JoNova

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


Handbooks


Advertising


Australian Speakers Agency



GoldNerds

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



Archives

Books

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

Perhaps solve the other pandemic: Vitamin D deficiency — to help beat Coronavirus?

Missing out on the Sunshine Vitamin?

We’re throwing billions at Coronavirus but missing cheap wins.

After masks and soap, the next bargain to reduce the impact of coronavirus is Vitamin D supplements.

Vitamin D deficiency is so common it’s an epidemic affecting a billion people around the world. Ponder that half the population of many western nations are clinically deficient by the end of winter. Add that to a novel virus and consider that higher Vitamin D levels reduce the risk of respiratory tract infections like influenza by as much as 40%.

As Grant et al say:

“Low vitamin D status in winter permits viral epidemics.”

Vitamin D levels also correlate with lower rates of cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, heart disease, dental caries, preeclampsia, autoimmune disease, depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Vitamin D influences over 200 genes. It’s so crucial, it was likely the reason northern Europeans evolved whiter skin. The lack of sunlight and the introduction of grains in diets (as opposed to eating liver and whales) meant that Europeans weren’t getting enough D from either food or sun. The selective pressure was so strong that lighter skin rapidly took over all the northern [...]

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 [...]

Coronavirus treatment — antibodies that work in 20 minutes could give protection for 8 weeks

NEWS: A group say they have developed five antibodies from the old SARS antibody stocks that with tweaking can now bind well to the SARS-2 novel coronavirus.

An antibody is a long string of molecules that binds only to the exact target (we hope). Wikimedia Bioconjugator

If they get through all the testing phases and ramp up production, in theory, these could be ready for mass use in September (but everything would need to go right). They could be injected into patients and within 20 minutes these antibodies would bind to the virus and stop it entering cells. The protection might last 8 – 10 weeks before someone would need another dose.

This could be a gamechanger, but beware before anyone gets too excited, this is very early days — “protoplasm” days. There are a lot of steps to rush through.This group have searched and evolved the protein with their supercomputer which has a huge library of antibodies. They claim to be certain it binds to the virus — and to  exactly the right part of the virus, but they haven’t actually done that yet — they’ll send the antibody to a military secure lab to do that. Then [...]

Sweden — going for herd immunity and using the 1918 Flu plan

It’s a big natural experiment

Swedish people are still going to schools, restaurants and gyms. Even the cinemas are running.  Apparently Sweden is taking the punt that there are many asymptomatic infections out there, despite having no data, and not doing any structured screening to get some either.  They are also betting that immunity to this form of coronavirus will last a lot longer than the coronavirus colds where herd immunity is irrelevant one year later.

All recommendations are made by the Public Health Agency.  Apparently they are learning from the 1918 influenza spread, and thus successfully “fighting the last war”. Swedish doctors are reportedly not happy about it. Probably because their idea of being doctors is not where you choose which 60 year old mother lives and which one dies, or where the doctors work round the clock and many of them get sick themselves, and some die. Gruelling is not the word.

Gatherings of 50+ people are banned, and the 70+ age group have been told to avoid social contact.

I predict that as the ICU units overflow, or even before, they will move to serious measures like the rest of the world as the inhumanity of the inadequate [...]

How about 27 feet of social distancing

How big should that gap be?

The WHO recommends “3 feet”, the CDC recommends 6 feet, but new research shows they got the model wrong and we might need to be 30 feet apart. Not to mention that the cloud of aerosols can wander suspended for hours. So we may need to be 30 feet and three hours apart.

No wonder churches and places where people sing are such high risk events, and why an astonishing 12,000 health workers are infected  with coronavirus in Spain.

They aren’t sure if their new findings  have clinical implications, which says a lot about how much we don’t know. The 27 ft distance applies to sneezes, so if the other party isn’t sneezing you might not have to be so far. Lucky sneezing isn’t that common, though the dry cough is. Personal trainers at 27 feet is going to be tricky.

UPDATE: Some readers ask whether one new study is even worth reporting, accusing me of “scare tactics”. I’ve been reading medical papers now for over 20 years, so forgive me if I found the results here so banal that I didn’t mention that this result is barely new, and very well [...]

Australia’s very low death rate is due to younger patients, plenty of tests

Right now Australia has one of the lowest death rates from coronavirus in the world. With 4,561 cases but only 19 deaths, the clumsy Case Fatality Rate is only 0.4%  –  lower even than Germany. While some commentators think that’s a reason to ease up it may be partly due to temporary good geographical luck. Plus winter is coming…

1. Australians with Coronavirus are younger (for the moment).

Most infections in Australia came from overseas travel — something the 20 to 70 year olds do a lot of, but apparently the 80+ age group aren’t flying on 20 hour long haul trips across the Pacific. (Last week the most common source of Australia’s cases was the USA, especially Aspen). This week the main source is Europe, and the nation called “cruise ships”.  If and when the virus starts to spread among the older cohorts the death rates will rise. (Unless we figure out that treatment first).

 

Source: Australian government

Compare the ages groups of patients in Korea and Italy. Fully 40% of Italian (known) cases are 70+.

Statista — demographics of Italian and South Korean cases

 

Italy and South Korean demographics

Fortune

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 [...]