27,000 have died.

But Spanish authorities have now done the largest antibody test I am aware of, and it was at least somewhat randomized.  As many as 70,000 people have been blood tested and it was discovered that 5% had antibodies to Coronavirus. That would mean there were about 2.3 million cases of Covid-WuFlu across all of Spain, which is ten times as many cases as officially counted. But it also means 95% of Spaniards are at risk of catching it, and without a lockdown the virus would still spread very quickly. The death rate works out to be about 1.1% of total infections. But there were excess deaths in Spain — above and beyond the normal, and above the known Covid Cases — so that suggests the real death rate is more like 1.3%. Not fun.

That’s possibly why Spain is heading towards zero cases. The combination of infectiousness and the fairly significant death rate means Coronavirus is a hard virus to live with. Even a low level of running virus could fire [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

Many countries tracking to zero Coronavirus — the world could divide into the infected or the free

Australia and New Zealand may soon open up a safe travel zone in the South Pacific and some mock it as a “bubble”. But many other nations could potentially join this growing virus-free zone. Countries which could get there sooner include Germany, France, Norway, Ireland, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Czechia, Serbia, Croatia, Greece and Iceland. Plus South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, Israel, and even perhaps Italy and Spain not long after that. And there are others.

Countries that are only flattening the curve, and not crushing it, include bizarrely the powerhouses of the Western world, the UK and US, as well as Sweden and Canada. It also includes Russia, Brazil, and a lot of the third world. But even Turkey is bringing the curve down. Forgoodnesssake, Jordan looks impressive. Even Cuba looks like reaching zero before the US of A does.

The US and UK are keeping their virus cases alive by flying them in through open borders. Sweden is just not doing enough. Canada? Good question. Please tell us.

We know how to beat this virus yet top level expert advisors are telling Boris and Trump they need to leave the borders open. Can someone shake these men [...]

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 [...]

Two Californians doctors say the mortality rate is like the flu, but it was sampling bias instead

A few people are asking about the video the Youtube removed which is now on Bitchute. (h/t AC Osborne)  The cack hand of Youtube strikes again with unnecessary censorship. But even if the docs were wrong, it’s better to discuss why than try to disappear them — we can all learn something. Plus the censorship gives them a de facto kind of hero status among some, but for the wrong reasons.

The Doctors main point is a sampling bias error

Doctors Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi of Accelerated Urgent Care are ER doctors, they look convincing, and speak well, but their thesis rests entirely on an error. They take test results from a high risk group of people, and extrapolate the results to the whole state. What they have is non-randomized data, and they assume it represents millions of people who didn’t come out for testing. This is not a small or incidental point. It’s the foundation of nearly everything they say.

They repeat this same mistake over and over, and say “we are following The Science”. They come up with some just-so rationalizations, some truisms that aren’t true, and inject some superfluous vocabulary in there so people know they [...]

Indonesian study: Low Vitamin D patients ten times more likely to die of Coronavirus

Wow. If this is confirmed, Coronavirus is almost a disease of Vitamin D deficiency

Missing out on the Sunshine Vitamin?

Hot off the press: A new Indonesian study of 780 people with Coronavirus found that people with a Vitamin D deficiency were much more likely to die. We discussed Vitamin D at length a few weeks ago, so we already knew Vitamin D is associated with a lower rate of respiratory illness,  but the results here are quite remarkable.

Of those who died most (85%) had a co-morbidity, the real surprise is that even more than that, 96% had low Vitamin D levels.  Of those who survived, most people had normal Vitamin D levels.  Only 7% of survivors had low or deficient Vitamin D. That is quite a split.

Vitamin D deficiency was very common among these Indonensian patients. Half of those measured did not have enough Vitamin D in their blood. Of those that did, 96% survived, and only 4% “expired”. Vitamin D looks like a good protector.

After controlling for known risk like being old, or male or having high blood pressure, a Vitamin D level described as deficient (less than 20ng/ml) was associated with a 10 fold [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]