Sunetra Gupta on unprofessional conduct of pro-lockdown scientists

Sunetra Gupta, founding signatory of the Great Barrington Declaration, wrote for the Daily Mail. Here is an edited set of excerpts.

I was utterly unprepared for the onslaught of insults, personal criticism, intimidation and threats that met our proposal. The level of vitriol and hostility, not just from members of the public online but from journalists and academics, has horrified me.

… Covid-19 is not a political phenomenon. It is a public health issue — indeed, it is one so serious that the response to it has already led to a humanitarian crisis. So I have been aghast to see a political rift open up, with outright abuse meted out to those who, like me, question the orthodoxy.

That is why I have found it so frustrating how, in recent weeks, proponents of lockdown policies have seemed intent on shutting down debate rather than promoting reasoned discussion.

 

It is perplexing to me that so many refuse even to consider the potential benefits of allowing non-vulnerable citizens, such as the young, to go about their lives and risk infection, when in doing so they would build up herd immunity and thereby protect the lives of vulnerable citizens.

 

Yet rather than engage in serious, rational discussion with us, our critics have dismissed our ideas as ‘pixie dust’ and ‘wishful thinking’.

This refusal to cherish the value of the scientific method strikes at the heart of everything I, as a scientist, hold dear. To me, the reasoned exchange of ideas is the basis of civilised society.

 

So I was left stunned after being invited on to a mid-morning radio programme recently, only for a producer to warn me minutes before we went on air that I was not to mention the Great Barrington Declaration. The producer repeated the warning and indicated that this was an instruction from a senior broadcasting executive.

I demanded an explanation and, with seconds to go, was told that the public wouldn’t be familiar with the meaning of the phrase ‘Great Barrington Declaration’.

 

And this was not an isolated experience. A few days later, another national radio station approached my office to set up an interview, then withdrew the invitation. They felt, on reflection, that giving airtime to me would ‘not be in the national interest’.

 

But the Great Barrington Declaration represents a heartfelt attempt by a group of academics with decades of experience in this field to limit the harm of lockdown. I cannot conceive how anyone can construe this as ‘against the national interest’.

 

Moreover, matters certainly are not helped by outlets such as The Guardian, which has repeatedly published opinion pieces making factually incorrect and scientifically flawed statements, as well as borderline defamatory comments about me, while refusing to give our side of the debate an opportunity to present our view.

 

I am surprised, given the importance of the issues at stake — not least the principle of fair, balanced journalism — that The Guardian would not want to present all the evidence to its readers. After all, how else are we to encourage proper, frank debate about the science?

 

On social media, meanwhile, much of the discourse has lacked any decorum whatsoever.

 

I have all but stopped using Twitter, but I am aware that a number of academics have taken to using it to make personal attacks on my character, while my work is dismissed as ‘pseudo- science’. Depressingly, our critics have also taken to ridiculing the Great Barrington Declaration as ‘fringe’ and ‘dangerous’.

 

But ‘fringe’ is a ridiculous word, implying that only mainstream science matters. If that were the case, science would stagnate. And dismissing us as ‘dangerous’ is equally unhelpful, not least because it is an inflammatory, emotional term charged with implications of irresponsibility. When it is hurled around by people with influence, it becomes toxic.

 

But this pandemic is an international crisis. To shut down the discussion with abuse and smears — that is truly dangerous.

Yet of all the criticisms flung at us, the one I find most upsetting is the accusation that we are indulging in ‘policy-based evidence-making’ — in other words, drumming up facts to fit our ideological agenda.

 

I have been accused of not having the right expertise, of being a ‘theoretical’ epidemiologist with her head in the clouds. In fact, within my research group, we have a thriving laboratory that was one of the first to develop an antibody test for the coronavirus.

Clearly, none of us anticipated such a vitriolic response.

 

The abuse that has followed has been nothing short of shameful.

But rest assured. Whatever they throw at us, it won’t do anything to sway me — or my colleagues — from the principles that sit behind what we wrote.

Professor Sunetra Gupta is an infectious disease epidemiologist and a professor of theoretical epidemiology at the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-8899277/Professor-Sunetra-Gupta-reveals-crisis-ruthlessly-weaponised.html

Coronavirus T-cell immunity lasts at least six months even when antibodies are undetectable

There was widespread alarmist media coverage in July and again in October of research by Kings College and Imperial College respectively of research showing anti-body reaction to covid19 disappeared within as short as time as a few weeks (average 2-3 months).

Both researchers obliged media by saying the results showed that  controversial ‘herd immunity’ concept could not work.

But a new study by University of Birmingham and Public Health England, shows memory T-cells were present in all 100 asymptomatic non-hospitalised patients they tested, meaning coronavirus patients have cellular immunity for at least six months after infection even when antibodies are undetectable.

It suggests that more people may have had Covid than previously thought but have lost their antibody response, meaning it would not show up in surveillance testing.

Previous studies have shown that Sars – a very similar virus to coronavirus – can induce a T-cell response that lasts 10 years, but it was unknown whether a cellular response also happened in Covid.

Dr Shamez Ladhani, consultant epidemiologist at PHE and the study’s author, said: “Cellular immunity is a complex but potentially very significant piece of the Covid-19 puzzle.

“Early results show that T-cell responses may outlast the initial antibody response, which could have a significant impact on Covid vaccine development and immunity research.”

