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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Korean professor surprised Western people don’t wear masks which are “very effective”

Professor Kim Woo-Ju, Professor Infectious Diseases, Korea, says that masks are “definitely effective”. “I find it quite odd” that the west people don’t wear masks.” “People wearing a mask have a significantly lower chance of getting infected than those who don’t.” WHO says not to wear masks, he says “I disagree.”

Around the middle of the interview he says that one of the reasons Korea has  low rate of infection is because they wear masks — as good as N95 (P2) — this is the same type as what the doctors wear.

He says Korea, and all the South East Asian countries are also experienced because they went through the SARS and MERS outbreaks. They knew what to do, they knew they needed tests fast.

He speaks well. h/t MichaelSmithNews. (via Annie ) and Chiefio somewhere (via Bill in Oz)

“In 30 years of pandemics, Ebola, MERS, Swine Flu … the Covid-19 epidemic is the most challenging”.

In the 80+ age group the death rate is 11% With the largest number of tests anywhere, they find 20% have no symptoms. But it is still not random testing. And the number may be different in other countries due [...]

We Can Hammer Coronavirus in weeks instead we Rush to War Unarmoured

If you only read one serious page about how to deal with this crisis read Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance. The countries that “get this” approach will be the first to recover.

It’s all the things I’ve been suggesting but done on big scale with an expert team.

What I call the Slow Bleed is officially known as Mitigation. It’s the 6 month Flu strategy that kills people and the economy.

When I said Crush the Curve, they call it The Hammer, the hardest form of suppression. The Dance is the delicate recovery process until we get a vaccine, a treatment or a nicer mutant version of the virus.

1. Hammer and Dance — there is a better plan   (click to enlarge)


Eventually we’ll all get to the Hammer Crush approach because the alternative is so horrible.

Even Imperial College concludes that slow “Mitigation” is just not viable: in the UK the demand for ICU beds would exceed capacity 8-fold, and there would be something like a quarter of a million UK deaths, and over a million in the US. They conclude that epidemic suppression is the only strategy, yet their predictions on that are [...]

Bill Gates pandemic warning in 2015

Apparently no one listened to him.

The thing we were always afraid of was a virus that people could shed even if they felt well enough to get on a plane…

He’s right about “the blood of survivors” –  blood contains antibodies to the virus after they recover. So plasma from survivors might help current victims. And that trial will happen in New York.

But we don’t need a “global heath system”. We have that already and it’s worse than useless. Back in January the WHO was telling everyone not to stop flights from China. Absurd WHO declarations became the convenient excuse for weak Chief Medical Officers to recommend exactly the wrong thing. WHO advice worked out well for China, but is currently killing citizens everywhere else.

How cheap and easy closing those borders looks now eh?

China bought the WHO a long time ago. WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom, was recently the Foreign Minister for Ethiopia, which is now securely Debt Trapped on China’s Belt and Road. Even as the CCP suppressed doctors, hid the true statistics, and welded their own citizens in their apartments, Tedros fawned over President Xi.

The petition calling to sack the WHO [...]

Dire report turned into fake news that death projections have been “downgraded”

Be wary of reports that the new Imperial College modeling on Coronavirus has downgraded the threat.  With headlines like these (below), you could be forgiven for thinking Coronavirus posed less of a problem.  The updated model talked of UK deaths being “only” 20,000, not 500,000, but because they were modeling two totally different scenarios. The update assumed that drastic action had started.

The headlines could have said “Draconian Shutdown could save 480,000 lives”.

If Ferguson has any confidence now that the virus will peak a lot sooner — in mid-April — and the UK will not crash their hospital ICU bed supply, it’s only because the country is finally taking serious action and because  “the UK should have the testing capacity “within a few weeks” to copy what South Korea has done and aggressively test and trace the general population.

The full Imperial College report by Neil Ferguson’s team doesn’t suggest anything like these headlines imply. Ferguson himself has responded on twitter that the transmission of the virus is slightly faster than they thought, but the lethality is the same.

