COVID-19: Lies, damned lies, and government statistics go viral.

Virus

by Aoife aged 4 years

From my reading we have a virus in COVID-19 that could affect between say 20% and 70% of the world’s population.

I have also seen a number of “expert” views that show that we don’t understand it.

  • Maybe we should expect it to be with us into the future rather like seasonal flu; maybe not.
  • We don’t know how long it can live on hard surfaces: maybe hours, maybe weeks.
  • Warm humid weather may help kill it, maybe not.
  • We are making all sorts of predictions and assumptions about how it might spread and almost every country is coming up with its own wizard wheezes to control it.  Some of these might work, some will not.

However, there are a few definite messages.  The mortality rate seems to go up quite dramatically in line with the vulnerability of the infected person.

So, the old, the infirm, diabetics, cancer patients, presumably the most poorly nourished etc, will all come off worst. 

Now, just listen to the strains of the private sector as it puts its full might to the wheel.  Hush! Well, I can’t actually hear the sounds of such herculean efforts from Big Pharma as they pour all of their resources into finding a vaccine or developing treatments, but they must be, mustn’t they?

Maybe not! Perhaps the risk/reward pattern isn’t good enough for their bean counters.  The research is there from outside Big Pharma, the candidate drugs are there, but the big boys aren’t rushing in to translate the research into a marketable vaccine.  There is not an indecent profit to be made from it and quite a bit of risk.  After all, the pandemic will die out; maybe before any significant return is made.  Where’s the fun in that?

I have not heard our government putting out statements urging them to get on with it either.  Why is this, I wonder?  Perhaps one doesn’t want to paint one’s pals and backers into a corner.

Perhaps the way the virus is behaving will give us a clue.

Looking at an early snapshot of confirmed cases from China, the figures indicate that about 4.7% of men with the virus will die from it.  The figure is much lower for women with only about 2.8% of those infected expected to suffer the same fate.  Maybe it is time for gender reassignment for all you blokes out there?

These are early figures, based on the Chinese experience and are likely to be skewed because of factors like a preponderance of heavy smokers leading to a higher incidence of death from associated chest complications.  However, it prompted the WHO to predict an average death rate of 3.5% for those with a confirmed diagnosis. Another problem is that nobody seems to have any idea how many undetected virus sufferers there are.  So, it just becomes a guessing game. However, looking at current figures on 5/3/20 the mortality rate for confirmed cases is running at 3.4% world-wide.

But we needn’t bother our little heads about this stuff.  After speaking at the recent government press pantomime, our Prime Minister and his Poodle Chancellor were both shown washing their hands of the problem.  

Blue rinse
Me too rinse

So what does our expert say?

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said, “probably around 1%  of people who get this virus might end up dying”. He also said that the death rate varies according to age group and those with pre-existing medical conditions and the elderly are most at risk. I can see why they pay him so much. Such keen incisive observations.

Sloppy lingo saves the day

I had always worked on the assumption that dying was one of life’s little inevitabilities, so was intrigued to hear an expert implying that 99% of those contracting the virus might achieve immortality. Now that almost makes it worthwhile exposing oneself, so to speak.

So, being alarmist, if maybe 50% of us get it, and say between 1% and 3.5% of those infected die from it, that runs out at between 350,000 and just over 1 million of us who will have our clogs well and truly popped by COVID-19. 

 On the other hand, we could take a conservative view (and by that I mean we could pretend that everything is not what it seems and the sun shines out of every Tory Central Orifice) and we could go with another set of guesses. So, let’s assume that around 30% of us will get anything like a serious set of symptoms and that maybe only 0.5% of these cases will turn out to be deadly. This would give an outturn of just over 100,000 deaths. Altogether a different kettle of cadavers. However, dead is dead for the poor sods who end up in this sad position.

The BBC in one of its presentations following the government press panto showed one point on a static screen for quite a while, indicating that the mortality rate would be 1% of the population. That would equate to over 670,000 – so who knows?

Fear not though, for however many people get to shuffle off this mortal coil, they will, almost by definition, be those who are the biggest drain on society: the old; the frail; the poor; the poorly housed and ill-educated; a cull of the economically inactive, to use a recently well-publicised phrase.  Phew! That’s a relief isn’t it?

You must be confused by now surely?

Finding some major distraction to consume the front pages of what was once claimed to be an honest and fearless press is proving quite helpful.  After all, even our Tory Shagmaster cannot be expected to continue to push out babies in order to hog the headlines.    COVID-19 would also provide excellent cover for rolling out some special powers for public order that might well come in handy over the next few years, as we approach yet another greed-fuelled global financial crash which seemed to be on the cards anyway.  The prospects of this is giving many government supporters wet dreams, as they were just waiting for a handy scapegoat before making a killing. Even the Tories could hardly blame the next collapse on Labour and they are not allowed to mention “the exit that cannot speak its name”.   It might even stop the public thinking about the Russian report, the Arcuri report, The Grenfell cover up, the third runway at Heathrow, the corruption at the heart of government, the bullying surrounding Priti “Toxic” Patel, the extra money promised to the NHS, shortages predicted as a result of Brexit, and so on.

Clearing the decks of a million or so basket cases might ease the pressure all over the place too.  But no, I’m surely being too cynical.  Maybe it is just a plan to prevent public demonstrations when the government finally go so far that even their own lunatic supporters wake up and realise that the coffee they used to smell was imported and they can’t get it any longer!

Good, that’s the idea.

All that stuff is standard Neoliberalism at its best, setting out to provide shocks to collapse economies and increase the wealth and power of those who already have it in spades.   This is like manna from heaven.  Let’s close down Parliament, get the troops out on the streets, ban assemblies, run the country by decree!  Fantastic! – and all in the name of public health.

However, the odd aspect of it all, that bothers me more than a little, is this.  We keep hearing vague government platitudes about how this virus is less deadly than the flu, and at the same time we are being told of all sorts of draconian plans that the government is drawing up to stem its deadly spread. 

Come on, which is it?  The same old, same old?  Or something much more sinister where we really are heading for a new reality version of The Walking Dead?

Me? I wash my hands of it!

Now then, what supplies do I need to hunker down for my last remaining years? 

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