Professor Paul Moss, the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium lead, of the University of Birmingham, said it was the first study in the world “to show robust cellular immunity remains at six months after infection in individuals who experienced either mild/moderate or asymptomatic Covid-19. Six months is an early time point, and cells can live for a very long time.”

A devastating critique of the ten worst data failures of Covid19

Data has been the most disappointing factor about humanity’s response to Covid19.

It has been faulty, incomplete, inconsistent, skewed by design, and often, invented (ie. models).

It seems like most of the disputes over how dangerous Covid19 is, and what to do about it, hinge on data that is unreliable. Our ability to interrogate data far outstrips the quality of the data.

It’s not been a flattering picture for the future, of the capabilities of our modern age.
https://www.spectator.co.uk/…/The-ten-worst-Covid-data-fail…

Throughout the pandemic, the government and its scientific advisers have made constant predictions, projections and illustrations regarding the behaviour of Covid-19. Their figures are never revisited as the Covid narrative unfolds, which means we are not given an idea of the error margin….

Experts changing their minds as facts against Covid19 mount

Abstract

The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) worldwide pandemic in 2020. In response, most countries in the world implemented lockdowns, restricting their population’s movements, work, education, gatherings, and general activities in attempt to ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19 cases. The public health goal of lockdowns was to save the population from COVID-19 cases and deaths, and to prevent overwhelming health care systems with COVID-19 patients. In this narrative review I explain why I changed my mind about supporting lockdowns. First, I explain how the initial modeling predictions induced fear and crowd-effects [i.e., groupthink]. Second, I summarize important information that has emerged relevant to the modeling, including about infection fatality rate, high-risk groups, herd immunity thresholds, and exit strategies. Third, I describe how reality started sinking in, with information on significant collateral damage due to the response to the pandemic, and information placing the number of deaths in context and perspective. Fourth, I present a cost-benefit analysis of the response to COVID-19 that finds lockdowns are far more harmful to public health than COVID-19 can be. I close with some suggestions for moving forward.

https://www.preprints.org/manuscript/202010.0330/v1

Deaths due to lockdown: UK

Thanks to good record keeping and research in the UK that country is now counting the cost of lockdown on health.

The Spectator reports:

A study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found delayed and cancelled breast cancer treatments will cause between 281 and 344 additional deaths. For colorectal cancer, there were an extra 1,445 to 1,563 deaths, lung cancer an additional 1,235 to 1372 deaths and 330 to 342 more oesophagal cancer deaths.

 

A University of Leeds study estimated that there have already been an extra 2,085 deaths from heart disease and stroke as a result of people not accessing timely medical help. A study by the University Hospital of Northern Tees reveals that the number of endoscopies — used to investigate and diagnose bowel cancer — fell to just 12 per cent of their normal level between 24 March and 31 May

 

The National Blood and Transplant Service looked at the period between 23 March and 10 May and found that, compared with the same period in 2019, the number of organ donors fell by 66 per cent and the number of transplants fell by 68 per cent. This year, 87 people died while waiting for an organ transplant, compared with 47 last year.

And in a report by the ONS, an extra 25,472 people have died at home than would otherwise be expected from the average past five years.

Six months before the truth caught up with Covid19 doom-mongers

A dismaying aspect of the Western response to Covid19 is that it has been six months before some Governments and public institutions started listening a wider range of advice, and understood they must critically assess advice to decide what is in the fullest public interest.

Even then, the ‘listening’ has been piecemeal and slow. And not at all in New Zealand.

The preference for heeding the warnings of doom-mongers with the worst numbers is somewhat understandable, but it is inexcusable that leaders failed to listen to other advice, and to judge from the data for themselves.

https://www.businessinsider.com.au/boris-johnson-briefed-sw…

Pre-existing immunity is retarding Covid19

Sunetra Gupta talks about her most recent study showing preexisting resistance to Covid19, and that 15-20% sero-positivity in the population could retard Covid19 prevalence and probably already is.

She also refers to some strange behavior of people opposed to looking into these matters.

https://youtu.be/ZCnTtKM6RK8.

Immunity variations explains actual impact of Covid19

Fascinating study shows that removing homogeneity assumptions from population models, and replacing it with variations in virus susceptibility, returns data that better fits the actual impact of Covid19.

The results imply that most of the slowing and reversal of COVID-19 mortality is explained by the build-up of herd immunity.

The estimate of the herd immunity threshold depends on the value specified for the infection fatality ratio (IFR): a value of 0.3% for the IFR gives 15% for the average herd immunity threshold.

Now, compare this to the simplistic exponential models provided to governments across the world, and here in NZ.

https://www.medrxiv.org/conte…/10.1101/2020.09.26.20202267v1

The PCR test is not reliable

Sensitivity of the PCR test creates unreliability which undermines contact tracing, and destabilises policy making.

Jay Bhattacharya explains that the epidemic is too widespread for contact tracing to limit disease spread; that errors in the PCR tests substantially raise the human costs of contact tracing and render it less effective; and that contact tracing incentivises the public to mislead public health authorities.

https://inference-review.com/article/on-the-futility-of-contact-tracing

Global leaders infected each other with panic

No matter how dangerous you think Covid19 might be, this academic analysis dissects the dangerous speed and nature of the authoritarian responses by otherwise democratic governments.

Its says the political ‘global copycat response’ signals an ‘pandemic of authoritarianization’ with “the potential to unleash humanitarian crises no less devastating than COVID-19 in the long run”.

https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa064/5912724#207838617