He now thinks the Ro (rate of infection) is over 3, up from 2.5.

UK has enough intensive care [...]

Chinese company flew 80 tons of medical masks, suits, to China in Feb

Asleep at the wheel.

The Lucky Country wakes up to the cost of globalization. There are only 3,000 Covid cases here, we have barely begun, yet we’re already running out of protective gear. The lives of our doctors and nurses are at risk because bureaucrats were too slow to see the obvious, blindly unaware of foreign allegiances, and they kept using the old Influenza plan when this wasn’t influenza.

The media, led by the bloated ABC, reinforced all the incompetence, more worried that we might made bad jokes about shaking hands in hospital.

Meanwhile, below, China now has excess masks which it is donating to Belt and Road Slaves in Europe and to nations where it wants access to 5G network deals. Our masks, used as levers for China to gain power.

50 shades of incompetance

Chinese-backed company’s mission to send Australian medical supplies to China, by Kate McClymont.

According to a company newsletter, the Greenland Group sourced 3 million protective masks, 700,000 hazmat suits and 500,000 pairs of protective gloves from “Australia, Canada, Turkey and other countries.”

This is the free market at work — to some extent, those supplies were more needed in Wuhan in [...]

Masks do help, even (maybe) stopping 75% of influenza, and you can make them

In the West the public have been discouraged from wearing face masks, and told they aren’t much help. This is mostly because they are “much help” and the front line docs and nurses really need them but no one in charge ordered enough in advance, and none of them had the honesty to say so. The daft push-me-pull-you messaging of how the useless masks are needed on the front line will go down as a case study in how not to communicate (or build trust). The truth is we do want people to wear masks in the street, because it almost certainly does slow transmission. (These Lancet authors think so too).

In high density East Asian nations, face masks are common. (And viral growth curves are generally slower, though for lots of reasons.)  Possibly after Coronavirus has gone, masks in winter might be more common here too.

Things can change fast:

Kamil Chudačík, twitter:

In Czech Republic we went from: “Look at the idiot wearing a mask!” to “Look at the idiot not wearing a mask!” in 2 days. I can say the czechs are very conservative in terms of changes so I’m surprised by this behavior. The [...]

Young and fit brought down, means hard sharp quarantine coming everywhere

 Message to the young and immortal

A fully fit 28 year old who ran marathons tells what it was like for him to get Coronavirus. He ended up spending 13 days in ICU. His ongoing liver problems and weakness will take a month or two to get better.

His message to young people out at parties or on the beach: ” You might survive, but the old person that didn’t get that ventilator might not…”

But the spread of stories like this rule out some future paths.

Forget all the pussy-foot weak quarantines

This shows that the “Let it RIP” approach and the “Herd Immunity” approach were never even worth discussing. The community would not tolerate the risk or inhumanity of either. But this also shows that the Slow Bleed approach of weak Social Distancing for six months will be dumped like a hot rock asap (it’ll be rebadged and quietly wrapped in stronger stuff). As Italy found (and now Spain) weak quarantine doesn’t work very well. Only serious quarantine can solve this.

Speaking of solving this: Good to hear that cases are possibly slowing in Italy. Looks promising. What did Italy do 12 days ago — On March 12th, [...]

Doc talks about his “Holy S***” moment — horrible lung failure even in young patients

For most people Coronavirus is like the flu or even a cold, but for 20% it’s something awful. Even in younger patients — a few seemingly fit and healthy 40 and 50 year olds are gasping for air as their lungs fill with blood and fluid and it’s “like a near death drowning” or “inhaling caustic gas”. Forgive the language in the headline — those were this docs exact words. He’s working at a New Orleans hospital and his whole attitude to the virus has changed dramatically.

h/t Analitik

A Medical Worker Describes Terrifying Lung Failure From COVID-19 — Even in His Young Patients

by Lixzzie Presser, ProPublica

“It first struck me how different it was when I saw my first coronavirus patient go bad. I was like, Holy shit, this is not the flu. Watching this relatively young guy, gasping for air, pink frothy secretions coming out of his tube and out of his mouth. The ventilator should have been doing the work of breathing but he was still gasping for air, moving his mouth, moving his body, struggling. We had to restrain him. With all the coronavirus patients, we’ve had to restrain them. They [...]

Every day matters. See which day each US state loses the chance to protect thousands

Look at State by State outcomes: visit Covid Act Now

Its an excellent display of modeled outcomes across the US*. Click on each state in the US to find out predicted death tolls and the day hospitals will be overwhelmed with too little action.

Dear readers, get out of the way of this virus. My advice is to stay home. Order online. Wear masks if you have to venture out. Keep kids home from school. Don’t visit anyone or allow visitors in to your home who have not strictly quarantined for the last two weeks. We started this last week.

h/t Bill in Oz.

Eg It’s too late now for  New York State to avoid losing control of hospitals

But they could still Crush the Curve and save a lot of people, but even that action now will have far higher death tolls that it would if it had been started last week.

New York State has a population of 20 million. So the figures in the table below are directly comparable to Australian outcomes with a population of 25m (with the hope that lower population density, warmer weather, and two weeks warning could be an [...]

50 Specialist Doctors send dire warning hospitals will be swamped 3 x capacity

The wave coming is not just a “bit bigger” than hospitals can handle

Western Australian specialists estimate that at present rate, in 45 days Coronavirus cases will fill up their entire state hospital system. Two weeks later Covid patients will also fill all the beds in the extra two copies of their entire state hospital network that haven’t been built yet.

Hospitals will need 20 times as many ventilators as they have.

“Peak need for ventilators will be over four thousands in a system where we have less than two hundred. Again, most of those needing a ventilator will die. “

Perhaps we are overreacting?

Western Australia is an example of what the rest of the West faces. There are 2.5m people here, but only 120 confirmed cases. In a state which took six years to build one hospital all we need to do is triple our hospital capacity in 6 weeks. Laughing…

The Doctors call for the immediate closure of borders. Which was impossible a few days ago, in a state that only has two sealed roads out, but is now happening on Tuesday “at 1:30pm”. (Presumably the new border guards have to drive out from [...]

Crush the Curve: Italian town with first death in Italy stopped the virus

The first epicentre in Italy was Vò, a little town of 3,000. It was shut down, fully tested and twice and nine days apart. By testing, isolating, and tracking, they reduced the spread to almost nothing, and this is despite the extraordinary discovery that when the first death happened, already 3% of the town had the disease.

At that point surely the Italian government should have immediately closed everything?

Italian village reports no new infections for days after blanket testing

Zoe Tidman, Independent

Mr Zaia, Veneto’s governor, said the trial was “criticised by most sides” but that isolating numbers of undetected positive cases has resulted in Vo Euganeo being today “the safest place in Italy”.

h/t Bill H

In one Italian town, we showed mass testing could eradicate the coronavirus

Andrea Crisanti and Antonio Cassone, The Guardian, March 20.

Our experiment came to be by chance. The Italian authorities had a strong emotional reaction to news of the country’s first death – which was in Vò. The whole town was put into quarantine and every inhabitant was tested.

In the first round of testing, 89 people tested positive. In the second round, the number had [...]

Doctors on front line see disaster coming and feel abandoned

Australian Medical Association WA President Andrew Miller said Western Australia was headed for a situation like Italy and are 8 – 10 days behind Sydney. Read his scathing comments below.

The tally in Australia is now about 900, the same as Italy had on Feb 28th, just three weeks ago. Now Italy has 41,000 cases and 3,405 people have died. Their population is three times larger than Australia and slightly older, it’s colder and packed in closer.  At a guess, with the present SlowMo/SlowState response, maybe only 10-20,000 Australians will catch this in the next three weeks? “Great”.

UPDATE: Hospitals in Italy are no longer intubating anyone over 60 years old.  h/t nezy

Italian politicians could have been better prepared, but there’s no excuse for the rest of the world now.

Coronavirus crisis: Australian Medical Association WA President Andrew Miller slams WA Government response to COVID-19 pandemic

John Flint The West Australian

[Miller said:] …“And we’re not doing any of the things that the countries that are being successful are doing like Hong Kong.

“They are using fever monitoring in public, they lock people down away from their families if they’re positive, whereas here we send [...]

Antiviral drugs – antimalarials and anti HIV may be useful

I’ve said from the start that anti-virals were always going to be more useful to us this year than vaccines, which take so long to test and be ready for use. What we really need are anti-virals which also happen to be preapproved and tested and hopefully in mass production. Chloroquine is cheap too, though I doubt Australian stocks of the drug are very high, or that our genius rulers have arranged more. This may be a godsend in Africa where chloroquine use is already high and may reduce the spread of Covid-19 somewhat.

The UK banned export of chloroquine a few weeks ago. Clearly someone there thought it might be useful.

Wang et al reported on Feb 4th that Chloroquine (anti-Malarial) and Remdesivir (anti HIV) may be useful against Coronavirus. They used lab experiments on cells in glass, which had promise. But “in vitro” doesn’t always mean “in vivo”. So I’ve been waiting for some results on people. Early reports were ambiguous. Recently this was hyped as an “Australian cure” which really just meant the start of a proper trial.

There are links to papers and discussion below but I can’t beat this great description explaining how inside the [...]

Australia waited to boost mask production til now ?! — Greg Hunt and Brendan Murphy’s deadly incompetence

Australia has only one mask factory, and the Army was only sent in yesterday to start helping to ramp up production?

Six weeks after this disaster was obvious to bloggers-watching-twitter-feeds, the entirely predictable shortage of masks is only just starting to be addressed? Why weren’t they doing this a month ago?

Australian Defence Force soldiers have been deployed to help Australia’s only mask manufacturer, Med-Con, near Shepparton.

The Federal Government confirmed on Tuesday about a dozen ADF personnel would be called out under the Defence Assistance to the Civil Community rules to help Med-Con ramp up production of personal protective equipment.

Three army trucks were seen heading north on Old Dookie Rd about 7.20 am Wednesday morning.

Australians are panic buying because the sheer incompetence of our medical advice and management is obvious to everyone. It didn’t occur to me to suggest the government get local mask production running because any sensible ten year old would have seen that coming.

The Greg Hunt mantra on Jan 31: WHO declares emergency. “We are prepared.”

March 5th: Dental practices face closure because of shortage of surgical masks.

March 18th: doctors are warning a promised influx of [...]

Delay = death. Countries that act slowly increase the fatality rate by 10x

Dithering politicians push the fatality from 0.5% toward 5%

A gritty analysis by Tomas Pueyo shows how leaders inertia is killing people every day. Some of the victims of tomorrows Virus Get-Togethers won’t die for a few weeks, but the next batch starts tomorrow (and every day until the nation self-isolates, stops the pox-parties, the cough-shopping, and pneumonia-planes. ). And each day there are more than the day before. Sounds macabre, but at this point in an exponential epidemic, it’s just how it is. Since we didn’t stop the Airbussed virus, we’re going to have to shut everything down anyhow, the later we do it, the larger the cost, and the longer it takes. We have to get ahead of this virus.

Meanwhile in Australia, the average punter seems to realize this and the mood is hitting feverish notes with tramplings in supermarkets — The government is calling for calm, but doctors are calling for borders to close, and schools to go online, they’re standing outside schools with signs telling parents not to send their children to school. Doctors are warning that we are the next “Italy” if we don’t get our act together. But the government says it’s too [...]